If people didn't bitch about their jobs, I think there'd be a third less entries in all of Livejournal. So I'm dedicating this one entry to what I consider to be my best job ever. It also happens to be the only job I've resigned from.
Back in 1998, the Internet was really starting to take off. However, my freelance business was not. After a while, a part of me was wondering if advertising was for me at all. Maybe I'd have more fun writing something other than ads.
So when a headhunter asked me about a managing editor position at an Internet start-up, I rubbed my chin with my thumb and forefinger and replied in a faux Portuguese accent, "I'm intrigued. Tell me more."
If I was looking for something more fun than advertising, this was it. The idea for the start-up was to create an online version of a British tabloid, but with a humorous bent a la The Onion. Apparently the guy starting the company used to be an editor for "The Sun" before leaving to become independently wealthy. How'd he become rich? I'd find out after the job interview.
The job interview was at this company called Logical Systems. Sounded like a place that built things designed to put your ass to sleep rather than a place where you'd find a humor Web site. The lobby had stuffy leather furniture and dark wood paneling: you half-expected to see fat old men in pinstriped suits reading the Wall Street Journal while chomping on cigars.
I was greeted by the editor-in-chief Karl, a cheerful pudgy dude who was a dead ringer for Bob's Big Boy. I followed him into a similarly stuffy boardroom, and there sat this pasty, tight-lipped man whom I could only assume was British. His name was Ron and he ran the joint.
It turned out they'd already liked my writing samples and this interview was only about salary negotiations. Mother of God they offered me a crapload of money.
"Mother of God!" I said.
"Do you have any questions for us?" asked Ron.
"When the Hell do I start?" I asked.
What I should've asked was "Ron, how'd you get so damn rich?" I'd get the answer on the first day of work.
My office wasn't fully set up then, so they had me use the computer in the "Asset Design" room, which was occupied by some guys plowing away on very souped-up Macs. I sat in the corner, reading my email on the lone PC. I turned my head to see what the other guys were doing, and the lazy bastards were all checking out porn.
Or so I thought.
They weren't lazy at all, but working very hard at their jobs, which turned out to be Photoshopping giant images of people sticking their genitals into each other. This is when I discovered that I was now an employee of an online porn company.
As they rapidly jumped from body part to body part, airbrushing out ass zits, crabs and stretch marks, they filled me in on Logical Systems.
Apparently it was started by this man named Bob. But Bob wasn't just any online porn entrepreneur - the man was the fricking Father of Online Porn. He was the first person to come up with the idea of charging people to check out and download pictures of naked people having dirty sex on the Internet. Several years later, he was richer than Jesus and owned J. Paul Getty's former mansion - though he now spent most of his time in the Bahamas.
Ron, the pale British guy was one of Bob's business partners. This humor Web site was just a vanity project he came up with to relive his days as a British tabloid editor. As it turned out, Ron was somewhat insane.
Ron's mental health aside, my job was a blast. About half of it was skimming through British tabloids or strange, bizarre, and wacky news wires and picking out the better ones: like a man who had a perpetual erection or a coke addict who accidentally snorted his grandmother's cremated ashes. I'd then come up with a catchy headline for each story, such as "Killer Rats Love To Eat Pussy," "Boobzilla" or "Sporty Spice Killed My Chow Chow."
That last article was actually fake. I know this because I made it up - with the guy accusing Sporty Spice of dogicide being my roommate. You see, if there weren't enough real stories that day, I was allowed to make up my own. And to avoid potential lawsuits (not that we cared), the fake articles often involved my friends.
I turned T into Dr. T, world renowned expert of anal metaphysics, and had him claiming that Conan O’Brian’s sphincter was the gateway to another dimension. I had two other buddies hitting a golfball into the woods and accidentally killing a masturbating man in the process. I was being PAID to embarrass my friends. God, it was awesome.
We got our readership from the subscribers of Ron's popular daily email, which contained the reviews and links to his and Bob's porn sites. Apparently it was a very popular email service, and as a result we got a lot of hits. In the beginning we were averaging about a thousand hits a day. By the time I left the company three months later, it was over 50,000 hits a day.
Why'd I leave the company? Three reasons:
Ron was fucking crazy. For instance, he'd hire the most talented, most expensive Web designers to design the site, and then he'd completely redo their designs. Thing is, his design changes were horrendous: he'd have yellow type against a light gray background, or bright pink against an orange background. It was impossible to read. Then I found out why: Ron was color blind.
When I complained to him about this, he replied that the color blind helped win World War II. How? Because they could spot camouflaged tanks and artillery. In fact, Hitler's dying words were "I would’ve won the war, if it wasn’t for the meddling color blind.”
I told my friends that I was now working for a humor Web site that just happened to be a subsidiary of an online porn empire. But of course all they heard was "porn." Next thing you know, I had friends and acquaintances walking up to me at parties and saying, "So I hear you work in online porn now?"
Our site didn't have a single naked woman on it. Oh alright, it had a half-naked woman - one of those daily Page 2 girls that British tabloids feature - but they'd assured me that it would remain porn-free.
But our revenue was based on ad sales. And you know what happened to Internet companies that relied on that as a business model. With 50,000 male viewers a day, though, we had tons of advertisers who wanted to put banners on our site. Of course these advertisers had names like Big Black Rods, Horse Luvin' Bitches, and Lesbian Dungeon Orgies.
To his credit, Ron tried to keep all the porn banners out in a vain attempt to keep our site as respectable and legitimate as possible. But then Bob flew over from the Bahamas, strolled into our offices in his aviator glasses and slicked-back hair, and said we had to allow porn banners on our Web site. Ron caved, and overnight our site pretty much looked like a fricking porn site. The last thing I wanted was my parents, sisters or friends checking out the site I worked for and coming across a naked woman being mounted by a German Shepard.
I resigned the next day.
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