Tuesday, September 9, 2014

IBM Ring 352 Magic Swap Meet!

Calling all finger-flingers, card manipulators, coin conjurors, and general practitioners of the mystery arts:

IBM Ring 352 in State College, PA will be hosting a Swap Meet at our next official meeting this coming Friday, September 12 at the Center Region Council of Governments, 2643 Gateway Drive, State College, PA.

So if you have a box or drawer full of stuff you thought you had to buy, but then never used, bring it on down, stick a price on it, and maybe it will interest someone else. One man’s junk, etc.

You don't have to be a member to attend, all magicians are invited!

The doors will hopefully be unlocked by 6 PM

Hope to see you Friday!

Pop Haydn's Coins Across

Time-travelling magic man Pop Haydn has released a video of his Coins Across. This was shot behind the bar at the world-famous Magic Castle in Los Angeles.

I really enjoyed the fake explanation as the coin travels up one sleeve and down the other. His pace is slow and careful with no over-proving, which helps him to get lots of magic out of just a couple moves. It would be a huge mistake to judge this routine based on fancy aerial sleights or whether it fools YOU. Instead judge it based on the only thing that matters in performance art....the audience's reactions!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Rope guys have coin chops, too!

Generally, stage performers are terrible at sleight of hand. But, then again, most of us finger-flingers look like goofs trying to work a big illusion on a stage.

French FISM Stage Magic Champion Francis Tabary is clearly the exception. Here he demonstrates a pretty baffling vanish, not once, but THREE times in a row!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

It's Impossible!

Channeling a little bit of Juan Tamariz and a little bit of Rene Levand, Spanish magician Miguel Angel Gea has created a whirlwind effect called It's Impossible! It's part Transposition, part Copper/Silver, part GadAbout Coins and all fun!

Like the classic Rene Levand 'Rojas Y Negras', the presentation just gets more impossible the more times you do it. The moves are easy so you can concentrate on the presentation and the gaffs needed are probably in your pocket right now. Miguelito has a pretty strong Spanish accent but the teaching is very clear and thorough.

For $5 you get some easy, astounding coin magic and you get to act a little "Tamariz-y" which is always fun. Definitely recommended!

Get it here!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Portal by Kainoa Harbottle

Coin Demi-God and all-around cool guy Kainoa Harbottle has released a new 1-coin "Flurry" routine called Portal and it's really wonderful.

Kainoa teaches a couple of great new moves, one of which is the Portal Move. It's a beautiful way to do a repeatable vanish and production of a coin that Shoot Ogawa did with a purse frame, but without the purse frame! The coin just winks out of existence as the coin is pushed into and pulled back out of the left hand. The move is totally different from Shoot's and is really beautiful work!

He also teaches his Wave Vanish. If you've seen his Penguin Magic lecture video (shame on you if you haven't!) then you've learned this move as part of his version of Geoff Latta's Quadra-Quick Coins Away. This is his attempt to compete with the 'YouTube' kind of magic (heavily-edited or only possible on a video), and the result is a casual wave and the coin is gone.

Kainoa also goes into great depth on the Drop Retention Vanish. A move that is easy to do, and easy to do poorly. His tips really help to make this move as amazing as it should be.

Kainoa then breaks down the entire routine step by step and explains a wonderful ending where the coin vanishes from one outstretched hand and VISIBLY appears in the other hand. You end with arms wide open in a perfect applause cue!

The teaching is, of course, wonderful. And the material is real-world, worker, use-it-every-day magic. The price is a pittance for all the great magic you get! Highly recommended!

Available as an Instant Download for $7.99 from Penguin Magic!

Tell 'em Ben sent ya!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New vanish from Eric Jones

Eric Jones posted a smexy new coin vanish he calls "Evanesce" on his FaceBook wall today. No news from Eric about when, or if, he will release it.

If you're on FaceBook you can check out the video HERE.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Think you know your Coin Magic? Prove it!

You think you're pretty coin magic savvy? Edge Palm and stack work are child's play to you. You sleep with a jumbo coin in Mutobe Palm. You did your first Reverse Matrix before you could spell your name. Yes, you can walk the walk, but can you TALK the TALK?

This is the first ever (as far as I know) Coin Magic Crossword Puzzle! This won't make your palms bleed, but it may cause you to scratch your head a few times and access some lost chunks of long-term memory.

But, don't worry I included an Answer Key.

So, grab a pencil, sit close to your magic bookshelf, pull up the Google homepage, and let's dig in!

Use the text links above to download a PDF version, or solve it on-line!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review of David Neighbor's "Defining the Edges of the Box"

I have just finished working my way through the first book in the new David Neighbors Project series; Defining the Edges of the Box. I wanted to get a review out to everyone before I dive back in for the next round.

The quick answer: if you are a coin magician you need this book!

This hardbound tome weighs in at an impressive 237 pages and represents just the FIRST of FIVE VOLUMES! The subtitle is a reference to the way David approaches coin magic and acts as a starting point for the trip into David’s head.

Like Ed Marlo was to card magic, David is to coin magic. His mind never seems to stop until he has created several solutions to a single problem. And these are not minor variation in the effect. Each solution is unique and approaches the plot from a totally different angle.

Author Mark Tams' writing is concise and yet marvelously thorough. It is a refreshing style and makes reading the effects easy and enjoyable. The book is broken into 3 distinct chapters.

The first chapter, Debut, features 43 complete routines that deal with productions and vanishes. Some routines feature other effects in the midst of the routine, not just the productions and vanishes. A few are variations of an earlier effect, but no 2 are alike and each has it’s own particular strengths and the handlings vary significantly. Some will challenge your skills, some will send you searching for a common gaff, some will send you to the shop to build a simple gaff, while one or two will make you want to ring up your favorite coin engineer for a rush order.

