Jumpin' Jupiter Accused of Passing Bad Checks: Old Performers Gone, New Crew at Saturday's Show
Van Ella Productions, the company that has produced the Jumpin' Jupiter shows for the past year, has accused the company of not paying or paying with bad checks. Van Ella Productions is gone for good, beginning with the June 16 show.
Jumpin’ Jupiter LLC, in Maplewood, and its owner, Jim Callahan, is now alleged to have not paid its performers, as well as its rent.
Maple King LLC filed legal proceedings against Callahan and Jumpin’ Jupiter to recover $40,506.20 for past due rent.
A June 4 article in Patch stated that an eviction notice appeared on Jumpin' Jupiter's front door on May 31, according to an article in STL.today.com. The article stated an agreement had been reached to allow Jumpin' Jupiter to stay.
Now, Van Ella Productions, producer of the shows at Jumpin’ Jupiter since its opening, stated on Facebook they are due payment for previous shows and have left for good.
The June 16, Saturday night show
Kyla Webb 'aka Sammy Tramp,' director, Van Ella Productions contacted Patch Saturday evening to confirm that Van Ella Productions is not producing the Saturday night show, and will never return.
She also said the June 16 show is a “fetish/bdsm style show being put on by a new company, and we have nothing to do with and do not endorse the show in any way. We are not associated with anything that is there now.”
Brandy Dunn, a manager at Jumpin' Jupiter on Saturday night, confirmed that Van Ella Productions was not doing the show, also, she had no comment on the allegations.
Inappropriate management behavior, bounced checks
Lola van Ella “and the entire staff of Van Ella Productions” said in the Facebook statement they have suffered “inappropriate behavior from the management, and fell victim to numerous thefts of money and valuable items from the dressing room.”
They also state that in the past year six large checks to the company have bounced.
“The final deciding factor in our leaving the Jumpin' Jupiter was when after doing two weeks of shows, we were never paid for one of the shows and the other was paid for with a check that once again,” van Ella sates.
After nearly two months of patiently waiting and staying very quiet on the matter, and after speaking with lawyers and getting legal advice, we have decided, as a company, to make a statement about the recent troubles with the Jumpin Jupiter. Many people are speculating and have been wondering what is happening, and we feel it is important to clear up any confusion; not only for those that are aware of the situation, but for anyone who may not be and may find this a cautionary "heads up"
I will keep this relatively brief, and leave out most of the messy details, but we feel it is important to share our experiences with all of you, as it is a very negative and damaging situation.
First, a brief history.
Van Ella Productions was asked to create, essentially, the look and feel of the entertainment at the Jumpin Jupiter. VEP created, directed, wrote, cast, choreographed, promoted, costumed, booked and ran all the weekend Super Supper and late night shows for nearly a year. The Jumpin Jupiter agreed to pay VEP for this work, and was at times re-negotiated to a lower price to accommodate for their financial troubles.
From the beginning, we were aware of the shaky foundation that the Jupiter was built on. The business model was messy and the staff was incredibly inconsistent. However, we believed in our show, audiences believed in our show, and the shows, in general did consistently well, even when the rest of the week was struggling. We were proud of our show, it was very well put together, and for all of Jumpin Jupiter's horrible issues, the space there is very lovely, and we did the best we could to put on a fabulous show each and every week.
Over the course of the last year, we stayed as numerous "managers" came and left, witnessed and experienced incredibly inappropriate behavior from the management, and fell victim to numerous thefts of money and valuable items from the dressing room. We, VEP, stayed and stood together as a company, when nearly every single Jumpin Jupiter employee either quit or was fired in those first few months.
Over the course of the last year, over 6 large checks were bounced to our company. We should have left after the first one, but we stayed for the show, to continue to take care of the performers who were receiving regular weekly work.
The final deciding factor in our leaving the Jumpin Jupiter was when after doing two weeks of shows, we were never paid for one of the shows and the other was paid for with a check that once again, bounced. When we tried to make initial contact to remedy the situation, the Jumpin Jupiter was very hard to get a hold of, and the owner, Jim Callahan made more excuses than actual real apologies. We were also aware that we, along with many other employees, were not being paid, or having bounced checks in this same time period. We are aware that we are not alone and we have heard the cries of many angry, lied to people that haven't been paid for the work that they have done at and for the Jumpin Jupiter.
We are aware, and it is public knowledge, that the Jumpin Jupiter owes over 40,000 dollars in rent alone. We are also aware of many other debts owed to many other people that have been associated with the Jumpin Jupiter.
Many VEP performers as well as other performers in the St. Louis area were told on several occasions that they would be able to pick up their back payments from the Jumpin Jupiter. Specific times were scheduled, and when they arrived the doors were always locked.
This is a crime.
At one point, in trying to be paid, we were told by the owner of the Jumpin Jupiter that we would only be paid if we didn't "slander" the company. When it was explained that slander is defined by making negative untrue statements, and that we had only ever been honest and truthful, but that what the owner was doing was considered blackmail, back pedaling and apologies were offered. This happened twice. The other situation came when we announced we were not going to perform because of the money that was owed to us. The response we received was that if we wanted to be paid what we were owed, that we should show up and do the show. This is also blackmail. This is also a crime.
As a small business, we understand the work it takes to get started in a new venture. We know how important it is to stand together as a community to help the projects that we believe in. But business is business, and when you make agreements and promises to people, it is important to uphold those, and to be up front and honest when you are unable to continue doing business. As a company, we told the Jumpin Jupiter many times that we would pull out, or do a smaller show for a smaller price if they were unable to afford it. The Jumpin Jupiter asked us to stay. We stayed for nearly a year.
We also believe that if you owe people money, you should do everything in your power to remedy the situation. It is priority number one. We were told that with all the money that Jim Callahan owes to people that we are "small potatoes" and that we don't really matter all that much.
For us, the problem isn't even so much with the money that is owed, but with the way it has all been handled. Our company and performers, along with much of the Jupiter staff has been mistreated, and the way it has played out online has been more than inappropriate. Dishonest Facebook posts, booking new performers, and offers to pay dancers "up front and in cash" if they just show up to perform, is very very bad business and completely disrespectful to those that are still waiting for restitution.
This message is not meant as a mud slinging campaign against the Jumpin Jupiter. It is however, a cautionary tale and a warning. If I found out a company in my community did business this way, I would not patronize it, I would not be a part of any of their programming and I would certainly not support it in any way.
We are saddened by the way all of this has happened, though we are also, sadly, not surprised.
We went back and forth for a long time on whether or not we would say anything. Personally, confrontation is not something I enjoy in any way and prefer to not openly battle others. However, we decided it was time to say something. We, as a company, have NOTHING to hide. We have always been completely open and honest in our business dealings and will always continue to do so. We refuse to be victimized.
We sincerely hope that this issue is remedied soon. We left the Jumpin Jupiter in late April. We are still waiting for financial closure.
Feel free to share this statement.
We know we are not alone.
As producers and performers in a scene and community, not only in St. Louis, but across the globe, that is really flourishing, we believe, and believe strongly, that it is our responsibility to create and uphold fair standards of treatment and pay for performers. We are unwilling to compromise on this. As part of a global artistic community, we believe in standing strong in our beliefs of producing and creating solid, quality and fairly paid entertainment services.
Lola van Ella and the entire staff of Van Ella Productions