Product Reviews

Reviews written by Dan Watkins


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LVMI Live! 2003


In the summer of 2004 Five Star Magic Media released "LVMI Live 2003" which contains a mix of 35 performances and explanations from both the headliners and attendees of the 2003 Las Vegas Magic Invitational.


I am not going to do my traditionally detailed review of this DVD set, but I did want to point out that there is a good amount of coin magic on this DVD set (2 DVDs).  It retails for $49.95 and is available through your favorite magic dealer.


Here is a highlight of the coin material:



The following are the coin routines that were performed and explained:


Geoff Latta's, "A Trick with Three Coins".  This is a great three coin production/vanish sequence with a fingertip coins across thrown in for good measure.  Arguably worth the price of admission, Geoff fully explains the routine and the wonderful technique that goes with it.


Curtis Kam's "Coins and Goblet"  This routine is an eight coin production while holding a goblet (close up misers dream), followed by an eight coins to goblet, where coins magically travel from Curtis' hand to the goblet.  The routine is taught in detail by Curtis, and it also includes, coin roll downs, coin stars, and multiple coin aquitments.


Danny Archer's "Pick a Coin, Any Coin".  This routine fooled me, it's pretty devious.  Danny is able to find a quarter that a spectator initials with a Sharpie after it has been dumped into an opaque bag of quarters and shaken up.


Robert Steven's "Don't Blink" is a bare handed instant assembly.  Four coins are placed in a square pattern on a close up mat.  Both hands move forward and instantly, all the coins travel to an upper corner.


Michael Rubinstein's "Triple Coin to Card":  A sticker circle is affixed to a coin which is initialed by a spectator.  Three times the coin vanishes from Mike's hand and is found underneath a card on the table.  At the end the sticker is affixed to the card which is handed out as a souvenir.


Howard Stevens' "Invisible Matrix":  Cards are placed one at a time on the table.  Magically four coins appear under the cards.  The coins assemble into one of the corners, and than they instantly backfire.  There is both an interesting gaff to help the productions, as well as a gaff set of coins that make for very clean vanishes.


Performance only coin routines:


Bob Fitch performs a really great routine whereby four coins appear one at a time as he tosses them in his right hand.  The coins are dumped into a glass goblet.  One at a time Bob takes each coin from the goblet and each coin vanishes in four different ways.  Suddenly, all the coins magically return to the glass goblet.  Bob dumps the coins into his hand, and they all vanish at the end.  The routine is accompanied by Bob's theatrical patter.


Simon Aronson performs a quadruple spellbound routine.  A silver half dollar held in his left hand changes into an African coin, then an English penny, then an Asian coin, then back to the half dollar, all in left hand spellbound position.


Dean Dill performs "Explosion" which is his trademark coin routine that combines a very clean Translocation sequence, bare handed assembly, instant assembly, followed by the magical appearance of 16 coins on the mat.


David Neighbors performed a quick sequence were a rubber ball and coins change hands, with excellent sound deception.


Dan Watkins (yours truly) performed a routine called "Molecular Spellbound".  A gold coin is held in my left hand.  The coin is quickly covered and uncovered four times.  Each time the coin changes from gold, to silver, to copper, to brass, then back to gold.  Four coins are dumped to the table to show that it was not really magic, but rather a demonstration of fancy sleight of hand.  To show what it would look like if it was real magic, I pick up the gold coin, leaving all the others on the table, and repeat the effect.


John T. Sheets performs an effect where a spectator takes a quarter and initials it with a sharpie.  The initialed coin then bends right at his fingertips and drops into the spectator's hand.  The coin is truly bent and is kept by the spectator as a souvenir.


Gary Norsegian performs a version of "Karate Coin" (his finger penetrates a coin).


Mickey Silver demonstrates a coin going in one ear and out of the other, eating a coin, which then jumps back to this fingertips, and his "Human Slot Machine" where showers of coins fall from his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. 


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Coin Classics Volume 2.


This DVD is a 2004 copyright of Twin Cities Magic & Costume Co., who apparently bought the rights from Stevens Magic Emporium.


Much like Coin Classics Vol. 1, Vol. 2 is a compilation of coin routines by various magicians at various times in the past.  The footage is all studio shot, and the sound and visual clarity is very good considering the age of the clips.


What is on it?


Routine #1:  "Paper Prison" by Jay Sankey:  Jay shows a quarter in his left hand and a dollar bill in his right.  He crinkles up the bill and tosses it into his left hand.  The quarter is now found inside the balled up bill.


This is a quick trick.  It is visual and could work well in a walk around situation – there is no reset.  Jay teaches a move that is similar to Williamson's Striking Vanish or the Sylvester Pitch to create the effect.  It is worth checking if you are looking for a "simple quickie" to add to your repertoire.


Routine #2:  "Coins Across" by James Cielen:  Four coins are produced one at a time.  One of the coins is used for a quick coin flurry.  One at a time the four coins travel from James' right hand to his left hand.


I have to admit, this is a pretty interesting coins across routine technique wise.  It is a closed coins across (where hands close over the coins) but James uses a more open display as the coins arrive in his left hand, by holding the coins at the fingertips in a fan more akin to the Visible Coins Across or Three Fly type routines popular today, even though he created this routine back in 1983 before the visible coins across plot became wildly popular.  Also utilized and taught in this routine are the Gallo Pitch and a Muscle Click Pass.  This routine has a nice combination of handlings to create the effect.


Routine #3:  "Coin in the Bottle" by John Carney:  A coin is borrowed and John provides a Perrier bottle.  A spectator is asked to push the coin into the bottle.  The coin is too big for the bottle.  John takes the coin and makes it so small that you cannot even see it, and drops the microscopic coin into the bottle, and you can hear it clink inside.  Then he turns the bottle over and shakes the coin back out – which is now visible and full size.  He gives the coin to the spectator to try again.  The spectator fails.  This time John takes the coin and rests it on the side of the bottle, which lies in his hand.  John gives the bottle a 180 degree spin and the coin penetrates the side of the bottle and can visibly be seen inside.  John then gently moves the bottle up and down, and with a subtle shake, the coin drops out of the side of the bottle into the spectator's hand.


John has a very nice handling.  It gets away from more standard handlings of banging the coin through the bottom of the bottle (supposedly) and vigorously shaking the coin back out – which often causes the gimmick to break or come apart (I have experienced this problem).  John's routine is very elegant, and the first phase is a nice introduction that builds the 2nd visual penetration phase.  The spinning penetration is also very smooth and elegant compared to smacking the bottle.  I plan on working on some of the touches John teaches here to soften up my personal performance of coin in the bottle.


Routine #4:  "Two Quarters" by Daryl:  Daryl takes one quarter from his right pocket and puts it in his left hand.  He reaches back into the pocket and drops a second quarter into his left hand.  He reaches back into the pocket and gets a lighter; lights it, and puts it under his left fist.  He opens his hand to show that the two quarters merged into one half dollar.


This is a really simple routine.  It's just a little too many trips to the pocket for my taste.  Other than that, the routine is easy to learn, very straightforward, and is super clean thanks to convenient trips to the pocket.


Routine #5:  "Nickel on Forehead" by Don Alan (performance only):  Don sticks a nickel on his forehead and it stays.  He takes it off for a spectator to try and a big nail is stuck to the tail side of the coin.  (Gag routine – not much I can add to the description).


Routine #6:  "Sotch & Soda" by Don Alan (performance only):  Don shows a Mexican Centavo and an American half dollar.  Both coins are given to a spectator who puts them behind her back.  She puts one coin in each hand.  When she brings the hands back, the silver half dollar is in one hand, but the Centavo is gone from the other, in its place is a quarter.  (This is the standard handling for Scotch and Soda).


Routine #7:  "Double Coin Vanish" by T.A. Waters:  Two coins are dumped from the fingertips of one hand into the other hand.  When the receiving hand is re-opened, the coins are gone.


This is simply a teaching of the Himber Pass.  It is a good pass, if you don't know it, learn it.


Routine #8:  "Coins Across" by Masao Atsukawa:  One at a time 4 coins travel from Masao's right hand to his left hand.


Routine #8 continued:  "2 Coin Sequence" by Masao Atsukawa:  Two coins are tossed to the table one at a time from each hand, and picked back up with the same hands that tossed the coins.  Magically, both coins coalesce to the right hand.  The effect is repeated, this time the coins coalesce into the left hand.


I like the routines not so much for the effect, but for the methods.  First taught is a technique called the "MA Pass" which is a unique coin pass akin to a muscle pass from the back side of the hand.  It is used to secretly propel a coin from one hand to another under some type of cover.  This technique is quite deceptive, however there is a tell tale flinch of the hand when the coin is propelled and you need proper cover. 


The second technique taught is a loading technique to secretly load a coin into a hand as it is taking another coin from the same hand.  This technique is very deceptive and is impossible to catch.


The third technique is Masao's version of the Han Ping Chien.  This technique is VERY close to the Gallo Pitch.


The routines themselves have a bit too much coin "tossing" which makes me think he is doing something "tricky".  So while I enjoyed the technical teaching, I will personally use other methods to achieve the coins across plot.


Routine #9 "Vending Machine" by SAWA:  This is also often called SAWA's "Splitting Silver".  The story is that SAWA was at a vending machine and wanted to buy a drink.  All he had was a silver dollar that would not fit in the slot.  So he crushes his silver dollar into two half dollars.  The half dollars still do not fit, so he crushes them into quarters.


I really enjoyed the SAWA segment of this DVD.  He has some wonderful coin magic.  His Vending Machine uses some heavy sleight of hand.  He teaches a way to hold four quarters, 2 half dollars, and a silver dollar, and it only appears that he is holding just one coin.  A superb coin change of Dai Vernon's was taught, to explain how he changes from the silver dollar to half dollars.  Vernon's change was taught with a Chinese coin and a half dollar, the change is stunning.  There is a serious back clip retrieval/steal into the opposite hand that will take some practice.


Routine #10:  "Heads or Tails" by SAWA:  SAWA shows a silver dollar and plays a game of heads or tails.  He spins the silver dollar and smacks it on the table.  The spectator guesses heads or tails.  After a few tries, when he smacks the coin flat on the table, a second one appears.  He repeats and a third one appears.


This appears straightforward enough a coin production.  Definitely not my favorite thing on the tape, but I did not catch that he was holding out another unknown coin, which sets up the next routine.


Routine #11:  "Submarine"  Three coins are laid in a row on a blue close up mat.  SAWA says to imagine the mat was the ocean, and the coins were submarines.  He covers two of the coins, and the coin under his left hand travels under water to the coin under his right hand.  His left hand covers the middle coin, and it too joins the two coins under the right hand.


This fooled me.  The technique SAWA uses to vanish the coins from the mat is a very standard move, but he did it so darn well I did not think that is what he was doing.  Sorry for the vagueness of my description, I'm trying not to tip things.  Needless to say, anything that fools me I like.  You do have to be seated at a table to do it.


Routine #12:  "Coins Through the Hand" by SAWA:  Four coins are shown.  One at a time they are pushed through the right hand.


I am not a big fan of this plot.  This version however ranks among the best I have seen.  The cool thing about this routine is that the coins go through one at a time out of a stack.  So he takes a stack of four coins, puts them on the back of his hand, and one coin goes through, leaving 3 on top.  Each time a coin goes through, one less is in the stack, and this is a great convincer.


