February 2017 Vol. 13 No. 6
Sunny Cagara - Denmark’s most dangerous man? From Taekwondo, to magic tricks, to fighting against crime in Copenhagen BY LUKÁŠ CIBULA AND LEONORA BJERREGAARD BERNSTEIN
Photography: Sergiu Leustean Models: Michael André Bolther, Leonora Bjerregaard Bernstein
am going to steal that”, the man said, pointing to my wedding ring. I shivered a little. “My wife will not be happy about this”, I thought, staring intensely at the ring that had remained in its place for nearly 12 years. “I will steal it without you even realising it”, the man continued. My attention was completely focused on my ring, forgetting all about the sizeable crowd around us and the fact that I had just endured a one-hour lecture on rising crime rates in Copenhagen given by the chief police officer on site. The man seemed fairly normal, but my guts told me there was something mischievous behind that alluring smile. My gaze was fixated on him and his every move, determined to catch him in the act. Time stood still. The noises of the audience faded into the far distance, leaving him and myself alone in his mind palace. A battle of the minds, one might say. “Is this your phone?”, the man suddenly said, breaking the silence that had lingered in the room. He held up my phone to the audience and then handed it to me. Wait! What! But how? My phone was surely in my jacket pocket, and never once did he go near it. I was certain. Or was I? “Would you like your car keys, watch and credit card back too?” The surrounding silence suddenly gave way to sporadic outbursts of surprise. At the corner of my eye, I sensed the police officer’s pale face turning reddish. I realised that I had been a victim of theft even though I had been looking directly at the thief the entire time.
This is just one of numerous stories of people who were under the spell of Sunny Cagara - a man with unusual skills. Undoubtedly, Sunny could make a living by stealing valuables at parties, in the metro and on the streets. But he has decided to take another path. He is a magician! In fact, he is a crime fighting magician with unique mastery of deception, quick fingers, and an ability to read one’s mind. But, luckily, Sunny is one of the good guys. Or is he?
“Magic and stealing is kind of the same family” — says Sunny, a man who chooses every day to do good with his unique talents instead of exploiting them in his own favour. A true family man in all respects, embracing the good, the bad and the ugly. SUNNY BECAME FASCINATED WITH THE ART OF THEFT at a very early age. While all the other school
boys were playing on the playground and chasing girls, young Sunny was chasing other classmate’s belongings. It all started in the fourth grade when his curiosity forced him to steal a watch from his best friend. Eleven attempts is what it took him to succeed. But when he was finally holding the precious watch, while his friend was complacently walking away without a single shred of suspicion, Sunny realised he had special talents. After that, his classmates were continuously subjected to theft. In the end, practice makes the master or, in Sunny’s case, the artist. However, magic was not the only art that Sunny pursued.
Despite not being the tallest man in the world, at the age of 13, Sunny won his first Danish championship in Taekwondo. He was not afraid to face guys twice his size. His motto has always been “It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small. Green or yellow. I can still kick your ass.” Having this mindset, his success continued, with Sunny spending the following years outplaying much bigger guys and celebrating four more Danish Championships and two silver medals in the European Championships in Taekwondo. He mastered the martial arts around the world and, at the same time, practiced his magic tricks wherever he went. The two skill sets go hand in hand - like gin and tonic. Through Taekwondo, Sunny learned to read his opponents and predict their movements by decoding their body language. These skills were also valuable as a magician when needing to read his “victims” faster than they could themselves. His eagerness and motivation lead him into mastering more tricks. Living in the era before Youtube, one can probably imagine how cumbersome it must have been. However, he persisted, the same way he did with Taekwondo. He was traveling and intently studying magicians around the world. He was smart and curious, fast to discover their secrets and then making their tricks even better. But being able to execute tricks was simply not enough! No, to evoke feelings of fascination he needed to add the element of tension and suspense. At that point, Sunny learned the importance of showmanship. Upon his return to Denmark, he realised that he had reached a certain level of magical expertise and that it was time to take the next step towards becoming a professional in this field. But this step is tricky in itself. There is no formal education for magicians anywhere in the world. He had already missed his acceptance letter to Hogwarts, and David Copperfield was not in the market for a side-kick. So, full of ambitions and expectations, self-taught magician Sunny found a professional performer who introduced him to the magician society.
“I think magicians are one of the most creative groups of people. We make the impossible happen” EVERY FEBRUARY, thousands of magicians from all
over the world meet and exchange ideas at the Blackpool Magic Convention. Engineers, street kids, mentalists, illusionists, mind-readers, hypnotists – these are just a few examples from the guest list. Magicians are fascinating people. We think we can put them all in the same box, but in fact they could not be more different from each other.
