He’s no killer, and she’s not dead.
An assistant to a Khmer theater magician passed out from fright Sunday night when a televised trick involving a big knife and plenty of blood was so convincing that a panicked audience rushed up and scared her into unconsciousness.
Mak, a magician clad all in red and sporting a long mustache like Yumreach, the guardian of souls in Khmer Buddhist mythology, had been invited to appear on Apsara television’s popular “House Number 11.”
The show canvasses the country looking for strange or interesting people. Mak is known for a trick in which he apparently chops his assistant’s neck with a cleaver-like knife.
But sometimes the audience believes it, said Meas Saravuth, host of House Number 11.
In fact, Mak had been invited to the show to disprove rumors that he is a killer and his assistant is dead. Some say the police are looking for him, or have already arrested him.
The rumors stemmed from a similar performance broadcast live during a concert at the Parkway Square on Mao Tse-tung Boulevard.
“We found a lot of different rumors after the theater did the trick,” Meas Saravuth said. “Many people called us [but] I didn’t know how to explain.”
During the performance, Mak uses a huge knife to easily slash through banana tree trunks. He then turns the blade on his assistant, raises it high above his head and brings it down hard on her neck. Blood squirts all over his arms and clothes, and the audience is shocked.
Magically, however, the blade does her no harm. “It wouldn’t hurt anyone,” Meas Saravuth said. “It just looks real.”
But Sunday’s audience believed the trick was real. After the blood began to fly, the audience panicked and rushed toward Mak’s assistant, fearing her head had been severed from her body and she was dead.
So many people crowding around her caused her to faint, unbeknownst to the audience or host of the show. When the hosts said the trick was finished and invited the assistant to come up for a gift of flowers, she lay on the stage, unresponsive. There was more panic and audience members in the rear of the studio pushed forward.
The assistant woke a few minutes later, unharmed.