Routine #13:  "YenSational" by Karrell Fox:  A half dollar is tossed into a handkerchief.  When the handkerchief is opened, the coin has changed into a Chinese coin.  Under the handkerchief is a jumbo Chinese Coin, when he flips over the silk again, there is an even larger jumbo Chinese Coin.


Performed seated – very easy to make the steals and loads.  It's an "okay" trick.  Definitely pales in comparison to the Fred Kaps original.


Routine #14:  "Washington's Wig" by Karrell Fox:  A quarter is produced from a spectator's shirt.  Washington is shown to be wearing a wig.  Then Karrell reaches over to pull off his wig and pulls apart cotton – the coin is gone.


Really simple trick here.  A coin vanish where you must be wearing long sleeves and have a cotton ball to tear apart.  Maybe this appeals to some.  I did not care for the trick.


Routine #15: "Coins in the Glass" by Richard Ross.  A glass is covered with a silk.  Three coins one at a time are tossed into the air.  They vanish and are heard to clink into the glass.  At the end, the silk is removed and the three coins are poured out.


This fooled me.  After I watched the explanation, I did not even have a fighting chance to have caught Richard.  Gimmicked glass, hidden mechanisms, assistant off stage doing secret work for you, etc.  Definitely not an impromptu close up miracle.  Really cool stage piece.


Comparing Vol. 1 with Vol. 2, I did prefer Vol. 1.  This DVD was a bit of a mixed bag.  Some good stuff, some not so good.  Carney's routine as well as the SAWA footage are the highlights of the tape.  Fortunately the SAWA material takes up a big chunk of the time on this DVD, and is arguably worth the price of the DVD alone.


You can buy the DVD directly from Stevens at  It retails for $30.


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The Unexpected Visitor DVD

Coin Magic for the Walk Around Performer.   By Doug Brewer.

The Unexpected Visitor is a 2004 DVD release by Doug Brewer.  Most of the material is the same as Doug's 2001 same titled book release, also reviewed here.  Missing from the DVD, that was in the book are Doug's routines, "Three Across the Fly", "After Dinner Trick", and his chop cup routine,  "Chopped Taters".

However, Doug has three new routines on the DVD – "Wishing Cards", "Payout", and "Coins & Cylinder" which is a performance only version of Ramsay's "Cylinder & Coins".

The performance segments and explanations are studio shot, the video and sound are both very good.

As I wrote in my prior review, Doug is the 1998 SAM Close-up Champion in New Orleans.  The coin material presented in his DVD are Doug's workhorse routines that have served him for years as a professional close-up magician.  Doug's routines are have been tested in strolling or restaurant environments, the routines tend to be simple, direct, quick, and have a strong impact.

Regarding the title of the DVD, (I will borrow from the book review where Doug wrote): "The unexpected visitor is often how I think magicians are first perceived.  People express great surprise that a real magician is at their table.  Most have never seen a magician before, and if they have, it's probably only from television."

The routines (I am going to borrow heavily from my prior book review for the routine explanations and reviews – but I have indicated where the DVD is different than the book):

Routine #1:  "Sounds Familiar".  Three English pennies and a Chinese coin are displayed.  The Chinese coin is placed in a spectator's hand.  One at a time the Pennies travel to the spectator's hand.  For the last coin, the Chinese coin is placed into the magician's pocket, and he retains the copper coin.  Suddenly the copper coin magically travels into the spectator's closed fist, and the Chinese coin re-appears in the magician's.

This routine is an interesting twist on a coins across to a spectator's hand in that a Chinese coin is used as the "magical coin" that cause the pennies to travel from the magicians hand to the spectator's.  The Chinese coin adds an element of unpredictability that a typical 4 coins across routine may have.  The ending is particularly strong with the instant double whammy of a coin traveling into a spectator's closed fist and the Chinese coin appearing in the magician's hand.  I generally like this routine. 

Coin routine #2:  "Backhanded".  A half dollar, an English penny, and a Mexican centavo one at a time vanish from the magician's hand to reappear under a single playing card.  On the last coin, the magician mimes dropping it through the card to the other coins, and suddenly all the coins are back in the hand, with nothing under the card.

In walk around magic use of a table is generally not feasible, quite honestly, you don't really get to sit down and clear away a nice big working space at someone's dinner table.  This typically eliminates matrix or chink-a-chink type effects from a walk around magician's repertoire.  This routine is arguably different.  Yes, you need to utilize a piece of table, but only the little space of one playing card.  This routine combines ingenious use of some gaffs (nothing off the wall – these gaffs any coin magician should have) and some very simple, yet extremely contextually powerful usage of click passes to create a very strong effect.  If your working environment usually precludes tabled matrix routines, this is a very viable option.  I recommend learning it.

Coin Routine #3:  "The Famous Three Coin Trick".  Three coins are shown from inside a coin purse.  The coins are dumped out onto the table.  One at a time, the coins "turn invisible" as they are placed into spectators' hands.  Doug make's the first coin re-appear, takes the 2nd "invisible" coin from the spectator, with a shake it turns visible again.  Doug waives his hand over the 3rd "invisible" coin lying on a spectator's hand.  Suddenly it appears on her hand.  Doug vanishes the first and second coin in his hands again, and then shows that they traveled magically back into the coin purse.  Doug hits the last coin with the coin purse, and the coin penetrates the purse.  All three coins are dumped out.

This is one of my favorite routines that I originally learned from Doug's book.  In the book the routine was presented as a routine that happens entirely in the hands of the performer.  The DVD version slightly changes the structure to utilize the hands of two spectators, which is always a good thing.  Magic that involves your spectator is always a very strong plus.  Doug used this routine as his walk around opener for years.  If the required sleight of hand is mastered, this routine is a gem.  It uses the often underutilized one behind principle which is attributed to Mike Gallo.  Jay Sankey has also popularized some routines using this principle.  One of the sleights that have to be learned for this routine (The Himber Click Pass) is based on ideas from David Williamson and Jay Sankey.  One really great aspect of Doug's routine is that you start out and end with the proper amount of coins.  This makes the use of the one behind principle very clean and much more sellable to an audience.

Coin routine #4:  "EZ Triple Wildcoin".  Two half dollars are removed from a coin purse, each half dollar one at a time changes into an English penny.  Both pennies are placed into the purse, which are subsequently dumped out to reveal they have changed into Chinese brass coins.

This is a plot popularized by David Roth.  The use of a gaff makes this routine strikingly easy to accomplish.  I don't typically like to reveal the gaffs in use, but with Doug's permission I wanted to let the readers know, if you always wanted a new routine that takes advantage of the sun and moon gaff coin that is part of a Hopping Half set, this is the routine for you.  If you have a Hopping Half set, put away the silver coin and shell, and remove the first copper shell.  What you have left is the sun and moon coin.  It is a very neat gaff and sorely underused by most.

Coin Routine #5:  "Down Spout".  This is a coin in the bottle routine.  A quarter is borrowed, is fairly placed into a funnel, the funnel is placed into the bottleneck.  A pencil is used to push the quarter down the funnel into the bottle.  The funnel is shown empty.  Finally, the quarter melts through the bottom of the bottle.

This trick has the possibility of fooling magicians.  The fairness of putting an un-gaffed quarter into a funnel and pushing it into the bottle is very baffling.  For laymen, it is equally baffling.  For this version you need to carry a funnel with you and a pencil.  There are also some additional small items and a gaff needed to perform the miracle.  This is a really nice parlor presentation of coin in the bottle.

Coin routine #6:  "Cap-tivating".  Three coins are cleanly produced one at a time from a pen cap.

The description is accurate.  This is a very simple, fast paced, production of 3 coins from a pen cap.  It does not take long to master and it gets the job done.  The DVD version differs slightly from the book in the last coin production.  In the book version Doug used a Palm-to-Palm change.  In the DVD Doug uses shuttle pass techniques instead.

Coin routine #7:  "The Hook Revisited".  Three coins are hung invisibly in the air on an invisible hook.  The hands are shown cleanly after each vanish and you end clean.

This is a very nice adaptation of Larry Jenning's "The Hook", also very similar to David Roth's "Hanging Coins".  Subtle use of a gaff makes this miracle extremely easy.  This version of hanging coins is as advertised.  After each vanish the hands can be shown clean, and at the end the hands are empty.  The routine involves no lapping, sleeving, topiting, hand washing, and can be done surrounded.  Doug's bold and flagrant coin ditching is a great principle.  It is done purposefully right in front of the spectators.  In the context of the routine that Doug has put together, the ditching is properly and logically covered within the routine.  One of the major reasons why Doug can get away with the flagrant coin ditching is because of the aforementioned fairness of the vanishes, you can clean up extremely well on the offbeat.

Coin routine #8:  "Wishing Cards".  A spectator names any card, which is then put on the table.  Doug reaches out and produces a coin from the air.  He waves the coin over the card, and produced a 2nd coin from under the card.  The 2nd coin is covered again by the card, the first coin is picked up and it vanishes in Doug's hands.  The card is tilted up and the 1st coin re-appears under the card with the 2nd coin.  The deck of cards is cut to a matching card (matching number and suit color) of the spectator's original selection.  The two cards are pressed together and a 3rd coin falls out from between them.

Coin routine #9:  "Payout".  Payout continues where "Wishing Cards" left off.  One of the coins is placed into Doug's left hand.  One of the cards is placed on top of his left hand.  When he opens his hand the card falls onto it and the coin vanishes.  The two remaining coins are placed into his left hand and one is subsequently removed.  The remaining card is placed on top of his left hand.  When he opens his hand the card falls onto it and the coin vanishes.

The cards now rest on the table and the last coin is taken back and forth at the fingertips of both hands, and it vanishes.

Doug lifts the two cards and the three coins suddenly appear in a row on the table.

"Wishing Cards" and "Payout" in my mind are really one trick broken down into two items.  It is a three coin production, vanish, and reproduction using cards as covers.  Coins appear under them and disappear under them.  It is not particularly my favorite genre of coin magic – but for those who are looking for some coin/card magic that is not a matrix – it's worth taking a look.  I did like the look of the vanish sequence in particularly.  The way the card sinks down onto the hand to create the vanish just looks kinda neat.

Doug performs the "Pinch Production" that was written in his book, and does teach some secret shell re-nesting and un-nesting techniques that are worth a look.  Doug also performs a variation of John Carney's "Fingertip Vanish" to vanish the last coin in this sequence.

Bonus Routine (performance only)  "Coins & Cylinder"  The basic plot is this – Three coins vanish one at a time to be found inside a cylinder underneath a slice of cork.  The coins are re-covered and one at a time re-appear back in the magician's hands.

John Ramsay's Cylinder & Coins is a modern classic of coin magic.  I really enjoy Cylinder & Coins on so many levels.  The routine is fundamentally a 3-4 coin (depending on the version) vanish and reproduction.  The really great thing about the addition of the cylinder is that when the coins are revealed in an impossible location, not only is the reveal very startling, but it takes the heat off of your hands where you just vanished multiple coins.  Spectator's can stop looking for the coins, they are in plain view.  This also sets up the spectator for a startling production sequence where coins are appearing once again, that they just saw moments ago in another location.

The original Ramsay and the more recent John Carney published versions are a great lesson in misdirection and coin manipulation – it takes a lot of work to hold out four coins in your hand and have the audience believe they have all vanished.  It is a "manly" routine to say the least.

