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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Dvd, Video tape, Audio tape & Compact discs. » » Mastering the Art of Pickpocketing DVD (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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CoinCon
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As a professional magician in the Chicago area for over 20 years I have not seen anything like this DVD before, it's a fantastic learning tool and very well produced. I have had honor of learning from legends like the late Ricky Dunn and I really think James Coats does a fantastic job in showing how to pickpockets for real not this fake stage pick pocketing which has become popular since the mid 1980's. The cool part about the DVD is that he captures the reactions of the people and then does a very David Blaine style interview with them so you can see what was going on in the spectators mind while James was stealing their stuff. The only bad part about the DVD is that it teaches you how to be a real pickpocket so if magic doesn't work out, hey you got something to fall back on (haha). I am not sure of James' background or how he learned to pickpockets but he could make a fortune on the streets. One thing he covers that you don't expect is when to pickpockets and when not to and who to pickpocket when you do. My overall opinion is that he takes a dangerous form of art know as pick pocketing and turns it into a beautiful safe form of entertaining. The rumors around the Chicago area has it the he just finished production on a national Television special for CBS.
redstreak
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A.K.A David Kong
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I really want this but I'm not sure if my dad will approve of learning to pickpocket.
Neoglobin
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I might be able to understand why....... Smile Smile
Magically Yours,

Neoglobin.
byrdna
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To CoinCon
My name is Nicholas Byrd. As you know, I assisted James in the Mastering the Art of Pickpocketing DVD. The majority of the moves on the DVD are things that James and I developed working together over the last five years. We took some older moves that didn't work so well, and some fake stage moves that never really worked at all, and we went back to basics. "How do you have to touch someone to steal a particular item." AND "How do you get yourself in a position to touch them, without them questioning WHY you are touching them." After trial and error, and not being afraid of being busted, we came up with several "cut-the-crap" moves that got the job done.
Craig Krisulevicz
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This video = WOW! Great learning source with nice detailed descriptions. Plus wonderful entertainment. Nick and James describe it so well it makes it easy. My roommate and I already started practicing n each other and I swear, neither one of us can feel ANYTHING. GREAT resource on the subject, 5 stars.
Who is John Galt?
R2
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Nicholas literally stole the show with his "Straight Jacket Wallet Lift"

You have to see this to believe it!
Great job Nick! Let us hope Jim will try and come up with something for the next DVD to try and top you Brother....

Your height sure has it's advantages eh Nicholas....~

I favour my left hand too. Thanks for including the lefty's perspective in there for me as well....I can't believe you did that just for me?

This is truly a first in the annals of "Dipping" as Harry Murphy puts it!

Later Nick!

P.S. The first run of these DVD's are SOLD OUT!@ "Got Lift?"
Hey could you please tell me the time?
Harry Murphy
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I think that any individual who seriously wants to learn the art and technique of “dipping”, er…Pickpocketing, has to understand that there are not a lot of good resources available that teach proper technique. A Google search doesn’t turn up very much does it?

The most recent entry into this field is the DVD by James Coats titled “Mastering the Art of Pickpocketing”. It is almost the only game in town! And what a good game it is too!

I have in my collection a couple of Pickpocket training video’s that pale by comparison. In fact there is NO comparison between this DVD and the earlier tapes. Coats simply gives you more and better!

Specifically, I have the Mark Raffles video “The Pickpocket Secrets of Mark Raffles” from the late 70’s and Remington Scott’s “The Art of Pick-Pocketing” put out by the “International Magicians Society’s Magic Academy Course of Magic” (early 90’s). The Raffles tape is really a companion to his book on the art and is inadequate at best. Scott’s tape is a somewhat better training tape, but is much to brief and superficial.

James Coats and his friend Nicholas Bird provide good “basic” training on this DVD. Technique is well explained and demonstrated. There are “real” examples of each steal interspersed between the instruction segments. These examples are in the form of “street” performances of the “work” being done on real (unsuspecting) people.

Mr. Coats is cleverly capitalizing on the current wave of walk-around magic being done in the open (shopping center or street). This guerrilla magic works very well for him and comes across well on the DVD.

You do get ample discussion of the technique necessary to steal from the various pockets, steal one type of belt (but you can generalize to other types of belts), steal “things” hanging from the person (glasses, things with clips,etc.), and how to steal a necktie (Jim gives you advice here that you won’t find anywhere else!).

He also provides adequate instruction for three different types of wristwatch steals (that is, three different watch bands). He does mention that they also have a more extensive watch steal video, one which goes into much more detail and covers more types of watch bands.

