10 (or so) questions with ... Jacob Malwitz
Producer at Mayo Clinic.
Rochester Magazine: Let’s get this out of the way first thing. Were you robbed out of a win at Dancing for the Arts?
Jacob Malwitz: Was I robbed? No. I was thrilled. I tied with Anjali [Bhagra] to get the most individual contributions. Everyone was great.
RM: How much input did you have on the kind of dancing you did?
JM: None. You don’t get any input. I guess they kind of stalk your social media and try to get a sense of who you are. Then they find a song they think will match. And [dance partner Julie Sobolewski] did a great job. They picked “Beyond the Sea,” so it was a foxtrot. That was a good fit for me.
RM: How hard was the learning process?
JM: I knew going in, it was probably going to be a frustrating process at first and it was. I learned all these different steps in the first hour and I’m like, “There’s no way I’m ever going to get this. This is only a portion of the song.” But she kept assuring me I would, and she was right. Eventually, I got it.
RM: Are you from Rochester?
JM: I grew up on a farm about 8 miles north of Rochester. Went to Elgin schools. I went to Elgin-Millville High School through 10th grade and then transferred to Mayo. Everybody else figured out I was gay before I did, basically, so that was a lot of why I transferred.
RM: That’s rough. Was it a good change to come to Mayo High?
JM: Oh, yeah. It was great. It was everything I appreciated about Rochester and Mayo Clinic. Just a much larger, diverse group of people from different backgrounds, different countries, different races, all that kind of stuff.
RM: Then you got hired at Mayo Clinic in 2000?
JM: That was supposed to be a temporary position. The goal was not to live in Rochester for the rest of my life.
RM: How has that worked out?
JM: Well, I love Rochester. It’s just too cold here.
RM: So your job has really expanded?
JM: Yes. I moved from being a video producer to doing events at an enterprise level. So if Mayo Clinic was hosting something big then I was the person responsible for all the logistics and planning for those.
RM: Hey! How do you throw a great Space Party?
RM: You planet.
JM: I like it.
RM: You are also on the corporate board that oversees both Experience Rochester and Mayo Civic Center?
JM: I think we’ve really broken down those barriers between the Civic Center and the Convention and Visitors Bureau service, if you will, to make a combined effort. They’re doing a great job and taking a lot of pride in seeing that new collaboration fully develop.
RM: Since you probably have an in, I’ll give you next year’s Down By The Riverside lineup: Elvis Costello, Smokey Robinson, Willie Nelson, Blondie, Whodini, Dolly Parton, and They Might Be Giants.
JM: We really don’t have anything to do with Down By The Riverside.
RM: So you don’t have quite as much sway as I hoped. That’s disappointing.
RM: How did you and your husband, Chad, meet?
JM: We met at a pool party at Quarry Ridge Apartments. It was a Friday in July and he’d been here a week. Came here for residency. ... I hadn’t dated anybody for years. It was that point where I was like, “If I’m single the rest of my life, I’m comfortable with where I’m at professionally, who I am.” So then Chad shows up an hour later, and I look up and I see him coming, and I’m like, “I’m going to marry that guy.”
RM: That was from minute one.
JM: From minute one. And my mom always said that the moment she saw my dad, she knew that was the guy for her. And I was always like, “That does not happen. That’s ridiculous.” But I saw him and said “Oh, he’s the one.” That was the first thought. My second thought was, “Oh, damn it, my mom was right.”
RM (as cat walks near me in Jacob’s living room): There’s one of your two cats.
JM: That’s Percival. He’s named after a cat in my favorite childhood book that my grandmother used to read to me called “Fraidy Cat.” We’ve had him for eight years. He’s a tuxedo cat. Chad and I have great chemistry, but pretty different personalities. So Percival is the well-behaved, calm, collected. The perfect cat.
RM: Which cat is that, you or Chad?
JM: That’s me.
RM: And Taco?
JM: Taco is Chad. Taco is also 8, but is like a perennial toddler. He’s always getting into things. He has to be at the center of everything. I’m surprised he’s not out here right now, because normally when there’s company, he’s out here. He hates being touched, but he’ll lay down next to a stranger, in a vulnerable position on his back, begging you to touch his stomach. And then the moment you do, he snarls at you, looks at you like you’re nuts, like, “How dare you?” And then he plops back down and tries to lure you back in.
RM: Wait. So does all of that represent Chad as well?
JM (laughing): A little bit of it, yeah. But, no. Not all of that.