Wayne Kawamoto: How did you come up with the concept of the jacket-less topit?
Jeff Kaylor: About 4 years ago I started working on a few projects with Michael Ammar. While working on these projects, he started teaching me how to use the topit.
I loved the topit, but the problem with it was that I was in college at the time at Binghamton University, in upstate NY, and didn't wear jackets. I was out performing at parties, clubs, and bars and it was either really hot or just not the place to be wearing a dress jacket.
I wanted to come up with a way to do the same techniques, but without the jacket. I was wearing a lot of button-up shirts at the time and I realized that if you undo a button, you could pitch a coin into there. I then thought it would be really cool to put an actual pocket with a fake button in the shirt. I slowly started developing what is now TKO.
WK: How did the TKO evolve?
JK: It started as a small pouch that I sewed together myself. It wasn't very pretty and was connected to the shirt with duct tape and velcro, but it made me realize that it would work. I then brought it to a tailor and had them sew a more professional pocket.
I started using it and playing around with the idea. Over the next three and a half years, I worked and reworked it. I went through 7 tailors who each gave me little ideas and helped to make it better. I went through hundreds of versions with little changes, some that worked and many that didn't. I added a ledge for retrieval and an overlap and wire system to make the pocket sit the correct way in the shirt.
The great thing about the development of TKO is that I was actually working out in the real world with it, for a lot of very tough audiences - college parties and clubs where people are burning your hands. This is where I quickly realized that this is something other magicians would be interested in.
WK: Can you please tell me how you came up with about the minimal installation?
JK: One of the things I wanted when I did release this to other magicians was for the design to be simple and easy to install with minimal sewing. I talked over things with Michael Ammar, who was my main inspiration for TKO, and we decided to release it. Because I was releasing it with Michael, I wanted to make sure that the instructional material and the quality of TKO was very good. We also put up a members area for posting new content and answering any questions that TKO owners have.
I was a bit nervous when releasing TKO. I knew from experience that it worked because I use it all the time and have been for years, but you never know how magicians would respond. I have been really happy with the response I have received and the feedback and ideas from magicians.
One of the things that surprised me was when I performed with TKO, it was fooling a lot of magicians because I was doing topit-like vanishes and retrieving, but without a jacket.
WK: Please tell me about other applications.
JK: When I first thought of the TKO, I was picturing it to be used as just a coin vanishing utility device. There is nothing better than doing a coin vanish or “coin under watch” where your hands can be completely burned during the vanish and you are left completely clean. I didn't realize it was going to turn into something that a lot of other techniques can be applied to.
One of the best applications in my opinion was Ammar's discovery that it could be used to ditch and retrieve cards. We worked out the handling for this and came up with some techniques that are almost invisible to the audience.
I was performing a few weeks ago at the Magic Castle in Hollywood where I used these card techniques for an impossible location effect. I think the card work, which is still in its beginning stages, might be some of the strongest magic you can do with TKO.
My favorite part of this whole process has been the feedback and ideas that are coming from magicians. I have been using this for years now, but I knew things would start to get really interesting when more magicians had TKO in their hands. I'm excited to see what else comes out of TKO, which is why I created an online area where I continue to post new ideas that I have come up with, along with ideas that other magicians are coming up with.