The business of medicine was changing. The government and private enterprise were determined to slow the rate of growth of the health care dollar spent as a percentage of the gross national product. My financial life wasn’t going to get any better if I
continued in my present situation. The pie was getting smaller. I needed to do
something different. I knew that in order to be successful, I had to end my
relationship with Dr. Hicks.
Also, Dr. Williams was considering retirement, and the time seemed right to go out on my own. I looked for an office in Beverly Hills, and found a realtor who I liked and respected. Scott Schwartz, who had also attended Harvard, was willing to make the necessary
changes in the physical structure to accommodate my needs; a waiting room with
a receptionist’s area behind a counter, a personal office with a bathroom and
changing area, a small operating room with storage space, and two exam rooms,
one of which doubled as a procedure room.
I had managed to convince my banker to loan me $6000 to get started. It surely wasn’t enough but it would have to do. Besides I loved the location: 450 Bedford Drive, Suite 110, Beverly Hills, California 90210. It was so civilized and I appreciated just being able
to take a walk around the “Golden Triangle” at lunchtime. It felt good and I
felt I had found the place that would serve me the remainder of my career.
Precisely one month after I had moved to Beverly Hills, I received a summons from Dr. Hicks’ attorney suing me for a third of his overhead over the 12 months that I had covered for him. I had given him 50% of whatever money I had taken in; I didn’t have an office in
his facility; I did have an office at Aesthetica; and here he was suing me. We
had no agreement, I accepted that. But it also meant I had had no agreement to
pay him for overhead in an office I did not have. I couldn’t understand his
motivation. I have never understood meanness simply for meanness sake. We had
tried a relationship that didn’t work, why not accept it and move on? What was
his motivation to want to hurt his nephew? In my conversations with his wife
who by now had passed away, she always suggested jealousy. I, for the life of
me, couldn’t come up with a reason for him to be jealous. He was years ahead of
me in the development of his practice and as far as I was concerned I was not
in any competition with him. But who knows what misery lurks in the hearts of men?
I focused on my move to Beverly Hills. It was exciting in spite of all that was going on around me. I kept looking forward toward the future. Yes, medicine was changing, things were getting harder, but I continued to believe that they would get better as long
as I persevered and did the right thing. Besides, according to the calculations
of International Medical Financials, I had accumulated accounts receivables of
approximately $387,000 over that year and a half. Surely money would start to come in soon.Unfortunately, also by their calculations in that period; I had received only about $80,000 in payment of which $40,000 went to Dr. Hicks. Money wasn’t coming in soon enough.
Improvement in my circumstances started with a call from a woman who was a segment producer for a TV show. As part of my advertising, I was lecturing to various women’s groups in the community. This lady, Sharon Nash, had heard me give a talk on plastic surgery, and was working on a variety show where they needed a plastic surgeon to talk
about wrinkles. I liked her immediately. “Dr. Jan,” she said, “this is Sharon
Nash. I’m doing a TV show and we need a plastic surgeon to talk about wrinkles.
I was wondering if you would do that.”
I thought for a second and then quickly told her, “No”. There was silence at the other end. For her I imagine this was unbelievable. Who wouldn’t want to be on TV? We exchanged niceties. I hung up and went back to my day.
The next day I got a call from her and this time she made her pitch.
“Look,” she said, “I’m the only black girl working on this show. We’ve
got a big problem finding a plastic surgeon to talk about wrinkles. If you do it,
it will help me, and hopefully it’ll bring you some customers.”
And so I accepted.
Two days later, I drove to the studios at Universal. I was amazed at all the security, but I was fascinated by all the activity going on. It was a variety show starring Jake Steinfeld of “Body by Jake” fame. I didn’t get to meet Jake until we were on stage, but it was
clear that I was not what he was expecting. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said,
“Let me introduce a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Dr. Jan Adams.” I walked out
on the stage and Jake stumbled back. He wasn’t expecting a 6’3” tall black guy
with a shaved head. Jake and I exchanged hellos. I talked about wrinkling from an anatomical standpoint and specific treatments.
I was also amazed at how they were going about shooting the show. It was a half-hour presentation and they were shooting the entire season in a week. That certainly made sense, but as purely a viewer, I had never thought of it that way. I guess I believed they
were all being shot the day I watched them. They are not.
After the show, the producer, Darlene Hayes, approached me, “You’re funny.”
I apologized for anything that I’d done that was wrong.
“Oh, no,” she said, “You didn’t do anything wrong. I sit behind the audiences when we are taping and the women in the audience loved you. You might consider doing this.”
“Doing what?” I thought momentarily and quickly declined. “I don’t think so.” But TV
people can be very persistent, and after about a week I received a call from Ms. Hayes. “Dr. Jan,” she said, “I want you to do a demo tape.”
“OK,” I said. That was part of my conscious effort to accentuate the positive; I didn’t even know what a demo tape was, “What’s a demo tape?” I asked.
“A demo tape is where you stand in front of a camera and you talk about yourself for about five minutes. We just want to get some idea of how you look, your comfort level, and how much the camera likes you.” (I never have gotten to a point of where I fully
understand what that means, “the camera liking someone, but I agreed anyway.)
“Five minutes,” I said. “I could talk about myself forever.”
She chuckled and offered that I didn’t need to do it forever. Five minutes would be more than enough. We arranged the time and place of the taping and I did the demo tape. It consisted of standing in what could only be described as a warehouse and talking at a guy
holding a camera.
According to the cameraman, I apparently was a natural. It seems that it’s generally very difficult for people to stand in front of a camera and talk about themselves without
stuttering or falling over the words. The only people who had done as well as he had seen me do it were radio people. They have been trained to avoid dead air. You can’t see someone on the radio, and so they have to be talking all the time. At any rate, that demo tape made it to USA Studios and I found myself, along with Darlene Hayes and Sharon Nash, in a meeting with one of the producers “pitching” a talk show. Apparently the executives at USA lovedthe tape and signed me to a development deal. They wrote a large check and I hadn’t even done anything yet. This was absolutely fantastic.
Simultaneously, Thom Beeres, of Original Productions, was interested in producing a show for Discovery Networks. He and I met at the Newsroom Café on Robertson in Beverly Hills to discuss the content of the show. What Thom had in mind was to tell stories about people and the changes they were making using preoperative and postoperative photos of them as the payoff. It was a great idea on Tom’s part. Plastic surgery lent itself exactly to a visual presentation. I’d even shared with him that “when people come to the
office, the one thing they all want to do is look at before and after pictures.” Even those people who were impatient, and in a hurry to get in and out, seemed to find the time to browse when it came to those booklets of photos. “Plastic Surgery: Before and Afte” was born.
Also, NBC Studios was looking for talent to star in a show which would be the male version of “The View.” An agent at Wm Morris, who was friends with the producers at USA, saw the demo tape and thought I’d be perfect for the project. When it rains, it pours and
frankly, I was hot. Opportunities were coming in faster than I could process
them, and I loved it.