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Come and knock on
her door—and buy her products

Come and knock on
her door—and buy her products

Suzanne_somers

Irrepressible TV legend Suzanne Somers is back in the spotlight, this time as purveyor of an eponymous line of food, jewelry, and beauty products. And gay men around the country are buying them up at private parties in the best Tupperware tradition. A look inside the strange new trend.

Suzanne Somers, uber-blond gay icon, is many things: glitzy Vegas showgirl, Master of Thighs, poet, Adult Child of an Alcoholic, ubiquitous star of television schlock-coms like She's the Sheriff and Step by Step, not to mention her most famous role as ditzy Chrissy Snow in the 1970s TV classic Three's Company. Now the tireless glamour queen has fashioned herself as a modern-day Mary Kay as creator and promoter of Suzanne, a line of food, jewelry, and beauty products that is being sold at intimate weekly parties in homes across the country.

Hosted by "independent Suzanne consultants" since October 2006, the events are a decidedly contemporary take on the Tupperware and Avon parties of yore. Misael Maldonado, a gay man and longtime Suzanne fan, hosted such a happening at the home of charter consultant Mark Paulk in New York City earlier this year.

The eager queens, fag hags, and the occasional straight couple at the gathering started by sampling various food products, including a pot roast prepared with Suzanne's Beef Bourguignon Simmer Sauce and crudites with a cilantro-and-lime dip. "I'll buy this dip. It's delicious," said party guest Maria Vaccaro as Paulk looked on proudly. Was Vaccaro at all influenced by Somers's association with the creamy yogurt-based concoction? "Well, I've always liked her--for God's sake, she was Chrissy," she said, picking up an order form. Paulk then demonstrated the creation of La Somers's light and fluffy chocolate mousse. Total prep time: three minutes.

When Maldonado passed around glasses of white wine, the irony of the chairwoman of the Association of Children of Alcoholics and a woman voted ACOA of the year hawking an $18.99 cocktail mixer assortment went unnoticed by the crowd. They were equally nonplused by the recent controversies surrounding Somers's latest book Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bio-identical Hormones. "She's entitled to her opinion," said guest Brian Barry, nibbling on celery loaded with salsa dip. "I saw her on Larry King Live. She was all fired up about her book and her beliefs. Look, I don't think it has anything to do with her products. Honey, this food is actually pretty fierce."

In the beauty segment of the evening, guests were introduced to Suzanne's apple pectin mask and spray-on cosmetics (for when you want to look lovely but simply don't have the time). The partygoers were particularly spellbound when Paulk demonstrated the Face Master. Using microcurrents of electrical energy (nine-volt battery not included), the gadget is supposed to stimulate and strengthen by zapping face muscles, thus improving facial tone. With blown-out, hyperretouched photos of the product's creator beaming down at them from the wall, Paulk demonstrated the device on volunteers from the party.

"Using the Face Master is like sending your face to the gym," Maldonado said, quoting from the instructional DVD. Carolina, the first guinea pig, grimaced slightly as the slim wands were gently guided over her visage, jolting her with low-level electricity. Later, she said it was "painless and oddly refreshing." A few guests were curious as to whether the Face Master could be used on other, more erogenous body parts, something not addressed in any of the promotional materials.

The Suzanne business (motto: "Share the joy") is designed to be an ever-growing entity, targeting freelancers, beauty and food specialists, and stay-at-home moms as ambassadors. Consultants, currently numbering around 1,000, are encouraged to bring others into the fold. Aside from income, incentives include exclusive hostess gifts, such as a Maltese cross cuff bracelet or a hand-painted violet chip-and-dip bowl.

"C'mon, she looks damn good for her age," Maldonado said. "The woman's been around for like 200 years. She must be doing something right."

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