The most heavily used gaffs are an expanded shell and the rattle gimmick. Later effects make use of easy-to-make gaffs like a stack of coins, a hooked or magnetic coin, or a fan of 3 coins. A few require slightly more esoteric gaffs like a 2 Copper/1 Silver set or an Ultimate Wild Coin from Todd Lassen. But don’t let this dissuade you, rather reading these effects will strengthen your desire to own these gaffs.

Many of the routines can be performed in the hands. Some use a table, but you don’t need to be seated, which fits perfectly into our most common performing situation, standing.

Whenever a gaff is required Tams gives a very thorough description of the coin to assist newer coin guys and gals in procuring them and understanding their nature before committing to buying them. This really helps you to visualize how the routine plays and again makes you want the gaff even more!

The second chapter Under A Spell takes you through 12 routines based on the Spellbound plot. The chapter starts with a brief history of the Spellbound effect. Again the handlings and effects cover a wide range of presentations and handlings. No two effects are alike. This section also introduces a number of wonderful new sleights like the Visual Toss Change and the Visual Drop Change.

Chapter three, Through and Through, opens with a detailed history of the Coins Through The Table plot and really shows off David’s creativity and the lengths his mind goes to when exploring an effect. There are sitting versions and standing versions. There are versions that use a single shell and others that employ an arsenal of gimmicks. There are international versions, using coins from different countries. There are versions where the coins travel down through the table the back up again. There are versions done on a glass tabletop. And yes, there are even international versions that are done on a glass tabletop! Whew!

There truly is something for everyone in these pages. The creativity, massive amount of information, and wide scope of this book make it a must-have for ALL coin workers from beginners to experts. Highly recommended!

Click here to get your copy of volume 1 of the David Neighbors Project-Defining the Edges of the Box

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Buried Treasure!

For every single popular coin routine in magic there are probably 20 hidden treasures, effects that are fantastic and look like real magic, but for any number of reasons did not make it as big as I think they should have.

Today's bit of hidden coin magic awesomeness is

"Money Doesn't Grow On Trees" from Bill Citino's Coinsomnia - The Random Conjurings of a Sleep Deprived Mind is a tight 3-coin production and vanish with a very nice bit of misdirection at the end. As the third coin is produced, it vanishes taking the first two with it!

I have been using this for my restaurant gigs lately and the reactions are fantastic! It's quick and clean and really gets people's attention. It plays perfectly as an opener for table work because you control the pace of the effect. The routine includes a reproduction of the coins, but I like to end at the complete vanish of the 3 coins then move into another effect. There is no odd hand-washing or weird gimmicks to control which gives the routine a nice pure feeling. It's everything you could ask for in a coin routine.

The link above is to show you more about the book and the awesomeness inside. If you want a copy you can get it directly from Bill for just $25 (a steal!). Email Bill at citino93 @ hotmail.com, you'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Shake It Up!

Today's bit of Coin Magic Coolness comes courtesy of Coin Mage Robert Benedict! Robert found these awesome Morgan Dollar Salt & Pepper Shakers at Cracker Barrel.

So I made a quick run to my local Cracker Barrel and scoured the gift shop until I found a set. They also come in Buffalo Head Nickel, Dime, and Penny denominations.

For 99 cents, every Coin Man out there should grab a set of these! Huge thanks to Robert Benedict!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Modern Coin Magic 4-DVD set for Half Price!

Just today I have gotten so much great feedback about my Modern Coin Magic DVD set, that I decided to do something nice for everyone who hasn't picked it up yet.

All this weekend go to the SalinasMagic online store and check out my Modern Coin 4-DVD Set and enter 'Bobo' as a discount code to get 50% off the retail price!

That's right, just $5 a disc for over 170 tricks, sleights, routines, and techniques! But only for this weekend, so hit it now!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Is that expanded shell going to get you a 6x8 cell?

Coin Magicians seem to spend half their lives altering coins for magical uses, and the other half trying to find someone to watch them do the trick with their new FrankenCoin.

The question always comes up, "Is is LEGAL to make a gimmicked magic coin?" I decided to do a little, hopefully definitive, research.

I found the answer while looking up law related to using coins for jewelry-making. The art world, not unlike the magic world seems to operate in a bit of a legal grey area. Activities that would get you jail-time if done for a commercial purpose are just fine, or at least the Treasury will look the other way, if the same activities are done as part of creative expression.

According to 18 U.S.C. § 331:

“Whoever fraudulently alters, defaces, mutilates, impairs, diminishes, falsifies, scales, or lightens any of the coins coined at the mints of the United States, or any foreign coins which are by law made current or are in actual use or circulation as money within the United States; or Whoever fraudulently possesses, passes, utters, publishes, or sells, or attempts to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or brings into the United States, any such coin, knowing the same to be altered, defaced, mutilated, impaired, diminished, falsified, scaled, or lightened— Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

That pretty much says your ass is going to jail for making a Flipper Coin. But wait! That says "fraudulently alters..." So as long as you're not trying to buy some Twinkies (Mmmm, Twinkies) with your Super Triple Coin, the police are going to let you slide?

A question on the Treasury Department's FAQ asks whether it's legal "to use coins to make jewelry, souvenirs or other items?" The answer would make Bill Clinton proud, "Those coins are classified either as not current or as mutilated. The Mint redeems mutilated coins at the value of their metal content."

But, uh, I believe my question was...but...but, my stapler!

Finally, near the bottom of the page, we get a bit more of an answer:

“This statute means that you may be violating the law if you change the appearance of the coin and fraudulently represent it to be other than the altered coin that it is. As a matter of policy, the U.S. Mint does not promote coloring, plating or altering U.S. coinage: however, there are no sanctions against such activity absent fraudulent intent.”

