Working 14-hour days and sifting through hundreds of pieces of junk to find the occasional rare and valuable collectible is a dream job for hobbyists like Mike Gutierrez who qualify as dealers, auctioneers and authenticators.
So Gutierrez is thrilled with the prestige of being tabbed to work full time as an evaluator of collectibles for the "Antiques Roadshow" 2006 Tour, which hits six sites this summer - two each in June, July and August.
Gutierrez was a fill-in authenticator for the show two years ago, and last season worked four of the five shows at either the sports or collectibles lines. He'll be full time in the collectibles line for this season, which opens June 17 in Tuscon (an hour from Gutierrez' home in Phoenix) and closes in Honolulu on Aug. 26.
While the show gives viewers a 1-2 minute summary per item, what you actually see is condensed from hundreds of hopeful candidates parading their items past experts. "It's a 14-hour day without a break," Gutierrez said. "I'm wearing a coat and tie and I have to be ready at 7:30 a.m. when the lines start. Our line is the longest, with at least a half-hour wait to reach us, and it's continuous all day."
Sound like a dream job? It is for somebody whose livelihood involves finding items for his dealer and auction house and getting his name publicized for his authentication services. Gutierrez said he can't solicit business at the events beyond handing out business cards, but that combined with his name on the TV screen a couple times per episode is plenty.
"The 'Antiques Roadshow' is one of the highest-rated television shows," Gutierrez said. "Twenty-five million viewers is more than 'The Sopranos.'
"The first question dealers ask me is, 'How many items are you getting, are you able to buy the stuff?' And I say, 'No, I can't solicit business.' We can have our business card out there and people can contact us. We can't make deals at the table or make business within the arena. But more often than not, people do contact us. And when they see us on the air, they'll contact us via the PBS site."
You can see clips of Gutierrez in action on his company's website at www.mgauction.net. They are from his guest appearances two years ago.
"Two seasons ago, just before their last two shows, I was putting together an auction and I got a call from a guy with an English accent saying he was from the Antiques Roadshow," Gutierrez said. "I thought, 'Who do I know who's playing this joke?'
"He said, 'We're in a situation where we've got two shows left in the season and someone can't work for us now on the sports desk. Someone we know recommended you.' It became obvious it was a real conversation and I told them I'd be very interested."
Gutierrez worked on the sports desk of those shows with Simeon Lipman, noted auction veteran from Mastro, Lelands.com, Christie's and others.
"They put me on camera twice immediately in that first show I did," he said.
Gutierrez said the collector's line is always longer than the sports line, so he helped in that area on future shows, and with his knowledge of pop culture, music, Hollywood, etc., that's where he'll be for the six tapings this season.
"I guess they took notice that I was able to handle a lot of the rock 'n roll and entertainment," he said. "I come from entertainment; I was a television executive for nine years. So they booked me on four of the five shows the following season (2005), doing sports and the collectibles table. I work well with the other guys who are on the collector's table. So now, this season, they've got me on as a full-timer."
Gutierrez said the publicity is what makes the effort worthwhile. "It's the people who contact me afterwards," he said. "Twenty-five million people are seeing you. That's great advertising for you and your company. It's a fantastic opportunity."