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DRAMATIC SOCIETY -» — ■ VOLUME CX.—NO. 39. In Vaude=Village Vaudeville’s Vernacular AUDIENCE HANDCUFFED— Does not applaud. BENDER—Contortionist. ' BIG TIME—A desireable engage ment; long term contract. BlTS—Small parts. CLEANED UP—To win applause in late position on bill. CLOD WALLOPER (English)— Dancer. DIE— act fails. DINK HOUSE —Small theater, theater in "tank" town. DOG HOUSE —Theater where acts arc "tried on the dog." DOUBLING IN BRASS —For performer in show also to play in the band in parade. DUBLIN BOYS—Foreigners who take Irish names DUCATS—Passes t cater. DUMB ACT—Acrobatic or other act without speaking parts. EXCESS — Nonprofessional hus band or wife traveling with performer. FILM COOLER —Performer at motion picture theater. FLOPPED—FaiI to get applause. FLY IN THE DRUM —Eves- dropper listening. FOUND HARD GOING —Audi- ence rniappreciative. GRAVY—Extra material added to act; extra salary received. HIT THE CEILING OVER THEIR HEADS — Audience , failed to appreciate act. IN. B.—THIS LIST MAKES NO PRETENSE OP BEING COMPLETE.) QUERNEVILLE is reached via Santa Rosa; MarysviUe via Sac ramento; Vaudeville via Pilling. Pilling is not a town. I do not know just what he is besides being a very energetic and polyglottous indi vidual, but I am inclined to the belief that he is the mayor of Vaudeville— either mayor or king. Whatever he —the respect with which he is treated In vaudeville suggests that he is a personagewhatever he is, he gra ciously conducted the artist and me through his kingdom one afternoon this week; through the land of eclectic t •Vaudeville; into that community which lies behind the electric stockade of the footlights, behind the Prometheus proof asbestos drop curtain. Whatever Its general fame, the as bestos curtain has always been to me a failure in one dominant particular. I do not question its ability to discour age the material fire of the sort upon which the insurance companies bet with us; but in me it has always kin dled rather than barred the flame of curiosity to see what is behind it. It ha* never stopped the fire of imagi nation from passing . from the house onto the stage, or the voluptuous flame of mystery from creeping from the .stage into the auditorium, It became the dispensation of Pilling ■** to satisfy that curiosity, to stimulate that imagination, to lead me in my penetration of the asbestos' pale. lie took me Into the vaudevlllage. Into the land which has a language of its own—in that is Mr. Pilling a polyglot; he understands the tongue —customs and manners of its own, tra ditions and history of its own. i Under the guidance of Mr. Pilling— those who know.him well call him Jim; there seems to be no period of acquaint anceship subtly marked by James— under Pllling's lead , the artist and I were taken into- the land, there to . meet Its people and acquire a smatter ing "of its vernacular, there to experi ence revelations. For there we met Lew Hawkins, the minstrel man, who appears before the audience with an ebony face and in jfr.dible lips, who told of the history ©J. vaudeville since 1873, when It was, If i not disreputable, certainly not re spectable, and who told. Incidentally end casually, of a conjugal devotion which can not be surpassed. ' But of Hawkins In his turn. We ■jfcave not got our passport as yet. I met Pilling through the attorney general of the community. The attor ney general lives on the outskirts of the region from whence he can survey the .mankind of it from its China to Peru, and as he is somewhat -of a philologist'he has become attracted by the patois of the compound.'' Meeting html in the street he had confided to me that he knew a man who had done everything in the show business from "doubling in brass" to grand opera; and including "chasing Eliza over the ice," and offered to present me to this man. His versatile genius was Pilling. "We found Pilling at the Empress the ater, which is the plaza of the vauJe -'Uage. For a full afternoon we as sociated with Pilling, who is an offi cial at the theater, and his subjects, or constituents, as you please, and gathered stray facts and strayer phrases of the world that give% three shows every day and five or six on Sunday. In referring to the Empress theater as the center of vaudeville life I have no intention of slighting the Orpheum, with Its more pretentious attractions -%«nd architecture. But .the acts 'at the Orpheum are not as indigenous to the •oil of vaudeville. There- is .;the con tinual influx of fresh 'blood from the '.'legitimate"; there are ' the ■ princes of -',..