For us, the highlight of next month’s Fringe Festival is (of course) Robin Gelfenbien’s multimedia show, My Salvation Has a First Name: A Wienermobile Journey. Gelfenbien, 36, spent twelve months during 1993–1994 behind the wheel of the iconic, hot-dog-shaped vehicle, which has been promoting Oscar Mayer goodness for over 70 years. Now living on the Upper West Side, Gelfenbien told us all about her adventure and her play.
How did you come to drive the Wienermobile?
I went to school at Syracuse. The Wienermobile came, and I fell in love with it. It was a low point in my life, and I knew I wanted to drive it. I did everything I could, including making up songs and tap dancing at the Oscar Mayer headquarters. I got the job.
What was your title?
I was a goodwill ambassador for Oscar Mayer.
Is it hard to drive the Wienermobile? It looks hard.
It’s hard at first. We went through a rigorous program called Hot-Dog High. It’s especially tricky because you have to be careful not to scratch the sides, where the buns are.
What was the best thing about driving the Wienermobile?
It offered the things I didn’t get to do in college. Reclaim who I was. It’s such a kitschy thing that I love about myself. It allowed me to do something really great and find redemption. Who would have thought I would have found my salvation in the world’s most famous hot-dog-shaped vehicle?
What’s your favorite hot dog in New York?
Gray’s Papaya. I especially like the really burned ones that sit on the back of the grill.
Will there be hot dogs at the show?
We can’t sell hot dogs at the show. It’s against the law.
My Salvation Has a First Name: A Wienermobile Journey [Official site]