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Hoot'n Holler

by [email protected] 7 months ago in humor

Why Unions Exist

Hoot'n Holler

I know you all love to hear about how many different times/places/ways I've been fucked... but this blog is supposed to include that other major part of my life, getting fired. So here goes...

After the emotional rollarcoaster of a contract that was my time on board the Celebrity Millennium, I came home to Knoxville, TN and starting building my life with my second boyfriend Cole. Cole and I decided to stay together for the entirety of the 6 month contract (mistake number one) I spent exploring Mediterranean ports of call and NOT sleeping with every hot muscular Spanish, Italian, and Greek guy that hit on me (all 4 of them), so once I got home I clung to him like an old lady on the Upper East Side clings to her YSL bag and demanded that we move in together (mistake number 2) so I didn't have to live with my mom. Once we started living together the drama started and I slowly started hating my life. I was doing construction with my uncle (butchest construction queen in the world, mind you), doing front desk at a gym for a free membership, and temping at a medical lab that made vaginal screening kits... aka: hell. It was high-time I got my ass back onto a stage and stat!

One night while prancing around "Bettye's" house in a speedo, I was introduced to a man named Pedro, who had until recently been the dance captain/choreographer at the Louise Mandrell Show in Pigeon Forge, TN. Since Louise had stopped doing her show to live with her sick husband in Nashville, Pedro had moved to the new "theater" next door and somehow finagled himself into the position of show manager at "Hoot'n Holler" a full-blown rip-off of Walt Disney World Resort's "Hooptie-Doo Review" (created by the same woman) and invited to me come audition for their upcoming contracts. "Hoot'n Holler" was a dinner show located inside Wonderworks, a huge interactive kids museaum complete with lazar tag with the front facade made to look like an upside-down mansion that had crashed right in the middle of the city's busiest parkway, and was quite literally a show about dinner. The four of us were supposed to be a "band of traveling turn-of-the-century vaudville players" while the main character Scraps, the cook, tried everything in his power to join us in songs like "Dinner Time" and "Hey There Neighbor."

Danny, the guy who played Scraps, was possibly one of the funniest, coolest, most talented guys I've ever worked with. He definitely made the show entertaining, because believe me the shit that we were singing and dancing to was pretty ridiculous. Other than "Dinner Time" where we literally sang about the lasagna on their plates, the stupidest song in the show was "Hey There Neighbor" where we went into the audience, made a new "friend," and sang a verse about this new friend... or what I like to call torture. I would always make my friend as quickly as possible so that I could go flirt with Josh the hot waiter who always stood on my side of the dining room because he was so ego driven that he would flirt with anything with more than one hole (mouth included). Each person's verse had a little speech that came before hand, and although I played both male parts in the show I was usually Clem (yeah, his name was Clem) and here's how the verse went...

Spoken: "Hey everybody! Look over here! I made myself a new friend too! This here's my new friend insert name here, and she came all the way from insert southern state here! And I think we should give her a nice warm Hoot'n Holler welcome too!"

Sung: "Here's my neighbor, she comes from _____. This is _____ from just around the bend. Say 'hi there _____!' (audience/cast echos) 'hi there _____!' Mighty happy that you're my friend!"

The best performance of that song was the night the woman sitting in the seat I always picked was named (and I couldn't make this up if I tried) Winnie-Gay. I was laughing so hard during both the speech and the verse and no one could hear her name and therefor had no clue why I was laughing. It was pretty amazing.

As a swing I played both male parts in the show. Johnny was the "leader" of the group and sang the one and only solo "Tennessee Waltz" (so original) along with Molly, the only girl who sang. The other two characters Katie and Clem did a lovely slow dance on the stage complete with lifts and such while Johnny and Molly sang "Tennessee Waltz" on a ledge in the middle of the room literally straddling people's food and often times kicking the purses out of the way. As my understudy, Pedro was only supposed to play Clem both on my days off and when I played Johnny on the other guy's day off because the old general manager didn't want him singing in public (she was a smart woman), but once the full-time Johnny quit he "couldn't find" anyone who could sing and taught himself the part. The first of many shady dealings this man had up his sleeve...

An important thing to know about Pedro is that he would knock down and step over his own mother if it thought it was going to get him ahead in life. He immigrated to the states from Cuba with his mom at age 5, and 50 years later still had little to no command of the English language. He was real skinny and snatched back in the 80's when the coke flowed like steroids at a gym in Chelsea, but these days we were all far less than pleased to have to talk to him while he insisted on sitting around the dressing room naked talking about his adventures in various bathhouses across the country. He was also a horrible dancer, an even worse singer, and the WORST choreographer I've ever been forced to work with which is why he was my understudy and was never supposed to be in the show in the first place. Like I said, he was incredibly manipulative and somehow managed to convince the new general manager of the museum that he had some discernible talent (not true) which is how he got himself into the show and made himself the show manager. He also finagled his mom in to making costumes, and his boyfriend was in charge of the dining room... how the higher ups didn't see the amount of conflicts of interest was astounding.

Once the Christmas season came around this was Pedro's chance to make a Christmas version of the show and show the owners and investors what a "great" director/choreographer he was. The show that came out was just another crap-ass regurgitation of what we were already doing, only this time the songs had all been put into his key so the rest of us sounded like crap. He also decided that he wasn't my understudy anymore and made himself the full-time Johnny which meant that never having to play Clem, he never had to wear the Santa suit, something I expressed my feelings about everyday when I went to put it on with a "I never would've signed this contract had I known I'd be dancing on stage in a fat suit." He also decided (as the manager) that even tho he was no longer an understudy he would still be getting paid per show instead of weekly like the rest of us which meant that most weeks he was making twice as much money as we were.

One day during rehearsals I made the mistake of discussing my excitement towards kicking my right leg to my face one last time on Dec 31st and running to the unemployment office the next day so I could have a small nest for when I moved to NYC. Pedro was very unhappy to hear about this because me not doing the shows on January 1st and 2nd meant he had to do them and cancel his New Years Eve trip to New Orleans. I found happiness in the fact that there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it because my contract ended on the 31st and the world's fattest paycheck wouldn't have got me into that fucking Santa suit for two more shows.

A couple of weeks before the end of the contract I found this amazing YouTube video of a girl in the Miss Arizona Pageant back in the early 90's doing a god-awful trumpet solo to the theme from Star Wars and decided to post it to my Facebook page with the caption "this is what I feel like in my show every night" because it was. Pedro saw this and took it as his opportunity to fire me (because the show manager firing the person he understudies isn't a conflict of interest at all, right?) based on "slander" of the show. Basically it was his way of "sticking it to me" for ruining his trip to New Orleans and his way of tricking the office into paying him for every show for the upcoming 16 show week during the week of Christmas. He also had the HR manager have me sign a resignation notice under the pretense that I wouldn't get paid for the remaining two weeks of my contract if I didn't... It seemed like a good idea at the time, but I didn't realize that what I did was screw myself out of collecting unemployment by saying that I quit. Wah-wah.

Well, the lesson here is to not trust foreigners, right? Just kidding, the real lesson is to stick with Union theaters where there are rules against shady ass shit like that which is exactly what I did. Moved to New York, joined Actor's Equity and have a damn good laugh every time I mention that god awful show to anyone I'm working with. Some of the people I worked with are still there today (and are in these videos)... including Pedro. High-kicking that leg up with the rest of the cast who are all 30 years younger than him. :-/

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