The magic of soapy water

The magic of soapy water

An American entertainer has turned blowing bubbles into a stage act that dazzles children and adults alike

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Louis Pearl, aka The Amazing Bubble Man.
Louis Pearl, aka The Amazing Bubble Man.
Most of us experience the joy of blowing bubbles as young children. Louis Pearl did - and still does.

Pearl is known as the Amazing Bubble Man and for good reason. The American has been blowing bubbles since 1980 - and not just any bubbles, either. His feats include stacking bubbles on top of one another to create rocket ships, putting bubbles inside bubbles, and even creating ones large enough to envelop a person or two.

From tomorrow, Pearl will be in Hong Kong to show off his skills.

Blowing bubbles artfully, Pearl tells Young Post during a phone interview, is no child's play. His bubble solution is not just soap and water. He adds glycerin, which helps molecules to stretch, and uses distilled water.

"I bring bottled water because I never know what the water is going to be like [in the places I visit]," says Pearl, who travels widely with his show.

Even after three decades of performing bubble tricks, Pearl is still experimenting with different mixtures.

"I'm constantly testing and devising new formulas. I have lots of beakers and mixing machines, and liquids and powders," he says. "I can measure everything to the hundredth of a gram, but due to outside influences such as temperature and humidity, I often have to adjust the solution on the fly."

Pearl sees himself "like a chef [with] 30 years of experience".

"I have acquired a feel for the right amount of snap and stretch I want in my soap film," he says. "This is something that can't be taught. It comes through long years of trial and error. You come to understand the physics and chemistry."

The Amazing Bubble Man show started when Pearl was working in the toy industry in California, in the US.

"I invented a bubble trumpet that made large bubbles," he says. He started selling them, and soon discovered other ways to create interesting bubbles, either with other people's inventions, or with objects he found. "Eventually, I had 140 different bubble products."

He started off with simple tricks for children's parties and summer camps. The young ones loved it so he decided to create a proper stage show.

"I'm not an actor in any sense of the word," he says. "The closest thing is magic, but there's no sleight of hand. It's all real but the spectacle is similar."

Pearl is following in the footsteps of the late Eiffel Plasterer, a physics teacher from Indiana, in the US. Plasterer began doing shows in 1925, and some of his performances from the 1980s are available on YouTube.

But Pearl had to start from scratch. "There was hardly anyone [doing it] when I first started," he says.

Several other performers have since adopted the entertainment form, but Pearl isn't worried about the competition.

"Most people still haven't heard about bubble shows, so it's not like we get mixed up with each other," he says. "It's a bit like juggling. People do similar things but their presentation is different."

The Amazing Bubble Man will perform at HKAPA, from tomorrow until Sunday. Tickets from HK Ticketing

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