The Vault - Cohesive (Kevin Li)
Combining sticks of chewing gum and magic to connect with people
Magician Kevin Li firmly believes that magic isn't just about creating an illusion. It's about fun, passion, and connecting with people. For Kevin, adding a small magical moment to someone's life can be the ideal way to interact with some one, start a conversation, and make a connection with them. And what better way to do that than with every day objects like sticks of chewing gum?
For his video "Cohesive", Kevin was inspired by other works on gum, including Kevin Schaller and Oliver Smith's "Sticky" DVD, and also Jeff Prace's "Gum" DVD. The latter was actually his very first DVD about magic, and it really opened his mind, because he didn't associate chewing gum at all with magic. It's an everyday object that we see all the time, so what a fantastic way to surprise people, perform something interesting and entertaining for them, make them smile and start a conversation. Kevin loved the idea of using everyday objects in this way, especially because it can be combined with offering someone a stick of gum, and wanted to expand on these ideas. In this video, Kevin will teach you a number of fun and relatively easy effects that you can do with sticks of chewing gum and with strips of listerine.
Here's the official trailer for the video, with some introductory remarks from The Vault with Bro Gilbert - jump straight to one minute to get to the trailer part of the video:
What you get for around $20 is an instant digital download of the video, which demonstrates and teaches six main effects, three with sticks of chewing gum, and three with listerine strips, with Kevin Li performing and explaining each effect. You can play the video via streaming, or download it in *.mp4 format to view on your computer with any video program. The entire video is about 70 minutes long, and the downloaded file is about 700MB in total size. You can pick it up here.
As you can guess from the size of the main file, the videography is very high quality. It's very pleasant to view, with super clear images, and the sound quality and editing is also very professional. This is definitely not a backyard style production, but has been lovingly produced, and the quality really shows. There are multiple camera angles, lots of close-ups, and you really couldn't want more as far as the video is concerned.
In addition to the video file, you also get a printable PDF file with a template that you'll use for making one of the gimmicks, and a PDF file which contains a full index of the times where you'll find the performances and explanations of each effect on the video - a very handy and welcome inclusion.
In the opening part of the video, Kevin explains the inspiration behind Cohesive, including mention of Jeff Prace's "Gum" DVD that got him started on this journey. What I especially enjoyed was his discussion about his own approach to magic, which he comes back to again in his final thoughts at the end of the video. One problem with magic is that not everyone likes being fooled, because it make them feel stupid. Magic with everyday objects, however, can avoid this problem, especially when it is presented not so much as a "fooler" or "trick", but as a fun moment to connect with people. Kevin finds that this is especially true with sticks of gum - offering someone a stick of gum is a positive way of connecting with people, chewing gum is universally recognized and known, and sharing something with a stranger can make them smile, and by adding magic to this moment you are actually brightening someone's day, without ever giving the sense that you are trying to pull something over them, or making them feel inferior. I really appreciated his comments and approach here, and Kevin himself seems like a very personable and friendly guy, the type of person you'd want to have sit next to you on a bus or train. Kevin also discusses the kinds of gum you'll need for these effects, where to buy them, and what to look for.
1. Gum 2x/3x - Ad copy: Imagine being able to take a single pack of gum, then multiply it to create two or even three packs! They'll all see it, but no one will believe it.
With Gum 2x, you'll learn how to turn a single pack of gum and instantly turn it into two packs; with Gum 3x, you'll learn how to extend this effect even further by creating three packs of gum from just one. This is a very visual piece of magic, and I was surprised how easy it is to make and perform. Magic tends to be very strong when something changes quickly right in front of your eyes, and that's exactly what happens here. It's a great trick to open the video with!
2. Recycled Gum - Ad copy: Clearly show an empty pack of gum. Now close it -- the pack is completely refilled. Now you can hand out gum for you and your friends to share!
This is Kevin's own favourite trick. It's not quite as visual as Gum 2x, but it's still very strong, and definitely had me fooled the first time I saw it. Kevin also goes on to explain some convincers he adds to really make it look like the pack of gum is empty. The gimmick involved is fairly simple to make (you'll need the template for it), and although handling is a bit finnicky, it's really quite straight forward, and surprisingly effective. Once again, it's visual magic that makes an immediate impression. See magician Jeffrey William perform the effect here and here.
3. Fresh Mint - Ad copy: Change the color and flavor of the gum in the pack with only a simple wave of the hand.
This is the third and final trick involving packs of gum, and again requires the use of a simple gimmick that you can easily make yourself. Of the three tricks with gum, it's probably the weakest, but it's still quite visual. It's not a bad effect, but I think I'd probably find myself sticking with the effects in which gum is multiplied, or in which it appears in an empty pack, both of which are simple and strong.
4. X Marks the Spot - Ad copy: Draw an X on the outside of a mint strip pack. By rubbing your finger over the pack, the X has penetrated and is now on the inside of the package.
The next three tricks don't use sticks of gum, but Listerine strips - something I've personally not seen or used before. Is it an "everyday object"? Perhaps for some people it is, in which case you'll find yourself wanting to check out this effect. Here Kevin teaches an interesting idea where you write an X on the outside of the box, but with a magical gesture the X disappears and now is printed on the inside of the box. The method for this isn't that hard to guess, and I'm not sure how practical this effect is. Then again, for Kevin it's all about small moments of connecting with people, and that's what this can certainly achieve.
5. Appearing Strips - Ad copy: Show an empty mint strip pack, and magically refill it with mint strips that you can hand out.
You'll need to make a simple gimmick for this, for which a template is provided. The effect is somewhat similar to Recycled Gum, in which sticks of gum appear out of nowhere, although the smaller size of the Listerine strips makes it slightly less impressive.