Doug's version is performance only that uses three coins.  Coin magicians tend to favor certain types of handlings of coins, certain favorite sequences, moves, etc. to accomplish various effects.  This is very apparent in Doug's performance of Cylinder & Coins.  You will instantly recognize some of Doug's techniques primarily taught in the preceding "Wishing Coins" and "Payout" in his Cylinder routine.  It should not be too hard for you to follow the "work" if you are familiar with the basic mechanics of Cylinder & Coins and learn the coin sequences Doug teaches on his DVD in other routines.

Ramsay's routine had a lot of "soft coin" and Fingerpalm work that is completely absent in Doug's rendition.  Doug favors moves that work out of classic palm and techniques that manipulate the use of a gaff.  Doug does not use "soft coin" manipulation in his version.

I have my own pet handling for the routine, and I personally enjoy watching different magician's performance of Cylinder and Coins.  How the magician chooses to vanish and reproduce the coins is always interesting to me.  Doug's vanish and reproductions are convincing and get the job done, but I must confess I do miss some of the more Ramsay-esque type coin handling (soft coin, Fingerpalm stuff) – just a personal preference.

As I said before, Doug uses a three coin version; this is a route I have taken myself.  It makes the routine a bit more succinct and I believe that the point gets across very well without having to use a forth coin.

Doug's version is done with half dollar coins.  (I personally prefer the larger dollar size coins which are more visible in a parlor type setting).  The impromptu wand is a sharpie marker – so it is a direct handling without flourishy wand spins.  I think using a traditional wand brings a level of elegance to the routine and is more necessary to sell the coin vanishes when really holding out four solid coins.  Doug's solution employs a gaff and a lesser amount of coins which makes the wand less necessary functionally for the routine.  Doug's "impromutu" wand does the job for his handling.

I must admit that I did not particularly care for Doug's handling of the cork slice in his routine.  At the beginning of the routine a cursory explanation of the props is a good idea since they are atypical items.  After that is done, it is my opinion that their function becomes extremely obvious in the middle of the routine.  I choose to completely ignore the props until they become necessary again.  I think that the impact of what happens with those props is one of (if not the) strongest points in the routine.  In John Carney's teaching he advocates lifting the cylinder to show the cork mid way through his coin vanishes to comply with the "Too Perfect Theory".  I personally think it only serves to lessen the impact and the logic of the coins being revealed there later.  (If you just vanished two coins, and you just showed their future destination, but they were not there… then where the heck where they in the mean time?  Coin Purgatory?)

Doug's performance literally reveals the cork after every coin vanish.  Doug told me via email that this was an accident, he only meant to do it once.  In a three coin version, showing the cork once is bad enough but twice, just kills the effect.

Finally at the end of the routine, traditionally the cork is taken by the magician.  And the coins transpose with the cork (the coins wind up in the hand, the cork back in the cylinder).  Some versions have this occur all at once (Carney) and most others have the coins travel back to the hand one at a time, and the spectators get another magical moment when the cork is shown to have returned into the cylinder.

In Doug's performance, he openly places the cork back into the cylinder and then produces the coins one at a time. I think Doug is missing a final magic ingredient.  If all the three coins are now back in view on the table, and everyone saw him put the cork back into the cylinder, when he lifts the cylinder there should be not be any surprise that the cork is there (they saw it go in).  Nor should it be terribly shocking that the coins are not there – they see them lying on the table.

When the cork magically transposes with the coins, the cork is a magical re-appearance in the cylinder.  It ends the routine with one more magical moment.  I would not have eliminated this.

I did not intend for the lengthiest review to be of the performance only bonus effect, but I had a lot to say.  Magicians who do the Ramsay routine hold very personal viewpoints on this routine.  I am sure there will be those who disagree with my personal thoughts regarding the routine, and some that agree.  I wanted to explain why I felt the way I did about components of Doug's routine to create an understanding of any of the critical items I may have pointed out in my personal perspective.

I really enjoyed Doug's book, and looked forward to seeing Doug perform all the routines himself.  I am glad I got the chance.

I will be very honest here; the book is still a better bargain at half the cost of the DVD for mostly overlapping material.  Those who prefer seeing routines visually, and who want to see Doug's two new routines and his Cylinder routine will definitely want to buy the DVD.  The DVD is more "wacky" too.  (You'll need to watch the performances to get that inside joke).

Doug has a new website up at where he has both the book and the DVD for sale.  He also has package deals for that combine some of his books and DVDs together.  Go spend your money.

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Radical Korn and Extreme Korn

 By: Chris Korn


Both of these DVDs are 2004 releases from Bob Kohler Productions featuring the magic of Chris Korn.


Both DVDs were professionally shot at Bob Kohler's studio in Las Vegas, NV.  The sound and video quality are exceptional, and everything was filmed with a two camera shoot.  I must say that I am very impressed with the cameras that Bob Kohler Productions is using lately.  I think he first used them on Cultural Xchange 2, the quality is outstanding.  During the performance and explanation of some of Chris' coin routines; I could actually see an expanded shell over a coin while Chris held the coin edge toward the camera.  You can clearly see the relief on coins, and different shading on coins.  That is some serious detail.  Usually filming shiny objects like coins tends to bleed away the details on the coins. 


The entire package is presented well, everything is taught in minute detail, and everything is clearly seen and explained.


I will say up front, that I was expecting to be slightly disappointed in the quantity of material on these DVDs because they only have four routines each (compared to a recent Bob Kohler Productions release like Cultural Xchange that had fourteen items).  In reality, Cultural Xchange was approximately one hour in length with about eight minutes of performance, the balance explanations.  Radical Korn mirrors this exactly, about eight minutes of performance, and the balance of an hour in explanations.  Extreme Korn is about six minutes shorter.  Chris' material is good, and the explanations are thorough, my preconceived quantity expectation was unwarranted.


Three of the four routines in Radical Korn are coin routines; the other is a card trick.  Two of the four routines in Extreme Korn are coin routines, one is a card trick, the last starts as a coin routine and ends as a pen transposition.


As always, the focus of this review will be the coin material, with only a cursory look at the non-coin stuff.


Lets take a look at the content:


Radical Korn:


Routine #1:  "3 Korn Vanish" - Chris produces a coin from his left bicep, and a second from his right bicep.  He places the coins into a fan at the left fingertips.  He reaches to his left bicep for the third coin, but strangely there is now only one coin at his left fingertips.  He puts both coins in his right fingertips and reaches toward his right bicep for the third coin.  Strangely enough, it is still only two coins.  He puts both coins in his left fingertips and remembers now where the third coin is.  He coughs and pulls it from out of his mouth.


He shows that from the front side there are three coins, pivots the coins over, and shows from the back side, there are only two.


Chris places one of the two coins into his left hand and waves the remaining coin over it.  He opens his left hand once again to show that the coin is still there, and re-closes his hand.  Once again, he waves the remaining coin over his left fist.  When he opens, the coin is gone.


Chris places the last coin into his mouth and audibly chews it up.


He tells the spectator he will start over, and he produces a coin from his left bicep, drops it into his left hand.  The coin quickly splits in two at the fingertips.  He places the two coins in his right fingertips and reaches toward his right bicep for the last coin, which is not there.  The last coin suddenly appears in the fan in the right fingertips with the other two coins.


This is the first of three coin routines in this DVD series that is a 3 coin vanish and production sequence.  It is very apparent that Chris is very fond of this type of magic.  If you are familiar with Troy Hooser's "exTROYdinary" routine, then you are familiar with the basic premise of the plot.  Actually, Chris opens his teaching segment saying that this routine is his handling based upon some of Troy's work.


Chris' first sequence is fun.  I like the repeating simultaneous vanishes and production of coins.  As Chris states, the appearance of the last coin allows the audience to relax.  This initial sequence prolongs this, and keeps the audience on edge.  I first saw this sequence used by Troy Hooser at the end of his "exTROYdinary" routine, it fits very well the way Chris uses it as an opening sequence.


Chris also has a very nice use of Dr. Michael Rubinstein's ROPS vanish in the context of this routine, and he teaches how it is done.  So if you do not have Rubinstein's materials, this is a great place to learn this wonderful coin steal.


This routine has a really nice "final thoughts" section right after the explanation that I particularly enjoyed.  It gave the reasons behind the structure of the routine, and why the routine works.


Routine #2:  Brutal Deck Switch - A $100 wager is placed on the table that Chris will be able to find a spectator's thought of card.  The spectator shuffles the deck and Chris holds the deck up and riffles through it.  The spectator just thinks of a card that he saw riffle past.  The deck is shuffled again by the spectator.  Chris then looks through the deck and chooses two possible selections.  Both selections are placed on the top of the deck.  He turns over the top card shows the Ace of Diamonds.  Feeling confident he turns the card back face down and puts it on the table and guesses the Ace of Diamonds.


The spectator informs Chris that he is wrong.  Chris looks a bit flustered and says, "We weren't betting on this money." and he picks up the $100 bill.  Chris then picks up the card from the table and puts it back into the deck held in his hands.  Chris then asks the spectator what his card was.


The spectator names his selection and Chris astonished says that it can't be that card because that is the one in the box.  They look back toward the box that was on the table, however now, the box is not there, and the deck of cards is.  Chris looks at his hands and the box is in his hands.  He opens the box and allows the spectator to remove the card, which is the thought of selection.


Ok – a quick comment.  No short cards.  It is an un-gimmicked deck, and the selection is always different.  At least some money was involved in the trick even though it wasn't a coin!  *grin*


Routine #3:  "She Holds the Money" - Chris holds a fan of three coins at his left fingertips.  The spectator is used as his assistant to vanish coins.  Chris puts the fan inside the spectator's raised right hand and her hand closes over the coins as Chris' left hand exits her hand.  Chris holds only two coins at his fingertips.  The spectator blows on her hand, and slowly opens it to reveal the first coin has vanished.


For the second coin, Chris merely has the spectator pass her hand in front of his.  When Chris' hand comes back into view, there is only one coin left.


Chris explains that the last one is difficult; he won't make her make the last coin disappear.  He reaches to his left elbow and produces a second coin.  He drops the produced coin onto the existing coin in his left fist, counting it… one… two.


He reaches behind the spectator's arm and produces the third coin, which he in turn tosses into the air and it vanishes.  He looks at his left fist and opens it, and the other two coins have vanished as well.  He shows his hands completely empty.


After instructing the spectator to contain herself from her obvious over jubilant glee; he explains that most people think the coins go up his sleeves, which he momentarily pushes back.  He informs her that they do not, but one of the coins is found up on his shoulder.  He removes that coin.  He quickly passes his fingertips over each other and the one coin splits into two.


Chris places one of the coins into his left fist, and waves the remaining coin over it.  His fist is opened to show that the coin has vanished, and once again appeared on his shoulder.  Chris places the coins into a fan at his right fingertips.


After instructing the spectator to say some magic words of her choice, she passes her hand in front of the two coins.  When she moves her hand back away, a third coin has appeared.


Very cool idea about using the spectator.  In reality is the "assistant" has no idea how the magic is happening and is being fooled just as much as the rest of the audience (maybe even more so).


This routine also bears similarities to Hooser's "exTROYdinary" and Chris opens by saying he was again influenced by it.


Chris' shoulder concealment has its roots in the neck concealment used in "exTROYdinary" however, Chris has adapted it to be more useful in my opinion if one is wearing a jacket (suit or sport coat).  The method Chris came up with much more secure than the neck concealment.  I tried it out and was able to move much more freely without worrying about the coin sliding off my neck.  This was a very useful insight.


