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Profile of Ozer4
For those of you who read the Magic article on Bob Kohler recently. I am wondering what you think about his $1800 holdout, and his idea to "lease" it out. What do you think about the direction he is trying to take magic?
Andrew E. Miller
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Southern California
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He's really a good Ozer and so is his magic, but that holdout idea is ridiculous I think.

If you get bored go to and watch some magic.

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Lake Charles, LA
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Profile of David_Libertine
OK... here's my two cents.

I'd love to know more than is being told about the holdout. It might be a great utility device.

As for the price, that's what a free market is for. If it's too much, he'll sit on them... if not, they'll "sell" quickly.

Concerning the licensing, I think it's a brilliant idea and I wish more effects were done this way. I think it would tend to "thin the ranks" and separate the serious from the merely curious. It also provides a way to litigate if the device, etc. is revealed.

Just my thoughts.
Boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Boy: Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
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Profile of rowdymagi5
I personally have mixed feelings about it. I sure would like to curtail a lot of the "revealing" of secrets that is going on out there. On the other hand, there are a lot of aspiring Magicians who simply could not afford to pay to lease out effects. In a way, this helps only those already succesful Magicians who demand high dollars for there performances.

I am curious to hear others feelings on this, interesting thread!

By the way, Oz, cant wait to buy your DVD when it comes out!
Larry Davidson
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I've known Bob for close to 30 years and saw his holdout in the early stages as well as the current version (at least as of a year ago - - it may now incorporate a few further refinements). At the bottom line, you can perform miracles with a holdout, and the Kohler/Fitch/Thomas version is brilliant. If you're a working professional and want to perform trick photography live, consider it.
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Profile of wert
S'ok. I'm sure Kohler will persuade plenty of people to pay for his lease.

Now the fun part is that Jim Riser will be making a new "Jack Miller Style" holdout in the fall that will be less expensive and will not have the onerous lease conditions associated with the Kohler model.

Scroll down a bit and you'll see it.

A small sampling of the description.

I am making a new style of holdout system scheduled for introduction in the Fall of 2003. This will be a modified Jack Miller style - sometimes refered to as a drop weight or gravity holdout. ... This item will be for sale - no lease of any kind will be involved. If you buy it, it will be yours.

1. No lawyers will be involved
3. No "custom leather" cases. You will be wearing it anyway. No expensive case is needed.
4. No expensive patents will be sought.
6. You may show it to your fellow magicians - though you may not want to.
8. No agreements of any kind need to be signed.
9. You will be free to use it how, where, and when as you please.
As I believe magicians should see what they are getting for their hard earned money, the system will be shown on my web site.
Check out the link above for the rest. (Not to mention some rather droll bits I've been informed by the moderators that I can't post here)
Dr. Jakks
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I agree, Bob's effects are TOP NOTCH! But I think the holdout thing is going way too far. At that price there is no need for a lease.

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Profile of mdspark
There is a huge thread on this in this topic...a search of Fitch/Kohler Holdout should find it for you...

That said, after a lot of research and familiarity with this type of opinion is that their approach to this has been way "over the top." The same effects with your basic Miller-type holdout can be had and it's thoroughly practical for only a bit of research, a few dollars of materials, and a little practice...
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Profile of corpmagi
On 2003-04-11 14:34, mdspark wrote:
There is a huge thread on this in this topic...a search of Fitch/Kohler Holdout should find it for you...

That said, after a lot of research and familiarity with this type of opinion is that their approach to this has been way "over the top." The same effects with your basic Miller-type holdout can be had and it's thoroughly practical for only a bit of research, a few dollars of materials, and a little practice...

I too have seen the incarnation of the Fitch/Kohler holdout from its most basic form 10+ years ago into its present form today. This is truly a marvel of engineering, thought and it is light years ahead of the Miller Holdout.

The Miller Holdout effects are just the tip of the iceberg of the effects possible with the Fitch/Kohler Holdout. Imagine being able to do the cleanest, most unbelieveable coins across possible or the cups and balls or 3 ball routine where the balls vanish completely and you can show your clearly empty.

I have seen these and they are at the pinnacle of close-up magic, and yet it is only a small sampling of the miracles possible with the Fitch/Kohler Holdout. If you have ever been totally fooled by Bob Fitch or Bob Kohler, then you know first hand the power this tool can have. Yes, it is priced high, but not without reason. The instructional DVD's and the meticulous workmanship and engineering that have gone into this product are incredible.

