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Ning Cai
Ning Cai Mind Magic Mistress 2016.jpg
Cai in 2016
Born Ning Cai
Residence Singapore
Other names Mind Magic Mistress
Magic Babe Ning
Occupation Magician, entrepreneur

Ning Cai (Chinese: 蔡嬣; born 1982),[1] better known as Mind Magic Mistress (and formerly known as Magic Babe Ning), is a Singaporean magician, illusionist, escape artist and entrepreneur. She has been recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.[2] Along with her former stage partner J C Sum, Cai has been credited for popularising magic in Singapore.[3] She is best known for her good looks[4][5] and for bringing glamour to magic in Asia, and was named "the sexiest woman in magic" by UK magic magazine MagicSeen;[6] she was subsequently described this way by multiple publications in Singapore.[7][8][9][10][11][12]

In October 2014, Cai announced her retirement from performing magic professionally. Soon after, she published her memoir Who Is Magic Babe Ning? To date, she has published three nonfiction books and a young adult novel. The first novel in her upcoming young adult trilogy Misdirection is due out in early 2018. She returned to magic in March 2017, now known as Mind Magic Mistress, with a focus on mentalism.

Magic career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Cai’s first contact with magic was when she was 5 years old and watched David Copperfield on TV.[13] Her interest was revived in 2004 when she was involved with charity work for the Children’s Cancer Foundation and performed magic at their events.[14][15][16][17] At the same time, she became one of the founding members (as acknowledged by the creator) and moderators of Singapore Magic Circle (SMC), an on-line magic community and forum.[17][18]

In 2006, she joined a local magic competition and came in 3rd place. This led her to join J C Sum’s magic production house as a performer and marketing communications manager;[15][19] after graduating with a degree in Mass Communications from RMIT University.[6][15][20] When Ning first burst onto the entertainment scene, she was acknowledged as "Singapore's only professional female magician" by publications including The Straits Times,[21][22] Lianhe Zaobao,[23] The New Paper,[24] My Paper,[25] Tiger Tales,[26] Vanilla,[27] Mediacorp Channel 8 News,[28] Art Jam,[29] Teens,[30][31] Lianhe Wanbao[32] and I-S Magazine.[33]

Cai dislikes being typecast as a typical female in magic who plays submissive roles to males and only performs magic with silks, flowers, umbrellas or rabbits.[34] She incorporates samurai swords, twirling fire balls, spikes and weapons in her shows.[27][35][36] Her influences in magic include David Copperfield, Princess Tenko and J C Sum.[6][11][16][37]

Ecapes and illusions[edit]

"Magic Babe" Ning with her fans after a show, February 2009

Over the years, Cai has performed frequently with J C Sum in various illusion shows across Asia.[6][38] Channel News Asia highlighted that they represent "the new faces of an age-old art form",[39] and called them "Singapore's celebrity magic duo".[40] The Straits Times called them "Asia's most famous illusionists".[41] AsiaOne called them “the hottest duo in town”.[42] AXN stated that "J C Sum and 'Magic Babe' Ning have fast smashed some new grounds in Asian magical realms".[43] As a duo, they helped put Singapore on the world map with their performances and illusions.[13][39][44][45] They continue to present their illusions shows across Asia. By 2008, Cai and Sum were the highest paid magicians in Singapore.[5][7][46]

In August 2007, Cai played an integral role in Sum’s The Impossible Teleportation mega illusion where she headed the team on the roof that saw Sum magically reappear 5 seconds after vanishing from street level.[6][19]

In August 2008, Cai and Sum starred in Ultimate Magic, Singapore’s first permanent illusion show at The Arena in the entertainment district of Clarke Quay.[13][20][30][47][48][49][50][51] Cai attempted South East Asia's first ever mega escape from The Impalement Cage on 5 July 2008. In front of a live audience of more than 4,000 people, Cai picked her way through handcuffs, locks, shackles and chains to free herself from a steel cage with a bed of 13 stainless steel spikes, timed to crash down on her in 90 seconds. To add to the difficulty and danger of the mega escape, Cai was also completely blindfolded.[8][35][52][53][54][55][56][57] The Impalement Cage mega escape marked the official launch of Ultimate Magic. It was Cai’s first solo mega escape.[58] The show ended its year-long run in August 2009.