As an aside, I believe that watch stealing is a great stunt! It is a stunt that can enhance any magic act. I think that the time spent learning this one steal is more than worth the time and effort to do so. It makes a good addition to any act or show.

The discussions and demonstrations Jim and Nick give on misdirection while making a steal are superior. In fact they make a point or two that I have not heard anywhere else. There is also good discussion of using a magic trick as misdirection for a steal.

The weakness of this particular DVD (if this can be considered a weakness at all) is that there is no discussion on building an act. The focus is mainly on making steals in a walk around situation. I believe that this is the biggest weakness in the DVD.

To give James his due, he set out to teach technique and skill and he does that without question. Perhaps a later DVD on building a saleable Pickpocket act/show could be made as a companion piece?

In my opinion, without an “act” you are only showing off some stunts and actually may get into serous trouble. In fact, the discussion on the problems (legal and otherwise) that may accompany such stunts is poor.

OK, those are pro’s and con’s for the “Mastering the Art of Pickpocketing” DVD as I see it. Remember it is only my opinion.

Overall, I believe that James Coats (and his friend Nicholas Bird) have given you a winner! This is a very good starting point for learning to “dip”. It gives you all of the tools you need to master performance pickpocketing.

Welcome to the world of "10-Bells!"
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
JamesCoats
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I would like to thank everyone for the fantastic comments on Mastering the Art of Pickpocketing, I am honored. It is these comments that have made the DVD such a success. I really enjoyed working on this DVD because it gave Nick and I a chance to share what we have learned over the last 5-6 years with others so they could enjoy and maybe even improve upon what we have shared.

Thanks,

James Coats
redstreak
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Hey James, nice to have you on the board. I Have the watch stealing DVD and am getting the pickpocketing DVD soon.

Thanks for the great review, Harry. You convinced me.
kull_spider
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A few questions:

1)I have no knowledge what-so-ever in pickpocketing. Is is advisable to get this DVD?

2)How long is the video?
R2
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You need absolutely no advance training to use the information presented in this DVD...

Harry, even stated this in his review...he could think of no better material for the novice...

It does help to have the confidence to reach out and touch someone...Finally something for us touchy feely guys eh Mina?

The DVD runs 60 U.S. Minutes long or short if you wanted more film time....
Doug McKenzie
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I honestly didn't like the DVD. While items are stolen, I do not think all the moves involved in the steals are justified. I have hung out with real pickpockets and shown the DVD to them. While it is entertaining, the steals are not "clean". Coats and Byrd do get away with everything, but the spectator is left confused. James Coats moves around the spectator like a squirrel around a tree. For me there is too much motion that just looks out of place. I have seen other pickpockets work where the steals were incorporated into natural body motions and gestures without using random phrases such as "is it your birthday?" to confuse the spectator. I also didn't like the use of Chappy's material (lines and techniques). I am not one to give negative reviews, but I just didn't like everything that was on there. On the positive side, the premise of a pickpocket routine involving a straight jacket escape is cool though. Nice work on that one.

Doug
Harry Murphy
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When you talk about real pickpockets are you taking about thieves or performance pickpockets?

The professional performance pickpockets that I have known (all guy’s that earned livings with pickpocket acts) used similar physical and linguistic misdirection. They moved all around the spectator volunteer, continually kept a line of patter going, and continually touched and moved the spectator. Heck when I was doing a pickpocket stage act I looked like a Whirling Dervish moving around my volunteers!

“Real” thieves do the same thing. However, the big difference is that they work in teams (mob, crew, gang). The team members are doing the bumping, blocking, touching, shoving, talking to, and otherwise misdirecting the victim. Anyone who has ever watched a team at work will tell you that there is a flurry of activity that confuses the victim’s senses as the steal is being made.

So you find that all of the various misdirecting actions that two or three (or more) people do to successfully commit a criminal steal must be performed by the single performer to complete his/her steal. Frankly, the performer has to work harder. Another difference is that the performer must do his steal in an open manner so that it is seen by or revealed to the audience. The real thief tries to cover as much as possible.

The absolute best pickpocket that I have personally known was a thief not a performer. Her technique was markedly different. She was an active thief well into her late 60’s. She rarely worked alone.

Again, let me repeat, the teaching resources for this kind of act are slim. This DVD is a good basic start point that gives the technique needed to build the skills needed. For all it’s weaknesses I found that of the tapes/DVD training available this is the best I have come across. When you find a better let me know.
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
James Peters
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I must admit that I've never considered performance pickpocketing, but am always looking to learn new things to add to my routines!

