"We were an unlikely duo."
"Lindsay, say 'Hi, Devin!!' Devin, say 'Hi, Lindsay!!'"
Her Side: "The Big Bang."
It all began over a little camel toe, a hidden sweat shop and four extremely flatulent dogs.
We were an unlikely duo. Me, 5’0, loud, bossy, prone to foul language, manic behavior and often extremely polarizing rants. Lindsay, 5’8, sweet, self-deprecating and gentle; the kind of girl who is so tall and gorgeous she has every right to act like a bitch, but instead comes across at once as your mother, your best friend and the humblest movie star in the world. The kind of girl with a computer password that references god. The kind of girl who says things like “golly!” and “gee whiz!” without even the slightest hint of irony. We did have a few things in common, though: We were both from a small town, with big city dreams – me from Ajax, Ontario, proud birthplace of Snow – both that cold stuff that falls from the sky during the annual 10-month-long Canadian winter, and mastermind behind “Informer,” reggae hit of the century; she from Centralia, Washington, where the sun shines a whopping 136 days a year. We also both had what could be viewed by some as a serious drinking problem.
Kathy B was a former beauty queen. At some point back in her early twenties, she was runner up for Miss America, and seemed never to let go of the inferiority complex associated with second place. She was unapologetically self-absorbed and stuck in a perpetual state of melodrama, over everything from parking her car to distant political situations that didn’t even remotely impact her, anyone she knew, or anyone that she knew knew. It was as though she had never stopped being ready to make her acceptance speech, and simple questions posed to her regularly launched her into full blown monologues, full of enough fake tears, dramatic pauses and chest-clutching to make a daytime soap opera look like a sitcom by comparison.
Her beauty queen dreams dashed, Kathy launched a line of gaudy, crystal-encrusted minaudieres – small women’s handbags usually designed to accompany evening wear, and often laughably expensive, especially when considering their undeniable tackiness. There was rarely a time I walked through the blinding showroom in Beverly Hills, California, without thinking seriously, who buys these?
This is where Lindsay and I met. Lindsay was working as Kathrine’s executive assistant when I interviewed to be the designer’s director of publicity. I had recently been laid off from my first job in public relations and was eager to get back to work. While the position seemed fairly legitimate at the time, in particular given my somewhat brief resume, it would ultimately prove to be a bizarre circus sideshow of an experience. Enough material to fill my need to be in the spotlight of hilarious dinner conversations for years to come. The stuff of books. Hopefully best-selling, mass-moneymaking books.
As I was concluding my interview and getting ready to leave, Kathy, in her singsongy, aspiring actress voice, made Lindsay stand up from her cubicle to say hello to me in front of everyone, like a child.
“Lindsay, say hi to Devin.”
It was so strange and awkward; naturally, I couldn’t wait to come on board.
It’s a crying shame that there weren’t cameras running at all times at this office-cum-accessories-factory. Well, there actually were cameras running, thanks to Kathy’s paranoia that people were ripping off her designs and selling them on the streets of New York. But had there been TV cameras capturing our daily lives back then, we would easily have been the most popular reality show going at the time.
Kathy’s entrance every day alone was worthy of a TV show. It would begin with an unmistakable stench wafting in from the back door – literally and figuratively. She kept a pack of un-neutered (and grossly well-endowed) Rhodesian Ridgebacks with her at all times. She was clearly feeding them all something very, very wrong, because their gas — which was constantly seeping out of their ever-exposed backsides — was potent enough to melt the skin right off your face, Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-style. They would announce their presence with a few blasts of this unsavory aroma before bounding in and toppling anything in their paths, including most of the tiny Philippine women working, presumably illegally, in even more illegal conditions, to cement thousands of Swarovski crystals onto Kathy’s designs, day in and day out.
Much to our horror, and despite our silent bargaining with whatever higher power we could summon at the time, they would be followed by Kathy. Always decked out in some ill-fitting, slightly stained pantsuit, she would breeze in and breathlessly announce her latest trauma, self-indulgent idea for a press release (“MY birthday is on 9-11! Think how I feel, never getting to celebrate my birthday! I know, let’s make a commemorative minaudiere.”), or paranoid theory that someone was trying to steal her identity, dignity or fame.
And the veritable epidemic of camel toe that seemed to plague that place! To this day, I could describe intimate details about various employees’ privates, without ever having seen them naked. I’m not sure if Kathy just opted not to wear underwear, or simply had an unusually large mons pubis, but it was deeply unnerving to take orders from someone whose vaginal lips were perpetually on display. And her “CFO” (quotes intentional, as I’m not sure this particular individual had any real professional credential to warrant this title) had an even worse case of it. On a daily basis, he would saunter over to our communal cubicle, in spray-on, circa 1982 faded Wranglers that hugged every groove and curvature of his scrotum so tightly it took all of your self control not to stare him in the penis. He would then prop one leg up on the file cabinet next to your head and thrust his bulging crotch as close to your face as possible while ranting about one offensive political stance after another. It was like getting sexually harassed from all angles, all day, every day. Between the CFO and the dogs, I saw more balls than Jenna Jameson.
Needless to say, it was an entertaining — if at times terrifying — place to work. And it was the breeding ground for a friendship that would continue to blossom long after Lindsay and I got the hell out of that place in search of bigger and better things (and a few rounds of rehabilitative psychotherapy).
