Product Reviews

Reviews written by Dan Watkins

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Coin Ovations

By:  Reed McClintock


Readers of this website will be familiar with Reed McClintock's Knucklebuster series reviewed here.  Coin Ovations is Reed's first jump into coin magic DVDs.


The video is produced my MagicSmith and has a mix of studio shot and live performance segments.  The video quality is very clear though I think it would have looked better to use a different backdrop or clothing combination than black on black for the studio shots.  Its not the best aesthetic choice.  But it doesn't hinder your ability to see the magic or explanations so it is a minor nit pick.  When I first viewed the tape I was watching it with headphones on and I was picking up some minor background noise in the studio shots.  A steady camera hum and occasional background noise.  It is not so bad that you cannot hear Reed clearly, but it is audible if you are listening for it.


Well enough of that – we can see and hear Reed clearly so let's take a look at what's on the DVD:


Routine #1:  "13 Coin Matrix":  Four cards are placed in a square pattern on a close up pad.  A little bit of imagination is plucked from the air and tossed downward to the table where four coins have magically appeared in the center of the table.  One at a time, the coins are picked up and they vanish as they are tossed back to the table.


Two at a time, the four cards are moved to show coins underneath.  The cards are set down in a diamond pattern on the table.  After a pause and some patter, the coins are moved to a square pattern inside the diamond pattern of the cards.  The cards are moved one at a time to a wide square pattern.  As each card is moved we can see a coin under each of them.  There are now eight coins on the table and four cards.


The four cards are once again picked up off the table one at a time to reveal coins underneath.  The cards are discarded on the center of the table.  There are now twelve coins on the close up pad.


The cards on the center of the table are squared up to reveal a large 3" jumbo coin underneath.


Wow.  What can I say?  The coin production is visually stunning.  Reed has a very direct handling to produce 13 coins.  Whereas most matrix plots are about coins translocating from under one card to another, Reed's plot is that of coins appearing under cards.  Reed makes the routine appear effortless, but for YOU to be able to perform the routine there are some serious multiple coin palming prerequisites.


If you meet the multiple palming criteria, you will be able to perform this stunning coin production routine.  If not, you have some serious practice ahead of you.  One thing that is only mentioned briefly in passing on the DVD that will help you is that Reed uses Barber Half Dollars which are thin coins.  This will help facilitate palming seven coins.  Reed apparently has a really good teaching on how to work with multiple coin palming.  I feel this teaching would have helped as a primer for the explanation of this routine.


After the explanation segment of the DVD, Reed performs in front of a live audience a bonus version of the routine that changes the ending.  Instead of ending with the Jumbo coin, he does a quick one coin flurry.  Then using the Sylvester Pitch (Inertia Pass) (which is not taught on this tape) he produces the Jumbo 3" coin then changes it into a Jumbo 5" coin using the Inertia Pass again.  The jumbo coin Inertia Pass stuff looked spectacular.


Reed's Elbow Knee and Neck:  One coin is produced at the fingertips of both hands; a second coin is produced at the fingertips of the left hand; and a third coin is pulled from the top of the knee.  Two coins are given to a spectator.  The coin the magician retains vanishes.  One at a time, both coins are taken back from the spectator.  One coin is placed in the left fist; the other coin is waved over the left fist.  The left fist is then pressed against the right elbow.  The coin disappears from the left fist.  The remaining coin does not go under the elbow, but rather goes onto the right knee and vanishes.


The magician reaches under his left elbow and produces a coin; reaches on top of his right knee and produces a coin, and then says the third coin goes in his pocket, and he puts his hand in his pocket and says, "But what if I did not put it in my pocket, but I made it jump from my pocket up to my neck right here…" and reaches up and takes the third coin from his neck.


This is a variation of Daryl's "Elbow Knee and Neck" routine.  Simply, the plot is a 3 coin production, vanish, and reproduction.  If producing and vanishing to different parts of your body appeals to you, you will want to check out Reed's solutions.  Since there is a lot of reaching to elbows, necks, knees, pockets, spectators' hands, and using 3 coins you need to really pay attention to avoid losing track of what's going on.  The good thing is, if you pay attention, it is baffling!


I am not going to get into the details of what goes where and when, but it should not be a shock to anyone with a routine called "Elbow, Knee, and Neck" that a coin might be placed onto your neck.  Without tipping things, Reed exploits this to an extreme.  He does say that he will give some tips on keeping a coin there if the coin tends to slide off your neck.  Unfortunately these tips got edited out.  From talking with Reed, the tip was to put a moisturizing cream on the back of your neck (Reed uses Zim's Crack Cream).


Routine #3:  Scream Fly:  Three coins are held in a fan at the left fingertips, one at a time each coin travels invisibly from the left to the right.  After all 3 coins have traveled to the right, one travels back to the left, and then back to the right.


Yep… another 3 fly routine.  It is really hard to truly innovate in this neo-classic plot.  Reed's handling is solid and it works.  I thought his ending was particularly strong because you can really show 3 coins at the end.  Reed does make use of a common gaff.  The routine itself does not use the gaff at all; it is only used at the beginning and end to show cleanly 3 coins.  Reed also had some nice utilization the Jim Wilson Vanish which is as far as I know the proper earlier credit for a concealment often credited to Bob Fitch or Mike Gallo.  The one thing I personally thought was a little strange was after Reed got all the coins to the right hand, then he made one go back and forth.  Usually this "going back and forth" of a coin is done to get one ahead typically the last fly.  I wasn't quite sure what purpose that last bit served after Reed successfully got all the coins to the right, though it did look magical.  Reed does use this last part with his International 3 Fly below, which is more a continuation of an effect and makes a little more sense to me (I'll explain what I mean in my review of International 3 Fly).


This routine does rely on the misdirection of not looking at the right place at the right time.  Reed has a new DVD coming out called the "Coin Patriot" which is rumored to change this dynamic where all the focus is placed on the coins during the translocations, that does not rely on misdirecting the spectator's focus.


