Todd Strasser Discovers 'man Who Thinks of Idea for Dirty Fortune Cookies Will Clean Up'
updated 04/16/1979 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 04/16/1979 AT 01:00 AM EST
As the old joke says, that's no fortune, cookie, but it ain't bad for a 28-year-old would-be novelist. (Dr. Wing Tip Shoo is one of Strasser's fictional characters.) The son of a Long Island dressmaker whose factory is distributing headquarters for the fortune cookie business, Strasser spent "most of the 1960s completely stoned." For a time he was a disciple of Scientology. The turning point in his life came when his cousin died of a drug overdose in 1972. "I still can't write about it," admits Strasser, who subsequently went back to Beloit College in Wisconsin for a degree in English and found a job on the Middletown, N.Y. Record. Two years later he switched to a Madison Avenue ad agency, then became a researcher at Esquire magazine before quitting to free-lance.
"It seemed okay to be a poor starving writer until I was 26," says Strasser, "but not all my life." Last November he came up with the idea for X-rated fortune cookies and enlisted his roommate and half a dozen friends to sort, package and ship the cookies. Now, with a pool of college students (at $3 an hour) to draw on, he sells to 100 stores and clients across the U.S. and Canada.
The 70 risqué fortunes were mostly written by Strasser, with a lot of help from Playboy ("I went through every back issue we had"). His girlfriend, Pam Older, objects to their chauvinism—one concerns a woman who lies on a sunny beach and gets "ultraviolated"—but Todd insists, "We pick on men just as much as women."
Strasser is awaiting publication in September of his first novel, Angel Dust Blues, about a teenage drug dealer. Meanwhile he is heeding the advice he once read in a PG-rated cookie: "Only man to find fortune in Chinese fortune cookie is man who makes them."