Final disappearing act from illusionist Magic Babe Ning

Final disappearing act from illusionist Magic Babe Ning

SINGAPORE - It's time to hang up the chains and handcuffs, straightjackets and weapons.

After 10 years in showbusiness, professional illusionist Ning Cai, known by her stage name Magic Babe Ning will perform the ultimate mega illusion: Vanishing for good.

"Yes I have decided to hang up my boots. No more Magic Babe Ning. It is a stage character I played for 10 years, and it wasn't easy, because I am very different from the magic babe you see on TV when she performs," Ning told SPH Razor in an interview.

"But, I will say that it is an extension of myself, so it's been a good run. It's best to retire when I am at my peak, and I know that I've ticked everything off my list. But was it easy? I would say it wasn't as easy as I anticipated," the 32-year-old admitted.

One of Singapore's premiere entertainers, Ning and fellow illusionist J C Sum have been credited for popularising magic in Singapore.

"I am very respectful of him, and I am very thankful that I've learnt from him. He is awesome. He is the only person in Singapore, or I daresay Southeast Asia, who can design illusions, perform, mentor, produce, and do sound arrangement.

"There is only one J C Sum, and I know that we can expect more things from him. More mega illusions, I am sure. I definitely wish him the best," she says about Sum.

Ning will of course best be remembered for bringing that touch of glamour to an otherwise male-dominated industry.

But of all the mega illusions she has performed, one stays close to her heart: The Impalement Cage.

"It is special to me because it was my first solo mega escape. It was an illusion where I had 90 seconds to escape a death bed of spikes. I was blindfolded, handcuffed, chained down, and I had to lock-pick openly. So its not like those magic tricks where you are silhouetted.

"Training for it wasn't easy. I lost a toenail. Very unglamorous, and these are things people don't want to know. I had a lot of injuries, and there were 16-hour rehearsals every day leading up to it, so I think that was the first big thing I did, before we went on to do the dozens of things we did," Ning recalls.

So what next now that that the Magic Babe has been retired?

Or Ning, the "human pretzel", now that she is a certified yoga teacher?

Her next career move will most likely be author. She has now published her second book, an autobiography titled "Who is Magic Babe Ning?"

"I am working on Ning Cai 2.0. I am getting married in two weeks, then maybe next year, make babies? I don't know," she says with a laugh about her upcoming marriage to her Singaporean partner, who works in the arts.

"I guess I've always wanted to write, that is why mum and dad, I am finally putting my university degree to good use.

"To be honest, I didn't expect it to be so difficult, but when I sat down to really write it, I realised a lot of the personal demons came out. A lot of insecurities and fears. I was very melancholic about past memories and stuff. It is a very honest piece of my life's work, and I am proud of it. It is really a tell all," she says about her book.

With the glamorous showbiz life behind her, how will this two-time FHM cover girl now adjust to life as a "muggle"?

"I think in showbiz, you do get pampered a lot. So it is something a lot of celebrities grapple with. But my decision to leave when I was at the peak of my career also helped, so I don't become a has-been or something.

"I think it is all about new beginnings, which is very exciting. So I am welcoming this adventure because I think I have a lot to give," says Ning.

Confirming there will be little chance of a comeback, Ning describes the end of her magic journey as coming full circle. But the circle of life continues, and for Ning, it will continue to be magical, with or without a bag of tricks.

"I think life is magical by itself, and I am not talking about the tricks and stuff like that. It is about the moments, not just the milestones, that can be magical. It is all about how you perceive things, and how you realise that you should be grateful for the people in your life, and the things you are blessed with. Everyday, simple magic.

"The best thing about the ten years was not really the big shows that we did, but every time I get a letter from a young person who is thanking me and saying that they were inspired and they realise that they could also break glass ceilings and create what they want from life. And I think that is awesome," Ning says.

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