It's like anything else, it won't be for everyone, but those who do buy one and practice diligently and use it in their acts will be forever grateful. I know for a fact that there are some friends in Bob's inner circle that have been using earlier (very limited) versions of the holdout and have created signature effects that they will be releasing through, and will only be available to those who have purchased the holdout. I have seen some of these effects too, and it takes magic to a whole new level. Frankly, I can't wait to get mine.
A Modern Trade Show Handbook
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Profile of sharpace
Last year 2002 I already very interested in Fitch/Kohler Holdout. His web said that it will available on Dec 2002. Someone told me that the Fitch/Kohler holdout have not come out the market untill today!(anyone can tell me is this true ?)

After reading Wert's post I think I will order Jim Riser's new "Jack Miller Style Holdout" instead..
Jonathan Townsend
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Eternal Order
Ossining, NY
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If I were a professional magician who does walkaround magic I would not hesitate to sign on to the Kohler school of stuff.

As I am a dabbler and don't even wear a jacket most of the time... I stay away from that stuff. Bob Fitch and I discussed methods and motives years ago. If Bob Kohler can get the holdout and education needed to really use the holdout into the working pro's jackets, good for them and great for magic.

For those of us who do magic with pushed up sleeves... hold on... there is help on the way. More news on that later this year.

-Jonathan all the coins I've dropped here
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Profile of Saqib16
I think he is being pretty greedy and selfish about the whole holdout thing. Where is the trust?
Steve Friedberg
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Expounding on what David said earlier in this thread, Bob's the inventor and has the right to price it as he wants. If you think he's being greedy and selfish, you have the right not to license the product from him. On the other hand, if you like what he's done, and you perceive value, you'll do business with him.

Keep in mind, that when you "buy" software from Microsoft, you're not buying it, you're buying a license to use it. That's exactly what Bob is doing. Are you saying, by extension, that Bill Gates is being "pretty greedy and selfish?"

Oh, wait...I think I'll retract that last question. Too obvious! Smile

"A trick does not fool the eyes, but fools the brain." -- John Mulholland
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Profile of Saqib16
I wouldn't spend that kind of money on that. And that is not a fair analogy with software even though it's all over Magic Mag, talking about software. Because software well is widely avaiable; free on my part. There is no secret to it and nobody takes those licenses seriously. Magic isn't like any other business if you haven't realized that yet.
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Profile of mdspark
"The Miller Holdout effects are just the tip of the iceberg of the effects possible with the Fitch/Kohler Holdout. Imagine being able to do the cleanest, most unbelieveable coins across possible or the cups and balls or 3 ball routine where the balls vanish completely and you can show your clearly empty."

I do a coins across with my basic Miller holdout...I made an attachment just for that...It's not rocket science.

Yes, I vanish all 3 of the balls in my C & B routine as well...same solution..made an attachment to do just that. It isn't made from space age materials..but works beautifully. I call my simple, but somewhat improved Miller Holdout my "work horse".
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Profile of MacGyver
My take on this, is that the lease system is MEANT to be outrageous (sp) and "groundbreaking".

I think he is trying to make a point, not just protect his holdout. I think many magic "tricks" these days are being advertised as just little effects without any care for magic and creators, most magic these days is pure commercial. I think that he thought that if even some of the magic creators liked this idea, they might take similer suit, though not as radical as his own.

I think that the whole leasing thing was to try and get people to recognize that performing rights ARE part of effects that we buy, and to try and bring back some respect and secrecy to the art.

I think that he may have gone crazy with this policy and pushed it way to far. These days, if you are spending $1,800 on something, you better well own it.

I also think I could most likely be wrong, and I wonder if Mr. Kohler would like to respond, I believe he is a Café member.
Dave Egleston
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This touches on a whole other subject: Do you think everyone should have everything in magic just handed to them?

Where's the fun in buying a Cadillac if everyone had one?

There has to be some exclusivity in our magic - and the easiest way we can acheive that exclusivity is by pricing products that are meant to stay "secret", out of the hands of those who would most likely publish it on their website or show how the secret works at the next club meeting.

