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The Surprising Lives of Famous Pitchmen: ShamWow's Vince Offer


The ShamWow Guy has absorbed bad press and felony charges.

Offer "Vince" Shlomi, aka "The ShamWow! Guy", aka Vince Offer, was born April 25, 1964, in Haifa, Israel.

Offer, who had been supporting himself by selling kitchen utensils at swap meets, got his start in "show business" in 1999, writing, directing, producing, (and funding) The Underground Comedy Movie, which was described by Rod Dreher of the New York Post as "the least amusing comedy ever made," "a pathetic collection of sketches based on a public-access TV show the film's witless writer-director-star Vince Offer did years ago," and asks, "How can the War Crimes Tribunal indict Slobodan Milosevic but let Vince Offer still walk the streets?"

Lawrence Van Gelder of the New York Times was only slightly more forgiving, saying the film, which consisted of, in Van Gelder's words, "a series of sketches built around subjects like masturbation, defecation, alienation, urination, necrophilia, voyeurism, casual brutality, and mockery of the unfortunate," stood "as a monument to ineptitude and self-delusion."

Without wide theatrical release, Offer needed to figure out a way to realize a return on his investment. Taking a cue from marketing powerhouse and convicted felon Joe Francis of Girls Gone Wild fame, Offer tried his hand at selling his movie via infomercial.

It worked. 50,000 copies were sold and Offer realized he was onto something.

That "something" wasn't a film career. It was an infomercial career, selling whatever Offer could get his hands on and foist upon the television-watching public.

First up was a synthetic cleaning rag Offer had come across during his flea market days, which he re-branded the ShamWow!

With a budget of $20,000, Offer shot the first ShamWow infomercial in the summer of 2007, and, while official figures have never been released, Offer told CNBC that "millions" of ShamWows have been sold.

There are a number of reasons to believe this statement. If the ShamWow hadn't been a success, Offer wouldn't have been able to offer 26-year-old prostitute Sasha Harris $1,000 for her "services" then rent a $750 room at the Setai Hotel in Miami Beach, where she proceeded to bite his tongue, prompting Offer to beat her senseless before both were arrested on felony charges of aggravated battery, though prosecutors declined to pursue either case.

Anyway, the ShamWow was dogged by controversy from the beginning. Rival pitchman Billy Mays, may he rest in peace, accused Offer of copying his identical product, Zorbeez, which had been on the market for two years by the time Offer's ShamWow hit the airwaves.

Mays was dealt a small victory when Fox (NWS) News' Deal Or Dud segment tested the ShamWow. It didn't work as advertised and the Deal or Dud team deemed the ShamWow a dud.

At the end of 2008, Offer debuted the Slap Chop, a utensil that, as the name implies, chops food with a blade users activate by slapping a knob on top of the device.

Once again, Offer ran afoul of the hyper-vigilant Billy Mays, who accused him of ripping off yet another one of his ideas -- the remarkably similar-sounding Quick Chop.

Offer promised viewers they would "be in a great mood all day because you're gonna be slapping your troubles away with the Slap Chop."

A Popular Mechanics product review disagreed, saying "we were already in trouble" after the "first slap of the night." They continued, "Half a purple onion immediately got jammed in the blades, and no amount of assault would cause it to release. Once the blades bit in, we slapped and smacked to no avail. After using our fingers to pry the pieces free, we tried [a clove of] garlic -- same problem."

Whether or not Vince Offer's products actually work or not is apparently a matter of debate. What does work flawlessly, however, is his masterful self-promotion.

Let's face it, you may not know who invented the steel belted radial, but who hasn't heard of the ShamWow Guy?

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