click here for printable page
Redmond Sammamish Valley News, Wednesday, December 6, 1995 " PAGE 7
American Maid success story
Eastside cleaning giant takes on Hollywood with local sports stars
By Mike Lee Associate Editor
Elaine Gordon didn't know much about football last year, let alone the names of Seahawk players. Put to the test, she couldn't have named but a handful of Mariners, much less care. She was too busy being a single mom, competing in karate competitions and running one of the Eastside's largest maid services. She was too busy, that is, until she decided Puget Sound athletes needed someone to show them to showbiz. The change was drastic.
She is still busy, but now she's working with the likes of Seahawks Eugene Robinson, Robb Thomas. Gordon showed up with plenty of pluck and a knack for turning challenges into opportunities. After convincing Seals that she could score big on the sport courts,
people we know," Gordon said of her new family. "We don't glorify them... I treat my maids just as well as I treat my athletes."
Most of her athletes already have
$7,000 for a day's work.
Success in the industry, as Robinson knows, is anything but assured. As one of the most popular and respected Seahawks, he tried
and Sam Adams; busy staging appearances for ex-Mariner Brian Holman and setting things up for ex-Seahawk Dan McGwire. That's all after she gets her kids off to school and completes her morning exercises with Ken Griffey Jr's wife Melissa.
In a business where no one gives an inch, Elaine Gordon is taking a mile - and doing it with a smile.
She's building a solid Eastside clientele for one of the largest Seattle talent agencies, Eileen Seals, on the premise that "people like to see their sports heroes in everyday situations."
"It's challenging because I am creating something from nothing. I am an artist in business," said Gordon, who currently represents about 40 of the area's top athletes for te levi sion, movie, commercial and personal appearances. Sports celebrity agents are commonplace in the nation's largest markets, but had been overlooked in Seattle until
Gordon had to come up with a handful of athletes who could hit pay dirt in Hollywood . She was already ,friends with Robinson, but she wasn't going into Seahawks' training camp in Kirkland on anybody's coat tails. Armed with a roster and her fading New York accent, Gordon made friends with a teamtrainer who pulled players out of the lunch room to chat with her.
Just like any talent agent, Gordon said she was looking for three essential things; articulate speech, stage presence and personal appeal.
Between that day and the hours she'd spent tidying in athlete's homes (she cleans for the likes of Seahawk Coach Dennis Erickson) Gordon formed the nucleus of her talent-agency team.
And while she loves her part-time job in the "sports division," she's hardly prone to idolize the city stars. They have, in many cases, become her friends. 'o us they are normal natural acting or modeling talents, said Gordon, who attributes their stage presence to the hours they spend entertaining the city. "They already have a presence," said Gordon, "They are little hams - they are so cute!"
"It's challenging be
cause I am creating
something from noth
ing. I am an artist in
- Elaine Gordon
Cute or not, Gordon must "polish things up a little bit" in the studio, because when it comes to the high-stakes world where business, sports and entertainment mix, athletes "are like fish out of water."
Gordon's athletes do not currently have any large commercial or acting jobs-even Hollywood seems to shut down for the holidays, she said - but a few successes in the last year keep her hoping for a time when she can keep every athlete in the city busy in the off-season.
One such success was a boxer in Renton who was cast in a recent sports drink commercial. Gordon was told to find a body builder, some one with a look that could sell a million bottles of Power Ade. After calling several local gyms, Gordon did not have what she wanted.
She was convinced that the boxing gym in Rainier Beach had the person she was looking for - if I only they wouldn't hang up every time she called. On the third try. Gordon talked to a manager who talked to a boxer who made it on the commercial's set.
"I found him out of nowhere. What a thrill for me," not to mention the boxer, -who pulled-in upwards of
out for the cop role in Sylvester Stallone's "Assassins," when Seals' agency did the talent search. "He tried," said Gordon, "but it doesn't matter who you are, they'll tell you no." And the directors did.
But even if they don't make the big-time, Gordon hopes to see increasing numbers of athletes peddling everything from mattresses to RVs for local retailers and attending local functions like the opening of Seattle's Planet Hollywood next year.
At some point, Gordon wants to franchise out American Maid and step full time into the talent agency. "Maybe someday I might be able to buy Eileen's, but she's a great woman and I would never go in competition with her," said Gordon. "I am very loyal to her. She's teaching me everything."
About half of Gordon's clients these days are professionals, the other half retired professionals and athletes that have reached the pinnacle of success in their sports. They are people like world-renown mountain climber Todd Burleson of Woodinville. former Wimbledon competitor Dick Knight and Seahawk wide-receiver Robb Thomas of Redmond.
Said Gordon: "The Eastside is a sports hub. Athletes all seem to congregate here."
Perhaps someday even Ken Griffey Jr. -who lives in Issaquah near Jay Buhner -will be among her clients, but Gordon isn't holding her breath. She's friends with Seattle's most famous sports figure, but the Kid is making it all right on his own.
He's pitched ChM trucks and Nike shoes, and a handful of other products, and is an exception to industry rules "What ever he wants he does," said Gordon, - -
At least now, she knows his name.