Routine #4:  International 3 Fly:  Three different coins one at a time travel from the left hand to the right hand.  The coins are an English Penny (copper) , a Kennedy Half Dollar (silver), and a Chinese coin with a hole in the center (brass).  The copper coin travels first, followed immediately by the silver coin.  After some byplay with the spectator regarding the brass coin, it too travels from the right to the left.  Then, magically the brass coin jumps back to the left hand and magically back to the right.  Reed says, that is bizarre because he actually does it with the half dollar… suddenly the half dollar is gone from the right hand and is in the left (Reed never touched the coins again).  The silver coin is put in the pocket.  Then the brass coin jumps from the right to the left hand and is also put in the pocket.  The copper coin is placed in the left hand and magically penetrates the outside of the left pant pocket, and is pulled back through the material.  The brass coin is also pulled through the outside of the pocket, and the third coin is grabbed out from the left elbow – but the third coin is the copper coin again!?!  The left hand is only holding the Chinese coin.  The copper coin is added to the Chinese coin in the left hand.  Reed says the silver coin is on his neck, and reaches back and takes it and says, "Oh I am sorry it's the copper coin"!?!  You look at his left hand and he is holding the Chinese coin and the silver half dollar.  (This part is wacky you need to see it).


All three coins are fanned at the fingertips of the left hand.  One at a time the right hand takes each coin and they vanish into thin air.


This is innovative and the plot adds specificity to the coins since they are all different types.  The 3 fly phase of the routine works well and is in some ways similar to the handling of Scream Fly, with the obvious addition of 3 distinct coins.  Like Scream Fly, Reed makes the last coin jump back and forth one more time from the fan in the right to the left, then back to the right.  But in the context of this routine, it makes more sense because Reed is going right into a next phase of the routine.  The phases after the traditional 3 fly are really wacky.  If your spectator is not paying attention they will completely lose the affect of the effect.  If they are paying attention there are a few mind smackers in there.  Specifically; Reed producing the copper coin 3 times in a row, though they appear to be separate occurrences, and the last time the copper coin that was just shown seconds ago is now silver.  I enjoyed the nuttiness of it.  It's definitely out of the box routine construction.


One really cool teaching is Reed's application of R. Paul Wilson's "Mickey Mouse Move" using international coins.  It's a pretty cool discrepancy Reed takes advantage of.


Of all the routines I like the International 3 Fly stuff the best.  It's a unique use of unique coins.  It does use two common gaff coins.  The 13 coin matrix is really neat to watch, but I am not at Reed's multiple palming proficiency to get it to work for me yet.  You gotta get the DVD to see it though!  Reed's stuff always reminds me I have some serious work yet to do with coins.


Visit Reed's website at  to order the DVD.


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Completely Crowded!

By R. Paul Wilson


When I think of the three most influential early versions of Jonathan Townsend's "Visible Coins Across" three names immediately come to mind:  Chris Kenner, Gary Kurtz, and R. Paul Wilson.  Kenner's and Kurtz' pioneering routines brought Mr. Townsend's routine up to chest level.  Wilson's routine as explained on his video "Knock Em Dead" was actually his adaptation of Kenner's handling. 


For the uninitiated, "3 Fly" which the "Visible Coins Across"  has become known as is a magic plot by which coins visibly disappear from the fingertips of one hand and magically appear at the fingertips of the other.


After Paul eventually got the work on Kenner's routine he found that the handling he had come up with was in some ways easier than Kenner's and created the same basic effect in spectators' eyes.  Paul's routine has become very popular and the techniques he employed have found their way into the handlings of many other versions of "3 Fly".


Truly the works of Chris Kenner, Gary Kurtz, and R. Paul Wilson have greatly shaped the technical handling of what today is known as "3 Fly".


Paul has now released the full version of his routine in an eleven page downloadable Adobe Acrobat format.  The production sequence and actual "3 Fly" handling is the same that has been released before, however what is tipped in the new manuscript is a phase that occurs directly after the production sequence called "Sunday Morning Coins Across" (SMCC).  SMCC is a very quick closed handed coins across phase.  To understand why this is done, let's take a look at Paul's own words.


Paul has graciously given me permission to include the introduction to his manuscript in this review:


"Crowded Coins (aka Scottish Fly) has attracted a great deal of interest since it first appeared back in 1994.


It was first published in an obscure little pamphlet titled "Alias", a set of notes intended for my first lecture in Perth, Scotland. I later sat down and re-wrote the notes, including illustrations and some new material. This became "Chaos Theories", my first book. I printed 100 copies and my wife kept 25 aside. The 75 sold quickly thanks to H&R magic books and the routine later appeared in several sets of lecture notes for various tours and conventions.


It wasn't until the routine appeared in Genii Magazine (as Scottish Fly) and then on my video, Knock Em Dead, that this version of 3Fly became more widely known.


Crowded Coins has been around since the very early nineties. Other magicians have worked on similar methods but I feel it is important to point out that I was the first to publish my version, based on the work of Kenner, Kurtz and Townsend. Since Crowded Coins was published, several VERY similar routines have been released with little or no credit to myself.


In most cases the people involved were developing their handlings at the same time I was developing mine. To my knowledge no one stole anything from anyone – it was simply several individuals following similar paths. That said, I personally believe that the credit must go to the first to publish.


3Fly has become one of those tricks that create thousands of posts on Internet sites every year. Every time someone creates a "new" one there is a buzz.


Having spent considerable time developing a simple handling that looks as good, or better, as anything before it I am often amused at the direction the "new" 3Fly routines take. Many simply complicate the effect with more moves, or start switching the coins from hand to hand to make some esoteric palm fit the routine.


Often the result is simply cluttered and littered with bad angles. Never the less, magicians often prefer to prove their ability (or lack of it) rather than concentrate on the effect.


Whenever I develop a routine, particularly one that I will use in almost every show, I aim for the simplest, most direct method. Sometimes simple means easy, other times it requires very difficult sleight of hand.


Sleights should solve problems in an effect, not create them. These days it seems to me that many people actually think it adds to an effect when more coins are used, the coins are signed, or the routine becomes a catalogue of poorly executed, badly conceived sleights.


