I’ve been a card guy for some time. I love playing cards. I love the look and feel of a good deck. I love a Gambler’s Cop, I love a McMillan Switch, I love a Tenkai Palm, I love all the knacky little sleights people do with cards. That’s why I had to put them down and pick up the coin.
The coin is a harsh mistress for those who neglect her.
I’ve dealt with an illness since my third year of law school called Ocular Myasthenia Gravis. It’s a degenerative muscle disease. There was some fear that disease would start spreading into the rest of my body at one point. Thankfully, I just lost a little grip strength before the doctors declared remission. That came from serious lifestyle changes I needed to make. Part of that meant I needed my hands back. The coin taught me I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought I was. One bang of a coin onto a table when you don’t want it to happen and the illusion, the deception, is over.
Pasteboards will make you comfortable. The coin will not.
The coin requires attention and focus. The coin requires attention management and expectation management.
When you’re doing sleights involving coins, you have to be very careful at pointing attention in certain directions. You must be a person who can manage attention in the singular or plural. You have to make sure that you’re spot on when communicating your message. You have to be confident, relaxed, and have an out that the card man won’t.
Anybody can learn deception with cards. It takes an obsession to get to the coin.
When you master the coin, you master just about everything as a performer. And we’re all performers, whether we want to admit it or not. Perseus Arkomanis, Eric Jones, and Kainoa Harbottle all get it and make it their own. Perseus is…well, he’s Perseus and thinks outside the box like no one’s business. Eric is very no-nonsense and gets the relaxed confidence mastery of the coin brings. Kainoa Harbottle has the humor aspect down. It’s all about taking the foundations and bringing it to a new level of your performance and communication.
Eric Jones stands out, though. When teaching me classic palm he said very simply “The only way to get this is through relentless practice.” And if you’ve never done a classic palm, relentless practice is a must. You will drop shit everywhere at first. But eventually those muscles in your hands build up. Eventually you start being able to forget the coin is there. Eventually you tell the coin “I tell you what to do. You don’t get to tell me what to do.”
You have to master the coin if you want to stand out.
Anybody can show you a card “trick.” There’s loads of those. Being able to make metal objects appear, disappear, and then re-appear in different locations? That’s deception in action. That’s the very foundation of why I got into the deceptive arts.
This guy Lloyd Barnes. He’s developed a move called the “Light Switch.” It’s basically him changing one card to another at the speed of light. I can do a “Light switch.” I’m working on a “light switch” with coins. The bit is a coin production, then lay it on a table, and the coin changes. Those who know the “light switch” will get the method. The layperson doesn’t, and it makes them go “Oooooh.”
The combo and the concept makes the coin something greater than the cards.
Any Joe can buy an effect. The compulsive Joe buys several. When the obsessive Joe gets several effects, transpositions them across boundaries, and uses those effects and their combined ideas to create something special, that Joe has become a Somebody.
Mediation is Dead requires mastery of the coin, so I’m putting the cards down for a little bit and leaving the card table.
I have a few books about cards and deception with cards that I love. One is Daniel Madison’s “Anthology.” Another is his “How to Cheat at Cards.” Still another is S.W. Erdnase’s “The Expert at the Card Table.” All of these require certain skills I’ve already got.
It’s time to leave the card table. It’s time to pick up the coin and hit the streets.
Growth requires pain, and metal is the result of that mindset. So for now, I leave the comfort of the cards and embrace the suck that is the coin.