The Freelancer’s Journal: Tales from the Writing Trade (No. 4)

August 26

I had an interview for a job writing an infomercial for a “naturopath” named Dr. Sharp, peddling something called the Total Health Matrix (THM). He got my card from a bulletin board at the Soho Wellness Center. THM, I learned, is “a complete system, a new approach to optimizing health, nutrition, and life.”

I visited Dr. Sharp in his modest West Village apartment, where he greeted me almost as if I were a close friend returning after years abroad. He shook my hand robustly while holding half an unlit joint in his other hand, then put his arm around me and led me into the living room.

The place smelled like pot and incense, with an underlying odor of a vitamin store. Rows of blond-wood shelves, filled with potions and pills in bottles of all colors and sizes, occupied the otherwise sparse apartment. It felt less homey than functional.

Two people were already there—an attractive woman, about 30, with black hair and black clothes, including a miniskirt and lace-up boots that went past her thighs; and a big rustic guy with a beard, wearing blue jeans and dirty beige hiking boots.

We sat on a blue leather couch that clashed with the spartan digs. Dr. Sharp sat in a straight-back chair in the middle of the room. He was big, about 50, maybe older, with straight blond hair down to the middle of his back. His feet were bare and he was dressed in faded blue jeans and a loose white cotton shirt. He was sprawled in the chair, legs spread, holding the joint loosely between his thumb and fore finger.

“Thanks for coming. This is Sandi and Roger.” We all nodded hello. “Sandi’s going to produce the infomercial and Roger’s doing the tech. We’ve been building up to this project for a while. It’s a synthesis of everything I’ve been doing for the last five years or so. Let me tell you, the Total Health Matrix is about to ERUPT—it’s ready to explode, man. It’s just the start, too. We’ve got plans in the works, lots of stuff happening.” He smiled conspiratorially at Sandi. I noticed his hands were always moving, but in a relaxed, loose-wristed manner. He was at ease; he had held forth like this before.

“Eventually we’re gonna have resorts, Sharpville resorts, where people are gonna pay a lot of money to stay. Right now I’m working on a few video projects, and of course there’s my private practice. It’s about calculated steps up this plateau of a unified vision. There’s no doubt it’s gonna happen. This is just one step, a big one, but there’s a lot ahead and I’m gonna need people I can work with in different capacities, like you for example, as a writer. I’m gonna need PR, packaging copy, speeches, other scripts. It’s gonna soar, man, and my people are the wings.”

“Cool,” I said.

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