The Future of Litvertising
A few months ago, I ended up talking to a young woman in the back room of a large home. I'd just watched her perform in a porn movie. Most of the time, you show up on set, and at some point, the girl undresses. In this case, by the time I got there, she was already camera ready, and now, because she'd done her scene already, we talked as she got dressed. (Ergo: It was like watching a porn movie in reverse.) She pulled on some knee socks that had weed leaves on them; I'm pretty sure that she put those on first. Her hair went up in a ponytail. She donned a pair of short shorts and a T-shirt. The shirt was cut up in a way you might see on a beach in Brazil, and across the front of it, in cursive letters, it read, FUCK YOUR HUSTLE.
"This is your hustle, your five-year plan, the Excel spreadsheet that will fulfill your spin on the American dream." -- P Is for Porn Star
I'm a fan of hustlers, hustling, and the hustle. (See: "How a Freelancer Learned to Be a Hustler," which appeared on my Forbes blog.) I appreciated the sentiment. The shirt floated around in the back of my head for several months. One day, I was working on finishing a project, The Fetish Alphabet -- an alphabet of flash fictions about fetishes. I'd gotten to the letter P, and I'd decided that "P Is for Porn Star." And I ended up mentioning the shirt in the story. Days later, the story went online. Not long after, Fuck Your Hustle, the brand that created the shirt, found the reference, through a Google alert, I'd imagine, and tweeted about it.
The tweeter referred to the piece as an "article," not a work of fiction, but no matter. The tweet caught my eye because as someone who used to work as a copywriter, it made me think that fiction writers could work their hustle by teaming up with companies to help fund literary works. (To be clear: I didn't work with Fuck Your Hustle.) This isn't "The Secret History of Ads in Books"; it's more embedded than that. Of course, what I'm describing has been done before; although, at the moment, I can't find it referenced online. I seem to remember an author who mentioned a brand of jewelry as part of her story and got paid for it. It's like Chipotle's "disposable literature," but longer. It's like "The Internship," but better. Call it litvertising.