In some circles, Christine Aguilera is a celebrity. No, not Christina Aguilera, but Christine Aguilera, the president of SkyMall.
After picking up SkyMall on my last flight, some of you may have read the article I wrote about my newfound obsession with it. If you haven't, you can do so here: "Can We Just Discuss SkyMall for a Minute? Thanks!" Apparently, I was not the only one who loved SkyMall. The world has spoken and they do too, as it was my most read self-published piece to date.
I stated in my last article that I needed more SkyMall, so when a friend suggested I interview Christine Aguilera, I thought it was genius. Not only does she have a name fit for a marquis, but was kind enough to entertain an interview with me. So sit back, relax, and let's learn more about Christine Aguilera and SkyMall!
ME: You are kind of famous. Anyone trapped on an airplane looking for something to do always picks up SkyMall, and you are the face of SkyMall? Do people bum rush you in the street and ask for your autograph? How about in airports?
CHRISTINE: It happens every now and then, last time it happened was in the Newark Airport and it was the gate agent. She said "Oh my god! You are Christine Aguilera from SkyMall!"
ME: Did she ask for your autograph?
CHRISTINE: No. But years ago a car service in New York picked me up, and the driver had my name on a sign. It was before Christina Aguilera was really popular and I was younger. He thought I was the singer. He asked for my autograph.
ME: Did you give it to him?
CHRISTINE: I did. I didn't know what to do.
ME: I think I just fell in love with you.
ME: On average how many times a day do you have to say the sentence, "No, not Christina Aguilera, Christine Aguilera" ?
CHRISTINE: That happens a lot -- that I have to explain my name. But the singer is so well known now I doubt she makes her own phone calls.
ME: Does she ever call you?
ME: Have you ever used your name to get a dinner reservation and let people think it was Christina so you'd get a table?
CHRISTINE: No. But I live in phoenix so its not that hard to get a reservation.
ME: What is your craziest story about the name similarity?
CHRISTINE: At Safeway they are required to address you by your name as you are checking out and the young man at check out looked at the name on my credit card and made a face. Then he looked at me and said, "Are you Christina Aguilera's mother?"
ME: Be honest. Have you ever flashed your picture in SkyMall at a flight attendant to get an extra bag of peanuts?
CHRISTINE: I don't talk about what I do now on airplanes, because there have been times in the past that I mention it to someone, and they would want to talk about SkyMall for four hours.
ME: Like me? Right now?
CHRISTINE: (laughs) I kind of keep it under wraps now.
ME: Yeah. That's definitely not worth an extra bag of peanuts. I don't even like to sit next to strangers on an airplane. I certainly wouldn't want to talk to them.
ME: Have you ever seen the voice?
ME: As you know, Christina Aguilera was a judge. When you saw that maneuver she would do, when she would turn her chair around when she liked a singer, did you think, "I should do that in the board room when they present a product I want for the catalog." (If you aren't familiar check out this video clip: The Voice - video clip)
CHRISTINE: (Hysterical laughter) I have never thought about doing it, but you have just given me a great idea. Maybe I should try that.
JININE MARTIN, Director of Marketing of SkyMall, also on speaker during the interview: (laughing) You should definitely do it.
Me: I am glad I could help the company in some way.
ME: Can you sing like Christina Aguilera?
CHRSTINE: I am not a good singer. In fact when I speak to different business groups I give a disclaimer that if they came for the concert they are in the wrong place.
ME: When you are somewhere that has dancing do you feel an entitlement to take over the dance floor when one of her songs comes on? Like, "Step aside ladies, this is my jam."
CHRISTINE: I do not feel an entitlement to take over the dance floor.
ME: Now I am going to ask you a question and I won't tell anyone. Except the people of the Internet. And that may be a lot of people. I have no way of knowing. Do you ever put on her album, lock your door, and pretend you are her and dance and lip sync.
CHRISTINE: No, I haven't.
ME: I have. And my name isn't even Aguilera. I just thought I'd share.
CHRISTINE: I take that back I did do that back. But not in private.
ME: See! Sharing encourages sharing.
CHRISTINE: We have a conference for all of our airline partners and I once dressed up like her and lip-synced one of her songs at the event.
ME: Did you wear chaps? Like she did in the "Dirty" video?
CHRISTINE: No. I did "Candy Man" in a sailor suit. Sorry to disappoint, but there were no chaps or dirty dancing involved. All PG-13!
ME: Christine, if I may speak candidly, some of the items in the catalog are a little over the top. Like they aren't even real. Some are a little Saturday Night Live-ish, if you will. Do you ever laugh at any of the items in your catalog? Be honest.
