Jul. 04, 2010
I did not poison Carrot Top. I want the record to reflect this. During my day as his personal assistant, I did fetch food for the orange-hued funnyman. However, this was a full week before the much-reported food poisoning bout that forced the cancellation of one of his Luxor performances.
That having been said, Carrot still had good reason to blow his top at me. I could imagine it literally detaching from his well-defined body, spinning around and yelling.
I insisted on being assigned whatever crucial tasks normally fall to Carrot Top's right-hand man. So I had 60 minutes on my own to procure three items: a Lance Armstrong Livestrong cancer wristband for Carrot Top to wear in that night's show, a Febreze vanilla candle for him to burn backstage and, most crucially, a radio-controlled taxi for one of his trademark prop jokes.
Ten minutes before I was scheduled to load up Carrot Top's Ford Flex for the drive from his home to his showroom, my hands were empty. You think it's hard finding a cab in this town? Try one with batteries and a remote control. Wal-Mart, Radio Shack, Hobbytown USA and Big 5 Sporting Goods all failed me. On the phone, a Toys R Us clerk named Mark told me that my holy grail does exist -- it's called Crazy Taxi -- but that his store doesn't carry it.
"You don't just call places," Jeff Molitz said, phoning from the BlackBerry glued to his face about four hours per day. "You go to them. You improvise. You buy another shell and change it out or paint it."
Molitz, 43, has personally assisted Carrot Top for five years. He used to own a valley Mailboxes Etc., from which he found himself running so much mail to Casa Carrot that a bond developed that blossomed into a job offer. (For the record, Molitz says he didn't poison Carrot Top, either, adding that no one did. "We're pretty sure it was a virus," he said.)
Since the toy taxi seemed like my most important assignment, I neglected to search diligently for the other two items. With nine minutes on the clock, I located a vanilla candle manufactured by Glade at a Smith's store.
"He wants Febreze," Molitz informed me.
Like most personal assistants, Molitz maintains a schedule and keeps his boss to it, runs errands and performs household chores.
Being Carrot Top's assistant also has unique responsibilities. There's prop shopping, of course. ("Sex toys are no fun," Molitz said.) Molitz also coordinates access backstage -- where recent visitors have included NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin and pre-DUI Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil. And he shoots and edits the video clips appearing on screen in Carrot Top's act.
"It's more than people think," said Carrot Top, whose real name is Scott Thompson. "They think Carrot Top's assistant -- what does that entail? He turns the shower on, he's got to scrub my back. It's creepy."
My workday began in the Carrot Top Inc. warehouse, where Molitz had me lug two used, 75-pound billboard skins. The warehouse also serves as a graveyard for thousands of dead but potentially reworkable -- depending on current events -- props.
"That's a good one," Molitz said, pointing to a football helmet inside a dog cage.
"It's Michael Vick's," he explained.
Carrot Top's personal assistant doesn't create his props. "He has other people who do that," Molitz said. (A workshop of perverted elves, perhaps? Hmm, now that sounds like a job I qualify for!)
The Crazy Taxi would replace a tiny Toyota Prius that Carrot Top currently skids offstage to a crashing sound.
"The joke's getting old," Carrot Top told me, "so I think I'm gonna make it into a cab."
One thing I learned: Dropping a celebrity's name gets things done -- or at least gets people trying to do them. Mark from Toys R Us was so impressed to be assisting the assistant to Carrot Top, he actually deserted his store to run across the street and check Target for me. (Holy Carrot juice, Batman!)
Of course, Target didn't stock the Crazy Taxi, either.
According to www.personal-assistants.com, being a celebrity assistant pays as much as $100,000. Whatever the hours -- and they vary -- they're almost always around-the-clock. Molitz said his usually amount to 80 to 100 per week.
"But they're not strictly work," he said, noting that he also accompanies Carrot Top out socially: "I make sure that I drive, so if he wants to have a drink, he doesn't have to worry about anything.
"Is that work?" Molitz asked. "It's hard to say."
Returning with nothing but an incorrect candle, I found myself in a situation familiar to members of the media: I could not give Carrot Top the props he deserves.
Molitz's worst day on the job came only in May. Noticing that Carrot Top's landscape lights were out, he reset the circuit breaker. When it tripped again, he reset it again and the lights came on.
"Still, just to be safe, I checked the control box for the lights," Molitz says.
Among the more important rules in the personal assistant handbook is to avoid setting your employer's house on fire. So Molitz pointed a nearby garden hose at the flames rising from the control box. (Fortunately, the only damage was 15-foot-high char marks covering one side of the house.)
Did I call this Molitz's worst day on the job? Actually, that came nine days later, when he discovered that the main sprinkler timer needed to be reset back when the circuit breaker was. And it wasn't. An acre of lush landscaping was nearly dead of thirst.
"That was a colossal (expletive)-up," Molitz said, adding that Carrot Top "wasn't really happy with me."
Suddenly, it was my turn to bear the brunt of the orange crush, the Carrot stick. It was my duty to inform my boss that he would neither smell vanilla, support cancer nor crash the teeny taxi of his dreams.
I found him on the phone in his opulent backyard, after his daily trip to the gym.
"Mr. Top?" I inquired. (Molitz -- like all Carrot confidantes -- calls his boss Scott. But when I addressed him as Mr. Top earlier, he laughed, and I wanted him laughing again.)
I informed Mr. Top of my failure, asking if he remembered a Meat Loaf outtake called "Half Out of Three Ain't Bad." (If you missed my adventure as a stand-up comic last year, there was a little taste of just how good I was.)
Carrot Top's reply came with little or no head detachment.
"OK, cool," he said. "Jeff will take care of that stuff tomorrow."
Fear and Loafing runs on the first Sunday of every month in the Living section. Levitan's previous adventures can be found at www.fearandloafing.com.