Proud Cabaret “Bans” Performers from Working with Competitors

May 23, 2012 71 Comments by

Proud Cabaret has sent an e-mail to regular performers with a list of venues, events and production companies to be avoided. The message tells cabaret, burlesque and circus artists who appear at weekly variety shows held at the Proud venues that working with the listed competitors “would put the regularity of your Proud bookings under review with immediate effect.”

A number of entertainers who have repeatedly contributed numbers to Proud events have forwarded the e-mail to This Is Cabaret, under the condition of anonymity. After further investigation, we are convinced that the message is authentic.

Performance at the reopening of Proud Cabaret Camden in February, 2012

Performance at the reopening of Proud Cabaret Camden in February, 2012

As of the publication of this article, none of the recipients of the message whom we’ve spoken to were bound by a contract to perform exclusively at Proud venues, nor were they approached to sign one.

“Exclusivity must be agreed in a contract,” says Mike Day, variety organiser at Equity. “Unless these performers were paid a substantial amount of money, I doubt anyone would agree to sign an exclusivity contract, given that the volume of work they get from Proud Cabaret is only five or six shows a month.”

The list of third parties to be avoided includes most of the venues that host variety shows frequently, like Madame Jojo’s, Café de Paris and Soho Theatre, all of which are located within relatively short distance of each other in Central London. Many artists maintain their careers in variety entertainment by performing regularly at those venues. Given the short duration of most burlesque, cabaret and circus routines, it is not unusual for performers to appear at two or more different locations in the same evening.

“People have been playing different venues since the days of music hall,” says cabaret performer Tricity Vogue. “None of us could afford to do this professionally if we were banned from working for different producers.”

This Is Cabaret considers the threatening coercion of artists towards any ends to be detrimental to the variety circuit as an industry. It is the opinion of this publication that such practices must not be endorsed. To that effect, we have removed all content pertaining to Proud Cabaret and its shows, and will refrain from covering events at Proud venues until we have ascertained that performers are not being subjected to hostile business practices.

The editors of This Is Cabaret can be contacted on info@thisiscabaret.com.

 

 

The E-Mail Proud Has Sent to Its Regular Performers

Subject: Conflict of Interests

Hello to All

We are having on-going reports of those that we consider our nearest and dearest performers within the Proud family working with our direct competition.

We are 100% behind you as performers and want to see all your careers flourish on an international level whilst always being able to call Proud your home. I personally know how tricky and confusing this kind of situation can be so please find attached a list of our direct competitors whom, should it come to light you are having a fling with, would put the regularity of your Proud bookings under review with immediate effect.

We completely support your touring, theatre and corporate opportunities and, as always, my door is always open if you are in any doubt.

Love to All

[Employee’s name] x

 

 

Third parties listed by Proud Cabaret as “Conflict of Interests”

Venues
The Box
The Brickhouse
Café de Paris
Cellar Door
City Burlesque
Madame JoJo’s
The Peacock Bar
Royal Vauxhall Tavern
Soho Theatre
Volupté Lounge

Events
Alternative Eurovision
Cantina
Dixie’s Tupperware Party
Friday Night Freakshow
House of Burlesque
La Rêve
Oh Oh Oh It’s Magic
Priceless London Wonderground
Wam Bam Club

Entertainment Companies
The Tassel Club – Sara Cohen (sic)
Underbelly
World Burlesque Games – Chaz Royal

 

Photo credits: Gui O’Connor for Londonist
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About the author

This Is Cabaret is the only online publication dedicated entirely to London’s variety scene. Founded by experienced journalists who have covered cabaret, burlesque and circus for years, it is your number one destination to keep up with the overwhelming diversity of the world’s richest cabaret circuit.

71 Responses to “Proud Cabaret “Bans” Performers from Working with Competitors”

  1. Maria Hackemann says:

    Well done This is Cabaret! Great to see you take a stand on behalf of our wonderful variety performers. Let’s see if Proud respond to your action, it will be interesting to see what they say.

  2. Dan says:

    [insert competitive venue sales pitch here]

    Perform at Theatre Delicatessen this summer. A loving home to Cabaret Stars who enjoy non-exclusive contracts.

    60/40 split in your favour or 70/30 if you curate a group show… and lots of gin in Dan’s office.

    Don’t delay… call today! 07552 996 028 or dan@theatredelicatessen.co.uk

    XXX

  3. Alex Proud says:

    Yes this is all true.

    It does not apply to anyone on current bookings, we of course will honour all current bookings and during that period people can work where they like. This is not mean to be aggressive, simply a commercial advantage we need during a tough recession.

    It is from then on up to our performers to make a choice to agree or to not agree. There is no pressure and no problems if anyone does not wish to work with us anymore. We always respect everyone has a right to chose. And anyway this only applied to our main regular, almost nightly, talent.

