Best chop cup?

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 03/07/04 11:03 PM

For a new weekly Mexican restaurant gig (Lula Cocina Mexicana in Santa Monica on Saturday nights), I'm going to finally have to work up a chop cup routine. Can you guys give me an idea of, first of all, which brand and model of chop cups are best, and secondly, which routines work best?

The manager wants me to work some Mexican-themed tricks into my repertoire for performance on Cinco de Mayo. I came up with the production of a shot glass of Tequila under a chop cup. I've always wanted to produce a full shot glass. It's always been stunning to me.
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/07/04 11:33 PM

Thomas Wayne sells a killer cup, a coffee mug, especially good for restaurants as the magnetic setup is really different ... you don't have to slam it down.

You could find a signed card in a rolled tortilla, or in a lime ala bill in lemon.

Produce a bottle of beer. Mexican beer that is.

Big finish with a Pinata???
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Postby Anthony Brahams » 03/08/04 03:07 AM

if you perform Chop Cup on a metal plate there will be sound to cover the noise of the load. I used a fancy Persian brass bowl on matching plate in Benson B&B routine with a quarter bottle of Scotch as the final load. There must have been a reason for this load but I do not remember it (no ageist remarks, Pete, please!)
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Postby cataquet » 03/08/04 04:53 AM

Chop cups seem to fall into four categories:
1 - Dumpy cups resembling the cups found in three cups sets
2 - Drinking glass cups like the Don Alan and Jim Riser's "Jonathan Townsend" Chop Cup
3 - Mugs
4 - Bowls like the Viking chop bowl and the Nielson chop teacup

I never liked chop bowls. The Benson Bowl routine doesn't needed a magnet, so why put one in?

The drinking glass cups never appealed to me because the final loads were never "big enough". That is, with any cup the constraint on the size of the load is the minimum of the mouth diameter and the cup height. Most drinking glass cups are quite tall, so the final load is constained by the mouth diameter. The final contrast between the tall cup and most final loads isn't as impressive as what you could get out of a dumpy cup.

Mugs and dumpy cups are very similar, but I find dumpy cups much easier to handle. My cup was made by Auke VanDokum, and I really like the weight of it.

A well designed chop cup set shouldn't have to be slammed down to loosen the ball. If this is necessary, the magnet is too strong. My set from VanDokum is correctly balanced. I played around with the Loomis/Riser mini set and those too were correctly balanced.

As for routines, there are a lot out there, but my advice is to try and add something other than (or in addition to) a "in my pocket or under the cup" phase.
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Postby Guest » 03/08/04 11:16 AM

Oh yes, Pete, that Corona or Dos Equis bottle production sounds good. It would be an excuse to buy Lynetta's Beer Bottle Gizmo, which is such a neat little thingy.

I think I saw Tom Wayne at the World Magic Seminar, didn't I? Where can I get ahold of him?

And Harold, it sounds like you're torn between dumpy cups and mugs. Although you use a dumpy cup, a mug would be much more natural to the restaurant situation, don't you think?
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Postby Steve Bryant » 03/08/04 11:21 AM

The best cup I've seen is Ron Wilson's from The Uncanny Scot. You can make it yourself and it looks completely innocent. AND it's probably the best routine as well.
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Postby Jakob Rasmussen » 03/08/04 12:22 PM

Hi

For a final load use:

A Salt Shaker.
A small bottle of Tequila.
A Lemon.

Let them have a "Drink"

Best

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Postby Danny Archer » 03/08/04 01:37 PM

Here you go David ...

Thomas Wayne
twcues@ptialaska.net

PS Thomas will be dealing at LVMI in Sept.
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Postby cataquet » 03/08/04 01:38 PM

David, I am not torn between a mug and a dumpy cup; I'm a dumpy cup man from the start.

The problem is that the only advantage of the mug is that it's an ordinary item. If I wanted to appear to do magic using ordinary items, then I would use ordinary items, ie I would take the cup from the table and borrow a bill to make the ball, and basically borrow everything. Isn't that how it should look?! Also, I used to carry a mug around, but then one day when I went to get the cup out, it was broken. A metal cup doesn't break; a pottery mug will (eventually).

