What the heck is a "Grease-man"?
April 13, 2005 9:22 AM   Subscribe

My friends and I were talking about building a cabin up North, and then we started talking like it was a 'heist' or a 'job', if you get the picture. So we designated someone as the Wheel-man, and someone else as the Grease-man, and then I asked: what's a grease-man? No one actually knew. I tried Google to no avail. Does anyone know what a Grease-man is? Are there any other *-man titles you can think up for a heist?
posted by indiebass to Writing & Language (39 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This is completely speculation, but is it the person who hands out bribes.

Sorry to be that guy who doesn't really answer the question with no real knowledge.
posted by OmieWise at 9:28 AM on April 13, 2005

You mean the blag-man, don't you omiewise.
posted by handee at 9:32 AM on April 13, 2005

I believe a grease-man is an acrobat, that is, someone who can squeeze in small spaces, crawl through ventilation ducts where others can't, climb otherwise unclimbable stuff, etc.

Like the chinese acrobat in Ocean's Eleven (haven't seen Twelve). He was their grease-man, wasn't he? And, well, grease is slippery, so there you go.
posted by splice at 9:39 AM on April 13, 2005

I vote for the guy who hands out bribes, greases the way, makes things easier.
posted by dirtylittlemonkey at 9:57 AM on April 13, 2005

Response by poster: Oh, right... and if anyone is here and answering, have you heard of the "Bag-man"? Is that another job for a heist?
posted by indiebass at 10:03 AM on April 13, 2005

The grease man is the guy who can squeeze into (and out of) tight places, as splice says.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:05 AM on April 13, 2005

Grease man - someone who squeezes into small spaces/does tasks requiring agility. You would have to "grease" the person to slide into a tight space, etc.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:06 AM on April 13, 2005

Check out The Great Train Robbery, by Michael Crichton. I think there's a screwsman (safecracker), snakesman (guy who can squeeze into small places), etc.

Also, you'll need a bagman.
posted by electroboy at 10:06 AM on April 13, 2005

Henchman, as I recall, comes from the German "horse" man. He's the guy who shovels the shit, i.e., does the "dirty work".
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:07 AM on April 13, 2005

Googling "+greaseman +heist" brings up a few entries that support splice's definition.
posted by mischief at 10:12 AM on April 13, 2005

You'll need a right hand man especially when it comes to locating the mullinsky.
posted by oh posey at 10:15 AM on April 13, 2005

Indiebass, the bag man is the person who is sent to deliver the money (like in a kidnapping). They invariably cannot be trusted (by the crooks, not his/her client). See the terrific film Way of the Gun for an excellent example.
posted by dobbs at 10:32 AM on April 13, 2005

Sometimes there's an 'inside man,' like the airport employee from Goodfellas (and, for that matter, the real-life robbery).
posted by box at 10:39 AM on April 13, 2005

In his novel Spree (which concerns a heist crew who hit an entire mall), Max Allan Collins (author of Road To Perdition) gives a fairly detailed description of a guy using explosives to open a safe. He repeatedly mentions using "grease" which, it turns out, is just a slang term for nitro. However, Collins never says that the guy with expertise in this field is called a "grease-man." At least, I don't see such a reference as I look through the book. Maybe if I read the whole thing again...

In any case, Collins cites three books that he used as "nonfiction source material" for the novel. Crime as Work (1973), Crime Pays (1975), and Game of Thieves (1981). None of these appear to have entries at Amazon.com.

Having read about twenty books by Collins, I can tell you that the man is a nut for research and I'm willing to bet a pretty large amount of money that he pulled the details of the safe blowing scene from one of these books rather than simply making them up.
posted by Clay201 at 10:41 AM on April 13, 2005

There's a Decemberists song called "The Bagman's Gambit."
posted by ludwig_van at 10:50 AM on April 13, 2005

Don't forget your Pointman, who may, IIRC, function as goto, lead, or chieftan for that project.

Since Ocean's 11(++) works well, the pointmEn would be Pitt and Clooney.
posted by unixrat at 10:54 AM on April 13, 2005

Upon futher cogitation, Pitt would be pointman and Clooney the wheel.