    But it is also our right as a company that spends nearly £500,000 a year on performers to ask for a certain level of exclusivity. It is a common concept in business and we like everyone else are suffering in the recession. Exclusivity on our “Headliners” gives us an edge and people an extra reason to visit.

    We need for our customers to know our best talent only perform at Proud Cabaret. We are only asking people who work for us 3 or 4 times a week. Not casual 3 or 4 time a month performers.

    If this publication wishes to no longer support us then I of course respect that decision. But not many others invest as much money as we do a year directly into talent in the current climate.

    Best
    Alex Proud

    • Own Goal says:

      Alex, when you say “not many others invest as much money as we do a year directly into talent in the current climate”, I assume you mean other than The Box, The Brickhouse, Café de Paris, Volupté Lounge, House of Burlesque, La Rêve, Priceless London Wonderground, Wam Bam Club, The Tassel Club, Underbelly and Chaz Royal?

      Paper-thin justification/grandiose posturing aside, of course you have every right to demand exclusivity from your performers, just like (as has already been observed) they have every right to tell you where to stick it. Fortunately, those with a more mature, less megalomaniacal outlook (namely everyone else in the industry) recognises that a diverse scene, with a broad and vibrant range of venues and shows, is a healthy scene and that benefits everyone, performer, producer and promoter alike. In the unlikely event that your ego-driven attempt to claim the whole cake for yourself was successful, you would quickly find yourself with no cake at all.

      Finally, your assertion that “We are only asking people who work for us 3 or 4 times a week. Not casual 3 or 4 time a month performers.” is simply not true. If that were the case, you could have had quiet words with Coco DuBois, Banbury Cross, Johnathan Finch and Missy Fatale, rather than blanket mailing practically the whole scene, and you wouldn’t have been caught with your arse showing in public.

    • alex proud fan says:

      I refer to the Time Out review of 2011 which designed a brand new award specifically for Proud as “the worst cabaret of the year”

      [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

  4. Kitty says:

    Then why not offer a retainer to a select number of headliners, instead of blanket emailing passive aggressive threats to the majority of performers?

  5. Andrew Scarp says:

    The response I get from everyone who’s heard about this ban, whether in the industry or a performer, is that it sounds like you are running scared.
    At the time of a recession, people respond to grace and generosity, not threats…….

  6. Andrew Scarp says:

    The response I get from everyone who’s heard about this ban, whether in the industry or an audience member, is that it sounds like you are running scared.
    At the time of a recession, people respond to grace and generosity, not threats…….

  7. Bret says:

    At the risk of making enemies of my cabaret performing friends, here are my comments from the peanut gallery;
    I agree with Alex Proud that it is absolutely his prerogative to ask performers he’s hiring for exclusivity, on top of that it happens in many other lines of work. This is in no way a new concept.
    In saying that, obviously he does that (as he mentions) at the risk of MAYBE losing all of his regular performers. (Or maybe even all performers in general).
    The good news is that we as performers are ALSO allowed to make choices of our own volition. If somebody thinks they can sustain themselves by working exclusively at Proud Cabaret then it’s well within their right to do so.
    I hope people (performers) will be wise enough to realise that they could, while acting like a strong smart group, leave the Proud group up shits creek if they all walk at once, and probably use this exclusivity “deal” to up rates across the whole lot of them, and work for Proud exclusively at a very exclusive price!

  8. Martin says:

    Alex you’re an idiot! (I would use a strong term normally) if you want “exclusivity” then you need to have contracts in place with performers that agree that and PAY them a wage that makes it worth their while to work for you exclusively. Threats are not an acceptable way to do business and I hope customers and performers boycott your shows until you both appologise and decide to conduct your business in an ethical manner.

  9. Robert Clay says:

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

  10. Aria says:

    This is a great idea. If they’re exclusive to Proud it means that I can go out and see a show elsewhere and know that I won’t have to see rubbish like Banbury Cross or Coco DuBois. I’m all for it.

    • A. Performer says:

      Agreed. Proud is a soulless Cabaret show. i did one show there this year once and loathed it.. As a performer, i am sick of this tripe and having to deal with egotistical promoters or stupid bookers who don’t know anything about art or performance. Just be a dear, and go away, Proud.

    • Mat Ricardo says:

      Banbury cross and Coco Dubios are both excellent performers.

      You realise that when you use a discussion about the ethics of the exclusivity deal attempt to make a foul, bitter and insulting comment about two performers- by name – it makes you sound like pretty much the worst kind of person, right?

      Stay classy “Aria”.

    • Banbury Cross says:

      Dear aria
      I would love it if you could say these things to our face in future. It would really, really make my day.

      Regards

      Banbury

      #25

  11. Debi says:

    Certainly not planning a visit to Proud now.

    What a ghastly way to treat performers! If you are a business and wish to employ exclusively, contracts and decent wages are the way forward – not this kind of behaviour.

    What shambles!