Magicians want to see moves. Lay people want to see effects.


Over the years I have been reluctant to let one phase of this routine go. This phase answers a key problem with any 3Fly routine – the effect simply doesn't get the reaction it deserves from a lay audience.


I have encountered similar problems with other effects. For example, Ray Kosby's "Raise Rise" blows magicians away yet is nowhere near as impressive as the bent card ending to a layman (Expert Card Technique).


Back in 1992 I found a solution. In over 11 years of performances I have found this to be the real secret to 3Fly: they need to know the difference!


Why do magicians seem to react more than laymen to this effect? The answer is simple: they have a point of reference – they understand what's special about 3Fly. The visual element is then appreciated.


You are about to read a full description of Crowded Coins, including the previously unpublished "Sunday Morning Sequence". I have taught this sequence to a few friends. All of them have agreed that it adds a great deal to the routine and makes the 3Fly sequence much more impressive.


The whole routine flows smoothly from the production into the new phase and continues as previously described in my notes and on video (everything is described here). If you add this to any version of 3Fly you will notice an immediate improvement in your audience reactions when the first coin goes visibly.


It should also be noted that this is a complete coin routine. The coins are produced, used to good effect then vanish at the end. Most 3Flys are merely a fingertip coins across but, as the following description proves, I feel 3Fly is best performed in the context of a a mini coin act, rather than a stand alone effect.


So, for the first time, here is Crowded Coins, in its entirety."


Paul has given much wisdom in that introduction.  His handling truly is one of the simplified usable versions available.  I agree that too often people create monstrosities of routines that include unnecessary over handling of the coins.


Paul's revelation is that spectator's react better to "3 Fly" after being acquainted with a closed fisted plot.  The closed fist coins across creates mystery in the mind of the spectator.  The visible phase then takes that mystery and turns it into awe.


The closed fist coins across strengthening the visible phase I did stumble upon a year or so ago while performing and posted on some of the internet forums how well it went.  I had the notion in my mind that it was something that was best not repeated (to do two similar effects in a row).  It wasn't until I read Paul's independent observations on the Genii forum regarding this phenomenon did I realize that, you know, there is no reason why not to do a closed hand lead in to "3 Fly".  I too have witnessed stronger reactions literally every time by saving 3 fly to be performed after a closed coins across, either right away, or later in a set.


The "Sunday Morning Coins Across" phase is not a gigantic addition to "Crowded Coins", it is rather a very short and snappy aside. It practically rides over the effect, even though it is quite baffling and visually pleasing, Paul wanted to underplay the SMCC phase so that the real burn takes place during the "3 Fly" phase.


If you have Paul's previous release of the routine you do have the majority of the work and it isn't 100% necessary to own this new manuscript.  Though if you really want to get the full work just drop your ten bucks at the door.  If you happen to be someone living under a rock for the past few years and don't have a good "3 Fly" routine yet; don't even hesitate, ten bucks will buy you one of the best "3 Fly" routines ever created.  Go get it HERE right now!


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Palms of Steel 3:  Silverado

By Curtis Kam


This DVD, produced by MagicSmith is the third installment to Curtis Kam's video series "Palms of Steel".  It was shot at the 2002 IBM convention in San Diego, CA.  The video quality is superb especially for a piece not shot in a studio.  The lighting, sound, and visual clarity is excellent.  It was shot in the same location, time, and with the same camera as Volume 2.


Those of you familiar with the other installments of the "Palms of Steel" series will surely recognize Curtis.  Reed McClintock who appeared on Vol. 2, is back again to perform "4 Co Pro" from Knucklebuster's Volume 1 and a variation called "Super 4 Co Pro".


So… Let's jump in:



Routine 1:  "Through and Through":  A coin penetrates through the right pants pocket, is pushed through the left hand twice, pushed through is right hand once, then it gets pushed into the left hand and vanishes; only to reappear with the left index finger penetrated through it.  The coin is pulled off dumped from hand to hand to show it is solid, and then slowly the left index finger pushes through the coin again.  The coin is taken off and shown solid once more then placed into the left pants pocket.  The coin penetrates the left pants pocket.  The coin is placed on the outside bottom the right pants pocket.  The pant material is folded over and the coin penetrates into the right pocket.  The pant material is folded over once again and the coin comes back out.  The coin is handed out to the spectator and taken back.  The coin is shown to fall backwards (up) from the right and to the left.  The coin is dropped back into the right hand and handed back to the spectator.  The coin vanishes before the spectator can take it.


This routine is all about penetrations.  Through pant material, through hand flesh, and the finger through the coin.  Curtis does a really nice job mixing these penetrations into a one coin flurry construction.  Curtis keeps the routine moving and a solid pace that is necessary to remain one step ahead of the spectator.  In this live performance, one of the spectators was a young girl who you can see reach for the coin after Curtis pushed his finger through it.  She had no chance to actually get close as the routine was paced fast enough so that it had moved on before the girl even got near the coin.  I really like Curtis' use of the Finger Gimlet (Karate Coin) as part of the coin flurry.  It really adds a great visual to the routine.


Routine #2:  "Triple Alliance":  A half dollar, a copper coin, and a copper coin with a hole in it are displayed (a brass Chinese coin could be used).  They are placed one at a time into the left hand and then the silver coin is removed and placed on top of the left fist.  The silver coin is tossed over to the right hand and is displayed openly.  The right hand closes and opens.  The silver coin vanishes and in its place are the two copper coins.  The left hand opens.  It now has the silver coin.  The silver coin is placed with the other coins in the left hand, and then taken back into the right hand.  The right hand closes into a fist and the left hand opens to show that somehow the silver coin and only the silver coin is back in the left hand.  The right hand opens to show both copper coins.