I think it's somewhat naive to assume that if you are using ordinary items in an extraordinary context (ie, for magic), lay audiences will continue to assume that the ordinary items are ungimmicked. If you apparently borrowed their cup and their bill, as described above, then the assumption of "ordinary-ness" continues. However, if you take out a mug from your pocket/case, why should the audience assume it's ungimmicked? For this reason, I just take out my dumpy cup and get going. I think a dumpy cup looks more professional than a mug. Just my humble opinion.

Bye for now

Harold
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Postby Guest » 03/09/04 02:31 AM

Harold, if you like dumpy cups so much, which dumpy cups are best?

And isn't there a routine out there that allows you to use an ordinary-looking mug and borrow a one-dollar bill, and then crumple it up and switch it for a gimmicked bill?

I suppose I should look into my Cups & Balls literature, too. I know there are routines that combine two Cups & Balls with one chop cup that looks like the other two.
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Postby Dan Trommater » 03/09/04 03:19 AM

Hi David,

I've been using a Mike Rogers dice stacking cup that is also a chop cup. Having worked in bars for most of my performing career, I've had great success using the cup in a dice stacking routine, and then bringing it back out later with the little baseball to 'play a little game' as the finalle. I use Don Alan's routine with a few little changes and then use a slice of lime, a shot glass full of tequilla and a salt shaker as final loads. It's been a highlight of my bar act for years. I don't use a full glass at tables, but I've searched and found little bottles of tequilla that fit under the cup. Even that way, it's been a strong staple of my act for almost as long as I've been performing.

Good Luck,

Dan
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Postby cataquet » 03/09/04 04:55 AM

Thanks, Dan, I forgot about chop dice cups. I have both wooden and leather dice cups, but I never bothered to get them "chopped". They are really (in shape) virtually handle-less mugs. However, I tend to reserve these for a dice stacking routine. In my stacking routine, based on the Mendoza routine, the final production of two jumbo dice and a can of 7-up is hard to beat.

In the context of dumpy chop cups, vanDokum and Johnson are the names that instantly come to mind. I chose the vanDokum cup because only Auke could make me the exact set that I wanted - 2 x 1" white baseballs with white stitching, 2 x 1" black baseballs with black stitching, 1 x 2" black baseball with black stitching, 1 x 2" white baseball with white stitching and 1 x 2" half white/half black baseball. The small balls are perfectly balanced for the cup. I think his chop cup is perfect!

Because I had a routine, the purchase from Auke was really just an upgrade of the props. My previous cup was manufactured by a local wood turner. I gave him the balls, a dumpy cup to model the shape, and a magnet. He then put the magnet in the wood blank and kept cutting the opening deeper and deeper until he got the right effect with the balls and cup. Then, he shaped the outside.

Jim Riser, of course, has superb chop cups, but his Riser/Loomis mini and larger Riser chop cup aren't dumpy style cups. As I mentioned before the key to a good chop cup is getting the balance between the cup holding the ball and the cup releasing the ball. You don't want to have to slam the cup down to release the ball; nor do you want to have to gently put the cup down to prevent the ball from jarring lose. So, the balls and the cups should be bought as a set, not separately.

Here's another ideaa. If you have a magnet concealed in your hand (eg in a ring), and you put a small magnet in the bill as you borrow it, you could use an ordinary cup for an "impromptu" chop cup. Even better, you could always just take a clear glass and wrap it with newspaper/napkin. It should be easy to just place a magnet on the base of the glass, as you are twisting/folding the cover. If you then put a bit of steel wool in the bill that you borrow, and have another one concealed in your pocket, you're home free. You'll have to experiment with the strength of magnet to place in the base, but it's a good impromptu method.

Also, don't limit yourself to using the chop cup principle for all the vanishes and appearances. That is, add some sleight of hand that doesn't use the magnet. So think of a one cup routine (with no magnet), and then use the magnet for a really impressive vanish or appearance.

Finally, as for routines, have a look at Jim Swain's writeup of Jenning's chop cup routine in "21st Century Magic" There are a lot of moves and ideas in there, and if I just had to pick one reference, that's probably the one I'd give (I'm not familiar with Ron Wilson's routine).

Sorry for the long post!

