“I make about 60 dollars,” he said. “My first job? I made 15 cents.”
In fact, even if everyone in the world worked $2,400 an hour—a lot of hours, of course—a ventriloquist would still be making more than five times his average wage.
Yet, to some extent, ventriloquists are actually the underclass in the entertainment industry—because they don’t get a salary—let alone a typical “real” job.
That kind of wage is hard for the ventriloquist to find.
“Most of what you’ve got is you can get a part-time job, and they can do it for free,” said Kevin, a 42-year old ventriloquist. “Sometimes if they want to, they can do it on set for a little bit and they can rent it out to people so you have an income.”
Even if that kind of income wasn’t so attainable, a part-time job would still allow for ventriloquists to make enough to keep ventriloquists off welfare.
“The state would give you some kind of work-study program so you’d still have some income to pay the rent,” he explained. But, “The rest of our income is going into the company. We’re not on welfare.”
When it comes to employment, Kevin and his peers agree that what can help is money: “If I make $1,000 a month, it’s a lot. It’s money we need.”
So, what kind of work are they actually doing? They’re in the business of selling puppets and illusions to children (though, as Kevin pointed out, they sell a lot more to adults than kids, so they don’t need to worry about that too much). And in terms of their own lives, “a lot of our lives are just spent here,” Kevin admitted.
For a few hours a day, they sit and have conversations about what’s happening on the inside, about what happens during the show, and they also work on the stage. Kevin explained that this job is also more about making sure your customers are happy with the “real” show: they’re not talking about what you saw, and about the performance.
They know how a puppet should look, how an illusion should be performed, and what they need to do to get that right.
As Kevin put it
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