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Newspaper Page Text
THE "KICK BACK" SYSTEM USED
BY VAUDEVILLE AGENTS
By James William Fitzpatrick, Inter
national President White Rats
There is in the vaudeville business
an interesting type of -rebating
known as "the kick back," and the
evil effect of it is noticeable in the
quality of the entertainment offered
for approval in the variety theaters.
It is the favorite weapon used by the
"personal representative" and the
booking manager to trim the owner
of the theater and the public. Theater
owners throughout the country who
are in the theatrical business solely
as a commercial issue know little or
nothing of acts or bookings. They
hire a man to engage-actors through
a personal representative. They pay
to the clearing house or booking ex
change a fee tor the privilege of get
ting their man on the floor. They
also pay the booking man, as he is
named, a salary to look after their
interests. In no other business is
the grade of stupidity as high as it is
in the vaudeville business and this"
ignorance comes to the finest flower
of perfection among the managers.
Otherwise "the kick back" could not
be put over with such regularity.
For example, John Jones, actor,
has a personal representative named
Smith. Jim Brown is a theater own
er in Chicago Heights. , Tom Dough
is Brown's booking man. All right!
suntn goes to uougn ana teiis mm ne
has a fine act for sale named "John
"How much money?" asks Dough.
Never by any chance does he inquire
"Is it a good act," but how cheap?
"Two hundred dollars," says
"Oh, I want a big act," says Dough-,
which is Smith's cue to say: "How
much do you want to pay?"
"About three hundred," says
"All right," says Smith, "I'll sell
j on Joues' act for two hundred, but
you make out the contract for three
hundred. I'll fix it with Jones. He
will kick back the difference and I'll
split with you his salary."
The theater owner is cheated out
of a hundred dollars, which his rep
resentative and the actor's agent
splits, and You the Man Who Pays to
See a Good Show get cheated be
cause you are paying to see an in-
ferior act at inflated salary.
The manager is paying more than 3
he should for inferior show's and you
are paying the same admission to sea
second-rate acts which are booked
only because they "kick back." Ke
liable high-class entertainment is
made almost impossible. This is one
explanation why the grade of vaude
ville has steadily deteriorated in the
last five years and is continuing to
deteriorate. Crooked personal rep
resentatives and crooked booking
men between them are responsible
for inferior acts working and meri
torious acts laying off.
There is playing right here in Chi
cago now a former vaudeville actor
whose salary was $750 a week. He
was a headliner and a big drawing
card. The money paid him was made
up, of course, by cutting the salaries
of the supporting bill. He had been
in another branch of the theatrical
field for a season and made a great
success, which increased his vaude
ville value when he wanted -to return.
The personal representative who
handled him said: "I can get you
"That's all right," said the actor,
"but you must kick back $250 to me
every week and pay commission on
The actor told him what he could
do and is still playing out of vaude
ville. Certain acts which are "valuable are i-
offered engagements at the -salary v
they want in theaters not controlled
by the heads of the Vaudeville Trust, - '
but semi-independent members of it,
provided they will cut their salary for
the few houses owned by the Trust's
I heads. The independent managers, '