Obviously you need to wear a jacket to get the most out of this routine and perform it exactly the way Chris does.  Also a jacket helps for a clean empty hand show in the middle of the routine.  You can however make adjustments if you don't want to wear a jacket.


One of the best things taught is a new click pass (I have never seen it used before).  As I was taking notes on this DVD, there is a part of the routine where Chris counts a coin onto another coin (supposedly).  I was following the routine and was pretty sure that only one coin was in play.  When he did the click pass, it really caught me off guard and I immediately wrote a note about this saying, "I like this".  When I finally learned what he did in the explanation, I laughed.  It looks very deceptive and it really is a click pass with one coin.  If you are looking for something to work on, he also teaches a one coin Himber click pass – you will need to get the DVD to see what I am talking about.  It's pretty cool.


Routine #4:  "Coppa Silva" -  A copper coin and a silver coin are shown front and back.  The coins are placed into a spectator's hand.  The magician's hands are shown empty.  The spectator closes her hand and Chris reaches into the thumbhole of her hand and takes out the silver coin, which he in turn places on the top of the spectator's clenched fist.  Chris waves his hands over the spectator's fist and the coins change places:  The copper coin is lying on the spectator's fist, and the silver coin is clenched inside.  The coins are examinable.


This is a nice and direct copper silver transposition.  Make sure you have a very good classic palm, or you will not be able to perform this routine (trust me, you will see why).  Chris utilizes a pretty standard coin gaff in a unique way to create this effect.  Really good thinking.


Extreme Korn:


Routine #1:  "Fire in the Hole" - A coin purse is shown to a spectator.  When it is opened, a few strips of paper are found inside.  A spectator reaches in, takes the paper, and hands them to another spectator.


Chris reaches back into the coin purse and pulls out a giant match that is much too big to have fit inside the purse.  The giant match is shown to really be a lighter; it is handed to the first spectator.


The purse is placed inside Chris' jacket pocket.  Chris proceeds to take a little strip of paper form the second spectator.  The paper is set on fire with the lighter that the first spectator is holding.


The burning paper is thrown onto Chris' palm up left hand.  Suddenly a coin appears when the flash goes away.  Another piece of paper is lit on fire and thrown at the coin, and the coin disappears.  A third piece of paper is lit on fire and thrown at the palm up left hand.  The coin appears once again.  Finally, the last piece of paper is lit on fire, thrown at the coin, and the coin purse appears.  The coin purse is opened to reveal the coin is inside it.


I really must say that making coins appear and vanish with the toss of a flash paper is visually stunning.  According to Chris, the appearance of the coins was something, he, Brett Wolf, and Homer Liwag sorted out back in the late 80's.  Chad Long later developed the idea of throwing flash paper to vanish a coin.  (See Chad's "Flash Coins" routine).


There are two considerations you must take into account if you are going to perform this routine.  1.  You must wear a jacket.  2.  You must play with fire.  The jacket isn't much of a big deal, most working pros wear them, but the fire thing may be an issue if your venue is not conducive to lighting things on fire.  Frankly, you need the flash paper to make this routine look good.  It does not work at all without it.


The giant match Chris says is "available in stores".  I ran a search on the internet for "Giant Match Lighter" and found this to be true.  It is called MegaMatch Lighter.  It's about $10 online.  The production of the match is pretty cool, akin to the classic purse & cigar routine.


If you like the flashy attention that fire effects create, grab your coat, grab your big match looking lighter thingy, grab a coin and a purse and have fun with this routine.


Routine #2:  "One For the Bar" - A spectator chooses a card from the deck which is subsequently placed back into the deck and lost.  Chris puts the deck behind his back, and claims that he is going to find her card and put it in a specific position in the deck.


After the deck is brought back out, the spectator is asked to name a number between one and ten.  She chooses, "seven".   He counts off seven cards from the deck and in the seventh position is a folded up bar napkin.  Apparently they counted in the wrong pile.  He then proceeds to count through bar napkins that have been sitting in plain view.  He counts down seven bar napkins and the spectator's selection is found face up in the napkin pile.


If you are one who frequents drinking establishments, you want to drink for free, and you don't have good card skills, this is a fine routine to learn.  It is a great bar bet routine.  It is easy to learn and carries a lot of impact because you use a common item found at the bar – it appears impromptu.


Routine #3:  "Double Crossed" - Chris displays a coin to a spectator.  Chris grabs the coin with his right hand and apparently tosses it into the air; it vanishes.  Chris states that the coin has appeared in the spectator's jacket pocket.  He holds open the spectator's jacket and points to the inner breast pocket.  The coin is not found.  Then Chris reaches to the spectator's lower inner lower pocket, and finds the coin.  Chris puts the coin into his jacket pocket and removes a white pen.


In an instant the white pen changes into a yellow pen which formerly was in the spectator's breast pocket.  The white Bic pen is now found inside the spectator's breast pocket.  Chris trades pens back with the spectator and the routine ends.


This routine obviously must take advantage of circumstance.  You need a spectator that is wearing a jacket with a pen in his breast pocket.  Chris uses this routine as an adjunct to a coin flurry routine.  Although it could be used stand alone, I think it probably would work best as part of a greater routine.


In order to perform the routine exactly as Chris does, you must be wearing a jacket.  Chris explains a way to perform it without a jacket under the cover of a silk – but I am a bigger fan of the visual stuff, not hiding it behind silks.  If you are going to perform this routine, I say go for the visual one.  Take a look at the demo video at Bob Kohler Magic.  The pen transformation is part of the demo clip – it looks fabulous.


Routine #4:  "Lip-tak Sighting" - Two coins are produced from a spectator's shirt sleeve.  The coins are dumped onto the table.  Chris miscounts the two coins as three, and then corrects himself and says, "The third coin is here."  He reaches over to his left bicep to produce a coin from his upper sleeve.  He pulls the material with his right hand, and attempts to transfer the coin to his left hand only to find that the third coin is now lying in plain sight on the table.


Chris then takes one of the coins and places it into his left hand, where it completely vanishes.  He shows the other two coins, and shows his hands empty.  He takes the second coin and closes it into his left hand.  He opens momentarily to show that the coin is still there, and re-closes his hand.  When he re-opens his hand the second coin has vanished.  The third coin is picked up directly with the left hand which immediately extends to hand the coin to the spectator.


As Chris opens his hand to dump it into the spectator's hand, the coin has vanished and traveled up his coat sleeve to his left bicep.  The right hand takes this coin and tables it.  The left hand reaches behind the right elbow and finds another coin, which is tabled.  He reaches back over to his left bicep with his right hand, grabs something, and brings it to his face to blow on it.  As he does, we find that the third coin is now lying in plain sight on the table.


This last routine brings the series full circle.  This is the third and last three coin vanish/production sequence on the DVD series.  This one departs from the stand up in the hands sequences that have the Troy Hooser flavor to them.  The first magician Chris saw have a coin appear on the table was a magician named Mike Liptak.  This is where the routine gets its name.


The productions are pretty simple.  This routine hits the spectator's twice between the eyes with the magical appearance of the last coin on the table.  The vanish sequences is a bit more involved than the simple productions.  During the explanation of the vanishes, Chris provides a very detailed teaching of his variation of a Retention Pass that minimizes finger movement as well as a very detailed teaching of Dr. Michael Rubinstein's ROPS Vanish.


This is a really good routine to practice misdirection and timing.  If you are off in either of these things, the appearance of the coins on the table will not go over well.  Luckily with practice there is nothing that demands a high level of knuckle busting to achieve.  Mike Rubinstein's ROPS vanish is another example – this move requires critical timing to pull off, but is well worth the effort.


I like the coin magic on this DVD series.  I think Chris does a very nice job streamlining his routines into flowing creations.  There are not a lot of extra un-needed moves, transfers, and changes that happen without reason that can over complicate coin routines.  Additionally, the items on this DVD are not extremely difficult to learn.


I usually do not like to get specific with the methods used in routines, however in this case, I think it is beneficial to mention that Chris' work in this DVD series heavily uses the expanded shell.  Chris utilizes this gaff to really make the coin routines look clean.  I can tell that Chris really enjoys using a shell and has obviously spent a great deal of time working with it.  I mention this because I often read on magic internet forums queries about teachings on using this versatile gaff.  I would definitely recommend these DVDs for anyone looking for good shell work, especially Radical Korn.  As an example, one thing that I personally enjoyed was Chris' subtlety to drop 3 coins from a fan (one being the gaff) without having the tell tale tinny sound of a shell.  It looks and sounds as if 3 solid coins were dropped from a fan into an awaiting hand.


I think both DVDs are good, but I already anticipate the question from those of you on a budget who will ask, "If I only buy one, which one should I get?"


My pick would be Radical Korn.  This DVD had more coin magic, and I really enjoyed his stand up, no table, three coin work.  It also appears as though Radical Korn is the first DVD of the set, even though the DVDs are stand alone items.  In Radical Korn he introduces himself and the spectators in the beginning, which he does not do in Extreme Korn.  There is also a bit more of Chris' personality shown while working with the spectators in Radical KornExtreme Korn just has a feel of a continuation of Radical Korn, there was also a few contextual things in Extreme Korn that fall into place if you watch ­Radical Korn such as exactly where does Jenny get the money she pulls out of her blouse?!?


Both DVDs have good material, get them both if your budget allows.


You can purchase them as well as see the online demo clip of the DVDs at Bob Kohler Magic for $34.95 each including shipping.


Back to Contents



Cultural Xchange 1 & 2

By: Apollo Robbins and Shoot Ogawa


Cultural Xchange 1 and 2 are both 2003 DVD releases from Bob Kohler Productions featuring the magic of Apollo Robbins and Shoot Ogawa.


The DVDs were professionally filmed with dual cameras and edited at Bob Kohler's Studio in Las Vegas.  The video clarity, sound, camera angles, etc. are all top notch.  You can see and hear everything you are supposed to in these videos.  The teaching is clear.


Apollo Robbins works in Las Vegas.  He first became a rumor to magicians as the incredible pickpocket at Caesar's Magical Empire.  He is the guy who successfully pickpocketed the secret service protecting President Carter during a visit to Caesar's.  Not only is Apollo an expert pickpocket, but a phenomenal sleight of hand magician as well.


Shoot Ogawa hails from Tokyo, Japan and is the recipient of the prestigious Magic Castle's "Close Up Magician of the Year" for 2002.  Shoot has jumped to the top of the close up world also winning the MacMillan Convention's Close Up contest in November 2002.  He was also featured on the cover of Magic Magazine in the March 2003 issue.


At the time of filming, Apollo and Shoot often worked together at the Shadow Bar in Caesars Las Vegas.  Their performing environment is very loud.  Taught on the DVDs are routines that can be done with very little or no speaking at all.  Routines such as these allowed them to perform in this environment where they often cannot be heard.  Most of the magic is short, to the point, and highly visual.


The material is split pretty evenly between card and coin magic to pack small for walk around.  As always, the focus of the review for this website will be the coin magic.  Cultural Xchange 2 also has a few routines with other types of objects like pens and dice etc.


Because of the short, quick, visual nature of the non-coin magic on this DVD I will quickly describe the non coin effects, but I won't discuss them beyond a description.


Cultural Xchange 1:


Routine #1, "Trinity":  Apollo's right hand is shown in a "C" formation at face level.  The front and back of the hand appears empty.  Suddenly a silver half dollar coin appears at his right fingertips.  The left hand takes the coin and is re-gripped immediately in a "C" formation by the right hand.  The coin is rubbed away by the left fingers and shown to have vanished.


