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Family seeks a new lease on life -- on eBay
JoJo Gator of Warwick and his fiancée's brother in Colorado have posted online the services of their family at a tropical resort or private facility for five years at $1.5 million.
02:10 AM EST on Wednesday, January 11, 2006
BY DANIEL BARBARISI
Journal Staff Writer
WARWICK -- For sale: one extended family, eight members, to work for five years at a resort or private facility. Tropical climate a must.
Family has expertise in cooking, cleaning, computers, construction, auto maintenance and landscaping; all are friendly, educated, willing to work -- housebroken, of course -- and can start almost immediately.
Price: $1.5 million, payable 25 percent up-front, plus room and board, medical benefits, and moving expenses.
Got some spare change kicking around? This week, you can buy the Warwick family of JoJo Gator, 40, and his fiancée's brother, Buddy Foster, 31, of Colorado, with just the click of a mouse on the Internet.
Starting Sunday, the family listed themselves for a five-year lease on the Internet site eBay, under the title "2 families for lease." That includes Gator, Gator's mother, Helen Rainone, his 16-year-old daughter Samantha, his fiancée Jackie Kidney, 35, and her children Matthew and Kimberly, 17 and 14, and Foster and his son Robby, 20.
"At first, I thought it was a joke," said Kimberly, upon learning that she might spend the rest of her high-school years home-schooled on a small tropical island.
"Everybody's got a different skill that would be perfect for a resort," Gator said from the parlor of his Warwick home, equipped with three computers to constantly check the incoming offers. "If nothing else, it would be a great experience for the kids."
The listing has been up for three days, has been viewed 700 times, and the family has received dozens of e-mails. They have two concrete leads they're checking out, Gator said -- one from an unnamed celebrity who might want the family as his personal staff -- and numerous questions.
Early yesterday evening, eBay pulled the item from its site after a call from The Journal inquiring about the legality of the listing prompted them to examine it. Spokesman Hani Durzy said that the listing might run afoul of child-labor laws, which differ among states and U.S. territories.
"This listing was questionable in the sense of what child-labor laws are, based on the content of the listing, offering minors for long-term, undefined employment," Durzy said. "Our policy team determined that it was a violation of our prohibited services policy."
When he learned that the listing had been pulled, Gator said last night that they would replace the minors with "alternates," (other family members and friends) who are over 18, and would try to repost the listing. They said that if bought, the children would still accompany them but would not work. The listing was back up by 7:30 p.m.
Gator said that he posted the unusual listing because he and his family wanted out of Rhode Island. They were tired of the high living costs, the brutal winters, and the strip-mall culture.
On a trip to Aruba last spring, Gator, born Joseph Rainone, realized that he wanted his family to live in the relaxed atmosphere of the Caribbean. He and Jackie began tossing around ideas about how to make it happen -- and eventually settled on something that seemed farcical at first -- selling the family. It sounds like a bad TV show.
But the more they thought about it, the more a lark turned into a plan.
Gator has been a music producer in Rhode Island and New York for more than 20 years, and said he went to his lawyer with his odd request, and asked him to draw up a contract.
"We're selling a service. It's a service-provider agreement. So it's like we're a subcontractor that they'd be contracting for 'x' amount of dollars for 'x' amount of years," he said.
The families created a limited liability corporation, Rainone LLC, and drew up a four-page contract that any potential buyer would have to sign. They figured that their services were worth $37,500 a person, each year for five years, which translates to $1.5 million. Gator hopes to have few expenses over their five years in paradise, and wants to sock that money away for college tuition.
"I didn't want the kids to think we're doing it for the money. We're doing this to get away from where we are, for the experience, and we're doing it to save some money for five years," Gator said.
They want to be bought, but they are particular about who their employer would be. The contract, they say, allows them numerous outs.
"My sister called and said, 'What if someone in Saudi Arabia buys you? What are you going to do then?' But it's all negotiable. My family's not going to go just anywhere."
Friends have been skeptical, and the children themselves said they didn't realize that this could really happen until the media started asking questions this week. Now they're nervous, but excited, at every legitimate request that comes in.
While dozens of e-mails have come in so far, that one elusive e-mail that will whisk them away to a life of tropical employment has not come. They've received a few angry missives about slave labor, but most of the e-mails so far have been supportive, and have asked legitimate questions about the transaction.
And some potential employers have looked to negotiate alternative arrangements.
"How much for just the women?" one e-mail asked.
$1.5 million for 8 people, 5 years = $37,500 per person, per year PLUS the room, board & benefits.
Thats not that bad of a deal really. You get them for 37,500 per year per person.
Maintenance is a 24/7. If it breaks in the middle of the night, tough tittie, get your ass up and fix it. Cooking in a major establishment isnt too laid back either.
While not a hot deal, I dont see anything too out of whack in the pricing, UNLESS they come back with some ridiculous shit on how they need lots of healthcare, will not workmore then 6 hours a day etc etc.
The article did state that they drew up a 4 page contract. I'm sure they addressed working conditions.
Plus room and board for a family of 8, medical, moving expenses...could get expensive.
I've often thought of putting my mother-in-law on there, but I couldn't do that to an unsuspecting buyer. It would be unethical of me to knowingly sell something that's got problems.
"How much for thee littel girl?"