Camille and Kennerly Talk with H.G. Welch about Space City Comicon
For starters, when were you approached to perform at Space City Comic Con (SCCC)?
George comits e-mailed our booking assistant in early December 2015. He asked if we were interested in performing at SCCC.
Can you tell us what was to be your compensation and for how many shows?
Our contract stipulated that we aren’t allowed to talk about our compensation. Even though George Comits has now breached the contract in many different ways, we are still trying to honor what we signed. We were contracted for 3 one hour shows (one show for each day of SCCC).
At what point did you realize you weren't being compensated for the show?
The first sign to us that we might not be paid was when we were about to start our first SCCC show on Friday afternoon. We were about to step onstage when the sound guy motioned us over and asked us if we knew what was going on.
We said that we didn’t realize that anything was going on. He then informed us that the entire sound company hired for the con wasn’t paid and that consequently the sound company wouldn’t turn on the sound. No one from SCCC informed us of this. We had to inform the entire audience ourselves that the sound guys wouldn’t turn on the sound equipment because they weren’t paid. Our harps are fully electric, so without sound equipment, we can’t perform.
We stayed to see what would happen and about half the audience stayed as well. About half an hour later, the sound company guy said they were given a check. They turned on the sound and we performed our concert for the reduced audience. According to our standard contract, we are supposed to be paid in full *before* we perform. No one from the con approached us to give us our payment.
On Friday night, a con volunteer brought us to the “cash room” where George had locked himself inside a room with a double set of glass doors. There was already a line waiting outside consisting of guests, guest handlers, etc., waiting for compensation from George. We asked the first person in line how long he had been waiting and he said that he had been there an hour and the door had not opened.
After talking to others waiting in line, we became more and more concerned that we would not be paid. We waited in line for about 2 hours before we were let in. George handed us a check that he signed – which was not even for the full amount we were owed.
Contractually, we were supposed to get our per diem in cash, but George included that in the check. He only included half the per diem that our contract stipulated. The check was supposed to cover travel expenses and performance fee. On Friday and Saturday, we were told by several SCCC special guests that their checks from George had not cleared.
When we took the check into the bank on Tuesday morning (after the holiday weekend), we were told that it was indeed a bad check. (See update on question 6)
After being told there was no money to pay you, why did you still go on?
Although we were aware that there was a high likelihood that we would not be compensated for our travel/expenses and that our performance fee would likely not be paid, we knew that we had many, many excited and supportive fans who had paid to get into the con to see our show. We had fans who traveled from other states and drove hours just to see our concert. We love our fans and we didn’t want to disappoint them by not performing. Our supporters mean the world to us. Performing at SCCC despite the circumstances was a gift to our fans.
Friday night you were right by the SCCC Operations door when the bodyguard for a cast member of Sons of Anarchy tried to break it down over an issue with the money. Can you describe what either of you saw?
It appeared to us that the SOA handler was not trying to break down the door; he was trying to get the attention and response from George Comits. Even a person as large as himself wouldn’t have been able to break down the locked double set of thick glass doors. It appeared to us that he wanted to be paid. He was addressing George by name and wanted to be let into the locked room or for George to come out. The SOA handler used strong and colorful language and was clearly very unhappy, but from what he said, it appeared that George owed the SOA team a significant amount of money.
After some time with the door not opening, the SOA handler left for quite a long time. George has been claiming that he was held hostage. He could have left the room at any time, but he never came out. He also evidently had no concern about the people (including us) waiting calmly in line to get the money that George owed us. The SOA handler later returned with Charlie and George immediately let them in. This was the first time the door had opened the whole time we had waited there.
After the SOA crew left, George let the people waiting in line into the room one-by-one. When we tried to cash the check on Tuesday morning after the holiday weekend, we were told that George’s account would not allow us to cash our check. The bank teller said that it was good that we checked before depositing, because otherwise it would have bounced and we would have been stuck with the fees.
Has their been any contact about making good on the monies owed?
UPDATE: Since Tuesday morning when we found out that the check was not good, we have been working with George’s bank and (as of this late Thursday morning) we have finally been able to get most of what we were owed. However, this was ONLY due to our persistence and help from the bank manager. We only heard from George, for the first time, many hours after our check finally cleared.
Late Thursday afternoon, our booking assistant got an e-mail from George. This is the first time that we had heard from him since he gave us the check on Friday night. It is interesting that he chose not to contact us until after we posted publically about his bad check on Facebook. Our post about his bad check got over 4 K likes, over 800 comments, and over 500 shares. In his e-mail George did not apologize, but complained about our post, made excuses, blamed others, and said that there was some money in the account today. However, he said that people were “making a run for it”, so he would like us to try to get our money.
We think it is absurd that people should have to “make a run for it” to get what they are contractually owed. It sure seems to us that the only reason he cares about us getting what is owed to us is because we had a lot of feedback on our post about him. In fact, soon after we posted about our SCCC experience on Facebook (on Tuesday) and linked to the SCCC Facebook page, they deleted or deactivated their page. We’ve seen a lot of statements from George and responses since SCCC problems have come to light. George blames everyone but himself. George is acting like the victim when he victimized us and a lot of other people. Until Thursday George had never once contacted us personally to make things right and even now he has not apologized for his dishonest actions.
We spent 2 days driving down to Houston from Chicago, 3 days performing at his con, and 2 days driving back. We had to wait in line for 2 hours to get a check and cash that should have been provided to us on arrival at the con. The check we were then given was not even the full amount of our contractual agreement.
Since then, we have spent days trying to get the money that George contractually owed to us. George has provided us with no honest explanation or apology.
Another issue that was raised was the poor quality of audio in the rooms, did you experience any of that?
Our Friday sound tech wasn’t nice or professional and changed all the settings we had worked on with another person during sound-check earlier that day. We requested that the lighting tech (who did our sound-check) run our sound on Saturday and Sunday. He did a great job.
Guests reported issues with the local hotel's power and water, did you have a problem with your lodgings?
Yes, when we returned to our hotel very late on Friday night (after waiting in line for 2 hours after the close of the con to get our check), they had no power or water. No one from the con offered to help re-house us and we had to find another hotel for the night with help from the hotel staff.
Did you experience any issues with angry ticket holders over the problems at the convention?
We had a lot of people tell us that they wandered around trying to find us and the room that our concert was in. SCCC had incorrect times and locations listed for all 3 of our concerts in the physical program, which caused a lot of confusion.
However, we were lucky to have full attendance and wonderful fan support nonetheless.
Has your experience at SCCC changed your opinion at all over Texas conventions?
No. We would not let the experience created by one person or con change our opinion of a larger group of people. We love our Texas fans and we would love to perform again in Houston with different hosts.