willie or won’t he let me in? (a throwback)

in hind sight, that should have been the title of the bit i dropped fifteen years ago today…

03/29/2003: “free willie!!!”

to christen yet another season of backyard amphitheater entertainment, we start off with the traditional dueling willie shows…two shows by mr. nelson, back to back. for those of us who do box office stuff, this makes our world a happy place, ’cause they ALWAYS sell out. every year. much like the show is a tradition, the sell-out is to. with no tickets to sell, and most people picking up their tickets from our outlets before doors, it’s a cake-walk kinda evening, right?

nope. there’s the guest list.

now, if i worked a willie show in des moines, iowa, this wouldn’t be a big deal. but this is austin, texas. willie LIVES near here. his family lives around here. and they all have friends. shitloads of them. on top of that, there’s willie’s manager, pootie.

(a grown man that wants everyone to call him ‘pootie’. think about that)

i don’t think this man has ever turned down a request by ANYONE to be on willie’s list. actually, to be technical, there IS no willie list. there’s a pootie list. sounds like a ho’ hook-up, doesn’t it? just off the name? not once you see the people face to face. that’s what makes willie shows kinda unique; the hot blonde, in the low-rise jeans and cropped halter with the fake breasts and the fake tan and the fake lips and who knows what else but who the fuck cares ’cause you’d fuck her anyway? she’s not on the list. the couple that looks like her GRANDPARENTS who are dressed in the same outfits they wore to see willie and ronnie milsap at the christening of the new mechanical bull at gilley’s night club in pasadena, texas in 1977 (five years before the aforementioned hottie was born)? they are. plus FOUR. with all access passes.

keep in mind, willie is 70.

willie’s guest list is an educational tool in both box office savvy and ticket number juggling. he’ll be allotted about 100 band holds per show, but will turn in a guest list of about 267 people. and you have to “make it work”. while most shows will give you a list of about three pages (promoter/house, band/opener, and media/label) the willie list last night was ELEVEN pages long. none of it was in alphabetical order, and for the first time MOST of it was typed (save for the ‘pootie list’, two pages of yellow legal pad, hand-written, and also not alphabetical). to top off that, most shows (this will piss some of you off who have missed a show because it’s “sold out”) will have about 65-70% show up who are on the list. willie averages around 85-90%.

that’s right…ELEVEN disorganized pages to look through for every name TWICE (if you don’t find them the first time, they typically insist) in front of “customers” (shouldn’t they have to spend money before i remove the quotes?) who all claim to have talked to pootie or willie or willie’s second cousin’s half brother’s hairstylist’s boyfriend’s sister who used to babysit their brother-in-law’s cousin’s nephew. or whatever.

and on the list, there are not always last names. hell, some times there aren’t even first names…sometimes there just nicknames in quotes. i remember working a willie show and looking down on the list to see the name “suga bear” on the middle of the page. sure enough, about two hours later a large black gentleman shows up with two even LARGER female companions and says,

“hi…i talked to pootie earlier…..’sposed to be on the list. i’m suga bear”

and as he said the name, his “girls” giggled. to be honest, i had to fight the urge not to do so myself. but sho’ nuff, there he was, page nine, dead center, right between “p. woodruffe” and “james from twins liquor” (keep in mind, these are NEVER in alphabetical order, which is what makes this all so fucking fun)..and he even had a “+2” by his name to cover his “bitches”.

for any guest list situation, by company policy, you’re supposed to get their name, find it on the list, verify with a photo i.d., and release the stuff to them. how the fuck do you verify the name “suga bear”? his momma sure as hell didn’t NAME him suga bear. the state of texas sure as fuck doesn’t acknowledge the fact that he’s called “suga bear” (excpet in the “aka” line of any statement by a prosecutor or lawman). so i had to go off the humiliation factor…what man, GROWN man, that is, in his right mind, would declare in front of witnesses that he had a stupid-ass nickname like that if he actually didn’t? why risk the hassle and odd looks? this son of a bitch MUST be suga bear, damn it!!! recognize!!!

and he’s on the list for tonight’s show, too (we get both lists the first night…but they’ll bring additional lists when we get there…there’s another 24 hours for pootie’s phone to ring, ya know). wonder how bling-bling da’ bear will be for 2k3…or if he’s gotten better women; he has a “+4” by his name tonight. maybe the two have just gained that much weight in the last couple of years…

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