Cheap Tricks

Cheap, for lack of a better word, is good.

Though Gordon Gekko and Arizona writer Phil Villarreal would seem to be coming at the notion of “money equals power” from polar-opposite perspectives, they’re actually cut from the same miserly gabardine. At least in spirit.

Villarreal, a reporter for Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star and contributing editor for, is plugging his new Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel: 100 Dirty Little Money-Grubbing Secrets. The book is a Scrooge-meets-Gekko primer that offers “marginally evil” tips about how to save bucks. (Our fave: “Tipping? Don’t do it.”) Much of the advice is real -- ’cause Villarreal’s truly tightfisted – but it’s more broadly a satire, he says, of the self-help genre.

“Above all,” the 31-year-old scribe tells New Times, “this is a humor book, so don’t go out there trying things I write about and getting yourself arrested. The book is really just a device for me to unleash some funny, twisted writing.”

In addition to the no-gratuity dope, Stingy Scoundrel shows you how to accomplish morally risqué stuff like return opened DVDs and “avoid ever having to pay for ketchup, napkins or straws again.” The book is chock-full of similarly “deranged and awful” notions. “Since I couldn’t use most of them as an upright, law-abiding citizen,” Villarreal says, “I figured the next best thing would be to list them in book form.”

Thu., Sept. 10, 7 p.m., 2009
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Clay McNear
Contact: Clay McNear