On 24 September 2008, Cai and Sum successfully staged South East Asia's Biggest Magic Event at the Singapore River[59] by teleporting 3 people across the iconic Singapore River in 2.5 seconds.[11][22][23][28][60][61][62][63][64] The mega illusion was part of the F1 Singapore Grand Prix Season.[11][59][65][66][67][68][69][70]

Cai was invited to headline the gala show with her one-gal show at the South England Magic Convention on 31 January 2009. It was the first time in history that a Singapore magician headlined an international magic convention.[17][27][36][44][48][71][72]

On 27 June 2009, Cai and Sum set a new world record with their performance of 15 grand illusions in 5 minutes.[2][43][73][74][75][76][77][78] Entitled The Impossible Record, the magic act was the closing finale for Singapore River Festival 2009.[43][79][80] The event was officiated by Singapore Book of Records and International Brotherhood of Magicians.[81][82][83] The event was witnessed by over 3,000 people and is the first ever magic record to be adjudicated by Singapore Book of Records.[2] As a teaser to The Impossible Record, Cai also attempted a mega escape stunt named Inversion on 21 June 2009.[2][33] She successfully attempted an escape from a straitjacket while suspended 3 stories above, upside down and blindfolded. The uniqueness of the escape lies in the fact that there were no safety lines for the stunt.[33][79]

On 22 August 2009, 16,000 people witnessed Cai and Sum teleport a Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI from the Volkswagen showroom to the stage in 8.5 seconds.[84][85]

In 2010, Cai and Sum performed at The Boiler Room in St James Power Station for a one-week run. Named Sexy Magic/Urban Illusions, the show ran from 26 January 2010 to 30 January 2010.[86][87] On 27 March 2010, Cai and Sum performed along other celebrities in the Earth Hour 2010 concert held at the Esplanade Park in Singapore.[88][89][90] On 12 December 2010, Cai and Sum vanished five audience while they were elevated 24 ft high up in the air in front of over a 1,000 strong audience at the Asian Civilisations Museum.[91][92][93] The illusion stunt was called The Aerial Exit, and it was the grand finale of the National Heritage Board’s 2010 Explore Singapore campaign.[92][93][94]

On 7 January 2012, Cai and Sum officially set the world record by being the first illusionists in the world to capture the thoughts of 100 random people in under an hour.[95][96][97][98] The record was set with 9 seconds to spare.[96][97] Called The Mind Heist, the world record breaking feat was also their first mega illusion streamed live on the Internet.[99]

In June 2012, Cai became the first woman to successfully attempt a perform an inverted double Straitjacket Escape from a burning rope 35 ft above ground. Called the Extreme Inversion, the stunt was part of a media launch for Superstars of Magic 2, a production show featuring international performers including Cai and Sum.[100][101][102][103]

In August 2013, Cai and Sum were part of the closing highlights for Singapore Night Festival 2013, for which they performed two mega stunts.[104] The festival was organized by Singapore's National Heritage Board and it was the first year where local acts were the closing highlights.[105] On 30 Aug, Ning successfully attempted The Water Vault, which saw her escaping from a stainless steel water vault which was chained and locked up. As the grand finale of the festival, Cai and Sum performed The Ultimate Inversion, where they escaped in tandem from two straitjackets each while they were suspended upside 50 ft in the air from a burning rope. The feat was recognized by Singapore Book of Records as Singapore's First Tandem Upside Down Double Straitjacket Escape from a Burning Rope.[105][106]

The Impossible 4D Prediction[edit]

On 27 January 2010, Cai and Sum successfully predicted in advance the winning 4D lottery numbers that they made one week before.[107][108][109] It was named The Impossible 4D Prediction.[86][87][110] The prediction was sealed in a giant red packet which was locked in a clear container and suspended high above ground in front of mega nightclub St James Power Station's main entrance on 22 January 2010. The chest was under tight security for 5 days before Cai and Sum revealed the 4D prediction live on 27 January.[86][87][111] Before their prediction was shown to be correct, it was revealed that they had also sealed a cheque of $10,000 made out to the Children's Cancer Foundation as a personal donation to the charity.[107][108][109] It was later revealed that the donation did not come from the winnings of the lottery as they intentionally bought a "null" number of "0000" to reaffirm their stand of not condone gambling and not using their skills for unethical gain.[86][87][107][108][109][110][111]

As a result of the stunt, the term "Magic Babe Ning" was the most-searched item on Yahoo! Singapore on 21 January 2010. Their successful prediction was also one of the top stories on Google News Singapore as well as the top entertainment story on 29 January 2010, 11am.[112][113][114] Comedy television show The Noose did a satirical news story on the prediction (season 3, episode 3) in which Cai and Sum made a cameo appearance.[115]

3 Sides of Magic[edit]

The lecture tour 3 Sides of Magic, presented by Cai and Sum, debuted in Penang in February 2012 with an attendance of about 35 magicians, including hobbyists, professional and semi-professional performers.[116] The duo presented a collection of practical and original routines that ranged from close-up acts, illusion productions and a variety of mental-ism routines.