Suddenly, the coin appears again at the right fingertips.  The left hand momentarily covers the silver half dollar and the coin immediately changes into a brass Chinese coin with a hole in the center.


The Chinese coin is taken by the left hand and then is immediately re-gripped in a "C" formation by the right hand and pivoted 180 degrees to display both sides.


Eventually the Chinese coin is taken back by the left hand and re-gripped in the "C" formation of the right hand.  The left hand moves away and the coin has vanished.


Trinity is actually a culmination of handlings taught in Apollo's lecture notes reviewed here.  It looks fabulous.  To save myself some writing I am going to recycle some of my comments on this routine from my prior review of Apollo's notes:


Trinity starts with a teaching of the "Apollo Palm" (in the lecture notes) called the "360 Production" in the DVD explanation.  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.  Joshua Jay covered this concealment in more detail in the February 2002 issue of MAGIC magazine.


Also taught is concealment that Apollo calls "Fitch Palm".  Recently this concealment has been credited to Jimmy Wilson Sr. from Horace Bennett's book.  The concealment is called "J.W. Grip", and is referenced as such on Cultural Exchange 2.  The coin is pushed to the fingertips to produce it.


The main structure of the Trinity routine is called the "Whither Vanish" and "Nabil's Change".


"Whither Vanish" 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.  This technique is also used to cause the silver coin to change into Chinese during the second phase of Trinity.  Apollo teaches this technique extremely well.


"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 and Shoot.  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.


The only little gripe of the Trinity routine as a complete multi-phase routine is that you need to ditch the silver coin if you want to vanish the Chinese one the way Apollo does in the performance.  I am pretty sure Apollo just ditched it out of frame during the performance.  In actual application you would need to solve this problem someway.


Routine #2, "Neo-Purse Frame":  A purse frame is shown with otherwise empty hands shown front and back.  The purse frame is opened, dipped over the left fingertips, and a coin appears at the left fingertips.


The coin is dipped back into the purse frame, the left hand is quickly shown empty, the left hand snaps the purse shut, and the right hand turns over to show it is also empty.


The purse frame is snapped open again, and the right hand turns over, a coin falls from the purse frame onto the left hand.


The coin is repositioned to the left fingertips and the purse frame rotated over and off the fingertips two times.  Each time the purse frame rotates over the coin, it vanishes, when it rotates off, it appears.


The coin is placed into the purse frame, the frame is snapped shut and the right hand holding the purse frame is shown empty momentarily as the left hand holds the frame.


The right hand takes the frame back.  The left hand opens the frame, it is still empty.  The left hand closes the frame, and then opens it once again and suddenly a coin is lying in the right fingers inside the frame.


The coin is taken by a spectator.  A 3" Jumbo coin magically appears to be taken out of the purse frame.  The jumbo coin is pocketed.  The small coin is dumped back inside the purse frame and vanishes.  The purse frame is snapped shut and the routine ends.


This is arguably the best routine on the DVD.  The sequence that Shoot put together is extremely magical.  The vanishes and productions are very clean.  Shoot uses some of the palms and production techniques taught earlier in the "Trinity" routine.  Because Shoot uses it within the context of holding a purse frame, it highly motivates the "C" position of the hands.


I had the chance to see Shoot do this live for me inches from my face.  It is really beautiful.  The sequence where he is just rotating the purse frame over the coin and away multiple times and the coin vanishes and appears is a very magical moment.


Routine #3, "Right on Cue":  A card is selected which is the eight of clubs, and the card is put back into the deck.  The magician is not able to find the card.  Half the deck is fanned and an 8-ball appears under the fan, on top of the other half of the deck.


Routine #4:  "Royal Transpo":  Four aces and four kings are shown.  The kings are placed face down on a spectator's right fist.  The aces are placed face up on the spectator's left fist.  Suddenly all the cards transpose – the kings are face up on the left fist and the aces are face down on the right fist.


Item #5, "Slide":  A coin is shown and closed into a fist.  The fist remains motionless, and Shoot is wearing short sleeves.  When Shoot opens his fist the coin is gone.


This looks fabulous, but is very difficult, especially if you have dry hands.  I would imagine that it is not very easy to recover the coin unnoticed if you let the coin ultimately travel to where it did in Shoot's performance.  (I can't say more without tipping things).  The vanish itself is extremely convincing.


During the explanation Shoot teaches some applications of the move, where one can reproduce the coin, or use it within the context of the first coin of a coins across routine.  If you allow the coin to stop moving right after the vanish, you are able to bring it back into play if you need.  The explanation section of this item is very interesting.


Routine #6, "Coin Exercise":  A coin lies on the fingers of Apollo's palm up left hand.  The right hand rubs on top of the coin, and the coin vanishes.  The right hand turns palm up and the left hand rotates around the right hand to a palm down position.  The two hands separate and both turn palm up showing that they are empty.


The left hand goes back under the right hand, and the right hand turns back palm down.  The two hands then separate palms facing each other and appear empty.


The name of this routine is descriptive of its best use.  A coin vanishes and stays vanished during an exercise of convoluted hand motions.  Honestly it looks impossible to hide a coin during those hand motions, the hands look completely empty.  It impresses the hell out of me and I am sure many magicians.


Apollo says that he learned it to practice sleight of hand.  It would be good practice; it takes a surgical level of control to pull it off as cleanly as shown.  It is very difficult especially if you haven't worked with back clips before.


Item #7, "Shoot Shot".  A coin is shown and closed into a fist.  The fist remains motionless, and Shoot is wearing short sleeves.  When Shoot opens his fist the coin is gone.


This is similar in look to "Slide" but uses a completely different method.  You need to be able to muscle pass with your left hand, or have a right side breast pocket.  This has been talked about on the internet boards, so I am not tipping anything here – this is the vanish where Shoot muscle passes a coin into his breast pocket.  It looks absolutely superb on video.  You have to obviously what your side angles on this.


During the explanation of this item, Shoot discusses other ways to use the muscle pass to vanish coins.  For those of you looking for something to do with the muscle pass other than making a coin fall up, Shoot will provide you some ideas.


Routine #8, "Pits to Pockets":  A card is selected and signed by the spectator.  The card is lost in the deck and placed into the spectator's left hand.  The magician shows his hands cleanly empty and walks behind the spectator to the spectator's right trouser pocket.  The magician reaches into the spectator's right trouser pocket to reveal the signed card.


Routine #9, "Fore Coins":  A spectator holds his hand palm up.  Shoot holds the spectator's wrist with one hand and produces one coin from the air with the other.


The coin transferred to Shoot's other hand momentarily and then placed on the spectator's open palm.  This sequence repeats two more times.  As shoot reaches into the air for the fourth coin, it magically appears on the spectator's lower forearm.


This is a very nice straightforward production that is not a direct parallel, but has a similar "feel" as Michael Ammar's "Sonic Squeeze" four coin production.  However the productions are brought up to face level continuing the style of coin magic at framing the magician's face.  The spectator is conditioned throughout the routine by the grip of the magician on his/her arm, so the last coin appearing on the forearm seemingly comes out of nowhere.  This is a solid piece of coin magic.  You do need to have the ability to classic palm multiple coins and release them at will.


Routine #10, "Changing Tebe":  An ace of hearts is shown with otherwise empty hands.  After the card is rotated a few times, the hand wipes over the card and it changes into a king of clubs.  The king of clubs is shown singularly with otherwise empty hands.  The hand wipes of the king of clubs and it returns into an ace of hearts.  This is a variation of Ross Bertram's Tebe Change.


Item #11, "Pit Palm":  Apollo demonstrates and teaches how to use a spectators armpit as a temporary card holdout.


Routine #12, "Anniversary Salsa":  Two separate cards are signed by spectators.  The cards are shown separately, then they meld into one card with signatures on opposite sides.  This is a very straightforward and magical version of Anniversary Waltz.


Routine #13, "Toast Aces":  The deck is held in one of Apollo's hands.  One at a time the four aces come flying out of the deck into the other hand from various locations in the deck.


Routine #14. "Shooting Kennedy":  Shoot reaches out and plucks an invisible coin from the air.  Shoot's other hand (which is shown empty) closes over the invisible coin, and when it opens, the coin is visible.


The coin is tossed into the air and then held at right hand Spellbound position.  The left hand momentarily covers the coin and it grows to a 3" Jumbo size.


The Jumbo coin is placed inside his jacket.  He reaches out with his right hand and plucks another Jumbo coin out of thin air.  This coin is also placed inside the jacket.


Immediately Shoot pulls a jumbo coin from his right elbow and places it into his jacket.  This repeats one more time.  When he places it into his jacket the 2nd time, he reaches over with his right hand and plucks a Jumbo coin from his left elbow.


Then the jumbo coin splits into two.  One is placed in Shoot's mouth and immediately the one held at his hands splits again into two.  Shoot takes the jumbo coin from his mouth and taps it against the two in his other hand.  Immediately the one from his mouth splits into two.


Four jumbo coins are shown front and back.


The initial coin production is great.  I added immediately to my coin production repertoire.  It is a wonderful production that utilizes the muscle pass in a secret fashion.


The jumbo coin work is mind-boggling.  When I first saw the performance I immediately thought Jumbo's with shells.  I was shocked when he turned his hands over to show solid jumbo coins.


This routine requires some setup and a jacket, and skill with Jumbo coin manipulation.  Shoot teaches the setup and Tenkai palm jumbo coin technique.


Cultural Xchange 2:


Routine #1, "Son of Recap":  A Bic pen is shown.  Apollo takes the cap off and it vanishes.  The cap appears from his elbow, but then the pen vanishes.  The pen is shown to be behind his ear.  The pen is taken, and Apollo tries to put the cap back on, but the cap vanishes again.  The cap is found to be sticking out of his ear.  The cap is taken out and put back on the pen.


Apollo blows on the pen and it vanishes.  It re-appears behind his ear.  He takes the pen and places it into the spectator's hand.  He takes the pen back and blows on it again.  It vanishes again, to reappear in the crook of the spectator's elbow.


This is Apollo's handling variation of Greg Wilson's routine "Recapped".


Routine #2, "Coins to Glass":  Shoot shows four silver half dollars and a clear drinking glass.  Shoot picks up all four coins and places them into the spectator's hand, which is then closed into a fist.  Shoot places his hand over the mouth of the glass.  The spectator hits his fist over Shoot's hand and a coin penetrates the spectator's fist, Shoot's hand, and lands inside the glass.  The spectator opens his fist, and three coins remain.


Shoot places the three coins into the glass, and places one coin on the spectator's palm up hand.  Shoot holds the glass above the spectator's hand, and with a shake, one coin penetrates the glass and falls into the spectator's hand.


Shoot then takes two coins into his fist and picks up the glass.  He allows one of the coins to drop out of his fist, and he hits his hand with the remaining coin against the base of the glass.  The coin penetrates into the glass.


The last coin is taken into his left fist.  The remaining coins are squared up with his right hand and the glass is placed mouth down over the coins.  The fist taps the base of the glass, and opens to show that it is empty.  The glass is lifted, and knocks over the pile of coins to reveal there are four.


This is a really well constructed routine.  It is non-linear (you don't know what to expect next – it is not simply a coin penetrates, then again, then again, then again.  Rather, coins penetrate hands into the glass mouth, out of the glass base into a hand, through the glass base into the glass, and a vanish and reproduction inside of the glass.  I really liked the mix of effects in this routine.