Upon further further thought, who's going to write the Wikipedia entry for Greaseman?
posted by unixrat at 10:59 AM on April 13, 2005

Response by poster: Wikipedia was my first stop. I am SHOCKED that none of this is on there
posted by indiebass at 11:12 AM on April 13, 2005

posted by gleuschk at 11:20 AM on April 13, 2005

I'm still waiting for a MeFi member who is an experienced heist participant to chime in with knowledge from actual experience. I guess it won't happen until there is anonymous commenting.
posted by matildaben at 11:51 AM on April 13, 2005

More info on Ivan Boesky.
posted by jmgorman at 12:03 PM on April 13, 2005

gleuschk: Dirk Benedict (AKA Faceman) is one of the very few famous alumni of my alma mater.
posted by willpie at 12:03 PM on April 13, 2005

Don't forget, every heist needs a fall guy.
posted by Hildago at 12:11 PM on April 13, 2005

The problem with splice's definition is that, leaving out all Ocean's 11 and 12 uses of the word, there are only two citations I can find to support it on the Internet or anywhere else for that matter, and those two citations are an unproduced screenplay and not-so-good fiction. In fact, outside of greaseman = car mechanic, there are few citations anywhere for the term, even in the underworld slang dictionaries (most which agree grease n. = money and grease v. = to bribe; to flatter; to kill).

This use says a "greaseman" is an assassin:

2004 James Hime Scared Money pp. 179-180: "Why couldn't Farkas be usin' the SMG?" "Because it's a cheap meat-ax weapon.…The SWD is a street thug's gun."…"Probably a street thug who hires out." "Yep, I'd bet Farkas hired himself a greaseman. And I'd also wager Farkas is keepin' his own personal distance from actual killings."

I'll keep digging on it, though.
posted by Mo Nickels at 12:21 PM on April 13, 2005

I'm a bit bigger on the the usage of colors for names aka Reservoir Dogs and the The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.

Of course you should argue who gets to be Mr. Black.
posted by filmgeek at 12:32 PM on April 13, 2005

Response by poster: thanks, mo nickels. I'm almost more convinced that a greaseman would be an explosives expert, as per Clay's post. If not, what *-man would an explosives expert be?
posted by indiebass at 12:33 PM on April 13, 2005

Greaseman was also a fairly famous radio DJ in Philadelphia in the early 90s who feuded (and lost) with Howard Stern.
posted by haqspan at 12:46 PM on April 13, 2005

Boesky: Brad Pitt has also starred as Ivan Dobsky.
posted by seanyboy at 1:16 PM on April 13, 2005

You'll need to clear the land first, so you'll need a Burning Man.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:18 PM on April 13, 2005

If the crooks are from a less imaginative school of thought your explosives expert might just be called "the demolition man" (a label perhaps tarnished by the film). Wheelman can also be the Getaway man. I'm torn on Greaseman myself...and hope that someone finds a definitive source.
posted by safetyfork at 1:21 PM on April 13, 2005

Contributing nothing to the conversation, I'd still like to say that it's questions (and answers!) like these that make AskMefi great.
posted by Space Kitty at 2:04 PM on April 13, 2005

There's also gunman. I trust you won't be needing one of those.
posted by Soliloquy at 2:20 PM on April 13, 2005

Bagman is the guy carrying the bag. What's in the bag could be anything--money, jewels, babies--all that matters is he has it and you want it.

Greaseman is usually the guy who goes in and gets dirty. It has something to do with the phrase "elbow grease" I think. He does the hard, unpleasant stuff that few want to do.
posted by nixerman at 2:27 PM on April 13, 2005

A grease-man isn't an explosives expert, not so far as the aforementioned "Crime as Work" is concerned.

From page 35:
The term "pete-man" refers to "safecracker." Although the two terms are sometimes used synonymously, in its more precise meaning, "pete-man" refers only to those safecrackers who use explosives."
As opposed to those who use crowbars, picks, etc....

I believe gunmen are referred to by several names; grease man included. In terms of heists however, I'm pretty sure that greasemen are contortionists of some sort.
posted by lilnemo at 7:10 PM on April 13, 2005

*channels The Outsiders, drawls "Need a haircut grease-man?"

I think a greaseman is probably closer to a little bit of everything mentioned above, a jack-of-all-trades guy, but probably not articulate enough to be point-man.

Don't forget that if your going to be having any serious discussions, you will need a straw-man.
posted by schyler523 at 8:10 PM on April 13, 2005

don't forget Iron-Man either!

Another fun book is The Big Con by David Maurer.
posted by hattifattener at 8:43 PM on April 13, 2005

Remember that grease also applies to acting make-up.
But my bet is on the acrobat. (I should watch Rififi again...)
posted by klangklangston at 10:18 AM on April 14, 2005

My immediate instinct is that "grease gun" plays in here somewhere. The term not only applies to the lubricant applicator, it's also served as slang for a number of weapons.

Hence, the grease man wielded the largest gun, or the gun with the largest magazine, and was in charge of dealing with resistance while the rest of the crew carried out their tasks.
posted by Myself at 7:52 PM on April 14, 2005

« Older Vegas shows cheap?   |   Changing a battery on a VW Golf Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.