So the answer is, well, about the clearest you're going to get from the government. But as long as they have cattle ranchers to harass and pipeline deals to stall, the government is too busy to bother with you trying to impress the Starbucks counter girl with your Dean's Set of Walking Liberties.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Holy COW!

Our friends Dave and Craig at World Magic Shop have just announced a new coin magic DVD called Holy C.O.W. (Coin of Wildness). The advertising blurb says that this is all done with no gimmicks, just sleights. Which is very exciting for coin magic purists like me!

The trailer shows so very nice vanishes, productions, and changes along with some new handlings of coin classics. You'll see a very visual Spellbound, a one-at-a-time change of 4 coins, and a coins across. The DVD appears to be an extension of Chef Tsao's technique in his Arming System DVD, a move also used by Tristan Mory on his Metal Eclipse DVD. This move is pretty angle-sensitive and I'm curious to see if Chef Tsao has addressed this in the DVD.

Until I get it and can review it. Check out the trailer!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Let's get mental!

My two greatest loves in the world of performing are Coin Magic and Mentalism. An odd match to be sure, but I've discovered, and created, several effects of mentalism with coins.

This past weekend I had the awesome experience of attending the East Coast Mind Jam and meeting some of the country's foremost mind readers. I had a great time at the lectures and got to hang out with some pretty cool fellow attendees. One of them was John Sergott.

He's a fellow Pennsylvanian and lover of all things mental. John has allowed me to share a wonderful bit of impromptu Coin Mentalism with all of you.

With just a few coins (can be borrowed), something to write on (a business card!), and some fun interaction you can show off your stunning skills at precognition! Just click here to download John's Impromptu Mental Prediction.

A huge "Thank You" to John!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Performing Silver Swindle

In the past 3 days I have performed Silver Swindle about 11 times and each time has been fantastic! The handling is so easy that I was able to expand from my original script and improve the final phase to make it stronger and more in keeping with the theme I am using.

Last night, after performing it for a friend, one of his co-workers who had been watching (and thought I was just guessing) asked me to do it for her. The effect was just as strong, perhaps a bit stronger, even when immediately repeated for the same crowd.

We're off to a formal function tonight, so I'll be sure to try it out a few more times.

If you love coins, and you want to add a STRONG bit of mentalism that you can perform almost immediately, then you need to pick this up.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Silver Swindle - A review

Like most magicians I have always wanted to add a bit of mentalism into my performances. And I love coins. So, when I heard about Romanos' Silver Swindle from the guys at Vanishing Inc Magic, I knew I had to get it.

This is a 3-phase routine where you can consistently tell whether your volunteer is telling the truth or lying. She is given 2 coins of the same denomination. She initials one. Then, with your back turned, she chooses to keep one and put the other in your hand. At no time do you ever peek at the coin in your hand, yet you immediately know which coin she is holding. Each phase builds in mystery until the big finish in the 3rd phase, where you prove beyond a doubt that you know exactly what (and ‘how’) the spectator is thinking.

The DVD is well-shot with a demo, 2 performances, then a discussion of the effect by Andy Gladwin and Dave Forrest. They go over the included gimmick, the 3-phase routine, and some tips and alternates endings. They also discuss the reasons why the routine works and why it has even fooled other magicians.

Then there is the gimmick, but it’s really quite a stretch to call it that. It’s brilliant, it’s simple, it’s bold, it’s right in their face the entire time, but completely invisible. There is absolutely no fear of the volunteer ever finding how the coin is gimmicked. Managing the gimmick is child's play. There is really nothing to manage. You know immediately where each coin is, so you can concentrate on your presentation. And no worry about them burning your hands. They could even record your presentation and still never see any suspicious moves, because there are none!

The DVD cover says: No peeks No marks No magnets No stooges No electronics No chemicals

and all of it is definitely true. No creative wording here.

The routine is extremely easy to learn. I successfully performed it twice within 12 minutes of having watched the entire DVD. At just $25 this is a steal! A ready to go, professional routine that is easy to do, packs small, plays huge, and has a wonderful ending that brings the entire routine to strong finish. You need to get Silver Swindle by Romanos today!

Highly recommended!

Monday, March 31, 2014

New Magic!

Tonight I received Vanishing Inc's Silver Swindle - Gerti 2.0. I've got the Blu-Ray warmed up and coins in hand. Tomorrow I'll have full review for you. Until then check out the DVD trailer...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

New British Spellbound Coin!

In an effort to assist struggling coin magicians with their Spellbound routines, the British Royal Mint will ditch its venerable round 1-pound coin in favor of a new 12-sided model specially designed to be a sharp contrast to any other coin used in a Spellbound routine. Oh...and something about them being harder to counterfeit, too.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The David Neighbors Project!

David Neighbors is a name known to all serious coin magicians. His creativity and passion about coin magic are boundless. And that's not just hyperbole! He has been known to session for 8 hours just on coin magic. And his capacity for visualizing new coin gaffs has kept one of the top coin makers in the world on his toes.

Conjuration Publications has just released the first of FIVE hardback books containing every David Neighbors creation and a ton of never-released material! My copy will be on it's way soon. And once I've devoured the first volume I'll post a review.

Here you can check out details about the David Neighbors Project. And here's a video about the making of the project...

I know this is going to be awesome!

Friday, March 21, 2014

3 Coin Roll Down

The world of coin magic is curiously bereft of Coin Flourishes. Where card magic is over-flowing with them, coin magicians seem to restrict themselves to just the Steeplechase. I think a few well-executed flourishes greatly enhance any coin effect. So here is a quick contribution from my ShowOff With Coins DVD; the 3 Coin Roll Down. It's an easy version of the classic 4 coin roll down.

