Like most aspiring New York City actresses, I had to find employment between acting jobs. I thought a 9 to 5 job would be more palatable if I could find work in an office in the entertainment industry. I would be around creative people, see what happens behind the scenes, and try my best to network and make connections that would help my career.
I was lucky and landed a job with a bigwig Broadway producer. Let’s call him Mr. Showbiz. I was hired to be his Executive Assistant.
Working for him on a daily basis was like permanently living in a Saturday Night Live skit. The man was a total stereotype of a New York City theater producer. Like a character inThe Producers, Mr. Showbiz actually wore a fedora, a cloak and waltzed around with a cane while chomping a cigar.
The cane was not just for style, however, but rather an aid to help him with his painful big toe. In my time as his employee, Mr. Showbiz was struck with gout. Yes, gout. I didn’t think people still GOT gout, the ye olde illness that overweight royalty like Henry VIII had due to a rich and fatty diet. But Mr. Showbiz was basically the Henry VIII of Broadway.
This fellow would actually strut around the office singing “I want to be a producer, I want to see my name in lights!” At first, moments like that struck me as hilarious, but by the third week it was less entertaining.
Most mornings he would burst into the office, toss his briefcase onto my desk and shout “Where’s my coffee?” Soon he started referring to me as “his Gal Friday,” while winking and nudging his male associates. He felt totally comfortable telling me the kinds of clothes he wanted me to wear: Skirts should be shorter, heels higher, professional blouses showing off what I’ve got. He’d often quote from The Producers, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!” I was just waiting for the day when he’d actually slap me on my ass. The role of women in the office has come a long way since the Mad Men days, but not in the office of Mr. Showbiz.
Needless to say, I couldn’t tolerate the office atmosphere for long. I did try to take advantage of the situation by seeking his professional advice on my career, but his idea of mentoring was to tell me to watch “All about Eve” and take note. I made a few connections through some of his industry friends, but in the end, the job didn’t prove to be very helpful to my career. I thought at the very least he could get me an audition, but he preferred having me as his Gal Friday. I had other aspirations for myself, so I left Mr.Showbiz and never looked back, except to have a few laughs.
There’s no biz like working for Mr. Showbiz.