■__....- .r-_,. t ....... ..,....-. ...^... .*.....*.... ■ THE San Francisco CALL HOOFER—Dancer. HOUSETheater; audience. v , HUNGRY; LEFT. THEM HUN —To have audience clam oring for more. KILL PICTURE—To have act prolonged by applause so mo tion picture can not be shown. KNOCK 'EM OFF THE SEATS —To make a great hit. LEGlT.—Legitimate actor appear ing for first time in vaudeville. OVER THEIR HEADS —Act audience does not appreciate. —Voice of a singer. ; PULL 'EM UP—For a late act to score appreciation when others have been unable to. RIOT; TO HAVE A RIOT—To receive tumultuous applause. SHOOT IT—Start the act. i SLAB—Theater (old term)-. V SMALL TIME —Playing inde pendent circuits or houses. - SNAKE—Contortionist. TANK TOWN—Small town. TOUGH SPOT—Difficult place on the program. *'=''_*; 7' (TO) WALK ACT— lay per former off with pay. WAR PAINT — Grease paint; make up. WHITE FACE ACT— min strel appears without make up. WINDJAMMERS—Orchestra. WOODEN ACTORS—Manikins. the hierarchy and the casuals who All in a vacation period with a short en gagement. Of course, many of the old vaude ville people play on the Orpheum cir cuit, and from the Orpheum people I secured a' number of picturesque phrases that are current In the vaude ville world, rich additions to the vo cabulary which I will endeavor here partly to present; but for vaudeville that is vaudeville the Empress is the type house, the type, community. If one were studying country life in California a daintily manicured orange orchard would not be selected as a type. A robust ranch where corn Is hoed and prunes are dried and pigs are fattened would be chosen for scrutiny. The realm of Pilling Is peopled with new citizens each week, and each pass ing; group is typical. They speak a common language, which Pilling com prehends and speaks, too. They call him Mr. Pilling and he calls them by their first names—if he happens to know those, and thus is Pilling's aris tocracy tacitly recognized. Pilling is of these peoplehasn't he "doubled in brass" and worked with j the "big top"? He would know perfectly well what was meant If he heard two vaudeville performers speaking chastely, thus: "Say, cull, I had a tough spot and found the going hard, but I cleaned up; I knocked 'em off the seats. There was a film cooler on ahead of me who flopped. He had the house handcuffed. Why, he couldn't play a dog house. That hoofer couldn't get it over with a shovel. I thought my stuff might hit the celling over their heads; I thought she would die—but I was a riot. My pipes were O. K. and I put it over good; I killed the picture and left 'em. hungry. Nix crackin', there's a fly in the drum." That would be clear to Mr. Pilling, who has a repertoire of 17 grand op eras—and that line of talk. To translate the foregoing statement is to say: "Old man, I had a difficult position on the program and faced an audience In clined to be undemonstrative, but I won a great meed of applause; I stirred the house to unqualified enthusiasm. Just before me on the program was a per former who had usually appeared ln motion picture houses between exhibi tions of films and he failed to get any applause. He.had the audience as still as if they were handcufred. In my opin ion he would be unable to appear suc cessfully in one; of those small the aters where a new act is 'tried on the dog/ If you will pardon that expression, which smacks of slang. That per former, who was a dancer, would have been unable to make his act find favor with the; audience by any means. I feared that my act would not be under stood nor comprehended by; the audi ence In the mood it was In; I feared that it would be devitalized, but I ',was in excellent voice and I caused a pro found and impressive demonstration. . I delivered my. material In a way which created a most appreciative Impression. My act was so successful and I was re called so frequently that the motion picture which usually was shown sub sequent to my act had to be eliminated. I regretfully had to leave the. stage with the critical - audience clamoring for additional entertainment