The Mobile Spray Tanner
Abby Menard, owner of Bake Spray Tanning
Whose apartments do you go to?
The regulars I see mobile-y are women on the Upper East Side. They’re very wealthy.
What do you bring with you?
My machine is on wheels, and I use a pop-up tent that folds down into a little circle. It’s not easy to get in and out of cabs. I get strange looks, but some people will stop and say, “Are you a mobile spray tanner?” I can’t believe they figure that out.
Are you always on call in summer?
The demand is more than I can handle. If I didn’t want a life, I’d be spraying from 6:30 a.m. until midnight.
Any awkward domestic situations?
I sprayed a woman in her home once, and she had four kids. They were running around like banshees while two nannies tried to keep up with them, and she just stood naked in the foyer.
Can you draw abs on people?
Some tanners claim they can, but it doesn’t look right. If you apply too much solution, you’ll get a splotchy fade. It works for a day, maybe—if you’re in a bodybuilding competition.
The Inflatable-Castle King
John Taylor, president of NYKidstime
What do you call those blow-up things?
The company that created them called them “moonwalks,” but I’ve heard “jumpy castles,” “bounce houses,” and “inflatable houses.”
When did you buy your first one?
Nine years ago, when my son was born. I took my wife’s truck and said, “I’m going to buy a bounce house,” and she was like, “What?”
How did you convince her?
I said, “I’m looking to have some fun and start a business on the side. But in the worst-case situation, our son has the best toy on the block.”
How many do you own now?
I had twelve, but I just doubled my inventory. Someone got tired of the business and was looking to get out.
Where do you keep them all?
We just bought a home with a garage; my wife’s not too happy that I’ve taken it over. They roll up to the size of a sofa and weigh 300 to 700 pounds.
Do you deal with a lot of brats?
We have kids who refuse to get out. But then I think, if that were me, what would I do? I got into a bouncy thing. I’m having a ball. Why would I want to get out?
The Obstacle-Course Creator
Garth Wilson, course manager for Tough Mudder
What is Tough Mudder?
It’s a ten-to-twelve-mile military-style obstacle course. We put on about 35 events a year.
Are the obstacles scary?
Depends on what your fears are. If you’re scared of heights, it would be Walk the Plank, a fifteen-foot plunge into freezing-cold water. But there are some—like Electroshock Therapy, a sprint through a field of dangling wires carrying 10,000 volts of electricity—that terrify everyone.
What does a course manager do, exactly?
I try all of the obstacles to make sure they’re tough enough. Someone has to make certain the mud’s muddy and the electric shocks are shocking.
You voluntarily shock yourself?
It’s a better wake-up than a cup of coffee.
Do people send you suggestions for new obstacles?
Yeah. The craziest video someone sent in was a montage of himself getting kicked in the groin by different people. I’m not sure how he wanted us to incorporate it, but we decided to pass.
The For-Hire Synchronized Swimmer
Rowena Dale Mohammed, head coach and performer for Gotham Synchro
How old are you?
I don’t want to say. I pose as a twentysomething for these performances.
Clients don’t believe me when I say that our swimmers in their thirties and forties look better than our twentysomethings.
Who are these clients?
Being in New York, we get to show the edgier side of synchro. We’ve done house parties. We did a video for Chromeo. When Soho House was trying to up its profile, we performed at their monthly party.
What kind of music do you swim to?
Upbeat stuff like Lady Gaga and En Vogue. Also Van Morrison.
What are your routines like?
A choreographed routine is us interacting with each other: We’re upside-down, doing spins and somersaults, things like in the Olympics. Unchoreographed is a bit like go-go dancing, but not as crass.
Who all is in the group?
The majority of our women have day jobs. We’re mild-mannered executives and moms by day and water vixens at night.
The Outdoor Movie Screener
Aaron Wistar, tech manager of Rooftop Films
What kind of hours do you work?
Summer is crazy. I usually work from noon to 3 a.m.
What’s the hardest part of the job?
Weather. I’ve become an amateur meteorologist.
Some of our projectors cost as much as cars; you’ve got to make sure they’re not getting wet. We also have a 40-foot screen we have to take down if it gets too windy.
What other interruptions do you deal with?
Tompkins Square Park can be a bit of a nightmare. One time these crust-punk kids asked if they could use the power. I’m figuring he’s just going to charge his phone, but when I come back twenty minutes later, he’s tattooing his friend. Another time this homeless guy plunked down right up front and peed himself. Just let it rip. It started dribbling through the audience, and we had to get rid of him. I’ve also had a 5-year-old girl aggressively accost me about the programming being boring. She yelled at me for twenty minutes before her mom came.