Show business is full of temptations, and it can corrupt your standards – if you let it.
In the mid 80’s I was riding the great party gig wave that was rolling through Dallas. The Dallas party and corporate event scene had exploded, and variety performers were doing hundreds of shows every year. Gretchen and I looked back at one of our calendars from back then, and between us we had done over 600 gigs one year. And a lot of our clients were return customers, using us regularly throughout the year. So, one day I get a call from a theater promoter. He told me the opening act for Rosanne Cash was sick and he had heard about my show. He wanted me to open for her at the Arcadia Theater the next night.
The Arcadia Theater, on lower Greenville, originally opened November 4, 1927 as an “Atmospheric Style” theatre, designed by architect W. Scott Dunne. It had 1,040 seats. It was badly damaged by a fire in 1940. Rebuilt in 1941 to the plans of architectural firm Pettigrew & Worley. After closing it was in use as a nightclub. The building was destroyed by a fire in June 2006.
Back to the story. So, I told to the promoter on the phone, “I’m so sorry, but I’m booked to do a show for a church group tomorrow night and I cannot cancel on them. The church has me perform for them a few times a year, and they always make a big deal about promoting my show, with posters and flyers. I just can’t cancel. The promoter hung up, sounding disappointed. But, he calls back ten minutes later and tells me he will double my fee if I do his gig. I once again explained the situation and kindly refused him. Ten minutes later the phone rings, and after I say hello I hear, “name your price!” I then said, “Sir, I mean this in the nicest way possible, but I think you might be the devil. You have to stop calling me. Please!”
Now, there are some who would say that I was a fool to turn down such a high-profile, high paying gig for just a church group. And these people might be right. Maybe it would have led to me opening for Ms. Cash around the country, and even opening for other national acts. But that’s exactly what I did NOT want. Why would I want to go on the road for months at a time, leaving my wife and young daughter alone, when I could make a pretty nice living gigging locally? And anyway, I would much rather work for a regular client, than grab at the carousel ring, reaching for fame.
But, that’s just me!