from me. I believe now that it will be most pru dent to. discontinue; our - conversation; I "suspect that we are In Juxtaposition to an.eavesdropper.". There is no question but : that', lan guage was created for the purpose of conveying * thought in the most direct,' most lucid ! and briefest manner possi ble. There can be no question but that brevity—arid you know whose soul brevity Isreaches Its perfection in the vaudeville language.. Compare SAN FRANCISCO. SUNDAY, JULY 9, 1911. the original statement with the trans lation. The one is expressed in 96 words, the other In 242 words. There, likewise, can be no'question of which is the more direct. As to which is the more impressive—that I leave to you. Pilling knew the Intricate geography of the community as well as its in sinuating tongue. He took us up to the fly gallery, where there were as many "lines" or ropes as on the deck of a frigate, all controlled by one fly man, and he took us Into the base ment, where the "paper" was laid out for distribution, the one sheet, two sheet and eight sheet posters and the half sheet hangers advertising the show, which are hung in frames about town. We stood on the stage, behind the scenes, and dodged the "grips," the stagehands, as they hustled the wings about noiselessly, setting the piece for one act, while the act that went before would be on in "one," the narrow edge of the stage where the performer has for a background only a curtain. There we met the performers as they came in.' A little girl who plays the piano was to be seen; she might be able to con tribute to the lexicon of the vaude ville world. , Pilling knocked on a closed door. "May we see you, Miss Young?" The door opened slightly and a pair of vermilion lips smiled decorously over its horizon. "In a very few minutes, Mr. Pill ing," the lips replied. In a few minutes the vermilion lips trotted up, accompanied now by. a pair of remarkably made up eyes. A lady with a husband who drank might have such eyes. Miss Young's eyes were not the gratuities of Intemperance, how ever. She had put them on with a pencil. Over the footlights the effect was very stunning; the coloring was not at all atrocious. This young musician was asked If she knew any of the slang of vaude ville. "Why, no." she replied with deep sincerity, "I wish that I could help you; but I haven't been In vaudeville long. "Do you know," she continued, po litely, "I was awfully afraid to open here; I didn't know how my act would take; I thought that she might die.'.' Poor , thing, who was in danger of death! ' "Who might die?" I asked solicit ously. "I mean that I thought my act might not take, might fall," chirruped the vermilion lips that, knew no slang. An electric bell rang. "My turn," she said. In another instant there was a round of applause from the front of the house —the vermilion lips and the purpled eyes were smiling at the matinee folk. The stage door opened and a young Englishman between 30 and 35 years of age entered. ' Pilling introduced him as Mr. Bar nard. 7' Pilling explained something of the purpose of the tour— it was to collect data concerning this land of vaude ville. "You want to know something about the wooden actors, eh?" asked the young man. "Wooden actors?" " . ' . 7 "Yes, that's 'what, we call >m, the manikins." This was Mr. Barnard of Barnard's manikins. "How long has your act been on the stage?" asked Pilling of this , man in his thirties. "Since 1712," * replied Barnard glibly. 7 A logical question would have -been —"Since 1712 what?" Was. he ' re ferring to a casino score, the error column in the bush league or the east ern thermometer? 7 "They were first known as the Mid-, dleton manikins," 7 explained another one of the Barnard brothers. "The act was started by the Middletons in 1712; our great grandmother was a" Middle ton, and since her time the act. has been known** as the - Barnard * manikins. We have traveled all over the world with it. jMy brother, here," he indi cated one of the group, "was born in Roumania." Pilling then'performed a «fresh serv ice. He. suggested that the young men, who were; as English as a coronation Arthur L. Price parade, should tell us English vaude ville slang. Then came the deluge. I don't think these youths have written any slang dictionary, but they are competent to. They know all the involutions