Product Reviews

Reviews written by Dan Watkins


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By:  Corey Burke


Payphone is a 2005 production by Monocle Productions.  The DVD cover art and disc design was created by Danny Garcia.


Cory Burke is originally from Portland, OR.  At age 17 that he decided to start performing professionally with a steady restaurant gig.  He also worked at one of the local magic shops.  By the age of 23 Corey was working 5 different restaurants and clubs and had released his first DVD titled "One Eyed Jacks".


Corey currently resides in San Diego, CA. and is currently a part-time professional magician.


Most of the performances were shot in front of a phone both outside at what appears to be a convenience liquor store.  This may sound odd for a magic video, but it ties in to the theme of the video.  The video looks to be shot with a high end consumer grade digital camcorder.  The video and sound is more than sufficient, you can see and hear everything you need.  During the performance there were a few inconvenient cuts and camera angles (i.e. showing a camera shot behind the performer and then cutting to a front view AFTER a move was executed, or the spectator's head blocking the view of a production, etc.) but the majority of the videography was clear.  The explanations are filmed in what appears to be a living room.  Again, the video and sound is more than sufficient to successfully relay the material; however it is not up to professional studio level lighting, video, and sound standards.  One nice feature was during the explanation segments, a picture in picture window would be used to show the magician's point of view at the same time Corey was explaining a move.


The main performance and explanation is an hour long.  There is a bonus performance section that is accessed by clicking on the "special" menu label and then toggling through the menu until an invisible "special" menu label appears.  This special section contains ten and a half minutes of bonus material and explanations as well as deleted scenes.


The general theme of the DVD is that Corey picks up a payphone outside of a convenience liquor store whereby the unknown figure on the other end demands Corey to perform magic tricks for passers-by.


Corey complies with the "payphone guy" and performs magic for people who happen by.


I will review all the coin material first, followed by a description of all the non-coin effects on the DVD.


Coin Routine #1:  "Coinfusing Production":  A coin is produced at the right fingertips and transferred to the left fingertips.  Corey reaches out for a second coin with the right fingertips and two are produced.  Apparently the left coin traveled back to the right.  Corey reaches out with the left hand to produce a coin, and as he does, one from the right vanishes, leaving him with only one coin in the right hand again.  He reaches out with the left and produces a second coin, and suddenly a third appears at the right fingertips.


I think the name Corey chose for this routine is very fitting.  This is a very offbeat 3 coin production sequence.  The coins are not simply produced, but they bounce around from hand to hand and even vanish as others appear.  Corey incorporates the same split focus misdirection very common in most fingertip coins across routines.  The magician in me likes the novelty of combining translocations and vanishes during a production sequence, however I do wonder if this could become co(i)nfusing for a spectator.  Often it is hard enough for laypeople to follow even a simple production sequence without having the coins flying about and vanishing again.  What Corey has going for him however is that even though all this extra "stuff" is happening, the production is pretty quick.  So the vertigo only lasts a brief second or two.


Corey teaches two versions of the production.  One uses three Morgan dollars.  Version two uses a shell; however from watching the performance and explanation I am convinced he was using a sliding shell.


The pros and cons between the versions are similar to any ungaffed versus gaffed handlings.  Gaffed ones usually provide cleaner visuals, ungaffed ones typically offer easier transition into other effects and you don't have to worry about ringing in or out the sneaky items.


In performance, it appears as though Corey chose to perform the gaffed version for the cleanliness on DVD, and then had a camera cut to set him up to perform "EKN" which uses three legitimate coins.  In practice, if you were to perform "EKN" directly after the production, you would have used the ungaffed method, or you can keep the gaff and use it as the coin you ditch on your neck ("EKN" is described below).


Coin Routine #2:  "EKN" – Three solid Morgan dollars vanish one at a time from Corey's hands and re-appear from his knee, his elbow, and the spectator's elbow.  Once again, three coins vanish one at a time from Corey's hands and re-appear from his knee, his elbow, and from behind his ear.


This is a very straightforward variation of Daryl's "Elbow, Knee, and Neck" routine.  It uses a few different moves of Jim Pace and David Williamson to effectuate the vanishes, and the standard elbow, neck, or knee coin productions.  Of course, with routines like this, they tend to be easily modified for personal preferences.  You could easily substitute your favorite 3 coin vanish sequence to this routine if you were in the mood to experiment.


Coin Routine #3:  "Triclops" – A coin is produced at the right fingertips and placed into the left hand.  The right hand reaches over and splits the coin into two and takes the coins.  The left hand reaches out and produces a third coin, simultaneously a coin vanishes from the right hand fan.  The two coins are rolled over the first finger of each hand and held clipped between the first and second fingers, as the fingers of each hand come together and touch.  The third coin rises out above the fingertips of both hands.


This is simply another way to produce 3 coins.  Corey indicates that it is a production from his notes, Sense.  Personally, I liked "Coinfusing Production" better than this one, however I did like the initial production sequences especially the second "split" coin production.


