Marianas Variety

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    Monday, June 18, 2018-11:28:57P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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CNMI Got Talent winner eyes bigger stage

AFTER winning the CNMI Got Talent competition, Saipan’s homegrown magician Neil Fama wants to perform on a bigger stage.

“To be at America’s Got Talent level — that’s the dream. I see myself doing it but probably not too soon,” Fama said in an interview.

The 19-year-old magician said winning the CNMI Got Talent competition in Dec. 2017 opened many opportunities for him.

Click to enlarge
CNMI Got Talent winner Neil Fama performs a trick during an intermission in Roman Rudnytsky’s classical concert at the multi-purpose center on Feb. 14.CNMI Got Talent winner Neil Fama performs a trick during an intermission in Roman Rudnytsky’s classical concert at the multi-purpose center on Feb. 14.
Neil Fama shows a card to an audience member at the Chambre Bar.  Photos by Lori Lyn C. LirioNeil Fama shows a card to an audience member at the Chambre Bar. Photos by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

“I had one or two gigs before the competition, but since I won I have been getting many phone calls asking me to do magic at their events. It has been crazy because I have been balancing school and work at PIC, and now these magic gigs,” he said.

Fama performs every Friday night at Fiesta Resort & Spa’s Chambre Bar. He thanked his mentor Leon Etienne for training him to be a professional magician

He said the best advice he got from Etienne is to pursue his college education. “I feel school is very important. My mentor himself told me that once I start making money with this thing, I have to go to college. No question. He always told me ‘you have to get a degree.’ He went to college, he took a business course and it helped him in the long run. It is a great safety net because if magic doesn’t work out you still have a degree to get another job,” he said.

“So I’m getting my degree while at the same time doing magic gigs,” said Fama, who is a business student at Northern Marianas College.

Magic for him was just a hobby. “I only wanted to amaze my friends and make people happy. When I came to this point [winning a competition], things happened really fast. It is amazing, and I hope for more opportunities to come.”

He said it was his father who first showed him magic tricks.

“He used simple things. It is the simple things that are really powerful. He would show me some amazing tricks, and I asked him to teach me the tricks.”

From then on, he started learning the basics online and watching tutorials. “As I got better at it, I would purchase my own materials, such as cards.”

He said magic tricks helped him develop his social skills and be more sociable. “That is something many of us are not very comfortable with. We usually only talk to friends at school or at work. Magic is a great way to connect with people and affect them personally and emotionally.”

Skeptics are a tough crowd, he added. “The challenging part is you have to impress the audience with your personality, the way you present and perform the trick because there are tricks that are very simple but very powerful,” he said.

Fama is good with “close-up magic,” according to Fiesta Resort & Spa food and beverage director Das Krishnan.

“The beauty of ‘close-up magic’ is that you can see your audience react, and I can interact with them better,” Fama said, adding: “In magic, people do not know what to expect. It is your job to pull it off.”