of cock ney vernacular. Thar started Impetuously. "A dance act Is a clod wallop, a dancer a clod walloper," said one. ■ "Actors are pros," said another, "rhyming with Jim Crows." "A comic singer is a rednosed come dian. Playing the piano Is rattling the dominoes. A contortionist Is a bender or an elastic man." "Two girls doing a sister act' are known as a pair of sisters. A single lady act is a serio." "A bad turn Is a serious chronic, and a very bad turn Is multy. Spell it as you please," he added graciously. "The limelight man Is limes and the limelight is llmejulce." "A curious side of English slang," said the elder Barnard brother, "is what we call back slang or rhyming slang. That is, you don't say what you mean but something that rhymes with what you mean. For Instance,, instead of saying, 'Keep your eyes off that table," you would say, 'Keep your, mince pies oft* that Cain and Abel.' Water is 'fish erman's daughter,' rum ils 'finger and thumb,' boots are 'daisy roots.' " Oh, we talk 7of "American .slang. Where Is its victory now! , As the Barnard troupe extemporized I could not but think of what adepts In slang those accomplished rhymesters, Lord Byron and Alfred Tennyson, would have been had they not lived too soon. And esthetic Keats—would he have asked for a Grecian urn had he known of this ' poetic system of speech? * No; he would have said. "Give me money to—-"lll|ttss\: '. 7r^B_______H No, no, mj*"* muse;'stop now where you are; I will not carry sacrilege so far! ; ' * ;' .7.';. \ ;'* The English vaudeville men told of the relations existing between the Brit ish- audiences and the performers. When an act Is bad—"very multy"— the audience:shows its displeasure In a curious way by showering pennies and. ha'pennies on the defenseless head of the actor. - •"'* That is a peculiar evolution from the method ■ the Grecian populace had .in* the 1 14s> JMooplQj^ \ / , _«_ I V<^ ' _f—V ▼ -.■■■*V*JL."XL.iIV/-M^*JLCi.A.*i golden age of showing its distemper. .When a Grecian actor was particularly ■ ■ ' - - •■ •. ",.'... incompetent the Greeks, who brought refreshments to * the theater, would throw their' lunches' at him. While lunches' and ha'pennies are hurtled in a spirit of antagonism I should think that a poor actor might find a needed solace in their possibilities—the poorer, artistically as well as pecuniarily, he was, * the* greater would be his need. .They were'the bad actors ln those days who "left 'em hungry!" . Unlike the Barnards, - Lew Hawkins has not been on the stage since 1712, imaginative chroniclers to the. con trary. He has only been a performer since 1873, and he. never - has had lunches ;or money tossed at, him in rage by a disgruntledl house. A thin faced, bespectacled man came Into the theater while we were there, not an elderly man, but a silent,* calm man, who looked younger than; he is, but seemed to be older than he looked. Filling called * him "Lew." It was Lew Hawkins, the "Chesterfield of minstrelsy." • ""* He was the headllneron*the'bill, and he took us into the ' most desirable dressing room on the row, a bare, bar racks apartment, with a trunk, a wash stand, a mirror, ; a sponge and some bottles of lotion, several collars of ob solete shape, the collar of minstrelsy, soiled where the ebony finish of the blackface artist had rubbed offthose things constituted the decorations of the, narrow room. "Hawkins told of his life, of the changes that have come over the va riety stage, or vaudeville, since the days when he first went on, and he told simply, casually, of his services to his wife. -H*aHBI '•' "I .went into the business in '73 at EDITORIAL, DRAMATIC SOCIETY the Geary street Varieties as a jig dancer," ;he said. "In those days a performer had to be.aJ dancer or an acrobat or he could not get into the show business. Then a blackfaced man was called a nigger singer; - now he Is a riioriologlst. Then a variety house was not respectable; no woman would think of attending a performance.. But now all that is changed. B. F. Keith, the vaudeville manager, brought about the change. * "I acted with all the old timers, with Murphy and Mack, 7 not .the later team of Murray and Mack. 7 Mack now Is door tender out at a theater in the Western addition. Others were Henri Stuart Matt Murphy, Jack Fogarty, Morris Welch, Ralph Ray, Will S. Bray, who later was