“Do it with me.”
“No way,” I said. “It sounds like a nightmare.”
“It’s fun,” he lied.
There couldn’t be anything fun about hosting a pledge break on KCET. But as entertainment reporter for the local news, he had to do a lot of stupid things, and misery loves company.
The thing is, I hate public television. I know that makes me sound like someone who blows her nose in her hand, but I can’t fake this one. In my opinion, there is nothing more tedious than public television. Unless of course, you happen to enjoy Woody Guthrie retrospectives.
But for viewers like me, who never need to see Lord of the Dance again, it’s life draining. And that’s public television: Celtic dancing and hard hitting coverage of the Indio Date Festival.
But then my friend went and said it – The one thing that could make me change my mind.
“Did I mention we’d be on during a Bee Gees tribute?”
And that was that.
Years ago, when the crust of the earth was still hot, Andy Gibb hosted a TV show called Solid Gold. It was a solid turd, even by 80′s standards, but people watched it.
On any given week, you might see Helen Reddy lip synching Delta Dawn while boys in sequined harem pants clung to her legs, pretending to be in a sexual frenzy. I can’t really describe the effect, but you could probably recreate it by drinking a tumbler of NyQuil and rubbing your eyes really hard.
At the time, my mother owned a catering company, and did craft service for Solid Gold. She often asked me to go down to the set and work, but I rarely said yes (I had more profound interests, like writing terrible poetry and listening to Andrew Lloyd Weber scores). Secretly, however, I had a huge crush on Andy Gibb. I listened to Shadow Dancing incessantly, though I had to hide the record in an Evita album sleeve to protect my street cred.
Naturally, when my mother asked me to help with Andy’s birthday party, the jig was up. I spent the whole day picking out rubber bracelets and spraying my hair until it was vertical. I was in love, and I didn’t care who knew it.
The party was in the green room before the taping, and the Bee Gees were the musical guests. I manned the chafing dishes, waiting impatiently for Andy’s arrival. As my mother and I dished out lasagna to the Brothers Gibb, we gradually became aware of rising voices down the hall. The room grew silent, and the argument became plainly heard.
Andy was having a fight with Victoria Principal (his girlfriend at the time). She was yelling at him about his cocaine use, and he was angrily denying he had a problem. It was obvious he was in trouble, and the moment was awkward and sad for everyone. Eventually, someone turned on a radio. Robin left to knock on Andy’s dressing room door. The voices quieted, but Robin returned alone. Andy never came out. After a while, the brothers cut the cake without him. He died just a few years later, at the age of thirty.
Wow, that’s a fun story.
Obviously, that was not going to work on the pledge break. So I started writing down everything I remembered, hoping there was something I could bring to the party. Maybe one of them needed extra napkins or was lactose intolerant.
The first sign of trouble came when KCET called, asking for my resume. That didn’t seem right, and I just knew something bad was going to happen. Sure enough, the email came a few days later:
“While we appreciate your interest in KCET, we don’t feel you’re right for the pledge break.”
Wait – were they kidding? How could I possibly make the pledge breaks worse? How would my involvement make the begging segments less interesting? It’s already the most horrible thing you can sit through, with the crappy tote bags and the John Tesh CDs. How am I going to bring it down?
I found out later they thought I was too “edgy.” Like I’m going to show up drunk and take my top off.
Oh well. What can you do? There’s a lot of rejection in any creative business, and you have to find ways to deal with it. So when this kind of thing happens, and it often does, I try to see a bigger picture, and visualize what my future could be.
I like to imagine that someday, I’ll break through this membrane of obscurity. Perhaps I’ll write a book about my experiences, and it will make people laugh. And maybe the deeper message, about how relative fulfillment really is, will resonate with others. And maybe I’ll find myself becoming well known and respected.
Maybe then I’ll be right for KCET. And maybe then they’ll call, and ask me to join them in supporting good television.
And I’ll tell them that for the cost of a latte, they can suck my dick.