Good morning, fellow WOE Friends,
Today's interview is with Mark, the Director of the Entertainer's Village. Go behind the scenes and see how the entertainers live, rehearse, record, and perform. Many internationally known entertainers live on the property. They will never become millionaires, but they have many advantages of living on the WOE property they don't have elsewhere. See why they do it!
The interview is from Chapter 14 of the WOE Story.
I hope you enjoy it!
I showed up at the Complex Information Desk to the right of the World Stage at 10:45, as requested. There are a few of these desks scattered around the Complex. They help guests with reservations and other questions they may have. The employee asked me to please have a seat and wait for Mark. Within five minutes, Mark was there to greet me.
“Hi, Peter. I’m Mark. Nice to meet you.”
“Hi, Mark. Nice to meet you as well.”
“You ready to get started?”
We then walked to a nearby door and went through it. Mark had to use his finger to gain access, so I knew we were going into an employee-only area.
“I’m going to take you behind the scenes Peter and show you how the entertainers do their jobs and where they live,” Mark told me.
“That’s great, Mark. I’ve been looking forward to it.”
We first went behind the scenes of the World Stage. Just as I’d heard, there was a turntable with three stages. I could see employees unloading equipment on one stage and loading on the next. Drum kits roll-off on platforms and stay together for storing. If a band is performing three times that day on the World Stage, the drums will be rolled back and forth onto the stage, not torn down each time. If that band is going to be playing at the Levels Restaurant or Metamorphoses the next day, the drum kit will be transported to that particular storage area in Levels or Metamorphoses with an electric cart.
“Our goal is to work smarter, not harder. We strive for efficiency. We have tunnels that link each theater and venue. We even transport their equipment back to the Entertainer’s Village when they are done. That’s only for the entertainers who really want their own drums. We have house sets that many choose to use instead. There are several varieties available to choose from, and the same is true for the keyboards.”
“I understand you have a separate transport system to and from the Village other than what the entertainers use?” I asked Mark.
“Yes, we have the ‘Sled Transport System’ that allows us to transport to and from the Village, the Harmony Theater, the Complex, and the Brand Name Hotels. We can take their equipment right to the practice rooms and recording studio, then back to the stage. Come, I’ll show you,” said Mark.
Mark and I hopped aboard one of these Sleds and were quickly moving along underground to the Entertainers Village. “When we come back, I will take you on the transport they use,” Mark told me.
“This is terrific. I love this already,” I said.
As we got close to the Village Equipment Facility, the Transport Sled started to slow. We enter this large warehouse where you can see lots of equipment stored: Multiple drum kits, keyboards, props, and other equipment sitting next to each other, like a parking lot for band and concert equipment.
“This is the main storage area for all things entertainment,” Mark said. Everything here is in a show today, tomorrow or the next. If it’s not, then it’s stored on one of our shelves, back in the vault. We continually bring equipment and props to all the stages throughout the day. One band may have their equipment moved to three stages in one day. But, by doing it this way, it must only be assembled one time. This saves us a lot of work.”
Mark took me down a walkway and up some stairs. Then we walked into an area known as Rehearsal Row.
“Here you will find 24 rehearsal rooms designed for and made available to any band or Entertainers that wish to practice or rehearse their act or performance. Each room is a nice sized 20 by 20 foot and has all the speakers needed. Their equipment can be loaded into each room from a hallway in the back. The equipment can travel on a Sled from here to the stage, any stage, within ten minutes. Quite remarkable, if you ask me!”
“That is remarkable! What about recording studios, Mark?”
“They are next door. The same principle applies here as in the rehearsal rooms, but they need to reserve recording engineers in advance for those. Ten recording studios are open, usually 12 hours a day. Many of the recording engineers also double as sound engineers for the bigger shows in the Harmony Theater, because they are so good at listening and adjusting the sound already.”
Mark took me over to the recording studios. He also showed me the cafeteria and the lounge, with a coffee bar and all kinds of games to help relieve stress or break up long recording or practice sessions.
“Mark, how does the recording contract work here? Are any of these Entertainers signed with another label when they come in?”
