Belgian magician Elliot has traveled all over the world, amazing audiences at exclusive gatherings using his knowledge of eight different languages, including Mandarin Chinese. Performing his stage and close-up shows all over China, entirely in Chinese if so required, he mixes humor with magic.
Specializing in corporate events for luxury and fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Frank Muller, Hermès and Bulgari, he creates magical interactive experiences at brand launches and cocktail parties, specifically tailored to clients’ needs.
And he has used his sleight of hand to blow the minds of VIPs, world famous celebrities and politicians including Chinese Actor Hu Ge, Eric Jing from Alipay and Jeremy Scott from Moschino. After wowing us at the That's 2021 Hospitality Awards, we had to find out more.
What first attracted you to magic?
One of my cousins performed some simple tricks when I was seven years old. Seven years later, at the age of 14, I asked him to teach me those tricks. I instantly got hooked. After that, we visited a magic shop in Paris and I bought my first books on card and coin magic. I felt an instant passion for this beautiful art.
How does one go about becoming a magician?
Being a childhood dream of me for a long time, I told myself: 'Why don’t I go to China, learn Chinese and try to become a magician there?' And here I am, having been in China for five years, doing shows fully in Chinese!
What can people expect from your show?
My shows are super interactive; I love to involve as many people from the audience as possible. The magic happens in the audience’s hand, which makes it that much stronger. Likewise, I love to joke around and have fun. I also perform the show in multiple languages, which is really unique.
Do you create your own new magic acts?
This is a tricky one... it’s not very easy to create fully new magic routines. Almost all magicians create their own variations of existing classics. I try to especially be creative in the way I perform and present the tricks, using humor and interesting stories.
You speak eight different languages, English, Mandarin Chinese, French, Dutch, Spanish, German, Portuguese and Italian. Eight! Where did your love of languages come from?
Magic and languages are my two big passions in life. I was lucky to have been raised in a bilingual household (Dutch and French).
My parents also sent me to English school at an early age. So those three languages were definitely the blueprint for a multilingual life!
I went on to university and studied Linguistics (English, Spanish and Portuguese). After that I added a second Master’s Degree in Multilingual Business Communication (business English, business French and business German). After that I just kept on studying languages by myself!
I love to take out an hour a day for a deep study session. Likewise, my life in Shanghai is very multilingual; I hang out with Italians, Germans, Spaniards... this keep all the languages fresh in my mind.
Right now I’m focusing on passing the HSK 6 exam in Chinese. The better I speak Chinese, the better my shows become!
Is there a language that a magic show works particularly well with? And do nations or people respond in different ways to magic?
Great question! I feel like I have a very different vibe depending on the language. The way of talking, the jokes and the topics are different. I’ll be a lot louder performing in Spanish than in French, for example.
And yes, some people are calmer than others during shows. But it’s up to the magician to get them to relax and enjoy.
You have people join you on stage. How do you choose participants?
After all these years, you kind of get a feel for who you can invite on stage. Will the person be a good sport? Will he try to steal the show? Does he want to figure out the trick? Or does he just really want to enjoy and be part of a magic moment?
I’ve gotten a pretty good feel for it, but sometimes I still tell myself, “I shouldn’t have picked that person!”
They say don’t work with animals or children, but you do both. Which is trickier?
The only animal I really work with is my goldfish (which is also my alter ego, Billy). I’ve done some rabbit tricks, but they require a lot more work to maintain!
We can only imagine. Speaking of which, any good stories about it all going wrong?
To be honest, messing up a trick happens to the best of us! I’ve learned to embrace the moment. I’m honest with my audience if something hasn’t worked out the way I wanted to. This shows your human side to the audience.
It can be equally a very funny moment to mess something up completely. Use it to your advantage! When people love the performer as a person, they will forgive. If you are too arrogant on stage, then they’ll enjoy seeing you fail.
You’ve worked for some huge names, any standout performances or events?
There have been many events for luxury brands (Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Dior), consulates, banks and automotive companies all over China. I’ve had the pleasure to perform for the famous actor Hu Ge, Eric Jing of Alipay and Jeremy Scott (designer for Moschino).
What is your advice to people who wish to be a magician?
Read magic books, watch magic DVDs and hangout with other magicians. Nothing as fruitful as a nice jam session. And, most importantly, go out and perform as much as possible. Everything is easy at home in front of your mirror; in front of an audience, everything changes!
Aside from private events, can people see you performing anywhere?
I performed at Blackstone Magic Bar for three years. That was an amazing experience that really helped to hone my craft. I worked with some of the best magician’s in the world alongside me every night.
Sadly, because of the pandemic, the bar closed. I now focus on events. So let’s see each other at your next event.
Watch a video of Elliot being interviewed on I'm China with Josh below (VPN off):
You can add Elliot through his phone number – 156 0169 5472 – or simply scan the QR:
[All images courtesy of Elliot]