Bye for now

Harold
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/09/04 09:54 AM

Many years ago in one of my lectures I did a routine where you added a magnet to a glass drinking glass covered with a protective paper... like you find in hotels.

A crumpled dollar bill held small with a paper clip and you were ready to do a chop cup routine and finish with the glass thru the table.
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/09/04 09:57 AM

I second the fact that Ron Wilson's routine (copied by Larry Jennings) is one of the best close up-wise. I have that setup with a leather chop cup I got from Harry Stanley's Unique Studio years ago in London. For final loads, because the cup is leather, I used a billiard cue ball and an 8-ball.

Note: The dodge of using a silk handkerchief to cover the final load in the Wilson/Jennings routines came from Bob Stencel.
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Postby Guest » 03/09/04 10:39 AM

This is great stuff, guys. Thx.

It doesn't sound like the routines are difficult, but it's essential to get the equipment right. I will look for the routines and brands that you mention.
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Postby Jakob Rasmussen » 03/09/04 02:32 PM

I suppose I should look into my Cups & Balls literature, too. I know there are routines that combine two Cups & Balls with one chop cup that looks like the other two. [/QB]
Hi David

"The Fruit cups" from "THE BOOK" / "Don't forget to point" written by "Die Fertigen fingers"
This is a RK book !!!!

It's a great 2 cup routine (one of the cups is a chop cup)

Best
Jakob
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Postby Ralph Mackintosh » 03/09/04 05:27 PM

Has anyone worked on adapting the Ron Wilson routine to a standup presentation? Not many sit down venues anymore - even though I love the routine.
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/09/04 07:10 PM

Ever see Paul Daniels do his routine? He works standup for as many as a thousand or more with the Ken Brooke cup.

Of course it is mostly Paul... he could use any cup.
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Postby Guest » 03/09/04 07:24 PM

I have found that transforming the mug of the restaurant where you are performing, into a chop cup is particularly disarming and effective – casually saying that you are using this cup borrowed from the kitchen or gift shop, depending upon the venue I'm performing. Have made the cups by a gluing a small magnet to the cup's bottom, then pouring a shallow layer of glossy white enamel, oil based over it has worked well – needs to dry for almost a week. Its looks good and the only draw back is that it's a little soft to the touch, although there is no reason for anyone to touch the bottom. Paul Gertner's book also has a recommended formula for making a chop cup from an ordinary mug.
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Postby Guest » 03/09/04 10:42 PM

Is it more or less trouble to use a magnet ring and borrow both the mug and the dollar bill? And which magnet ring is best?
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Postby cataquet » 03/10/04 05:15 AM

As far as I know, there are three designs out there: Yves Doumergue markets "Elohim"; Daytona Magic has a magnetic ring (by Leroy?); and Dave Harlin has the "Omega Ring". Each of these is a different design, so on looks alone, you may prefer one to the other. I haven't played around with any of these rings, so I can't comment on which is best. However, I do know that Dave Harlin has a book on magic with the Omega Ring (which I assume would apply to any magnetic ring)... If you go to a jewlers and pick a ring with an internal recess and then get a magnet that fits in the ring, you might be able to get something that you like and suits your needs. However, as I said, I've never used a magnetic ring, so I can't really comment any further.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 03/10/04 05:56 AM

Speaking of Daytona Magic, two years ago I bought a Chop cup from them in black plastic for only five bucks! (I bought 3, actually, to be able to do any cups and ball routine that came along.) These look like the cups you get in a child's magic set. Beautiful red crocheted balls came with each.
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Postby Pete Biro » 03/10/04 08:05 PM

I found trying to use a magnetic ring for a cup routine is somewhat awkward.
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Postby Russell Davis » 03/11/04 08:52 AM

Ditto Martin Jarret's idea: use cup of your workplace. I've gimmicked the thick plastic giveaway cup of one family restaurant gig (thanks be to rare earth materials).

William Zavis, in his Divers Deceits, has chop routines with gimmicks but not in cup or ring. Check it out.

Hollow vinyl red peppers from fruit/veg section of craft stores are easily gimmicked. Also possible are small rubber erasers shaped and colored like tacos, made by Russ Co., I think.

