I grew up in Hong Kong. I went to England to study and graduated with a degree in music education and commercial music.
I remember telling my parents I hoped they didn’t mind that I didn’t want to be a lawyer or doctor.
My dad is my biggest influence. Sons usually don’t want to follow in their father’s footsteps, but you end up becoming influenced by them.
He worked in music education and used to be a children’s TV host, and I’m doing the same thing—but I’m crazier than he was.
He is my best PR. He has kept all my media clippings and posters. He has more than I have!
One day, after 20 years of doing live TV, my dad was told that he didn’t have to go in again the next week.
That was the moment I understood the reality of this business: You’re as good as your last show.
Photo: Kirk Kenny / www.studiozag.com
Magic found me—I never found magic.
When my father was doing children’s TV, a lot of magicians would sell their props to him.
I saw where he kept his stash of props. I couldn’t wait for him to leave the house so I could discover the secrets behind them.
I took this fake finger with me to school and pretended I had chopped mine off. All the girls screamed.
I felt great, then I got detention.
I came back to Hong Kong in 1984 and became a music teacher at the French International School. It was crazy because I had to teach every single kid!
RTHK was looking for a pair of hands to mime piano playing [in a program] as the host couldn’t play. I was that pair of hands. Then they realized this pair of hands also did magic and puppets.
I hopped into an RTHK van and they took me to Shek O—that was where the piano was located. Everything was a bit wacky. But that’s how it all started.
When it comes to music, people always say it’s 5 percent talent and 95 percent sweat. I would say that is only the first step. After you put in the 95 percent sweat and you realize other people are putting in 100 percent, then talent is also important.
When you want to move someone, sometimes just one note will do that. That has to come from somewhere aside from your skills.
I chose a very humble instrument, the recorder. I love it, because it’s simple.
When I was absolutely crazy about it, it was easy for me to put in 10 hours of practice a day.
Photo: Kirk Kenny / www.studiozag.com
It’s fascinating to communicate with children. They immediately know how genuine you are.
The most difficult part of working with children is the parents. Very often, children are not a problem when their parents aren’t there.
My biggest setback was my first marriage. It was unsuccessful and I really hit a ditch. I’m supposed to be a family man and be good with children.
No one wants to fall down, but it’s about being able to climb up again. You feel like you’re gaining power. You see the world differently.
I was 24 the first time I got married. I felt I had to do everything. When you’re 30, you start to think about whether you want to work for others or start something on your own. At 40, you try to make it perfect.
Before I turned 50, I tended to think that life was about taking. But it’s about giving. When you’re giving, you’re actually receiving a lot more.
I don’t talk at home. I read a lot. I’m actually a very introverted person.
I still haven’t really got one precise career. How would you define me?
I’m a CEO, magician, musician, entertainer and teacher.
I’m also a qualified hypnotherapist. I have never thought of using it clinically. I think people kind of identify me already [as a magician].
My favorite and least favorite thing about Hong Kong? It’s like asking me to choose ice cream. I would have strawberry today, chocolate tomorrow and vanilla the day after. I accept things and I love anyone I come across, even that guy who was honking at me for no reason.
I have no plans to leave for good, although I definitely have plans to leave. That’s one of the beauties of Hong Kong—you can leave it any time you want.
Hong Kong is Hong Kong. I can’t not like it—it’s my home.
If you can find peace in yourself, you realize anything is manageable. There is no problem that can’t be solved.
Need to Know…
Harry Wong began his career in children’s TV in 1986. As well as being Hong Kong’s sorcery stalwart and an accomplished recorder player, he has also worked extensively in the arts.
Catch him at Magic at the Fringe, Aug 12, 8:30pm. Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Rd., Central, 2521-7251.