Enter Manhattan Wine Xchange, Champagne and Hotdogs, and enough new hilarious antics to fill a book franchise that would put Harry Potter to shame.
Her Side. "A Match Made in Hell."
Some like it hot (Devin), some like it hippie (me.) We are the Odd Couple: short, tall, brunette, blonde, Champagne, Hotdog. We are the perfect pair(ing.) America’s Favorite Pair(ing.)
With our laundry-list of juxtapositions, we’re asked on a near-daily basis “How did you two find each other?” “Where did you meet?” Naturally, our reply isn’t just “Manhattan Wine Xchange” or a simple “2002” (yes – we really do go way back) and we’re usually compelled to share, in detail, how it all began. Because it’s in the details how these two, polar-opposite girls from wildly opposite backgrounds, who are physically different, and born on literally opposite ends of North America came together like perfect yin and yang and struck gold.
c. 2002 - I wouldn’t exactly call getting a job at “KBBH” “striking gold.” If “striking gold” means landing the worst job in the United States of America as an Executive Assistant to a woman who barked at her employees, sang praises to her dogs, employed a disbarred attorney for Grand Theft as her CFO, and sold $4k “minaudieres” to aging owners of football teams wives but pretended to sell to Hollywood’s A-List, then yes – I absolutely struck gold.
I started, but couldn’t finish, “The Devil Wears Prada” for YEARS after working at KBBH. The imagery had me diving behind desks, throwing myself in front of busses and locking myself in the bathroom like a mentally destroyed veteran. But instead of trying to survive a life at Vogue, I was trapped in the seediest National Enquirer-equivalent: a windowless, make-shift office in Beverly Hills sandwiched between Beverly Drive and Rodeo Drive and situated above the famous “Farm” restaurant, Frederick Fekkai, Ralph Lauren and other legitimacies. How ironic.
And everybody wore too-tight pants. Camel toe doesn’t discriminate. I regularly sat at my desk as an old man threw one leg up onto the cabinet next to me and lunged (to stretch, I suspect?) deeper and deeper until each of his testicles straddled the seam of the crotch of his pressed Wranglers. Trust me, you just don’t bounce back after witnessing this. You wouldn’t think he’d be able to bounce back either, but he always did. Unfortuntately. Randomly, and without warning, he’d come back for more – throwing a leg up and lunging while wanting to discuss risotto recipes and how Red Cross was the biggest scam ever.
How’d I get so lucky? I had finally landed a job in fashion – yes, this is how this absurd position was billed – and I was determined to work my tail off, make some great connections with wardrobe stylists, and then get the hell outta here as fast as I could.
Instead, I slaved away for 9 months transcribing muffled audio tapes of “Miss K” and her entourage secretly taping retailers across the country who were trying to sell knock-offs of her purse designs as the real deal. I even ended up going on an undercover mission trying to catch showrooms in Los Angeles selling imitation purses as “KB” originals. She even special ordered me a pen that was the recording device and coached me for hours on what she said the United States Patent and Trade Offices had instructed us to uncover. Nevermind that secretly taping people in the state of CA is illegal and cannot be used as evidence in court. (Of course Miss K’s CFO would know a little bit about that as a disbarred attorney.)
Before my job title swiftly shifted from Executive Assistant to Undercover Agent, we needed to hire someone for PR. 9/11 was only eight, painful months behind us and Miss K (naturally) had designed “We will never forget” $4k purses that she honestly thought people would not only purchase, but wear. Can you imagine New Yorkers walking around their dazed, broken, beaten and battered city wearing purses covered in a million Swarovski crystals announcing “9/11 – NEVER FORGET?”
Miss K couldn’t remember to close her car door in the Pavilion’s parking lot, much less show up to her daily appointments. We had set up a few interviews for the PR position. All of the candidates were probably fine for the job, but after interviewing with our glamourous company (clearly placed well within the parameters to be considered “Fashion” – barf) none of them ever picked up their phones for a follow-up interview, most likely scarred for life after initial exposure. Except for one lovely lady who walked in confidently in a sharp black suit and killer shoes. I remember thinking – she is so tiny! I mean, she was wearing 5” heels – but so was I. Except I’m 5’8”.
Miss K’s office door closed behind this girl and the interview commenced.
Ten minutes later, the door flew open and Miss K raced out, waving her arms wildly, tossing papers into the air, her swarm of Rodejian Ridgebacks running circles around her, bumping into each other, knocking Miss K into the wall (she didn’t even notice) tripping on her own heels, yelling, “Devin took the job and she’s starting tomorrow!” The chaos was surreal. The commotion probably similar to that of a herd of elephants stampeding through a Buddhist meditation.
“Lindsay, say ‘Hi, Devin!!’ Devin, say ‘Hi, Lindsay!!’” Miss K shrieked with tears of joy welling up in her eyes because she had just found her Public Relations Director. This appeared to be the happiest day in Miss K’s life.
Against Devin’s better judgement, she didn’t slit her own wrists right then and there. She looked as if her life just flashed before her eyes – or that she was going to throw up. I sat, staring in amazement at the freak show.
It was 2002 and I had just met my partner in crime.