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Another Dark Horse Joins the '08 Dem Field

Move over, Mike Gravel. Step aside, Dennis Kucinich. There's a new dark horse to the rescue.

Faster than a Mach3 razor, more powerful than a laser hair remover, and able to pluck long hairs in a single bound, they call him: Tweezerman.

Actually, he calls himself Tweezerman. "I do have the legal right to call myself Tweezerman," says Tweezerman, whose real name is Dal LaMagna.

LaMagna, a businessman who sold his company, Tweezerman Corp., in 2004 for about $50 million, is not exactly a political novice. He has run twice unsuccessfully for Congress in New York's Third District on Long Island, including in 1996, when he embraced his alter-ego and handed out 10,000 tweezers inscribed "Tweezerman for Congress."

But now that he has officially entered the 2008 Democratic presidential primary sweepstakes - he launched his campaign web site just today - the man who made his fortune off the misfortune of unsightly facial hair (and big-toe hair, nose hair and other unspeakably unwanted fuzz) wants to project a more, well, presidential image.

"No, I'm not going to be giving out tweezers again," LaMagna told the Sleuth in a telephone interview today. "This is not a joke campaign. This is serious."

Eleven years ago, when he tried to unseat Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), LaMagna told our colleague Dana Milbank (who then wrote for the Wall Street Journal) in his quintessential Long Island accent: "The bottom line is, I'm Tweezerman. That's my persona, it's everything I'm about."

Milbank wrote in the Journal that LaMagna so embodied Tweezerman that he "stuffed Styrofoam under his shirt at a trade show and stabbed himself with tweezers. He got into Forbes magazine in 1985, with a photo of himself carrying a six-foot-long pair of tweezers. Five years ago at a cosmetics trade show, he stuffed his nostrils with hair to promote the Tweezerman rotary nose-hair clipper. He also hired Tweezermen and Tweezerettes to sing songs such as 'Boogie-Woogie Tweezerman' and 'Hip to Tweeze Hair.'"

Although he legally retained the right to call himself Tweezerman after selling his company, LaMagna, 60, says he just doesn't feel like pulling out the tweezers in his admittedly obscure and uphill bid for the presidency.

"If we were living in a different time, if we weren't so trapped in Iraq" and working-class Americans earned better wages, had pension security and health insurance then maybe Tweezerman could have more fun being front and center in this campaign, says LaMagna, who spends time blogging at Huffingtonpost.com.

Though he admits he has a miniscule chance of winning, the Harvard Business School graduate is quick to imagine his Cabinet when asked. Were a political miracle to occur and Tweezerman were to win the presidency? He'd appoint one-time presidential candidate Gen. Wesley Clark as defense secretary. And he'd make Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) Secretary of State. Or maybe Elliot Richardson, he's not sure yet. (Yes, we're pretty sure he knows Richardson has gone on to his reward.)

And for his vice presidential running mate? "If I had my choice - Barack Obama," LaMagna said, laughing. "I certainly don't have that choice."

Unfortunately for Tweezerman fans, it looks like LaMagna will be eschewing inevitable campaign puns such as "Tweeze Vote for Tweezerman" or "Tweezerman: Pulling it Out for America" or "Winning the White House, One Hair at a Time" in lieu of his real, more somber campaign slogan: "Working to end the violence in Iraq."

LaMagna, a self-described "progressive capitalist" who gave his employees a 10 percent stake in the ownership and sale of Tweezerman Corp., has been focused almost exclusively on ending the war in Iraq. He got a mention in a New York Times story this week for his role hosting a Sunni Arab member of the Iraqi Parliament at his home in Washington, DC. LaMagna says "being a presidential candidate has been helpful" in his quest to help Iraqis secure their country.

Tweezerman hasn't been to Iraq, though he says he plans to go in a few weeks. (He has met with Iraqis in Jordan and in the United States.)

In the "favorites" category, by the way, LaMagna says his favorite type of music is Budhabar. But his favorite artist is either Bob Dylan (though he says he can't understand a word Dylan says) or Leonard Cohen.

His favorite book ever? That's a tweezy one: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It taught him how to solve problems, he says.

LaMagna is divorced and acknowledges his single status could be a hindrance for a president. But he's very Zen about solving that problem, too. "If I become president, there are women who I know in my life who -- if Americans wanted me to have a wife -- would be happy to marry me."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  May 15, 2007; 5:00 PM ET
 
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