By Nancy Chipman Powers Print Article
(MCT)—He got Jay Leno to shave with peanut butter, Barbara Walters to put a wet diaper on her head and Martin Short to polish furniture with Spam. Author Joey Green, 53, (“Paint Your House with Powdered Milk,” “The Bubble Wrap Book”) is a former advertising guy and National Lampoon contributing editor who gained fame for his wacky uses of brand- name products.
Q: How did you begin experimenting with various household products?
A: Honestly, it was all an accident. I was working in advertising in New York City almost 30 years ago and I was asked in a meeting to come up with alternative uses (for Nestea, which was one of our clients). I thought it was the dumbest thing I had been asked in my life. (But) one gentleman, an account guy, said he was an avid sailor and one weekend he got really badly sunburned. He went home and took a jar of Nestea powdered mix, emptied it into his bathtub, filled it with water and jumped in it. And I looked at him and said, “That’s not what they meant when they said take the Nestea plunge.” And he said, “No, if you’re ever really badly sunburned, do it and you’ll thank me.” Right then and there I knew it belonged in a book. I’m now on my 15th book on this topic. So what I guess I have learned is that you never know what is going to tickle people’s fancy.
Q: What is your process, and do you ruin a lot of things?
A: I know you picture me as a mad scientist in my garage, but about 10 years after this meeting I was haunted by these alternative uses, so I went shopping at a grocery store here in L.A., picked out 40-50 products that we all know and love and contacted all the companies to find out their secret files. People write in all the time to companies (about) alternative uses (for their products), but the companies never advertise this information. So I got the secret files, tested them out, made sure they worked and published them in a book.
Q: What does your wife think of all this?
A: She used to think I was crazy, and then she realized I was doing a lot of the house cleaning. Just the other day, my daughter’s friend spilled some nail polish on the carpet. I got it out with nail polish remover, Dawn dish detergent and blotting with a Stayfree Maxi pad.
Q: Maxi pads and disposable baby diapers seem to be favorite items.
A: Yeah, they’re fun because they’re products that men don’t like to touch. But actually, I receive a lot of e-mails from people in the military. Our troops in Operation Desert Storm were in Kuwait and saturated Pampers and Huggies diapers with water and wore them on their heads and around their necks to keep them cool in the desert heat. That sounds bizarre, but necessity is the mother of invention. A lot of people in the military use tampons to polish their boots. It is funny because these guys are so macho. I’ve also gotten e-mails from them when they go through basic training and they’re in the swamp. The problem is leeches that climb up through their uniforms. So they ingeniously wear pantyhose under their uniforms (to combat) leeches.
Q: Tell us what you think was the best or weirdest stunt you pulled off on the television talk show circuit.
A: They’re all pretty fun. Maybe because I never thought in a million years that I would be doing something like that, but pouring a can of beer into Conan O’Brien’s hair was fun. Getting Barbara Walters to put a wet Pampers diaper on her head—I was just amazed that she was willing to do that. I got into a big food fight with Rosie O’Donnell, and that was fun. What happened is I was demonstrating how to condition your hair with whipped cream, and she grabbed a can of whipped cream and sprayed me … and just coated me. You could tell by the look on her face—she was stunned and didn’t expect that to happen—so I had a split second to react and just sprayed her back. She was great.
©2012 the Detroit Free Press
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