Entertainment: My father never used voodoo to perform magic- Shina Peller
Shina Peller is the owner of the pub, Quilox, with the highest celebrity patrons and son of the late iconic magician, Professor Peller. In this interview with LANRE ODUKOYA, he recalls moments with his father onstage and gives insight into the operations as well as what to expect at Quilox the next time you visit.
What’s the atmosphere like with the club business at the moment?
Is it immune to the economic crunch? The foreign exchange has affected night club business adversely and no one can deny that. All the drinks we sell are not manufactured in Nigeria, they’re imported and clearing charges shoot up the costs of drinks.
If you were buying a crate of drinks for N100, 000, it would cost you a minimum of N150, 000 now, and you really cannot pass that 50 percent increase to your direct customers. So, definitely the atmosphere is harsher now than any other time we had been in business.
How about patronage? If three years ago you made on the average N5million a week, how much would you be making at present?
There’s been about 25 to 30 percent drop in sales for obvious reasons.
While trying to stay afloat, have you had economic reasons to go on recess for some time?
We’ve never even thought of closing shop for a day. That’s our sole investment and where we make our living from. We’re struggling to make ends meet and we acknowledge that we’re still making some profit although we cannot compare it to when foreign exchange rates had not gone high.
Recently, you visited your hometown, Iseyin, Oyo State, for the 20th memorial of your father, late Moshood Folorunsho Abiola a.k.a. Professor Peller. What memories do you hold of him?
He was a great supporter of youths and community developments, and that was the main reason I celebrated his 20th memorial.
Your father was a magician in his own league. Why haven’t any of you stepped into his shoes?
Magic is an art of making the impossible possible, what I’ve been doing in the night life industry is magic as well. I worked with my dad before when we were in school and I remember that we always looked forward to vacation because we went on tour with him. I’d been with my dad onstage several times. The Peller family is a magical family.
From books written about your dad, he was said to be a very spiritual man who prayed every day but the majority of people believe there cannot be magic without the use of some talisman…
That’s just the way we Nigerians look at things. We live in a very funny country where people hardly see things in the right perception most times. Magic is a profession, it’s not a religionthey’re two parallel lines that can never meet.
My dad’s religion was Islam and his profession was magic. If you see my dad the same way you see Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and King Sunny Ade, you would be fair. You wouldn’t find my dad doing magic somewhere and there were no people paying to watch him. So, it was an art he didn’t need voodoo to do.
The turn-out at the commemorative tournament you staged at your dad’s recently held memorial stirred speculations you might be rallying people for a political ambition…
Please do your fact-finding and I’m sure you’d realise I’m not a cardcarrying member of any political party. What I’ve just done is what I’ve been doing for years. If you look at last year, you’d realise that I went to some public schools to give out iPads to the best students. Every time I post photos of the event, people from Oke-Ogun and Ibadan (Oyo State) ask me to bring the gestures home. Well, I thought so too, that charity begins at home.
For a full month every year, Quilox shuts down, what explains this?
From the inception of Quilox, it was part of the plan to run an 11-month calendar. I take a month off to return to the drawing board and re-strategize. I always know there would be something new to introduce and something to correct in our operations. More so, I’m a very committed Muslim; during Ramadan I observe the fasting and you will understand that’s using one stone to kill two birds.
Is it true that at Quilox, even top celebrities are sometimes denied entry?
At Quilox we make the biggest nightlife practice in the world our benchmark. For me, even if I travel abroad now and I need a table in any club, I’d rather go to their website, take the number, book a table and pay for it.
So, if anybody wants a table at Quilox and he goes through the right channel, I don’t see any reason anyone would deny you entry. But when you have a club that has the capacity to seat 100 people and over that number is scampering to enter, why would you want to force 200 people into such facility?
The singer, Oritsefemi, once also complained he was denied access and that Sound Sultan had been treated the same way prior to his experience. What really happened?
That’s impossible because Sound Sultan is like my family- he’s my brother. If you recall even Sound Sultan objected to what Oritsefemi said then. I wasn’t even around that particular day but I got the CCTV footage of what happened. It didn’t even happen at the VIP section of the club, it was just at the open arena.
All the tables were already taken and Oritsefemi didn’t have a prior booking. He came into the club and was able to discuss with someone who had got a table that he’d be joining him and he agreed. But the same customer made him know that he was expecting some other guests as the owner of the table.
Then Oritsefemi wanted to bring people to the table and it led to the face-off. I just don’t like to bring people down otherwise I would have released the footage of that incident and you’d realise that Quilox only did what was expected of it. My bouncer is paid to provide security, and in the footage you would see that the bouncer didn’t attack Oritsefemi but the reverse happened.
Anyway, the matter has been resolved. I own a record label myself, so why would I bounce A-list artistes? Quilox is actually a place set up for A-list artistes to come to. Quilox is the biggest nightlife spot in Nigeria, so it’s a case of having the right people at the right place.