Luo Feixiong: Best Time of Magic has Gone
Art Exchange VOL.01/2014|By He Ruijuan

   

Luo Feixiong and Liu Qian

    Luo Feixiong Conducted Acrobatic and Magic Exchange and Performance across the Strait on Many Occasions

Luo Feixiong in Performance

Luo Feixiong in Performance

Talking about magicians in Taiwan, many will immediately utter “Liu Qian”. Liu’s popularity might be attributed to Spring Gala in CCTV, but Liu Qian is just one of the magicians in Taiwan. If you raised the same question in the circle of magic performance, probably those professionals will utter another name—Luo Feixiong. President of Taiwan Magic Association, head of Taiwan Gala Art Troupe and director general of Acrobatic Troupe of Taiwan Theatre College are all his titles, all of which have boosted him to be the No.1 in Taiwan. As the eldest magician in Taiwan, he took up magic performances as early as in the 1960s and his 40 years’ experiences have witnessed Taiwan magic development from generation to generation. He once gave instructions to Liu Qian and has been active in communion between mainland and Taiwan as judge, director or guest of magic competitions. In the 6th, 7th and 9th National Assembly of CFLAC, Luo Feixiong was invited to attend as the only representative from Taiwan acrobatic and magic circle.  

Luo Feixiong has quite a long history in the communications with his counterpart in the mainland. Before the official opening across the Straits, he had been a frequent guest with Hong Kong and acrobatic troupes in Guangzhou and Hebei Province. Even now, we will often receive his SMS informing us of his arrival in Beijing, Wuqiao, Hangzhou and Shanghai. He will invariably appear wherever there is a magic event. 

Luo Feixiong is also the first person that has brought Talk Magic into the mainland when he gave a performance as special guest at the 1st Shanghai International Magic Festival. What is Talk Magic? Simply speaking, the magician will perform his tricks during his or her talking, which was just Liu Qian’s case in the Spring Festival Gala. Before Luo, magicians never talked during their performances. Magician’s talk will enhance audiences’ sense of participation and curiosity, and the various style of talking will result into the different style of magic performance. After all, Luo’s novelty was constantly copied by many magicians at both mainland and Taiwan. 

As an experienced magician, peers will praised him as “Excellent” Senior” or “Pioneering”. However, he never puts on airs and showed his sincere passion to everyone he met like a child. This time, Luo Feixiong acted as a judge of a national magic competition, and we had a random interview with him during the buffet break at noon. 

1000 Bucks Make a Magician 

Reporter: What do you think of magic development in the mainland as a frequent commuter between the mainland and Taiwan? 

Luo Feixiong: The magic development in the mainland is indeed fast in these years. Why? Because people have gained plenty of information. In the past, there is no Internet and thus it was hard to obtain related information. Let me take a simple example, before the policy of reform and opening up, when I present a stick in my performance, the audience will be amazed at so many sticks in my hand because at that time a stick was worth four or five hundred bucks. However, it is only worth 35 because so many people in the mainland make props in an enterprise scale. If you dream to be a magician, 1000 bucks will make it true. 

What a magician has learned is now different from what we have as it used to be quite difficult to learn a trick. Once upon a time, I saw a foreigner’s magic performance in a night club and found that there was only one thing I could not realize. He showed his empty hand and with a glimpse a handkerchief appeared in your vision. I was so eager to learn this trick that I offered to learn immediately. His price was then 500 dollars, a considerable amount of money two or three decades ago, but I still agreed. At that time, I will stay awake for three whole days and nights to practice the trick. Now the situation has changed as it is so easy for youngsters to learn. They have Internet or discs to show the course and instruct how to present performance. On the other hand, some young guys have ruined our rules in the same way as they become ignorant with some trivial skills. Another problem is that everything is available but the market. 

Magic is Not a Lifetime Career 

Reporter: Are there many magicians currently? Why is the market absent so that magicians can hardly make a living? 