I'm just off to order a DVD now!

James.
Gordon Pail
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This post is great guys, by the way I am gordon. Hi everyone. I wanted to get this tape badly but not sure whether to or not. But for now I am glad that these review had made my decision.

Thanks guys and I will get this DVD and post my review on it.
Doug McKenzie
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I understand exactly where you are coming from Harry. I know that there are very few resources for learning pickpocketing. Of the resources available, this DVD os the best. I have seen other pickpockets work though that do not require the "squirrel around the tree" movement. As an example, I went to a night club last week with a pickpocket and asked him to steal everything another friend of mine had on his person. He went through both front jeans pockets in a matter of seconds, and took everything out. The victim had no idea. There wasn't any extraneous movement or unnecessary confusion, linguistic or otherwise. The misdirection was a simple magic effect. SO.... I will say: I did enjoy the dvd and would recommend it, though the steals aren't the cleanest I have seen. As for using some of Chappy's material ... that's another issue.

Doug
Harry Murphy
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Doug,

Your input is valuable to a give balanced discussion here.

Elsewhere James encourages the next generation to refine his technique and take pickpocketing to the next level.

It sounds as if your pickpocket friend has refined his own technique and that it is well hidden with a lot of gymnastics. Because there are so few readily available offerings to learn from perhaps your friend should consider putting out a training tape/DVD.

I think that we are seeing a growing interest in this kind of thing!

Just a little story. Three weeks ago I was in Washington, D.C. hitting the museums (and doing a little street gig in the rain down Adams Morgan way). Later in the evening I was in a bar-restaurant in the Georgetown district and witnessed a young man (early 20’s) get arrested for pulling a wallet and watch off a customer. The young man was protesting that he was “performing and entertaining” and that he was going to “give the stuff back” and it was done “just for laughs!” His friends tried to tell the arresting officer that it was “just an act!” Bottom line is that the bouncer (who was an off duty DC cop in uniform) called it theft, called for a police car and arrested the guy.

Several other patrons of the place started to claim that some of their stuff was gone and demanded that the guy be searched and demanded that his friends be searched, as they obviously were part of the gang!

I must admit that I would have paid money to watch that show! I laughed myself silly at the comedy that played out during the arrest. I don’t know the final outcome but I do know that our friend the “dip” got searched, cuffed, and put into patrol car and taken away. It sure was an entertaining show!

By the way, I spoke to the officer as I was leaving the place and he mentioned that Pickpocket theft is a felony in Washington, D.C.!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
R2
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Attention to all of those folks who missed the first pressing of this DVD..

Don't miss out on the next run, if this is your bag baby!

He is also selling a watch on the for sale items forum...can you guess what it is? Get this!
"A watch!" Too funny! Check it out!
cardfreakhk
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ReyRey, where can I find more info of that?
Thanks!

Pickpocketing... you can't never fail even you are just practising your act.
Once fail, you will be in jail.

I dare not buy the DVD now.

Michael Lam
Don't just dream, stay awake and action!
byrdna
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Hey, this is Nick again.
I appreciate the responses on our DVD. I have two topics that I want to touch on.

1) The techniques that we discuss in the DVD are our techniques. We use our style and misdirection in a very fast paced fluorish of movements. It's OUR style. We are trying to create a foundation of understanding and of basic movements as it relates to pickpocketing. If any one feels that the moves should be crisper, then make your moves crisper.

When people speak of different types of karate, people generally feel that there own style is superior to other styles, it is the same thing here. Our style is different from others, but it is in no way superior. This style that we teach is one of many possible styles, and it is the style that works best for us. We definately encourage people to take what we have done and build on it, and possibly show us some different styles.

2)As for fearing THE LAW. During the DVD, we touch on making sure that when you are performing, EVERYONE knows that you are an entertainer. If you are working in a Bar/restaurant, all employees and Management will know that you are there and the type of show that you are planning on doing. If the Management doesn't feel "good" about the pickpocket act, DON'T DO IT. There are plenty of venues that will support this act.

Thank you guys again. Any feed-back is GOOD feed-back.

Oh Yeah! If anyone is offended by any of our material or feels that we stole it from Chappy, we appologize. I have nothing but respect for the great things that Chappy did. Feel free to drop me a private message and please be specific about the material in question so it can be addressed.
Later,
Nick Byrd
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