Imagine my thrill to hear that jewishjournal.com’s newest advertiser is Sit n’ Sleep. There it is on our very own site, the face of Larry “Or your mattress is free, FREE!” Miller, who I’ve heard for years plugging away on The Howard Stern Show. Me and Howard sharing Larry Miller— I can’t help but think of the poet Alan Ginsburg’s pride when he slept with Dean Moriarity the found out Morairity slept with Gavin Arthur ho slept with Edward Carpenter who slept with Walt Whitman. “I slept with Walt Whitman,” Ginsburg used to boast.
Well, I shared an advertiser with Howard Stern.
What I remember about Sit n Sleep on Stern bac when he was on terrestrial radio was how carefully and precisely Stern would do the lead ins for Miller’s commercials. I began to see that Stern was an excellent pitchman for his products, he took the plugs and placements as seriously as the fart jokes and stripper sketches. Sometimes the copy was awful, but Stern would make it his own, put it in his voice, but infuse it with his on air passion. Didn’t matter whether it was mattresses or Binaca or backhair removers or some spray he was hawking that removed butt odor. Here’s what Stern, one of the wealthiest and most powerful people in media knows: which side his bread is buttered on. He never got cocky or glib with the people paying the bills, the companies whose money keeps the staff employed and the lights on.
A lot of creative types just starting out tend to look down on the business part of show business—they resent the intrusion of commerce in art. And as they get more and more successful, they try to distance themselves from the fact that they are, in a way, selling soap. But Howard pay his dues, dutifully. He taught me to pay attention to advertisers—not to bend standards because of them, but to respect their support, and do what they pay us to do with excellence and attentiveness.
It’s like the Dylan song says, no matter how big you are, how rich you are, you gotta serve someone…
You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk,
You may be the head of some big TV network,
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame,
You may be living in another country under another name
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
One day I look forward to calling Larry Miller and talking about his Stern years. In the meantime, click on one of his ads and buy a mattress.