Does anyone remember this old advertisement?
January 6, 2011 4:42 AM   Subscribe

Wicked long shot, but I would like to identify a 15-year-old infomercial because it brought me so much joy. It featured a man in a dance club selling some mysterious service.

"Infomercial" is probably the wrong term because the most endearing quality about this ad was that there was very little information about what was being sold, but it was a half-hour advertisement. It was on broadcast TV around 11 or midnight in Rochester, NY c. 1996-97. yerfatma and I would watch it all the way through every time we saw it because it was so amazing.

The premise was that some guy in a gray suit was in a nightclub which was insinuated to be (or maybe explicitly stated to be) in the Caribbean. The host was a small man playing up a "trying to be smooth and failing" persona, making self-effacing one liners about his lack of dating success while interviewing people in the club. I don't want to give any red herrings, but he might have been IDed in a lower third or given his last name as "Silver." The attractive people interviewed would say what they were looking for in a dating partner.

The beauty of the infomercial was that it was never explicitly stated what the service was-- it might have been a phone dating service, it might have been a phone sex line, it might have been a group chat line. The host repeatedly stated, with well practiced accompanying hand gestures that the service, what ever it was, was "one-on-one. It's discreet. No one's going to laugh at you. No one's going to hang up on you." But he never told you exactly what you were going to get by calling the number.

Does anyone remember this and have details to add so that I might find out more about it? I'd love to know what exactly they were selling.
posted by Mayor Curley to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It wasn't THIS guy, was it?
posted by tantrumthecat at 8:01 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

That's totally it!
posted by yerfatma at 8:05 AM on January 6, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you so much tantrumthecat! How, how, how did you do that based on the shoddy info I gave you?
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:11 AM on January 6, 2011

Response by poster: I don't think that's the exact cut that we saw, though some of the segments seem familiar. Which is fine-- finding the exact show isn't nearly as important as finding out what the hell was going on. What happened when you called "Dial A Date" anyway?
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:20 AM on January 6, 2011

Some background info on Dial a Date is available here. From the link:

The people who appear on the show get access codes for the Dial-a-Date computer. They log in from home when they feel like taking calls. Then Joe Couch Potato calls the number on the screen, and is presented with a menu of who's logged in to take calls. He presses a button and the computer calls Real Single Chickee at home and gives her the option to take the call or not. They're connected, they chat, and she gets paid by the minute to talk to the guy. Of course, the longer she gets him to talk, the more she makes (and the more he pays).
posted by oozy rat in a sanitary zoo at 8:30 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're welcome!!! :)

It was the "It's discreet!" tag line that tipped me off. Also, my head is filled with mostly-useless-but-very-occasionally-useful pop culture detritus. :P

Those infomercials were shot here in Toronto and a fixture of local late-night TV for years. I was in college at the time and my friends and I used to get a kick out of imitating the host, who I always thought of as a low-rent Gilbert Gottfried.

I knew people who knew people who worked on the infomercials, and they were apparently peddling a phone dating service that billed by the minute!
posted by tantrumthecat at 8:30 AM on January 6, 2011

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