Of course I would love to have a system - and someday may buy one - but I'm a "hobbyist" at best, and rather idealistic about magic and it's widespread exposure. I wish there was a way to exclude certain people from acquiring magical information until they prove worthy either by merit or time and experience. <----- Pipe Dream

Summing up, I think through an aggressive program, such as the Kohler/Fitch holdout system is using, will work as far as maintaining pride in ownership and its somewhat exclusive secrets for a few years. I just hope the attitude of the manufacturers doesn't delve into something Busbyesque.

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Profile of MacGyver
exclude certain people from acquiring magical information until they prove worthy either by merit or time and experience

But how is anyone suppose to prove worthy, if they can't aquire the magical information!!!

With so many people intresting in magic both as a hobby and as budding magicians it is crazy to think of only allowing learning by apprenticeship or by going to a SAM / IBM meeting. You have to start somewhere!!!

On one hand, I think that sure exposure is bad, and that there should be some sort of safeguard to stop laymen from learning secrets...

But on the other hand, I wouldn't have gotten started in magic if it weren't for online websites and "exposure" sites, they jump started my learning and had me doing controls, passes, and false cuts/shuffles before I even decided it was time to shell out money for a book!(since then far too much of my money has gone towards magic).

People really won't remember anything you teach them, they will only remember there is an explanation. The only reason (I believe) magic is hurt by exposure is because it lessons everything to a "trick".

No one remembers about a thumb tip or a double lift, because you hide their use with the effect. But they will laugh at you when you snap your figures and say how the card dematerializes and rematerializes on top. They know that the card that it was all a "trick", right down to you having LCD cards that change with a computer on your waist (yes, I have had people say this). It is up to your presentation to make it believable. Exposure only gives people a "it's a trick" excuse.

Would widespread exposure of a holdout really harm the working magician? I really don't think so, because people already know that all of us magicians have intricate pullies and mechanical devices to load things in and out of our hands, right? The real trick is to get the audience to just care about the silk or cards that are appearing from no where, not the method by which you do so.

PS sorry for the rant Smile
to lighten the mood, here is a dancing pepper: Smile Smile Smile
Bob Kohler
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Greetings from Holdout Central!

Let me clear up a few things concerning our release of the Fitch/Kohler Professional Holdout System.

First, let me make it perfectly clear that the intention of our lease agreement is to keep our system and its secrets from being exposed on television, manufactured by others and freely given or traded away. When I first got into magic, it was much more difficult to obtain the best secrets. Now with the advent of video, DVD and the internet, secrets can go around the world in just seconds.

My intention is to release all of the years of our work only to magicians who can keep a secret. That's it! The California Trade Secret Act is the legal backbone of our lease agreement and the protection it will provide us as the manufacturer and magicians who decide that our system is an arsenal of tools that will help them and decide to invest in our work.

Patents and other methods of legal protection have failed totally to protect our secrets over the years. The Masked Magician, articles exposing secrets in magazines etc. have exposed many of our most cherished secrets. Max Maven at Magic Live gave an inspired speech that challenged those in the audience to take back our secrets. He said that we have taken something that was incredibly powerful and made it trivial. I agree with Max wholeheartedly. Look at some of the great secrets such as the thumb tip, invisible thread that are now common knowledge among laymen.

It is my intention that our system does not become the next of these great secrets to be common knowledge. Bob Fitch and I have spent countless hours working on and dreaming about the system. It would kill us to see it revealed and abused.

This is why for the last ten years we have been on a mission to find a way to protect our work and our customer's investment. Some critics of the leasing system and our method of protection say it is not going to work similar to many software products. I disagree. It's true that many software products are easily bootlegged. This is due to the digital nature of the product. But rest assured, when a company like Adobe finds out a production company has pirated copies of Photoshop on their systems the first thing they do is call in the FBI. Bill Malone's outstanding DVDs produced by Louis Falanga and L&L Publishing were pirated, copied and sold within one week of their release. The culprits were tracked down and stopped. They now face legal action.