CHRISTINE: All the products are real. Consumers vote with their wallets. If it sells well, it stays in the catalog.
ME: How do you find these things?
CHRISTINE: We have people who scour the earth to find great new products that are very early in the product lifecycle. So they aren't things people have really seen yet.
ME: Which products, if any, do you have?
CHRISTINE: I have a bunch of products. One of my favorites is the Slanket, the blanket with sleeves.
ME: It makes me wonder if America has become so lazy they don't want to take their arms out from under the blanket to change the channel on the remote.
CHRISTINE: It does very well. And it's very cozy.
ME: I'm not knocking it. I mean, I can be lazy. I'd wear a Slanket to drop my son off at school every morning if it meant not having to get dressed. I'm not a morning person. Can a Slanket be an outfit?
CHRISTINE: Hmmm... I never thought about actually wearing one. It's kind of big and bulky but maybe if you belted the waist and were okay with a little blanket dragging on the floor...like a colorful, fleece wedding dress, it would work.
ME: Sounds good. I'd like to be slathered in a Slanket.
ME: Do you expect people to take the catalog home to their house? What is the shopping process? I can barely get off the plane with all of my personal belongings, let alone an entire shopping mall.
CHRISTINE: Many planes now have Wi-Fi so they can order online from the sky. Most people that order from us take the catalog off the plane and then typically order from our website.
ME: So when people are home and can order from anywhere, they visit the SkyMall website?
CHRISTINE: People come to SkyMall looking for unique products, maybe looking for a cool gift idea. Maybe they are home and something sparks their memory and they remember something they saw that they need a around the house.
ME: Like the Garden Yetti.
ME: So the products are not geared toward plane brain? In other words, maybe in flight a Winbot ($399.99), the window cleaning robot, seems like a great idea, but when you land and have some fresh air, maybe you think... I can just use a rag?
CHRISTINE: No. People are very loyal to SkyMall and I think they like our unique items.
ME: I actually got emails from people after they read my article that they were addicted to SkyMall. Or their spouse was. You may want to roll out a SkyMall rehab.
CHRISTINE: I don't even know how we would do that.
ME: Don't. It would hurt your sales.
ME: When you saw the upright sleeper with those bars, did you look at it and think, "Now THAT is comfort." or did you wonder if the bars would be a deterrent?
CHRISTINE: That's one where we thought; we have a ton of sleep aids, SkyRest pillow, The TravelRest, as long as they work when they are demonstrated, we will give it a try.
ME: The iGrow Hair Laser -- to say I am obsessed with this helmet is an understatement. Have people written to you saying "I was bald and now I have hair?" Do a lot of people buy this item? It's expensive at $695.
CHRISTINE: We sell a lot of personal hair growth type products and that has sold well despite the price. The X5 Hair Laser is a similar concept that we have had a long time at a lower price point. It has great customer reviews. You can read those on the site. We get great feedback.
ME: It would almost be a disservice not to ask... why so many man girdles?
CHRISTINE: We don't like to call them man girdles. We like to refer to them as garments that have supportive features.
ME: But there are so many male "garments with supportive features" in your catalog that you obviously know something at SkyMall that the general public does not. Men love to wear this stuff! Who knew?
CHRISTINE: I think men have finally discovered what women have known for years.
ME: I noticed you have this Bacon throw blanket.
People love bacon and it's a trendy food item. Have you considered doing a kale throw? Because kale is also a trendy food item right now.
CHRISTINE: We haven't thought about kale but we can put it out there.
ME: I don't think it will sell as well, Christine. But what do I know?
ME: Let's talk about this Chain Mall Medieval Body Suit.
It's in the furniture section, even though a man appears to be wearing it. So it's not for people who, for example, want to put it on and go to Medieval Times?
CHRISTINE: No, it's intended for display purposes only and not to be worn.
ME: Makes total sense.
ME: My final question... If I invented a chair, that doubled as a backpack, that doubled as a flotation device that doubled as a BBQ pit, would that be something you'd consider looking at?'
CHRISTINE: I'd sign up for that all day long.
ME: I guess I am off to a patent attorney. (No one reading this steal my idea!)
Christine Aguilera is obviously incredibly smart, as she is the great and powerful OZ behind the SkyMall curtain. She is also incredibly funny and a great sport for taking part in this interview.Thank you Christine and the SkyMall team for being so awesome. Everyone check out the Skymall.com and order one of everything! Then send me pictures of you using it.
Don't forget to check out my original SkyMall piece! "Can We Just Discuss SkyMall for a Minute? Thanks!"