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Discover the secret to Joe Labero’s shocking acts

Illusionist Joe Labero brings his fiery performance back for another unforgettable show in Singapore

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Returning to Singapore for another must-watch performance, master illusionist Joe Labero is at the top of his game. The Swede entertainer is known for nerve-wracking acts, such as catching a speeding bullet with his bare hands, and loved for his personal close-up engagement with his audience.

Don’t believe us? See it for yourself:

Weekender sat down with Labero in his plush suite for an exclusive interview, and here’s what you can expect from the magician who shocked the world.

Welcome back to Singapore! How will this year’s line-up be different from last year’s?

It’s really great to be back, we love it here. I always try to change myself, to be better and more brilliant. I have some other characters with me in the show, and 50 percent new illusions.

I learned this from a gentleman in Las Vegas, Liberace: never change more than 50 percent of the act. So now we’ve got new sleights of hand and new close-ups… Music’s more intense this time, it’s more rock-and-roll.

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Labero (left) combines both classic magic acts with newfound techniques for a suspenseful and explosive performance

How do you get inspiration for your acts?

When I travel, I see movies, follow concerts, and incorporate lifestyles into my magic world. I walked into a store this morning and saw a couple of things and thought, “Wow, that’s nice, I could use that in my show.” In my everyday life I walk around and try to get these (common) objects into my performance.

How do you set your stunts apart from others?

When I find a concept, I be myself. That’s the most important: to be what I do. That includes the cool music and the lighting. It’s an art form for me.

I also prefer to interact with the crowd and involve them in the show, to create intimacy. I also try to remember their names and they feel very special – one lady said she’s seen my show 49 times!

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Tell us a little secret about your acts that most fans wouldn’t expect.

That’s like telling kids that Santa Claus isn’t real!

There are many TV shows on that, and now people are so knowledgeable. So (think of me as) an actor, playing the part of a magician. Many kids ask me if I’ve been to Hogwarts (from Harry Potter), and I say, “Yes, of course I have!”

What was the very first illusion or stunt that amazed you?

When I was young, a guy came to my hometown with Chinese rings: solid steel rings linked together. He brought my friend up on stage and he took the steel rings apart, steel through steel. He did it so slowly. It was magical and unbelievable.

Did you ever figure out how he did it?

I thought I had a clue at that time – but no, I didn’t. Only much later; but it was all about the presentation and how you develop suspense and sell the props to the audience.

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If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

(Without missing a beat) Superman’s levitation. I can fly everywhere, it’d be spectacular. I do that on the show too and the audience loves it.

Do you have a certain diet and workout regime to follow?

Yes, I go to the gym three times a week. I do quite a lot of (physical) stunts, like hanging upside-down in a straitjacket. There are a lot of tough moments on the show, especially repeating the 140 minutes night after night, and I have to look relaxed while doing it.

Of all the stunts you’ve pulled, which one is your favourite?

I did a very personal show once in North Scandinavia. I borrowed three finger rings from my audience and linked them together. Then I took them apart and gave them back, and they were awed.

I haven’t done this act in five, six years, but it stuck with me how strong it was and the look of disbelief in my audience’s eyes. Maybe I’ll bring it back with a new presentation!

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Could you give us a sneak peek at any new acts in the works?

I’ve been trying to explore Asian cultures in my show. I have a couple of new things we’re working on right now. I really want to try new techniques I haven’t done before, but it’s still hard to say anything.

You’d think 80 percent of it is working, but you’re not happy with the lighting and the setting and it ends up scrapped. It’s a long journey from the idea to reality on stage.

How long does it usually take for you to develop an idea into an act?

It can take a couple of years. Recently I mastered one act called “Passage” that I’m very happy with: I would walk right through a lady and back. It’s quite the visual because there are no props at all – just two humans going right through each other. You’ll get to see it at A Night of Magic at Raffles!

Joe Labero will be performing in A Night of Magic at Raffles from 16 Jan to 22 Feb at The Raffles Hotel. Tickets available at sistic.com.sg. We’re giving away tickets to his show – head here to win!