Geoffrey Latta

This technique, which is based on an idea by Johnny Benzais, is quite unlike anything you've ever seen. It'll fool anyone who knows the standard Han Ping Chien handlings and can be utilized to produce absolute miracles, as you'll see in some of Geoffrey's routines later on. It isn't easy, but if you learn it you'll use it of ten.

Handling No. I

(Each hand's action will be taught separately, then you'll combine them.) The Left Hand's Action. Break this down into two steps: get-ready, and release. To start toss a half dollar onto your palm-up left hand. It doesn't matter where it lands as long as it's on the palm area (fig. 463). Close your fingers into a loose fist don't squeeze them flat. Turn your fist over until it's almost palm down, but still tilted a bit to the right (fig. 464).

The coin should be falling loosely inside your fist. Once your hand has turned over the coin will be resting at the lower end, near your third and pinky fingers. You won't actually do this when you perform the move, but for now (to learn it), shake your fist a tiny bit to loosen the coin so that it falls a bit farther, its lower edge cradled by your pinky. The only part of your pinky which actually touches the coin is the extreme tip, which presses it very lightly against the heel of your hand (fig. 465 shows how the coin rests, the left hand is transparent). Other than that one place the coin is loose and sort of floats inside your fist. It does not come in contact with any skin other than your pinkytip. If you lightly shake your hand you should be able to feel the coin wobble around. Once you've completed the initial get-ready turn your fist palm up again, leaving it tilted slightly to the right (fig. 466).

The other part of your left-hand's action is the release. Your right hand will later cover this. If you've properly loosened the coin all you have to do is simultaneously relax your left pinky and smoothly move your fist to the left. The coin will drop out of your fist and onto the table (fig. 467). The coin does not move to the right - it stays exactly where it was and your hand moves away. When your fist moves the coin stays momentarily in space then falls downward. Do not jerk your fist to the right in an effort to eject the coin because that's wrong! That can be seen. Simply moving your fist out of the way of your right hand (which is what'll eventually happen) won't be noticed because it is a reaction - not an action. Don't jerk your fist to the left, either. just move it. If the coin is held loosely, only by your pinkytip as described, it will fall out.

The Right Hand's Action. Let's assume for the moment that your right hand is empty. Hold it, palm up fingers outstretched and together, in front of and slightly to the right of you (fig. 468). Turn your hand palm down, at the same time curling your fingers into a loose fist (fig. 469).

I've marked a spot X on the table so you know where your right hand will move to (later the coin will fall onto that spot). Your right hand moves from its palm-down fist in a short hop to X, opening its fingers (fig. 470). The movement is semi-circular; up, out, and down, as if you were rolling your hand over the top of a beach ball.

A few little, but important, things happen when your outstretched fingers hit the table. First, they spread (but remain relaxed), and second, the back of your hand bends upward (fig. 471). it'll hurt to do this at first, but it's only for a second because you immediately lift your hand straight up.

Now that you're familiar with what your right hand's going to do, put three coins in it. They're spread on your palm area with one in classic palm position. Your hand is ready to begin its sequence. Turn your right hand palm down, closing its fingers into a fist. One coin is retained in classic palm and two fall to the inside of your fingertips. Now shoot your right hand forward in its hopping (up, over, and down) motion to the table, at the same time straightening your fingers. When your hand lands on the table the two loose coins will be trapped beneath your spread fingers (fig. 472). (Don't smash your hand down because you'll dislodge the palmed coin. Bending the back of your hand upward may be a bit uncomfortable, but it makes your hand appear flat even though a coin is palmed.)

The Combined Action. Initially your hands are positioned so that your palm-up left hand is directly in front of you and your palm-up right hand is in front of your right shoulder (fig. 473 is an audience view). There's a single coin on your left palm and three coins on your right palm (one of which is in classic palm position). It will appear to the audience that the coin in your left hand vanishes and reappears in your right hand (the final sequence in a simple Coins Across).

Do the left-hand get-ready, turning your fist down and up, loosening the coin so that it's held by your pinkytip. Turn your right hand palm down letting two of its coins fall onto the insides of your fingers and retaining the third in classic palm.

Here's where the timing comes in. Both hands perform their actions as already taught simultaneously. (Actually your left hand just does the release, since it's already done the get-ready.) There is one key moment that will clinch the illusion. Your right hand shoots forward in its hopping motion, its fingers straightening (fig. 474). When it reaches the point just shown your left hand moves smoothly to the left and out of the way. The left-hand coin will remain suspended in midair for a split second before falling (fig. 475). At that moment your right fingers land on it and push it downward onto the table (fig. 476). Actually the two coins which are trapped by momentum beneath your descending right fingers will push the lefthand coin downward.

Your right hand lands on the table, fingers spread, back of the hand lifted so that it bends your fingers back ward a bit, with three coins visible through the fingers (fig. 477). After a beat lift your right hand showing three coins. Pick them up and let them drop inside your closed right fist. Say your magic mumbo-jumbo and open your left hand to show that its coin has vanished. Open your right hand revealing four coins.

mumbo-jumbo and open your left hand to show that its coin has vanished. Open your right hand revealing four coins.

Handling No. 2

Display a coin on your palm-up left hand. Close it into a fist and do the get-ready so that the coin is held loosely by your pinkytip and the fist is almost palm up. Your right hand, held palm down, is relaxed. Both hands are held near you at the same height above the table (fig. 478).

The timing on this handling is completely different (and simpler, too). Simultaneously move both hands forward and downward toward the table (fig. 479). As they move relax your left pinky allowing the coin to drop out. It'll move forward because of your left hand's momentum (fig. 480). Your right hand moves over it as it falls, covering it and slamming it onto the table (fig. 481). Your right hand's actions are the same now, spreading its fingers and bending slightly backward at the wrist.

Be careful not to jerk your left fist toward the table, simply move it forward and relax your pinky. As soon as it's released the coin it moves away, increasing the apparent distance between the, hands.

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