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Steve Brooks
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The bill in lemon is one of the true classics of magic. There are many variations both in print and for sale on DVD, some are very good, others...

That said, how did you go about constructing the routine that many have seen you perform over the years? Also, what do you feel are the strong points which seperate your presentation from other performers?
"Always be you because nobody else can" - Steve Brooks
steve spill
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Okay Steve, here we go...

I first became intrigued with the Bill in Lemon as boy hearing Vernon talk about the trick's inventor Emil Jarrow, a highly paid vaudeville entertainer. My early versions of the trick weren't so good. The method I developed in the seventies, and presented as a bartender while working with Bob Sheets at the Jolly Jester in Aspen, continues to be a winner. This is the version/presentation I've become identified with and the one that inspied others such as Doc Eason, Scott Alexander, and so on. A performance of this (in a comedy club, not a bar)can be seen on my Ten Years of Steve Spill DVD.

I picked several girls who signed their names on the money with a felt tip pen. Unlike a theater, a bar has many distractions and early on I learned the more people involved in a trick, the easier it is to command the crowd's undivided attention. I then enlisted the help of three guys. One held a lemon, another held a sharpe knife, and the third held a large pair of hemostats, or as they were called at the time roach clips. The signed bill vanished at my finger tips. I cut the lemon in half... inside is a small speck of green. Using the roach clips, the helper plucks the green from the meat of the halved lemon. It is the bill with the girl's signatures.

A couple points that I think make my version strong: Spectators see the signed bill, it vanishes, and imediately the lemon is cut open. Previously, magicians vanished the bill from under a hankerchief, or burned the bill in an envelope. Often there was a long time between actually seeing the signed bill and it's reveal from the lemon. Also, when the lemon is cut, only a speck of green is visible or nothing at all is visible. The knife is used to dig the bill out of the lemon, selling the fact that it's really embedded in there. Previously, most revealed the bill rolled up and sticking out of the halved lemon.

I performed a unique version at an Aspen bachelor party, an event permanently etched into the annals of Jolly jester history. Instead of a lemon, the soon to be married bachelor was given a free choice of any stripper he wanted. The girl sat on, not at, the bar, facing the party.

I tore a bill into pieces, giving the bachelor a corner to hold as a receipt. The other pieces of money were put in an ash tray and burnt to a crisp. Next I sprinkled the ashes over the stripper's lap. She removed her g-string, opened her legs, and spread her vaginal lips... exposing a speck of green. Using the roach clips, the bachelor delicately pinched the bill and pulled it out.

The previously burnt bill was completely restored, except for one corner that was missing. The torn corner in the bachelor's possession matched perfectly... proving that the burnt money ressurected itself from the ashes, and magically traveled to the inside of the freely selected stripper.

I guess the ends of the roach clips were kinda sticky from spending a lot of time stuck in lemons, and, apparently, some of the stripper's DNA stuck to the end of them. The night after the bachelor party, I'm finishing another performance of the Bill in Lemon... I said "...using the clips, reach inside, so everyone can see that bill come out of the fruit..." the guy interrupts: "Why are the end of the clips covered with all these little hairs?" Bob and I doubled over with laughter, and kept on laughing until our sides hurt.
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Ha! Unique, I'll give you that!
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Hi Steve hope this reaches you:
Continued success...Thanks for dropping by and giving the magic fraternity many good tips. The Lemon one is awsome here. Malone has a good 1 to with the bill(signed). By the way is that Scott(Grocki)Alexander you mentioned? The ten o'clock and twelve o'clock show dvd he has??? if so hes a good friend of mine if you see him give him my best regards. Again thanks for being here god bless.
steve spill
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Yes donodrigo same guy. I don't have contact info on Scott but if I see him I'll give him your regards.
Review King
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I'm tearing from laughing. Steve, I hope you put all these memories in a book!!
"Of all words of tongue and pen,
the saddest are, "It might have been"

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Steve is the best guest I have read at the Café in a LONG time. Laughs are better than stuffy ol' magic talk.
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I just can't believe you told that bachelor party story. Absolutely one of the funniest things I ever saw. People still mention it to me in Aspen when I visit. The next day I remember falling, literally, on the floor.

Thanks again. bob.
KC Cameron
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That even topped the Nissan story . . . I didn't think that was possible!
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...a Nissan?

And it appeared from where?!?!

...on second thought, don't answer that! lol

Posted: Jan 25, 2008 9:16pm
Sorry to move off track Steve.

Let's return to the subject at hand.

Please tell us more about your bill through lemon routine --other ways you have presented it over the years, etc.

Many thanks.

