"Tony Quinn", Pillars of Society, The Phoenix
FROM two imposing Georgian buildings on Dublin’s Eccles Street, Tony Quinn's so-called Blueprint for Living is operated, offering classes in yoga, keep-fit, dieting, etc, etc. However, these days you will not find Tony Quinn in Eccles Street, nor in his impressive Malahide pile. His booming business has led to tax exile status for the former Mr Ireland and a life in the Caribbean sunshine where punters pay big money to visit him and learn his secret route to happiness. The man who trained Steve Collins to win a world boxing title in Millstreet is now in a heavyweight league all of his own.
There are two sides to Tony’s business, both of them lucrative, although one has a more public face than the other. Up front is the Tony Quinn Health Centre operation which broadly encompasses the Eccles Street gym and 12 health store outlets around the country. Through these, Tony sells his array of life-improving products: videos, CDs, vitamin supplements and diet products. The other, more glamorous but low-key arm of the TQ empire is the off-shore life improvement “Educo” seminars which involve personal sessions with the great man.
Quinn has been making so much moolah that he has moved his business off shore and operates out of Jersey while living in the sunny Caribbean.
Not surprisingly, tax-exile Tony’s name is pretty scarce on any paperwork in Ireland and the various health stores around the country — Dublin, Cork, Galway, Dundalk, Kilkenny, etc — are actually franchised operations which pay for the privilege of using the high profile Tony Quinn name. As franchiser, Quinn would receive a relatively modest take from these operations but profits from the individual TQ products sold there have made him a very wealthy man.
Many of these dietary supplements are imported to Dublin via Jersey which presumably helps minimise any tax implications. They all bear the Tony Quinn logo although obviously are sourced from a variety of suppliers and Tony is naturally anxious that his customers retain brand loyalty, warning against mixing and matching elsewhere. For example, his Weight Loss Guide notes that many of the products sold in the TQ stores are exclusive to the Group and often made to its formula: “Genuinely, we have often tried apparently similar products and not obtained the same results. Please don’t take any chances — make sure that you are getting the right products ... A simple example: we mention the value of liver supplements in our other booklets, yet one of the most widely sold in this range consists largely of sugar”.
Tony Quinn is a valuable brand and promotion of the name and products through his Blueprint for Living publication is relentless. The current issue features stories on getting in shape, hormone replacement therapy, arthritis, mood changes, and tanning - all of which push TQ products. The Blueprint has been around for many years and many of the popular features crop up all the time, including the “Educo Postal Request” whereby readers are asked to send in a recent photo and £25 per month (or £40 for a family), listing a specific goal they wish to achieve. In return, they receive information on how to apply their own minds while Tony Quinn (somewhere in the Bahamas) and his right hand woman in Dublin, Aideen Cowman, “apply our minds to the request for a successful outcome”.
Apparently it works and Blueprint has plenty of readers’ testimony to that effect (eg “my husband’s business is really booming and he’s also stopped smoking. I am much happier in myself and lots of things are turning around for me and my family” — Mary, Cork). £25-40 a month is more or less the going rate in TQ’s book. For example, weight loss products (Amino- Or and Amino Energise) will set you back £30 per month while the much vaunted Life Extension Mix works out at £34.50 per month. The mix is promoted in TQ’s brochures by one Bob Delmonteque who, despite his name, is not a cabaret entertainer but a remarkably fit-looking 81- year-old doctor who claims to have trained the erstwhile stars of Hollywood (including Rita Hayworth and Clark Gable). Quinn met him in the Bahamas and the two teamed up to promote their videos, supplements, etc.
Like all the best gurus, Tony Quinn inspires loyalty and his core team in Ireland are all old hands who have been with him for over 20 years. These include the likes of osteopath, Martin Forde and his wife, Margaret, a holistic psychotherapist. Aideen Cowman — who runs relaxation classes in Eccles Street - and Hughie Chambers are also lifers with the latter now living in Quinn’s magnificent Martello Tower in Malahide, the setting for the annual TQ Christmas bash. This is the only time you can be sure Tony will be in the country.
Although only 31, Dave O’Connor has been with the TQ operation for over 12 years and asked questions from the audience when Quinn appeared on the Late Late Show a number of years ago to demonstrate his powers. O’Connor is listed as a director of Tony Quinn Heath Centres Ltd (accumulated losses at October 4, 1998 of £120,000) along with Colette Melia and accountant, Bernard Le Claire. However, Tony himself is not a director here and the only place he crops up as a director in Ireland is in a non-trading company, Educo Ltd, where his fellow director is listed as Margaret Forde.