in the 'Texas Steer,' with Primrose and West, with Haverly. ; "In '84 I was with the Concross min strels in Philadelphia, with a i company that had ra lot of men who have since become stars. Chauncey •} Olcott V was there, getting $25 a week for singing •When the Birds - Return Again.' Lew Dockstader and Eddie Foy and Johnny Rice were' in the company." -7 Of the origin -of the vaudeville .skit Hawkins was illuminating. "All the properties that were needed," he said, "for an after piece or nigger act,' as they were called, were a seltzer bottle, some flour, a slapstick, a breakaway window—a paper window'with a glass crash in the rear— phoney "telegram PAGES 27 TO 34. and a table and some old chairs. Those properties did for every act. "There was no manuscript in those days, no written parts. The man who was putting on the act would meet his support Monday morning. He would walk through the rehearsal with them. He would take the woman and. say. 'You come on here, you walk to the footlights and you say so and so." Then' he would take the man and say, 'You enter 'now and say so and so, and the woman says so and so.' They had to try to remember their lines from that.' There were sad breaks at times. "There was no money advanced to a performer in those days, but he al ways could get credit at the-bar, which was run in connection with every va riety house. Often at the end of a week I would have more bar tags than pennies coming to me." Hawkins was speaking of money. There was a rap at the door and a man put his head in and spoke to Pilling. "There's a guy out here who wants a couple of ducats," he said. Pilling pulled a pad out of his pocket and wrote— not a check—but a pass. "There's something for you," he said, "a ducat is a pass to a theater." It was scrupulously noted and is re corded in another column. Hawkins returned to his narrative. "In those days," he said wistfully, "a performer worked for the fun of the thing. He spent his money freely, he stayed up all night; he never had "any thing to show for it. Now the vaude ville business is like working in a bank. We get our money every Satur day afternoon. Most of the performer-? own their own homes and other prop erty. They travel with their wives" "Are you married, is ybur wife with you?" I asked Hawkins, to get a more Intimate sidelight on the domestic af fairs of the performers, who, in the popular belief, have the home ties of Nomads and the domestic attachments of Turks. "Yes," replied Hawkins, softly. "My wife always travels with me. She has been- an invalid for 11 years, has not been able to walk; but she travels with me --always;- she comes to the theater in her; chair; I have,brought her across the continent to ,the.coast eight times since she has been an invalid." '> He stood up and began* to prepare for his act. He was ready punctually, to the min ute, to take his place on the stage.* The curtain fell on a sketch and before the principals in it were out of. the way .Lew Hawkins was ■. before the footlights In "one,", with his eiionized face, his Incredible lips, his droll eyes rolling over the audience. He had a Joke ready before the people had read justed themselves to the new number of the j program, before the memory of the sentimental stuff that had, pre ceded the old time minstrel man had been forgotten. ' ■ . • , ■... 7.', He spoke drolly and chattered, sang songs, old time stuff,* old Jokes ; with new linings, old songs to new tunes— did what he was engaged to do with ease, deftness, dispatch. He had the house laughing at his drolleries, at his nonsense. Lew Hawkins never "flops." The experience of 38 years In making people laugh nas given him unique ease.: I'-..'. - '-,•'. .-;.-;.>« .; His act was near the end of the pro gram. - ' . . - ' * When the asbestos curtain; fell, sepa rating the j audience from the people of ;, vaudeville,. the * voluptuous ' flame of mystery < still crept through the inef fectual tissues .and *"■.-. lighted*up. -the memory of the . blackened .wag. till he shone as a fellow of joyous life. 7 The curtain, had, been impervious to the L fire :. of, fact. - When "♦ it " : fell .it screened, the wheeled chair that- so often waits 'patiently, until 'the show is; over," until the blackface makeup Is sponged off; waits to be rolled home by Lew . Hawkins, "Chesterfield of ' min strelsy.''