"Mary-Kate and Ashley's Temporarily"
by Dan Kapelovitz
Not long ago, I was the features editor of Hustler magazine. The job was everything you'd imagine: spell-checking porn-star names (Jamie Juggs or Jugggs . . .?), fact-checking coprophilia articles and casual Fridays with power lunches at Nibblers. I even saw Larry Flynt himself once when the elevator doors opened and there he was in his gold-plated wheelchair. "Take the next elevator," snarled his bodyguard.
Oh, how my life has gone downhill.
Now I'm a freelance writer, and by that I mean I watch television. My unemployment insurance ran out almost a year ago; so I recently signed with a temporary-employment agency. In the temp world, writers are not highly valued commodities (no one ever needs a writer just for a few hours Wednesday morning). However, good typing skills are always in demand, just ahead of "accurate alphabetizing." Fortunately (or not), I'm a fast typist, and whenever a company needs short-term transcription services, the temp agency gives me a call.
Most journalists would agree that the absolute worst part of their profession is transcribing interviews. In my glory days at Hustler, the magazine paid a transcription company $70 per hour to type up my interviews. I used to wonder what the transcribers thought as they listened to the four-way conference call between me, the formerly bulimic Barbi Twins and a puke fetishist. Now, I'm that lowly transcriber. And believe me, I don't earn $70 per hour.
After a couple of days of transcribing fascinating things like real-estate meetings and estate-planning discussions, I got a call from my temp agent, who told me to show up at Dualstar Entertainment Group, the corporate headquarters of the Olsen twins' billion-dollar media empire.
I was going to work for Mary-Kate and Ashley!
Okay, I've never been an Olsen-twins fanatic. I can't even tell the two apart, though they're not identical. And I never counted down the days until their 18th birthday, which many men deeply believed was the only obstacle to being the meat in the middle of an Olsen sandwich. But almost every guy I know is freakishly obsessed with the 19-year-old sisters. When I told my friends about my next temp job, they were whipped into a frenzy. More than one person I spoke to fantasized that the job might somehow provide access to Olsen undies.
"Maybe you'll encounter an actual Olsen," drooled one of my creepier acquaintances. "I just read in the tabloids that Mary-Kate left NYU and is back in Hollywood." Actually, I'd already had an Olsen encounter, years earlier in San Francisco's Alamo Square. I lived one block away from the Victorian home used for exterior shots on "Full House," the sitcom genesis of Olsen myth and mogulhood. One morning, a film crew was shooting a new opening sequence featuring one of the then-interchangeable sisters chasing a dog up the street. Little did I know that I would one day be working for that 8-year-old child. Before long, I'll probably be working for the dog.
When I arrived at Dualstar, the first thing I saw was a bunch of clothes hanging up and spread out on the carpet. "Were these actual Olsen-twin outfits?" I wondered. It turned out that they were items from the teen entrepreneurs' new clothing line. Unfortunately for my perverted pals, these clothes most likely never touched Olsen skin.
I never saw Mary-Kate or Ashley, but Dualstar did have a refrigerator stocked with all of the soda and bottled water I could drink (a perk never offered by Hustler). All of the Dualstar employees were extremely nice to me, and I could tell that my boss-for-the-day felt kind of sorry for asking me to transcribe hours of interviews.
I had imagined that I would be listening to secret Olsen-twin conversations. You know, pillow talk about Greek tycoon Stavros Niarchos or catty comments regarding Paris Hilton, strange noises in the background, new voices in the room . . . Instead, I was to transcribe interviews of various women with interesting careers who might inspire fans visiting Mary-KateAndAshley.com. The Olsens didn't even conduct the interviews--the editor of their Web site did.
For two days, I listened to banal conversations with a young author, a professional snowboarder and a 14-year-old fashion designer. I pecked away at the keyboard, transcribing their endless self-aggrandizing about their successes. Finally, I had an epiphany: Maybe I would never make belt buckles in the basement of my parents' house, but I'll be damned if I was going to transcribe one more word of someone who did. I called my agency and told them (in effect) to take this temp job and shove it.
My resumé can be found on Monster.com.
(This article first appeared in LA Weekly November 17, 2005)
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