The blog of author Dennis Cooper

How to Make Smoke Come Out of Your Fingers *

* (restored)



Gather the materials. (A striker from a matchbox (black, not red). An ashtray. A lighter. Water on hand for dampening the flame if needed. Soap and water for cleaning.) Have a bowl or jug of water on standby, just in case. Remove or roll up any clothing that is loose or dangling around the wrist, hand, and finger regions.


Remove the striker from the side of the matchbox. Either cut it away, or gently tear it from the box.


Fold the striker in half. Fold it hot dog style, and have the cardboard facing on the outside.


Place the striker in an ashtray. Place it with the cardboard side facing upwards.


Light the striker part. Use a lighter to start a small fire.


Burn it for a little while.


Push the burnt out striker part aside. The brown residue is left in the ashtray.


Wipe the residue off the ashtray with a finger.


Rub your fingers against each other. You should see the smoke appear, and it will look as if it is “coming out of your fingers”. The effect will last a long while but you can add more residue if you wish to continue the trick for longer.


Wash your fingers well. Remove all traces of the residue at the end of the trick, as the residue can be harmful.


In performance


Suggested Magic Show

How to Make Your Fingers Smoke

How to blow smoke out of your mouth

How to make milk come out of your eye

How To Whistle: Birdcall

How to do the coin thru bottle trick

How to make a fake cigarette

How to make a Shocking Door Handle

How to Flip your Eyelids

How to tie your shoe with no hands

How To Make A Taser With a Disposible Camera

How To Do My Lego Magic Trick

How To Do the RubberBand up Your Nose Trick

How To Make A Water Bottle Bomb (it just makes a really loud sound)




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Yes, indeed. Speaking of Everett Lewis, do you have any idea what he’s up to these days? Is he still making films? ** KK, Hi. Ah, well, that’s good about Slipknot, and I’m not that surprised. I’ll watch for them if they hit French shores. I guess they do. Thanks a lot for the manuscript. I’m getting through some deadline-y stuff right now, and then I’ll excitedly read it. Trouble figuring out a title? Would be good if it had one before you send it out. Don’t want to give publishers the chance to name it something saleable. I like Brian Allen Carr’s writing. I’ll look for that book. No, we’re far from shooting the next film. We’re just about to start raising the money, and that’ll take a while. Uh, I’m, not sure what I was referring to about the construction sites. I’m blanking. I like the John Wick movies, they’re big fun. Beards + hot weather = sweaty face? I like sandwiches. I bet making them is an art form. Things are good here, getting too busy suddenly. Favorite snack? Smoked tofu wrapped in a tortilla at the moment. Yeah, I’m temporarily off cheese. In one of my vegan phases. I love cheese though. I want nachos. Good day right back in your direction. ** Bill, Hi. Yep, sad. Lucky you re: SF Electronic Music Festival. Carl Stone’s playing. I haven’t seen him play in ages. Give me any scoop if you go. ** alex rose, Hi, A! Trauma, I’ve had a few. Me, I think, or I’m at least happy to hear, that you didn’t burn that Jimi bridge. Getting the work out there is pretty important, for those who get to see it at the very least. So, good, phew even. April! Gonna try to align with that, like I said, if at all poss. He should move to Tribeca. That seems to be the new happening area. I love your work, I can’t help it. It’s beyond my control. I’ve been reading about the ‘Painted Bird’ film, yeah. I read the book a million years ago. I’ve got one eye on the local listings and trying not to cringe at it being, whatever, 3 hours long. Big biggest love back! ** Keatonpenos, There’s a bakery in the 10th like that. I stand in that line often. Oh, right, I need to check the art listings, I still didn’t. And hear your songs. I’ve got this work bullshit fucking piece of shit requirement on my brain and time that’s suddenly eating me. Help. “Help yourself.” Okay, I’ll try to do that. I read something about Judd Nelson the other day. I can’t remember. He’s alive, I remember that. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Dundee was the drug capital of Europe in 2018? Whoa. I’m gonna see if that doc its something French people can watch. ** Brendan, Hey, B-ster! Great to see you, bud! Your show’s open! I want to see! I’ll tell my local lads and lasses and others to get there. Congrats! That’s exciting! I am happy you’re back lurking and not just lurking. Halloween so, so soon! Are you ready? Dude. ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. Wait, typed where? In the post or in my comment? I’m confused. More coffee please. ** Quinn R, Hey, Quinn. Great that you’re into the final edit phase on your LDR piece. Can’t wait. The dominant media take on things is just dust in the wind if one can be patient. Which is hard. Very interesting, what you wrote. To be honest, I thought her going after Ann Powers was a bit dodgy, but I know Ann, so … Well, I think the truth in Mary’s assessment is being played out every minute of every day in the US, right? I think my work doesn’t seem political because it and I are anarchist and thus not able to be generalised about and easily located by people who think a work’s politics is a matter of it showing signs that it has joined a pre-set grouping. I’ve liked Lana Del Rey’s stuff in a kind of non-passionate, vaguely interested way. It doesn’t speak to me, I guess is what I’m saying. I’m interested by the passion generated by it. People definitely consume my work with what you call ‘bad faith’ a lot and always have, and I’ve long since not had any hope of thinking I can control that. When you make precise, open-ended work under the assumption that people will receive it thoughtfully, attentively, open-mindedly, I guess you’re asking for that. Nice about the New Yorker thing. Fence is cool. Like I said, I love LA as a place and a place to live. Neighborhoods? Not being there other than a couple of short visits a year, I’m a bit out of it. I love the Los Feliz <-> Echo Park area where I live. People seem to be into living in Boyle Heights, or they were. For me, the east side is the most interesting, east of, say, Fairfax. But most of the whole city and surrounds are pretty great. But Europe as a locale is awesome, maybe more so even. I’ve never had a 9-5 job in my life, so I’m the wrong person to ask. I’ve always tried to get by in a freelance way — journalism, projects, advising art students at universities, book sales, etc. ‘Confessions of a Mask’ was big for me as a young dude. Well, you could write a novel — but don’t ‘crank it out’, ha ha; too many ‘cranked out’ novels in the world — and apply to grad school as well, no? And see what happens? I don’t know. That’s probably what I’d do. Take care. ** Steve Erickson, Good news about the actor/voice over guy. No, no new news or info or anything at all about Alan Boyce. Same story. Maybe someone who knows something will see the post at some point and get in touch. If I hear anything, I’ll let you know. Yeah, totally understood about how swamped programmers are, but leaving people hanging and hoping for months and months when you’ve already made a decision is not acceptable. All they have to do set up a form rejection email and push Send to the filmmakers they’re rejecting. That may be cold, but it’s a hell of a lot kinder than just pretending people who submit films don’t give a shit whether they’re accepted or not. That’s selfishness central. ** Right. Today I’ve restored a very old post again, but this time it’s one that takes it very easy on all of you. See you tomorrow.