Small can of salsa (Marca's El Pato has one about 8 ounces) would make good final load, or for that matter, chop can. Can is steel, so inside bottom needs to be strongly gimmicked while ball/whatever needs to be steely but otherwise ungimmicked. Re-label to match your restaurant.
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Postby Jim Riser » 03/11/04 11:54 AM

Harold brings up some interesting points concerning chop cups. The shape of the cup in large part is determined by what the routine will be. If the performer intends to use a shot glass and silk under the chop cup during the routine, the cup must be taller to allow a ball to rest on the silk over the shot glass. (The alternative to this would be to use smaller balls and/or shorter "shot glass".)

If the shot glass idea is not to be included, the shorter cups that Harold prefers work just as well - as do coffee cups like Thomas Wayne's.

One disadvantage of metal chop cups in the past has been the crimp in the cup near the base to secure the gimmick. It does not look quite ordinary; but is necessary. The combo sets so often seen have the gimmick merely glued in place - and it most often falls out. To be practical the cup must somehow have a secure gimmick. I indicated in a post above, I have been working on this problem between other projects. You may see a prototype solution at:
http://jamesriser.com/Magic/SmallGoblet/Chop.html

Now, back to the original question at the top of this post. Living in Tucson, getting Mexico themed items is quite easy. A quick trip to Mexico will yield hand tooled leather dice cups (which you can chop yourself), poker dice, playing cards, and all sorts of Mexican goodies that could be used in a routine. Mexico is like a toy store for the magician looking to add Mexican themed items to an act.
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Postby Guest » 03/11/04 12:10 PM

Originally posted by Jim Riser:
...a shot glass and silk under the chop cup....
Excuse my ignorance, but does the silk over the shot glass cover the rubber ball? And is it a way to ditch the ball after the production?

Also, I just saw Nicholas Night's Enigma in a magic store, and it looks like Magic Smith has put DVD instructions on this trick. Isn't this a kind of chop cup?
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Postby Guest » 03/12/04 12:23 AM

Just spent the evening at the Magic Castle library, and Gordon directed me to both Ron Wilson's routine and Larry Jennings' identical routine. I will study it assiduously.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 03/12/04 07:35 AM

The routines are not quite identical. I was doing Larry's routine when I moved to California in 1968, and Ron fooled me pretty badly with his routine (the point where the ball penetrates the silk).
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Postby Guest » 03/12/04 10:42 AM

Originally posted by Steve Bryant:
The routines are not quite identical....
Which routine do you prefer?
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Postby Steve Bryant » 03/12/04 12:08 PM

I prefer (of the two) Ron's because of that moment, but they are very close.

As clever as the final load is, I found in my own work that it was overkill and returned (roughly) to Don Alan's routine. The timing is extremely subtle, and this is one case I highly recommend the Stevens video over Don's published notes or Jon's book.

My all-time favorite is Dan Dygert's (Dan is a top Indianapolis-based magician), but he has never released it. It's not only the most entertaining routine I've seen (and that includes Paul Daniels' routine), but it's a standup routine done at restaurant tables.
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Postby Mike Rose » 03/13/04 06:18 PM

David:

Another factor you should consider is if you are doing walk-around at the restaurant is how much stuff do you want to carry to do a Chop Cup routine. A Chop Cup can be a pretty big item in itself, let alone the jumbo loads that will follow. Do you work out of your pockets exclusively, or do you carry a case? Maybe the Chop Cup itself will be carried in your hand from table to table with it already in hand and ready to use, but the patrons will be expecting you to use it right away as it will draw their attention when you approach the table. Do you mind using it as an opener? And, if it is already in hand that means you must do that particular trick at every table because you are carrying it up to each table out in the open. (Sometimes I dont like to do the same tricks for people in close proximity to each other, so this could be a problem).

You might consider using a small enough Chop Cup so it can always be concealed in your pocket. I recently bought a folding leather Chop Cup from R.A.R. Magic (The Little Flat Chop Cup). It is very small when assembled, but it has the advantage of unsnapping and folding flat. It will exactly hold a shot glass inside, so that gives you an idea of how small it is. It was designed this size on purpose and even comes with the shot glass, and a few other extras. Here is the link to Roy Roths home page.

http://www.rarmagic.com/online/

And for those who want to do Chop Cup standing up and produce big final loads, Danny Korem has a great sequence in his book Korem Without Limits that allows you to produce two baseballs in a way that is very deceptive and addresses the issue of unsightly bulges.