“Well, yes, sometimes they come into the WOE still under a recording contract. Most sign with the WOE label; REAL. But for those still under contract, we usually make a deal with whomever the contract may be with and work out some sort of financial arrangement that benefits everyone.”
“I understand the money paid to entertainers here is much less than if they were with another producer or on tour,” I stated to Mark.
“You’re absolutely right Peter!” As we walked around looking at everything, we picked up some coffee and kept talking. “No one is going to get filthy rich here. No one is going to make millions of dollars selling an album or performing live here. But what they will get is an opportunity to write and perform with freedom. Freedom to be as open-minded as you’d like. To be able to not worry about what the ‘machine’ wants. To express yourself and be free of constraints and work in a stress-free environment with no travel. You can be an Entertainer here, perform four days a week and raise a family. You don't have to travel from show to show on a bus or a plane. No hotel rooms, no road stress and fatigue. No wear and tear on your body. No missing your family. Everything is right here. Their kids even go to school here.”
“So, it's a trade-off. They trade more money for a better lifestyle, with less stress and traveling,” I said to Mark.
“Yes, much like the doctors, WOE President, and engineers here. They make less for more. More of a better life. A better quality of life. You understand money is not everything. What means more; money or a better quality of life? For some, they need the money. And for them, they may perform here a few weeks and then move on. But for many, especially veteran Entertainers, they’re tired of touring and being told what to do. They want to do what they like, and that’s perform and entertain without traveling, and being with their family.”
Mark and I boarded a Tube Shuttle Car and were taken to the Entertainers Village Housing.
“The Tube Shuttle we just rode, takes the Entertainers to the Complex and the Harmony Theater,” Mark told me, “You can travel right to the back of Houdini’s Theater, the Broadway Theater, or any other stage. There are six of these Tube Shuttle Stations around the Village. Each Tube Shuttle Car can hold up to 12 passengers. Just like the Zipvators in the hotels or Shuttle Pods in the Complex, they work on demand. When an Entertainer is ready to perform, they go to a Tube Shuttle Station, board and push the theater or stage button they wish to go to. Then they are whisked away to where they will be performing. The Tube Shuttle is like it sounds; a tube suspended about ten feet in the air with three tracks contained in the tube. One track going to, one track going back, and a spare; going right down the middle, just in case there is ever a breakdown.”
“The Zipvators also run in a tube with three tracks. Even though the Zipvators are completely enclosed, the tubes they ride in are also enclosed and are fully air-conditioned. If anyone of these were to inadvertently stop, there would always be air and easy access to get off and board another, especially in an emergency. During peak times, they can run all three tracks, with the middle one used for either one direction or the other.”
“This redundant track system and tube structure have many more advantages than the traditional monorail or train system, that may leave passengers suspended in the air. A monorail may get stopped and unable to move, lose air conditioning and require a latter truck to unload all the passengers. Our system costs more to build and maintain but is well worth it if a breakdown or emergency did ever occur. Our monorails also use a three-track system that can ‘connect’ monorails in case of a breakdown. Each monorail also has an emergency generator on board to power everything, including air conditioning, in case the electricity goes out. The monorail can even move, slowly, with the generated power. We also have monorail tractors that can pull or push a stalled monorail, if need be.”
As we started walking around the Village, Mark cautioned me about not being “star-struck.”
“Look, there are a lot of Entertainers that live on the property. Just like the employees, they are also called Residents, Resident Entertainers. We have over 1,200 of them here; Jugglers from China to the biggest names in Pop, Country, Rock, magic, movies, and TV. We even have writers and directors here. These Resident Entertainers work and perform here. They are never bothered by the media, fans, or anyone else. This place is restricted from the public, and no pictures or videos are ever allowed. All interviews are done at the Complex, usually in our meet and greet rooms, where guests can hear and ask questions too.”
“What about girls or those from the outside (groupies) wanting to come in?” I asked.
