Ask TSJ: Hi, I Wanna Be So Famous and Rich and Live in LA

LIFE IS HARD. It seems like every new day brings a new question that, try as you might, you’re just unable to find an answer for. The Smoking Jacket understands this, and we’re here to help. TSJ’s editor, Melissa Bull, and Headshots columnist, Mike Spry, set aside some time in their busy schedules to answer your questions in a feature we’ve cleverly named “Ask TSJ.”

This week’s incredible question comes from a busy TSJ reader in NY.

Hi, I’m Henry. I live in Brooklyn and I go to school in Staten Island — trying to get my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. I’m hoping to go to Los Angeles to have a successful career and never leave. I just don’t know how I can go to LA without money and a job.


Hi Henry,

First of all, unless you specify a vocation, it’s difficult to help. But, working in generalities, I’ll see what I can do. First of all, forget about these media created catch words like “successful” and “career.” The chances of you having either are slim to none, and slim is blowing a dealer for crack out behind the 7-11.

Second, don’t bother with your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. You ever see a Hollywood star thank their 2nd year Anthropology prof? No. Ever see a writer at the Oscar’s tell ET: “I never would have been here without 4 years of reading Foucault at Sarah Lawrence”? I think not.

Third, are you attractive? No one finds even a modicum of success in LA without being a 7.5 on a scale of 10. And from your perfect grammar and polite letter, I assume you’re a 6 at best.

My advice to you, dear Hank? Go into theater, where unattractive talented people can build a mediocre career based on off-off-off-off Broadway productions and NEA grants.



What! You’re doing your BA and your MA at the same time? Are you like eleven years old? Are you one of those Doogie Howser MD child prodigies? Have you had your chickenpox vaccine yet?

Maybe it’s the opposite? You’re like 42, you’ve left your wife and four kids and you’re making a clean break, living your dreams? Geez, I really wish you’d sent me your picture. That would have helped me out.

Either way, no kidding, you are rocking it with the two degrees at the same time. And in this economy! If a Playboy employee cheers by herself in an office, can an Ask TSJ question guy hear her? I hope so, Henry, I really, really hope so, because I am way the hell impressed with you and your accomplishments. I know that sounds sarcastic but it’s not.

Okay, but supposing you’re just a regular bloke and you’re not actually double-barreling your way through uni but you want to be rich and famous and live in LA and hang at the Chateau Mormont with Kirsten Dunst and the Olsen twins and whatever else wan heiresses. That’s cool.

So the trouble with TV shows is they don’t show the work that goes into someone’s success. Everyone’s all hopped up on the insta-fame bandwagon. Like someone gets knocked up by some Alaskan and suddenly they’re on Dancing with the Stars. Truth is you’re not gonna have a Kelly Clarkson moment. I mean, maybe you will. But seriously. No, you won’t.

But just because you’re not Kelly Clarkson doesn’t mean you can’t sort yourself out a west coast makeover. You can totally move across the country and start a new life in a new city. I did it — it’s disorienting and exhilarating and a really good idea. And this is what we low class to lower-middle-class folkses do it, my friend. We get jobs, save some cash, and then hatchback our shit over a bunch of very beautiful states on the way to LA. The South Dakota route is very nice, but so’s Route 66. It’s a win-win situation.

And just because you’ve left everything you know behind doesn’t mean you don’t have any buddies. The Internet can be your friend: LinkedIn and can help scope out the job situ, and Craigslist and OkCupid will get you laid.

If all else fails, you can live in your car.




Related on The Smoking Jacket:
Ask TSJ: Am I in Touch with Aliens? 
Ask TSJ: Blacking Out and Waking Up in Strange Places
Ask TSJ: I Want to Be a Porn Star