Daredevil in the flesh
From catching a bullet to swallowing needles, magician Aaron Crow cheats death on a nightly basis.
IT can be said that Aaron Crow was predestined to be a magician.
At the age of 12, the Belgiumborn Crow received a book from his parents on the iconic Harry Houdini. Flipping through the book, he found out that one of Houdini’s famous acts involved swallowing needles.
Coincidence or not, Crow himself had an early experience with needles; when he was three, he was rushed to a hospital with a needle stuck in his throat.
But it was his encounter as a five- year- old with a mouse while he was in bed that first inspired him – it made him think about fears and how people overcome them.
And now, headlining Fearless! Cheating Death Nightly at Resorts World Genting, Crow faces all of his fears onstage on a daily basis.
Describing himself as “a warrior with a mission”, Crow believes his show features a positive theme. “We can all overcome our fears, we can all become stronger. The time is now; a new year, a new you, a fearless you,” he muses.
“This being the first night, I am quite happy with how things went,” says Crow to the media after debuting Fearless! on March 18. “Was I nervous? Not really. Once the show starts, I get into the zone.”
According to Crow, Fearless! – a fusion of magic, suspense and risky stunts – was created just for Genting. “This is the world premiere,” enthuses Crow, who last performed in Genting in 2013 as one of the magicians in Superstars Of Magic 3. “It fulfills my ultimate ambition: to have my own show, and with an audience that responds well.”
Based on the delighted shrieks and gasps of the 800- strong audience that night, Crow definitely won them over. And he does all this without uttering a single word.
His wordless stage persona has long since become his trademark. “It sort of fell into place, when I discovered the power of silence,” explains Crow, 47.
Nicknamed ( what else?) The Silent Mentalist, Crow was born Ronny Verbeke. He dabbled in martial arts and dancing before becoming a magician. “I saw magic as a way of combining all these elements together.”
Asked what his parents think of his chosen career, Crow replies: “My dad, who was my biggest fan, passed away a couple of years ago. My mum regularly updates ( about Crow) on Facebook and sometimes she asks, ‘ Are you really doing this?’ She’s being a concerned parent.”
Crow took on his present stage moniker when he entered a worldwide magic competition. At that time, he had already decided on the stage name Aaron. But he needed a last name, to avoid being confused with other magicians named Aaron.
“For my act, my idea was to have a crow fly out to my hand after I cut a bag of rice. So Crow was fitting, and I liked its connotation of death.”
Although the bird idea didn’t materialise – the animal died before the competition – Crow stuck with the name. (“It fitted my character.”)
Since then, Crow has won many accolades. He was ranked first at the World Championships of Magic, the largest competition of its kind held every three years. There, he battled against 150 world renowned acts in front of a crowd of 2,500 people.
His other achievements include World Champion Mentalism at the 2003 Den Haag XXII World Championships and winning the Wizard Trophy ( Phenomenon category) last year.
Crow has appeared in numerous TV and gala shows including the popular Le Plus Grand Cabaret Du Monde. He was recently featured in Broadway New York, London West End and the iconic Sydney Opera House. He also enjoyed millions of hits on YouTube.
But what really made the world sit up and notice was Crow’s par- ticipation in Britain’s Got Talent in 2013.
“I saw the show as a huge platform. It could either make you or break you,” recalls Crow.
He needn’t have worried, as his auditon wowed both the audience and judges. Even hard- to- please judge Simon Cowell commented: “That’s a great act. I love the idea of watching something where there is a possibility that someone could actually die.”
The act that impressed Cowell came to be Crow’s most popular routine. Named Supravision, the blindfold act is now the opening segment of Crow’s Genting showcase.
In it, Crow leads three audience members onstage. Each receives a different item: a paper bag ( comprising rice), a wooden board and a pineapple ( to hold on top of the head).
Next, Crow pours hot candle wax ( ouch!) over his eyes and covers his face with bandages, black tape and foil. He then uses a knife to cut open the bag, nunchucks to break the board and a katana to slice the pineapple in two – all without injuring his volunteers.
His other acts include Bowman ( which involves an apple, a ring and a rotating platform), Heartbeat ( which sees Crow slowing then stopping his heartbeat altogether) and Needle Act ( which has Crow – ouch again – swallowing three needles).
Crow’s routines are all performed in silence with the exception of spine- tingling music in the background. Throughout, he is assisted by three beautiful dancers and a comedic emcee. He also plans to incorporate The Final Bullet in which he attempts to catch a signed bullet shot from a paintball machine gun.
On what inspires his acts, Crow replies: “Sometimes, it’s an image or something I’ve seen in a movie. Ideas keep coming and going. I have a notepad next to my bed, and I jot ideas down before sleeping.”
What would be Crow’s dream illusion to perform? “I want to do an escape act, something that has never been seen before.”
Crow’s determination to constantly push himself is evident.
“Off- stage, he’s a very funny guy,” says Fearless! director Luc Apers, who has worked with Crow since 2003. “But when he’s working, he’s very passionate.”
Concurs Crow: “I am never happy as I believe there’s always room for improvement. When you’re happy, you stop working.”
Fearless! Cheating Death Nightly is on until May 15 at Genting International Showroom. tickets are from rM78 to rM118. Visit rwgenting.com for more details.
crow and his trusty bow and arrow.
headlining Fearless! Cheating
Death Nightly at resorts World Genting, crow faces all of his fears onstage on a daily basis.
Needle Act which sees him swallowing three needles.