The silver coin is placed with the others in the left hand and the copper coin with a hole is removed and put into the right pants pocket.  The remaining copper coin is put into the spectator's hand.  Both hands (the magician's and spectator's) are closed into fists.  Curtis opens his hand to show that he now has the copper coin; the spectator opens to find he is now holding the silver.  The copper coin is placed once again into the spectator's hand.  The silver coin is rubbed against the magician's right pocket and turns into the copper coin.  The magician reaches into his pocket and pulls out the silver coin!  The spectator is left holding the copper coin with a hole in it that was put away earlier!


This was the routine on the DVD that made me go get my coins right away and go through the explanation with coins in hand.  There is a lot of finger flicking going on in this routine; it's definitely not a self worker.  I am going to get one little complaint out of the way right away…  This is not toward Curtis but MagicSmith's editing.  They conveniently edited out a necessary coin ditch during the performance segment.  You need to do this ditch to start as clean as Curtis did.  It's not a major deal, but I like to see exactly how the routine looks without editing out things.  I was slightly disappointed that something that fooled me was due to film editing.


I like the sleight of hand used in this routine, it is fun to work on.  For those who are not into back clips and such, you could eliminate all the hard work by using a Copper-Silver-Brass coin set.  Though when Curtis moves onto the transpositions in the spectator's hand you'd have to work in a way to switch out the C/S/B gaff if you used it.  The "in the spectator's hand" segment of the routine is especially strong, particularly the three way transposition with a coin in your pocket, your hand, and the spectator's hand.


Routines #2 and #3:  Reed McClintock's "4 Co Pro" and "Super 4 Co Pro":  I will direct you to my review of Knucklebusters #1 here for the review of this.  Super 4 Co Pro is a modified handling that changes the sudden vanish of 2 coins sequence of 4 Co Pro.  Super 4 Co Pro makes two of the three coins vanish one at a time as opposed to all at once.  Reed performed the routines very smoothly.  It's nice to see some of his Knucklebuster stuff in the flesh.


Routine #4:  "Inverted Matrix":  Four coins are placed in a square formation on a close up mat.  Four cards are placed on top of each coin.  The four cards are picked up in rapid succession and all the coins appear in the top left corner.  The coins are once again placed in a square formation and covered with the four cards.  In a slow methodical fashion they begin to collect once again at the top left corner.  Just as the last coin disappears, the top left card is lifted once again apparently to show all the coins in the upper left, but only one coin is to be found.  All the cards are lifted to reveal that all of the coins are found back where they started from.


For those of you who like nice looking coin flourishes, Curtis starts this routine out by performing a four coin roll down and then immediately balances the 4 coins on the fingertips.  It looked very nice.


The key to the first phase of Curtis' matrix is the first coin.  The first coin magically appears at the top left.  All the rest get there in an extremely (an almost too) straightforward fashion.  The shock of the first coin's transposition doesn't even have a chance to subside by the time the Matrix routine is over.  I'll admit the first time I watched the performance it happened so fast, I wasn't quite sure how the heck it all happened.  When I went back to write this review I could plainly see what Curtis did.  This phase of the Matrix I would hazard a guess to say should never be repeated twice.  It relies on figuratively smacking the spectator and finishing up while they are still reeling.  You can even see it in the audience response.  They are stunned and don't even react for about 3-4 seconds after it was done. 


Using the fast Matrix as lead in to phase two is superb thinking.  The speed of the routine makes the spectators want to see it again.  This sets Curtis up for a reason to perform the second phase and also conditions the spectators to expect all the coins to collect in the top left corner.  Since they are preconditioned, Curtis can turn it around and backfire the coins.  The second phase is a much less hurried routine.  It is direct and full of impact.  To find out what pick up moves and transfers, etc. Curtis employs you will have to get the DVD.


One attractive feature of both phases of this Matrix is that it only uses four coins and four cards.  So it is pure sleight o' hand.


Routine #5:  "Copper Silver Bent":  A copper coin and silver coin are displayed in the magician's right hand and both sides are shown.  The copper coin is placed into the spectator's hand.  The silver coin is tossed into the magician's left hand.  The magician opens his hand to show the silver is now copper.  The spectator opens their hand to find their coin changed to silver.  The magician takes both coins and then returns the silver to the spectator's hand.  The magician closes his hand over his copper coin a few times, but it never changes.  The magician mentions how tight it appears the spectator is holding the coin, and asks him to open and take a look.  The spectator held the coin so hard that the silver coin is now bent.


My thoughts:  This is cool.  It plays out exactly as I describe.  It is one of those quick clean routines that happen in the spectator's hand.  This is a perfect routine for two spectators.  You make a coin change place in one spectator's hand; the other spectator is going to want it to happen in their hand too.  The spectator is conditioned to expect a transposition and never expect the bent effect.  Now that I mention it, "Triple Alliance" above has that double spectator repeat function built in as well.


Routine #6: "Sandwich Movathon":  Unfortunately it's a card routine.  Fortunately it is pretty good.  You just aren't going read about it on this coin magic site, sorry J


"Through and Through" is the best routine for walk around or table hopping, it's a simple enough plot and is nice and visual.  The copper/silver stuff you will need to be close enough to your spectators to hide some back clipping action.  If you are used to working with back clips, than this will not be a problem for you.  I think you get a nice variety of coin magic on this DVD and will be a welcome addition to your coin magic library.


I am an advocate of giving the magician retail sales for his products.  Those of you interested in the DVD, I would recommend getting them directly from Curtis himself.  Curtis has the DVD for $30.00 plus $4.00 priority mail shipping.  You can send him a check made out to Curtis Kam, 7518 Nakalele St., Honolulu, HI 96825.


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Palms of Steel 2:  Fists of Fury

By:  Curtis Kam

This DVD, produced by MagicSmith is the long awaited sequel to Curtis Kam's video from the late 1990's "Palms of Steel".  It was shot at the 2002 IBM convention in San Diego, CA.  The video quality is superb especially for a piece not shot in a studio.  The lighting, sound, and visual clarity is excellent.  This DVD had to be shot with a professional grade camera.


