Back when I was a down and out cupcake artist in NYC, an older guy I’ll call D tried to take me under his wings. When I say wings, I mean bed, but that was never, ever meant to be. D was famous in our neighborhood. He had a few bit-parts in Z movies and did some plays on the side, but he made his fortune as Dogwalker to the Stars. He was a diehard Cowboys fan in the middle of the West Village, and it took him 30 minutes to walk one block because he really did know everyone in the neighborhood and a good Texas boy doesn’t just walk on by without saying hello.
His charges, the dogs, always looked so bored. Jealous of his client roster and craving some furry four-legged companionship of my own, I pointed this out to him one afternoon on my way to work. “Jojo, I can’t really give you any of my clients, but how about if I help you get started? I’ll refer my next few queries to ya.” I thought that was pretty sweet, and the cupcakes-for-margaritas deal I had going on with the Mexican joint a few blocks over was only taking me so far. I needed some extra cash. So I made these pathetic little flyers and stuck them in a few storefronts on Bleecker.
No one responded and I was crushed. (Matt later found these flyers when we were moving together, and they almost made him cry. I mean, they were drawn in ball-point pen.) I really thought I, too, could make it big as a dogwalker. “Jojo,” D said to me one day, “What’s your passion?”
I hadn’t thought about that in a long time. “I don’t know… cupcakes?”
“So, Jojo, make cupcakes out of your apartment and I’ll sell them to my clients. Your logo can be Love, Jojo!”
Unfortunately the bakery already had the market cornered on that, but thanks. The sentiment remains.
As for the term “cupcake artist”: one day a lady from Ohio stood and watched me frost cupcakes for nearly half an hour. She took tons of pictures and asked me for my name, which I guess she didn’t remember because a few weeks later, an envelope full of pictures arrived in the mail addressed to, simply, “Cupcake Artist.” And to this day, I consider that one of the jewels of my career.