The Denver Post

"Uncle Fester' manual shared cooking tips

March 17, 2002
Section: A
Page: A-19
   Kevin Simpson Denver Post Staff Writer
Memo: sidebar

When the phone rings, Steve Preisler stops typing the manuscript of his next book, "Home Workshop Explosives," to talk about his first counterculture best-seller.

Preisler made his name - or at least his pen name, "Uncle Fester" - offering the public tips on making methamphetamine.

"I knew meth manufacture well because I got busted for it, surprise, surprise," says the 42-year-old chemist from Green Bay, Wis.

He borrowed a typewriter from another inmate, tapped out "Secrets of Methamphetamine Manufacture" and published it in 1985. Six editions later, the book sells about 5,000 copies a year, says publisher Loompanics, and nets Preisler about $30,000 annually.

The book also became the centerpiece of a Colorado court case.

The North Metro Drug Task Force subpoenaed sales records from Denver's Tattered Cover Book Store to determine if a suspect had purchased Preisler's volume. The Tattered Cover has refused to hand over sales records, and the case is now before the state Supreme Court.

"The only way they'd pry out my customer list is to take red-hot pliers and yank out my fingernails," says Preisler, who self-publishes some of his titles.

Preisler, a divorced father of two, gained his nickname for the "Addams Family" television character whose experiments often ended in comic explosion.

He wrote his instruction manual on making meth to demonstrate the futility of prohibitions on drugs.

"I view (meth) as neutral, and it's up to the individual to be responsible for themselves," he says. "I have no problem with somebody who wants to make drugs - if they make good drugs and also don't make a toxic waste dump."

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