  12. Alex Proud says:

    Following on-going correspondence with regards to conflict of interests, please accept our apologies for any misunderstanding caused.
    Having listened to and understood feedback from our performers on the subject, Proud Cabaret understands that it would be unrealistic to request such exclusivity for our venues.

    Our approach was not intended to be aggressive, merely us looking for a commercial advantage in a tough market place. The initiative was only intended for performers who work more than 3 times a week (over 10 times a month) for Proud Cabaret, those who we feel represent the Proud Cabaret brand and give us an edge over our competitors.

    We value the work that our performers do and are more than interested to maintain our relationship with them and the Proud Cabaret venues.

    Again, please accept our apologies on the issue and feel free to contact us if you would like to talk through the matter personally.

    Thank you
    Alex Proud

  13. Bioux says:

    Proud is a pretty naff place all in all. It is very amusing to see him back track though. Nice reply Alex. Hehe

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

  14. WTF says:

    How on earth can you think that anybody would be exclusive to Proud when you pay them 50-80 quids per night, three times per week??? Are showgirls supposed to sleep under bridges????
    And collect pieces of bottles and broken glasses from the floor to stick them on their costumes instead of crystals??????

    WTF!!!

    And why are people still working in this place, and complaining about it ALL THE TIME?? Just leave the damn rathole, and that’s it!

  15. Milo says:

    Alex have you ever considered the key to a successful venue is not exclusivity but instead providing shows of a high quality and a superior service to both your customers and your performers. Alienating your performers by making unnecessary demands without substantial compensation will not help in making your venue profitable or in any way respected within the industry. Surely if you are offering your headline performers enough work and/or money already why would they feel the need to work at other venues anyway?

  16. Violet says:

    I’m sorry but even that apology is MASSIVELY insulting to all other performers who, in Alex’s words obviously “don’t represent the Proud brand”. Basically you want to deprive your “main girls” from performing anywhere else and don’t give a hoot about those lowly “casual performers”. Utterly appalling the whole thing

  17. Dave says:

    He’s made a mistake, relaised it and eaten humble pie… that takes balls guys…
    Now everyone chill out a bit xxx

  18. Martin says:

    “The initiative was only intended for performers who work more than 3 times a week”
    How much are you paying per night/performance though? Minimum wage for a standard 40 hour week would be 247.60 so the performer needs to be earning a minimum of (call it) £248 for those 4 performances but I would expect you to be paying FAR more than minimum wage for experienced performers.

  19. Chaz says:

    Hiding behind a recession is no excuse! There needs to be more monthly shows and club nights produced leaving the fat cat restaurant mentally be…. I’ve always thought that food and entertainment should always be kept separate.

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

  20. Martin says:

    @Dave search the internet he’s made other mistakes but doesn’t seem to learn by them.

  21. Bex paul says:

    Initially, when i read the original email, i tweeted that it was appalling, and you’d have to pay a lot of money to hold performers to ransom like.that. I still think that… and I agree with another commenter who said the performers in question probably should have been taken aside for a quiet word…

    I was extremely surprised to hear it was a blanket email to many performers… I guess that was the first big mistake… but Alex didn’t write the email. I’m sure the girl who did has been reprimanded!

    What gets me more though, is the commenter who decided to be rather nasty about certain performers, whilst the rest are defending performers (as a whole). That is really unnecessary and very sad. Both Banbury Cross and Coco DuBois work extremely hard and perfect their craft from their hearts and are a joy to watch.

    I agree with ‘Dave’… Alex has personally been on and offered an apology. All the negativity isn’t going to make things any better.

    At the end of the day, Whether or not you like the Proud venues, they are an asset to the industry and do provide paid work for many performers. (I don’t know the going rates in London venues for performers) but £500,000 p/a towards the industry is £500,000 more than the zero it would be if you “boycott Proud”! Do the maths.

    I will say, I also know Alex personally, and have always found him to be a great business man (always having a passion for burlesque), that is why he is so successful in his business ventures. I think the Proud team will have brainstormed ways that they could bring in more custom, and the idea of exclusivity for their favoured performers would seem like a very good idea, if it secured the business expected…
    So, this initiative wasn’t thought through quite as thoroughly as it should have been, and the email was sent out without preempting the affects/backlash it may (has) caused…
    Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and of course in the bigger picture it would not work. (unless you were paying a performer a salary which meant she/he could indeed afford to create new acts, costumes, etc etc)

    To round up… negativity only breeds contempt, so look on the bright side, Proud venues create platforms and jobs for many many performers and it would be a smaller less vibrant scene without them, that is not a good thing. It was a mistake, everyone makes them.

    Love and peace, Bex xx

  22. Pissy Trifle says:

    Wow I’ve waited 21 years to witness the Ratner effect again.

  23. nico suavé says:

    This is appalling. I applaud TIC for exposing this blatantly fascistic behaviour!

  24. Lili VonSchtupp says:

    Wow, I have so much to say about this topic but it will just piss people off.

