Thanks for the kind words about my Knife Thru the Coat routine.
I learned Knife thru the Coat on the street in the mid '90s, performing it 10 - 15 times a night for months and months. It was Gazzo who recommended that I learn it. He said it worked well on the street.
Over the next couple years, and over hundreds of performances, I refined the moves, incorporated a number of details, and finally, came up with my own innovation: the target. After all, there's no real motivation to use a sheet of sheet of newspaper in front of the jacket. The target solves that problem.
My version fits my own personality and approach to magic: Use gimmicked items as little as possible, and keep it as economical as possible, both in terms of props and finances. My Knife thru the Coat is the most economical of the major versions out there.
As far as gimmicks, some of them are quite nice. The one by Hocus Pocus is real neat, with a magnet that is so strong that it can be handed out for examination. However, when I looked it over, there were two problems with it.
One, the knife was far too sharp, and in the animated movements that we adopt onstage, one could predict eventually cutting oneself.
And two, when I looked at it, the piece of protruding metal separating the blade from the handle was attached to the wrong end. If that knife were thrust through a jacket, that piece of metal wouldn't be on the outside. It's a logical inconsistency. I don't know if they've fixed this problem yet; check it out.
I learned the trick from Bob Read's lecture notes at the Magic Castle library, which were bare bones, to say the least. Bob is a genius, but there were few details in the explanation I read.
The trick goes way back. Bob Read mentioned that it was a common pub trick that went way back, and I haven't read anything further about its origins. They may be lost in history; I'm not an historian.
My version may be available from Denny & Lee's, but I don't know. If you have trouble finding it, you can always contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
. I don't offer any discounts over Denny, though. And he ships out much faster. And I can't handle credit cards.
When I wrote up the manuscript for KTTC, I put a lot of energy into describing the exact moment when you perform the sleight. It's a 1.5-second moment, and I go into great detail on it--where your eyes are, where each hand is, what your attitude is, etc. I used to be a journalist, so it's very clear.
I must emphasize that, although there are a couple gimmicks included in my version, they're common objects that can be refilled easily. Some people are disappointed that they don't get some whizbang gimmick. But hey, gimmicks break and get lost. I want gimmicks that can be easily replaced.
These days, I love Knife thru the Coat, and perform it whenever I can. However, my real excitement these days comes from using it as cover to steal a large object and produce it at the end of the trick. Spectators' coats act as great cover for big production items, whatever those might be.