Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

If you own a television set, then you are probably aware of the recent trend of young actresses doing their best to land themselves in the slammer—the clink, the big house, the pen, lockup, hoosegow, the brig, otherwise know as…jail. I am referring of course to Paris, Lindsay and now Nicole Ritchie—who may end up being a jailbird with a bun in the oven. Personally, I think the whole thing may be an elaborate, albeit dangerous, publicity stunt to drum up interest for a new “women behind bars” movie that has been making the rounds in Hollywood. Word on the street is that Lilo is gunning to play the part of a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks who is wrongly imprisoned when she is forced to take the fall for her part in a bank robbery gone bad; and her recent antics are an attempt to learn what it’s like in jail—for real. Talk about suffering for your art.

Of course Paris, being the uber publicity hound that she is, got wind of Lindsay’s plan and beat her to the punch. Nicole, not being one to be left behind, did her celeb friends one better and upped the ante. Let’s face it, these girls aren’t as stupid as they pretend to be—they’ve got more game than Kobe Bryant, Shaq and Michael Jordon put together. Too bad they will probably be playing their game behind cinderblock and barbed wire. Of course, Nicole and Lindsay have not yet been sentenced, but given the stiff penalty Ms. Hilton received, it’s pretty clear which way the wind is blowing.

Paris, being the kind hearted, thoughtful friend that she is, is sending each of her future inmate friends custom made “slammer survival kits” to help them get through the long days and nights. Each Zip Close Bag contains a Slim Book Light that is small enough to take anywhere (like a cell) and has three LED lights that brightly illuminate any surface without waking one’s cellmate. Also included: the latest “Harry Potter” to help pass the time, 10 -1 oz. Chocolate Bars in Wrappers for bartering with fellow inmates, and a First Aid Kit In a Plastic Box fully stocked with four standard sized bandages, two antiseptic wipes and non-aspirin because, well, it is prison and you just never know. Naturally, all the items are imprinted with a Warhol-esque image of Paris with an inspirational message: Jail is so not hot…but you are. To prove that she is a woman “of the people,” Paris also sent five hundred of her custom kits to Lynwood Prison as a “thank you” to her former inmates. Not only is the hotel heiress smart, she’s a masterful marketer and for that, I applaud her.

Well, I’ve got to go prepare for my trip to the Wilmington Residential Facility for Women. Don’t worry, I’m not in any trouble, I’m going to teach a marketing class for inmates as a part of a rehabilitation program that prepares future ex-cons for the real world. Remember, “Before you can break out of prison, you must first realize you’re locked up.”