I like to use this flourish at the end of a 3 Fly effect. When the final coin vanishes from the left hand, I close my right hand around all it's coins, as if catching the in-transit 3rd coin. A slight pause and then I roll the coins out into the 3 formation. This helps to build some suspense before the reveal of the 3rd coin. It shows off a bit of skill. And it ends the routine with a nice display.

The mechanics should be pretty easy to pick up from the video. If not, here's a quick tutorial.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I like so add some topical flair to my coin magic when I can. So for my St. Patrick's Day magic I picked up a bag of these colored chocolate coins from Party City:

The coins come in 10 different colors. I'll use the gold coins for effects like 3 Fly, Gadabout Coins, and one-coin Flurries. Then I'll use the green coins for Spellbound changes.

The colored foil is in 2 halves so it's easy to make a double-sided coin by carefully prying off the foil cover from one side of a coin and adding it to another coin. I'm using mine for Marion Boykin's Copper/Silver-Surprise! I'll produce a silver coin and turn it to green and back to silver several times then turn it to a gold coin. And of course, the gold coin is a great giveaway.

The chocolate coins are 10 cents each and are about the same diameter as an American half dollar, but thicker and much lighter. So some practice is definitely needed before you run out and perform with them. But you'll get the feel for them pretty quickly.

Magic and chocolate, what's not to love!?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Leave your Fanny Pack at the door

Some coin magicians seem to think they are more skilled than the average card magician because there is no deck to hide behind. From Day One a coin magician is doing sleights. There are no self-working coin tricks.

Actually…a quick fly-by of a popular magician’s forum showed references to 19 different gimmicked sets of coin sets! I’m not talking about shells or Scotch & Sodas, or even Flippers, but sets like Triple Threat, Super Triple Coin, TUC, Cerberus, Ultimate 3-Fly, Coin Bomber, Come Fly With Me, N3, Triception, Night Shade, and Mirage Coin Sets.

Now I’m not some tree-hugging purist. I love coin gimmicks. But are we becoming like card magicians and their trick decks; one for forcing, one for card to pocket, one for a vanishing card, one for a "kiss" trick, etc, etc? I can hear some of you doing spit-takes with your lattes. “Our gimmicks are nothing like trick decks!”

It’s true that you can’t buy coin gimmicks at the Dollar Store and our gimmicks tend to cost about 2000% more than the average trick deck. But who are we fooling?

I had the pleasure of working for several years as a magician for Caesar’s Resorts and Casinos. I met and worked with some great magicians. But there was one particular guy whose table-side performances really struck me. He’d approach the table with a brightly-colored fanny pack filled with trick decks. He’d place the fanny pack on the table, take out a deck and do a trick. Then he’d replace it, make a big deal of thoughtfully choosing the next deck to use, take it out and do a different trick. Rinse and repeat for the next 10-12 minutes. A different gimmicked deck for every trick he did.

He got polite applause. But the applause wasn’t for him, it was for all the clever trick decks.

And regretfully, yes, I’ve seen this done by coin guys, too. The coins were in an attractive little leather purse with multiple pockets. But the crime was the same.

Hopefully most coin magicians with a pocket full of gimmicked sets would have the sense to do a pocket switch and never let on that they have anything more than a couple coins on them.

Are we turning into the Fanny Pack guy? How many $200 gaff sets that do Three Fly do you need? Don't forget that Jonathon Townsend and Chris Kenner started that phenomenon with just a couple regular coins at their fingertips.

I think the key is to use as many gimmicks as you can reliably, and INVISIBLY, bring in and out of play. So long as the audience is only aware of a couple coins, then all the applause and adoration go, as they should, to you.

Friends don’t let friends become the Fanny Pack Guy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Instant Gratification: Radek Makar's "Into Thin Air"

You've got $5 burning a hole in your pocket. What to do? Grab a Vanilla Carmel Macchiato from Starbucks or learn a super-clean vanish and reproduction of 3 coins?

Of course, the coin trick! Duh.

This bit of instant gratification is brought to you by another of the unsung stars of coin magic; Radek Makar. Radek is from Gdynia, Poland and currently lives and performs in Aberdeen. As you will see, his coin magic is clean and to the point. No over-proving or unnecessary moves. In Radek's Into Thin Air three coins turn invisible one at a time and are hung in mid air. The hand the coins vanish from is cleanly displayed after each vanish. Then the three coins are plucked from the air and become visible again. Check it out...


This routine is a real worker. There are no gimmicks and only 3 coins are used. The coins can be borrowed and can be replaced with casino chips, tokens, or even Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mints...mmmmm, Thin Mints. There are no clothing or lighting restrictions and the routine looks as good in person as it does on YouTube. All this for just $5!

Grab Radek's Into Thin Air instant download at VinnyMarini.com or at Chris Wasshuber's Lybrary.com and you'll have a stunning anytime/anywhere miracle by tonight. Then you can use it to impress that cutie at Starbucks as she brews you up their latest diabetic nightmare.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Throw out your Purse Frames!

I am always trying to replace out-dated props with something modern. Unfortunately one of my favorite props is the tired old purse frame. I do several effects that utilize the frame in different ways, so I didn’t want to stop using it. But I am finding that fewer and fewer people recognize what this weird little item is. During my table-hopping gig this last week, I had several people who had no idea what the purse frame was. I had to take extra time to explain it, which slowed down the routine. This weekend, thanks to my daughter’s love of vending machines, I found the perfect replacement for this magic fossil.

Enter the Hip Zip Bracelet!

A Hip Zip Bracelet is a brightly-colored, plastic bracelet that is also a zipper. The look is hip, modern, colorful, and fun. The bracelet has some stiffness to it so you can hold it in the correct position for most of your favorite purse frame moves. There is nothing to carry around because the Hip Zip Bracelet rides along on your wrist. When you’re done, just hook it back onto your wrist and sally forth to the next group. And it’s a great conversation-starter, which helps lead you into the magic. The Hip Zip has a fun look that works for men or women, young or old.