    But the short of it is, suck it up. As producers we take all the risk and pay everyone what we agree to, even if we lose money. (at least the good producers do)

    So yes, as a producers we have every right to ask for exclusivity. If we make better shows that sell out, we can then afford to pay more in the long run. If someone can see you at $5 cover or free show, you have little added value to me as a performer. Why would someone pay $15 to see you at my show? I require certain exclusivity to some acts and request you not perform the same act 2 weeks before or after at another show. I’m responsible for paying you so I do get to set guidelines. If you don’t like them, please work elsewhere. I don’t take it personally. And neither should you. That is how a free market works.

    My opinion…
    As, a performer, you have to balance the need to be on stage with the desire to sell yourself as a headliner at higher paying events. Dita started in a strip club and did lap dances, 15 or more years later she’s making great money headlining her own show and doing private events. But it seems most of her money comes from her burlesque adjacent work, modeling, endorsements, a clothing line… she does’t perform in 10 shows a week to make ends meet. (and yes, that is a drastic comparison, but true none the less) Would you rather perform in 8 shows a week or just one a week, and make the same money?

    We have an over saturation on performers and shows during a recession, what do think will happen? This is all about the math. Strip clubs have been dealing with this for years, coke and Pepsi too. You rarely find both in any restaurant unless they are bottles.

    Maybe you need to reset your expectations of the career you choose. :(

    And let me add one thing, I respect the work performers do for an act. I am a performer, teacher, and producer. But the reality is, it is a career in the arts and will always be undervalued and underpaid.

    JOJO,
    Lili

    • The Voice Of Reason says:

      What a nauseating bit of self-justification! Do you really expect praise for saying ‘we take all the risk and pay everyone what we agree to, even if we lose money’? That’s what you’re SUPPOSED to do! Do you expect your acts to suffer because you happen to be bad at your job? Ridiculous!

      I do agree that as a promoter (please don’t use the word ‘producer’, this isn’t broadway) you have teh right to ask for exclusivity. But respect is a two way street; performers (especially when they are earning £200 a month) have a right to say ‘no’ and bring the matter to the public.

      Not only do the performers pay their money and take their choice, so too do the producers and the punters. And as a punter, I would prefer not to support companies which used strong arm tactics on their performers when they are being paid so very little in the first place. If you want exclusivity from your performers, pay them a living wage and give them an exclusive contract . If not, shut your hole.

      • Don says:

        Lili has every right to call herself a producer.

        You said “do agree that as a promoter (please don’t use the word ‘producer’, this isn’t broadway)”

        Are things done differently in Britain? I know Lili, she produces a show in Los Angeles. In the US, someone who works for a club and books and promotes bands for an event is a promoter. Someone who puts on a burlesque show, books the talent, deals with the venue, plans the rehearsals, lighting and sound checks, coordinates the show’s theme, oversees the stage managers and subsidizes the entire thing is a producer.

        I know we use different words over here (knock, rubber and boot have different meanings) so maybe that’s the confusion.

        • The Voice Of Reason says:

          Not really the main thrust of my argument tbh but it just seems a bit lol to be grand about things when we’re talking about a Thursday night at Madam Jo Jos. Getmeh?

          • Franco Milazzo says:

            We get you but we don’t get what this point has to do with the article above. No more discussion on this subthread please.

  25. Roz says:

    its totally a producers prerogative to do so to have a viable product to sell that isnt the same show as 5 others in town. Producers have been doing this for ever. If a producer asks for exclusivity, counter with an offer of what it will cost you to stay with a single show in town. If they cant afford it then choose not to perform with them. Business is Business, I think the community looses site of that too often.

    • Pissy Trifle says:

      Roz that isn’t the case at all is it? The producers are the vendors here. The performers are the product. Going back to Lili’s analogy it is like demanding the Coca Cola company only sells in your outlet. It isn’t realistic. If you are the kind of producer that choreographs dancers and offers a brand then you can ask for exclusivity for sure, but that isn’t what we are talking about here. What is being asked is highly unlikely to be accepted by any professional performer and is therefore commercial suicide. That is likely to be why Mr Proud climbed down on this.

      • guess. says:

        That’s the strangest logic I’ve ever read Pissy Trifle. It’s not a matter of vendors/performers and as for Coca-Cola? Don’t be silly. It’s a matter of Power. Coke has power and the Venue has Power. Coke is therefore not like the ‘product’ but like the ‘venue’. It’s good to know in business who has the power. Individual performers have no power. Performers have power in numbers. You should all stick together. You have no power otherwise to demand anything. Alex backed down when you took a stand together on this site – feeling the said power leaving his grubby little hands most probably.

