Since Monday I’ve been in Las Vegas Attending the 10th Annual Celebrity Impersonators Convention. While I’ve known of the event from its early days, this is only my 2nd convention after attending my 1st in 2008. Since attending that convention 2 years ago, I’ve made a lot of friends, business contacts and sorted out in my own mind how this business works. Like all industries, change is coming fast and furious to the impersonators of the world; we must all change with the times or get run over and lost in the past. Corporate dollars for pure entertainment have dried up during the recession of the past 2 years, and it’s plain to see that Vegas is hurting.
In a break from my normal blog style of writing, today’s blog will be a collection of thoughts and observations sparked by my attendance at CIC. Each point could be its own full story – but will have to stand alone as a short burst of thought. Hence, I’ve added links to several of the points so the reader can learn more if interested.
Paraphrasing Anne Kissel (aka Rosanne Barr), ‘the CIC is a Halloween Party on steroids.’
- Over the years, I’ve witnessed and heard people say to me with awe, “I can’t believe it, I feel like I’m talking to Forrest Gump.” Now I understand what they were thinking and feeling. Yesterday I met someone who had me mesmerized in her presence. Suzie Kennedy is the best Marilyn Monroe I’ve ever met (and I’ve met at least a dozen who are all very, very good). More importantly, Suzie is a charming and very intelligent young lady from England who has carved out a very successful 10 year career as Marilyn Monroe. It’s her first CIC and is a pleasure to call her my new friend.
- Janna Joos of International Celebrity Images deserves huge praise for putting on the show. Janna started the Reel Awards 19 years ago and took over the CIC only 4 years ago – combining the two events into the same week. Since the loose knit group of impersonators, tribute artists and entertainment agents are too few in number to warrant a member-supported independent association, it’s a gift that Janna puts her reputation and money on the line year after year to sponsor the convention and Reel Awards. It’s a lot of work and often times a thankless effort. Thank You Janna!
- Only by giving can you receive. On Monday during the seminars session, I gave a presentation called Building a Solid Foundation for an Entertainment Business. I was pleased to share my knowledge and efforts at building my own business. The feedback and additional knowledge I received in return has been abundant. I’m grateful to my peers and friends for their thoughtful comments.
- Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons were packed with showcases. Showcases are 4-minute windows for the talent to show the attending agents their stuff. It’s a great way for the 40+ agents to see 60 or 70 different acts in a compressed time period. While some would see the showcase as a parade of peacocks, I say hurray for the opportunity to match brokers (agents) with sellers (talent) for the benefit of purchasers (clients).
- While the look-alikes and tribute artists of the world may be too small to support a formal member association, we’re not too small to get mired in the mud of politics. If everyone took personal responsibility for their own role in the way the broker/seller/purchaser relationship works, then maybe we would all just get along. The wise idiom goes, ‘You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.’
- I wish I could mention the 60 or 70 other look-alikes all by name and character but that would cause the politics of favoritism and omission to land squarely on my head. So here is my plug for all of them. I love this convention and the individual talents that show up. They are my friends. The characters range from newcomers (the Obamas and Palins) to the classics (Marilyns, Elvises, Chers) to hot stars (Jack Sparrows, Lady Gagas). The professional status of the artists range from full-time entertainers (10 – 20 years) to part-time status (work a full-time job and perform part-time) to newbies (1st convention and in the business less than 1 year). At the end of the day, none of that matters because the sense of camaraderie makes us all the same.
- While the Reel Awards started the gathering of look-alikes, impersonators and tribute artists 19 years ago, and the CIC furthered the gathering of talent and agents, I’ll close by plugging the Sunburst Convention that will hold its 8th Annual Convention in September. Sunburst is another celebrity tribute artist convention sponsored by Greg & Jackie Thompson who have their own entertainment company. CIC and Sunburst are completely independent of each other, and very different, yet so much the same. I personally like some things better at Sunburst then at CIC … and vice-versa. I see them as bookends. And stuck squarely in between the bookends are the artists and agents of the look-alike and impersonator and tribute artist business.
In closing I’ll repeat my thanks to Janna, her staff and my fellow artists. I’ll also thank the agents who will promote me in the future to their clients. I recognize the value that the agent brings to the process and gladly pay the fair commission you receive for obtaining business for me. I acknowledge the trust you place in me when you recommend me to your clients; I know that long-term trust is earned and not just spoken. I view the agent-talent relationship as a win-win!
I’ll see you all at Sunburst in September!
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Next Blog Date: Monday, March 8, 2010