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Fake spit?

An Indiana company supplies synthetic saliva to the entertainment industry.

When Paula Abdul needs some spit, she calls Indiana. So do the Beach Boys. And Dolly Parton, and Eric Clapton, and Kenny Rogers and a host of other stars.

They call to order some more Entertainer's Secret, an Indiana product that comes to the rescue when their voices feel like quitting. It relieves their throats when they get dry and scratchy, putting back the moisture that usually lubricates the larynx. The throat's natural moisture can dry up when voices get the kind of workout that entertainers give them, and the stars frequently have need for an artificial moisture supplement. Entertainer's Secret is just that, kind of like spit in a bottle.

Well, not exactly, says Gordon Schmitz. He's president of Carmel-based Entertainer's Secret Inc., which is owned by investors that include the Indianapolis advertising agency Montgomery Zukerman Davis Inc. Schmitz knows that Entertainer's Secret is a bit different from spit, because his company started out making artificial spit as well.

Schmitz, a pharmacist, was in his third decade at Eli Lilly & Co. when he got into an unusual conversation with a dentist friend. "He said that the world needs a synthetic saliva. My first reaction was that that's kind of a dumb idea, and kind of gross," Schmitz says. But he began to be intrigued by the notion, and did some research. He found that his friend was right. There are a number of medical applications for a saliva supplement; patients often need it after surgery or certain kinds of radiation treatment.

So Schmitz got started with his new product in 1980. About five years later, he heard from a physician in the country music capital of Nashville, Tenn. This doctor treated a lot of stars, and a frequent complaint they cited was a dry, scratchy throat. The doctor discovered that Schmitz's product could help, but thought a different formulation designed to more closely resemble the back-of-the-throat kind of secretions would be a perfect solution.

Schmitz responded with the present formula. Like the original, it's not medicated, just moist. It doesn't numb the throat like medicated sore-throat sprays, and that can be a benefit because Entertainer's Secret won't hide throat problems more serious than simple dryness, problems that would need antibiotics or other treatments.

It turned out to be a hit with the stars. Orders came in from Cher, Waylon Jennings, the Judds, Conway Twitty, Jim Nabors. And while Schmitz points out that none of the stars mentioned here are signed on as official endorsers, he adds to the list product fans such as Bon Jovi, REO Speedwagon, Mel Tillis and Natalie Cole. "Just recently, Paula Abdul came in with a panic order," he says, "and we had to FedEx a couple cases."

The product comes in a 2-ounce spray bottle. While the sprayer would seem best suited for hitting the throat by way of the mouth, Schmitz says most of the stars actually spray it in their noses, which is an ideal way to direct the product to some of the upper throat areas.

Now, Schmitz--whose company is headquartered in Carmel but contracts with Applied Laboratories of Columbus to actually make the product--is seeking to spread the secret of Entertainer's Secret beyond the entertainment industry. As nice as it is to have such a famous clientele, he says, "if every big entertainer bought a couple of bottles a year, you still wouldn't sell very many."
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Title Annotation:Entertainer's Secret Inc. manufactures synthetic saliva to relieve dry, scratchy throats
Author:Kaelble, Steve
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Sep 1, 1992
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