This past week I left an employment situation where I was being bullied by someone who is just plain abusive. He yelled at his girlfriend on site. He yelled at performers. He even yelled at his costuming people. There is no better weakling than an employer who controls his employees with his temper, and there's no better way to show those around you that you are barely in charge.
I had never seen this side of him the previous season as I was always keeping to myself and never had a grievance. However, I stood up to him because we weren't being paid and the show was being run badly. His leadership style saw several of my puppeteers getting hurt, and when things were done his way the performers in my tent were bullied by patrons. It was a situation where performers were not allowed to take breaks, and if they were they were subject to his tirades and rage. And if they alerted a staffer that they needed one, throngs of people were coming in as crowd control was not well managed and the performer couldn't slip out. This was hazardous for the puppeteers as we had one of the most physical jobs in the place, and several even said so.
When I stood up for myself I was accused of being "a stupid bitch" and the words that got me to throw in the towel were, "You are nothing but a drama starting cunt. I pay you good money for a seasonal job. You are lucky I am sympathetic to retards."
So I told him that I quit. Needless to say he promised me to ruin me in the town he worked in, and akin to a Harry Potter villain said, "Good luck with your puppet career!"
That wasn't the end. He sent a costume woman to walk me out of my resignation, and then a makeup artist to bully me claiming I made things up about him. The costume woman is a nice lady, but he has her in his pocket. The makeup artist is possibly a girl he is sleeping with on the side as he has a record of sleeping around the staff, and several performers have confirmed this. Either way, both instances made me happy I left.
I am grateful for my fellow performers who not only were there for me when shit hit the fan, but assured me I was correct in sticking up for myself. Some left when I did and others are still there, but their friendship and support meant the world to me when I was low. They also let me know what I was doing was working and they echoed support for my abilities, and let me know it was him, not me who was the idiot.
I am grateful for my mom who tried to talk me out of going back for a second season. She pointed out it wouldn't be worth it, and when I reminded her how much fun I had the year before she said things change. I told her they lured me back with more money but she had her doubts. She told me to back out at any time and I took her advice.
I am grateful to my mentor who, while not as demonstrative as my mom, tried to talk me out of a second season as well. Like an archer who guides an arrow, he tried to guide me elsewhere and told me if something better came up to "leave immediately." And when shit hit the fan he told me, "it's just a small town haunted house. And it won't be the first time you meet an idiot like this and it won't be the last." And he called me several times the day I quit as I was quite upset.
I am grateful for a past mentor who's involved with Actor's Equity who informed me that as a SAG member I could join,and while I was not an Equity member I am looking into it. My days of working without a union card are over.
I am grateful to my mentor at school who encouraged me to write about being mistreated and how standing up for myself made me a pariah. This essay will be in my next packet.
I am grateful for the corporate office who heard me out in regards to this man's abuse. While nothing might happen, he will strike again with someone else. And I have heard since me leaving he is harder than ever on the vulnerable. I want to go on record showing that the next person who comes forward is not only justified, but not alone.
I am also grateful to the friends who alerted me to other opportunities, show business and otherwise, to fill in the money gaps that this job inhabited. They really had my back. And my other friends who alerted local officials in the town the project was in because they were sickened by this man's behavior.
In the end I know I am good at what I do. The audiences each night said so as well as my fellow performers and supporting staff. But I was forced out because I stood up to a bully, and he was intimidated by me because I was smarter than he was. This is not my first rodeo. I was hit by a partner when I was 21, had a mentally ill partner at 30, and met other assholes in between. If anything this asshole was just a spoiled little rich boy getting palimony from his first wife and living off of it. But still, the sexism and the fact I have to take it gets a little old. And even with #metoo, this prick still has his defenders.
The worst part is, in a situation like this I am obedient if I stay down like a slave and treated well, but I am a "shit stirring cunt" if I speak up. And unless you are a woman, you have never been there. It doesn't just get old, it gets fucking tired ass tired.
This prick said, "Good luck with your puppet career."
To which I should have said, "Yeah, I have had plenty of luck. I have been on network TV in and out of the United States. Good luck being a nobody, because you have been one for a very long time and most likely will be one for the rest of your life."