Whatever Happened To The ShamWow Guy?

Vince Offer, or the ShamWow Guy –- otherwise known as the Slap Chop Guy for his equally iconic infomercial pitch for the titular vegetable chopper, certainly has an interesting past. Are ya followin' me, camera guy?

Born Offer Shlomi in Israel and raised in Brooklyn, the budding viral icon quit high school at the age of 17 and ditched New York City for Los Angeles in order to pursue his dream of being a filmmaker. In fact, Offer has said in interviews that he never saw himself doing infomercials full-time: it was his passion for movies that led him to purchase and sell products on late-night infomercials, only to use his paychecks to fund film projects.

But ShamWow was far from Offer's first on-camera appearance. In fact, Offer's first acting gig took the form of 1999's The Underground Comedy Movie, which he directed and acted in, alongside Guns N' Roses member Slash. Considered to be one of the worst films of all time, the movie only played in one theater on May 16, 1999, earning a grand total of $856, via IMDb.

"I'm in the film business, this is not my career," Offer said in a 2009 interview with CNBC, referring to his infomercial appearances. "I was watching television and I saw those Girls Gone Wild spots and thought maybe that would be a good way to sell the movie."

The entirety of Offer's first project was paid for using checks from infomercial appearances -– which had a budget of about $500,000. The director is also a former Scientologist, and has been vocal about using the proceeds from the movie to sue the church, per Religion News blog.

Selling A Sham

According to Offer himself, ShamWow stemmed from one of his flea market finds in 2006 -– a magic little towel that could hold 10 times its weight. In fact, the director's visits to flea markets inspired his inspirational pitch strategy and aggressiveness.

"I've been to those flea markets and nice doesn't get people to stop," Offer told CNBC. "People stop when you are aggressive and when you bring them in."

The witty advertisement, filmed in 2007 with a budget of $20,000, received acclaim from critics, with Slate.com's Seth Stevenson praising Offer for his "impressive and subtle mastery of the pitchman's art". Stevenson also compared Offer to infomercial legend Billy Mays and the Home Shopping Network hosts.

But while the infomercial superstar has never been one to spill about how much money ShamWow has made him, the chamois cloths rebranded as ShamWows can be bought wholesale in bundles of three for $.50, via NBC. Offer packaged them in bundles of eight for $19.95, plus shipping and handling.

The advertisement became viral online and gained buzz at infomercial conventions, selling "millions", according to Offer. Per Adweek, after the success of the ShamWow commercials, rapper Eminem tapped Offer to advertise his 2010 album Recovery.

Where is he ShamNow?

Early in 2009, Offer got into a physical altercation with an alleged prostitute in Miami Beach, landing both an arrest by local police. The woman bit Offer's tongue and wouldn't let go, according to the police report, prompting a story spawned a viral mugshot and unflattering headlines. According to Offer, the incident happened after a 12-hour drinking binge.

"Fame didn't change me," said Offer in a 2013 interview with NBC News, responding to the incident. "Money can buy anything ... [with it,] you want more girls around you."

Hollywood certainly hasn't seen the last of Offer, whose 2013 film InAPPropriate Comedy was called "stunningly awful" by The New York Times. The director and infomercial icon has gone on to sell additional products including a washable lint roller The Schticky, InVinceable kitchen cleaner and Quicky Glass.

And if you're curious as to what Offer is up to during the COVID-19 pandemic, he's selling ShamWow face masks on his YouTube page.