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steve spill
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Jlevey around 1969 I got a show for a hundred Cub Scouts at their annual Blue & Gold banquet. I wasn't doing many shows back then and I was worried that a lot of my card stuff would'nt be visible. I need some things... as they say... that will pack small, play big, and require zero monetary investment... which reminds me of another story about this and that Cub Scout show that I might tell later... Anyway, Vernon tells me about Jarrow's lemon trick where three bills are borrowed... no signatures, noted serial numbers, or torn corners... the bills vanish from under a handkerchief and appear in the lemon.

He doesn't really tell me how it works, he give hints, but no directions. He say's "...figure it out, you'll come up with something." I put the trick together, kinda and do it, it sucks. A wad of bills vanish from under a hankerchief, I cut open the lemon and so on... but it doesn't look like magic and no one believes the bills that come out of the lemon are the same one's that vanished.

By the way, at that time I had seen a ton of guys perform and NOT ONE of them did the lemon trick. Vernon, Miller, Carlyle, Behnke, Lenier, Crandall, Lawton, Leif, Goshman, Rouzer, Bill & Lou Derman, Slydini, Wilson... even the then young turks like Skinner, Cervon, Jennings, Perovich, Freeman, NOT ONE did this trick. So I never saw an example of how it might look performed properly.

After a while I got to thinking that instead of three bills, maybe three lemons and one bill... part of the effect being the bill goes to a selected lemon. I came up with a few methods, nothing really gelled. Then, out of the blue, Berland markets a version which is workable. I start doing it off and on for a few years and am very happy with the results.

Flash forward to 1975, I'm 21 and working as a magic bartender at the Jolly Jester in Aspen. I'm gonna make a little digression here since most know of the Tower and haven't heard of the Jester. The previous winter Bob had gotten a bartender job outside Aspen, in Snowmass, at country-pop singer John Denver's Tower Restauant. Sheets quickly became a successful local legend, so much so, that the following winter, a patron sponsored him and he was able to open his own magic bar in Aspen, the Jolly Jester.

So, I'm at the Jester doing my latest version of the lemon trick. A signed, borrowed bill is placed under an inverted shot glass. A lemon is selected from a bowl of fruit and placed in a cloth bag, which is placed in a woman's purse. The bill is taken from under the glass and vanishes at the finger tips. The lemon is removed from the bag in the purse, cut open, and there's the signed bill.

This version worked okay, but the presentation was a bit contrived, it was handling heavy, and when the bar was busy, only the people seated could really see the effect. The great thing about the Jester was that the bar turned several times a night, and any trick you were working on you could do 20 or 30 times a week. I did that, solved the problems, and came up with the more streamlined, direct, visible version I became known for. Which I still do today, thirty years later.

Now, for fun, back to that Cub Scout story. As mentioned in some other post, as a teen I'd sometimes go to the Castle in the daytime, when it wasn't open. On the top floor, outside Bill Larsen's office was where the library was then located. I'm looking through some books and Larsen comes in and asks, "can I help you." I tell him about the scout show and how I need some stuff that plays big and I don't have funds for props and so on.

He gives me a manuscript written by his father, Larsen Sr. called Dr. Q's Hypnotic act. The climax of my show comes when I call five Cubs out of the audience and hypnotize them. I have them fall down, get stuck to the floor, become attached to one another and in general make fools of themselves.

The act was a complete fake. Following the manuscript instructions, I had my volunteers stand in a row about two feet apart. I stood in front of the one on the left, turned my back to the audience, made mystical gestures aqnd whispered "We're gonna have some good laughs on he audience and fool them... so when I tell you to do some funny things, do exactly as I secretly tell you. Okay? Swell."

I went down the line whispering and just like the manuscript said they would, surprisingly, they do exactly as I ask. Each of the boys seemed instantly to feel important that they're in on a secret and are part of the show. The scoutmaster was very impressed with he show and invited me to perform at his Rotary Club meeting. Apparently, the Scoutmaster bragged to his buddy that I could hypnotize anybody. "Not me, he can't," said the buddy. "Twenty bucks says you're wrong."

As I was having my volunteers fall down and get stuck at the Rotary show, an unasked for assistant walked up. "Make me fall down," the Rotarians roared and the laugh covered my whispering to him "It's all a gag, do as I say." A terrible smile appeared on his face as he slowly returned to the audience. After the show the Scoutmaster says, "What my buddy tells me, it's not true, is it?" That was the last time I ever pretended, or really hypnotized anyone.
Pete Biro
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In a word.... GREAT!
Alym Amlani
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Wow, now that's gotta be the funniest story I've read in a VERY long time.
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