Luo Feixiong: Now magicians are almost everywhere and someone who just learned several tricks dares to give performances and pretend to be a great magician. Such a phenomenon is quite common in the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In our age, there were quite few magicians while the market is quite empty in the night clubs, Karaoke hall and Western restaurant. The current situation is totally changed because there are so many means for entertainment even in the Internet. Just take Taiwan as an example for contrast, in our age, there were only three TV stations, namely CTV, CTS and TTV while now there are more than 100 programs, some of which are even free of charge, not to mention Karaoke and Internet. 

This time I learnt that the hourly income for six magicians in the magic society of a university is no more than 800 Taiwan dollars, equivalent of a bit more than 100 RMB, with transportation fees excluded. As for them, they are happy to get this opportunity and thus care hardly for the money. However, if they have to make a living, that little money will make nothing. As professionals in the market, we will never agree on such a low price that has dealt a devastating blow to our profession. Provided that you intend to invite a magician for performance, with two price quotations of 8000 and 80,000, what is your choice? No doubt, you will choose that of 8000, which means an adverse circulation in the magic circle. 

Therefore I will advise youngsters not to become a professional magician because they will meet a difficult future and fierce competition with so many peers in such a limited market. Supposing there are only two magicians in Hangzhou, both of them will lead a happy life. What if the number is two hundred? In my opinion, magic is not a lifetime career but a hobby or the second career for most of them. In their spare time, they can present performances only if the condition allows. With a stable job on the hand, they will never complain about being a magician. 

In a sense, nobody can take magic as his or her lifetime career and when you achieve a certain degree, you must seek ways to retire because evolution in the magic circle is everlasting. I used to consider myself best at stage, but I have been daunted by some young peers’ performance. They have good talents and perseverant spirits for innovation. Of course it has become increasingly difficult to be a successful magician. 

Different from Commercial Performance, Competition Requires More Innovation 

Reporter: It seems to us that some magic programs have similar contents such as playing cards, pigeons, umbrellas or folded fans. Is innovation in props or technique very difficult to achieve? 

Luo Feixiong: Audience will focus mainly on props but our peers will focus on tricks. Many of competition programs are not suitable for commercial shows because audience fail to comprehend its essence. Some laymen will think they can crack the magician’s trick and therefore consider the program boring. As a matter of fact, our peers will be amazed at the same program. Audiences have only two favorite types: animals and giant props because they will be deeply impressed. They will only remember the magic program in which an actor or actress suddenly disappears, but have no idea of the interesting trick in hiding five playing cards in one hand which won our peers’ applause. 

Only the Mainland Focuses on Magic 

Reporter: Internet and TV is just a kind of mass media. If TV only invites celebrity, can we promote the freshman through the Internet? 

Luo Feixiong: It is quite a realistic question as it has something to do with the investment. As to magic development, the mainland government has made a remarkable contribution while the rest of the world pay hardly attention. It is indeed true that we must pay first and seek for partnership to make an event possible while the government will not pay a single coin. We really appreciate the mainland government’s financial support for arts. I was once invited to be a judge of the 1st Magic Gathering of Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, which gained a finance of two to three million RMB. Such an expenditure is far from what an individual can offer and absolutely impossible in Taiwan. I can say that the mainland government is the only one in the world that cares for magic development by financial support. 

Reporter: In the mainland, such organizations as China Acrobatics Association will sponsor events. Is there any similar organization in Taiwan? 

Luo Feixiong: China Acrobatics Association is a group member of CFLAC and enjoys allocated investment from the government, which is not our case at all. Ours is a private organization registered by the government but not funded by the government. We must be responsible for both profit and loss. For an event, we must seek for venue and it is impossible for us to get a venue free of charge. Last month, I planned an event that lasted for three days and two nights where Liu Qian and other magicians agreed to volunteer. However, we must pay for the venue rental, lighting and acoustic equipment because they must make a living by those. Without financial support from the government, it is hardly possible for a private company to hold such an event. We may afford a loss of ten thousand TD but may not afford a loss of a million. 

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