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A perfect time for Klok
1/10/2004 8:40

Shanghai Daily news

Guo Feifei reports on the visit of one of the world's greatest magicians Hans Klok, ``the fastest magician of all time'' has arrived in Shanghai for his China debut tour ``History of Magic'' today.
``I've never been to China before but there must be a huge interest in magic. For me it will be interesting to perform in China because it is such a different culture with that of Europe.'' Speed has become Klok's trademark. Letting his assistants or objects disappear and appear in the wink of an eye gets the entire audience into a frenzy. In 1996, Klok won over his audience when he made a solid Mercedes car vanish and magically re-appear before the eyes of 6,000 car dealers in the Westfalenhalle of Dortmund, Germany. In his latest ``History of Magic'' show, Klok brings his stylish tricks close to the audience. The show is an ode to Egypt, the birthplace of the art of conjuring but it also pays homage to the ``greatest magicians in history'' such as ancient legends like Dedi and Merlin Magician Merlin, and Harry Houdini of last century. ``The idea was born in the beginning of 2001 and I have been working on the development of the individual acts since then,'' Klok says. Full of choreography, glamour and glitz, the show has 200 different costumes at a cost of 40,000 euros (US$49,000). Fifty staff and four large trucks are needed to move the tour around. ``It requires meticulous timing, down to a tenth of a second,'' Klok points out. ``Everything interacts at high speed, between people, equipment, costume changes and sound.'' Born in Purmerend, Holland, Klok received his first conjuror's box of tricks from his grandfather on his 10th birthday. Then young Klok became increasingly fascinated by the mesmerizing world of magic and mystery. In 1983, the then 14-year-old Klok won the European Youth Magician Champion Trophy in Germany. He then began to work with his father, creating bigger and better illusions. ``He (my father) drove me all over the Netherlands to perform,'' Klok says. ``And because he's an engineer, he always developed and made new tricks with me.'' Klok went on to win the World's Fastest Switch Award at the Grand Prix in Holland. He's toured more than 60 cities in Europe and traveled to the United States where he performed at the Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. He's also performed in South America, Japan and the Caribbean Islands. Back at home in Holland, he's called ``Holland's national hero.'' He's considered one of the world's three greatest magicians together with David Copperfield and Lance Burton. ``But to be frank, many people in Shanghai are still unfamiliar with Klok,'' points out Zheng Mei, deputy general manager of Shanghai Circus World. ``Unlike Copperfield, Klok is actually in his heyday and that's why we wanted to introduce him to audiences.'' When Copperfield toured China in May, many people and local media said his illusions were no longer fresh or exciting and the box office was not so good as expected according to organizer Shanghai Poly Group Company. Whether Klok will become another magic super idol in Shanghai still remains to be seen, but he's reluctant to criticize his fellow magicians. ``Copperfield has paved the way for magic in Europe. That is the reason why my colleagues and I can go on tour like pop stars today. That would have been unthinkable only 10 years ago,'' says Klok. ``Lance Burton is the best magician in the world. He does not only present perfect performances, but he is also still human and friendly despite his success.'' Klok's message for audiences in Shanghai is simple. ``I think that they (Chinese) are very open-minded about magic and I hope to win them over,'' Klok says. Date: October 1-4, 7:30pm; October 3, 2pm Venue: Shanghai Grand Stage, 1111 Caoxi Rd N. Tickets: 80-800 yuan Tel: 6652-7750