Smoke & Mirrors and Steven Seagal: The Burning Pants of Popular Culture by Stuart Millard
Review / November 1, 2019

Millard peels back the curtain on the peddlers of tall tales and fantastical bunk, in those subcultures where the nature of truth is subjective. From pro wrestling’s funhouse mirror world of kayfabe, there’s the method-acted insanity of Brian Pillman, and the mad lies of Hulk Hogan. Martial arts gives us super-spy movie stars, deadly men like Count Dante, who can explode your heart from fifty paces, and the strange, forgotten story of James Hydrick, telekinetic Kung Fu cultist; the man no prison could hold. In the paranormal realm, we’ve Derek Acorah, and the spectacular rise and lurid public fall of Most Haunted. Plus, the BBC’s Ghostwatch, a hoax that became the cultural bogeyman for an entire generation of Brits. And could Bill Murray really be putting headlocks on the strangers of New York? And just what is his connection to Purple Aki? This isn’t a wrestling book as such, but pro wrestling makes up a key part of it, both directly and tangentially. It’s a collection of accounts of a variety of celebrities and other public figures who, for one reason or another, have engaged in bending or breaking the truth. Two chapters deal directly with wrestling. One attempts to…