You want to do something really scary for Halloween? Stand in front of a live TV camera and present party tips for six straight hours—over and over—while wearing a ridiculous witch costume. Sound like a horror movie? No, it’s the frightening life of a writer at Halloween time. And it’s called a Satellite Media Tour.
A balloon company found me while searching online for a spokesperson to promote their product. Apparently they thought I was an expert on balloons because I’d written a few party books. I’ve done a few of these SMTs in the past, for companies that sell gum (“Just like brushing your teeth!”), frosting (“Who needs cake when you have frosting!”) raisins (“Sprinkle them on everything from cereal to spaghetti!”), food wrap (“Keep it fresh for years!”) and overnight diapers.
I almost didn’t get the diaper gig. At the Big Meeting with all the Execs, I was asked if I was familiar with their line of products, which included incontinent pads. Thinking they wanted someone perky and quick-witted like Kelly Ripa, I said, “Oh yes! I’m wearing them now!” Their looks of horror made me wish I’d actually been wearing those adult diapers.
But when the company asked if I’d like to write some party articles for their website and “maybe do a little live TV”—for which they’d pay me way more money than I was worth—I said, “Party on!” Sounded easy enough. Don a disguise so no one would recognize me (ridiculous witch costume), stand at a table filled with already prepared party props (mostly balloons), and talk about fun Halloween ideas (such as: “If you really want to scare the kids this year, don’t give them any candy…”). Piece of cake, as they say in the party business.
The next think I knew I was being whisked off to the East Coast to do live TV. O.M.G. The gig required the ability to inflate balloons without popping them, memorize pages and pages of script, remember to call the treats “Monster Mash” instead of “Party Poop,” and answer questions like “Is Halloween Satan’s Birthday?” from unpredictable TV hosts. All this, while constantly mentioning “The Product” without making it appear this was an infomercial.
I quickly learned I’m not good at remembering the cumbersome product name. I’m not good at keeping a witch’s hat from flying off my head during Live TV. I’m not good at looking into a dark camera lens and pretending it’s Regis on the other end. I’m especially not good at doing this over and over and over for six hours straight.
My “performance” was sent out—live—to 35 TV stations across the country. I only hope I didn’t embarrass myself too much in Greenville. I pray the folks in Mobile didn’t see the set fall down behind me. I hope viewers in Wichita didn’t notice I forgot to mention the product website. I think I went over pretty well in Yuma. (Do they have TV there?)
Immediately after the camera went black, I changed out of my costume and flew home. No one on the plane recognized me from my TV stint, even in my streetwalker makeup. There were no paparazzi waiting for me at home, no calls from Ellen, no product companies begging me to sell Wheaties or hemorrhoid cream. Instead I had a three-hour gig babysitting four kids under the age of four. It was almost as scary as doing live TV.