I spent the evening working with the Hip Zip. I tried out a couple of my favorite routines that use a purse frame, including Curtis Kam’s Coercive Purse. I found that only a bit of re-blocking is needed to use the Hip Zip. Some routines required a bit more adapting, like Shoot Ogawa’s seminal Neo Purse Frame, but the results are definitely worth it.

I strapped on a black Hip Zip and headed out to my regular restaurant gig. The reactions were great. I even had a couple people comment on the bracelet before I did, which made for the perfect lead-in.

I got my Hip Zips by dumping $5 worth of quarters into a Wal-Mart vending machine. But, I have since found some good deals online.

Here is a link, and another, and a Google search so you can check them out for yourself. And if you make to one of my lectures, I’ll be sure to have some on hand.

If you're having trouble finding these in your area, or if you want a little more creative control over the look of your zipper bracelet, here is an excellent (and very easy) tutorial on how to make your own Zipper Bracelet.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cardini on Coins

Cardini (Richard Valentine Pitchford) was a British stage magician whose career spanned from the 1920s to his death in 1973. Cardini was also a 3-time President of the Society of American Magicians. Although he is best known for his stunning card manipulation performed while wearing gloves, he was also quite adept at coin manipulation.

This 50+ year old video gives us a glimpse at the mastery Cardini had over coins. I especially like his production of four coins from Edge Palm/Classic Palm around the :40 mark. This rare footage was shot on a cruise by a Dr. Morris Young and has been lovingly restored by Steven Max Droge.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Sol Stone Named "2014 Magician Of The Year"

The Parent Assembly #1 of The Society of American Magicians voted New York's "Underground" magician Sol Stone their "Magician of the Year."

For more than 50 years Mr. Stone has been referred to as the "Magician's Magician." While not a professional performer, Sol Stone has been teaching and developing the secrets behind the scenes. His specialty in coin magic sets him apart from the average magician.

The presentation will be made on Saturday, May 17, 2014 at the 105th ANNUAL Salute To Magic at Queens Theater in the Park * - 14 United Nations Avenue South in Flushing Meadows , Corona Park NY.

To catch a bit of a bit of Sol Stone's coin work, skip to the 2:29 mark:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A little Magic history

Hanging ten on the internets last night I came across this beautiful piece of magic history at Potter & Potter Auctions, an auction house specializing in magic and gambling items.

It's a Coin Dropper. A motor-driven device crafted from brass that automatically drops four half dollars, one at a time, into a drinking glass. The device was designed to be concealed in a pack of cards.

A version of this effect called Robot Coins was sold by Tony Spina during his tenure at Tannen's Magic Shop in New York City. Then later his partner John Blake created a version called Descending Dollars when we ran East Coast Magic.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Coin Practice Deck

Nothing is more important to a performer than his practice time. But professional and part-timer alike, having time to practice is a precious commodity. So we need to make the most efficient use of that time. Enter the Coin Practice Deck.

The idea is simple and practical. Take an old deck of cards and a fresh Sharpie and write the name of a different coin effect you know and want to keep in practice with on the face of each card. I also add tips and key words to some of the cards. Sometimes it’s just a few words to remind me of important points in the routine. Sometimes it’s the book and page number, so I can reference the source material if I need to.

Now, shuffle the deck, turn over the top card, and get to practicing. Once I’m done practicing that effect, the card goes to the bottom of the deck and I grab the next top card. This keeps rehearsing fresh and interesting. Much better than working from a hand-written list or an Excel spreadsheet. It’s also very easy to ‘edit’ the deck by removing or adding new effect cards.

The deck is small, easy to carry around, and can be used for practicing your card effects (when your palms are bleeding from too many Mutobe palms and stack transfers).

I’ve mentioned this idea in many of my lectures and the idea always goes over well. I've been carrying around a Practice Deck like this for about 12 years. And yes, I have a Card Practice Deck, too.

But we’re not here to talk about cards.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Let's talk about openers

You have a private strolling gig, or even better, a restaurant gig and you need a good opener. For my money you can do no better than The One-Coin Flurry. For the past 23 years it has been my go to opener for any kind of close-up performance.

The Flurry is a one-coin sequence of vanishes and reproductions. While David Roth was very likely not the first person to perform a sequence like this, he was the first to codify it and get it into print. His routine appeared in his 1985 Expert Coin Magic. David says his inspiration was Tony Slydini. Here is an abbreviated version of my One-Coin Flurry.

The Flurry is perfect as an opener because it modular. It’s free form, almost jazz-like. Even though you have a set ‘script’ you can vary from it adding or subtracting moves to fit the situation. This is perfect for those times when you start performing and realize that the crowd is just not into it. Or, in a restaurant, when the food arrives in the middle of your first effect. What would you do if you were only into the first coin of your 4 Coins Across routine? Probably stop, stutter, and slink away from the table. Or worse, keep going while the hungry patrons try to split their attention between your coins and passing the ketchup to each other.

With a Flurry you can end the routine at any time by jumping to big finish. In my case, it’s changing the coin into a giant 3-inch chrome coin. On the other hand if the crowd is really into the effect you can add to it to extend the magic. You control the pace of the effect.

There is nothing for the audience to sign, or hold, or remember. It is eye candy at it’s best. This allows you to further gauge your audience’s interest level and show off some skills. It establishes you as a wonder worker and, with a good script, allows the audience to get to know you.

The Flurry is also good for getting over those first-effect jitters. Since it's self-contained it allows you to perform a lot of magic without having to engage or even say too much. By the end of the effect, your audience is applauding and you have gained your foothold. Now you can relax.