      • guess. says:

        That’s the strangest logic I’ve ever read Pissy Trifle. It’s not a matter of vendors/performers and as for Coca-Cola? Don’t be silly. It’s a matter of Power. Coke has power and the Venue has Power. Coke is therefore not like the ‘product’ but like the ‘venue’. I hope that made sense. It’s good to know in business who has the power. Individual performers have no power. Performers have power in numbers. You should all stick together. You have no power otherwise to demand anything. Alex backed down when you took a stand together on this site – feeling the said power leaving his grubby little hands most probably.

        • Pissy Trifle says:

          No the logic (and I was educated to PhD level in Philosophy) is absolutely sound.

          Power absolutely resides with the performers. If I can earn £100-£150 pounds only with Proud for a night’s work but can earn £300 by working at two of the competitors, the power resides with me. By the by introducing a third unrelated term to the syllogism you are taking a syllogism that merely falls fall of the category mistake and are turning into the error of the excluded middle.

          I think you have to answer why Proud backed down. You might be right when you say it is standing together. He realized what is intrinsically obvious to the rest of us, that he had committed a Ratner.

          • guess. says:

            Did you specialise in Existentialism and Absurdism? I was educated to PHD level in Common Sense which as any savvy woman knows out trumps your carp PHD allday, everyday. You compared performers to Coca-Cola. One of the most powerful companies in the world. It’s a bizarre comparison and that you’ve defended it is even more bizarre. I hope nobody listens to you, put it that way.

            Stick together everybody!!

          • Pissy Trifle says:

            Since I have no opportunity to respond to your clear cupidity regarding my education, shall I point out that I opposed the analogy to Coca Cola, made by Lili VonSchtupp. That is why you can’t see the logic of my argument because she failed to understand it. Oh dear

          • guess. says:

            It is you who brought up your irrelevant PHD like it means you are ergo always right. Utter nonsense! I wouldn’t have responded at all except for the arrogance of it. I won’t respond after this so you are forewarned you can say any absurd thing you like and I will leave it, because the whole conservation is absurd. As for your previous comments. It is there in black and white! You can’t re-write history. You do not state a firm disagreement with Lili VonSchtupp at all. You refer to her analogy and then state “it is like demanding the Coca Cola company only sells in your outlet. It isn’t realistic” i.e. asking a performer (coke) to only ‘sell’ their product in your venue (outlet), is unrealistic. You are not only logically VERY unsound but when confronted with the true nature of the power balance you’ve chosen to bring up an irrelevant PHD and when that didn’t work you tried to re-write history (they call that lying where I live) and act like it is because you are just so smart, nobody understands your amazing (amazingly UNSOUND) logic!

            Normative Ethics anyone? ;)

        • Lili VonSchtupp says:

          The coke vs pepsi was referring to the power of the brand I serve in my show.

          • Franco Milazzo says:

            That will be the last comment on this particular tangent. I’m sure there are far better places than this to discuss the ins and outs of normative ethics.

  26. mal says:

    Exclusivity should be a fore-thought not an after-thought and not done in a blanket email but meetings with the performers ‘in question’ to discuss the possibility of an updated contract.
    If you want exclusive, you pay for exclusive, and you do it before you contract a regular dancer. But don’t do it at the expense of the rest of the cabaret/burlesque scene.
    Country/City not withstanding.

  27. ben hopper says:

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

  28. Anonymous says:

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

  29. SEKarlos says:

    Even when back tracking Alex Proud still sounds like a Pimp!

  30. Artists Anonymous says:

    Now this has died down slightly I think it’s worth noting there is a clear model if a producer wants to hire a performer exclusively – both Equity and the ITC have spent many years knocking their heads together to create a basic contract – and agree minimum weekly fees for that contract.

    If Alex Proud wants to hire performers on an exclusive contract there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it – he just needs to agree to pay the artists the equity *MINIMUM* of £400 a week for the period agreed. Simple. No arguments.

    As has already been noted, the issue is that there is a disparity between what Proud offer their performers and what they appear to expect in return. No contracts and no equity minimum wages means no exclusivity.

  31. Jer Ber Jones says:

    Sign some contracts! Give the performers a raise. That’s the real way to handle business.

  32. Banging on the Bongos says:

    The Proud performers who work just three nights a week are apparently paid more than the ‘equity minimum’ of £400 cash a week to do that (i.e. something around £150 a night I believe). Some (Kiki Kaboom, Missy Fatale, Ophelia Bitz, etc.) are clearly worth that or more. On the other hand, ‘The Face of Proud’ only even has three acts that she repeats ad nauseam, thus she’s being paid well over £100 a night for little work (turn up; dress up; five minutes of performance; take off clothes; rinse; wash; repeat; go home; not develop anything; go back the next day to collect more money; etc.)

    • Fellow performer says:

      a lot of work goes into performing, regardless of whether or not they are the same 3 or 4 acts….years of development, re-making costumes, promotion, travel and building a reputation, all go into that 5 minutes on stage.
      In fact isn’t this the case for ALL successful performers? you know, having signature acts that are repeated again and again, even for the performers you have mentioned.

      so get a clue before you slate individuals, or find somewhere vomit in private.

