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The treatment of David "Blue Ranger" Yost shows how wrestling's problems are made worse by working outside of the mainstream

A few days ago, David Yost, who played the original Blue Ranger in the Power Rangers franchise, publicly came out as gay and did an interview about the harassment he suffered on-set about his sexuality:

Specifically, he claims that he was repeatedly called a "f-ggot" and that "I know that my co-stars were called in a couple times to some producers' offices and questioned about my sexuality, which is kind of a humiliating experience to hear that and to find that out."  In response to Yost's claims, then-producer Scott Page-Pagter is claiming that "[Yost] and two of the other actors were all getting a bonus on top of their salary.  When the other two left the show, production wanted to stop giving him the bonus, and that’s ultimately what led to his departure from the show...."I don’t know why he’s saying this, but he was the only one no one got along with... he was a pain in the ass."

The Power Rangers shows received minor media attention at the time for their non-union status that allowed Saban, the producers, to pay the actors shockingly little and treat them terribly.  Three of the original cast members were fired early on for asking for raises when they found out how much less than Screen Actors' Guild union scale they were being paid.  They were immediately sent home and they were written out in episodes where their characters appeared in silhouette while dubbed over by actors who sounded nothing like them to the point where it became a surreal comedy show until the transition was complete.  In 1998 (2 years after Yost's departure), at least two of the cast members was fined much of their "bonus pay" for showing up late:

Three weeks ago, Roger Velasco, the 18-year-old "Green Ranger" on Saban Entertainment's Power Rangers in Space, showed up 45 minutes late for a looping session--an infraction of Saban's rules that cost the teenager $1,000 in "bonus" compensation, or more than his take-home pay for shooting an entire episode of the non-union kids' TV show.

Saban's contract with the show's performers provides that in addition to their salaries--which are far below union scale--the actors receive $200 per episode in the form of a "bonus" for "good behavior." When an actor is late or commits some other minor infraction, the company deducts the penalty from the actor's "bonus" pay.

This practice will probably come to an end when Saban finalizes an agreement with the Screen Actors Guild covering live-action children's shows--the one area still subject to negotiation after Saban agreed in February to sign SAG's basic contract (Back Stage West, 2/12/98).

SAG declined comment, although a SAG source said that "it's certainly not surprising to hear this sort of practice occurring in a non-union environment. One would assume that this sort of practice will no longer be possible once their live-action children's programming is covered by a SAG deal."

The practice of hitting actors with heavy penalties for being late to work, which is virtually unheard of anywhere else in the industry, was detailed recently in a sternly worded letter to Velasco from a high-level Saban business and legal affairs executive.

"Arriving late for your ADR (looping) session is a violation of your contract," the Saban executive told Velasco in the Mar. 26 letter. "As you have been advised previously, (we) consider this to be a serious breach of your contract and unacceptable conduct which we cannot reward with 'bonus' compensation. Therefore, we will not be paying you bonus compensation in the total amount of $1,000."

Sources say that several other young performers have been similarly penalized by the show's producers for minor infractions over the past year. Christopher Khayman Lee, the show's Red Ranger and lead actor, was penalized $400 recently for being an hour late to the set.

Anyway, I'm posting this here because reading about it all made me think about how Yost's treatment seems pretty out of the ordinary in TV.  It was more recent, but look at how Isiah Washingon's career has nosedived after he was fired from Grey's Anatomy for calling co-star T.R. Knight a "f-ggot," getting in a fight with Patrick Dempsey when he defended Knight, and lying about it in the most obnoxious way possible.  The mainstream entertainment industry has generally been a lot more welcoming of homosexuals than the general public, going back to Rock Hudson's closeted heyday.  Power Rangers, as a non-union kids' show, was working outside of that system (and by the way, to avoid the related arguments, this is not an argument for or against unions, just a look at how working outside of SAG kept them out of the mainstream), as does pro wrestling.  When Chris Kanyon committed suicide earlier this year, his struggles both reconciling his sexuality both internally and with regards to the wrestling business was a major topic of discussion, especially after many fans read this passge from the obituary that Dave Meltzer wrote:

He kept his homosexuality secret, but it tore him up when other wrestlers would, in front of him, talk about how much they hated gays or made gay jokes. He constantly feared if they knew, that he’d never be accepted, even though many gay pro wrestlers are accepted, and those conversations are just part of the high school locker room mentality, like racial jokes in the locker room, which didn’t mean members of minorities weren’t going to be accepted.

At times he had [James "Sinister Minister"] Mitchell run interference for him, with Mitchell getting ring rats for both of them, or just for him and he’d brag to the star wrestlers about his sexual conquests, but that felt it never came out right when he’d brag because he couldn’t do it with the fervor they could, because he couldn’t put over enjoying it like they could. He loved having PPV parties at his big house in Atlanta during the WCW days. At one point he went so far as to interview women where he’d pay them $50,000 a year to live in his home and sit with him and hug him during the PPV parties or when guests were over, to make it appear he had a girlfriend, thinking that people would question his lack of a girlfriend. He was going to have her live downstairs and let her live her own life when nobody was around, because he was paranoid of people knowing his secret.

After his injuries in WWE, he wasn't used well, with about the only memorable spot when he came back being on Smackdown on February 13, 2003,when he came out of a crate, dressed as Boy George, singing "Do you really want to hurt me?," which ended with Undertaker laying him out with a sick chair shot to the head. While he kept his sexuality a secret, having that scenario written for him made him think people were on to him. One key WWE decision maker from that period said that despite the coincidence, that he didn’t know Klucsaritis was gay until he made such a big deal out of it after he left the company.

“All I remember from the Boy George thing was he was coached into being more lispy and into it, but wasn’t privy to reasons and such if this was to show him up and fuck with him,” said then-WWE writer David Lagana. “He was never really Vince’s type of guy. Not sure if it was the body or the WCW guy thing. I wasn’t there for the Invasion angle stuff. When I started there, he was in the middle of his injury.

Pro wrestling is a fake sport only enjoyed by dullards who probably think it's real.

Power Rangers is just a junky kids show with no redeeming value that's nothing more than a violent commercial for toys.

If either was enmeshed with the rest of the entertainment industry at the level that they realistically should be, would the mistreatment of their talent go unreported and/or fly under the radar to the degree that they have?  What other examples our intelligent readers think of where working outside of the mainstream allowed X entertainment company to treat its talent less than adequately?

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