Speaking of skills, the Flurry is also a wonderful way to break in new sleights. Vanishes and productions are like card controls to a coin magician, we all know a ton of them, but can never resist learning just one more. It’s easy to work that new move into the Flurry without a major re-write of the effect.

Wow! What more can you ask from an opener?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Your French Drop sucks

Don’t feel bad, mine used to suck, too. But it’s not you, really. It’s the way we were all taught. A quick search of the internets proves that we have all been taught to pimp slap this poor little move like it owes us money.

The 6 Deadly Sins of Performing The French Drop:

1 Don’t Muscle-F*ck It – Pardon my French, but this is just a little coin, not a brick. There is no need to smother the coin in a death-grip. Use a light touch to gently grasp the coin. The thumb of the grasping hand should never be shoved through the thumbhole of the holding hand, and worse, project out the other side. Over-acting may work for Jim Carrey, but you’re not Jim Carrey, and his French Drop probably sucks, too.

2 Drop the Left HandYes, I’m assuming you are doing the move right-handed, but I had to pick a side to make it clear, so I picked right. Once you’ve taken the coin, the ‘empty’ hand should drop. It’s EMPTY. Remember? Why would you hold it at your waist in that painful-looking clenched fist?

3 In the Name of All That’s Holy Don’t Point! – Even worse than NOT dropping the left hand is pointing at the right hand. What in the hell are you pointing at?! If you’ve done your job there shouldn't be anyone in the room who doesn’t think that the coin is in the right hand. By pointing you’re only fooling yourself, and just barely at that.

4 Don’t Look at the Left Hand – What is this obsession magicians have with staring at the unimportant, and totally EMPTY, left hand? Once the coin has been taken, the left hand should be completely out of your mind. Yet, I see so many magicians who can’t help but glance back at the left hand. And you know what happens when you look at it? The audience looks at it, too. Hey, if the magician is looking there something must be going to happen to it. All of your attention should be on the hand that has taken the coin. You eyes should look at the right hand, your head should tilt towards it, your body should lean towards it. With that much of your attention focused on the right hand, the audience will be breathlessly waiting to see what’s so important there. Then they, too, will forget about the left hand.

5 The Adjustment Move – Once you’ve ‘taken’ the coin, do a little adjustment move. Shift the imaginary coin around in your hand a bit, to get it into a better position. This is exactly what you do every day when you pick something up. The object rarely falls into a comfortable position on the first try. A little bounce, a shift of the fingers, or a move of the thumb, all work to convince the audience that the coin is really in there. If you were faking it, why would you be doing that adjustment?

6 Don’t Rush to the Finish – It's much more fun if we all get there at the same time. Once you’ve taken the coin, don’t immediately open your hand to show it has vanished. If you take the coin in the right hand then suddenly show it gone, it’s painfully obvious that you never really took the coin. Audiences are not as dumb as we would like to think they are. You need a little time between when you do the dirty work and when you reveal the vanish. The longer you wait, the further away that left hand gets in their memory.

To help lock these 6 Deadly Sins in your mind watch this clip from my Amazing Easy To Learn Coin Magic DVD.

You’ve got a lot of un-learning to do, but the work will be well worth it. If you have any question, concerns, comments, or just want to yell at me for not telling you all this sooner, shoot an email to BEN at salinasmagic.com.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Coin 0.5 from Will Houstoun

Check out this elegant coin magic in a trailer for Will Houstoun's new 3-DVD set:

I first read this effect in his ‘Out With The New’ lecture notes when we both lectured at Magie Spectram’s Journee Magique 2012 in Montreal.

Will has a very smooth style and avoids any quick jerky movements in his magic, which makes it all the more deceptive. I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the DVD set. You can get it from RSVP Magic.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Arrivederci, Aldo.

Yesterday magic lost a superstar. A big, smiling, laughing, amazing, creative, warm, and wonderful superstar. Aldo Colombini. I had the pleasure of meeting Aldo on several occasions and he always greeted you with a smile and a laugh.

Aldo was known primarily for his rope magic and his card routines. But, Aldo also had a love for the beauty of Coin Magic. So, here he is the Mamma-Mia coin man himself. Rest In Peace, Aldo.

Instant Gratification: Marion Boykin’s JumpMandu

If you’re like me, you love to learn good magic, but you hate to wait for UPS to deliver it. Fortunately for us, in the uncharted corners of the internets a group of little-known magicians have been creating some of the most incredible magic downloads you’ve ever seen. One of these unsung stars is coin magician Marion Boykin.

Marion’s JumpMandu is a Copper/Silver routine in overdrive. A copper English Penny and a silver Half Dollar are cleanly shown in two very empty hands. The hands never touch, but just a wave and the two coins have changed places. Another smooth wave and the coins jump hands again. And again! Even though he fairly shows you the two coins, they jump again just as you are getting your bearings. Finally, held at the fingertips, the two coins once again switch places without ever coming near each other.

Featuring Marion’s own Crimp Change and a few basic coin sleights, JumpMandu slaps you between the eyes from the start and never lets up. The download includes a performer’s point-of-view video teaching all the moves, then another from the spectator’s view that ties all the moves together and teaches you the flow of the routine. Additionally, you receive a pdf of the routine with more detail, alternate endings, new ideas, and crediting.

These are not studio-shot videos in front of group of over-actors and that’s a good thing. They are shot with good lighting, excellent detail, and Marion’s relaxed, but thorough, teaching style. Watching these videos makes you feel like you’re having a jam session with a good friend.

There are so few routines that are true ‘workers’. By this I mean routines that have been tested in front of real audiences of lay people, require no crazy set-up, use no exotic gaffs or sleights, and can be done anywhere at anytime. And when you DO find ‘workers’ there are usually priced in the $35-$40 range.