We have taken painstaking measures to insure that our system is protected. Our investment of time and many thousands of dollars is at stake just as our customer's investment will be. Everyone who has had knowledge of our system has signed our agreement stating that they are privy to trade secrets. This is the cornerstone of our protection. It establishes that we have kept these secrets as trade secrets. Last September at the LVMI convention we demonstrated our system to 20 close friends that are top magicians and creators of magic. Gentleman like Lee Asher, Bill Goodwin, Paul Wilson and many more top professionals are now a base of witnesses that can testify that our system is a trade secret. This defense has been held up in courts in California and Nevada. Our legal team has worked countless hours designing the lease agreement. It is rock solid. It is much better than a design patent as we are protecting our equipment's concept as well as the design. We are protecting the training DVDs with the Trade Secret Act and copyrights.

But I think many magicians have not understood our intention of the agreement and how the license really works. It's very simple. The license is designed to give us power in the event of someone ripping off our design or exposing the secret. That's it! We can and will go after people who manufacture or expose our systems secrets.

Magicians who sign our lease agreement need to clearly understand that our lease is a LEASE WITHOUT TERM! This type of lease agreement has been misunderstood. What it means it that you keep the hardware and DVDs forever. There is no length of time involved. You can sell the system to another magician as long as they sign the lease agreement before transfer and I OK the transfer. My OK is primarily to ensure that the individual is NOT a rip off artist or someone who has exposed secrets in the past. You can include the system in your estate or will. The only restriction is that the recipient of any transfer must sign our lease agreement. Your use of our system will feel just like you bought it. The upside is your investment protected by the power of the California Trade Secret Act. The downside only kicks in if you decide to be unethical.

My intention is provide the professional magician with a tool that he or she can invest their time and money in and get expected results from their investment. How does it make you feel when you've spent your hard earned cash on a secret, practiced the routine for hours to make it yours, then turn on the TV and see the Masked Magician expose the same secret to millions of viewers. Personally, it makes me sick.

So please understand our intention is to insure that this does not happen. Could someone expose a different holdout? Absolutely; I can't control everything but I will do what I can to stop it. Can somebody manufacture other holdouts. Absolutely, in fact there are many types of holdouts available today. Basic Miller types, Keplinger model, lazy tongs, shirt holdouts have been made for years. Go to to see pictures of many kinds that Jim has make over the years. Our solution is one of many possibilities.

Our years of using our system has provided us with a working knowledge of the many difficulties that crop up when trying to use a holdout professionally. We?ve come up with very practical solutions. I?m very happy to see that the gentlemen from Vernet, Jim Riser and others are actively working on solutions. Gravity holdouts are one of the last great secrets in magic. Once you try one out and discover the power the tool gives your magic, you will be hooked for life.

Our system is certainly not for the casual user. We knew that from the beginning. Early on, we decided that we would manufacture the best equipment we could and provide the best training DVDs we could produce. We didn't worry about the final price during development. We attacked each problem and solved it to the best of our ability. Alone the way, we realized that we had so much information, different attachments and routines that there is just no way to put it all out at one time. Our solution is to release our basic system, then as time allows, we will release many more attachments individually. Our system provides a solid foundation that will expand for years to come. Each new attachment will come with its own training DVD. Most will be a featured routine.

Some will come with additional materials. Bob Fitch's fabulous Coin Attachment will be the first of these extra attachments.

To those who can't afford our system, I'm sorry. The problem is that it's impossible to please everybody. That's why there are Kias and BMWs. To those who think our solution is just too expensive, that's OK. The price is what it has to be for us to make our system available to magicians.

We?re still working on the edit and mastering of the training DVDs. Those who have been waiting, take a deep breath the wait is almost over. Sometime after the initial systems ship, I will put up some visual clips of what our system can do on my web site.

If you have questions about our system, please visit and read the full description.

Home of the BK Pro Line
Chance Wolf
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Beauty! As a creator myself, I fully agree with your motivations and justifications for your marketing decisions. In the big picture, there are so few thinking for so many magicians. Fellow magicians, please do not take that statement as a pompous attitude, it is simply the truth. It is unfortunate that SOME magicians simply have NO IDEA how much time and money goes into even the smallest effect let alone a complex system/gimmick which you have designed. The least you could do is protect it in anyway possible...even if some people have a hard time understanding.

Good luck and I will keep an eye out for you as well other creators.

Chance Wolf
Wolf's magic
Creator of Wacky Wolf Productions & Fine Collectibles

A DECADE of building Magic and we're just getting started!
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