Thursday, August 16, 2007


I've noticed two infomercials lately that have brought back some memories...of infomercials of the past. I'd like to call the 90s the "golden age of infomercials," but I think that's just the decade in which I stayed up the latest...

But there were some classics. The Tom Wu ones, the twin midgets, Ron Popeil, Deal-a-Meal and Sweatin' to the Oldies, both with Richard Simmons, the Ginsu Knife, the thing that shrink-wrapped your food, the dozens of music ones from different eras and genres, freakin' Pearl Cream.... Many of these were parodied on SNL--so maybe it really was the golden age. If I sat here and thought about it, I could come up with a lot more. But I'll save that for another day. For now, I want to talk about two infomercials whose participants are back in the infomersh biz....

The obvious one I'm talking about is Kevin Trudeau. This guy is currently doing the infomercial for these Natural Cures books. The guy is well-known for having been in trouble with the law. Man, those books look shady. I totally agree that the medical community keeps people sick to sell more drugs, but at the same time, if I was really sick, I wouldn't just blindly hitch my wagon to Trudeau's star. I can see how vulnerable seniors would be sucked in by his voice, though. And if you listen closely, you'll hear his Mass. accent. (A quick check of wikipedia proves it--he's from Lynn.)

But what I remember Trudeau from is the Mega-Memory System. Remember? The premise of the infomercial was that Trudeau was appearing on the real-life (I think) "Danny Bonaduce Show." There was a cheesy band and everything. Danny was totally amazed by Trudeau--who told us that we all had a photographic memory that we just needed to "untap." He came out and had completely memorized the names of audience members. Then he had the crowd come up with 15 random words, which he repeated back. One, I remember, was "hamhock," and another was a phone number. Kevin would say "Number 1, of course, was hamhock, number two, of course, was 555-2368," or whatever. I was on to his little scheme of stalling by throwing in "of course"s.

So that's what happened to ol' Kevin. But what about the smug man who told you that if you placed tiny classified ads in over 300 newspapers across the country, you'd never have to work again? Hey, he did it, and it worked--then he made even more money telling you what to put in your ad! (Lemme guess, a number to call which told people to place more ads--for what? Well, you're just gonna have to call the number in that ad! And so on, and so on...)

I'll tell you what happened to that guy. He's back, and now he's telling you that if work four hours a week from home selling "our terrific product," and do $550 in sales, they'll give you "up to $12,000 a month OR MORE." I love it. Up to....or more. Which is it, guy? But he doesn't appear in the ad. You just hear his voice telling you to pick up the phone and call...right now. Then it cuts to a girl who's totally not on a sweet desert island, but she is in front of a looping video of a beach, and she does have a fan blowing on her. She repeats the rules of the game, and reiterates that you need to pick up the phone and call...right now. Then we see real tales of regular, hideous Americans who get checks in the mail for sitting on their butts.

"Pay to the order of...up to 12,000 and 00/100 or more."

So that's what happened to that guy, though I don't know his name. I wonder if his two late-night stints also sandwiched jailtime.

This post wouldn't be complete without a mention of the cream of the current crop--"Hot Springs Village!" Eric Estrada has a new job. Selling YOU real estate in various warm-weather climes. Take a free trip down there, you'll see what your life is definitely missing. Old? Tired? Cold? Move to a gated community in the southeast while you slowly become a memory to your dot-com-job-havin' children as they pop out baby after myspace-surfin' baby in an area where all the black people have been pushed out to make room for coffee shops with mildly clever names.

Past areas Estrada has promoted include "Palm Coast!" and some other Florida ones. Palm Coast was the first one I remember, and seriously, I almost bought some land. It's like five bucks a pop. Buy an acre and build later! When Ponch talks, I tend to listen. He's quite convincing. Somebody make me change the channel before I find myself knee-deep in Arkansas real estate!

What about the dude with all the question marks on his jacket? He was selling that book about making millions from government grants - all this money THEY don't want you to know about.

I also liked that woman who could make whipped cream from skim milk using that little whipping gadget.

Someone ought to do a "Where Are They Now?" infomercial about the infomercial people.
Mom here.
Then there's Donald Trump on CBS radio right now touting some magical money-making scheme "...and I promise you that you will make more money than you ever have and will enjoy it." Presumably he means we will enjoy MAKING the money since it's a given that we'd enjoy having it.
Ah, the Donald. Lovin' selling snake-oil even though he's a jillionaire. But he really shouldn't write his own copy.
"Do your cabinets look like THESE? Then, you need Po-Peet!"
Ponch was also selling real estate in some secluded, desert area here in the southwest, too. There's pretty desert and then there's ugly desert- he was selling the ugly kind.
Without doubt, and this is inarguable, the greatest informercial moment was for Liquid Luster, a car polish, when they set the hood of a trans am on fire to show how well LL protects your car's finish, and then this crazy little british guy in an apron and chef's hat comes running out and starts grilling hamburgers on the hood...what I wouldn't give to see that again...
Nice memories, everyone. I remember that hood on fire. There was also Didi-7, which fixed your vinyl furniture cracks.
I LOVED the Liquid Luster infomercial, too. And don't forget the spray-on hair.

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