  33. WTF says:

    I’m talking as a showgirl. There is NO way a showgirl/burlesque performer could survive with 1600 £ in London. Our expenses for costumes are much higher than the basic expenses a comedian can have, for example.
    Feathers, crystals, corsets, trimmings…they cost A LOT, people don’t realize that.
    So 400£ seems like a fare minimum wage for maybe other sort of jobs, but it doesn’t seem suitable for a showgirl. That is my opinion.

    But the main idea and the point are certainly there: you need to pay a fare fee for exclusivity!! And the promoters should start to realize that!

  34. A Performer Fan says:

    I have just been passed this in an email and find Alex’s tactics truly appalling.

    Granted they have occasionally presented some good performers.

    But Where is Vivid Angel?
    Preacher Muad’dib?
    MAtt Ricardo?
    Des O’ Conner?
    Ed Muir?
    Lisa Lottie?
    They’re performing at other venues who pay a lot better because they fucking amazing performers!
    Vivid Angel opened for Alice Cooper!(Good enough for the god of shock rock but not for Proud?)
    Preacher Muad’dib has a world record for every day of the week! (Top fire performer in the world and sideshow legend, living in London, hired by every venue but Proud)
    Des O’ Conner is headlining nights all over London (Except Proud)
    People go to nights BECAUSE they have performers of that stature.

    These performers and many others of their standard would not work for so little and would never tolerate bullshit arrogance like that because it would destroy their career and put them in the gutter.

    No-one wants to see some 18yo who just bought some nipple tassels and a hula hoop and thinks she’s a performer. We want to see a dancer who is a trained dancer. We want to see a fire eater who is a genuine master. We want to see a burlesque girl who knows what satire is…

    Hire the best performers (and offer them a hell of a lot more than £150) and I and many others will flock to your nights
    I don’t like the Brickhouse particularly but went to see the cirque des ombres at least ten times because they were ALL Pros. No filler, just true expert performers and the nights they performed were packed with people coming specifically to see them.
    And then, treat them with some fucking respect. If you think someone is THAT good you only want them for yourself then great, invite them over and offer them a £150K contract.
    Yeah you’re going to pay more, but you’ll get more people in and staying longer and telling all their friends and you’ll make more money…that’s how hiring performers works.

    I think the biggest question is why you want to keep the performers you do have on at all.

    Start hiring better performers.
    Stop being a dick to them.
    Start paying a decent rate so decent performers will actually work for you.
    If you want them exclusively expect to pay 6 figures.

    If you’re being a toad like this to performers it’s no wonder I tend to go to other venues because that’s where the show is.

    Sincerely,
    A fan of performers who knows what he likes.

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

    • Mat Ricardo says:

      For somebody who hides behind the name “A performer fan”, you certainly seem ready to insult performers.

      Most of your facts are wrong, of course. Of the performers you mention, Vivid Angel and Preacher – and they will understand that this is no comment on the high quality of their work – are simply the wrong kind of act for the show, while Lisa Lottie and myself do, indeed, work at Proud.

      Honestly, I’m getting a little sick and tired of people using Alex Proud’s exclusivity clause fuck up as an excuse to attack the performers who work at Proud. To say that proud has the worst show and low level performers is unpleasant, vindictive and provably wrong, unless, of course, you categorize myself, Coco Dubois, Banbury Cross, Kiki Kaboom, Missy Fatale, Betsy Rose and Ophelia Bitz as “inexperienced or piss poor”. We all perform at Proud regularly.

      How about the burlesque community tries to be a little classier and doesn’t so eagerly insult it’s own members? Ridicule the misjudged move by the boss, sure. But when you hide behind anonymity to needlessly insult myself and my colleagues, it makes me sad. And angry.

      I wrote in more depth about this nasty little phenomenon here: http://bit.ly/K9NZRL

      • A Performer Fan says:

        Matt: If my message came across in a negative tone I will apologize, I meant no disrespect to the very skilled performers that perform anywhere in London.

        I have been to proud several times and usually the show is extremely poor and I have not once seen you, Ophelia, Lisa etc. perform there and I have seen you all perform in other venues and I have a huge amount of respect for you and while you may have a low opinion of me I am still a big fan of yours.

        My issue with Proud is that, as a fan and not a performer, I want to see a good show if I am paying my hard earned money to see people entertain me and I have found that Proud does not deliver because it rarely puts on good performers and when they do it is padded by very basic performers who are painful to watch.

        When I come to a show and see a juggler I want to see you, not someone who can do a basic cascade and has a fancy costume.
        If I see a fire performer I want to see Preacher Muad’dib doing what no-one else can do, not a pretty girl in a thong who just bought some fire sticks.
        I could go on but I think you get my example.

