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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » A Hundreth Pleasant Conceipts - by Curtis Kam » » Ch. 1: CONCEALMENTS (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Curtis Kam
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THE CLASSIC PALM

Don't panic. Even J.B. says that this is the toughest of the bunch. But you DO need this. And with more than one coin. And it helps to be at least passable with your other hand, as well. If you're having trouble learning this, it may be because Bobo simply shows you where the coin's supposed to go, and gives you little in the way of a training method.

The bad news is that even the position is only a rough estimate. The precise position will depend on the relative width of the coin and your hand, and the musculature you have at the moment. Given this, I suppose it might have been reasonable to leave it up to you to figure out how best to train for this.

FWIW, the position of the coin in Bobo’s illustration is much closer to the fingers than is comfortable or workable for me. I suspect this is true for most people. Also, if you do palm the coin that far forward (i.e. away from the wrist) you should be aware that the coin is probably visible to people on your side, through the space between your thumb and index finger.

Do keep in mind that the coin should be held loosely. A slight tap should dislodge it. Bobo thought this was so important that he mentions it again at the start of the extra chapters added in 1964.

Also, remember that you are developing muscle as well as skill. If you don't have the necessary muscle built up already (and few of us do initially) then your learning will take at least as long as it takes to build up the muscles. That should give you some idea of the time frame. It's probably weeks or months to basic ability, rather than hours.

Finally, if you are still having trouble, there is a DVD coming out soon that attacks the problem from another direction. Our fine sponsors at The Magic Bakery have gotten Reed McClintock's unique training method on disc, and will be offering it soon. Reed's approach is backwards. He starts with the premise that it's easier to learn multiples first, and then work your way down to singles. There's a lot more to it than that, but think about it--when you're first starting out, is it easier to pick up a toothpick or a battery? Gross motor skills and muscle training first, fine control comes later. Not such a weird idea, now, is it?
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Curtis Kam
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CLASSIC PALM 2: Guidelines for use

The classic palm is generally used either palm up or palm down. In either position, the concealment is more effective when the audience is looking down on the performer's hands. This makes the classic palm the concealment of choice for strolling work, where everyone is standing, or work done very close to the audience. For parlor and standup (small stage) work, fingerpalm, Downs and edge grip concealments are more practical.

When I'm working table-to-table, I prefer to start by taking a step back from the table, and handling the coin effects like parlor magic. This ensures that as many people as possible can see what's going on at the outset. After my opening effects, I may come in closer and do a few things in their hands. This is when the classic palm is useful.

I suggest you learn the palm-to-palm change. It's not in Bobo's, but it is described in Kaufman's COINMAGIC. Not only is this extremely useful, but it's great practice for the classic palm. More about this later.

I also have to admit that I'm not the best classic palmer. I use old silver dollars with fairly smooth edges, and my hands are getting drier the older I get. Luckily, the larger coins are ideal for the opening pieces, which are more visual in nature. When I move in close, I'm almost always putting the coins in the spectators' hands, and for that I use half dollar sized coins. (some people's hands are quite small, especially here in Hawaii)

For this type of effect, since you never know what's going to happen when you put your props in the audience's hands, I use modern, clad halves. They are plain enough to attest to their own innocence, and they have a nice sharp milled edge. If they're dropped, I can leave them on the floor. And they allow the best classic palm I'm capable of in the environment where it's needed the most.

And thus a handicap is managed.
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Curtis Kam
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CLASSIC PALM 3: Was Scott Right?

Well, what about it? In this day and age, does the ability to classic palm a coin or two in one hand still allow you to present "an hundreth pleasant conciepts"? Keeping in mind the old balloon twister's line "I make a hundred different animals, but they all look like dogs."

Previously I mentioned that when Albert Goshman had finally worked, reworked, and refined his act down to its purest form, distilling decades of experience into every gag and gesture, he ended up with a very short list of moves. He toss vanished from right to left only, he loaded the shakers only from his right hand, and his switch was basically the same as his toss vanish, only it involved a second coin. So it's certainly possible to present even a legendary act with little more than a vanish and a load. However, I doubt the act would have ever reached its final level of refinement if Albert had not played with, and become proficient at, a wide variety of moves and techniques. So altho the single vanish might be all you need in the end, it's proabaly not going to get you there by itself.

