New tricks up his sleeve

New tricks up his sleeve
“I find those pleasures in cooking and in discovering what my audiences or customers would take pleasure in the first bite, what the first taste is... how it changes.” - Magician Cyril Takayama on how a dining experience is like a magic show

Magician Cyril Takayama is back with a new show, Cyril: Rio Magic, in which he once again puts on disguises.

In his previous show, Cyril's Family Vacation: Hawaii Edition, which aired in 2012, he had dressed up as different members of his family. This time, he is going in disguise to blend in with the locals in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in six 30-minute episodes.

"I'm putting on moustaches, wigs and different kinds of costumes," the 40-year-old says. "At times, I was a waiter, a barista, a fruit vendor or a coconut salesman."

Cyril: Rio Magic is set in Rio de Janeiro because Brazil will be "the place to be", as he puts it. The country will be hosting the World Cup this year and the Summer Olympics in 2016. The series, which premiered on AXN (StarHub TV Channel 511) on May 4, airs every Sunday at 7.40pm. Born and raised in California, Takayama became interested in magic when he was six after watching a magic show in Las Vegas. At 12, he studied at a magic school in California before leaving for Japan when he was 16, where he performed magic as a busker.

Takayama, who is born to a Japanese father and Moroccan-French mother, says: "When I was going through my teenage years, I was trying to discover myself and my roots. That's why I moved to Japan when I was 16 to discover the other side of my culture. It was a journey to find myself."

Probably most well known in Japan, where he is now based, he has done 16 primetime specials on Fuji TV in Japan and has two other AXN original series - Cyril: Simply Magic (2009) - and Cyril's Family Vacation: Hawaii Edition (2012) - to his name.

One of the challenges in trying to blend in with the locals in his new show was the language barrier, he says. "I learnt some phrases in Portuguese, but obviously, my accent was not authentic, so it was quite a challenge to communicate. But that provided some of the funny moments of the show.

"Cyril: Rio Magic is not the kind of show you may have seen me do before. I had to learn to let go and laugh at myself. I hope that the viewers who watch my new show will laugh with me, and at times, you might laugh at me."

1 Are there any differences between the Japanese audiences and audiences from other parts of the world?

Yes, there's a very big difference. The Japanese audiences are very similar to the Taiwanese audiences. They're very open, they allow themselves to be entertained and to be a kid again when they are watching a magic performance. Audiences in some other countries in South-east Asia are a little bit more defensive and sceptical. They can't let their guard down. But it doesn't mean that they're not having a good time. It's just a different way of reacting.

When I performed magic in Rio de Janeiro, they reacted very differently from anywhere else in the world. There were a few people who screamed the building down and reacted amazingly. But the majority were television-shy, and as soon as they saw the cameras, they would not engage in the magic.

We discovered afterwards that this was because there are a lot of shows in Brazil that take advantage of the misfortunes of others. So if they see something that's suspicious, they don't want to engage in it because they think they are going to be humiliated on television.

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