It also made news in Singapore when Razor TV featured a 3-part series on the lecture on 7 April 2012.[117]

The 5 Weeks Europe Lecture Tour brought Cai and Sum to 25 cities in 5 countries. They shared their magic with almost 1,000 European magicians and showcased their original brand of magic in 21 lectures-cum-mini-shows.

Retirement, writing and comeback[edit]

In October 2014, after 10 years performing as one of Singapore's top female magicians, Cai announced in a Facebook post that she would be retiring from magic, and would no longer perform as the stage character Magic Babe Ning.[58][118] She said she would no longer be performing magic professionally, and would only do magic for her own pleasure.[119] Her retirement came as a major surprise to her fans.[119] She cited reasons such as her upcoming wedding that December and her desire to focus on writing.[58][118]

Prior to her retirement, she and Pamela Ho co-authored the nonfiction book Adventures of 2 Girls, based on their nine-month world travel, published by Marshall Cavendish in September 2012.[120] It debuted on The Straits Times Bestsellers List at #8 in October 2012. Cai then took part in the Singapore Writer's Festival 2013, Words Go Round.

After retiring, she released three books in the next two years, starting with the autobiography Who Is Magic Babe Ning? It was published in December 2014, with a foreword written by Neil Gaiman.[120] Cai called the book a eulogy of sorts to her stage character.[120]

In November 2016, her young adult novel Magicienne was published. It was co-written with Don Bosco.[121] Also that year, she published the nonfiction book Game of Thoughts: Understanding Creativity Through Mind Games (with John Teo).[119] Cai was shortlisted for the 2016 Singapore Literature Prize in the English nonfiction category for Who Is Magic Babe Ning?, and was on the longlist for the 2016 Epigram Books Fiction Prize.[119][122][123] The first novel in her upcoming young adult trilogy Misdirection will be published by Epigram Books in early 2018.[124]

Misdirection was launched in April, 2018, and was in the Top 10 of the Straits Times bestsellers list for three weeks.

In March 2017, Cai returned to magic with a new persona, Mind Magic Mistress, as a headliner at the South Tyneside Magic Festival in the United Kingdom. She was the first Asian magician to perform at the festival. As Mind Magic Mistress, her new show focused on mentalism: mind reading, psychological manipulation, and stealthily influencing people to do things. She has said she is not a mind reader, but she reads people's emotions,[119][125] and that, as a magician, mentalism is her first love.[125]



Several magazines have featured Cai on their covers, including HOTstuff (Sep 2008),[11] Stuff Singapore (Jul 2008),[126] and Vanilla (Oct 2008).[27] She has twice been on the cover of FHM magazine, in 2009 and 2013.[12][58][127][128] Cai was also featured on the cover of the magazine Guardian Feelings in Jan 2012.[129] Cai was also voted "16th sexiest woman in the world in 2008" by FHM Singapore[130] and was one of the "10 Hot Single Women" featured in the magazine the following year.[131] Cai and Sum have appeared together on the cover of Current Events[13] and ArtJam magazines.[29] In August 2012, Cai was featured in Cosmopolitan Singapore as one of the magazine's Fun, Fearless Females.[132][133]

Cai at a television shoot, May 2011


In March 2008, Cai was a featured celebrity as Singapore’s only professional female magician on Record Breakers (Kids Central MediaCorp Studios).

In February 2009, Cai and Sum appeared on Channel 8's Five Stars Carnival for a series of segments which showcased their grand illusions.[45]

In May 2009, Cai and Sum were the first magicians ever to appear on Asia Uncut, an English talk show that airs on the Star World cable network. They presented Cai's signature Straitjacket Striptease and Light & Space illusions.[134]

Subsequently, in July 2009, Cai and Sum also appeared on AXN EBuzz for their The Impossible Record event.[43] They were also featured in Sony Style TV Magazine as well as the season finale for The Amazing Race Asia 4 in late 2010.

In August 2010, Cai and Sum represented Singapore on Duel Mahakarya Magician on RCTI, Indonesia TV. They performed alongside Indonesia's top magicians and other international magicians including Peter Marvey, Marc Spelmann and Omar Pasha. The live show was watched by 20 million viewers.[135][136]

In 2011, Cai and Sum were chosen to star and host one of Singapore's first 3D television shows, showcasing their brand of magic.[137] The 3D TV Special, jointly produced by Sitting in Pictures, Ochre Pictures, 360 Production and Upside Down Concepts, was commissioned by Singapore's Media Development Authority.

