Harvey Fierstein

‘Assistance’: How to succeed in business with really trying

The high-class gofers in Theatre Vertigo's newest show play with fire, and hope against hope they won't get burned

On the surface, Leslye Headland’s play Assistance at Theatre Vertigo is about playing with fire, trying to get close to the flame of celebrity and not get burned.

I knew a personal assistant once. He drove a Land Rover, a recent import, and it made him feel like a modern-day colonialist conquering the long stretches of Midwestern highway. Americans, for him, were still wayward children who could never rise to the level of European culture. Yet where we lacked sophistication, we made up for it with power and money. That’s what he wanted, and after the bigger paychecks started rolling in,he bought the most American of features, a new set of teeth. He worked 24/7 for this multi-millionaire CEO: picking up dry-cleaning at 11 p.m., waxing his car on Sunday afternoons, finding and scheduling the company of women. When the company’s accountant had cooked the books one too many a time for the IRS, the pyramid fell, and personal assistants were the first to go.

Jenn Hunter (Heather) and Kaia Maarija Hillier (Nora). Photo: Gary Norman

Jenn Hunter (Heather) and Kaia Maarija Hillier (Nora). Photo: Gary Norman

Somewhere between a factory and a conga line, assistants file in and out of Daniel Weisinger’s New York office in Assistance. He’s a composite off-stage character based on Anna Wintour, the chic Vogue editor-in-chief,  and Harvey Weinstein, the movie producer. If reading TMZ or People isn’t your thing, these two high-powered people are know as genius enfants terribles. They can make and break celebrity and political careers. They can dish out great work and insults with an equal mastery.


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