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Interview with John Lovick on the Bill Switch

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John Lovick, AKA "Handsome Jack," regularly performs at Hollywood's Magic Castle and has been nominated each of the past five years as "Parlour Magician of the Year." Lovick has invented numerous popular effects and regularly lectures, and is Magic Magazine's associate editor.

His newest book, "Switch-Unfolding the $100 Bill Change," offers a comprehensive guide to the $100 Bill Switch, which includes history, variations, subtleties, performance theory, presentation ideas and 60 stand-up and close-up routines. Lovick took time out from his busy schedule to talk with us.

Wayne Kawamoto: What intrigued you about the bill switch and what motivated you to write a book about it?

John Lovick: What motivated me was a job offer. Murphy's Magic Supplies hired me to write a booklet of five or six Bill Switch ideas. I started to think about the fact that 90% of magicians do the same two things with the Bill Switch and the remaining 10% (all over the world) are doing some very creative things with it. I wanted to gather all the best ideas and write a Bill Switch Encyclopedia.

WK: What will readers learn and how will your book improve their magic?

JL: There is a very interesting chapter where I interview ten top notch magicians about performance theory. All the questions are about the Bill Switch, but the majority of their answers can be applied to all magic -- cards, coins, whatever. If you absorb what they are saying and intelligently apply it, it will improve your magic. [Editor’s note: the list is a who’s who of magic that includes; David Acer, Michael Ammar, Danny Archer, Gaetan Bloom, Marc DeSouza, Michael Weber, Jay Sankey, Gregory Wilson and lots more.]

WK: Any interesting stories as a result of researching the topic?

JL: Probably the most interesting story concerns Vlado, the inventor of the $100 Bill Switch. He was a circus performer who toured with Barnum and Bailey in the 1970s. He later lived in Las Vegas for a while, but no one seemed to know what happened to him. I spent a year tracking every lead I could think of. Most of my leads were dead ends because I had been told he was Russian, when he is in fact Bulgarian. Anyway, Mike Kozlowski found his phone number and I was able to interview him for the book. He's had a very interesting life and has lived all over the country.

WK: Can you please tell us a bit about the major variations between different bill switches?

JL: There are about a dozen different methods/handlings and they vary considerably. Some use a thumbtip, some don't. Some use four folds, some use three. One has no folds at all. There are palm-up handlings and one-handed methods. I think you get the idea.

In addition -- and I think this is the "meat" of the book -- there are over 70 different tricks and routines in the book. Again, there is a huge variety of magic. Stand-up, close-up. Brief ideas to elaborate ten-minute routines. Something for everyone.

WK: What is your favorite bill switch and why?

JL: My favorite technique is the one I devised and is in the book. It is a three-fold switch without a thumbtip. I think it would be impolite to mention my favorite routine in the book, but it features a diabolical idea that can be applied to any number of routines (not just Bill Switch routines).

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