The handling is very deceptive and use some interesting concealments and transfers, the hardest being a muscle pass hand to hand transfer while holding the glass in the catching hand.  If you don't do it right… people will know.


Item #3, "Heel Tap":  This is a technique taught by Apollo to switch an item for another by seemingly just closing your hands over the object.  An object like a coin is shown on the palm up fingertips of one hand.  The other hand slides under the hand holding the coin.  When the fingertips overlap, the bases of the thumbs turn inward and touch.  (Thus the name "heel tap").  When the thumb bases separate, the object has changed.


The examples performed were the change of a silver half dollar into a Chinese coin, a key into a finger ring, a poker chip into two small dies, and a silver half dollar into a small coin purse with a half dollar inside.


This is performed with spectators looking down on your hands.  Although it has a somewhat contrived looking setup, the change is visually startling.  It is an interesting utility move that looks harder than it actually is.


Routine #4, "Impossible Change":  Shoot places four distinctly different coins in a square pattern on a close up mat.  A small brass coin with a hole in it, a copper Sudbury Penny (silver dollar size), a black and brass Chinese coin, and a silver half dollar.


Each coin is covered with a card.  The two cards that cover the coins with the holes are picked up and replaced.  The same cards are picked up once again and the coins have changed into silver half dollars.  The other two cards are then picked up; all the coins are now silver half dollars.


This matrix type coin change routine looks wonderful.  It fooled me.  It needs to be performed seated, or with a servante on your close up pad.  The routine is very quick, direct, and to the point.  No extraneous handling.


Routine #5, "Kelly in the Box":  A card is chosen and signed by a spectator.  The deck is put in one of the spectator's hands, the card box in the other.  The deck is then taken back and fanned, the signed card is gone.  The spectator opens the box to find their signed card.


Routine #5, "Great Triumph":  The spectator chooses a card from a red backed deck which happens to be the four of hearts.  Another spectator chooses a card which turns out to be the seven of clubs.  Both cards are unknown to the magician.


The four of hearts is cut back into the deck, the deck is cut in half, one half of the deck is turned over, and the deck is riffle shuffled back together with cards face up and down.  The cards are cut into six piles to show that they are all discombobulated, and then restacked.  They are cut a few times and then spread.  All the cards are face down except for the original selection – the four of hearts.  The selection is removed and put face up on the table.


The deck is cut into four piles, two face up, two face down.  The piles are then shuffled back together.


All the cards wind up face down except in various parts of the deck, but in order, the ace through king of clubs are found.  The seven of club selection is turned over and completes the suit.


The remaining cards are spread on the table face down, the seven of clubs is removed and turned face down, and the four of hearts is turned face down.  All the clubs are picked up and spread face down to reveal they have blue backs.  The remaining deck is turned over and spread to show that they are all blank.


Routine #6, "Perp to Pocket":  Four aces are turned face up on top of the deck.  The spectator chooses a card from the remainder of the deck, and it is signed.  The deck is squared up again and the four aces are removed.


The spectator shuffles the remaining deck of cards.  The four aces are picked up by Apollo, shown separately, and then tapped against the deck.  The aces are fanned to reveal a face down card among them.  The card is the signed selection.


The aces are squared up, then spread to show that the selection has vanished.  The aces are dropped onto the table one at a time.  Apollo then reaches into his inner jacket breast pocket and produces the signed selection.


Routine #7, "No Steal Matrix":  Shoot starts by rolling out four silver half dollars in his left hand and fanning four kings in his right.  The four half dollars are arranged in a square pattern on the close up pad and each are covered with a card.


The top right card (from the magcian's point of view) is picked up to show that the coin has vanished, the card is deposited on top and slightly forward of the top left card.


Both rear cards are picked up and touched together to show that the coins are gone.  Shoot reaches over to the remaining two cards in the top left corner while holding a card in the same hand.  He takes all the cards away (three cards).  As the cards move away all four coins are there.


To be honest, I don't care too much for this matrix routine.  I think the method is too obvious.  In traditional matrix routines, the cards are turned over or lifted to show the coin has vanished, and they magically appear elsewhere.


Picking up a card, not showing the face side, and placing it directly onto another pile makes me think, "Hmm he just picked up a coin with that card and placed it over on the other pile – it's not too hard to figure out how that coin went."


The next part isn't much improvement; the other two cards are picked up and then touched together.  Then one card goes over to the final pile.  As if putting two cards on the pile wasn't bad enough, we are going over with a third one now.


"No Steal Matrix" in my opinion, means openly making a pile of cards while concealing coins underneath.


Routine #8, "Kelly Cuts Aces":  Apollo peels away packets of cards from the deck until a spectator says "stop".  The pile is tabled.  This repeats three more times until there are four piles on the table.  When each pile is turned over, there is an ace on the bottom of each.


Routine #9, "Gamblers Transpo":  Four aces and four kings are shown.  The cards are picked up.  One at a time each King is slid from the top to the bottom of the packet and shown.


A few of the aces are shown, and the ace packet is put in the spectator's hand.  Magically the packets change places.  The spectator is holding kings, the kings are now aces.


Item #10, "Flip Tip":  This is a one coin vanish – reproduction.  Apollo brings his arm backward and looks over his shoulder.  His hand is palm toward the camera.  The coin vanishes.  He rotates his hand forward in front of his body for a back of the hand view, and then a side of the hand view, and then rotates his arm backwards to show a front of the hand view again.  Then suddenly the coin appears.


Get ready for some serious finger calisthenics.  The performance of "Flip Tip" uses some prestidigitatious (say that five times fast) coin transfers that transition the coin from behind the hand to inside the hand and back out.  These transfers are also used on Apollo's "2B Gone" routine below.  The actual "Flip Tip" is the sudden appearance of the coin at the end of the sequence.  It comes directly out of a "back to front of the hand" coin transition that Apollo is doing.  The positioning allows the coin to be popped into view.


I would not say that this routine is extremely magical, but it is extremely impressive.  I personally am a fan of these "being able to hide a coin while showing different parts of your hand" displays.  I think most spectators are smart enough to know that you are using fancy moves to conceal the coin.  If a coin really vanished, you would not have to go through finger contortions to prove it.  That said, the fancy moves are wonderful displays of skill, and they do impress (me at least).  This routine will force you to increase your finger flexibility.  Some of the moves are impossible unless you can really stretch your fingers across your hand.


In any event, it is a heck of a sleight of hand workout.


Routine #11, "Quick Matrix":  Four silver half dollars are arranged in a square pattern.  Four cards are placed over top of the coins.  Immediately all the cards are removed and all the coins are in the upper left hand corner (from the magician's point of view).


Now this is a cool looking matrix routine.  It really looks like as described.  Before you are even aware of anything, you get slammed, routine over.  I like this matrix.  This would be a nice matrix to use after a traditional matrix routine as a real fast repeat.  It uses no extra coins or gimmicks.


Routine #12, "Trapeze Trio":  This is a three coins across routine.  The coins are shown on the palm of the right hand.  Apollo tosses the coins to his left hand.  The spectator is actually between both hands for some blocking.  Apollo's right hand is holding the spectator's upper arm as he focuses on his left hand.  He brings the right hand out and looks over at it.  A coin pops into view.


Apollo places this coin on top of his left closed fist.  He tosses the coin off his left fist and catches it in his right hand.  He tosses the coin into the air, when it lands, there are two coins in his open right hand.


Apollo then gestures with his palm up right hand (with two coins) at his left first and instructs the spectator to hold his wrist.  The spectator does so and with a flick of his right wrist, another coin appears in his right hand.


This routine uses three coins and no gimmicks.  It is a very straightforward coins across routine.  The structure is such that the left hand is never opened throughout the routine.  This fact makes it slightly less clean in my mind than coins across routines where you see the proper amount of coins either before or after the fly in both of the hands.


I do like the technique used in the routine.  These DVDs have showcased in various routines Tenkai Pinch, Deep Back Clip, and the traditional Back Clip from Bobo's.  Various routines have also taught how to transition in and out of those clips, how to steal from them, etc.  This routine does use some behind the hand concealments, as well as some interesting throwing (coins in the air) productions.


This would be a good routine to know if you just borrowed three quarters from some friends, and need something very magical with minimal props.


Routine #13, "8 Way Change":  The spectator chooses two cards, the five of diamonds and the nine of clubs.  The cards are put back into the deck one at a time, and the deck is cut a few times.  Shoot shows the ace of diamonds on the bottom of the deck.  He waves his hand over the deck, the ace changes into a two of diamonds, with another wave, the two changes into the three of diamonds, then a wave it becomes the four of diamonds, the deck flips over and it is the five of diamonds.  The five is tabled.


The deck is cut a few more times.  The three of clubs is on the bottom of the deck.  The hand is placed over the three of clubs.  The fingers are split so you see the three until the last second.  With a small shift of the hand, the three vanishes, when Shoot removes his hand the card is now the six of clubs.  The deck is rotated and it becomes the nine of clubs.


Routine #14, "2B Gone":  Apollo performs a walk around version, and Shoot performs a formal close up version.


"2B Gone Apollo":   Apollo holds his right hand out, lower waist level, and palm up.  It is empty.  He brings his hand up to eye level with curled fingers.  He rotates his hand palm down with curled fingers.  He opens his hand into a "C" shaped configuration, and then produces a coin.  He flips the coin over with his left hand and replaces it; suddenly a 2nd coin flips into view in his left hand.  The 2nd coin drops into his left hand which turns over with fingers slightly curled showing that the coin has vanished.


The first coin is taken by the left hand into French Drop position.  The right hand strikes down on the coin like a karate chop and snaps.


The coin has vanished; both hands are shown (apparently) empty.


"2B Gone Shoot":   Shoot reaches out and plucks and invisible coin from the air and transfers it to his right hand fingertips.  Shoot's left hand (which is shown empty) closes over the invisible coin, and when it opens, the coin is visible.  He puts this coin at his right fingertips.  Suddenly a 2nd coin flips into view in his left hand.  The 1st coin drops into his right hand which turns over with fingers slightly curled showing that the coin has vanished.


The 2nd  coin is taken by the right hand into French Drop position.  The right hand waves up and down over the coin and it vanishes.


The coin has vanished; both hands are shown (apparently) empty.


Both routines are very similar.  Shoot opens with the same coin production he used in "Shooting Kennedy" from Cultural Xchange 1.  I like this production very much.  Apollo opens with behind the hand concealment to front of the hand concealment coin transition very similar to the techniques taught in the "Flip Tip" performance.  After those distinctions, the handling is pretty similar.  With some minor change of which hands hold which coins, and the ditching locations of one of the coins toward the end of the routines.


These are very quick routines and only last twenty seconds or so.  I would imagine they are good for a quick magical demonstration in a loud environment, without having to hold someone's attention for a long period of time.


Each version's opening sequence is technically demanding in different ways.  For Apollo's you have to have the back to front coin transition down pretty well.  Shoot's version requires the muscle pass accuracy and timing.  Both versions, requires a muscle pass later in the routine to different locations.


I like the techniques taught in these two routines.  In addition to the two opening sequences, Apollo has a really nice looking spider vanish variation, which is quick and convincing.


Final words:


There is good technical coin magic on these DVDs.  They are not for the beginner.  I would say most of the routines use very advanced coin manipulation techniques even though many of the routines are simple in structure.  Cultural Xchange 2 (CX2) is probably a little more technically demanding than Cultural Xchange 1 (CX1).  CX2 builds on some of the technique taught in CX1.