Those of you familiar with the original "Palms of Steel" video will surely recognize Curtis as well as one of his guest performers, Kainoa Harbottle.  Kainoa is back again to share a bit of magic on this DVD.  Curtis also introduces another performer to the video whose name is not a stranger to coin magic (especially at this website); Reed McClintock who performs his routine "International Dissolve" from Knucklebuster's Volume 3 manuscript.


What's on the DVD?  Pretty darn good coin magic that's what.  However, to perform much of it you will probably need to go buy some Chinese coins.  Three of Curtis' four coin routines use really light and thin dollar size brass Chinese coins.  The exact coins Curtis uses are called Feng Shui Chinese coins and are available through for $4.00 each.  First thing I did after watching the DVD was order a few of these coins.


The routines performed are as follows:


Routine #1:  "Beijing Coins Across":  A silver coin appears at the fingertips of both hands.  The coin is placed into the left hand twice and instantly jumps to the right twice.  Suddenly two coins are visible.  With a wave of his hands, a third coin materializes into view.  The coins are dropped into the left hand, and one coin travels to the right hand.  A second coin travels, and the third coin misses and falls all the way through the earth to China.  Curtis explains that the only way to get the third coin back is to send the other two to get it.  Suddenly the two silver coins in Curtis' left hand change into three brass Chinese coins!  The coins look very real, but Curtis explains that it is only an illusion.  One at a time Curtis takes a Chinese coin.  As soon as he touches the coin it turns silver, until all 3 coins are silver once again.  (This phase is called Fingertip Wild Coin).  With a wave of his hand all 3 silver coins turn into Brass Chinese coins all at once.  The coins are put into a pocket.  One at a time the Chinese coins are produced and dropped into the right hand.  When the right hand opens, all the coins are silver again.

It is unfortunate for me to even write a review of this routine.  Why?  Because it will ruin one of the best parts for you when you watch this performance.  The first time the silver coins turn into brass coins is one of those magical moments that really caught my attention.  For me, the meat of the routine is the wild coin stuff.  The initial production of the silver coins is somewhat reminiscent of a Gary Kurtz handling, and on the surface the coins across looks pretty standard.  When you watch the explanation you will see that the actual handlings are far from standard because three Chinese coins are held out during the entire production and coins across sequence.  There is one item I do want to mention in Curtis' Coins Across handling is some of the coin passes he is using.  He uses a pass where his hands never actually touch.  It looks like the drops a coin from one hand to another, and you swear you saw it go, but it really is a false transfer.  It is something pretty novel to play around with.


In my mind, the coins across phase leading up to the first change into Chinese coins really sells the fact that those Chinese coins came out of nowhere.  The idea that one can use the preceding magic effect to mask the fact you are prepared for the next phase is from John Ramsay.  Curtis' Fingertip Wild Coin sequence is extremely practical and applicable to other types of routines.  The second instant transposition of all three from silver back to brass is visually stunning, but is not quite as surprising as the first one.  After Curtis produced the Chinese coins one at a time and dumped them one at a time into his left hand, when he showed them to all be silver at the end – that again caught me way off guard.  I like stuff that comes out of nowhere like that.


This routine is stand up, no table and requires you do be able to handle six coins only showing three at a time.  That feat is not easy.  Soft worn coins help cut down the noise of "talking" coins, but great care will need to be exercised to perform this routine while keeping it deceptive to your audience.


Routine #2:  "The Coercive Purse":  Curtis begins by displaying a coin purse frame.  He reaches in and grabs a British copper penny, then reaches in and retrieves an American half dollar.  The copper coin is then placed back into the purse frame and turns invisible again.  The purse frame is tabled.  The silver coin is picked up, closed in a fist.  Instantly the silver coin changes places with the invisible copper coin that is inside the purse frame.  Curtis opens the purse fame and pulls out the silver coin.  Curtis says that he will repeat the effect.  He puts both coins in his left hand.  He pulls out the copper places it into the purse frame and instantly shows that the copper coin jumped back to the left hand and Curtis immediately pulls the silver coin from the purse frame.   Curtis picks up the coin purse frame, drops in the silver coin, and pockets the copper coin.  Curtis shows that the copper coin jumps back into the purse frame, and he dumps it out.  The copper coin is once again put into the pocket.  As the spectator's believe the copper coin is about to return to the purse frame, Curtis pulls a jumbo coin out of the purse frame.


If this routine reads strangely familiar to the routine "Theft Proof Purse" in my review of Cody Fisher's "Unforgettable Coin Magic", it is not by accident.  This is the original routine by Curtis Kam that Cody referenced in his video.  Cody's routine differs only by adding the hands of a spectator to the routine.  Personally I feel that Curtis' original routine seemed to "flow" a little faster and easier than the Cody incarnation.  As I wrote in my review of Cody's tape it is of utmost importance that the spectator does not lose track of what coin is supposed to be where at any time or the routine loses its impact.  Curtis actually mentions this on the DVD, that is why it is named "The Coercive Purse".  It forces a spectator to pay attention or the routine will not make any sense.  I feel that the pacing and handling of Curtis' routine is such that it is not too hard to follow what is supposed to be happening, and creates a very magical experience.


Routine #3:  "The Goblet":  Curtis brandishes a goblet in his right hand from which he pours onto a table three silver dollars and three Chinese brass coins.  The Chinese coins are placed back into the Goblet.  One at a time the silver dollars change at the fingertips into the Chinese coins that were in the goblet.  When the goblet is tilted, the silver dollars pour out!  The Chinese coins are again dropped into the goblet.  The silver coins are picked up and instantly change with the wave of a hand into the Chinese coins.  The silver dollars once again pour from the goblet.  The Chinese coins are dropped into the goblet a third time.  The goblet rests on the right side of the table.  The silver dollars are held in the left hand and one at a time travel to the right.  The last silver coin however takes a detour through the goblet and when it arrives in Curtis' right hand all the coins become Chinese!  The silver coins once again pour from the goblet.


This routine is built with three phases exactly the same as "Beijing Coins Across".  They are however in a different order.  Curtis uses the same ingredients to bake a different cake with this routine.  This one is a more formal parlor type handling that has all the good stuff from "Beijing Coins Across" and adds the goblet and plot of coins changing places inside the goblet.  I liked both incarnations of Curtis' multiple Wild Coin routines.


