The Complete Professional Pickpocket

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performer
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The Complete Professional Pickpocket

Postby performer » October 12th, 2015, 8:47 pm

This a book by the late David Alexander which has been revised, edited and published by the not so late Thomas Baxter who has recently moved to the other side of Canada possibly to be as far away from me as possible. Tom is known as "Entity" on this forum and I shall try my best and not be tempted to call him "Nonenity" as is my wont since this is supposed to be an impartial review.

In a previous thread it was mentioned how difficult it must be to be a reviewer of magic books and products because you risk giving offence and making enemies out of former friends. However, that is not a problem for me since I never liked David Alexander from the moment I met him. And Tom and I have never got on terribly well since I have always considered him to be an old misery and he has always considered me a charlatan of the first order. Therefore there is utterly no danger of making enemies out of friends since we have never been friends in the first place.

Anyway I happen to be interested in pickpocketing so naturally when this book came out I decided I had better put aside my biases and take a look at it. I badly wanted to say it was a terrible book but alas I can't quite manage it. I do reluctantly have to admit that it is a good book. Very well produced indeed and I shall resist the temptation to say that Tom Baxter as a mentalist would make a very good book publisher. Solid hard cover, easily read print and it FEELS like a good book. The illustrations by David's wife are pretty good too.

Now what about the book itself? I have quite a few books on pickpocketing. Everything from a terrific pamphlet by Walt Hudson to more substantial works by Jimmy Ravel (also with really good illustrations) Ricky Dunn and the classic How to Pick Pockets by Eddie Joseph. I also have an excellent DVD by Mark Raffles. I have met three of these authors. One was Mark Raffles and the other two were Eddie Joseph in Harry Stanley's Unique Studio in London and David Alexander himself in Albuquerque. Mr Joseph was very humble and nice to me. Mr Alexander was not so humble and not so nice to me.

However, his book compares well to the ones above. It has good standard techniques of pickpocketing, good explanations of such and a great trick of pretended muscle reading in order to remove a watch. This last one I will probably use myself.

The book is pretty standard fare for a pickpocketing book except for one thing. I don't know whether to praise it or condemn it. I will probably do both. I actually felt a little guilty reading it but I have to say I enjoyed it. It was quite a revelation. It was an interview with someone who knew the great Dominique, the famed master pickpocket very well. The whole act was explained from start to finish. It was a wonderful read and a complete expose of the act. There was something in the description I could probably use in a linking finger ring routine.

Alas I do have to condemn it. I am pretty sure he didn't get Dominique's permission to expose the whole act in such detail. I thought it was a terrible thing to do. The book was originally published in 1979 and I am not sure if the great master French Pickpocket was still active at that time but I imagine he was. But even if he wasn't it seemed a very unethical thing to do. I didn't like that aspect of it one bit. I find it ironical that Tom Baxter was the publisher and editor because if this was someone else's book Tom would be the first one huffing and puffing about how unethical it was to expose another man's act without his permission.

And for the first time I realised that I had already read some huffing and puffing about the matter. Ricky Dunn who wrote what I regard as the best pickpocketing book I have ever read said some very rude things about the Alexander book in his own "The Professional Stage Pickpocket" (a very similar title I noticed). He railed against the inaccuracy of the description and said Dominique should have sued the author. He also slated the inaccuracy of the Alexander description of one of Vic Perry's bits.

I do think the description of the Dominique act in the Alexander book was quite accurate. I think Ricky Dunn was furious at the appropriation and exposure of Dominique's material and was trying to protect the great French pickpocket by saying the description was not accurate. I am a complete rogue as anyone who knows me will tell you but even I would not stoop to giving away a man's life work in a book without his permission. I thought it was wrong although it was certainly an exceptional description.

Overall, I think it was a reasonably good book and I very much liked the production quality and the illustrations. Not as good as the superb Ricky Dunn book which I would recommend to anyone even if they never pick a pocket in their life. But the Alexander book is a good one nevertheless and I would never let my disdain for the author and the publisher interfere with my opinion of the book itself.

I really should be nominated for sainthood.

Bill Mullins
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Re: The Complete Professional Pickpocket

Postby Bill Mullins » October 12th, 2015, 8:55 pm

I haven't read it yet, but I picked up a copy of this from Marshall Peterson in Orlando last week. I was surprised to see it laying on his sales table -- I missed it completely on its release.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: The Complete Professional Pickpocket

Postby Richard Kaufman » October 12th, 2015, 11:51 pm

I knew David Alexander quite well, and I can say with almost complete certainty that he would have never published Dominique's complete act without permission.
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performer
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Re: The Complete Professional Pickpocket

Postby performer » October 13th, 2015, 4:29 am

The book was first published in 1979. He would have been a lot younger. Perhaps in those days he wasn't quite so ethical. I don't believe for one moment he sought permission from Dominique. Why would Ricky Dunn sound so het up over the matter in his own book?