Le Claire is based in St Helier, Jersey, which is also the address of Quinn’s own company, Baringo Ltd. Another Jersey company with which Quinn is closely associated - as a consultant rather than director — is Human Potential Research Centres Ltd, which organises the low-key seminars in the sun from which Tony has been raking in really big bucks for the last four or five years. These seminars are handled in Dublin by Colette Melia and one-time electrician, Tony McKenna, who runs the Tony Quinn gym in Eccles Street.
What is interesting about the personal Tony Quinn seminars is the manner in which they are sold. Unlike the myriad of TQ “mind power” courses which take place almost weekly around the country, but which are taught by Tony’s acolytes rather than the man himself, the off-shore seminars are not promoted at all in the national and local media. Nor are they advertised in his Blueprint for Living publication where you can find the price of everything from a bottle of Brian & Muscle Complex (£29.90) or Bob Delmonteque’s Secrets of a Long Life video (£34.50) to a course in psychotherapy with the so-called Irish Health Culture Association (£1,050).
However, Blueprint does include acres of gushing prose about Tony Quinn’s fabulous lifestyle in the Bahamas — Paradise Island no less — along with photos of yachts, catamarans and cruise ships “docked in this highly favoured destination of the rich and famous”. The text accompanying these colourful holiday snaps is made up of lengthy interviews with a sun-tanned Tony in which he outlines his philosophy — “Q: How would you describe yourself? A: In many ways a philosopher” — and sells his “unconscious attention” (UA) seminars. UA is something Tony discovered when “working with a university [no name provided]... for this | received my Master of Science degree”. According to Tony, his techniques have proved successful and “people who have come to my seminars are now using more of their minds to a point where their living is almost effortless”. However if you are interested in learning more about these “Educo” seminars (eg the price) there is no coupon to fill out among the glut of BUY THIS NOW! offers which litter the pages of Blueprint. Instead, you have to make a personal enquiry which leads to a very, very hard sell by Tony’s Dublin office. The sales pitch has to be hard because the price for a two-week seminar in the sun (economy flights, twin-room sharing) comes in at a whopping £15,000. So far this year, there have been three such seminars, including one to Egypt.
Most of the sales, however, come through existing seminarians anxious to get their money back and, according to the Educo booklet given to potential customers, “on completion of the seminar — held in some of the most beautiful places on earth — there is a unique financial opportunity available”. This refers to a commission scheme whereby the signing up of a new £15,000 customer generates a £2,000 cut for the person who made the introduction. If the newcomer subsequently sells a trip to a third party, the original agent receives a further £1,000.
From the original 15 who went on the first seminar in the Bahamas a few years ago, the number of sun-tanned Tony Quinn disciples has grown to almost 80 today and Tony hit the jackpot last month when over 70 fans travelled to Egypt for a two-week seminar at £15,000 a pop. Even conservative costings suggest a profit here of over £3/4 million. Next month, a smaller group will travel to Paradise Island for their session. The £15,000 price-tag is by no means top of the range. Some punters have parted with £50,000 each for smaller more concentrated seminars and Tony even offers a one-on-one sun session for a cool £100,000. Apparently, this kind of money has indeed changed hands and in one seminar booklet which Goldhawk has seen, it is stated that “private clients have paid £100,000 for this knowledge”.
Certainly, Quinn is not worried about appearing greedy and his publicity machines has pointed out that “Tony Quinn is the highest paid person in his field in the world today” which would explain why boxer, Steve Collins, told the High Court three years ago that he had paid Quinn £360,000 for his services. Of course, Tony’ got far more than money from his relationship with the world champion and the publicity associated with Collins’s title fights proved invaluable to Tony and led directly to the establishment of his lucrative sunshine seminar scheme.
While Tony Quinn did turn Collins’s career around with a tough training regime and strict diet, the media focus was on the mental aspect of the WBO world title victory over Chris Eubank in Millstreet. But was it a case of mind power or mind games? Tony Quinn would claim Collins’s mind was primed by him to achieve victory — and on the night, Eubank believed he was dealing with a hypnotised opponent. In his autobiography, Collins quotes Quinn as telling Eubank that “I’ve ensured Steve will not feel any pain”. However, the Irish boxer goes on to say: “On the way back to the safe house, we rolled around with laughter. ‘We've fooled him,’ I told Tony. ‘We've fooled the poser’.”
Not surprisingly, the relationship between Quinn and Collins didn’t survive the boxer’s dismissing of Tony’s super powers but the wordwide publicity generated by the two Collins-Eubank title fights has presumably helped make up for any subsequent lack of promotion by the Irish pugilist. Paradise Island is a long way from Quinn’s Arbour Hill childhood cottage home and the man who won 12 titles, including Mr Ireland and Ireland’s Best Physique, is in his best shape ever, financially speaking.
Bookings are now being taken for next month’s trip to the Bahamas for anyone interested in “the secret to happiness”.
Article sourced from Dialogue Ireland. (Follow up article)