Cubby Bear’s Revenge, Part 2: Brad Loses His Baby

Brad Altman, the bubble-bathing, champagne-swilling star of last week’s Culture Club photo, is now in Los Angeles with a broken heart. “The Cubby Bear was my baby,” he said via telephone.

But not anymore.

On Friday of last week–the day after this column hit the streets with a story on Altman and the Cubby Bear’s national recognition as Pollstar magazine’s nightclub venue of the year–Cubby Bear owner George Loukas telephoned the Reader’s office to complain about what he considered the many inaccuracies in Altman’s account of the Cubby Bear’s success story. The same day he showed up at Altman’s apartment (which Loukas supplied, as part of his compensation) and told the Cubby Bear talent booker he was fired, effective immediately. Loukas gave Altman 30 days to vacate the apartment.

“We had philosophical and professional differences,” Loukas said later of the reasons for Altman’s termination. “You could say that the story was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he admitted.

Altman believes Loukas fired him because he felt that his employee had taken too much of the credit for the Cubby Bear’s success. “He feels we both should be getting credit.” Observers of the club scene have generally regarded Loukas as primarily a money man. Perhaps he now wishes to change that perception.

Altman said he had no regrets about his accomplishments at the Cubby Bear. “I’m proud of what I did there, and I would go back now and stand on my record.”

He wasted no time getting out of Chicago, though, disconnecting his telephone and hopping a plane for LA the same day he was fired. “I was stunned,” said Altman. “You would have thought that a national award and ten straight sellout shows in January would have been good enough for Loukas, but I guess it wasnt.”

Since arriving in LA, Altman has been operating out of the offices of Q Productions, a talent booking agency where Peter Katsis (who used to book the Riviera nightclub) and Jeff Kwatinetz are employed. Altman had worked with Katsis and Kwatinetz to book many of the jazz, blues, and rock acts that appeared at the Cubby Bear.

Katsis said he was trying to cut a deal with Loukas that would allow Q Productions to continue booking acts into the Cubby Bear through Altman. The arrangement would allow Altman to work for Q rather than for Loukas. “I’m trying to keep an open mind,” said Loukas, but he categorically ruled out Altman ever again working directly for him.

At press time, no deal appeared likely. “It’s an unfortunate situation,” said an obviously dejected Altman. “I think Loukas has let his ego get in the way of his common sense. It hurts me a lot to have to walk away from the Cubby Bear.”

Loukas said he would look for someone to replace Altman and start all over again. Some observers close to the situation doubt that Loukas will be able to find a new booker with the kind of talent connections Altman had developed, particularly in the realm of country music. But, said Loukas, “I’ve already got someone in mind.”

Bailiwick Moves Up

Bailiwick Repertory is happily kissing its cramped space in the Jane Addams Hull House good-bye and moving into the Theatre Building, where it will occupy the 150-seat south theater that formerly housed the now-defunct Absolute Theatre Company. Bailiwick plans to be in the new space at least through May 1993; it opens At Long Last Leo there on February 9. For Bailiwick artistic director David Zak, the move means the company will enjoy support services not available at Hull House. “We’ll have box-office service, public relations support, a tech director, and a lobby bar,” said Zak. Bailiwick is coming off one of the most successful productions in its history–an adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo that ran for ten weeks–and it currently has 1,500 subscribers and an operating budget of around $325,000. Zak said he’d also like to find a nearby loft where Bailiwick could mount experimental projects. Hull House building manager Elizabeth Perriello said there were no specific plans yet for the space Bailiwick vacated. “We’ve just begun to discuss that,” she said.

Basically Bach Gets More Basic

Basically Bach has trimmed its operating budget for the current fiscal year to $362,000, from the originally projected $421,000, because of overly ambitious assumptions about contributed income. The group had hoped to pull in some $200,000 in contributions, but it looks like it’ll wind up with around $125,000–about what it got last year. Rather than risk a deficit, executive director Philip Hale and the board of directors have wisely decided to downscale the scope of the ensemble’s remaining concerts this season. “This is not a time to take risks,” says Hale. Though Basically Bach won’t receive all the contributed income it had hoped for, the organization has strengthened ties with some of its sponsors–the NBD Trust Company, for instance, which has significantly expanded its support for the current season, and the Chicago Park District, which donates both money and performance space–and developed new ones such as Boots Pharmaceuticals. Hale credits the group’s audiences with leading him to some of the sponsors. “We’re putting our audience to work for us,” he says.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Charles Eshelman.