The people who work at the White House work simultaneously at a museum, a fortress, an office, and a residence. This leads to plenty of weird White House jobs being available for those who don't mind the security and scrutiny that comes with the job. Some people even choose to work at the White House for free as a service to their country (and maybe a bit of free publicity).
Some weird jobs in the White House are just like regular jobs, but the President is there (barber, portrait artist, chimney sweep) and some are unlike anything else out there ("Body Man," social aide, Vice President). Strange jobs in the White House can also be strange just because of the sheer enormity of the task at hand (Executive Chef, Engineer, Calligrapher). Read on for a detailed look at weird jobs at the White House.
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UsherPhoto: Michael Candelori / Shutterstock.com
A White House usher is a member of the household staff at the Executive Residence, which means they're bound to sometimes accidentally see the president nude. That's what happened to Skip Allen when he caught "The Gipper" naked in his private residence.
He was delivering a top secret document, the story goes, when President Reagan allowed Allen to enter the residence... even though he was totally naked and dripping wet, having just stepped out of the shower. Reagan was allegedly "unfazed" and later teased Allen about the encounter... when he saw the President in his underwear later that night!
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Social AidePhoto: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com
White House social aides are typically volunteers from the military that attend social functions (in their finest military attire) and help make guests feel comfortable. They receive no extra pay for this task, but they get to dance and mingle with actors and actresses, literal princesses, and other esteemed guests. The best part about being a social aide has to be the celebrity stories.
Ginger Rogers admitted to one aide that she used to tape her butt cheeks together to make her dresses look better. Jamie Lee Curtis required two aides to fix her broken strapless dress. Chevy Chase told one aide to introduce him as "Clark W. Griswold."
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Chimney SweepPhoto: Karl Allen Lugmayer / Shutterstock.com
Former White House Chimney Sweep Jeff Schmittinger is a character, for sure. He refused to be paid for the gig, for a start: he volunteered during the Clinton administration, they took him up on the offer, and he kept doing it until his retirement in 2017. He also kept an old-fashioned chimney sweep costume (think Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins) in his vehicle at all times, just in case a customer wanted that "experience."
Wearing the costume, he's also the official mascot of the annual German Fest in Milwaukee. The website for his full-time gig ("Wisconsin Chimney Technicians") is super-charming, too, featuring Jeff in his full regalia on the White House roof, holding an American flag.
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Portrait ArtistPhoto: Shutterstock
While not an official position at the White House, the role of Portrait Artist is one that is nonetheless filled with every new elected President. It's a weird, unpredictable gig, too: Théobald Chartran was commissioned to do President Theodore Roosevelt's portrait in 1902, but Roosevelt hated it so much he destroyed it (he thought it wasn't masculine enough).
John Singer Sargent was brought in to do another one, which Roosevelt loved (after giving Sargent a notoriously hard time). President John F. Kennedy's was done posthumously, requiring painter Aaron Shikler to cobble it together from photographs (Kennedy's body is actually his brother Ted's body).