Monday, March 23, 2009

Flint Portraits: Howard Bragman

Need advice on getting famous? Flint Expatriate and PR guru Howard Bragman has advised everyone from Cameron Diaz to Paula Abdul. The Coolidge Elementary and Zimmerman veteran offers up his secrets in a new book called "Where's My Fifteen Minutes?"

Howard described his early experiences dealing with public opinion while growing up in Flint in a recent email:
"I know what it’s like to be an outsider—I grew up a fat, Jewish, gay guy in Flint. In Hollywood, those are the first three rungs up the ladder of success, but in a town like Flint, it’s three strikes and you’re out. It’s a little like that Twilight Zone episode with a whole planet full of deformed people and they make fun of the normal guy. You just have to be in the right place for you. I’ve been out of the closet—open about my sexual orientation—for a very long time, going all the way back to when I graduated college and began my professional life more than thirty years ago. I made the choice early on to live honestly and authentically for me.

"Early on, I was doing PR for the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars concert to benefit the United Negro College Fund in Flint. The day before the concert, the local paper did a huge story on Lou Rawls. My grandmother read the paper and called me.

“'What a coincidence,” she said to me. 'You’re here for a Lou Rawls concert…and there’s a big article about him in the paper today.'

“'I did that,' I said modestly.

"'You did what?' my grandmother asked.

“'I got the article in the paper,' I said.

"Long pause.

“'So,” my grandmother asked, confused, “where’s your name?'”

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Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at