The world of magic | August 2, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - August 2, 2013

The world of magic

Illusionist loves to create 'moments of astonishment'

by Isabella Ohlmeyer

Alvin Lui may seem like the average man on the street, but his career is far from ordinary. Lui is an illusionist with 18 years of magical experience.

Lui, who moved to Dublin in March, likes to immerse himself in magic, and on any given night, you can find him practicing and performing new tricks at hot spots in downtown Pleasanton.

He found his passion for magic at 14 when he saw American illusionist David Copperfield perform on television.

"David Copperfield is a living legend. The way he thinks about magic and goes about conquering a trick is inspiring," Lui said.

As a boy, Lui didn't know about the kits and ready made gimmicks that some children use to explore the world of magic. He began to invent his own tricks and illusions, and soon began to discover his love of performing with his audience close up and personal.

In 2003, Lui met his idol Copperfield on a few occasions. After one performance, Copperfield gave him simple, yet profound advice: "dare to be bad." The illusionist also told Lui that much of what he performs on television and in person, he first rehearsed at small venues and privately for two years.

Lui took Copperfield's advice seriously.

"I work on illusions by myself for three to four months," Lui said. "After that, I perform the magic tricks privately for my trusted family and friends. Then, I move on to performing at local bars or restaurants for no pay. Finally, I perform at paid venues, which is the ultimate goal."

Lui said that when he has performed at various clubs, bars and restaurants for free, never once has a person said "no" after he asked random individuals if he could do magic for them.

Jason Lee, owner of Mokutanya in Burlingame, offered to hire Lui as a full-time entertainer for the restaurant.

"Alvin can talk to the customers well," Lee said. "I asked him to go table by table to perform for the customers and he did. He showed motivation and skill in his performances."

Lui said illusionists depend on the fact that, as human beings, we miss a lot of things throughout the day, and we start to make assumptions.

"We might assume that it takes us 15 minutes to get to work, when in actuality, it takes us a lot longer," Lui said. "As magicians, we try to live in that space where you miss things."

Although magic is an art form with a lot of history, Lui is determined to make magic and illusions new as well as relevant, to appeal to a broader audience.

"People love magic, but there is also a stereotype of magic," Lui said. "My goal is to bring magic to a more relevant art form so it resonates with people. Hopefully people will see magic in a whole new light."

He also believes in performances that are interactive, and he likes to combine his sleight of hand with psychology and humor. He thrives on creating "memories of astonishment."

Dependent on the time frame, Lui executes up to a dozen illusions for each event. On July 6, he performed for a private party at Barone's in Pleasanton.

"Alvin did a fantastic performance for my private party at Barone's Garden in Pleasanton," said Mike Pearce, who gave the party. "We had over 250 guests and all were very impressed."

"I'm looking to hopefully doing more shows in Pleasanton and get people to see my brand of magic," Lui said. "I strive to be the magician in this area, where people go to for a unique brand of entertainment."

He is performing at the Winemaker's Pour House in Livermore at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 9. To find more of his appearances, visit You don't want to see him disappear.


Like this comment
Posted by D X
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm

"my brand of magic". I like that.

Like this comment
Posted by FancyP86
a resident of Danville
on Aug 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I've seen Alvin perform and he is amazing! Here's his website if anyone wants to check him out: Web Link. He also performs at the California Magic Dinner Theater: Web Link. I would highly recommend the dinner theater for a night out -- you will not regret it!