UnXpected is an original AsiaOne series where we speak to people with unconventional interests to find out what keeps them going despite the sometimes negative perceptions of others
Think 'black magic', and what comes to mind?
Perhaps a bubbling cauldron over woodfire, shelves of jars filled with bat spleens, frog brains, rose thorns and unicorn blood? Or maybe a voodoo doll placed in the middle of a sacrificial circle, lit only by flickering candles?
Or maybe you'd think of a witch, conjuring up balls of dark red energy (not unlike Wanda, for those who've just binged on Wandavision the past weekend), with a black cat by her side?
While she does have a cat — two, actually — Leong Kai Mei vehemently rejects any stereotypical description of black magic and witches we throw at her.
"No! Oh my god the media ruins everything," she says, with an expression torn between exasperation and resignation. "Witches aren't bad. I'm actually pretty kind, you know?"
The 28-year-old runs an online business offering reiki healing, money spells, love spells among others, and is best known by her mystical alias, dark witch Bambi.
Not that you can tell, based on appearance anyways. If not for her collection of spirit-bound dolls and an altar-like table covered in dried coloured wax ("I'm sorry it's such a mess," she apologised as we entered), Bambi could pass off as a gamer-girl influencer with her immaculately-styled hair, colourfully-lit CPU and Overwatch Secret Lab chair.
Spells and potions
Of the more-than-30 spells, potions, curses and talismans available on her website, Bambi's most popular requests are, perhaps predictably, money spells and love spells.
She admits that while love spells make up nearly 50 per cent of her $30,000 monthly profit, she doesn't quite understand why so many people come to her hoping to get back together with their ex-partners.
"And I'm like 'Why? There's a reason why you guys broke up right?'"
But as long as her divination readings tell her that it's safe to proceed, Bambi has no qualms with fulfilling clients' requests.
Even if they're rather… unconventional.
Once, a client from Norway dropped US$350 (S$471) and requested that she enlarged his manhood for him. He had even specified the exact measurements — 30cm long, 17cm in girth — in hopes that it would improve his libido.
Bambi pulled out a ruler for emphasis: "Walao, that's like an elephant d***!"
Despite warning him that the request sounded impossible, the client seemed unperturbed and asked that she proceed with her incantations.
Three months later, he reported growth of half an inch and proceeded to spend another US$2,000 on other spells from Bambi's shop.
Her demons, and all the nonbelievers
Bambi's encounters with the undead began as early as she could remember.
She recalls seeing flickering shadows at the corner of her eyes since the age of two, and sometimes seeing halved bodies behind her eyelids. Once, while playing hide and seek with her cousin, the two noticed a "smoky presence with eyes" watching them from the corner of the ceiling.
Her mother and grandmother had accepted her stories with ease. In fact, they also had similar experiences and told her that they came from a line of witches.
Bambi's father, on the other hand, had called "these hallucinations" a load of hogwash — he eventually filed for a divorce.
In 2019, Bambi left her job as an English tuition teacher as it "didn't feel right" and began offering tarot card reading services on Carousell, a move she credits to helping her find her calling.
She then expanded to offering reiki and chakra healing, which she shares have helped relieved both humans and pets of their physical ailments.
The continuous positive feedback from clients is what keeps her going, knowing that "[she's] been healing people" and that "[she's] been doing things that are good for people."
"But [some] people don't take me seriously when I tell them what I do," Bambi admits, recalling a time where a guy had hit on her at the bar, before scoffing at her when she told him what her profession was.
"[Those nonbelievers] can be quite rude sometimes."
Rather than try to argue, Bambi lets these comments slide and instead chooses to focus on those that support her and her works.
"If someone doesn't believe [in magic], then they won't believe."
Her statement sounds too politically correct for someone who's been rather blunt and a little caustic throughout our entire conversation, so we ask her again if there was anything she'd really like to say to such naysayers.
After a moment's pause: "Honestly… Just f*** off lah."
Watch the video to see what a day in the life of a black magic witch is like and even how a love-binding spell is performed.