Lookit here: Yo, Adrian!

I had decided that I needed to make myself a Winner. Not only for my own ego, which has gotten a little more dented than I’d prefer to have it, but for the publicity. People who win things become celebrities, even if only at the local level.

[mantra-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]If you win something quirky enough, you can probably spin it into a YouTube bit that, if not clinically viral might at least be moderately contageous.[/mantra-pullquote]

When I was in high school, I probably would have been cocky enough to try for America’s Got Talent , but my first couple of years pounding the pavements as an actor taught me some hard truths about my singing chops.

I was never any kind of athlete, so sports were out of the question. But these days “sport” has a broader connotation then when I was tripping over dodge-balls. One thing I can do is eat. The Coney Island Hot Dog eating contest would surely be convenient. But a little research convinced me I couldn’t even qualify, no less pose a serious challenge to Sonya “the Black Widow” Thomas. And with the heat we had on the East Coast Fourth of July weekend, it was almost impossible to think of eating anything that didn’t have the words “ice” and “cream” in it.

Anyway, it seemed wise to try something outside NYC for a change.

I have never been great with hot weather. Even clinging to the AC, I was wiped out by the prolonged East Coast heat wave (which explains the lag time since the last post) . When I could get my brain to function, I started researching some options on line.

From thoughts of eating, it was a natural segue to cooking. I loved the idea of getting into a bbq competition (the community is enormous and full of fascinating people), but try working on superior ‘cue in an urban neighborhood where you can’t legally cook over an open flame and you’re sniffing distance from the local firehouse. I tried instead to come up with a unique secret ingredient for a brilliant bowl of red, but everything I thought of was either overused or too disgusting to contemplate. And it turns out that it ain’t such a cakewalk to get on the list for Cupcake Wars.

Nice Melons t-shirt

Nice Melons (t-shirt design by Troy Lewis, Tarboro NC)

I was cleaning the house in my “Nice Melons” t-shirt from the 2007 Eastern Carolina Cantaloupe Festival (in Tarboro, NC), when inspiration struck. Maybe instead of skill, I should stick to my natural attributes! (Especially when they align so nicely with my book.) So I started trolling the web for melon festivals. Sadly, I’d already missed the annual Virginia Cantaloupe Festival. There wasn’t anything else. The other US melon festivals seem to be all about watermelons, and my attributes aren’t quite that, uh, attribute-y.

This “winner” thing has me feeling a little thwarted for now, but I refuse to lose heart.

Maybe I should move in with my friend M____ in Cleveland, establish residency and run for Governor of Ohio. Now THAT’s a contest I should be able to win!

Lookit here: Have You Heard the Good News?

In my home town of New York City, we are fierce about our First Amendment rights (and don’t ever get us started on the Third—affordable housing being what it is in this city, that forced quartering of troops thing really gets under our skin). Maybe I couldn’t get my word out on privately-owned mass media, but there was nothing stopping me from taking it directly to the People.

[mantra-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]The revelation won’t be televised.[/mantra-pullquote]

What better way to do this but in the time-honored tradition of street-preaching in Times Square? After all, The Breast of Everything isn’t merely about a talking breast; it’s about a talking breast that starts a new religion!

On matinee day, I loaded an old messenger bag up with business cards, made sure I had my lawyer’s number on speed dial and headed for the subway. My first stop was the Toys R Us on Broadway. No point spending big money on a wireless mike—unless, of course, I’d find a tube of neon pastel plastic more embarrassing than the act of yelling the gospel according to Mam on the streets of New York.  The WrapStar model seemed eminently practical, or at least harder to drop or have yanked away by an angry mob, and had a refreshing lack of sparkly bits.

When I was a kid, there was always a single revival-style preacher in Times Square, a skinny guy with a big voice, wearing a black suit so old that what wasn’t worn to grey was shiny as patent leather. Maybe there’d also be a couple of guys with sandwich boards, and sometimes Moondog would wander by from his usual spot in front of Black Rock. These days, since the area has become a pedestrian mall, there’s a lot more competition for curbspace.

