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Tours de Farce: Fears & Tears

12:00 AM Saturday 8/28/04 |   |

Are you afraid of booking agents?

You're not alone, for research indicates that over 93 percent of all adults 18 and over have a deep rooted fear of booking agents compared to 71 percent who complain of constant nightmares involving promoters and 57 percent who claim various phobias regarding artist managers, tour accountants and road managers. Furthermore, of that 93 percent who run the other way when confronted by a booking agent, 85 percent can trace that fear back to childhood.

"You can't blame children for fearing booking agents," says Dr. Herschel Krustofsky, author of the best selling book, Dad! There's A Booking Agent Under My Bed!, considered by many to be the final word on the imaginary terrors of childhood. "After all, through a child's eyes a booking agent can seem quite monstrous. Always talking on a cell phone, carrying contracts for Ill Nino and Particle, negotiating ticket prices, merch and support acts. It's a wonder everybody isn't afraid of booking agents."

But while most licensed doctors claim that the fear of booking agents is totally psychological and has no basis in fact, there's no denying the symptoms one endures when confronted with representatives of artists and bands like Alice Cooper or Rich Robinson. Heart palpitations, fainting spells, projectile vomiting - all these symptoms have been documented when ordinary folks, including children and adults, find themselves in the company of booking agents.

"Many of my patients can trace their booking agent fears back to that popular kids show, Bozo The William Morris Agent, which portrayed the wheeling and dealing involved with arranging show dates for Diana Krall and Crosby, Stills & Nash as a series of games, magic tricks and hula hoop contests," says Dr. Krustofsky. "Then there's Ronald McMiddle Agent, whose image has been used to sell hamburgers, fries and Elton John dates for over forty years. When it comes to childhood horrors, booking agents are at the top of the list, second only to RIAA executives and national promoters."

Is the fear of booking agents treatable? Can children who scream at the top of their lungs in anguish and terror overcome their dread of those who make their livings finalizing dates for Reel Big Fish, Guster and The Blood Brothers? And what about the adults who end up treating their fears with over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs and various liquids derived from grapes, barley, hops and grain? Can the fear of booking agents be eliminated once and for all so that everyone can enjoy shows by such artists as Jimmy Buffett and Keb' Mo' without being traumatized by the negotiating process that makes up the foundation of today's concert industry?

"The first order of business is to separate the ones who truly experience distress and despair when they meet the booking agent for, say, Jessica Andrews, Pixies or Richard Elliot," says Dr. Krustofsky. "For those are the people who really have a problem with booking agents."

And the rest?

"They're just looking for attention," says Dr. Krustofsky. "In fact, you might even say they're just clowning around."

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