“No, Absolutely not! All Entertainers park in the Entertainers Village Parking Garage and take a Tube Shuttle Car to the Entertainers Village Hub to get to the Village. When they arrive, they need to go through security, just like anyone else. There are no drugs or weapons allowed. Only Entertainers and their immediate families are allowed into the Village, and they must be pre-approved if they’re visiting. All visitors report to an area right outside the Village, where an Entertainer can meet and spend some time with them. They can meet with agents and friends, but there are no rooms for meeting with ‘groupies.’ This is a ‘family atmosphere,’ and we keep it that way.”
“I guess that could be considered another advantage, right? Not having to deal with the paparazzi, or have rabid fans gawking at you,” I remarked.
“Absolutely Peter. They aren’t bothered when they go to dinner at any of the six restaurants in the Village. They all eat, swim, play games, and collaborate together,” Mark explained.
We walked around the Village for about 45 minutes. I recognized many Entertainers but couldn't say anything. They were just going about their business. Some were rehearsing, recording, eating, playing pool or taking a walk with their family. Most greeted Mark, and I just said hello. I never thought I would see Entertainers living amongst themselves like this. Household names from one genre of music playing pool, listening to the jukebox with another genre or era. I seen a world-renowned illusionist eating with a famous writer and families playing in the pool together. This was a Utopia for Entertainers. Mark also told me it was prevalent for musical collaborations in concerts or recordings on the property.
“It’s not uncommon for one Entertainer to invite another Entertainer to jam out with them for a song on stage or collaborate on a recorded song together. After all, they’re already here. All they need to do is take the Tube Shuttle over and get on stage,” Mark explained. “Much of the music that is played on our music channel is recorded here. They also do interviews and collaborations; say playing an acoustic version of one of their songs right in one of these studios or live on stage.”
Mark told me that with your WOE Membership of $100 per family, per year, you receive their radio station called; The Power Station and their web channel called; WOE LIVE. Both the radio and web channel run 24-hours a day and feature plenty of information on the WOE, as well as play concerts, performances, shows, interviews, game shows and more.
“Our radio station and web channel play content that’s both live and recorded. You won't see anything or hear anything like it anywhere. The music isn't commercialized. It’s open and original. It’s REAL!”
“Mark, what about the use of language or the mention of dress or sex?”
“As we are a family-oriented entity, there is no promotion of either. They can sing about politics, life being unfair, jobs, but no promotion of sex or the use of drugs. The music, shows, concerts, acts or performances are to be positive, entertaining and family-friendly. Parents love their kids listening to the music on our channel, and they are very appreciative of the fact that these Entertainers are not living the life others outside the Complex may live.”
“What if an Entertainer crosses the line and goes on a tangent on stage that offends others?” I asked.
“Then their act is cut short and they may be asked to leave,” Mark answered. “Look, this Village is for the Entertainers to live in harmony and for those serious about their craft. If one comes in and wants to start trouble, then it won't be tolerated. Many Entertainers never get to perform here, simply because they don't practice enough or take their job seriously enough! They think they can just continue to use their name and get by. If they want to party and play and perform like they don't care, well then, they won't be here. They won’t be throwing ruckus parties and trashing their apartments.”
“Some bands apply three and four times and still don’t make it in. Some are given probationary periods to come in and work with others to get better. None of this is ever made public.“
“We have Entertainers that also love to teach. Drummers like Neil Peart from Rush will host drum clinics for serious drummers. Musicians teach others how to play better. This is all done in a classroom setting for a nominal fee. Applicants are chosen by the artist themselves. Those selected must be Members and stay onsite in one of the hotels.”
As we headed back to the Complex, Mark made one last comment that sure sounded familiar to me; “We have Entertainment Scouts that travel the world looking for the best talent. Some Entertainers come for a very brief period of time, while others live here. We have a symbiotic relationship between the Entertainers, employees and the guests. Some are here because they applied and were accepted. While others were asked and accepted. And some need to be here more than others. But everyone, Entertainers or employees, are an asset to the WOE and each brings their own contributions. We are a loving family that works well together to enhance our lives as well as the lives of our guests.”
Thanks for reading! Until next time,