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March, 2017 Issue

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ALAIN NU

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There are very few true professionals entertaining in the campus market with the level of experience, understanding, technical ability and natural rapport as Alain Nu. It’s a little hard to peg Alain. In our Artist Report Card section, he falls loosely under “Live Novelty”, but that does little to narrow things down. He isn’t a hypnotist (though he may use some form of hypnosis). He can’t really be called a magician and he’s not exactly a mentalist. “I like to consider myself an ‘enigmatist’ as someone who’s interests range with regards to unusual enigmas, psychological gambits, really anything people might consider to be paranormal. Those all encompass the gamut of my interests and what I like to demonstrate.””

Enigmatism can include many forms of what we traditionally think of in this genre of entertainment and, many things you won’t see from anyone but Alain and his unique take. “Some of the more obvious examples of what I do are perceptual manipulation of magical sort of effects, demonstrations of mind over matter, non-verbal communication in the form of telepathy or the like and all other sorts of cool things like hypnosis, lightning calculations, super memory and others. The most popular forms of what I do would fall under hypnotism, mentalism and magic. My show is all of these things rolled up into a presentation that very specifically focuses on the power of the mind and how we can potentially push ourselves to find our mental limits and unknown abilities and strengths.”

While there can be meaning drawn from some of the presentations he makes, Alain’s show is for the most part a purely entertainment experience. “It is definitely a show in which people are having a great time and audience participation is first and foremost in my show. Almost every demonstration involves either part of the audience or the entire audience itself. In the end, the loose message one might walk away with is ‘be curious about yourself and your own potential.’””

Alain certainly isn’t “new” when it comes to entertaining and can easily bring a veteran’s game to the show. “I am one of the crazy few who can truly say they ‘I have been doing this my entire life.’ My interest has been there ever since I was a kid; I come from a Vietnamese and Chinese background, so of course the family history is this sort of rich tapestry of lore, legend, some unconventional thinking that involved everything from mind over matter to unusual superstitions and beliefs. But, for the most part growing up in the United States (born in California) but growing up as a child of immigrant parents, I adopted sort of an unusual way of looking at myself and the world.””

Alain felt a natural tendency toward becoming the mysterious and unusual guy that he is. His interest in magic began at around 7, bolstered by stories from aunts and uncles of strange and fantastic spirits, ghosts, walking statues and mythical beasts from the past. “Along with wanting to not only honor my family’s heritage but to also help convey that to other people, I found magic a unique and particularly effective medium for showing people the sort of strange reality that was mine.””

Before long, Alain had discovered magic goes far beyond illusion and the physical affect it can have on our minds; it is ultimately a way to connect and communicate with fellow man. “I learned that magic goes much deeper than just tricks, there is a very deep psychological edge to it that really kind of bridges our own imaginations with reality. It is possible to bring that feeling of something tremendous, unbelievable and absolutely impossible working beneath our own selves right into the very hands of another person. I feel that is something we can tap into using the kind of demonstrations I do.””

Alain’s studies ran deep as he found the more he learned the more there was to learn. “I found that the more I studied and got into it, the more doors opened up for me.” He eventually found himself living in the Washington DC area as his father had gotten a job at the Library of Congress (coincidentally enough both of Alain’s parents are librarians). “When I moved to DC I opened myself up to an underground magic scene of people that included magicians, mentalists, sance mediums and all sorts of other colorful characters in the area.” ”

The area was rife with some of the most well known and respected at the time. “I was kind of fortunate in that respect to have my eyes opened up to that culture. As I got deeper and deeper I found myself traveling all over the world, meeting other masters of their respective crafts and exchanging information with them.””

As the child of two Asian librarians, Alain’s path wasn’t one that wouldn’t rock any boats. “I definitely had some issues with my parents with regards to what they wanted me to do versus what I ended up doing. It’s funny because the entire time that I was pushing to become who I am, I sort of had to go it on my own. With both of them being ‘old school’ Asians if you will, they weren’t really into the idea of me being in the entertainment industry and saw absolutely no future in it for me whatsoever. So by the time I was 18, I had pretty much struck out and pursued my career path against the wishes of my parents.””

Like so many artists before him who’s parents have high ambitions (and often a little bit too specific of a plan in mind) for their children, it wasn’t until Alain’s parents had the relief of seeing him succeed that they became more accepting of his choice. “It really wasn’t until I started to do well with my career that they began to reaccept me once again. It was a little bit hurtful at the time and I feel it has created somewhat of an unfortunate distance between them and myself. But, I truly feel you just have to go with your flow; if you have it in your heart to do something and you want to achieve something important in your life for yourself, then you have to find your passion and move toward that goal without letting anyone stop you.””