Routine #4:  Reed McClintock's "International Dissolve":  A copper coin, silver coin, and brass coin are on a close up pad.  The brass coin is picked up with a card, dumped in the magician's hand, and with a wave of the card the coin disappears.  This is repeated for the copper coin.  The card is placed on the mat and the silver coin is placed in a pocket.  Suddenly all 3 coins appear under the card.  The three coins are held in a fan at the magician's fingertips.  One at a time the coins vanish and all appear all at once under the card once again.


Reed McClintock makes a guest appearance to perform this routine.  The routine is directly from Knuckle Buster's Volume 3.  You can read my comments about the routine by reading my review of Knuckle Buster's Volume 3.


Routine #5:  "Tiananmen Square":  Curtis displays a coin purse from which he takes out three silver Chinese coins to show the audience.  He replaces the coins and places the purse on the table.  With a magical snap of his fingers, a silver Chinese coin appears under the coin purse, one from inside his jacket, and one from the crook of his elbow.  Curtis picks up the purse and shakes it.  Coins rattle inside.  He opens it and dumps out three bronze Chinese coins.  The silver coins are picked up and placed into the purse which is again set on the table.  The bronze coins are picked up and one at a time change at the fingertips to the silver coins.  The silver coins are placed in a row on the table and the purse is picked up and shaken to reveal the sound of coins.  Curtis reaches under the purse and produces a bronze Chinese coin.  He places the purse and coin on the table, reaches into his coat and produces another bronze coin.  He then reaches toward the purse and plucks a third bronze coin from the top of the purse.  The three bronze coins are placed in a row on the table.  The purse is picked up, and shaken to reveal the sound of coins.  The purse is opened and three gold Chinese coins are dumped out and arranged in a row on the table.  Curtis then proceeds to pick up the silver coins and vanishes them one at a time into the purse.  The purse is picked up, opened and three red Chinese coins dump out, which are arranged in a row on the table.  The purse is closed and Curtis plucks a silver coin from the back of the purse.  The purse and coin is tabled.  Curtis reaches into his pocket and brings out another silver coin, and reaches to the crook of his elbow and produces a third silver coin.  The silver coins are arranged in a row on the table.  The purse is picked up and a jumbo Chinese silver coin (actually a washer) is pulled from the purse.


As can be gathered by the description of this routine, a lot of magic is taking place.  At the end of the routine thirteen coins of five different types are on the table.  This reminds me of a cups and balls routine where objects are secretly loaded during the offbeat.  In this case, a coin purse is loaded with one set of coins when you think another set is being placed in.  This is a formal routine that needs both table space and time to perform.  You do end up with a really nice display of various coins arranged on your close up mat.  I must confess that the one thing I did not care for too much was the coin productions where Curtis reaches into his jacket or into his pocket to produce the coin.  I just think those productions are unimpressive because spectators are bound to think, "Well golly gee, he is just grabbin' them coins from his pockets."  In reality Curtis is NOT grabbing the coins from his jacket or his pocket, but he IS stealing the next load for his routine.  I am not sure this can be routined differently because the coin loads HAVE to come from somewhere.  In this case you must be wearing a jacket for this performance so you have some place to stash your loads.  I don't think it is much of a stretch for a spectator to guess where all of these coins are coming from if they can remember that the magician is reaching into his jacket and pocket during the routine.  It is just not as strong of a change as "Beijing Coins Across" where the coin change comes out of nowhere.


One other obvious issue you must contend with if you plan on performing this routine – you have to have a snap open coin purse, three silver Chinese coins, three bronze Chinese coins, three gold Chinese coins, three red Chinese coins, a jumbo Chinese coin (I recommend getting a jumbo Chinese coin, a plain washer is ugly in my opinion), and a partridge in a pear tree (okay maybe not the partridge and a tree but that would be nice).  You can acquire the multicolored Chinese coins at


Routine #6:  Kainoa Harbottle's "Repeat Coins from Nostril":  A silver half dollar falls from Kainoa's nostril.  He reaches up and pulls another silver half dollar from his nostril.  He then pulls his thumb off and a third coin falls out of his thumb.  He picks up the three coins in his right hand and waves his left hand over his right.  He opens his right hand to show that the coins have vanished and wipes his left hand over his right.  He turns his hands over and shows his left hand empty as well.  He reaches under his left elbow and produces a coin and subsequently places the coin into his right hand.  He reaches back under his left elbow and produces another coin.  He performs a Coin Roll with both coins in both hands and lets a coin fall from his right to his left.  The third coin is produced via a Coin Roll in the right hand and is also dropped into the left.


The coins are dumped into the right hand and one coin jumps back to the left.  The left fingers clip a coin and wave it over the right hand, causing a second coin to magically travel to the left.  With a simple shake of both hands (which are nowhere near each other) the third and final coin travels to the left hand.


Kainoa then vanishes one coin from his left hand, places another coin in his pocket, and the last coin is taken by his left hand and is pushed through his right hand.  Kainoa Coin Roll's this coin down both hands.  He once again pushes the coin through his right hand – but it gets stuck.  He taps his hand and it pops through.  He explains the coins don't actually go through the hands, but they are time traveling coins.  He says they can go back in time and suddenly a coin jumps right out of his left hand up into his right (muscle pass).  He explains if they really could go back in time, we can go back to when we had all 3 coins, and suddenly all 3 coins are at his fingertips.  Kainoa then proceeds to growl and pucker his lips and explain that he "Loves the camera."  (This is the Kainoa Harbottle growling, puckering, camera loving, kicker ending).


This is a very fast moving high paced routine with a lot going on.  Kainoa uses an underground extremely underutilized sleight throughout the entire routine called the Mutobe palm.  The Mutobe palm was invented by a Japanese magician, Dr. Mutobe.  The Mutobe palm first appeared in English in Kaufman's New Magic from Japan as a part of Mutobe's "Quadruple Spellbound".  Mutobe palm allows for a flat hand, straight fingers, straight thumb show, and the fingers and thumb can be spread apart.  It is ideal for showing the back and leading edge (little finger side) of the hand.  Other angles would not work as well.


