The ShamWow guy's "date" tries to eat his golden tongue

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He's the ShamWow guy. You know: "Vince," that guy who's stealing Billy Mays' infomercial crown with a smoother spiel and a raffish, aging-frat-boy charm. He's currently hawking his super-absorbent ShamWow and '70s throwback SlapChop on a cable channel with three digits near you.

And here he is again, in his recent mug shot. Vince is really entrepreneur Vince Shlomi, and he was arrested in Miami last month. According to the police report, he met and propositioned a certain lady, took her back to his hotel at 4 a.m., paid her $930, and kissed her. In response, she bit his tongue and wouldn't let go. After he succeeded in detaching her by way of a barrage of fists, he fled to the lobby. They were both arrested with felony aggravated battery when cops found the money in her purse, but neither has been charged. In the police photo, his face is noticeably battered, and his cheeks barely contain his now-swollen tongue, which has been temporarily stilled from uttering double entrendres.

Even among the whacked-out rogue's gallery of infomercial pitchmen, Vince simultaneously fascinates me and skeevs me out. How or why he manages to slip chatter about martinis and bikinis into his description of his SlapChop veggie dicer is both inspiring and dispiriting. ("You're gonna love my nuts," his pitch goes. Maybe we should have seen this episode coming.)

I actually interviewed this guy once, years ago, when he was promoting a B movie he produced. He was going by the name Vince Offer, and he told me he paid for production of his spectacularly tasteless film (The Underground Comedy Movie, which had cameos by the likes of Joey Buttafuoco and sketches like "The Miss America Bag Lady Pageant") through -- wait for it -- the sales of vegetable choppers at malls and flea markets across the country.

The guy is so good at talking that he funded a movie out of his knack for the pitch. Unfortunately, he wasn't so good at making movies. In fact, Anna Nicole Smith reneged on a promise to appear in his movie -- she said it would hurt her career, which says a lot. Vince sued her, as he has also done to the makers of There's Something About Mary and the Church of Scientology. But he found redemption in his cult status as the next hot infomercial pitchman.

I'll be glad to hear a more precise retelling of this episode emerge. Whatever the whole behind the arrest, it already comes with some valuable morals. The first is not to bring strangers back to your hotel room. The second is never, ever put your money-maker in a place where you may have trouble getting it back. Vince's silver tongue is like Betty Grable's legs: precious enough to be worth insuring. Grable, though, never let them wander far.
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