The interview was done with an alleged Dominique stooge. I can't see Dominique giving permission for that. If you read the interview it certainly doesn't sound like it. And I have done some checking. It seems that Dominique was quite active performing at that time. I can't see him allowing Alexander to interview one of his ex-employees in order to give his whole act away.

Of course there is one easy way to settle the matter. I understand Dominique is still alive. All we have to do is ask him.

performer
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Re: The Complete Professional Pickpocket

Postby performer » October 13th, 2015, 4:50 am

Oh. I just came across this:

viewtopic.php?t=39335

I think that WAS Dominique posting!

performer
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Re: The Complete Professional Pickpocket

Postby performer » October 13th, 2015, 3:14 pm

I just posted a request on Dominique's facebook page for clarification over the matter. Hopefully there will be a reply.

In the meantime you can view him at work here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcN8rFvXRLo

Ch. de miegeville
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Favorite Magician: Dominique pickpocket

Re: The Complete Professional Pickpocket

Postby Ch. de miegeville » October 22nd, 2015, 12:08 pm

Hello to all.
I am friend and the administrator of Dominique's Facebook.
https://www.facebook.com/#!/Dominique-C ... 437551159/
Dominique doesn't know this book nor her author.
He would like to know what we can read of his Pickpocket act.
He sending his friendship to the magic community.

performer
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Re: The Complete Professional Pickpocket

Postby performer » October 22nd, 2015, 2:18 pm

In that case I can only assume that if he has never heard of this book by David Alexander then it means as I suspected that he did NOT give permission for the detailed description over several pages of his act and the alleged methods of working. The stooge who was interviewed was named "Pete".

The book was first published in 1979. Perhaps it had a limited sale and that is why Dominique had never heard of it. It has just been republished again.

The late Ricky Dunn certainly knew about the book and was very disapproving about the Dominique references saying in his own book,

"although I probably should after the horrendous misinformation he also published about Dominique and his act. Information I might add, the author claims to have gotten from a self proclaimed "professional" stooge! I can state, quite categorically, that the information is highly inaccurate. How this man could print such gobbledygook is beyond comprehension. If I were Dominique, I think I would have sued!"

Of course it is too late to sue David Alexander now as he passed away. If I were terribly wicked I would suggest suing Tom Baxter instead but I will resist the awful temptation. To be fair I don't suppose Tom knew about the matter and just republished the book which was originally published in 1979.

There are ten pages of an interview with an alleged stooge so alas I can't reproduce it all here. The least I think Tom could do is send Dominique a copy of the book since his whole bloody act and the methodology is described in there without permission. I know Thomas Baxter well and would be astonished if he doesn't do this. I expect as soon as he hears this he will send Dominique a copy of the book.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: The Complete Professional Pickpocket

Postby Richard Kaufman » October 22nd, 2015, 7:35 pm

I don't think David Alexander would publish another professional's act without permission. That is not the action of the David Alexander I knew. It's very easy to defame him in this matter because he's no longer alive to defend himself.
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performer
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Re: The Complete Professional Pickpocket

Postby performer » October 22nd, 2015, 7:55 pm

You know that I would be perfectly happy to defame him when he was alive. After all he was perfectly happy to defame me in return. But Tom Baxter is alive and so are you therefore he is not short of defenders. But of course Dominique is alive too. He does not seem to know about the Alexander book. Therefore only one conclusion can be drawn. When he was young and perhaps not so scrupulous as he might have been in later years he published ten pages describing the entire methodology of a professional pickpocket.

The evidence seems quite cut and dried to me. Perhaps someone should find Tom Baxter to get the other side of the story. After all he is the publisher. And I think it would be helpful if we could get more clarification from Dominique. Could he possibly have come across the book in earlier years and have forgotten about it?

This reminds me of the Erdnase thread for some reason. The difference is that Dominique is still alive to refute the fact that he doesn't know anything about the book or the author. This being the case how on earth could he have given permission for his entire act and alleged methodology to be described by a "stooge"?

If this was someone else besides David Alexander this forum would have had no hesitation in condemning him. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. I have tried to be fair. I asked Dominique or his representative (whom I still think is Dominique himself) if he had given permission and the answer tends to indicate that he didn't.

I would welcome further comment on the matter from Monsieur de Miegeville. Perhaps more clarification is needed.


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