Sunday, March 05, 2006
It's time for another Amazing Discovery!

I love the fact that the word "dignity" is directly above a man wearing a sweater made of carpet remnants and sporting a look on his face that suggests he's about to greet the business end of a glory hole.

This goofy-looking man is the late, near-great Mike Levey, host of the best series of infomercials ever, Amazing Discoveries.

I was an Amazing Discoveries addict. In the late eighties and early nineties, I'd stay up all night eating pizza, drinking beer, and watching A.D. with like-minded life-wasters. Why? Because they were the funniest things ever put on network television; and the all-encompassing artifice of the whole affair actually served to be the most brutal example of human nature ever captured on videotape.

The infomercials, which pretended to be legitimate television programs, were filmed before a studio audience. Every classic "episode" played out essentially the same: Mike would come out and say something like, "Don't you wish there was an easy, healthy way to cook chicken?" and the camera would show retirees in the crowd nodding their heads as if to say as one, "Yes, Mike, I do wish just that."

Have no fear, compensated audience members. Mike would then introduce someone who'd come out with the product that would answer their fervent prayers, provided they were praying for more useless crap to clutter their trailer homes.

Most of the time, the product would be shilled by one of the in-house "experts from England", Jon or Ian. Ian always appeared to be slightly drunk and Jon wore a red bow tie and had an accent that sounded suspiciously like a guy from California pretending to be British. Other times, however, a special guest pitchman would make an appearance, leading to my top two Amazing Discoveries moments ever.

-The Spanek Vertical Chicken Roaster was hawked by its inventor, an overweight man who went on and on about the health benefits of cooking chicken by shoving the entire bird ass-first over what looked like an instrument of torture or a sexual aide for the big pussied gals. He was quite fat, so I guess it doesn't matter how you cook your chicken if you eat a dozen dinner rolls and an entire box of Stove Top stuffing along with it. I think this infomercial is the one that convinced Dr. Phil to think, "Hey, I'm fat, but I bet America will buy my weight loss book." And he was right.

-The Juice Doctor/Juice Tiger Fiasco
The Juice Doctor was a juice extractor sold by fitness expert Jack Lalane. It was funny enough when it originally aired; Jack would not only drink these disgusting juice combinations, he'd make horrible looking baked goods using the pulp. For god's sake, throw that shit out. That's garbage. It was like making coffee cake using old coffee grounds.

But then the federal government stepped in and made it the funniest infomercial of all time. The feds decided that it wasn't okay to use the word "doctor" to sell a product with no proven medical benefits whatsoever. Instead of refilming the commercial and spending another fifty dollars on their low-rent production, they renamed the product "Juice Tiger" and amateurishly edited out all mentions of the word "doctor". But apparently Mr. Lalane wasn't available for sound looping, so they got some guy who doesn't sound anything like him to record the word "tiger".

I think they only recorded him saying it once, because whenever Jack Lalane says "doctor", which is like a million times, his voice changes into a much deeper voice saying "tiger" with no regard to context or the inflection of the rest of the sentence. The first time I heard it I almost died laughing. The Japanese used to sound edit their Godzilla movies better than that.

Mike Levey, who was not only the host but the mastermind behind Amazing Discoveries' production company, got into a little trouble for (DUH) making false claims about his products. One product, which never aired on Amazing Discoveries but was produced by Mike Levey's company, was called Crystal Powder and claimed to cure cancer.

Mike Levey died in 2003 of , ironically enough, cancer. Who knows, if the Food and Drug Administration hadn't confiscated all of his Crystal Powder, he might still be with us.


25 Comments:

Blogger your anti-hero said...

I loved that guy. I'll miss you.

Blogger your anti-hero said...

him...i'll miss him.

No. NOOOOOOOO!!!! I didn't know Mike died. That is a tragedy for the institution of television in this here country. I grew up with Mike.

*sob*

Blogger Cold Hands said...

man those sweaters rock..... Todd please tell me you will wear them for me when we meet.

The chicken roaster was by far my fav.... do you have any idea how much i wanted one when i ran across that infomercial at 3 am while I was sitting around gettting high with my loser friends? damn.

good times, good times.

As wonderful as he was I dont think he could ever touch that guy with the question marks (Matthew Lesko, thank you Google)

Damn, now I want some roasted chicken in the worst way...

Blogger Livia said...

Im a Ron Popeil guy myself... then again I'm new to the whole staying up til 6am thing.

http://www.ronco.com/

Blogger Melliferous Pants said...

When I read this I mistook chicken to say children:
"Don't you wish there was an easy, healthy way to cook chicken?"

Yeah, I need help.

Is Jack Lalanne the juice guy with the out of control eyebrows? That shit was so long he could have donated them to Locks of Love.

"Is Jack Lalanne the juice guy with the out of control eyebrows? That shit was so long he could have donated them to Locks of Love."

Jack was an exercise TV pioneer. He used to celebrate his birthday by having his arms chained up, attaching those chains to like three rowboats full of people and swimming around Alcatraz with all those people in tow.

Thank God he stopped this masochism back in the 80's.