Cai and Sum are also the first ever Singapore artistes to be booked to perform on the long-running TV show Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde in Paris, France. The episode, broadcast internationally, aired on 31 December 2011 and was the highest rated TV show of its time slot on French TV.[138]

In 2012, Cai and Sum were featured in an episode of Itte-Q!, a Japanese variety show. The episode featured variety stars who took "lessons" from them.[139] In the same year, they also appeared on the Italian TV show La Grande Magia.[140] In December 2012, they were invited back to Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde where they were booked to perform once again in the New Year's special.

In 2015, Cai was featured on an episode of The 5 Show on Mediacorp Channel 5. She was featured on 単独冠特番 on BS-TBS in Japan in December 2016, and on OK Chope! in March 2017.

Cai will make her acting debut in the third season of the Singapoream drama series Eat Already? (吃饱没) on Mediacorp Channel 8. Initially brought on during production as a consultant for Zheng Geping's character's tricks, she ended up being cast in the role of his assistant. She will be speaking mostly Cantonese and English in the show.[141]

Other projects[edit]

Limited Edition "Pentad Deck"

Besides performing, Cai runs several businesses.[18][19][27] She was the owner of The Little Magic Shop, an online magic shop. In 2007, she rebranded the businesses and changed it to Magic Boutique that she calls “The Little Magic Shop all grown up!”.[6][15] Magic Boutique is the official reviewer for Asia for Murphy’s Magic Supplies, U.S.A.

Together with Sum, in 2011 she released the DVDs Urban Underground and Behind the Illusions for the magic/illusion industry. Behind the Illusions was a best-seller in Murphy's Magic Supplies Best Seller List.[142]

In December 2011, Cai and Sum released a limited edition poker deck, Pentad Deck. The deck commemorates their half-decade milestone as "Asia's Most Lethal Combination in Magic." The card deck was designed and hand-drawn by an artist based in Japan.[143]

Cai is the co-founder and creative director for Mighty Magic Factory, a kids’ educational and entertainment company. The shows she produces for the kids are generally educational that highlight important messages like fire safety, self-confidence and ill effects of smoking.[19][27][71]

Her interests outside of magic include art, origami, motor-cross racing and violin.[6][27][38]

Cai has participated in charity work on projects for the Children’s Cancer Foundation.[14][16][19] She adopted a Mongolian boy through World Vision.[19][27][71]

As the ambassador for the Power Over Cervical Cancer (POCC) Campaign in Singapore,[144] she helps to spread the word on cervical cancer.

Cai is a featured personality for the Singapore Coke Zero advertorial which appeared in issue 1024 of 8 Days that was released on 3 June 2010.[145] She was also the ambassador for LG Mobile Asia in 2010.[146]

She is a committee member of the Singapore Council of Women's Organizations Women's Register.

Achievements and awards[edit]

Cai has achieved several records and awarded numerous awards, including:

  • Epigram Books Fiction Prize longlist (2016)[123]
  • Singapore Literature Prize shortlist, English Nonfiction for Who Is Magic Babe Ning? (2016)[122]
  • “Outstanding Achievement & Contribution to Magic” Award (2013), International Brotherhood of Magicians, Singapore Ring 115[105]
  • "First Tandem Suspended Upside Down Strait Jacket Escape" (2013), Singapore Book of Records[105]
  • "Patrons of Magic" Award (2012), International Brotherhood of Magicians, Singapore Ring 115[97]
  • "Largest Mind Reading Feat: 100 Minds in 60 Minutes" (2012) Singapore Book of Records[97]
  • “Special Recognition Award for Contributions to the Arts & Media Community” (2011) from the School of Film & Media Studies, Ngee Ann Polytechnic[147]
  • Merlin Award "Most Original Female Illusionist of the Year" (2009), International Magicians Society[12][148][149][150]
  • "Most Number of Grand Illusions Performed in 5 Minutes" (2009), Singapore Book of Records[83]
  • "Special Achievement Award" (2009) International Brotherhood of Magicians Singapore Ring 115


  • Adventures of 2 Girls (Marshall Cavendish, 2012) – with Pamela Ho
  • Who Is Magic Babe Ning? (Marshall Cavendish, 2015) – foreword by Neil Gaiman
  • Game of Thoughts: Understanding Creativity Through Mind Games (Marshall Cavendish, 2016) – with John Teo
  • Magicienne: A Novel (Marshall Cavendish, 2016) – with Don Bosco


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