OKLAHOMA CITY — Jim Tice knows where to find a rare poison from Africa and a 350-pound woman willing to bounce naked on a trampoline, but he's still looking for a Lamborghini owner willing to let a teen-ager go for a spin.
Tice, who operates a business called Finders Keepers, specializes in obsessions. He will search the world to satisfy the cravings of anyone willing to pay the price.
Tice's motto is a promise to "search for the stuff that dreams are made of," as long as it is not detrimental to anyone, illegal or immoral.
Stemmed From Advertising
Finders Keepers was the child of his career in advertising in the 1970s, when he earned the reputation for finding anything needed for any production, such as an unusual object for a backdrop.
Inquiries, from the sad to the absurd, have ballooned to 4,000 per year since he opened his business, and the enterprise continues to expand.
To aid in his searches and satisfy those hungering for the taste of the hunt, Tice set up the Freelance Finders Network. Members pay $20 a year to receive tips on search techniques and lists of searches under way.
The finder's fee is split with the free-lancer who obtains the object, uncovers the information or finds the person.
"We provide them with hundreds of searches to sink their teeth into," he said.
'Tremendous' Resource File
"Over the years, we've developed a tremendous resource file which contains information on thousands of experts, key personnel, societies and different specialists from one end of the globe to another," he said.
He also has a private investigative firm that deals with searches that have an element of danger. Another firm does data research for business, scientific, medical or technical queries and a third firm does treasure hunting.
His reputation continues to grow. Hollywood has approached him with three offers based on Finders Keepers.
But he isn't letting the attention interfere with his search missions, which continue to amaze everyone but Tice.
Some of his more bizarre searches include the hunt for a 350-pound naked lady needed for a scientific film on the study of motion.
Found Three to Audition
"That one was fairly easy. We found three ladies to audition for the part."
He still is searching for the Lamborghini owner willing to take a chance.
Tice also has managed to find 300,000 ladybugs for a landscaping project and tracked down a rare perfume for singer Dolly Parton with few clues to go on.
"She had gotten the perfume 17 years ago and all she had was an empty bottle," he said. The bottle had no name and no perfume left in it.
"We found out the company had gone out of business, but we found the maker and had a couple of ounces recreated for her," Tice said.
Books, Autographs Sought
The more commonplace searches generally include out-of-print books, autographs of famous people, addresses, and sentimental objects from decades past.
"You never laugh at the small, frivolous requests of a client. It is important to them," Tice said.
Comedian Pat Paulsen is looking for a Pabst blue ribbon beer sign that depicts a waterfall and actress June Lockhart wants a Howdy Doody rocking chair in working condition.
His work also has expanded to include searches for business information and industrial manufacturing facilities for special kinds of products.
However, his "people searches" have been some of his most memorable.
Reunited After 35 Years
"There was a lady dying of cancer who wanted us to locate her sister before she passed away. They hadn't seen each other in 35 years. We found her and they saw each other days before she passed away."
Finders Keepers now is doing a search for a client who dated a young girl in 1923 from whom he "parted company when he found she was a prison escapee who had murdered two members of her family."
"He recently discovered she had a baby in prison a short time later. He's in his 80s now and wondering. She passed away in prison. He'd like to know if that child is still living and if it's his," Tice said.