And one last thing, will you be doing your routine on the table top? A huge advantage in walk-around situations is being able to do the magic in the hands. Check out the Dennis Loomis routine for an in the hands approach. It could come in handy (no pun intended) when the table top is too cluttered.

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Postby Guest » 03/14/04 11:27 AM

Thanks for your thoughtful insights into this routine.

I will be performing this routine standup only, because this restaurant has no booths to allow me to conveniently sit down to do a routine. Can either the Ron Wilson or Larry Jennings routines be converted to standup-only performance?
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Postby Frank Starsinic » 03/15/04 12:29 PM

Here's a link to my website.
I have leather chop cups, dice stacking cups, and some that are both.
Within a week or so, all my dice stacking cups will be chop cups as well by default.


http://www.theambitiouscard.com/


I love working with leather chop cups.

Are they the best? Heck, who knows.
That's up to the performer.

Leather has deceptive features that NO other cup offers. That's why I like them.
Plus they can work off of just about any surface without a close-up pad.

After a leather cup, my next favorite is the Johnson chop.

I'll be selling mine though.


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Postby Guest » 03/16/04 10:24 AM

I looked at the Thomas Wayne chop cup the other day, and it claims to have a couple advantage over all other chop cups, including:

1. It can be done completely in the performer's hand. He has a routine for this in his instructions.

2. He uses a new move called "the flick." This is a move that dislodges the ball without having to bang the cup on the table. This, I guess, avoids the sometimes telltale and noisy act of banging, as well as saving wear and tear on the cup.

Thomas Wayne emailed me and told me that he performs the Jennings/Wilson routine with his cup.
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Postby Johnny Mystic » 03/16/04 03:22 PM

All this talk of gimmicks befuddles me, all the trouble tryin' ta find the 'right' chop cup.

Any cup can be used as a chop cup all one needs to do is learn some moves and practice...save yourselves some money and use sleight of hand.

Using sleights will certainly insure to your audience that the prop's you use are normal.

Johnny M. :)
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Postby Johnny Mystic » 03/16/04 03:24 PM

All this talk of gimmicks befuddles me, all the trouble tryin' ta find the 'right' chop cup.

Any cup can be used as a chop cup all one needs to do is learn some moves and practice...save yourselves some money and use sleight of hand.

Using sleights will certainly quarantee to your audience that the prop's you use are normal.

Johnny M. :)
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Postby Johnny Mystic » 03/16/04 03:27 PM

All this talk of gimmicks befuddles me, all the trouble tryin' ta find the 'right' chop cup.

Any cup can be used as a chop cup all one needs to do is learn some moves and practice...save yourselves some money and use sleight of hand.

Using sleights will certainly guarantee to your audience that the prop's you use are normal.

Johnny M. :)
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Postby Johnny Mystic » 03/16/04 03:32 PM

Oh great...now I'm repeating myself...time for the med's!

seriously though, sorry 'bout the slip up.

Johnny M. :o
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Postby Frank Starsinic » 03/16/04 04:42 PM

Having to bang the cup on the table to me is necessary only if the ball/cup don't match well.
Otherwise you practically just set the damn thing down normally.

A heavy cup like my johnson products chop is fantastic with the ball I'm using and I dont know where I got it. Maybe with the JP cup.

My leather cups work well because the balls are chosen for that cup.

My Loomis/Riser mini is great because the balls are chosen for that cup.

The worst combo I've found is the Mike Rogers mini chop balls and any of the cheap chops. The ball and cup like each other so much that "bang" is the appropriate term, for sure. Also the baseballs are not crocheted and there's a strange "thunk" just when you put the ball in the cup.

Depending on which design, the leather chop cups can provide the ability for naturally chopped final loads as well.

And depending on the load, sometimes they just stick by themselves or they stick with a gentle squeeze on the sides of the cup.
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Postby Guest » 03/17/04 01:23 AM

Originally posted by johnny mystic:
...Any cup can be used as a chop cup all one needs to do is learn some moves and practice...save yourselves some money and use sleight of hand....
Just try to use sleight of hand to do the Wilson/Jennings moves....
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