During the explanation phase, Corey integrates another item he calls, "The Passing Change" as part of the production.  The final coin produced is a copper coin apparently by mistake.  It is displayed on the right palm as the left fingertips hold the other two silver coins.  Suddenly the copper coin is propelled from his palm (muscle pass) and lands in the fan of coins held at the left fingertips.  The coin has changed into a silver one.


This move can also be found taught by John Born on his Cutting Edge Cards and Coins DVD set called the "Muscle Pass Coin Change".  John also demonstrates muscle passing a coin into a fan of coins on the same DVD set.  It appears that John and Corey came up with this independently.


It is a very visual change, and a nice display of skill catching a muscle passed coin in a fan.  This will take practice.


Coin Routine #4:  "There's a Fly in my Soup – A spectator holds out a palm up hand.  Three coins are held in a fan at Corey's left fingertips.  Suddenly one of the coins travels to his left hand which is deposited onto the spectator's hand.  The right hand takes one of the coins and both are displayed.  The coins are fanned up once again in the left fingertips as Corey's right hand approaches the spectator's palm.  A loud clink is heard at the spectator's hand as another coin suddenly travels across, leaving Corey with one in his left fingertips.


The two coins are picked up and dumped into Corey's left hand.  He has another spectator hold out their hand, while holding the remaining coin in his left fingertips; he dumps the other two into his right hand and places them into the spectator's hand, which he then closes.


Corey then makes the last coin travel from his hand to the closed fist of the spectator.  At first it does not go, on second try it does.


I liked this routine.  It is a nice combination of a standard 3 Fly routine while integrating spectator involvement.  Because Corey does not have to manage holding all three coins all the time, he can use some very nice transfer displays, as well as eliminate the need for the "coin that goes back" type gags.  I also liked Corey's feint for the last coin.


In the explanation, Corey teaches the routine using the one ahead principal (an extra coin).  However, in his performance of the routine, he added the use of a common gaffed coin to provide a few more "clean" shows. After you have learned the handling basic handling from the explanation, you could learn the gaffed handling by watching his performance, even though it is not directly taught.


Coin Routine #5:  "Smooth as Silk" – Corey drapes a silk handkerchief over his left hand.  He moves one of the corners back and forth over the top of his hand.  On the third wave, a coin appears at his silk draped fingertips.  A spectator grabs an invisible coin out of the air and tosses it toward the silk.  Corey catches the invisible coin in the silk, and pushes a gold coin into view.


Corey flips the silk over the gold coin trapping it inside; he also takes the silver coin underneath the silk and places it inside the silk. He then apparently removes the gold coin through the fabric of the silk. He reaches back up into the silk, and flips it open to show the silver coin still inside.


Next, he flips the silk over the silver coin trapping it inside; he also takes the gold coin underneath the silk and places it inside the silk.  He then apparently removes the silver coin through the fabric of the silk.  He gives the silk to a spectator to remove the gold coin.  The spectator flips it open to find the silver coin inside, wondering where the gold coin went, he looks back at Corey who is now holding the gold coin.


Corey covers the gold coin again with the silk and has a spectator hold the silk covered coin, and the ends of the silk.  He takes the silver coin back from the other spectator, and causes the coin to vanish.  He instructs the spectator to drop the silk covered gold coin, he does so, and a click is heard inside the silk.  The silver coin has magically traveled to join the gold coin inside the silk.


This is a handling of Robert-Houdin's Expansion of Texture, followed by Tenkai's Magical Filtration with the addition of a few standard silk and coin productions in the beginning to produce the coins.  I am not a big fan of coin magic covered by silks, but I think Expansion of Texture and the Magical Filtration are two of the best silk and coin routines available.


In the original version of Expansion of Texture, both coins are shown, and then legitimately covered by the silk (in so doing one of the coins is stolen away).  Corey changed this handling so that he only covers one coin (with a false cover), and then reaches up inside the silk to add a second coin.  I did not particularly care for this handling change compared the original.  Even though nothing fishy was going on, putting a coin into a silk under cover of the silk just creates suspicion.  He also loses the visual of seeing both coins get covered legitimately, which is stronger in my opinion than a false cover of one coin.


I do like the kickback type effect he added where he shows a silver coin, the spectator opens the silk and finds a silver coin, they look back at him, and he is holding the gold coin.  Unfortunately during the performance he began to hand the silver coin out for inspection, and then changed his mind, followed by an inconvenient camera cut to behind him, so it was sort of confusing actually what was going on.  You have to watch the explanation to see how that was supposed to work.  I am sure this kickback gets a great reaction.


The Magical Filtration ending did not deviate from the original.


Here is a description of the card routines:


Routine #6:  De Ja Vu – Corey riffles through a deck of blue backed cards, and a selection is chosen, and subsequently lost in the deck.  Corey reaches into his pocket and retrieves two red backed cards with "De Ja Vu" written on the backs.  He says that they will help him find the selection.


