Jeff Lewis a laugh riot. Just let Chris Keslar explain.
Working for Jeff Lewis is a rush. The opportunity to partake in his world is like boarding one hell of a fierce-ass rollercoaster. The adrenaline courses through your veins as you strap yourself in -- getting ready for the highs and lows, the twists and turns. Throughout the ride you are laughing, screaming, and crying -- you feel alive. It is all at once frightening and exhilarating. By the end of it, when you know you're safe and have gotten through it, you have this big smile on your face and are shaking your head in disbelief at what you have just experienced. In this strange way, you feel good and at peace. You are exhausted, but it is a satisfying type of exhaustion. The rush was totally worth it.
My favorite memory of Jeff is a brief exchange we had on my first visit to the Hancock Park residence two days after I started working for him. To me, it is quintessential Jeff Lewis. It was the first time I was able to get a glimpse into the demands of his professional life. We were standing outside the front door while a flurry of activity buzzed around us. Being new, it seemed like he was juggling nine million different things at once. There were a lot of people, all wanting and needing answers from Jeff -- trash guys, potential contractors, and the gas man along with a film crew hovering about and a phone that just kept on ringing. In the midst of all this frenetic energy, he turned to me and asked me a straightforward question:
"Do you drink?" I chuckled and replied,
"No. I'm not a drinker."
He paused for a thoughtful moment and with the deadpan expression that I would soon come to know (and love most of the time!), he responded:
"If you work here long enough ... you will."
Jeff Lewis is one heck of a funny guy -- and it is his biting, caustic wit that I will remember most. No matter what's going down, he usually finds a way to bring it back to the funny. He lives his life with passion and with humor. I really do admire that. He surrounds himself with people that are just as colorful and passionate in their own right -- people that can come back at him with the same type of sass! Being able to be a part of his extended family, even for the short period of time that it was, is something that I will always cherish. Despite the drama, despite the dysfunction, what I saw while working in Jeff's world was a lot of love and a lot of laughter.
My favorite memories -- the ones that have left an impression on my heart -- are the ones that weren't captured on camera or the ones that weren't aired because maybe they weren't dramatic enough. I'll miss being greeted by my favorite little guy, Oliver, and giving him belly rubs; seeing Zoila do her Britney Chavez "Gimme Gimme More" dance; cruisin' around Los Feliz in Jeff's pimp-ass cars listening to his fun mix CDs; eating lunch family style with the gang; seeing Jenni morph into her Gordy character; helping Zoila study for her citizenship test; celebrating Jenni on Administrative Professionals Day; having morning coffee talk with Zoila; helping Jeff pick out clothes for guest appearances ... the list goes on and on. These moments are the ones that have staying power with me.
In the end, I never did drink. And I never did take that bus! Or pick those avocados! But I grew as a person and learned a lot about myself -- my strengths and weaknesses as a person and as an employee.
And I laughed a lot. And, yes, I even cried a little. In short, I lived.
I strapped myself in for the ride and when it ended I was a little bit exhausted, but it was that satisfying, I've accomplished something kind of exhaustion. It was a great experience and I'm proud of the work I did while I was with Jeff Lewis and Co. I cherished the opportunity and have absolutely no regrets -- I started with a smile and ended with a smile. The rush was totally worth it!
To everyone who has shared this journey with me: Thanks for your kindness, support, and encouragement! It's been a real pleasure.
And lastly, to Jeff, Jenni, Chris, Ryan, Zoila, Oliver, Casey, Little Chris, Stuey, and Monkey, please remember:
I appreciate you.
Always love, Chris K.