You Are Not the Only Person on the Planet (poster)

Today, the area is a parking lot of footsore tourists, iced lattes and unlicensed cartoon characters. At 5’2, I disappear into this kind of crowd. I scrounged for a folding cafe chair that felt stable enough to stand on and, when I found one, I climbed up, flipped the on switch and let fly with my very favourite Mam-ism: You are not the only person in the Planet!

Too right. I was immediately drowned out by a pair of steel drums, a team of kids break-dancing for spare change, and an ambulance siren. I was also getting dirty looks from a small but determined group that had wandered up from Union Square with placards in support of the people of Turkey. Most discouragingly, the crowds around the TKTS booth were more interested in the opportunity to sit in a studio audience or grabbing discount passes to a comedy club than in paying attention to any of us.

It occurred to me that I was around the corner from the NY home of a religious movement that, not so many years ago, had been in a similar position to mine. They no longer have to give away free L. Ron Hubbard classics from a folding table in front of The Church of Scientology, but the precedent cheered me. Prudently far from their door, I chose to open with Mam’s words from the Beltane Confluence (Chapter 7): “Greetings to all who honor Nature!” Nobody stopped me, but no one heard me, either. It was a miscalculation on my part. It’s really hard to have a revival meeting without the crowd and West 46th is pretty quiet right now. The only thing playing is Motown the Musical, and either the toy mike wasn’t strong enough to read over the soundtrack bleeding out the doors or the people filing in just didn’t care.

So I went north a few more blocks to The Book of Mormon and waited for the desperate smokers to come running out during intermission. It wasn’t a big crowd. There aren’t as many smokers left as you might think, and no one else wanted to leave the nice air-conditioned theatre for the city sauna. The few who did come out were really getting into it. I thought I was making some headway, until I started handing out cards and they realized I wasn’t a member of the cast.

I finally gave up and headed home. It turns out that I don’t have what it takes to be a religious leader. That’s OK. I’m only a writer, after all. And it was certainly an interesting marketing idea.

Lookit here! Let me entertain you

As I said the other day, I’ve been putting virtually all my efforts into thinking out of the box when it comes to marketing. I’m concentrating on the book that’s already out, The Breast of Everything, because…well (a) it’s already out and (b) you’d figure it wouldn’t be that difficult to come up with crazy ideas for promoting a book that’s about a talking breast.

[mantra-pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”33%”]Here’s my first brilliant plan.[/mantra-pullquote] It’s not all that imaginative, but it matches so well with the book that it seems irresistable. All I have to do is get myself on television and have a wardrobe malfunction!

Since my Mom keeps begging me to do it, I thought I’d try out for Jeopardy.  But then I realized this made absolutely no sense. Jeopardy is prerecorded. I needed to get myself on LIVE tv.

I decided to go after the low-hanging fruit. It’s easy enough to camp outside one of the morning shows for a day or two. I put together a few pasteboard signs with things like “Queens loves Al Roker!” and “Sam will always be my Champion!” on one side (it’s the weather anchors who are always trolling the outdoor groupies) and a giant blowup of the bookcover on the other. And I made up a break-away t-shirt to wear over my fanciest bra.

There was no point in even trying to do this on a rainy day; so naturally, as soon as I was ready, we had a string of them. That was followed by a disgusting heatwave. There should be health warnings about camping out on asphalt when the midnight temperature is still 88 degrees Fahrenheit. If it hadn’t been for my friend T__  dragging downtown every few hours with two gallons of Poland Spring to throw over me, I don’t think I would have made it.

Anyway, the Queens thing got me a hug from NBC’s Roker, but as soon as I flipped and ripped (flipped the sign and simultaneously ripped of the t-shirt), they cut away to the map and a security guard hustled me off the property. The next day, I tried ABC. I managed to flip the sign, but they had me by the elbow before my hand got anywhere near the shirt. What is this? Is the word “breast” on the NSA watchlist or something?! Those security guys must all come from the same contractor because CBS, which is really honing in on their hard-news-only differentiator, was already on the alert and I wasn’t even allowed within a block of their broadcast center. Damned face-recognition software!

I’d hoped I’d at least gotten enough attention to wangle an interview with Katie Couric, but no one would take my call.  I didn’t even get a bleep on NY1, which should have been a walkover.

Oh well. Nothing ventured…

One idea down. Nine more to go!