Now for the De Ja Vu:


Corey riffles through the deck of cards, and a selection is chosen (which happens to be the exact same selection as before), and subsequently lost in the deck.  Corey reaches into his pocket and retrieves two red backed cards with "De Ja Vu" written on the backs.  He says that they will help him find the selection.


This time he inserts the "De Ja Vu" cards into the deck, and they find the selection.  He fans the cards and the selection is found sandwiched between the "De Ja Vu" cards…


The original "De Ja Vu" cards are not found, it must have really been De Ja Vu.


Routine #7:  "For Promotional Use Only" – A blue deck of cards is riffled and a selection is chosen and signed.  Corey explains that he will lose it in the deck and asks if the spectator wants him to find it the easy way or the hard way.  If they say the easy way, he just puts it on the top of the deck and turns it over.  And then he does the hard way:  He cuts the deck a few times, and shuffles it.  He takes the top card off and says that he found their selection.  The hard part is, with a flick, the card changes into an indifferent card that is not signed.  (This is a gag).


The card is put back on top of the deck, and the spectator is asked to push the "button" on the back.  After the spectator does so, the card is turned over and revealed to be the signed selection.


The selection is put back in the deck and lost; the spectator is given a choice again:  Corey can find it the hard way or the really hard way.  Corey snaps his fingers, and shakes the deck, and a card travels to his pocket… he reveals the card to be… NOT their selection.  He never said it was going to be their card.  He puts the card back on the deck and has the spectator push the "button" on the back, which causes a card to travel up his sleeves, across his chest, and down into a pants pocket.  The card is removed and shown to be their signed selection.


The card is turned over and revealed to be a RED backed card, with a pre-written message from Corey.


Routine #8:  "Call Waiting" – A card is selected and lost in the deck.  It is shown not to be the top or bottom.  The deck is split in half and opened like a cell phone flip phone.  Corey pretends to make a call to find out what the card is.  When he extends the "antenna" the selected card rises from the back of the "cell phone deck".


Routine #9:  "Baring the Load" – The card box is placed on a table, the deck is fanned, and a selection is chosen and then lost in the pack.  The deck is cut a few times and Corey explains that the card is now gone from the deck, and is under the card box.


He moves the card box to the side and reveals a face down card.  The card is taken, placed on top of the deck, and then flipped over to reveal that it was the selection.


The card is placed into the center of the deck and the deck is riffled.  Corey explains that the card is now gone from the deck, and has traveled to his pocket, which he then retrieves.


He places the card back into the deck, and with a snap of his fingers, the entire deck vanishes and appears under the box.


The Bonus section contains a few items performed and taught.  First he really quickly performs the "Passing Change" described earlier where a coin changes in mid flight after a muscle pass.


Bonus Routine #10:  "Framed" – Corey is holding a purse frame.  He reaches inside and produces another purse frame and pockets the first one.  This production of another purse frame from the purse frame repeats 2 more times.  Eventually he keeps both purse frames and causes them to link and unlink.


The link and unlink looked really good on the video, I'll admit it fooled me.  I was slightly embarrassed to find out how simple it was in the explanation.


Bonus Routine #11:  "Money Pen-E" – Corey produces a coin from his right elbow, and then passes his right hand over the coin, the coin changes into a "magic" Bic pen.  He demonstrates its magical abilities by causing it to stick to his palm when his hand is held vertically.  Then, he takes the pen and visibly shrinks it down to 1/3rd its size, and restores it.  He takes the pen cap off and drops the coin out of the pen.


He holds the coin in his left hand and taps the coin over his left hand with a "three count".  On "three," the pen vanishes.  It is shown to be behind his ear.  He taps the hand three times again, and the coin changes into a jumbo coin.  He hands out the jumbo coin to inspect, and the pen vanishes.


Corey takes some very basic principles and combines them into a nice little pen and coin routine.  This does not require any difficult sleight of hand, well within the grasp of even beginner magicians.


I liked the whole payphone plot.  It was funny in a ridiculous kind of way.


I'd say the highlights of the DVD are the production sequences and the 3 fly routine.  I was not a big fan of the card magic, but then again, I am not a big card magic fan.  Something about, "pick a card, now let me lose it in the deck and find again or produce it from clever places" always kills me regardless how stellar the presentation is.  This is not a knock at Corey, his presentations were not bad at all.  Corey comes off quite personable and likable.  It's always hard for me to objectively review card magic, that is why I do not review it.


I try to write these reviews to provide a detailed of a description of the effects, and what I think about them so you can make up your own mind if you want the product.  That said, I personally enjoyed the material.


Lastly...  I would not have tipped the pizza delivery guy either after flipping my pizza box upside down, holding it sideways, and letting it get cold as he watched magic tricks.  I wouldn't have even paid for it!


This DVD may be purchased directly from Corey at: and retails for $34.95.

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