Curtis Kam: Coin Box Part 1

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The man with "Palms of Steel," Hawaii's legendary coin magician, Curtis Kam, joins us today talking about coin boxes! Enjoy: 


Let Me Explain...

"For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is sufficient."

While Joseph Dunninger is reputed to have said this about mentalism, it is true of many things, including our friend the Okito Box. Let’s chat a bit about the compulsion to explain what the box is.

I am ever baffled by magicians who take great pains to find an “explanation” for the coin box, even going so far as to craft entire presentations around claims like,  “It’s my grandfather’s pill box” or, “It’s a snuff container”.  These presentations seldom succeed, because they’re framed around a question that the audience just isn’t asking. Worse, as Mr. Dunninger said, those who believe would have believed without the explanation, and those who don’t aren’t going to change their minds, either. It’s just a waste of everyone’s valuable time. Even worse, I have heard some talented magicians say that they would never use a coin box, “because it looks like nothing on earth other than a magic prop.”

None of these concerns are warranted, and the easiest way to prove it is to imagine what would happen if we just told the truth. Or better yet, as I have, actually try it. Drop all the pretense, simply show people the box, and tell them, “A friend of mine carved this box out of solid metal just to make this trick more impossible.” Would that be so bad? What would be lost? Frankly, I think it makes the trick sound more impressive, and your efforts more noble. Rather than hide the special nature of the box, why not own it? David Regal tells us that having an “oddity” can make a routine more interesting. David Roth used to introduce his box as a “magic box”. I’m happy to tell people that it’s a prop that you can find in the back corner of most magic shops, but very few even know what it does.

I know there are those who will still resist, because they have sworn a solemn blood oath that nothing that could be seen as a “magic prop” shall ever cross their close up pads. This has something to do with the idea that if the audience sees a magic prop, they will stop believing that what they’re seeing is real magic. With regard to that, I refer you to something Paul Harris once wrote about open displays of skill in a performance, but applies equally well here:

“You should never perform flourishes. If you display any skill at all, people might suspect that you’re not doing real magic.” —from a conversation between Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny

In summary, if something you say makes people suspect the box, then let them examine it.  After that, if they still think it’s the box that’s doing the magic, then no story you tell them about the box is going to change that. If, however, telling a story about the box makes the whole experience more magical, then have at it. The story won’t make your magic more convincing, but it might make it more entertaining.

- Curtis Kam


Grab a Coin Box today and put this advice into effect. As always, leave your comments below!


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  • errol robinson

    I have been working the coin box for 40 years and never had a spectator query the the box. so go for it.

  • Gallagher Hayes

    Thanks for the thoughts,
    ..from a real thinker!
    Is there a collection of Curtis’ routines anywhere, be flipped through?
    I have to admitt, he descibes MY inner feelings,
    …or should I say,…‘fears’(?),…precisely!
    p.s.: Did Paul Harris ever say, if Santa Claus tipped his ‘Flying Rein-deer Trick’? Who cares about flourishes

    Thanks for the article. 👏 Have a pleasent weekend. 🤗

  • Charles Paddock

    I agree with all the comments from Curtis Kam. Coin boxes have been a favorite of mine for 40 years. If you need routines, please check out Doug Brewers Coin Box Killers There are some amazing visual routines that do not need explanation.

  • Steven Conner

    What Curtis says is absolutely true. Back in the day when I was working in nightclubs, there were times I would tell the patrons what I was doing with Scotch and Soda and they didn’t believe me. It was really quite funny.

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