Sunday, April 11, 2010

I'm no Martha Stewart

I'VE JUST returned from Ohio where I did some videotaping for a public relations firm. I'd been writing monthly articles for a party Web site for years (for which they paid me enough to keep me in chocolate for, well, a month), but this year they wanted something different, something more lively that would reach millions of potential partyers using the latest technology — a YouTube video.

"We'd like you to fly out to Columbus, Ohio, and videotape six parties," the PR firm person said. Free trip to Ohio? Luxury hotel? Three days off from suburban routine? And the star of my own video? No brainer. Finally I was going to experience the glamorous life of a person like Martha Stewart.

Ah, but in these economic times, everyone is on a budget. I got a free flight, but on a plane that comes with extra fees for luggage ($25 each!), $7 sandwiches (unless they run out, which they did), and leg room as big as the backseat of my MINI Cooper. The turbulence came with no extra charge, which kept us from stretching our aching legs, and I had to sit in the dreaded middle seat between two guys who knew each other but didn't want to sit together.

The only thing that kept me going was the promise of room service when I arrived at the hotel. But they'd booked me into one of those budget inns, with only vending machines instead of real food. I fell into bed at midnight, hungry, stiff and too tired to watch pay-per-view. Besides, I had a call time of 7 a.m. (4 a.m. California time) in order to be on the set for the taping.

I didn't worry about the lack-of-sleep bags under my eyes, figuring the makeup artist would make me over with her magic brush. What I didn't figure was that there would be no makeup artist, and I would look like a hag for all the world to see.
The cameras and party set were ready by 8 a.m. for my first performance. Lacking a background in drama (aside from real life), I was offered a teleprompter so I could read the script as I demonstrated the party goodies. Turns out I can't really chew gum and demonstrate party goodies at the same time. Each time I read from the teleprompter, I garbled a word, mixed up a sentence, or just plain stared at the camera lens as if it were Anton Mesmer's swinging pocket watch.

"Cut!" the director called each time I fumbled a prop, forgot to smile, or cursed a string of bad words. It took nine hours to complete six three-minute party videos. That's longer than most of my parties.

I was too tired to party that night, let alone watch a movie, so I dropped into bed and dreamed of suburban life back in California. I don't know how the videos turned out. Not sure I want to know. Of course, the whole world will see them, once they go "live" on YouTube.

I may never be able to show my face again in this town, or even Ohio. But I did learn something valuable from the experience — I'm a long way off from living like Martha Stewart.


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