Kainoa has mastered the Mutobe palm (as well as the Coin Roll which he uses throughout the routine).  The most impressive part I felt was the multiple Mutobe palm coin vanish and hand wipe aquitment Kainoa used early in the routine.  It looked absolutely stunning.  Since Kainoa covers this aquitment later in his explanation, he jumps right into the explanation of the Mutobe coins across phase.


Then Kainoa describes a vanishing sequence that he did not use in the performance segment of his routine.  I like the vanishing sequence he explained better than what he did on his performance.  His performance he vanishes one coin then puts the second coin in his pocket.  I thought this was very strange.  It makes sense to either vanish two coins or simply put both in your pocket.  I assume Kainoa just messed up on the performance but simply recovered and continued on (which any good magician will do).


I personally never saw Mutobe palm work before, and I doubt many people have.  I can't do most of the stuff Kainoa does because I have never used it, but I really enjoy learning new coin technique.  I recommend anyone remotely interested in this underutilized sleight to get the DVD and check it out.  I am not qualified at this point to offer much insight into all of its uses, but for what Kainoa does with it, it looks very deceptive.  I have dry hands.  Mutobe palm is much easier if your coins are sharply milled. If your hands are in the least bit dry, and you're trying it with soft coins, you're going to be discouraged.


Item #7:  "Over the Top with Spider Vanish":  This combines the "Over the Top Vanish" from J.B. Bobo's Modern Coin Magic with a spider vanish with a retention pass spider vanish.  This is hard to describe.  It is a coin vanish, it looks pretty good.  You need to see it.


Item #8: "Spread and Wiped Clean":  This is a Wiped Clean aquitment with fingers spread open.  This gives the fingers a convincing open look during the aquitment.  Again this looks good, you have to see it.


This DVD has a good mix of coin magic.  Highlights for me personally is Curtis' one handed three for three coin change, Curtis' fingertip wildcoin work, and Kainoa's Mutobe palm multiple coin aquitment.  It was also nice to see Reed's coin magic on video, up until now I only had his manuscripts to imagine how it looked.  Keep in mind that for much of the content of Curtis' routines you will need to have some Chinese coins.  If you are seriously interested you may want to buy the coins you need from MagicSmith before the supplies are gone.  This video is not for the beginner.  If you consider yourself an accomplished coin magician, this DVD will be a welcome addition to your coin magic library.


I am an advocate of giving the magician retail sales for his products.  Those of you interested in the DVD, I would recommend getting them directly from Curtis himself.  Curtis has the DVD for $30.00 plus $4.00 priority mail shipping.  You can send him a check made out to Curtis Kam, 7518 Nakalele St., Honolulu, HI 96825.


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Knuckle Busters:  Volume 3
By: Reed McClintock

This is Reed's third installment of his Knuckle Busters coin magic manuscript series. If you have not already done so you can read reviews of Vol .1 and Vol. 2 by clicking the links.


Volume 3 is twenty 5.5" X 8.5" pages and fully photographed (black and white photos). All of the coin magic in this manuscript focuses on magic with a Chinese coin, copper coin, and silver coin.


Routine #1: International Fantasy:  A spectator selects a card and places it back in the deck.  After failing to find the card, the magician offers to perform a coin trick.  A card shown not to be the spectator's selection is placed on the table.  One at a time 3 coins from 3 different countries are produced, then vanished one at a time, re-produced one at a time, then vanished to appear under the card on the table (again one at a time).  Finally, the card is shown to have changed into the spectator's card selection.

Reed uses a very common gaff in this routine and gets a lot of mileage out of it. In the context of Reed's routine, this gaff really allows you to be one ahead or behind at will, making productions and vanishes a little bit easier.  This is a solid well put together routine, and honestly well within the grasp of any magician who decides to learn it.  (So it only busts one pinky knuckle on the Knuckle Buster scale of difficulty).

Routine #2: The International Dissolve: A copper coin, silver coin, and brass coin are on a close up pad.  The brass coin is picked up with a card, dumped in the magician's hand, and with a wave of the card the coin disappears.  This is repeated for the copper coin.  The card is placed on the mat and the silver coin is placed in a pocket. Suddenly all 3 coins appear under the card.  The three coins are held in a fan at the magician's fingertips.  One at a time the coins vanish and all appear all at once under the card once again.

This routine will be on Curtis Kam's Palms of Steel #2 DVD.  Reed has two gaffs at play here, one every coin magician should own, the other will need to be made (it does not take much effort to make).  I like the second phase of this routine where the coins disappear at the fingertips to suddenly appear under a card (and Reed never touches the card after he picked up the 3 coins). Since Reed performs a 3 coin sleight of hand vanish sequence, having the coins re-appear under the card takes all the heat off of the dirty hand by a magical transposition.  Reed also has a really cool move during the 2nd coin vanish phase that utilizes a Geoffrey Latta/Paul Wilson move and adds a subtle property of a gaff coin.  The subtle property of this gaff to quote Reed, "Is so bold it spanks magicians."  The move is somewhat of a discrepancy that flies right past people and really makes a very convincing silver coin vanish.  You have to read it (or see it on Palms of Steel 2) to see what I am talking about.

Routine #3: International Hanging Coins: A copper coin, silver coin, and brass coin are held in a fan.  One at a time each coin turns invisible and is hung in mid air.  They are collected from mid-air and suddenly appear on the table side by side.  The coins are picked up; the copper and brass vanish one at a time leaving the silver. The silver changes colors rapidly from silver to copper to brass.  Then all three coins are displayed again.