I think both DVDs have a great sampling of magic and the majority of it is good stuff.  The routines are as advertised, they tend to be quick, visual, and to the point.  (Except for Shoot's "Great Triumph" routine which is a bit longer than most of the quick routines on the DVD).


If you enjoy finger flicking workouts, you will enjoy these DVDs.


They are available exclusively at Apollo and Shoot's lectures or online at and sell for $39.95 each.


You can buy, read the advertising, and view online videos of CX1 Here.


You can buy, read the advertising, and view online videos of CX2 Here.


Back to Contents



Matrix God's Way

By John B. Born


Matrix God's Way is a 100 page spiral bound book that contains over 400 black and white digital photographs detailing 18 different effects (15 to be precise, one of the items is a different ending to an effect, one of the items is the reiteration of two routines performed in sequence that were already taught, and one item is the description of a coin holdout).  The focus of the material is primarily bare handed coin assembly work, though it does have other types of routines thrown in for good measure.  The "meat" of the text is definitely the coin work. 


Included with the book is a performance only companion Video CD (VCD) that shows John performing about half of the effects in the book to music.  VCD's are intended to be viewed on a computer.  John's instructions recommend using Windows Media Player.  The CD worked fine on my computer using Windows Media Player, but would not play in my stand alone DVD player.  The VCD is not DVD quality (obviously) however the video has good lighting and camera work, nothing is missed.


John's writing is clear.  The pictures properly show exactly what needs to be seen, and the VCD shows the actual performance.  It is a good teaching package.  You will have no problem learning the material from this well put together package.


A running theme in this book is achieving greater results by taking an extra step of preparation.  Most of the coin assembly work uses a myriad of expensive gimmicks.  This book shows what is possible when you take gimmicks to get so far ahead of a spectator; there is no way for them to explain what they are seeing.  Those of you who have my Coinvanish manuscript will know that I am not a stranger to custom gimmicks when it comes to coin magic.  Used properly, they can create some of the cleanest, most baffling effects.  Sometimes, you need to use SPECIFIC gimmicks to produce a SPECIFIC effect that you dream up.  Learning what to use, how to use it properly, and when to use it takes a lot of thought, and time, and dollar bills.


The title of the book may sound a bit egotistical.  John's reasoning behind the title is that when people (including magicians) see this magic, usually God's name is invoked in one form or another (Oh My God, Holy this or that).  When asked about the, John's typical reply is this is the way Matrix would look if God did it.  Okay… lets see if it lives up the lofty standards of the Almighty.


Routine #1:  "Mini 4 of a Coin" (performed on the CD as well) - Using a miniature deck of cards one at a time four aces are produced.  The cards are tossed, spun, and set on the table while showing empty hands before and after.  Yet, when the cards are slid away, a half dollar is found under each card.


At first, the routine simply appears to be a run of the mill 4 ace production.  You don't expect the coin production at all, it literally comes out of nowhere, and it looks really clean.  How may you ask is the clean appearance obtained?  The cards are gimmicked and the coins are gimmicked.  The cards you can gimmick yourself after obtaining a mini-deck and some other low priced items.  The four gimmicked coins are readily available through magic dealers.  John provides two methods to perform this routine.


Routine #2: "4 of a Coin" (performed on the CD as well) - Produce the four aces one at a time. The cards are tossed, spun, and set on the table while showing empty hands before and after.  Yet, when the cards are slid away, a half dollar is found under each card.


This for all intents and purposes is the exact same effect as "Mini 4 of a Coin"; though the ace production sequencing is  different.  Because of the gaff nature of the coins and cards, one added advantage that John advertises (so I am not tipping anything here) is that the coins can be shelled and they won't talk during any of the productions.  This sets you up perfectly for coin assemblies that may require (a) shell(s).


Routine # 3:  "Matrix God's Way" (performed on the CD as well) - A 5 phase routine, it starts out as a modified version of John Kennedy's "Translocation".  Four coins are aligned in a vertical line on the left side of a close up mat.  The hands cover the coins, and one of the coins travels from the left to the right side invisibly as the hands move away.  The 3 coins on the left are re-aligned and the covered again.  Once again a coin is shown to have traveled from right to left as the hands move away.  At this point, the "Translocation" plot is broken and the four coins are arranged to the four corners of the close up pad.  This next phase is a simplified David Roth "Chink-A-Chink"/Ammar "Shadow Coins" plot whereby the hands wave over the 4 coins and one at a time they assemble to the top right corner of the close up mat.  Offering to do it again, the magician puts one coin in each corner.  Waving over the coins, all four instantly assemble in the top right hand corner.  Another wave, and without the hands crossing the center of the mat, all four coins are back in their respective corners.  The coins are arranged in a diagonal pattern on the close up mat and then put back into the four corners of the mat.  Again without the hands crossing the center of the mat, all the coins instantly assemble to the top left corner.


This is John's pride and joy routine.  I think this is one of the most stunning multi-phase bare hand coin assembly I have ever seen.  I would say that the most startling parts of the routine for me are phases 3 and 4 where all the coins instantly assemble to the top right corner, then instantly backfire without the hands crossing the mat.  I could not follow how he did that on the VCD.  It is remarkably clean looking with minimal extraneous hand motions.


Routine #4:  "Matrix ReBorn" (Performed on the CD as well) - John starts with four silver half dollars in a square in his close up mat. He waves his hands over two coins. One coin invisibly jumps from under one hand to his other hand.  John repeats the move and 3 coins gather under one hand. He then places his hands over the 3 coins and the one coin by itself. When he lifts his hand, all the half dollars have changed to brass Chinese coins.


This is the routine John originally released on Steven's Magic Emporium's "Coin Classics Volume 1" video.  I said in my review of the video, and I will say it again here, while visually stunning, this routine starts and ends very dirty. You will need to go straight to your pocket or your brief case at the end of this routine.  I am not at all adverse to using gaff coins or unconventional methods to perform an effect.  This will not be for everyone and requires a private setup time away from your spectators (or having your hands hidden under a table or out of view as you setup).  If you can pull it off in the right situations, imagine four coins on the table instantly changing with a simple hand cover.  It will shock the heck out of spectators.


Routine #5:  "Borrowed Quarter Matrix" – Four quarters are borrowed and are placed in a square pattern.  The magician's hands hover over the coins and they one at a time assemble to the top right.


This is basically a variation of Roth's Chink-A-Chink/Ammar's Shadow Coins.  John uses an extra quarter that is gimmicked in a minor inexpensive way.  The preparation John makes to his extra quarter allows him to seemingly end clean without having to lap a coin.  So while this routine appears impromptu, you do have to have your modified quarter setup and with you.  For that matter, having a quarter size shell coin on you would enable you to do Ammar's Shadow Coins routine and appear as impromptu as this.  But if you don't want to use a shell, this version works splendidly.  One advantage to this routine is that after the last coin goes you pick your hand straight up, and there is no load/unload for clean-up, no palming, the coins can immediately be picked up by spectators.


Routine #6:  "Off The Hook" (Performed on the CD as well).  Four English Pennies are placed in a vertical line on the left side of the close up pad.  The coins are covered with the hands.  One coin is shown to have traveled to the right side as the hands move away.  The three coins on the left are re-arranged into a horizontal line then immediately put back into a vertical line.  The hands cover all the coins.  Another coin is shown to have traveled to the right as the hands move away.  The hands cross and are placed over the coins.  A third coin is shown to have traveled invisibly from left to right as the hands move away.  The hands un-cross, while showing empty and cover the coins again.  The last coin is shown to have magically traveled to the right as the hands move away.


The coins are arranged into a diamond pattern.  A coin purse is taken from the pocket and placed into the center of the diamond.  The top and bottom coins are picked up and placed at the top corners of the close up mat and suddenly they are silver half dollars!  The left and right coins are picked up out of the diamond pattern and immediately change to silver half dollars as well (both sides are shown as John rotates them at his fingertips).  The coins are placed at the bottom corners of the close up mat.


The coin purse is opened to show that the four English Pennies are inside.  The coins are dumped out.  All of the coins are displayed at the top of the close up pad.  All eight of the coins are turned over to show both sides.


This routine fooled me pretty good.  The Kennedy "Translocation" routine was pretty standard.  But when the coins two at a time change from Copper to Silver he got me.  I was following some of the moves by his hand postures, but I still did not understand how he was doing it.  John is using a unique custom set of gaff coins.  There are multiple types of gaffs coins at play.  I will readdress this in my comments to the routine below…


Routine #7:  "Totally Off The Hook" – This plays out exactly as "Off the Hook" however, the coin purse is never brought to play.  After the coins all change from copper to silver, John picks up the silver coins, places them in his right hand, and they visually become Chinese coins that can be examined and he ends clean.


This adds another level of gaffage (if that is a word) to the coin set.  I can't help but like this routine.  When you bring a routine to this level, not many people will do it.  I am no stranger to using custom gaffed stuff to perform ultra-clean looking unique miracles.  John seems to share my propensity here.  The gaff coins make sense for this routine.  I do believe it is necessary to state that to end clean as John does, you are doing to need to ditch an object via lap, pocket, topit, etc.  This is not on the performance DVD.  I sure would have liked to see this routine.  Because of the time and money John invested in it, I know it has to fool the pants off of people.  John will be selling the coins for Totally Off The Hook.  Release date and price yet unknown.


Routine #8: "Over The Top" – This isn't a 100% new routine, but rather a combination of John's other effects into a set.  It starts with "Matrix ReBorn" but it uses Casino Chips that turn into English Pennies instead of half dollars to Chinese coins.  After the coins change into English Pennies he performs "Totally Off the Hook".


This uses John's "Totally Off the Hook" coin set along with gaffed Casino Chips, and all the extra secret props you need to do the regular "Matrix ReBorn and "Totally Off the Hook".  This is chock full of visual multiple change magic.  It is the first triple change coin assembly I have ever heard of.


Routine #9:  "Silver Dream" - This routine starts with "4 Of A Coin".  John then proceeds to wave his hands over the coins which make them multiply.  More coins come out from under the cards, he continues to wave his hands over the coins, and they continue to multiply for sixteen coins in total.  Cards are picked up and two 2 inch coins appear.  The four aces are put in a pile then separate to reveal a 3" coin.  (19 coins total).


This routine appears to start out as a simple ace production, and then all hell breaks loose.  It is somewhat reminiscent of Dean Dill's Explosion routine – though the structure and methodology is mostly different.  All sixteen of the coins are gaffed.  It combines the gaff coins needed for the regular "4 of a coin" with other types of gaffs.  John also teaches you how to inexpensively construct and use holdouts for some of the coins you need to ring in.  This routine is pure coin production insanity!


Routine #10:  "Fingertip Three" – Three dollar-sized Japanese coins appear one at a time, vanish one at a time, reappear one at a time, penetrate a silk one at a time.  For the finale, two 5-inch Japanese coins are produced from under the silk.


You don't have to use dollar size Japanese coins, it could work just as well with silver Morgan Dollars (and a standard gaff).  Some of the production/vanish sequences you can find similar to some of Troy Hooser's work with vanishing and reproducing three coins.  There is also some of Gary Kurtz coin manipulation involved.  John also uses techniques from Curtis Kam on the silk work and jumbo coin production, as well as Gary Kurtz for a jumbo coin production.


