Is it John Gotti or is it a man?
The question is not just rhetorical. A recent article in The Nation (a respected progressive news magazine) points out that the average salary of a ventriloquist in this country is almost $20,000, while on television it goes as high as three and a half million. But not even this $20,000 figure compares with the cost of the actual entertainment; and not only for the performers and their families; many individuals are forced to pay for a high-quality set for the performance.
These expenses add up quickly.
The article by Jeffrey A. Katz and Sarah Anderson lists out a litany of fees that show that the price of ventriloquism in the United States is a steep one. “At the height of its popularity,” the article notes, a ventriloquist used to be able to bring home almost 40 grand a week. “Today,” the article continues, “fans pay $40,000-$50,000 for a single performance. And the industry isn’t about to move away from its current standard of low salaries: In 2009, the average salary for a ventriloquist was about $14,000. To put this figure into perspective, it averages for one year to raise a child to the age of 13.”
These figures have become so astronomical because of the number of ventriloquists available to a community in need. They are all over the country and in all media. They live in houses from coast to coast and all over the country and most of them are women – or are they? It is well known that the ventriloquists have been making the rounds of celebrities and even presidents, but it is even easier to see that it is all about raising this money for the performers, their families, and their employers. These are some of the people I have been following who have made my own way, from the comfort of my basement floor in suburban Detroit, and they have made me a much better person for it. This means that my own voice can reach many more people and so can their voices.
I am not ashamed to say that I have been working full-time on the ventriloquists’ behalf: I serve as a mentor and cohost on their national tour. I see them perform in public and I speak to students, friends, and family whose lives depend on them and what they do. If it is not for these performances, nothing else
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