Blogger yournamehere said...

anti,
for a second I thought you were going to have me killed or something.

andi,
he was a huckster, but anyone stupid enought to actually BUY any of that shit deserved what they got.
About eight years ago I bought a cookware set from HSN. The cookware has a non-stick coating that won't peel. And it hasn't! Nothing sticks to this stuff. It's called Ultrex and it actually does what they say it will do. That has nothing to do with your comment; I just wanted to mention it.

cold hands,
I'll wear those sweaters if you'll wear nothing but a smile.

livi,
Ron Popeil almost invented the infomercial. He's a direct marketing god.

pants,
yes, you do need help. The guy you're thinking about is Jay Kordich, the Juiceman. He is spooky, and his infomercial is a classic. It was filmed in what looks like an old gymnasium filled with catatonic senior citizens.

write,
Jack had an exercise show on TV in the fifties. He's a thousand years old now, and he's in better shape than I'll ever be in.

Blogger MoDigli said...

ha! This is making me think of the newest, most crappiest reality tv show that's gonna be coming out very soon. I think it's the brainchild of Simon Cowell, and it's gonna be the "American Idol" of inventors. I don't know what they're gonna call it, but basically it's a bunch of people who invented some crappy thing duking it out to be the #1 inventor. Then, I guess they actually create and market the product? It would be hilarious if all the inventions were crappy infomercial-worthy products.

Blogger MoDigli said...

PS. Coffee cake made from used coffee grounds! - ha! That cracked me up!

Blogger tlsd said...

Todds...

...like making coffee cake using old coffee grounds... LOL

... hahahhahaha

"experts from England" Ian always appeared to be slightly drunk and Jon wore a red bow tie and had an accent that sounded suspiciously like a guy from California pretending to be British...

The funniest thing in the world to the British is an American trying to do a Britsh accent... oh stop my sides are splitting...

... hahahhahaha

Blogger Cherry! said...

Those sweaters look suspiciously like the Coogi sweaters I used to sell to Japanese tourists for a very cheap and cheerful $300 a pop. They are possibly the most vile garments I've ever seen.

I've never see those commercials but I'd love to see them dubbed over. That cracks me up!

Blogger Mone said...

yeah, I loved watching the show and looking at those interested people my self...

Blogger katarina said...

That was the best show ever.
I couldn't stand the little prick in the bow-tie. Settle the fuck down. No one else is ever that excited about a mop. Even if is squeegies the floor dry.

I love all infomercials.

Blogger FRITZ said...

I have an innate disdain for any info-mercial. I blame this on my mother, who made me understand only very poor and/or illegal aliens use money orders.

Is it terrible that I, for one, am RELIEVED some infomercial host has gone by the wayside?

Does this make me worthy of Hell?

Blogger da buttah said...

juice tiger...makes me think of "so i married an ax murderer"

go figure!

Blogger miss kendra said...

and yet jack lalane lives on.

(i am very pleased to know a real life spy.)

Blogger Claudia said...

Where do you come up with this stuff?

Now that you came out with your secret I can tell you that I own the "magic bullet", George F grill, the juicer, the sandwich maker and various other products that I no longer use.

Whew, feels good to get that off my chest.

Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

Amazing Discoveries! Wow! My biggest memory of the show was watching it sometime in the late 80s with my brother one morning. My dad walked in halfway through and freaked out. "Don't you realize that's an infomercial? It's a fake show! You shouldn't watch it, because you'll want to buy useless crap. Thanks, Reagan!" So we put on an R-rated movie instead. That was better.

Back in the 1980s, we had a Dorchester turntable that we bought off the Home Shopping Network. Six years after we bought it, I broke the stylus off simply by playing an extremely cracked "Thriller" record I found on the street. Cheap junk.

R.I.P., Mike. I hope you're up in heaven, wowing Jesus with the Manna Dehydrator 4000.

Blogger Egan said...

Ron Popeil thinks he started the informercial, but it was me. I am the cool dude that stars in movies and suckers millions into seminars annually. I laugh in your general direction."

-Tony Robbins

Blogger Hulkster said...

I'm reminded of Mike Meyers and Heather Locklear pitching a pasta machine on an SNL skit..."Fresh pasta in less than three minutes? That's got to be a lie, just like the Holocaust!"

Blogger yournamehere said...

Mo,
They should invent something that makes Simon Cowell the least bit interesting.

tlsd,
I have the worst British accent on earth. It's actually a generic European accent that is also my Irish, Australian, and Scottish accents. Quite bad.

cherry,
Mike was known as "The Sweater Man", although I always referred to him as "The Douchebag".

mone,
anything would have interested those people.

kat,
I have a feeling that guy in the bow tie smelled funny.

fritz,
I'm sure there are several things that make you worthy of hell, my dear.

Blogger yournamehere said...

buttah,
I went figuring. Just for you.

kendra,
Jack Lalane will bury us all!

claudia,
oh, I own the George Foreman grill. All single men own that thing. I'd starve without it.

ian,
he probably sold a Bedazzler to the Virgin Mary.

egan,
Tony Robbins scares me.

hulkster,
the look on Mike Myers' face in that skit was a precursor to the look he had when Kanye said "George Bush doesn't like black people."

Blogger Übermilf said...

I'm back from vacation!

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