By interacting with other magicians and exchanging ideas at occasions like this, Sunny discovered that stealing was his niche. His skills were so refined that he fooled the greatest and most talented magicians. Even David Blaine had to watch him perform his trick theft seven times in a row before he was able to uncover how Sunny stole his phone. But traveling around the world and being able to perform even the most impressive tricks were simply not enough. Sunny was trying to find his own performance identity. He knew he was not the mysterious man hiding behind the veil of suspense and surprise. No, magic meant something completely different for Sunny.
“We get a glimpse of heaven each and every time we laugh” Craftsmanship and entertainment must go hand in hand. Sunny got to know just how important entertainment was when he performed a card trick for his friend in which the chosen card magically appeared out of Sunny’s mouth. The friend’s reaction was priceless - he burst into uncontrollable laughter that followed him all the way home. He was smiling from ear to ear like a teenager in love, unable to remove the image from his mind. It was his friend’s sincere amusement that made Sunny realise that he could influence people with magic, giving them a moment of joy and making them forget about all their worries.
THE TURNING POINT IN HIS CAREER came when he met
the UN Chief of Security, Jesper Lundorf, who was fascinated by Sunny’s unique talents. To demonstrate his skills, Sunny stole Lundorf’s shirt off his body during a presentation at the UN, with everybody except the chief himself noticing it. Sunny once again proved that he could play tricks even with the most intelligent minds. “I’ll do anything. I’ll be your right
hand. Just stay on the good side,” Jesper Lundorf exclaimed. It was the experience at the UN and the support of the Chief of Security that inspired Sunny to use his talents for another purpose than entertainment - crime fighting. And so, rising from the high school pranks, to martial arts, to magic shows, Sunny joined the police ranks.
HE STARTED TOURING AROUND THE COUNTRY perform-
ing events and hosting workshops with the Danish police and the UN, respectively. In collaboration with the Danish police, he taught people how to avoid being subjected to trickery theft. His experience, abilities and showmanship, helped him to illustrate how trickery theft was done in practice and how to prevent becoming a victim of such a crime. The Danish police were quite pleased with “recruiting” a magician to participate in these events, since people would seem to better digest serious matters like crime with a touch of magic. Sunny similarly helps the UN “translate” information about cybercrime (hacking and identity theft) and makes it more accessible to the regular audience by showing and comparing trickery theft in the physical world to hacking tricks in the digital world. “These collaborations, events and workshops have helped me realise how important it is to have a purpose behind every skill. It is your choice if the purpose is for the good or bad. I choose to be able to help people and convey a message through the skills I have.”
Like everyone else, Sunny makes choices every day about who he wants to be, what “mask” to wear, and Sunny has a wide selection of faces to choose from: A joker, a semi-criminal, an entertainer, a crazy magician, a martial arts expert, a beloved father, a mind-reading puppeteer, a crime fighter. There are so many choices that perhaps he may even himself wonder at times who the real Sunny Cagara is. AT THE END OF THE DAY, Sunny believes that magic is when
people do something spectacular. “Denmark is a land of opportunity. If you have an idea you can make it happen. I mean I am a crime-fighting Magician! What are the odds?” Sunny’s personality, humour, way of thinking and exceptional skills are quite a magical experience. It inspires you to believe that anything is possible. Even the childhood perception that magic is real lingers in your thoughts long after being exposed to Sunny’s world of magic.
Sunny cannot only strip you of all your physical belongings. He can also steal your thoughts. Nothing escapes his eagle eye. He reads your facial expressions and involuntary body language to expose the truth underneath. By playing with people’s subconsciousness, he keeps their minds distracted from the truth. He can fool anyone. Even the most intelligent people in the world! “Think of a number, any number that comes to mind…! Ok have you picked a number? Are you ready?” When Sunny asks these questions you are under the impression that you have a free choice. In fact, having the freedom to choose is one of the “perks” of living in Denmark. But in the company of Sunny Cagara your free will is manipulated without you being aware of it. He hacks into your subconsciousness, studies your every move, your every thought. In doing so, he becomes the puppet master, and you his puppet. With all his skills to influence other people’s minds coupled with his abilities to force even the largest man to the ground with a well-aimed roundhouse kick (if need be), Sunny Cagara is arguably the most dangerous man in Denmark. But this is not what he choses to be.