On the front line at Fast Company’s first magazine signing event. . .
We invited Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs, and our cover subject of our February 2008 issue to sign copies of the magazine at a local Borders in Los Angeles today. This was a first for Fast Company, and Borders which never hosted a magazine signing event before.
We were all excited to see how the fans reacted to Mike and his story being the focus of a business magazine. I arrived 2 hours prior to the start time and there were already die hard fans waiting anxiously to meet their hero.
Mike took a seat on the stage, and proceeded to answer questions for about 20 minutes. Fans were eager to find out about how the magazine article affected him. Mike’s response: “It freaked me . . .changed a lot of perspectives of me and the show.” “The reporter was awesome . . . we showed her way more than we should have, people are looking at the show, the network and me differently.” Seriously, though, Mike was impressed by Ellen McGirt’s storytelling. She portrayed him and the show in a new light – he’s not just the guy who is up to his neck in poo just for a laugh – he’s making a statement about the hardworking people in this world who don’t get enough credit to “make civilized life possible for the rest of us,” and the stories behind their dirty jobs.
Fans asked Mike questions about a range of things. Fan: “Which job are you going back to?” Mike: “None of them, most I have no interest going back to, my role is not to be a host, but to be a guest – I try to behave the best I can. I do the work, I show up and go home. To answer your question, there was a lift pump in San Francisco, a waste water treatment plant. When the pump breaks, the silo fills- the worst you can imagine . . the sound haunts your dreams. Normally, after a show I take the crew out for a drink to decompress, but we just stood in silence after this one, and just parted ways.”
Mike proceeded to tell stories about how he didn’t know what he wanted the show to be. “I knew there was going to be a Jackass factor to it. I wanted Jackass with a soul, fear factor with a conscience.” The crowd (over 40 people), was drawn in by Mike’s story telling, and the infectious laughter that spread throughout the store.
A good time was had by all, and in the end, this wasn’t such a dirty job for Mike.