I remember that decade wistfully as a time when I was always on the move, my job a veritable game of the states. The one constant in every new city was my office. Situated backstage in close proximity to the star dressing room (which was always painted chocolate brown), I set up shop. My workspace was a lesser dressing room, my desk, always a dressing table. Surrounded by marquis-style vanity light bulbs, it housed my Rolodex, a spiral bound calendar, and a memo pad boasting “From the Desk Of.” Seated on a metal folding chair scrunched against laminate, I felt terribly efficient. My make shift desk was stained with smudges of Bob Kelly theatrical make-up and was just wide enough to support a dual-line push button phone. I kept copious notes known as Daily Progress Reports. It was imperative that these reports be typed in all caps using pica, not elite, typeface. To facilitate this, I rented an IBM Selectric typewriter in each city. If I needed to make a copy of something, I journeyed to the box office and asked to use the Xerox machine.
Part of my job description entailed coordinating interviews and photo shoots with folks from 60 Minutes and Entertainment Tonight. Arrangements were made by telephone, contracts and releases traveled by snail mail. There was an air of mystery surrounding these celebrity moments and we had less of a remote-control mentality. That was before social media.
To be honest, the banter amongst the LongHouse Scholars is in a language I vaguely comprehend. There’s an awful lot of conversation concerning social media. We are urged to compose pithy blurbs in fewer than 140 characters and send them off into the Tweetosphere on a daily basis. I have been exposed to something called Vine which I fear may result in a rash. There’s Pinterest but there aren’t any thumbtacks. We speak hashtag and fan page, making certain our calendars are in sync. I am surprised to learn that this does not refer to a boy band. There is also fervent conversation about branding, and every time I swear I can hear the opening bars to Bonanza. Cue the steer.
It seemed perfectly reasonable to assume that a LongHouse photo shoot featuring Chef Alex Young and Al the Steer would be like any other shoot. Photographer-to-the-Stars, Dudley Reed was setting up the shot when we arrived. In his divine Masterpiece Theatre British accent, Dudley commented on the beautiful bonding going on between human and steer. Dudley was using a Polaroid instamatic camera for his test shots, putting me instantly at ease. Here was technology that I could wrap my head around.
The ever affable Farmer Tim was standing at the ready to ensure harmony between the two photo subjects. Chef Alex was seated uncomfortably on an overturned farm bucket. Al’s excessive chewing had me concerned that he would develop TMJ. Was he suffering from stage fright? Chef Alex inched forward to hug Al whose tail was swinging steadily like a metronome. I observed this from a safe distance, the Chef’s ruddy midwestern complexion framed by Al’s impressive horns. Al was feeling comfy enough to cozy up to the Chef. Both photographer and farmer were making steer sounds. With one hand Chef was scratching Al between the ears. Al’s tail was now swinging more allegro than adagio. There was a comment from the Scholar crowd to capture the moment on social media.
Dudley announced “it’s a wrap” and Al retired to his dressing room. The LongHouse Food Scholars utilized their tiny iPhones to introduce Al to the world. Al was instantly ‘liked.” This just might make Al a Celeb. Clearly he will now need People around him; stylists, make-up artists, managers and agents. As his Personal Assistant I will have to insist that Craft Services provide him with a gluten-free, vegan diet.
Just promise me one thing; whatever you do, don’t mention the word branding to Al.