        I have nothing against anyone who performs at Proud as such, but I don’t like paying money to come see performers who clearly haven’t a clue what they are doing on stage which is the majority of performers at Proud I am sorry to say. It seems they hire really poor performers and occasionally intersperse real professionals like yourself. You are good, as are the others you mentioned, but you’re the minority from what I can see.

        Long story short, my point is that as a mere audience member Proud is hiring too many bad performers and paying too little and then trying to claim they are cutting edge with the best show every night and expecting performers to not work anywhere else which is disgusting. Lets be honest, the only reason alex backpedaled like he did is because everyone told him to go fuck himself, not because he thought he did something wrong and I can’t see him suddenly treating performers with respect.

        The show isn’t good because there are a lot of bad performers working there, and I am sorry if that offends but I won’t say someone is good if they are not. Yes there are some good ones but like I said, it seems to be a rarity.

        Once again I mean no insult to any quality performers, or any staff member of Proud except alex, but my opinion is that the majority of performers at Proud, while they may be great people, are simply appalling on stage and thus the show overall is poor.

        As for Vivid Angel and Preacher Muad’dib, I know they both have a large variety of styles and shows and I think they would both be excellent at Proud, I’d love to see them there alongside yourself and Kiki Kaboom and Lisa Lottie and Tom Baker, I just expect to maybe see one of you and a lot of filler which is why I can’t see much point in going anymore.

      • The Vivid Angel says:

        This is Vivid Angel and have work at Proud a few time now. So I don’t know what your saying here, that my act don’t work there. Its just not one of my favorite places to work at. Because of a lot of politics they have in place. But for how dose work there I say; Good for you!!! ; )

  35. Atari says:

    I just have to say, in amongst all the complaining, spare a moment to think of those of us stuck on small islands where there is no work.
    Even for those of us who are heard of, on small islands we have to work full time day jobs to support ourselves, Paid work is rare and burlesque is mostly a hobby. I’m one of a toddler sized handful of boylesque performers on an island, and there arent any venues here who can aford to offer full time work for us.

    I think you are all so lucky that you can do this as a full time occuaption, I’d give so much for that oppertunity.

    • You make your own luck. says:

      You could whinge about how there are no clubs to support your career, or you could move somewhere where there are. Say, for example, London.

      Some people might consider that you’re lucky to live on a small island where you don’t have to drag huge suitcases around on baking hot underground trains and night buses full of vomit.

      Just saying.

      • Franco Milazzo says:

        I’m sure there’s lots more we could say about this but none of this seems directly related to the article above. No more comments on this sub-thread please.

  36. Tina says:

    Is this the Proud who purpose-built a cabaret venue WITHOUT A DRESSING ROOM?! Last time I was there we were changing in a corridor with a mirror by the kitchen. That, and the astonishing rate at which they go through respected promoters, tells you everything you need to know about how this company feels about the performers they sell tickets on.

  37. Lili la Scala says:

    Cabaret Family….stop now. Proud management sent a poorly judged email. They apologised. The performers who work at Proud didn’t send the email, in fact, it was they who alerted the rest of the community and enabled us all to make a stand. By standing together, we were all able to show Proud that passive aggressive threats were not an acceptable way of doing business.
    That is where the story ends.
    No matter what your stance is on Proud’s behaviour, the performers cruelly labelled above are not guilty of the charges, Banbury Cross is about to represent the UK in Vegas, for Heaven’s sake. Performance is always a personal thing, for every person who enjoys a show, there will be another who loathes it.
    Have some class, darlings, support your fellow performers and direct your vitriol in a timely fashion towards those most deserving.
    For now, since the apology, the matter with Proud seem to be resolved so surely we can all back off, back down and put our claws away.

  38. Audacity Chutzpah says:

    Yes, I second that, enough now please.

  39. A wise person says:

    Please use this as a lesson and turn the attitude around…you never know – things might get easier…

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

  40. Anonymous says:

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

  41. AnnaMaria says:

    I too am a former employee of Proud (left by choice) and witnessed countless horrific incidents relating to staff abuse at the hands of Alex, and was subjected to such abuse myself on a regular basis. The place is run like a dictatorship and is a morality/ ethics free zone. Mr Proud is faaar from sorry about this.

    Give it 6 months and this issue will come back with a vengeance, the twat will forget in a fit of megalomaniacal rage and do it all again! Mark my words.

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

  42. tallulah says:

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

  43. Cyrus The Great says:

    Irrespective of whether you think what Alex Proud has done is wrong/business driven/right/thoughtless/ or careless I am appalled by those responses that are at best crass and at worst a literary lynch mob attack.

    If indeed what Alex has done is totally wrong and unjustified – is it right for a group of what I expect to be Artists use the unacceptable language which is dotted all over these pages?

    If you really think Alex’s approach to business is as heavy handed as some seem to imply, I would urge you to sit back for a moment and think of what the big corporations such as the banks have been doing to our livelihoods for decades. The fact of the matter is that such corporations are still inflicting wounds to our fiscal livelihood as a nation and ironically also to businesses like Alex’s.