  1. Here’s what the IMDB says about Everett Lewis Haven’t so much as heard of his last few titles. Times is hard for queer indie filmmakers. See also Chris Munch

    Regarding smoke Marge Champion just turned 100!

  2. Hi!!

    Great to know how to make smoke come out of my fingers, it looks cool. Not so sure about the milk out of my eyes variation, haha.

    Wow, haha, this is weird, yes, I did buy my books at The Book Exchange! This is pretty crazy! My brother said the owner is still the same. Most of the time it’s his son who’s there now but it still belongs to the same family.

    Uh, I’m sorry you have to wait to hear back about your novel. I guess it works like… you can spend a close-to-infinite time with writing and re-writing and re-re-writing it but once it’s finished and ready to be read by the first pair of eyes, you want the feedback immediately. Or at least I always feel like this.

    That mosh pit experience you described must have been pretty… intense. Memorable, for sure. I think the most physically violent gig I’ve ever been to was last year’s Iceage show. The crowd wasn’t that huge but I was in the first row, right around the middle, and I left all purple and red. As scary as scenes like this can be, I’m actually pretty fascinated with them. I’m way more afraid of a huge crowd, even if it’s peaceful. Like festival-crowds and such.

    I think my week is mostly going to be SCAB-work which is lovely work. The new issue comes out this weekend! Also, there’s this LGBTQ group around here which is currently looking for operators for their phone/chat helplines and they offer a 160-hour psychology/communication/etc. course for those few volunteers they choose for the position. The course is completely free, they only ask for a year of volunteer work in exchange, once a week. I thought it’d be a pretty nice in-between step between the huge nothingness I’m doing right now and going back to psychology so I applied and they asked to see me in person next week so we’ll see how that goes. I really feel like doing this right now, I hope it’s gonna happen.

    May the Force be with you during the long hours spent with the TV show! And otherwise, how does your week look like? Lots & lots of love, Dennis!!

