The Magic Bullet is a miniature blender that gets lauded on its infomercial as the “Personal, Versatile Countertop Magician”—a description that must have polled better in focus groups than the more accurate “Cuisinart for Hookers.”
Most infomercials are content merely to demonstrate their products and parade an endless number of testimonials. The infomercial for the Magic Bullet, however, is unusual in that it sets up a scenario in which the action is supposed to take place. The events of the Magic Bullet infomercial occur in the morning aftermath of some vaguely-described “barbecue” held the day before by a perky blonde named Mimi and her British husband Mick. One by one Mick and Mimi’s guests awake from their slumbers and stumble into the kitchen. As the party-goers struggle to recover from their hangovers and recall what they did with their wedding rings, Mick and Mimi provide entertainment. That entertainment consists of watching Mick and Mimi use the Magic Bullet to prepare food. After all, why hire a magician to perform at your party when you’ve already paid for a “personal countertop magician.” So the Magic Bullet is no mere food processor: It actually turns your house into Benihana’s! In addition, Mick delights his yuppie guests by using wonderfully cockney expressions such as “Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt”—which is almost as much fun as watching him grind coffee beans.
Magic Bullet Welcomes a Middle-Aged Drunk
Among the guests watching Mick and Mimi’s performance is a disheveled man named “Berman.” Berman, who coincidentally or not resembles Chris Berman of ESPN, staggers into the kitchen wearing a wrinkled shirt and tie, supposedly the clothes he slept in because he was too intoxicated to change out of them before blacking out. You see, Berman is a drunk. And that’s not my speculation. The Magic Bullet infomercial explicitly states that Berman enjoys getting routinely hammered. When he first ambles up to the counter, Mick offers him a daiquiri by saying, “What about a bit of the hair of the dog that bit ya?” Later, whist Mimi is describing her favorite smoothie recipe, she says, “Just add a splash of orange juice or for you party animals your favorite liqueur”—which prompts Mick to point at Berman and taunt, “Like you.”
Berman is a type of stock character that had its heyday in the 1940s: The middle-aged, drunken “life of the party.” Although the Magic Bullet infomercial may be vague on what actually happened at the “barbecue” the day before, you can be certain that several of Mick and Mimi’s lampshades got intimate with Berman’s scalp. After years of work by organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous to treat alcoholism as a serious medical condition, it is good to see an infomercial for a kitchen appliance reviving the stereotype of the funny drunk.
But I’m probably not being fair in describing Berman. At one point Mick explains how to use the Magic Bullet thus: “Now I’m going to screw on the flat blade, that’s the whipping blade. Remember that Berman.” It is likely that Mick jokes about remembering the “whipping blade” because Berman is not just a one-dimensional drunk: He’s also a devotee of sadomasochism.
Hazel: The Magic Bullet’s Cigarette Hag Extraordinaire
Even more memorable than Berman is a delightful woman who goes by the name of Hazel. We first encounter Hazel as she shuffles in behind Mick and Mimi uttering the classic line, “Did somebody say ‘Muffins?’” Hazel’s housecoat may be frumpy and her hair may look like a condo complex for lice, but she compensates for these little flaws by keeping a cigarette perpetually dangling from her mouth. She never seems to get around to flicking off the ash from her cigarette either. Our lady Hazel somewhat resembles former MTV VJ Kennedy, given a few years and a few thousand cocktails. Hazel is definitely the odd woman out in this upwardly mobile group. In short, Hazel represents a stereotype—The Aging Barfly—which is a more likely consumer for the Magic Bullet than the coiffed suburbanites who make up the majority of the people invited to Mick and Mimi’s party.
One of Hazel’s more memorable lines comes during this dialog:
Mick: Let me ask you: What is the worst job you have to do in the kitchen?
Mimi: And almost every meal starts with it?
Hazel: Chopping garlic! Stinky nasty garlic!
You really have to wonder what kind of ethnic or regional cuisine Hazel has been consuming if “almost every meal starts” with chopping garlic. Here’s an idea for a Magic Bullet recipe: Blend together some garlic, gin, and stale cigarette ash, and you’ll have a good idea of what it’s like to French kiss Hazel.
The most curious thing about the Magic Bullet infomercial is the way in which it is scripted. Most infomercials strive mightily to make you believe that “real people” are vouching for the product. But here we have characters such as Hazel and Berman who are obviously fictional. This is perhaps because the creators of the Magic Bullet infomercial want to subtly appeal to a wide variety of boozers. But working with actual drunks is a difficult and unpleasant experience. So instead they hired actors to play a couple of hooch-hounds. If only they had had the balls to go to a corner bar and fetch a real-life inebriated cigarette hag to appear on the program, the Magic Bullet might have gone down as the greatest infomercial of all time.
Magic Bullet: The Ulitmate Boozing Machine
The first half of this infomercial makes a big show of what a versatile kitchen appliance the Magic Bullet is. So we see Mick and Mimi whipping up omelets, muffin batter, chicken salad, and the like. But eventually Mick and Mimi let the cat out of the bag:
Mimi: We bought it because it’s…
Mick: …the Ultimate Party Machine!
At the mention of “frozen drinks” the gathered crowd actually bursts into applause.
Yes, they may say that the Magic Bullet can replace all the appliances you got for wedding gifts, but it’s hard to imagine any bride replacing everything in her kitchen with the sort of device you’d expect to find on the food preparation counter of a meth lab. A more likely constituency for the Magic Bullet consists of sots, streetwalkers, and frat houses. Of course if they admitted that they would lose any chance of making sales to the Cathy Mitchell crowd and would be reduced to showing their infomercials late at night on Spike TV, sandwiched in between the ads for Girls Gone Wild and ExtenZe.
Near the end of the infomercial Mimi suddenly declares “Let’s get this party going!” Everyone then heads off into another room. So after partying all night this crowd is still raring to “party” again in the morning. But after the program comes back from the “commercial” everyone is inexplicably back sitting where they were before. It makes you wonder what happened in that missing scene. In fact, this whole infomercial leaves you wondering exactly what kind of party Mick and Mimi really threw.
The Magic Bullet infomercial invites us to join the hung-over aftermath of a party of upper-middle-class white suburbanites fueled by alcohol and perhaps other more furtive dalliances. This is the first infomercial where I half expected to see John Cheever receive a screenwriting credit.
Hazel's Magic (Bullet) Moments
Clips of our gal Hazel on the Magic Bullet infomercial. This retrospective features all of her delightful lines of dialog.
Best of Berman
Highlights of Mick and Mimi's designated drunk, Berman. This video features all of Berman's speaking scenes from the Magic Bullet infomercial as well as Mick's mysterious "whipping blade" comment.
Original Magic Bullet Infomercial, Part 1
The producers of the Magic Bullet To Go infomercial, Homeland Housewares, have put up video of the entire infomercial in two parts. In this segment, see the guests awake and stagger into Mick and Mimi's kitchen.
Original Magic Bullet Infomercial, Part 2
Watch the exciting conclusion to Mick and Mimi's shindig.