I do want to mention that it's easy to underestimate how deceptive a good classic palm is. I have seen performers (some of whom are here at the Café) who are able to absolutely fool their audiences simply through the naturalness of their classic palm. For these performers, there is a certain something that happens when the hand, the wrist, the arm and the fingers are all relaxed, the gesture is natural, and the hand just seems empty, even though you haven't actually seen the palm.

Approaching Scott's claim from another angle, there's the related question, "Do I really need to learn to CP in both hands?" The common answer is "yes, now go practice". But sticking to our topic, what's Bobo's answer? Is this a Bobo No-no?
("No-Know"?)

Well, he doesn't mention ambidexterity anywhere in the description of the CP. More telling, my quick review of the rest of the book reveals only three tricks in which a left CP is involved. (anyone with a searchable ebook version might do a more definitive search) The three I found were:

1. Bob Carver's "Progressive Production".
2. Jimmy Buffaloe's "The Switchover".
3. Winged Silver.

While the inclusion of something as rudimentary as Winged Silver on this list is a bit of a concern, it appears for the most part that Bobo's MCM was written for and by guys just like you and me, who only CP on the right. A glance at Kaufman's COINMAGIC reveals the same handling bias, and both of these books feature the work of a number of magicicans.

So I'd say that we have our answer.
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Curtis Kam
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THE EDGE PALM

Oddly enough, this is the next concealment Bobo describes. Odd because this is one of the few times it's mentioned, even in MCM itself. As far as I can tell, Edge palm offers two advantages. First, it is probably the most efficient way to pack coins into the hiding space your hands provide. In spite of this, your fingers are still free to move and handle objects. Second, the entire stack of coins is uniquely accessible to the other hand, making changeovers possible.

This ability to move large numbers of coins quickly and quietly from hand to hand was useful in stage coin routines. The usual cover for the changeover of a stack, a wide body turn from side to side, is a creature of the stage, not close up.

However, there is one famous close up effect that brilliantly exploits both of these strengths of the edge palm. Dr. Sawa's "Slot Machine" uses an engaging story involving the vanish of two smaller coins to provide the psychological cover needed to pull off the hand-to-hand transfer of a stack under close up conditions. Sadly, "Slot Machine" has only appeared in English in an issue of Genii magazine.

Modern readers may not have access to Dr. Sawa's routine, but they may still find the lesson hidden in the brief description I've given. The secret of the main effect--the unexpected production of a huge number of coins--is hidden not by a swing of the body, but by the previous effects. In other words, not only do the two coins vanish magically, giving you two effects in themselves, but the very fact that you could accomplish this makes it implausible that you could also be hiding a load of coins. This strategy of using magical effects themselves as misdirection was a favorite of John Ramsay's, and we'll see it again in his work. However, we see little of this approach in MCM.
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Curtis Kam
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THE THUMB PALM

A.k.a. the "flat" thumb palm, to distinguish it from the thumb palm that Bobo does not describe (except once, see my first post) and the Downs palm, and the "Vertical Thumb Palm" or "Angle Palm" or "Lamont Grip" or the "Mutobe Palm" or the "Drobina Palm". Some quick tips:

First of all, watch your angles. You are not as safe as you might imagine.

Second, the method of getting into the palm described by Bobo is only one way. One nice aspect of the flat thumb palm is the "flatness" of the hand after the palm. Another is the lack of movement involved in executing the palm. Albert Goshman's famous "toss vanish" exploits both of these to create a perfect illusion. Briefly, Goshman started with the coin at the bases of his first and second fingers, a much more natural resting spot for a coin about to be casually pitched into the other hand. Then, he used the coin's inertia and a very slight movement to "flop" the coin directly into thumb palm. You can check your copy of "Magic by Gosh" for the details, since you should own this book. Period.

Third, tension in the thumb or hand kills this illusion. Avoid the "fishhook thumb" at all costs. When the hand's not in motion, the coin is "cradled" in position, more than "gripped". You should be able to release the coin with no visible movement of the thumb.

Fourth, it is possible to thumb palm more than one coin this way. Three seems to be about the limit, however, since you have no positive contact with the inner coin or coins. (I know, Ramsay did four) If your coins are especially smooth, or light, you can manage more, but it's extremely difficult to do so without telltale tension. That said, this is an excellent "click" pass for two coins.

Finally, the position of the coin makes it easy to load your semi-closed hand, or coin slide, or sugar packet. By the same token, coins are easily stolen from "heel clip" position into thumb palm.
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