My Biggest Gaffe: public eye for the 'straight guy'

Steve Strickland, co-founder of Talker Tailor Trouble Maker, recalls a valuable lesson in being yourself - not the story.

Steve Strickland: 'I thought it would be a great op for product placement, the only cost being my soul'
Steve Strickland: 'I thought it would be a great op for product placement, the only cost being my soul'

This is my second attempt at 'My Biggest Gaffe'. The first, including office liaisons, drunken foul play and financial fudges was deemed too blue, like an unofficial Trump biography. So: #redraft.

I’d like to focus instead on an incident that, even today, makes me wince. The day, years ago, when I decided it would be a real coup to feature in the Evening Standard as a straight bachelor, avec bachelor pad, to generate client coverage. Coverage that ended up being unbranded – so, effectively, humiliating myself for nothing.

My client at the time, Playboy, had released a new annual and apparel (don’t pretend you never owned a Playboy hoodie); at the same time, a call had gone out seeking single home-owners for a feature. I thought it would be a great op for product placement, the only cost being my soul.

The photographer came – no interview, so I didn’t lie – and the paper just assumed I was straight. Probably because I’m so butch (quieten down the laughter please).

The day the Standard hit newsstands, my phone blew up with messages from old colleagues and school friends bemoaning my implausible hot-blooded heterosexuality and apparent desire to be number-one ‘lad’ in London. I have never been and will never be these things. For the next three days, I heard from exes and pretty much everyone else about my story.

So, the upshot is: coverage does genuinely work. The lesson is: make sure you’re not it.

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