Thursday, March 20, 2014

How to Survive Running Away With the Circus – The Price

By Banner Hemweigh

Employees to the HWE are contracted much like any other sport.  These contracts are negotiated prior to performing, and are quite binding. Almost all contracts given by the HWE leave most of the expense of the profession with the athlete.  All travel is arranged, and paid for by the performer.  Only a select few get the company treatment where all is arranged for them.  The performers are considered freelance agents.  Without being recognized by artist guilds or athletic unions, this business is left in the hands of the provider of work, and is without specific regulations.

According to HWE Head Project Manager and On Site Liaison Sheryl Cassidy the level of commitment needed to successfully perform the job and compensation are not equitable to the performer.

“Roughly you make maybe $500,000 a year, mid-carder money.  The bigger stars can go past the million dollar mark if they play their cards right.  So you pay for all travel, hotel, transportation, and just what’s needed for a life on the road.   You take pay cuts if you get injured, pay cuts if you don’t get booked for a pay per view, pay cuts if your merchandise doesn’t sell.  Also the HWE offers no benefits. No retirement, healthcare, or even the basic standards for working in other industries such as disability, accidental death and dismemberment options.  Which in this business, should be a part of the contract.  These are things you have to acquire on your own.  When you factor in hours actually worked, hours spent going to work, and all else in between with fan events and charities it’s considerably more than a standard full time job that only requires a 40-hour workweek. I hate to say it but my family runs what is actually a modern day high paying sweatshop.  Employees spend most of their money and time paying to work.”

The ideas expressed by Sheryl Cassidy come in light of her own personal crisis as she finds herself the daughter of the company, but the girlfriend of a performer.  This insight has crossed the barriers that had normally been in place for decades, and it’s forced the second daughter of HWE owner Thomas Cassidy to take another look at what her family has helped cultivate.

There can be a case made that most entertainment careers carry the same type of policies.  Actors on stage and screen, professional musicians, professional dancers lead very similar lives.  But according to Sheryl Cassidy, with the amount of money being generated the compensation should either be more or benefits should be given for all, and not just case by case.

“Professional dance is a great example.  The larger more successful companies give contracts that take care of everything from living arrangements to paid leave.  Because their bodies are their livelihood they have to treat it that way.  When a dancer gets injured they don’t lose money because they were contracted for a specific period of time, not for how many shows they do, or don’t do.  As the top draws they’ve earned the respect of their peers, and expect the company to take care of them.  Unions have been created to see to the special needs of professional artists and athletes.  It’s long past due for professional wrestling.”

Unlike other contracted sports and performing arts companies, professional wrestling is not seasonal.  Within the HWE organization, usually the only time that a performer receives a break is through an injury. No HWE performer gets paid while injured even though most injuries are received on the job.  With contracts that average 3 or more years of a nearly none stop work load it cannot be compared with even Hollywood movie contracts that pay millions for under a year’s worth of work.  

From Make Mine a Heel by Suenammi Richards

"I liked this story. I'm not a big romance fan, but first this writer knows her stuff about football, Texas culture, and pro-wrestling. Second, the romance sucked me in. I wanted these two to get together because I genuinely liked them. This story is a Powerslam for any romance/sports fan!"
@alchemyofscrawl - Coral Russell

"I have to say I am a professional wrestling fan so this book really caught my interest as soon as I read the description. I very much enjoyed this book and definitely most likely will be reading it again at a late date."

"This isn't a garden variety romance novel featuring sports or wrestling. Ms. Richards has provided the reader with plenty of colorful characters that are dealing with sad, if not tragic, circumstances (racism, child abandonment, ethnic prejudice, drug abuse, etc.). I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book."