    (Oh, and also: yesterday’s post was a treat once again. I’ve seen Alan Boyce in Gregg Araki’s films but now Permanent Record and Skin and Bone are definitely on my list too. Maybe An Ambush of Ghosts too. Thank you for this.)

  3. I’ve always wanted smoke to come out of my fingers. Wow. That eyelid-flipping boy is hilarious. And I actually observed a very charming fellow, with one arm, tying his shoelaces. Was ready to propose.

    I do plan to be at some of the Electronic Music Fest events. Will definitely report.

    Alex, so sorry to hear about the gallery woes.


  4. Re Dundee, yes it was the 2018 drug death capital of Europe here, quite a statistic. If you hang around the “right” areas there’s lots of heroin about. Someone on my Facebook was saying today they’re moving out, citing “no work, poverty and massive drug use!” which never seems to touch me, happily enough. I’ve still got a lot of love for the place.

  5. Del Rey’s response to Ann Powers’ review was a real turnoff to me – I still think NORMAN FUCKING ROCKWELL is an excellent album, but I have no interest in writing about it anymore. We learned that she’s another artist with a Trumpian inability to take criticism, even in the context of a positive review that engaged with her art more deeply than any other one I’ve read (and while practically every other one is treating the album completely uncritically and calling it the AOTY.) But the “yass I stan you queen” tweets from her fans, most of whom obviously hadn’t read the review, were much worse, especially knowing how toxic fandom can get these days.

    I could take all your complaints about film programmers and apply them to editors. It’d be great if they had a form “I’m not interested” E-mail ready instead of simply not replying to freelance writers’ queries.

    I assume the moral panic over JOKER isn’t going on in France. When Entertainment Weekly refuses to give it a grade because they think the film is dangerous and may lead to violence, this seems like another form of hype and ballyhoo, actually. The incels and alt-right boys they’re worried about it influencing will be more excited about it because it’s pissing off the modern equivalent of Tipper Gore. Anyway, I’ve pitched a review of it to the Nashville Scene and tried to find out about New York press screenings. I’m more curious about it because Cinema Scope magazine ran a review yesterday calling it a masterpiece and a jury headed by Lucrecia Martel gave it Venice’s top prize.

    There was a piece about your work published earlier this year which pointed out how much it shows the ways that gay teens are treated as worthless. Your books take place in a world where homophobia doesn’t exist for the most part and your characters tend to be white and middle-class, but that doesn’t protect them from physical and emotional abuse. That’s a political gesture, but it gets ignored by critics and readers who think your books fetishize that abuse.

  6. Haha, the hardest working man in show business. It’s almost Halloween, hopefully that helps. There are bakeries, maybe I will give them a shot. Need to find the one that cooks with Blood Sauce and Children. More money for pastries now, realized I’ve been spending a G month on bars with no returns. Haha, not sure if it was in the post, but that Boyce guy was in a “creature of the week” episode of the X-Files. One of the weirder ones to my memory. The story seemed simple enough but they really hyped it and it was frightening. This trick is fantastic. I’ll never forget David Copperfields best trick was not falling on the waxed Deco floor of the theatre. Off for days, gonna get my Halloween face on. It’s September, why not? I have to admit, I am a “Pumpkin Whore”. I did have a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice the first day it was released. I’m psyched, I have tons of ghost stories I bought last year I still havent read.

  7. PM, that small press Chip Delany passed on “Raised By Hand Puppets” but suggested “City Lights” Who would I write to there?

    Meanwhile Walter Mosley is a man after my own heart.

  8. Dennis, Well, that’s different. 😀

    Ha, it was your thing about music being the only medium really left -or at least compared to writing- that allows for broad experimentation/daring/doing brave things artistically. You typed it in the PS. 😀

  9. This reminds me of when a new magician acquaintance was trying to teach me how to make a coin disappear. I’m way too clumsy for this sort of thing. Also making a diet coke and mentos geyser in high school science class. It was a fun change of pace for about 5 minutes and then we spent a week writing up a full lab report calculating the pressure and escape velocity.

    Delighted to say I got into film school! And thanks to my age and immigrant status, I’m getting a full government scholarship. Classes start late October. Will meet my cohort at a safety workshop in early October.

    Still figuring out travel plans for the next few months but am dead-set on making it to London for this huge Blake exhibition:


    On the vegetarian/vegan theme, might I introduce you to the quintessentially Israeli sabich (throat-clearing “ch”) sandwich? Traditionally made with egg but vegan version also delicious:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2021 DC's

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