Author: Steve Spill
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
There is no denying, Steven Spill has lived quite an fascinating life as a magician and as he states in the opening remarks of his recently published memoir, I Lie For Money: Candid, Outrageous Stories from a Magician's Misadventures, why would any sane person do some of the things he has done over the years. These have included swallowing sewing needles, stabbing himself, having someone pull the trigger of a gun pointed at his face, or being chained to a metal table and allowing a burning rope drop thirty-nine sharpened steel spikes on him from fifteen feet above. All his life has been devoted to producing magic shows around the world that have taken him to such places as the French Riviera’s Cannes Film Festival, Universal Studios Hollywood, Harrah’s Tahoe, and Toronto’s Massey Hall.
Spill was born Steven Spillman in San Francisco, California in 1955 and from a very early age he fell in love with the world of magic which he describes as consisting of altering perceptions with dyslexic displays of honesty that range from tiny manipulative untruths to big, fat, in-your-face lies. And for those unaware of the challenges involved in becoming a magician, Spill does a great job in explaining why he was attracted to magic, what it entails and how he learned his trade-topics which underpins his memoir.
The memoir describes in detail Spill's experiences as a magician as well as his tenacity to keep going even if his parents were not exactly excited about his chosen profession. They were in showbiz themselves and consequently knew what it entailed. Spill recounts that the first time he informed his mother that he was going to be a magician he was not asking for her permission, but rather telling her that he was going to do. His mother wanted him to have a career that would provide a secure life, however, the love of magic superseded her wishes.
The turning point in his life was when he and his parents met the founders of the world famous The Magic Castle, which is the showplace for some of the most renowned magicians from around the globe. His father was offered a job as host at The Magic Castle and subsequently became its manager. According to Spill, for a teenage aspiring magician in the 1960s hanging around the Castle was like the White House to a politician, or leaving real life and walking into a movie set. It is here where he actually learned the tools of his trade, something analogous to attending a first-rate university and being taught by famous professors. In this case his professors or mentors were master magicians as Dai Vernon, known as “The Man Who Fooled Houdini,” Kuda Bux-”The Man with the X-Ray Eyes,” Carazini, Tony Slydini, known for his sleight of hand tricks, Charlie Miller, Senator Clarke Crandall, Francis Carlyle, and Albert Goshman. All of these colorful characters were Spill's inspiration and the guidance he received from them was tailored specifically for his consumption since they knew him personally. In fact, Spill, according to Wikipedia, is known to magic aficionados as a performer who innovates magical effects used by other magicians with his sleight-of-hand and large-scale illusions.
In 1998 Spill founded a 150 seat theater in Santa Monica, California known as the Magicopolis which is the permanent home of his magic production, "Escape Reality" and which has received positive reviews from guests and critics.
Spill has a good story to tell and succeeds in fastening together a cohesive narrative that will be of particular interest to lovers of the world of magic.