T-shirts. Logo. Website. A writer of “uncommon sensitivity” becomes his own strategist, head marketer and cheerleader. Then the hard sell begins.
This is without doubt the most self-indulgent story I have ever written. And I’ve written a few. I once performed as a drag queen for a long-form article. I researched the taxi industry by becoming a registered driver. I paddled the length of the Yarra River to experience its meanderings. And I dressed as Steve Irwin (and wrestled an inflatable crocodile) for a restaurant review. I’ve been a synchronised swimmer and hitchhiker, pot-hole filler and dirty book shop cashier, and gotten naked for stories on three separate occasions.
All of which suggests I am comfortable with attention and the flaunting of my self, yet I am not. Not remotely. Especially not now, walking down Brunswick Street in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy, handing out 12-page tabloids titled Beauty & Strangeness – each printed and illustrated with four of my stories.
But this is what Brand Konrad does. Brand Konrad celebrates and sells his wares. Brand Konrad knows his mission, understands his SWOT analysis and lives by his Core Value Proposition. This little stunt – pulling on a T-shirt emblazoned with a personalised logo – is the launch party and open invitation to a new audience. It’s harder than expected.
People see me coming. They move big headphones from around their necks and onto their ears. They lift their mobiles up and tilt their faces down. That lady in Lululemon definitely crossed the street to avoid me. I’m certain that middle-aged man who ducked into the bar with the copper stills wasn’t chasing a mid-afternoon tipple. Even when I corner someone, smile and spout one of my trademark lines – “Life is short, have a long read?” or “Waste your time wisely” – they mostly baulk.
“No thanks,” says a moustached young man. “Too much on my bookshelf already.”
“Read?” glares a woman pushing twin toddlers. “You think I have time to read?”
With three times as many rejections as connections, it takes 30 minutes to hand out perhaps 30 papers, and every polite rebuff or palm thrust in my face stings a little more. It breaks you, slowly. I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a shill for myself, but that’s the point of this piece: to become Konrad 2.0, to explore the branded man and what it means to be CEO of Me, Incorporated…
Photography by Jason Reekie