know more about
snake oil than any person alive!!!
Iíve been selling it for most of
my life. Quite simply, snake oil is my lifeblood. Magic, circus
stunts, hypnotism, hustles, mind-reading; any and every graft
known to man. If thereís a con, I know about it. Snake oil,
ladies and gentlemen, is the art of the gyp, hoodwink, shuck,
sandbag. Identify a weakness or susceptibility and manipulate to
your personal advantage. The term originates from traveling
ďsalesmenĒ in the 19th century who peddled a
concoction, usually giving it an
exotic name like snake oil, promising to cure all ills. Of
course, it was a big scam and eventually the term snake oil came
to represent any deceptive product or enterprise.
Growing up in Phoenix, Arizona,
lifeís calculations, mis-directions, and manipulations became a
fascination of mine. During this semi-lawless era reminiscent of
the Wild West, slicksters, con-artists, and hucksters roamed the
terrain looking for easy marks. Phoenix has now, Iíve been told,
quite civilized and the days of
flim-flam are long gone. Donít believe it. The art of selling
snake oil is constantly being reinvented, bastardized and
ultimately improved in a perpetual, strangely perverse
evolution. Just like me
My introduction to the swindle of
snake oil began during my formative teenage years. Working at
the state fair, I was initiated into the world of eccentrics
with a school-of-hard-knocks education in street smarts. In the
late eighties, this education allowed me to found the Jim
Rose Circus, touring the planet non-stop for fifteen years.
During this odyssey of the odd, I became part of a living
I have also been to two world
fairs and have seen Rocky Mountain goats copulate, so Iím
definitely qualified to write this book. In fact, no one alive
Much of the information you will
find in this offering is oral history passed along from hustler
to hustler; con artist to con artist; huckster to huckster.
By capturing this knowledge in
these pages, Iíve ensured that it wonít be lost forever. It
might seem like a dubious legacy, yes, but Iím confident it will
stand the test of time.
The roots of all business and
magic can be found in the rook of snake oil. But this is not a
ďHow ToĒ book intended to encourage anarchists, con men or
entertainers. Its purpose is to help the brain think in terms of
This collection of the strange
and risky is not exclusive to Americana. Many of the puzzle
pieces have been culled from the weirdness of Belgium,
Scandinavia, Germany, the U.K., France, Austria, Holland,
Switzerland, Spain, Jamaica, New Zealand, Australia and South
Thereís an interesting theory
Iíll propose for your consideration. Until the age of about
fifty, your head stores itself full with info. After fifty,
nature reverses to do some intellectual house cleaning. This
process continues until all of the brainís creases are ironed
and polished to the point of not even being able to control
One of the reasons I wrote this
book now was to preserve some of the interesting clutter before
remembering it all became too overwhelming.
Another reason stemmed from my
frustrations associated with research. And my fear of drooling.
My research on mind control
serves as a representative example. Brainwashing can be
explained clearly in two paragraphs. Or you can take the time to
devour a 300 page tome on the subject. Complete it and youíre
more confused than when you started.
Authors are often guilty of
turning a paragraph into hundreds of pages and calling it a
book. Some of the subjects in this book fall under this
Distilling topics with clarity
and brevity provides an insightful overview of the craft of
snake oil. It starts with this introduction youíre reading now.
Snake oil. Iíve learned from the
best. Been burned by the worst. Along the way, Iíve even
contributed a few of my own inventions. Come and get it . . .
Thereís nothing it wonít cure.
The contents of this section
are dangerous. Misuse of the material can cheapen an art form
or at the very least make you look stupid. More importantly,
misuse of this information may result in jail time or death.
Do not attempt any of these tricks without the direct
supervision of a responsible professional.