The college market was a boon for Alain that typifies a pattern that has seemed to develop throughout his life. Call it Providence, call it Karma or call it luck, whatever it is it has served him well. “Its funny because my life is literally one random thing happening to me after another and for some reason I’ve gotten some great opportunities. Before I got into the college market, I was kind of doing my own thing working heavily in the corporate market in the local Washington DC area. All of a sudden this agency RP Productions decided to pick me up and represent me in the college market. They literally paid for everything, including taking me into the conferences. So, that experience was the first I knew a ‘market’ even existed. Now of course prior to that point I knew that Craig Karges was in the college market and I had heard of Gil Eagles, but I never thought of it as an actual ‘market’ for myself until Robert Sapilski showed me the ropes. After that I just fell right into it.””

Eventually Alain parted with this first campus representation, around June 2001. After September 11, he immediately realized he would need to adapt. “I turned to my wife and said ‘I’m going to be a part of the college market now,’ because I knew that at least for a while the corporate market would basically go down the tubes. I thought if there was a place to go it would be the college market. I began advertising through Campus Activities Magazine and worked my way through independently.””

Later partnering with Everything But The Mime, Alain maintained an active presence in the college market and filmed four hour-long television specials for TLC. “The Mysterious World of Alain Nu” can still be occasionally seen in rebroadcast.”

After developing what felt like somewhat of a disconnect between himself and the agency, Alain parted ways with Everything But The Mime. “I felt like my personal brand and the direction of my show were just different than theirs.””

Meanwhile GP Entertainment was going strong and building a unique brand and reputation for themselves as well and had it not been for unfortunate timing, Alain might have been with GP long ago. “They had originally asked me about joining their roster literally the day after I signed with Everything But The Mime. I felt bad because in a way I wanted to, but I had a commitment with Carol. Once that resolved I went with GP and I have to say they are great guys and I feel really strong about the group we have over there.” [Incidentally Tim & Rich at GP felt back then that Alain was the best kept secret in the college market and “the strongest thought reading act out there”, Alain was to be the very first act on GP’s roster.] “I feel like I fit in very well with the rest of their roster, from the paranormalists there including the elite ghost hunters to demonologists to great hypnosis, magic, variety & sideshow acts. Since what I do is a mixture of all of those things, I am a good example of the GP Entertainment squad.””

Another lucky break and connection landed Alain a string of gigs over several years at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. “Once again, it was a connection that opened up for me. In my show I spend a good deal talking about connections and making connections. I use what I do as a metaphor for my own life because I feel like it is all about making connections and forming relationships with people.”

“Anyway I got a call from a friend asking ‘How would you like to work Caesar’s Palace?’ I sent in a videotape and before I knew it I was performing in this theatrical experience called ‘Caesar’s Magical Empire.” I worked six nights a week, 4-6 weeks per run, 3 or 4 times a year. It was kind of my mainstay show and was the place I could go whenever I would hit a slow month. I could call up Caesar’s and they would put me up for the month. It was all great until Celine Dion came along and kicked us all out,” he says laughing.”

“The Mysterious World of Alain Nu” is possibly Alain’s most impressive credential, as most entertainers in his field spend their careers trying to get some sort of widespread television exposure. “A totally random happening again. A guy was talking to a magician in a bar [sounds like the beginning of a bad joke] and he asked ‘Whom would you recommend for a television show that would have enough material to fit into an hour-long timeslot?’ The weird part because this magician could have named any number of people; it was almost like a name came out of a hat and it happened to be mine,” he says with a still disbelieving laugh in his voice. “This guy calls me up and tells me he wants to do a TV show. I was literally so in disbelief that I didn’t take it seriously, not nearly enough anyway,” he says chagrined. “I should have immediately started working on it but I didn’t want anything to stop my own personal stride at the time and there was never anything that actually came in, in the way of a contract. Nothing was really happening other than me giving him ideas, which comes naturally to me. I am good at what I do in the sense that I can apply the knowledge I have in many different ways.” This skill would eventually allow him to pull off a seemingly insurmountable task.”

The gentlemen showed up unexpectedly one day to take Alain to meet with some television networks. Things were pushed through quicker than he could have expected and because of his previous lack of taking things as seriously as he should have, he suddenly found himself with two weeks to come up with an hour’s television material. “It was insane because there were like 20 segments in that hour, it was lightning fast.””

One segment turned into 4 over the course of 4 months and Alain now has an impressive set of specials that encapsulate a huge amount of material. Over 80 different demonstrations occupy this catalog and is a testament to his creativity and prolific nature. “That was a huge, crazy ordeal that spanned over eight cities across America. Television is a beast that eats up material and it was a hectic ordeal I wouldn’t want to have to repeat to be honest,” he says laughing.”

Alain Nu is a professional of the utmost degree. He is friendly, personable and will amaze your students beyond mere fascination and take them on a trip through their own minds. On the other side, perhaps they’ll be just a little bit more cognizant of their own abilities.”

BOOK IT! For more information on bringing Alain Nu to your school, contact GP Entertainment at (866) 812-8248. For online media of Alain, including video, pricing, tour dates and booking info, log on to our website at www.campusactivitiesmagazine.com. Click on “Artists” under the “Buyer’s Guide” Tab and either enter Alain’s name in the given field or find it browsing through the letter “A.”

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