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I Lie For Money Review

Official Review

February 29th, 2016 9:53pm
Reviewed by David Parr
I Lie For Money is Steve Spill's autobiography. Magicians will recognize Steve as the proprietor of Magicopolis, a nightclub that showcases magic and magicians, and especially the comedy magic of magician Steve Spill. The book is aimed at an audience of non-magicians, but I think readers who are "in the know," magically speaking, will most appreciate the true-life tales told by the author. In a word, magi will "relate."

The book is written in a breezy, casual and conversational style, as if we happen to be attending a lively party, and Mr. Spill has been asked to share some of his favorite stories from a decades-long career in showbiz. They are stories of triumph and disaster, small and large, of close calls and lucky breaks. Any magician with a modicum of stage time will recognize the risks and rewards of the author's chosen creative outlet — the somewhat crazy endeavor of going before an audience and attempting to fool and amuse them. We know what's at stake, and we know that even the most careful planning and preparation cannot always shield us from the whims of fate. Is it any wonder, then, that magicians are likely to find the tales of onstage and backstage disaster, and disaster narrowly averted, the most amusing and relateable in this book?

These are also stories of colorful characters encountered on the road to becoming a working performer. Magicians will no doubt enjoy reading about what it was like to hang out at the Castle with Dai Vernon, Charlie Miller, Senator Crandall, and other magic luminaries.

Now for a couple of criticisms.

Bearing in mind that this material is intended for the general public, some magicians might be put off by the author's tendency to explain basic sleights and reveal the workings of classic magic effects. Clearly, Mr. Spill thought that such backstage info was necessary to a full appreciation of the narrative, and arguments can certainly be made in favor of that approach as well as against it. I myself am inclined toward the less-revealy end of the spectrum.

The text would have benefited from the services of an editor. I spotted many misspelled words and other problems that a good editor could have cleaned up, thus providing the folks at home with a smoother reading experience.

Those quibbles aside, this book is a breezy and fun read, especially for those of us who are involved in the mystery arts. I Lie For Money gives us a glimpse into the thoughts and experiences of a quirky individual who chose magic as a profession. Steve Spill tells many a fine tale. And I'm sure he has many more that are yet to be told.

Product info for I Lie For Money

Author: Steve Spill
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $21.53
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Manufacturer's Description:

In this funny, irreverent, unique, eccentric memoir, magician Steve Spill reveals how he managed to survive decades inside a rarely profitable, sometimes maddening, but often deliciously rewarding offbeat showbiz profession—magic!

Spill tells of how his tailor grandfather sewed secret pockets in a magician's tuxedo back in 1910, which started his childhood dream to become a magician. This dream took Spill on a journey that started with him performing, as a young boy, at a "Beauty on a Budget" neighborhood house party to engagements in Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean, to today in Santa Monica, California, where he's been starring in his own shows since 1998 at Magicopolis, the theater he designed and built himself.

Being a magician has given Spill the opportunity to interact with the world's most famous and fascinating people. In his memoir, Spill reveals the many unique encounters that his profession has led him to enjoy and endure: hosting Sting as his opening act one night, spending two days on camera with Joan Rivers, and selling tricks to Bob Dylan, as well as encounters with Adam Sandler, Stephen King, and other celebrities.

I Lie for Money . . . is a literary magic show that captures the highs and lows of an extraordinary life that will delight and amaze you with wit and wickedness. This book should be an obligatory read for anyone considering a creative career, and it serves as an inspiration to those who desire to craft an independent life.

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