When I was at FISM last summer a guy showed me a really cool stunt…it wasn’t really a magic trick. It was more like Paper Balls Over Head where the audience sees something and there was a bit of a payoff later. What happened was I sat in a chair and he had two coins. He clinked them together. You then closed your eyes and he clinked the coins and you pointed to where he was. You did this several times and the final time you heard the clink and pointed to where you heard the noise. Let’s say you pointed behind you, you opened your eyes and the guy was in front of you.
It was really cool and I’d never seen anything like it.
Yep, I found the principle for the trick that was written up in 1979! The version that I saw at FISM was definitely a more fleshed out version of the stunt, but it was fun to run into the trick in that book!
I’ve always thought Charlie Frye‘s trick Frye’s Chips was a great little flourishy thing. I didn’t like that I was made as a poker chip and not a coin. A little while ago I found a coin that I could do the flourish with and finally put together the gimmick:
Years ago Charlie Frye put out a little gimmick that let you spin a poker chip on your finger tip called Frye’s Chips. Here’s the video of it:
It’s a clever little gimmick that does exactly what’s in the video. I always thought it’d be cool to do it with a coin and not a poker chip. However I think the reason he did it with a poker chip is that it’s easier to gimmick a poker chip than a coin.
The idea has been in my head and a couple months ago I was at Hocus-Pocus digging around in some junk magic bins and found the card and coin for the trick Esoteric Kennedy.
Here’s the demo of Esoteric Kennedy:
The coin from that trick should work for the Frye’s Chips trick. Now I need to make the other half of the gimmick to see if it will actually spin on my finger!
In playing with the Esoteric Kennedy props, I thought that the trick really should be done with a dollar bill, as the coin and card really aren’t connected. I moved the gimmick from the card to a dollar bill:
It looks OK on a video, but I’m going to be 100% honest, the trick isn’t good for actual performance…whether it’s the original version with the card, or my version with the bill. The problem with the trick is that everything is gimmicked and nothing can be examined. You could switch out all of the props, do a Bobo Switch for the coin and top change for the card, but is all that work worth the trick?
Walking to the venue, I stumbled on to a little magic jam going on outside and I saw some great coin work! I think coin magic is starting to catch up with card magic in popularity based on the amount of coin work I saw.
The amount of magic going on everywhere at FISM is staggering. A person of virtually any skill level could learn something just by walking down the hall and stopping at the first group of people they saw.
One of the highlights of FISM was seeing my friend Elliott Hunter compete in the stage competition.
I’ve known Elliott since he was a kid and seen this act grow over the years. I know how hard he works on it and every time I see it, it’s better than the previous time! The path as a performer to get into the FISM competition is grueling, and I respect anyone who manages to make it onto that stage!
FISM did have a really cool thing, which was Jeff McBride’s Magic and Mystery School room. This was a conference room on the beginning of one of the hallways. It was always full of magicians learning from Jeff McBride or one of the school’s instructors like Will Bradshaw. Jeff provided lectures and hands on learning for stage, close up, impromptu and performance skills. They passed out props for you to use to learn the routines and this room was virtually always full of magicians actively learning!
Jeff, like Bob Fitch was very generous with his time and was probably the hardest working person at FISM! He was essentially performing and teaching all day, I’m not sure when he ever ate or slept as I ran into him out very late one night!
Today at the close up contest is where everyone started to realize how great DJ FISM was! During all of the contest while acts were setting up or striking, there was music playing. Today DJ FISM (sorry, I don’t know their real name) had the audience singing to Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and usually had a song that somehow related to the act that had just ended. Then just when we’d gotten the Topas song One More out of our heads he’d play it, ensuring it was locked in there for the whole convention.
The silver lining of having 18 months of virtual magic meeting and lectures during the pandemic, was meeting a lot of magicians from around country and around the world that I would probably never have met. FISM was a great opportunity to turn those virtual relationships into real world friendships. I got to know Marc DeSouza after he attended a virtual lecture of mine, and we’ve chatted off and on for the last couple of years.
His talk on magic history was great and one of the highlights for me was seeing Marc present the Germain Lock. The effect of this lock is that it unlocks when your hand’s shadow acts like a key. By today’s standards, unlocking something is as simply as a home security app, but when you think about it in the context of 100 years ago, it’s astonishing!
Tonight was my night to go the banquet. There were two nights of banquets, one for group A who had red lanyards and one for group B that had blue lanyard. The fun thing about the banquet, was that unless you already had a big group with you, it forced you to sit with and meet new people! The table I ended up at, we all had a great time showing each other what kinds of magic we did!
The banquet food was average banquet food, it was alright. I’ve had better, I’ve had worse, it was pretty much right down the middle.
After dinner, it was time for the gala show that was hosted by Alain Choquette and John Archer The two of them had a more chemistry as a duo and they really should work together more. This was the strongest show of the week. This ended with a hilarious “after the credits” vignette where John and Alain have dinner and are served by Mike Caveney and Rob Zabrecky. They are finally joined by Michael Ammar who is playing the part of the Pope! All the people who left right after the last act performed missed a really funny bit.
After the show tonight, FISM moved the jam area into the empty back of the dealers room to try to get some more traffic to the dealers. They also moved in a snack cart that had beer and wine.
I’m surprised it took several days for FISM to utilize the empty back half of the dealers room. I also think some large purchases were made with a little bit of liquid encouragement!