    In reflection you may decide to accept the guy’s apology and clarification and consider spending your admirable energy gracefully dealing with the bigger issues and challenges facing us all. Two wrongs do not make a right.

  44. What am I doing here!!?? says:

    [This comment has been redacted due to legal demands on the grounds of defamation from Proud Publishing Ltd subject to legal clarification.]

    • Lisa says:

      Get out of there mate! I did quickly and it was the best decision I’ve ever made, I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that things aren’t going to get better any tine soon.

      I used to work at Proud and I can verify everything you have said regarding Alex and his troupe of bullying, goonish senior management. The loyalty they have to him is pretty impressive considering how they are treated, it’s like a weird stockholm syndrome.
      Watching them fall all over themselves in weekly meetings after being ripped into for doing something wrong was truly the most pathetic/funny thing I have ever seen.
      [Parts of this response have been suppressed to conform with This Is Cabaret's Terms and Conditions]

  45. Alex says:

    Dear Customers and Performers,

    This is all becoming a touch too heated and unpleasant and as such is perhaps losing its ability to be a worthwhile and useful debate.

    Contrary to some opinions on here, I do like to hear when we get stuff wrong and I personally reply to almost all complaints to Proud and more times than not say sorry and try to improve. We are a long way from perfect and our main inspiration is for our customers to enjoy coming to our venues, our staff to enjoy their careers and our performers to be happy to appear on our stages.

    When we don’t achieve this I am sorry. I make many mistakes and many wrong calls. But I do try to admit to this and try to improve.

    For the record:

    1) My most senior GM of the last 4 years is not white and many, many of my staff are not white. The accusation of racism is absurd and hurtful.

    2) I am best man this summer at a gay wedding and count many of my closest friends as well as many of my most talented and senior staff whom are also gay.

    3) All my senior staff have been with me for many many years. My GMs and Gallery manages for over 5 and 10 years! We make it clear in interview that life at Proud is not for everyone and can be unorthodox. To staff who don’t enjoy it we always wish them well and and respect not everyone enjoys the high pressure atmosphere that does exist in our organisation. Junior staff turnover is always high at organisations like ours I respect this as young people find the correct work environment to suit them.

    4) I love and respect our amazing performers. I have said sorry already for the silly e mail we sent on exclusivity. it was wrong and muddle headed. But before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, almost all our performers have worked with us since we opened and continue to do so. I hope this speaks volumes about the reality of working for Proud. Many of them dine and drink with me post show and speak to me all the time. I always listen to and respect feedback. I love cabaret at Proud and have no interest in them not being happy!

    5) We have no investors, no bank loans and no family with cheque books! We built this on our own with no outside help. We pay huge amounts of tax, employ over 100 people and don’t reside in some dodgy offshore tax haven. Almost all the money we make goes back into the business and expanding so we can employ more people and put more money into cabaret. Sometimes this makes for high pressure environment as we struggle to exist in a harsh economic climate.

    6) There are two forms of replies no here. Intelligent interesting critiques of Proud and what we do. Many of which I agree with (if you want exclusivity pay for it) and some of which I don’t ( I think our shows are brilliant and our entertainers among the best in the business.). Then there are the rest. Come on people. You have a right not to like me, but I am a normal person who works 100 hours a week to build this business from nothing. I ,like the rest of us, have 3 kids, old friends, old employees. I am not the best husband or Dad or friend or boss. But I am not some evil mastermind or idiot. to be driven means to be passionate. Sometimes that is too much. I say sorry if I lose my temper or expect too much or I am sometimes unfair. I try to learn from my mistakes and I try to do the right thing. I work hard in the local community, try to help charity as much as the next person and enjoy my job. I am proud of what we have achieved and as I grow older have no desire to upset or hurt people. If I have broken eggs in making this omelette I am truly sorry.

    To the people who wrote more considered things or were kind on here, thank you. To the rest of you I am sorry to have upset you .

    Perhaps we could keep the insults honest if we need to make them and possibly reduce the abuse. Open debate is great and refreshing. Lies and abuse don’t really do any of us any good and certainly don’t reflect well on the community we work in.

    If you do have any serious concerns or comments then please do feel free to e mail me personally.

    Best Regards

    Alex

  46. GlitzyH says:

    This is amazing…. there is a lot more hidden behind the makings of Proud. I hope this is the beginning of the unveiling!
    The dirty tax dodging, the disgusting way he treats his staff and performers (oh sorry, of course apart from your senior managers! Those that have been there for so long now they are unemployable! and basically dont have any confidence left to go else where.)
    An amazing business man would understand their industry and make money to look after those that bring the £ in….the customer, but he is out to rob every penny…. hiking the prices up with no warning throughout the night, squeezing 8 people on a 4 top table….etc
    he is a joke, and no way he is running his business is right!

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