TGIF Ventriloquist Terry Fator brings band of puppets to Hawaii Theatre Aug. 12, 2015 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! COURTESY TERRY FATORVentriloquist Terry Fator got his big break as a contestant on the TV show "America’s Got Talent." Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. If you can do that parlor trick where you tie the stem of a cherry into a knot with your tongue, you too might have what it takes to become a famous ventriloquist like Terry Fator. Then again, you’d also need a terrific work ethic, a great singing voice and a sense of humor. Observe the master in practice this weekend, when Fator plays two shows on Saturday and Sunday at Hawaii Theatre. "Your tongue has to be able to do the work of your lips," said the ventriloquist/impressionist/singer, who vaulted to fame after winning the second season of the reality TV competition "America’s Got Talent." "That sounds like a dirty statement, but it’s not. "Your lips are required to say certain letters — p and m, and b, and v and f. All of these things your lips have to do because they cause that little explosive sound. Your tongue has to learn to do an impression of those sounds, so in order to be really good at it, you have to have a tongue that’s flexible enough so you can manipulate it so that it can re-create those consonant sounds that your lips normally make." ‘TERRY FATOR: ALOHA FROM HAWAII’ >> Where: Hawaii Theatre >> When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday >> Cost: $60-$115 >> Info: hawaiitheatre.com or 528-0506 It’s doubtful that any ventriloquist has worked as hard as Fator has at perfecting his skills, which involve not just speaking without moving his lips, but singing in voices that sound eerily like famous singers. Since early childhood, when he sang in church and performed in school plays, Fator wanted to become an entertainer. At age 10 he gravitated toward ventriloquy after finding a book about it and, wanting to differentiate himself from kids who were learning magic, decided to go for it. "I picked it up pretty quickly," he said. "I knew early on that I wanted to make ventriloquism my career. It’s weird. Most people go through several incarnations of what they want to be. I knew from 11 years old that I wanted to be a professional ventriloquist and make that my career." As a child he worked for his parents’ janitorial business in Dallas, using the time to perfect his talent. "From the time I was 10 or 11, I was cleaning buildings, and I did not like it, so what I would do is I would practice my ventriloquism," he said. "I would say in my lifetime, I would say I’ve practiced hundreds of thousands of hours." He also had a knack for mimicking various singers at an early age, such as Michael Jackson, Donny Osmond, Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. "The funniest thing about that is that it was such a natural thing for me, I honestly did not know that everyone could not do it," he said. "I was in my 20s before someone pointed out to me that that was a gift." With ventriloquy becoming a dying art, his career got off to a slow start, his act often stuck in back stages at state fairs. It wasn’t until 2005, at age 40, that Fator combined all of his various talents into the act he has now, after seeing impressionist Danny Gans mimic singers. Two years later Fator strolled onto the stage of "America’s Got Talent" with his puppet Emma Taylor — and was greeted by judge David Hasselhoff moaning, "Oh no, not a ventriloquist." Fator himself was expecting the appearance to provide a modest boost to his career, but then belted out a version of Etta James’ "At Last" that stunned the crowd and brought Hasselhoff to his feet. "I was thinking I would last a couple of rounds, get voted off, then I could raise my prices," he said. "I had no idea I would capture the hearts of America." He is now a headliner in Las Vegas and tours nationally. He will be bringing his entire act here, 16 puppets and his seven-piece band, whom he’s treating to some extra vacation time. Fator, whose assistant Taylor Makakoa is from Hawaii, is especially grateful to local fans who sent him encouraging emails as he climbed the ranks of "America’s Got Talent." For them he has a special treat: a new puppet, Kani Kapila, based on popular Hawaiian singers. "Kani Kapila’s going to be singing ‘I Kona,’ and people will be there either to throw rotten fruit at him or cheer." Previous Story McGuinn to perform songs from his illustrious past plus 'other things' Next Story Movies: 'Straight Outta Compton,' 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'