I HAD FOOLISHLY ASSUMED that I couldn't exploit my fame, namely because I didn't have any. Then I found out that Clive Owen got $4.6 million to be the face of Lancóme's men's skin-care line. The only thing I know about Clive Owen is that he didn't get picked to be James Bond. I didn't get picked to be James Bond either. That had to be worth something. Even more surprising, Diane Keaton, who is 60, scored a major deal to be a spokeswoman for L'Oréal Paris, even though she's 60. I had to get out there and brand myself quickly before this money train finds a smarter conductor.
To get the cash machine going, I called a celebrity-endorsements agent who works on these kinds of deals, which are apparently so touchy that she—or he—requested anonymity. Let me make it clear that if the feds threaten me with jail to give up her or his name, they will not have to ask twice. Meanwhile, to protect her identity, I will call her Jamie, since that will give absolutely nothing away because all agents are named Jamie.
I sent Jamie some pictures and talked up my brand to her, which I described as being a perfect blank slate—one that had been building equity not only because I write about myself ad nauseam but also because I talk about myself ad nauseam to my friends and family.
Jamie told me that one of the requisites for a spokesman is that he can't be intimidating. Those were exactly the words a man who drives a yellow convertible Mini Cooper wants to hear. If brands were looking for someone who was always loved more by his girlfriends' mom than by his girlfriends, then I was going to be filthy rich. But then Jamie added that I also had to walk the line between having women adore me and having men not hate me. That was setting the bar kind of high. After all, if Owen had those things, he'd be Bond.
After members of Jamie's celebrity-endorsements team reviewed my photos, they thought there might be hope for me because, as Jamie put it, "you have a clear complexion and shiny, dark hair." I wasn't sure if she was going to score a deal for me from Mennen or send me into the third race at Santa Anita. I was learning that being a spokesman means being treated like a piece of meat. And that I liked it.
Then Jamie surprised me by asking me to name a product I felt passion for—something I had a "special story" about. That seemed like backward '50s-think. Who cares what I like? I like whoever is going to pay me the most. Does she think Clive Owen likes to rub man lotions all over his body? Still, Jamie kept pressing the passion issue. So I blurted something out like "dessert wine and tea." There was a long silence. "Whoa, never heard that one before," she said. "That's probably not where the money is."
Jamie gently explained that beauty ads, not tea spots, have high production values and a history of famous, classy faces. Being in a beauty ad, she said, means you're sexy. I have always wanted to be sexy. So for the next few weeks, Jamie made calls on my behalf and discovered that several of her contacts at hair companies were familiar with me and, in some cases, my hair. All I had to do was boost my visibility. Jamie suggested getting my name splashed in gossip columns by dating a celebrity. That was Jamie's best idea yet—although I figured I wasn't likely to date a celebrity until I had had my face on some huge Paul Mitchell billboards.