Brandon Christopher: The Job Pirate. Photos courtesy of The Busby Group.
In one of Brandon Christopher’s biographical videos, he explains his many occupations.
He’s the man who took your dead grandfather to the morgue. He’s the man who answered the phone when you called the rehab hotline at 2:00AM. He’s the man who showed up at your front door and tried to sell you that expensive water purifier.
“I'm the man who wrote the script to that porno you just watched,” he says casually. “I probably even took you to the airport in a limousine.”
Having held 82 jobs in just over 20 years, Christopher does the math: that averages one job about every three months. And the Los Angeles native has survived to talk about all of them in a new book, called The Job Pirate: An Entertaining Tale of my Job-Hopping Journey in America.
Christopher will make a stop on his tour for The Job Pirate next week, June 13, at 6:00PM at Gatsby Books.
When Christopher graduated from high school in Los Angeles, he knew he wanted to be a writer. At 19, he moved out of his parent’s house. His father, a film industry professional, told him the only way to be a writer was “to live life,” Christopher told the Post. And so he did.
He took a series of jobs, from working as a plumber to a salesman to a florist to a morgue driver, with the sole purpose of paying his rent, while also attending community college and taking the occasional night class. He said one of his most memorable experiences was as a morgue driver.
“I lasted a day,” he said. He had seen the mortuary position advertised as a job that offered great hours and great pay—just what he was looking for when he was in his mid-twenties. He applied. After receiving a job offer, he began training with a mortuary veteran.
“We get a call to drive to this location,” he said. The man they were driving to the morgue had died in the bathroom, apparently. “[...] A man named Richard Fowler was curled around a toilet, and his eyes were open. It was so creepy—like a doll’s eyes, following you around.”
He said that per his instructions, he and his co-worker picked up Fowler—in spite of his rigormortis. He could hear Fowler’s tendons snapping, he said. When he took the body to the van, he dropped the body, and a girl from the family saw it all, to Christopher's horror.
He said was done driving bodies to the morgue after that moment, but his experiences as an employee in unique settings didn’t end.
“A lot of jobs were so bad that the only way I could stand them was to write about them,” Christopher said. “[My writing] originally started as a way for me to vent about my jobs.”
Then he read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, a 1906 novel by the muckraking journalist that exposed the poor working conditions of immigrants at factories in Chicago. Christopher was inspired by Sinclair’s research techniques, which included getting hired and working undercover at a meatpacking factory in Chicago to gain a firsthand glimpse into the real-life conditions.
Christopher approached each new gig with the focus of a muckraking journalist, he said—and his experiences grew more and more colorful. He was hired and fired in “increasingly dramatic ways,” he said in his video.
Part of his experience included “colorfully embellishing” his resume, which led to his firing from his last job in Los Angeles. He said he learned lessons on times he could “bend the truth” and other times, when no amount of “B.S.” could make up for job training.
“I thought I wanted to be an accountant,” he said about one particular job. “That’s one job you can’t bullshit.”
His forays into Los Angeles job culture even lead him to a job writing scripts for a Playboy-funded reality show looking for the "next great porn star."
“What people will do on these auditions for no money—I mean, they’d win a couple of hundred thousand dollars if they won… the lengths people will go to for a little bit of celebrity blows me away,” he said.
Christopher’s LA experiences extended to working at Universal Studios, making candles for tourists, writing gay erotica as the only straight man at a gay magazine and standing in as an extra, before his eventual firing from another unrelated job.
Shortly after his firing, Christopher packed his belongings, and, with $4,000 in the bank, moved to Seattle, Washington. Pretty quickly, he obtained a job writing copy for a Seattle-based seafood company.
“It’s a good job market for writers,” he said.
He currently lives in Washington, where he continues to write and sometimes work odd jobs. But he’s also built an impressive writing resume beyond porn scripts and gay erotica, writing more than a dozen short stories and essays in magazines, literary journals, websites and anthologies. He’s written and produced documentaries and television biographies, including Just for the Record - The Rolling Stones, Definitive Elvis, and The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made. Christopher also published his first book in 2007, an autobiography called Dirty Little Altar Boy.
“As I get older, it gets easier,” Christopher said. He added that, as a writer, one must get used to facing rejection on a regular basis. Now, he can find copywriting jobs quite easily, and has worked for such companies as Amazon and Zulily.
What advice would he give to other dreamers seeking to survive the uneven temporary job market?
“You have to stick with it; don’t be afraid to try something new," he said. “Play your part, pretend you’re an actor. Devote yourself to this role like a journalist.”
These days, Christopher said, the job market is different than what it was for his father’s generation.
“America has changed a lot in the last 20 years,” he said. “You used to get one job for life and work it for the next 25, 30 years. In the 1970s, you could buy a house with one to two years’ salary.”
Now, he said, one needs options for more than one career, more often than not.
“You need to reinvent yourself,” he said. “You’ve got to get creative with life—especially with writing or acting.”
Brandon Christopher will be at Gatsby Books in Long Beach June 13, at 6:00PM to read from The Job Pirate and sign books. Gatsby Books is located at 5535 East Spring Street.