The dealer room late night jam closes at 1:30am and the smarter magicians went to their rooms to sleep. I’m not one of them and stayed hanging out to see all the shenanigans that spilled out into the hallway.
Magic was happening everywhere and all of the late night crew was getting familiar with each other. This is the point where magicians start showing off some of their more experimental ideas.
After an hour of hallway magic, slipped over to Ninkasi bar for a bit before I needed to go to bed, as I was determined to make all of the contests in the morning! -Louie
After hitting the snooze button three times, I managed to make it to the venue just in time for the stage contests to begin at 8am!
About halfway through the stage contest, I had a family emergency (everyone is OK) at home in Seattle happen and I had to step away to deal with it. I need to find a quiet spot to do some paper work and make some calls, so I walked a couple of blocks and found a great coffee shop, Café félin Chats-Nous!
Having cats do cat stuff while I talked to insurance companies definitely reduces my stress, and after little while I headed back to the stage competition, just in time to catch the end of Ding Yang’s incredible act!
I’d heard a lot about her act, and it was cool to see her do dove productions with her feet! I wish I was able to see the whole thing. Unfortunately she didn’t get first place in her category, so I didn’t get to see her perform at the Winner’s Gala.
It was a quick bite to eat (aka another egg salad sandwich) and off to the close up contest. It was at the contest today that I had a major revelation. I had noticed that there was a lot of flashing on some technical and not so technical sleight of hand moves. I realized that the judges were about 4 feet lower than the camera was. In theory the close up magic contestants were playing to the judges eye, not the camera’s eye. The different points of view are probably why the audience was seeing soo much flashing, where (hopefully) the judges weren’t.
After the contest I got a text from Chris Hanowell who wanted to get some poutine while in Canada, so we ran up the block for the Canadian dish!
We also decided it was time for us to see the pope, as he’s been the talk of Quebec! You’d think having 2,000 magicians in town would be, but we got overshadowed by The Holy See. We decided there was enough gap in the schedule to walk up the hill to try to get a pope peek. Unfortunately it wasn’t in the cards, and when we arrived, everyone was leaving and we had missed him by about 15 minutes!
The evening gala was getting ready to start, and this was the FISM TV SHOW aka a magic show pretending to be a television show.
They had a duo as a host and their MC bits and chemistry weren’t very good, but this is the show were most of us learned that Topas has a couple of music albums in Germany (you can find them on spotify), and were introduced to his earworm “one more” during his stage act where he produced speakers and finally a lady! The FISM TV SHOW ended with Shawn Farquhar doing his Shape of My Heart routine to a live band!
After the show, I had enough energy to hand out in the Jam Room, which was a lobby like area in the convention center.
And I finally got to see Jeffrey Wong do the coin work that my buddy Clive wouldn’t shut up about.
Jeffery didn’t disappoint! He was doing some very technical stuff and he did it very well!! Before I knew it, it was 4am and it was way past my bedtime, so I took the walk back to my room, as tomorrow is another early contest morning! -Louie
I just stumbled across a video of the trick Ink Hole and I really like it!
Here’s what the trick has going for it:
it’s not a card trick. Yes, I know there are plenty of tricks similar to this with a card and hole. My thinking is the less tricks that I do that don’t use cards, the better. I’m not anti card trick, however for texture in the show, if I can avoid a card, I do!
It’s very visual and in a strange way!
it happens in front of your body and not on a table.
What I don’t like about it is that there is (as far as I can tell) a requirement that you wear a black shirt. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it is definitely a consideration.
I’m on the fence about getting it, it’s more the wardrobe condition that’s keeping me from ordering it.
Even if I don’t get it, I still think it’s a really cool effect!
Awhile ago I had picked up some Milk Caps and rigged one up like a split coin so that I could do a Three Fly style routine. Here’s the routine with some patter:
These milk caps are as unusual of an object as something like a silver dollar to anyone under 30 years old. People get hung up on what’s an ordinary object, and a large size silver dollar isn’t an ordinary object. The USA stopped using the large size dollar coins in the late 1970’s or over 40 years ago! The audience has to make a leap in time for either prop. I’d argue that the milk cap is easier to justify because it’s something they haven’t seen before. Where a large size dollar coin is similar to something that exists, but not the same. You can justify the milk caps through presentation, however most magicians don’t justify why they have old coins.
One thing that drives me nuts is when a magician will post a picture to social media of a craft store and say something like, “I could make so many magic tricks here” but then they don’t say what they made. These are people who are lazy and want to appear creative without doing any of the actual work. It’s not hard, but something that’s visually interesting and figure out a trick with it.
When I was performing last month in Casa Grande, AZ I went to a few junk shops. I’m normally looking for things for my oddity collection, but sometimes I find props to use with magic. One of the shops had about a dozen vintage milk caps.
Milk caps were used in the early 1900’s to seal bottles of milk. These are made of cardboard and slightly larger than a silver dollar, but about one third as thick. These were stuffed into the neck of a glass milk bottle. They didn’t create an airtight seal, but they did keep out debris and bugs.
The size of milk bottle caps lend themselves to coin magic. I’m sure in the 1990’s during the POG game’s popularity, tons of magicians used them. I had the idea of using them for some platform style coin magic, and figured I’d give it a try at a virtual magic meeting the other night:
I think it went well for a first run, now I need to write a routine for it and some jokes and I’ll be up and running! -Louie