As a divorce and child custody lawyer I come across more than my fair share of liars, cheats and thieves, and that’s just at the Bar meetings, let alone clients. So after 16 years of swimming with these sharks I’ve a fairly well attuned nose for when the BS is flying and when it’s not. Most of the best liars I’ve come across avoid the ploys to “prove” their honesty, they don’t say things like “to be honest” or “you can believe me because…” no they tend to have a pat story that they can stick to, and hope that repetition will convince you that they are truly honest.
Good con-men have a way of worming their way into your heart and making you want to believe their honest and caring and kind, like rattlesnake on a rock they just look all pretty until they strike and you’re left with your ego smashed and your pocketbook drained.
Occasionally, though, I do come across an honest liar — the kind of person who tells you upfront what they’re going to do, or maybe they cop to a “little white lie” to soften the blow of some bad piece of news. But that’s not what I’m writing about today.
Today is all about an honest-to-goodness, full-on truthful liar: Steve Spill is completely upfront about his prevarications, duplicitous nature and his ability to confound, befuddle and trick you. He’s so honest he even titled his book, “I Lie For Money.” There’s no more honest liar around, we should consider putting him in Congress if only to teach the lying liars how to be honest liars.
In all fairness, Spill is in actuality a magician, so his lies are in furtherance of the show, mostly. For 50 years now Spill has been entertaining audiences with sleight of hand, making people disappear, putting money in lemons and if his current show at Magicopolis is any indicator telling jokes that are sometimes corny, clever, creative, astoundingly tried and true, and often off-color in a way that parents will understand but flies like Peter Pan right over the heads of the children in the audience.
I’ve known Spill for about a decade now, we’re gym friends and back a year or two ago he started writing a book about his adventures as a traveling magician. He’s performed all over the world and has an astounding array of celebrity friends. His stories form a patchwork of insights into the world of magic and celebrity. He name-drops in his book like a modern day Truman Capote, but without the bitterness.
The book is an enjoyable read, especially since I read the book and hear his voice. I would highly recommend you attend a show at Magicopolis to get a flavor for who Spill is and what kind of a character you’re reading about. The show I attended was a mix of slapstick, kitsch, odd humor and fun tricks. One of the tricks Spill is famous for and he writes about in his book, is the Lemon Trick. He takes money from an audience member and then after some prestidigitation it magically appears inside a lemon when it’s cut open. Spill resurrected the trick from an old vaudeville act and perfected it, and it has become a staple in his career.
Liars, cheats and thieves are generally people of good cheer, they use their charm to put you at ease and make you vulnerable to their skills. Spill is certainly charming, he should be after 50 years of perfecting his magical abilities in front of audiences of all sizes and membership. But he doesn’t lie when he says you will enjoy the show, and I certainly did.
Magicopolis is open on Friday and Saturday for shows, and is available for private birthday parties, corporate events and private rental. Spill’s book, I Lie for Money is available at the theater and online at Amazon.com. I hear that you can probably get Spill to autograph a copy if you buy it at the theater.
It’s a good summer read for some funny stories about a local treasure, or so he says, but I don’t know, that may be a lie …
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyerspecializing in fathers’ and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.