6. Ink Change
For some reason this wasn't listed in the ad copy, but Ink Change is a simple effect in which you use turn a sad face into a happy face, or generate a visual transition of a drawing of your choice in the mint strip pack.
7. Bonus: Self Opening Gum
In this bonus effect, you use a foil package of gum (the type in which individual chewing gum pieces are packaged separately on a sheet of foil), and make the foil with the gum automatically emerge from the box. It's probably the easiest of all the tricks in the video to perform, and even to figure out, which is probably why it's a bonus effect.
8. Additional notes and ideas
At the conclusion of the video, the final 10-15 minutes are spent discussing tips about how to end clean, carrying the gum and the gimmicks safely, and trouble shooting. In addition Kevin shares some ideas for variations and for other possible effects using the gimmicks you'll make, including a vanishing gum effect (effectively the reverse of Recycled Gum), an alternative method for making the gum, a mentalist "deja vu" effect (which I think is inferior to Recycled Gum), and an idea for using the Fresh Mint concept to produce another object like money. So there's several ideas you can use here to go beyond the content of the video.
Kevin does a great job of covering everything you need to know, including details like how to make the gimmicks needed, the ideal angles, and best handling. He speaks clearly and cogently, and the explanations are complete and easy to follow. It also helps that his explanations are accompanied with very good visuals and close-ups. Great job all round by Kevin and by the production team!
You will need to build your own gimmicks to perform the effects Kevin demonstrates. But in most cases these are made very easily, and his explanations cover everything carefully. Besides the gum or listerine strips, you'll need basic householld items like sticky tape, scissors, and markers, and you shouldn't have much difficulty making the gimmicks.
None of the effects require difficult sleight of hand, or tricky moves. At times you have to watch your angles, but for the most part it's the gimmick that does all the work for you. You just need to remember your patter, and the basic moves, and you're good to go. So on a difficulty scale, the tricks taught here are between Easy and Intermediate, leaning towards the Easy side of the scale.
I love Kevin's approach to magic, especially his idea about using magic to add a special moment to someone's day, and to connect with people using everyday objects, and sharing something with others. These aren't the kind of tricks that you'll use in a professional routine, but you might use them to strike up a conversation with someone on a train, while sharing a stick of gum with a stranger while waiting for a bus, or to connect with a colleague at the office or a classmate at school. If I had a complaint, it would be that I would have liked to have seen more performances with spectators, and some more attention given to the patter accompanying the effects.
The Listerine strip effects seem inferior to the tricks using gum, in part because of the size. But again, sometimes you'll find yourself in a situation at a camp or family gathering where you're sharing a bathroom or a room, and doing something fun with Listerine strips is exactly the thing you are looking for.
But for me the real highlight of Cohesive are the tricks with sticks of gum, particularly the effects in which you make gum appear (Recycled Gum) and multiply (Gum 2x). Unfortunately the style of gum sticks Kevin uses doesn't seem to be readily available in every country, so you will need to make sure you can get them. But these effects are visual and fun, and are also great openers to offer someone some gum at the same time. They're simple, memorable, and most people will find them fun and easy to perform. The fact that some of them (like Recycled Gum) can be performed in the spectator's hands is also great. Not everything is examinable afterwards, but if you give someone a stick of gum to round off the effect, it's not likely that you'll be asked for further inspection.
It's not hard to find another video which teaches more card tricks; but with Cohesive you get something fresh and fun, and it's magic that you can apply to those moments in life outside your role as an magician, and as a way to connect with people.
To give you an idea of the enthusiasm that Kevin Li's Cohesive has generated, here are some positive things that others have said about it - these are mostly quotes from scattered places online:
"Cohesive is highly visual, organic, and has become one of my go-to effects for my close-up routines." - Rob Anderson
"This is amazing! Kevin did an excellent job on this!" - Xeon Steel
"I really like this new release, and the empty to full gum box is genius and way more practical than I thought." - Teddy Meagher
"I was pleasantly surprised at how easy each of the gimmicks are to make. I like the appearing gum in packet effect the best. It's super easy to make and very effective." - Madison H
"Gimmicks are easy to make, and with a bit of work, you have some pretty strong magic without using your deck of cards!" - Kelvin Ng
"This is a great DVD on Gum Magic! Highly recommended if you're looking for some fun, casual magic!" - Josh Janousky
"The effects are great and pretty straight forward. Kevin gives you a lot of ideas and you really get your moneys worth with this dvd!" - the_wendl
"If you're looking for something casual, something visual, something offbeat, and impromptu, then this is absolutely for you. The methods are practical and nearly angle proof."
"I really like this, a lot! The DIY is very simple and not knuckle busting and Kevin goes over everything in very good detail." - RNK
"If you are looking for an extremely organic, visual, and hard hitting piece of magic, I suggest you use this!" - Michael O'Brien
With this video, Kevin Li has made a very good contribution to casual magic with everyday objects. Not all the material is outstanding, but there are a couple of killer effects that make this very worthwhile, and the real visual gems this is worth getting for are the multiplying gum effect (Gum 2x) and appearing gum effect (Recycled Gum). The gimmicks are easy to make, and the tricks are easy to learn and perform.
Kevin has had a lot of fun performing these himself, and you probably will too!
Want to learn more? Kevin Li's Cohesive is available as a digital download from your favorite Murphy’s Magic retailer:
Murphy's Magic: https://www.murphysmagic.com/Product.aspx?id=59145
Vanishing Inc Magic: https://www.vanishingincmagic.com/magic ... s/cohesive
Kevin Li: Facebook, Instagram