His name is Zlwin Chew, and he has been performing his illusions on cruise liners for more than three years.
The young man from Klang, Selangor, is today realising his dream of making a name for himself while sailing the high seas. “I have been blessed with meeting the right people at the right time, and that includes my manager Josephine who is now my wife,” said Chew, 27.
“Right now, we are working together on board the Royal Caribbean’s Mariner Of The Seas. Every day has its share of fun and excitement and challenges.”
Chew was barely 20 when he started out as an amateur illusionist armed with only a deck of cards and performing in clubs. Always learning and seeking to make his shows bigger and better, he began his stint as a cruise magician when he was employed by Star Cruises back in 2012.
He enjoyed that ride, and is happy to continue “wherever the seas call me”.
“Being in the cruise ship industry is rather different than performing on land as every ship changes routes and itineraries every few months. During the course of a three-year contract, a performer will get to experience many different ships in the company’s fleet of vessels. Getting to wake up in different ports and countries around the world each day is a thrill that never gets old,” shared Chew.
Over the years, Chew has performed in 23 cities and 21 countries in six continents. For Chew, however, performing can be on a grand stage or practically anywhere on board the ship.
“A cruise liner’s multi-million dollar stage is every performer and entertainer’s dream platform. The theatre is nothing short of majestic with all its state-of-the-art equipment to suit all your production needs,” he enthused.
“Nevertheless, I remain a street magician at heart and enjoy taking my performance to the people, whether it is on deck or even in the pool.”
For a magician who is adept with sleight-of-hand tricks, Chew is proud that he has developed his own illusion of levitating a girl in mid-air.
“Man has always dreamed of doing the impossible and making it happen. One of mankind’s biggest dreams was to fly, and that was achieved by the Wright brothers,” he said.
“We magicians, as artists, want to inspire our audience to do the impossible, which is what I do in my shows. Who knows, one day, an inventor may be inspired by an impossible magic act he witnessed on stage to transform the world.”
Chew is not one to let success get to his head and forget about those who have helped him along the way.
“People often get praise for the tough climb up the ladder and the triumphant finish at the top, but what about those who helped make it all possible?” he mused. Where I am today still surprises me every day. I never forget that I am who I am today because of the multitude of souls who made it possible for me.
“Being on the Royal Caribbean was the result of a big gamble for my friend and agent John Taylor, who got me on the ship without even knowing me or ever watching my show. All he said to me was, ‘I believe in you’, and then he sold my act to the cruise ship. And that was all he needed to do. My career in the magic world for the past seven years was made possible because of the many people who believed in me.”
Chew said his favourite memory from his career has to be performing his first illusion on a cruise ship with his then-fiancée. “It was like a dream come true to be able to produce my own show on a cruise ship and also performing it with a beautiful assistant who was to become my future wife,” he said.
For Chew, there is never a perfect show. “The moment you think you have put on a perfect show is the time you should pack your bags and stop performing,” he explained.
“We are constantly working on building our show – changing acts, music, costumes. We hope that this will be a never-ending journey.”
Besides performing his magic, Chew is a keen photographer who enjoys looking at a frame from a creative angle. “I never leave home without my GoPro camera. Josephine and I enjoy taking pictures of ourselves in our travels. We have taken so many great shots of ourselves that people often ask if we hire a professional photographer to travel with us.
“And then they would gape when we tell them, ‘No, we take our own pictures, even if you see us both not holding any camera’. I guess we can really do magic!”