Reed uses a gaff coin in this routine in a unique way that I have never seen done before.  He uses it as a normal coin (ie he does not use the properties of the gaff).  In other words, you can do this routine without the gaff.  I thought it was a bit funny do have a gaff at play but not use it, but I understand why he did it:  The other two routines in the manuscript use the gaff, so if you were using the other routines as part of a set, you can keep using the same coins.  Reed primarily combines two routines:  David Roth's Hanging Coins and Dr. Michael Rubinstein's Triple E.G. Spellbound.  He adds the delayed reproduction of the coins all at once on the table, and a coin finale he dubs the McClintock display to end the routine.  I guess the only negative I might have with this routine is that Reed does a triple spellbound with 3 coins that he just a displayed few seconds before. After the spellbound changes, he displays all 3 coins again.  In my mind it makes the spellbound routine (regardless of how beautiful it is - and it is beautiful) less of a transformation of a single coin into different types and more of a way to artfully switch in three coins that were just shown. Then after the spellbound, you show the 3 coins again again reinforcing you were just fancifully switching coins around.  It's more of a personal style thing I guess.

The material in this set of notes will definitely be easier to acquire than the material on previous KB volumes. If you have Reed's other manuscripts, by all means get this one and complete your set. If you are looking to buy only one of Reed's manuscripts, I think this one will provide 3 very nice pieces of coin magic to work on that won't really Bust your Knuckles too bad.  I like this manuscript in part because all of the routines use three different types of coins.  Reeds ideas on how to use one of the gaffs is a really valuable lesson in looking past the obvious use of a gaff.  I recommend ordering the manuscript directly from Reed at his website:

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Time for a Change…

Apollo's Lecture Notes


Meeting Apollo Robbins was one of my personal highlights of the 2002 Las Vegas Magic Invitational.  Apollo is a pickpocket artist that performs in Las Vegas.  When I met Apollo the first night of LVMI he did a coin routine for me.  Little did I know that this coin routine was a setup to strip me of objects from my pocket and my wristwatch.  He nailed me good and I never saw it coming.


So why am I reviewing a pick pocket's set of lecture notes on a coin magic website?  Well it just so happens that Apollo is a darn good coin magician.  Apollo did some stuff I was not used to seeing and fooled me pretty good with it.


Apollo's 17 page 8.5" x 11" staple bound set of notes is fully photographed in black and white.  In fact, this set of notes is almost like a picture book with more pictures than words at times.  For guys who like to look at pictures instead of reading to learn, you are in luck!  Shakespeare wrote in "Hamlet", "Brevity is the soul of wit".  This applies very nicely to Apollo's notes.  He gets the point across with very few words!  There is seven items in this set of notes, five of which are coin related.


Let's Dive in:


Item #1:  The "Apollo Palm"  This is a variation of a purse palm.  The coin is concealed in such a manner that it is not visible from the front, behind, or right side (when using the right hand).  This is a very disarming concealment.  One I never used before.  Joshua Jay covered this concealment in more detail in the February 2002 issue of MAGIC magazine.  When I read it in MAGIC I must confess I dismissed it as something I would not use.  That set me up to get fooled by it in Apollo's hands.  I honestly could not tell where the coin was.  Some of you have heard of Shoot Ogawa, a young Japanese magician.  He is friends with Apollo and utilizes the "Apollo Palm" as part of a purse frame routine that has fooled the pants off of many big name magicians.  (And no-name magicians such as myself).


The second part of the Apollo palm is the production of the coin.  The coin is slid into "Fitch Palm" named after Robert Fitch [edit - since writing this review, this concealment has been credited to Jimmy Wilson Sr. from Horace Bennett's book.  The concealment is called "J.W. Grip"]  Then the coin is pushed to the fingertips to produce it.


Item #2:  "A Quick Feel: An empty-handed shake…":  This item is a very nice way to shake hands with a spectator while concealing a coin in the very hand you are shaking with.  It does not a revolutionary idea, however it works very well.  The manuscript does not go into much detail beyond the concealment.  When Apollo did it for me, he used the concealment with his right hand and showed his left hand casually empty.  Then he stole the coin from his right hand into his left, as he positioned my hand palm up with his left.  After showing his right hand casually empty, he re-stole the coin back into his right hand and produced it in the palm of my hand.


Item #3: "Whither":  This is a simple coin vanish that makes a coin seem like it withers away.  Most of the coin magic techniques I know are typically done either at waist or chest level.  Much of Apollo's coin magic is brought up to eye level.  This type of magic would be perfect for TV work as the performer's face is in frame with his hands.  Not being intimately familiar with the concealments used in such a hand positioning, I found this technique especially deceptive, I would recommend anyone to learn this vanish (which also can be used for coin changes as in item #4 below).


Item #4:  "Nabil's Change":  This is a spellbound change Apollo attributes to Nabil Murday of Hollywood who came up with this change while brainstorming with Apollo.  Again, this brings the magic up to eye level of the performer.  The spellbound change is very similar to a technique that Michael Rubinstein has on his videos from the 80's.  The follow up to the change is very similar to the hand choreography used in "Whither" above.  Again, I found this change to be extremely deceptive and very beautiful to see.


Item #5:  "Latex Load":  This is a technique to load a rubber band on a spectator's wrist.  The obvious use is for a surprise ending of a rubber band routine like "Crazy Man's Handcuffs."


Item #6:  "Doing Business":  This is a technique to load a business card into a spectator's coat pocket.  This technique would be applicable to loading other objects such as a selected card or a coin, etc.


Item #7:  "His Watch":  This is one of Apollo's coin routines that he nailed me with when I met him.  Apollo uses a coin to misdirect spectators which allows him to both load a coin under one spectator's watch, steal a second spectator's watch, put the spectator's watch on his own wrist, and put a coin under it.  This routine is not so much about the coins, but the spectator reactions.  Apollo really does a nice job with this.  Apollo also provides some information on watch stealing, and when to not do it; information that should be wisely heeded.


I enjoyed this picture book… honestly it takes no longer than 10 minutes to read the whole manuscript.  In fact, you might be able to learn everything if all you did was look at the pictures!


What you will not get this manuscript are multi-phase fully scripted routines.  What you will get is some very quick and deceptive tools and techniques to apply to your magic.


You can order the manuscript from Apollo by emailing him at  The manuscript is $25.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling.


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