The Story Behind Scientology's Slap Chop Scandal

Gawker has laid hands on the ShamWow guy's 2004 lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, and it's good! He accused the cult of infiltrating his food-chopper business and stealing it from him.

ShamWow pitchman Vince Shlomi, who was arrested last month because a hooker who allegedly bit him on the tongue and he pummeled the shit out of her, became a Scientologist in 1982. According to his 2004 lawsuit against the cult (read the full lawsuit here), the Scientology was part of a conspiracy to steal his successful food-chopper business from him.

The Story Behind Scientology's Slap Chop Scandal

In the early 1990s, Shlomi started a business selling something called "the Chopper," which appears to be a precursor to the Slap Chop of "you're gonna love my nuts fame," which he has more recently been selling in infomercials. According to the suit, he was making more than $1 million a year by setting up demonstrations in malls and using his preternatural pitchman skills to sell the Chopper. Sounds high, but we'll believe it!

The Story Behind Scientology's Slap Chop Scandal

As the Chopper business flourished, Shlomi started bringing his coreligionists on board, teaching them how to hypnotically captivate mall-goers and sell them useless kitchen crap. He cut his Scientology salesmen—including two colleagues named Ron Chacon and Steve Harris—in to the tune of $1.50 for each Chopper sold. All told, Shlomi was employing more than 40 Scientologists in the enterprise.

The Story Behind Scientology's Slap Chop Scandal

In the late '90s, Shlomi decided to pour the profits from the Chopper business into his movie, The Underground Comedy Movie. But his Scientologist employees grew jealous of his business success and his his Hollywood ambitions, and concocted a smear campaign against Shlomi and the movie, which the cult decried as "bad art" (which, let's face it, it was).

The Story Behind Scientology's Slap Chop Scandal

Around the same time, Shlomi turned over day-to-day operations of the Chopper to Chacon and Harris, who allegedly promised to keep paying Shlomi $1.15 for every Chopper they sold. Shlomi claims they sold 1 million (again, sounds high!). But according to the complaint, Chacon and Harris pocketed all the money and stole the business.

The Story Behind Scientology's Slap Chop Scandal

Ever the good Scientologist, Shlomi tried to use the cult's endless labrynth of beaureaucratic procedures—rather than a regular court—to get his money and business back from Harris and Chacon. In response, the complaint says, Harris and Chacon launched a cult-approved "black propaganda campaign" against Shlomi.

The Story Behind Scientology's Slap Chop Scandal

That campaign resulted, the complaint says, in Shlomi being hauled up before a Scientology court, which heard unspecified evidence from 22 people and branded him a criminal. Shlomi never heard the specific charges. When he appealed, he was labeled a "Type B declare," Scientology-speak for "criminals with proven criminal records." But Shlomi still believed in Scientology's tenets, and went round and round for years trying to clear his name. Eventually he was allowed back into the cult's good graces, but he got the run-around when he tried to use Scientology procedures to get his money and business back from Chacon and Harris. He kept at it until 2002, when he learned from a friend that the church had allegedly forced witnesses to denounced him in the kangaroo court. It was, Shlomi decided, a concerted effort to strip him of his business.

The suit was dismissed four months after it was filed. Shlomi left the church and started pitching ShamWows and Slap Chops on TV, got famous, and beat up a hooker. And that's the story of how the phrase "you're gonna love my nuts" started out with a Scientology front. Read the whole thing here.