I audition for QVC.

Humiliating myself for fun and profit.
Feb. 15 2005 2:01 PM

QVC, Here I Come!

Can I get my brilliant new product—Hairmuffs—on home shopping television?

(Continued from Page 1)

I turned my dining room table into a sweatshop and spent all Sunday afternoon manufacturing. Finally I put on my brunette Hairmuffs, which gave me a Princess Leia look, and showed my husband.

Thanks to Hairmuffs, Slate editorial assistant Bidisha Banerjee has cozy ears

"I admit I didn't think you could do it," he said. "I thought you'd be up crying at 2 a.m. the night before, with fake hair and earmuffs glued to your head. It turned out 100 times better than I expected. You have a very appealing product."

"Really?" I asked.

"No, but you seem a little depressed."

Then I put on the NoHairmuffs. My 9-year-old daughter burst into tears and ran to my husband saying, "Make her take them off!" My husband explained the fake ears were for my work, and she calmed down. It had snowed all afternoon, and when my husband and I went out to shovel the walk, I convinced him to wear NoHairmuffs, while I wore Hairmuffs. No one even noticed me, but people walking by did a double-take and scurried away on the icy sidewalk when they saw him.

Before I set off the next day for my date with home shopping destiny, my husband advised me to have some marketing jargon ready. He said during my presentation I should throw in "ramp up," "supply chain management," "price point," and "efficiencies of scale." I tried to memorize this as I rode the Metro wearing my Hairmuffs. My confidence built as no one gave me a second look; I was obviously just a chic woman on her way somewhere important, not a nerd in earmuffs.


I took off my Hairmuffs when I arrived at the Sheraton in Arlington, Va. Masses of people were milling about. A woman was carrying a teddy bear; a man was pushing a shower curtain on a stand; another man had a Lazy Susan for displaying prized golf balls; a whole family was there with their sweet-potato pie. I approached a confident-looking woman and asked where I should go. She pointed me toward the registration table. I asked her what she was selling. She was a QVC veteran, here with a new line of moisturizing gloves. She asked about my product. I put on the Hairmuffs.

"That's cute!" she said with real enthusiasm. "That's really cute!"

The woman at the desk told me 500 people had registered for the day—one of five such events QVC was having around the country. It looked as if all 500 of us had a 2 p.m. appointment. As we snaked our way around the waiting area, I struck up a conversation with the two 50ish men in front of me. One of them was holding a plastic box filled with Limburger cheese, and the other was holding a plastic box filled with cigarette smoke (he had gone outside to fill it up). I asked about their product.

It was a spray bottle of an odor killer they wanted to start retailing to the consumer market. They were already selling it at hospitals and nursing homes. Mr. Limburger held up the bottle and launched into his pitch. "You're a boomer," he told me. This fact meant that before I knew it, I would have an elderly, incontinent parent moving into my home. Unless I used his product, the smell would be intolerable. Once that phase of my life was over, he went on, I would be the incontinent parent moving into my child's home, and my daughter would need to spray me daily. If QVC accepted their product, I hoped they sold mood lifters in the following segment.

It took an hour and a half to get to the front of the line, and a cheery camaraderie developed. People praised each other's products and passed around snacks. As I shuffled I listened to the conversations around me. It was clear that as sod busting was to 19th-century Great Plains America, marketing is to 21st-century urban America: the go-getter's way to success. As we got closer to the QVC review panel, I took a breath mint from a young woman with a line of jewelry. Mr. Smoke freshened his breath with a spray from his product.



The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 22 2014 2:05 PM Paul Farmer Says Up to Ninety Percent of Those Infected Should Survive Ebola. Is He Right?
Business Insider
Oct. 22 2014 2:27 PM Facebook Made $595 Million in the U.K. Last Year. It Paid $0 in Taxes
The Eye
Oct. 22 2014 1:01 PM The Surprisingly Xenophobic Origins of Wonder Bread
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 10:00 AM On the Internet, Men Are Called Names. Women Are Stalked and Sexually Harassed.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Brow Beat
Oct. 22 2014 10:39 PM Avengers: Age of Ultron Looks Like a Fun, Sprawling, and Extremely Satisfying Sequel
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 2:59 PM Netizen Report: Twitter Users Under Fire in Mexico, Venezuela, Turkey
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.