What John provides is standard, straightforward work on the 3 coin sequences that are applicable for many types of routines.  I don't care too much for silk and coin work, but what John provides is sound material for anyone looking for this type of routine.  You will need to perform in a vest for one of the 5-inch jumbo productions.


Item #11:  "Hole-dout" – This is not a routine, but rather a teaching on how to construct a very useful holdout for Chinese coins (with holes in the center) for body loads.  It looks like it would work wonderfully and it is easy to construct.


Routine #12:  "‘Purse'onally Ironic" (Performed on the CD as well) - The magi presents a "purse without a frame." Out of it he ironically produces a "frame without a purse." Setting the bag aside the magi displays the purse frame, with hands that appear empty.  He then proceeds to open the frame a produce a coin.


I wouldn't really call this a routine per se but more so a quickie coin production.  The novelty of producing a coin from a purse frame was popularized by Albert Goshman.  The irony part of John's routine is taking a "frame without a purse" out of a "purse without a frame".  It is a little gag that may fly past the unobservant.  John does have a nice aquitment that apparently shows both hands empty right before he produces the coin.


Routine #13:  "Muscle Catch" (Performed on the CD as well) - The magi rubs his hands together, turns them palm up, and shows them to be unmistakably empty. Immediately a coin appears at his fingertips.


This is the combination of two items I have seen on prior videotapes.  The first part being a coin concealment taught on Greg Wilson's routine "Something from Nothing" from his video "Off the Cuff", and the application of catching a muscle passed coin right at the finger tips taught by Kainoa Harbottle on Curtis Kam's "Palms of Steel" volume 1.  The production looks good.  If you are familiar with the prior mentioned materials you will be able follow the routine performance.  The combination of the two (concealment and production) in "Muscle Catch" is better than the prior two items as stand alone pieces.  It looks very nice.


Routine #14:  "Bite Me" – This is what John does when a spectator repeatedly begs him to bite and restore the coin, after he's done it for them like twenty times.


I wouldn't do this, but it is funny.  John does the bitten and restored coin that David Blaine made very famous on his Street Magic specials.  "Bite Me" is not so much of a coin routine masterpiece, but rather a way to spit pieces of coin on an annoying spectator and get away with it.  Not for everyone, but I sure would like to see it performed! J


Routine #15:  "Trans-Knee-Cation" – The magician is seated in a chair and four coins are lined up on the magician's left leg.  One at a time, the coins invisibly travel from the left leg to the right leg.


This is a routine by a magician named Jason Dean.  It is John Kennedy's "Translocation" done without a table.  Obviously when you don't have a table and close up mat to slide your hands around, you will need to pick up coins and shuttle pass them around, etc. to get coins across.  This is a creative solution to the problem.  If you are a fan of "Translocation" and want to perform it in more impromptu situations, this just may the routine for you.


Routine #16:  "Silver Seasoning" – A coin is put on the table.  The magician places a salt shaker over the coin and presses a cocktail napkin over the salt shaker.  The magician explains how the coin will be pushed through the table.  It does not occur.  Suddenly the salt shaker penetrates the table.  The magician asks to borrow a penny this time.  He places the salt shaker (covered by the napkin) over the penny.  The penny does penetrate the table.  The napkin is ripped away to show that the salt shaker has changed into a pepper shaker.  The salt shaker is produced from behind a spectator's ear.  Finally, salt is poured into the magicians closed right fist, followed by pepper.  The seasonings are shaken inside the hands.  Both hands separate and the left hand pours out pure salt, the right hand pours out pure pepper – the seasons have separated.


It's not a matrix routine!  Actually, the routine is a simple chaining together of pretty traditional dinner table conjuring.  I have done similar effects myself at a dinner table, though not in this specific sequence.  If you are not already familiar with the methods, read this and use it.  This stuff plays extremely well at a dinner table.  The salt and pepper separation alone kills.


Routine #17:  "Finger Ringer" (Performed on the CD as well)  - A pinky ring is taken off and placed into the right hand and covered by the left.  The magician focuses on the hands like something is about to happen.  The hands open, and nothing has happened.  The right hand dumps it into the left hand.  The left hand squeezes and opens to show that the ring is gone – it traveled magically to the right thumb.  The ring is tucked into the right fist and it vanishes.  The right fingers reach out and pluck and invisible ring out of the air, which is "placed" into the left hand.  The right hand smacks down onto the left hand and the ring penetrates back onto the right pinky finger.


This is a simplistic routine akin to a quick one coin flurry – though with a ring.  It is basically some false passes with a ring.  The most novel item is a use of Geoff Latta's "Nowhere Palm" as a one hand vanish of the ring.  Because of the way the ring is situated it makes the vanish easier than using a coin.


Routine #18:  "Gotta Light?" - The magician is asked for a light. He checks his pockets, and presents a lighter in his right hand. Before the lighter is handed over, the magi looks up and says… "Watch." The left hand holds a wand made out of paper. The lighter is lit, and held up to the edge of the wand. In a burst of flames it catches fire, sending a string of fire down the left hand. Once the fire ceases, the lighter is seen to appear in the left hand. The spectator looks to the magician's right hand, which is seen to be completely empty!


This is presented as an impromptu lighter effect where the lighter travels from one hand to another in a literal flash.  You need to wear a jacket and be rigged up for this to work.  You must also have a large flash paper rolled into a wand ready to go.  This is probably a really cool flashy looking quickie if anyone asks you for a light.


Final Thoughts:  I want to quote something John wrote me when he sent me this book as I think it is a good summary of John's intent when writing this:


"One must keep in mind that the purpose of this book (as mentioned in the introduction) is to show how extra effort in preparation will reap great rewards in effect. The routines included are not for the walk-around, instant reset, simple-effect performer. These are designed for the established magi to present a more in-depth demonstration of something extra special. I do not want anyone misled that this is a book full of impromptu magic with borrowed objects. Throughout the book I take advantage of gimmicks to create unparalleled visuals that would not be possible otherwise. Some require one gimmick, and some require many. Some require none. The point is what is accomplished through the utilization of what is used, which makes the initial investment for these routines nothing compared to what you receive in the end (which is what is important). In my opinion, $100-$150 is a nothing investment for a routine that I perform that sets me apart from another (keep in mind that not all of the routines will not even require that investment). This book even offers the potential to spend more than that. Those type of routines I included not even as a feature, but as a bonus for those who wish to take it this far (as do I). My angle is that I didn't hold back. I geared this to the close-up artist that wants to offer the most magical experience possible in this genre of coin magic."


I think John's writing on this sums it up.  If you really enjoy delving into what is possible with with a bare handed assembly, and adding gimmicks that take the routines way outside the box (literally) you will find a lot of value in this package.  If you are not "into" coin assembly routines, or our adverse to using or purchasing gaff coins, this book will hold less value for you.  It is very clear to me that John has spent countless hours not only creating these effects, but writing them up, photographing, and filming this material.  His passion for his work is self evident.


The spiral bound book and VCD combo is $65.00 and available directly through John B. Born (click his name to email him).


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Charming Chinese Challenge DVD

By Troy Hooser


This DVD is a 2003 release from Bob Kohler Magic.  All of the content was shot at Bob Kohler Studios.  The film quality, lighting, and sound quality are all excellent.


I first was introduced to Charming Chinese Challenge ("CCC") in Troy Hooser's book, DESTROYERS.  It was the first routine in the book, and arguably the best routine in it.  CCC along with the second routine in the book, "exTROYdinary" are two of my personal favorites from Troy's repertoire.


So what is the effect?  Three Chinese coins are threaded onto a silk ribbon by a spectator.  One at a time each coin penetrates off the ribbon.  The routine is exceptionally strong because a lot of the magic happens in the hand of the spectator.  The spectator threads the coins onto the ribbon at the start.  The first coin penetrates the ribbon while all 3 coins are cupped in the spectator's hand.  The second coin penetrates the ribbon while pinched between the fingers of the spectator.  The last coin does not penetrate in the spectator's hand, but the magician makes the ribbon fall off the coin, re-link back on, then the coin vanishes.  At the end, the missing coin is found along with the others in the spectator's hand.


The routine is extremely visual, and magic that happens in the spectator's hand is always very powerful.


I added this routine to my repertoire after reading DESTROYERS and acquiring the necessary coins and ribbon.  The coins are basically brass washers with paint on them to make them look like Chinese coins.  They are made by Sterling Magic.  They work very well for the routine because you need thin flat Chinese coins.  The final thing needed is a silk ribbon.


There have been countless debates regarding books versus video/DVD teaching materials.  The same issues still apply here.  You can learn this routine from Troy's book, plus get a wealth of other material.  The DVD on the other hand, focuses in much greater detail on the routine, where you actually see the routine in the creator's hands.  The DVD also has additional handlings by Thomas Wayne, Apollo Robbins, and Shoot Ogawa.


Troy is a very mellow personality.  He performs the routine and explains the handling in a very soft spoken manner.  The performance and teaching is crystal clear and leaves no questions to be asked.


In the "Variations" section of the DVD Troy first performs and explains two alternate coin links for the third phase of the routine (when the coin is removed from the ribbon and put back on).  These two alternative coin links can also be found in Troy's book, so nothing new here as well (other than being able to see Troy perform it). 


In the main routine, the third phase re-link is done while holding the coin in Spellbound position.  The first variation is Throw Penetration where the coin is apparently thrown back onto the ribbon.  The second variation is a Mid-Air Link where the coin is thrown into the air and it links onto the ribbon during a striking motion with the ribbon.


Exclusive to the DVD are five new variations:


  1. Pop Up Penetration is also a re-link for the third phase.

  2. Thomas Wayne Display is a subtlety that can be added during the second phase of the routine.  It is a convincing way to display two coins dangling from a ribbon, while one coin is already off the ribbon.  Thomas showed this to me at the 2002 LVMI convention, and I immediately added this to my performance of the routine.

  3. Thomas Wayne's The Bag is an alternate ending to have the 3 coins end up in a bag held by the spectator instead of directly in the spectator's hand.

  4. Shoot Ogawa's Tokyo Opener is an alternate handling for the first phase of the routine.  Instead of the spectator threading the coins onto the ribbon, the magician threads the coins one at a time onto the ribbon which is lying across the spectator's hand.  It is done openly right in front of the spectator, and the three coins are flipped over right in the spectator's hand without the magician touching the coins again, one of the coins penetrates from the ribbon.  This is a wonderful opening phase.

  5. Apollo Robbins' Karma Sutra Penetration is actually an effect performed separately of the main CCC routine.  In Apollo's routine, two Chinese coins are threaded onto the ribbon and the ends of the ribbon are tied together.  One coin penetrates the ribbon, and then re-links back on.  The ribbon and coins can be handed out before and after the effect.


Charming Chinese Challenge is a great routine for any close up venue and the angles are exceptionally good.  The magic happening in the spectator's hand is ideal.  There are no difficult coin sleights used so a coin magic novice can learn this routine.  If you find the description of this routine compelling, and have not purchased Troy's book, the DVD is an exceptional teaching resource.  If you have the book already and perform the routine, the DVD will simply allow you to see Troy's personal performance and teaching of the main routine and the two link variations, and access to the five new variations detailed above.  Other than the five variations, the routine is exactly as detailed in his book.  The most valuable new variations for me are Shoot's opener and the Thomas Wayne display.


The DVD retails for $29.95 and is available directly through Bob Kohler Magic (click link to visit).


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