Marion’s JumpMandu is available as an instant download from VinnyMarini.com for just $15! Which means that with a few bucks and a couple mouse clicks you can dig in right and start learning a routine that I know will quickly find a permanent place in your pocket. Can you say ‘instant gratification’?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

What ANNIE can teach us about Coin Magic

The curtain is about to go up on a performance of the Broadway show ANNIE. As I sit here in the audience I started to think about theater and Coin Magic.

Look at all the work that goes into a theater show:

- finding a good script
- hiring the right actors
- dress rehearsal
- showtime!
- after-show reviews
- tweaking

Meanwhile, I see so many magicians at lectures, conventions, and especially on YouTube, who string a few mumbled words together and muscle-hump their way through an effect they just learned a few minutes ago. “Sad” does not even come close to describing it. “Pathetic” is more like it.

These same magicians wonder why a play has hundreds of people in the audience who have paid to see the show while they have to force a performance on anyone who comes close enough to grab.

What if we applied these steps to Coin magic...

Find a Good Script: You’re not David Blaine (and THAT was a character he was portraying BTW. David is very well spoken in real-life). Write down what you want to convey. Is it a cute story or a simple narration? Then write it down. Edit it so it’s concise and strengthens every move. Then memorize it. Now you can say good-bye to all those illusion-destroying ‘uhs’ and ‘OKs’.

Find the Right Actors: Maybe those silver Walkers aren’t the best coins for this job. Is there another coin that might lend to the story line you’re creating? If you’re doing an effect about 'acrobatic coins', maybe use 3 Italian coins, or 3 Chinese coins to represent the characters.

Dress Rehearsal: There’s practice, where you learn the moves. Then there’s rehearsal where you put it all together. When you rehearse you should stand or sit the way you will when you perform. Say, out loud, the presentation you have memorized, pausing for the appropriate times when there would be audience interaction. Wear the clothes you’ll wear when you perform. This will help you to block out any pocket management issues. The only difference between this and an actual performance should be the lack of an audience.

Showtime: Put what you’ve learned into practice. Treat every performance, no matter how casual, as if you were auditioning for your own TV show. Leave it all out there on the stage.

After-Show Review: Theater groups have critics to tell them how well they did. As magicians, we should seek out critiques from our friends and audiences as well. But only after they have seen the finished product. Ask them to be brutally honest. Sugar-coated reviews will do more harm than good. And here’s the most difficult and important part; LISTEN TO THEM.

Tweaking: You should constantly be reviewing your performances and making changes. Last night I performed an effect that I have done for almost 20 years, and I found a better way to do a part of it. Just a tiny change, but it makes the routine that much better. To paraphrase Paul ValĂ©ry; ‘ an effect is never finished, only abandoned.

I challenge you to apply these ideas to just ONE effect in your repertoire; you will quickly see just how powerful your magic can be. And it may put you one step closer to your first sold-out theater!

Living a Coin Magic-filled life

From the "It's Not Magic, But..." department: A bathroom floor tiled in coins! This would definitely make you feel like the Coin God that you are while walking upon the backs of your loyal subjects. LOL!

Check out the rest of the page for some great-looking chairs and a dress for your lovely assistant to wear when you accept your Coin Magician of the Year award from the Magic Castle.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Astounding Pencil Through Coin in Michael Ammar's new lecture

Last night I sat in on the $1 Michael Ammar Lecture at VanishingIncMagic.

It was a brand new lecture, full of great material including a broken & restored phone, a jam session on his Crazy Man’s Handcuffs, and a “Hardcore Card Jam”. But of particular interest to Coin Magicians was his new handling for his classic Pencil Through Coin.

The effect looked INCREDIBLE. A pencil is s-l-o-w-l-y pushed through a borrowed coin, starting with the lead tip! First you see the lead tip poke through from the front AND the back. Then the entire pencil slowly glides into the coin. The coin seems to stretch open to allow the pencil to pass through. Both sides are clearly shown with the pencil embedded in the coin. No flaps, no Pressley Guitar-inspired gimmicks.

Then the pencil is slowly and visibly removed from the coin and the coin is handed back to the spectator. It’s about as magical as you can get. Ammar plans to market the effect soon, once a couple production issues are resolved.

Ammar also teaches a few new bits of finesse for his classic Pencil Through Coin from his book "The Magic of Michael Ammar". It features a very deceptive new way to do Bob Elliott's FlipSwitch.

The lecture is very good. 2 hours of good advice, TV clips, and strong, practical magic. And all for $1! The Pencil Through Coin happens at the 34:50 mark, and is something you really have to see. Do yourself a favor and zip over to VanishIncMagic and pick this up. Did I mention it’s only $1?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

To Coin Purse or not to Coin Purse? Part 2

I am a big proponent of using a coin purse (or coin holder, if you prefer) to carry your coins. Here are several practical and presentational reasons why I think all serious coin workers should, too. First, the practical reasons:

A coin purse keeps your performing coins separate from any change in your pocket. It helps to keep the coins together as a group. No more picking through pocket lint and candy wrappers to find your coins. And it makes it easy to switch from one outfit to another.

A coin purse will protect your investment. Lassen and Schoolcraft coins are not cheap. The last thing you want is to have your Lassen expanded Morgan squashed and dented between your car keys and your iPhone.

A coin purse can define you as an expert and build interest in your magic even before the first coin has vanished:

The coins we use like Kennedys, Morgans, English Pennies, and West African Dimes, are pretty common to us finger-flingers. But, when is the last time the average layperson saw an 1888 Morgan Silver Dollar? These are rare and interesting items. They attract attention and are definite conversation starters. So it only makes sense to carry them with some reverence. A coin purse is perfect for that.

I make a show of removing the coins from the purse, mentioning how rare and interesting they are. I then let every one take a look at them so they can have a chance to ‘touch a bit of history.’ I ask them just to imagine whose hands these coins may has passed through. ‘…Eliott Ness, Jesse James, or maybe an American president.’ In a smooth and subtle way I have generated interest, AND let everyone see that the coins are regular coins, without having ever to say, “Inspect the coins, make sure they’re real” (blech)

Carrying your coins in a special holder adds to your professionalism and subtly tells the audience that you are no mere dabbler. It shows that you are serious about your art, like a Pool Shark that carries his cue in a custom engraved case.

With the wide variety of holders available, you can choose one that fits your personality and goes with your style of performing and clothing.

Here are a few links to some great looking coin purses:

The Dmann Coin Wallet

The Jerry O’Connell Coin Tidy

A unique design from Roy Kueppers

A zippered coin holder

Another very unique design

My personal favorite from Ton Onosaka

A Memory Card holder with a belt loop

Monday, February 3, 2014

To Coin Purse or not to Coin Purse? Part 1

Do you Coin Purse or do you go commando? Do you carry your coins in a small leather pouch that you call a coin HOLDER (when we all know it’s really just a purse)? Or do you just let it all hang out and stroll along with a pocket full of loose, jingling coins?

If you’re a guy and you’re just starting in coin magic, you tend to shy away from carrying anything called a purse. I mean seriously, how you can impress a girl with your French Drop if you have to pull the coin out a little leather purse? Well, being a guy, and being a coin magician, I can tell you that’s exactly how I felt, until…

I was a young Air Force recruit at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. It was payday and, of course, I was broke. I had spent my last $30 on a set of Gin & Tonic coins from Gordon at Zucchini’s Tricks & Things on Cannery Row. Food you can get anywhere, but these coins were my step into the big league of magic. As I dressed that morning I stuffed the nested Gin & Tonic in my left pocket and the centavo in my right pocket. Hungry, but ready to amaze.

On a break between classes I spied a quarter on the ground and stuffed it into my left pocket where it hit something. I reached inside and found another quarter! The Caffeine Gods were smiling on me. As quick as I could I popped those 2 quarters into the Coke machine on the top floor of Munakata Hall and took a huge swig of that ice-cold elixir. Life was good.

Near the end of the morning, I decided to show off my new coin effect to my friends. I reached into my pockets and found just the centavo in the right pocket. A brief moment of confusion, a niggling fear, a twitch, then the heart-dropping realization that I had just bought a THIRTY DOLLAR and twenty five cent Coke and lost my killer new coin trick in the process.

By the next weekend, I had bought the first of many black leather coin purses that would become my lifetime hip-pocket companions. To help overcome the crushing loss of machismo (hey, it was the 80s) I quickly came up with the premise that these polished half dollars could do amazing things, so I kept them protected in a special coin “holder”. Instead of looking silly, the coin purse was now a conversation piece and slowly revealing the coins inside became the first step in building the mystery.

My name is Ben, and I carry a coin purse.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Thursday, January 30, 2014

3 Lessons from a Master

I was browsing the internets today and found this video of the 3-time FISM winner Fred Kaps.

Kaps, a Dutch magician, is best known for his FISM-winning stage routines. On stage he was in complete control, a master of his art. You could tell by his facial expressions that he truly loved to perform. Here we are treated to his take on the classic Coins Through the Table. (BTW this was recorded with no sound)

There are so many great lessons to be learned here.

First, there is the clean, uncomplicated way he handles the coins. There is no excessive counting the coins over and over, which we see in many of coin routines today.

Second is the natural feel to the moves. No odd hand positions or jerky, suspicious movements,

Third, there is a wonderful continuity to each phase of the routine. Each coin that passes through the table looks the same.

The feint with the 4th coin helps to break things up a bit and adds some humor to the routine. It’s just enough to put the audience off-guard as he manipulates the final coin. Although this video has no sound, I imagine Kaps had a funny line to add to this phase to add to the set up for the final coin. If your audience is laughing, they’re not paying attention and you can get away with some serious sinning.

You can boost the power of your coin magic (and the reactions you get) through the roof if you apply these three simple ideas to your current coin magic.

Until next time!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Coins of the Apocalypse

It’s often hard to find inspiration for new coin effects. Most ‘new’ routines are just a variation of a standard plot, but done with exotic new sleights. And the presentations are often little more than a narration of what’s happening.

And now the 3rd coin will travel to my right hand” (stab your hand with your salad fork just to stay awake). And it’s even less often that a prop inspires a coin routine.

Enter The Zombuck, the Currency of the Apocalypse!

These dollar-sized coins from Provident Metals feature a design very similar to the Walking Liberty coins. But here the Lady Liberty has been transformed into a Zombie carrying an axe (probably to fend off other zombies). In the distance the shining Sun has been replaced with nuclear mushroom cloud. The reverse side features a large biohazard symbol and the words ‘Currency of the Apocalypse’.

As soon as I saw these coins the creative juices starting flowing. David Roth’s Wild Coin from the Expert Coin Magic is now about the rampant spread of the zombie infection.

Your favorite Spellbound routine can be presented as not knowing who is a zombie and who’s not as the coin changes quickly from normal to infected and back again.

Performing Jay Sankey’s Mass Consumption from his 1990 opus 100% Sankey with the Zombucks becomes the perfect cannibal coins routine.

Let’s dig back even farther to Michael Ammar’s Coins Through Silk from his out-of-print Magic of Michael Ammar. Add the Zombucks and it’s a story of infected coins escaping from the lab.

Coin Matrix becomes a scene from World War Z. Coins Across becomes a lesson in how zombies move under the cover of darkness. And T. Nelson Down’s Free and Unlimited Coinage of Silver become a veritable Zombie Apocalypse at the dinner table!

Track down some Zombucks and see how they can make your coin magic fresh and exciting!