(Pictured L-R: Anthony DePaulo, retired, international VP, I.A.T.S.E., with John T. Gorey at the I.A.T.S.E Quadrennial convention.)
Five Questions for the IATSE Tradeshow Dept. International Rep
by Jeanne Brei
John Gorey grew up in New York City and became the fourth generation of his family to join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union. He began working as a stagehand at The Metropolitan Opera House in 1989 and his thoughts of the tradeshow industry at that time were, “that stuff is just banjo drapes and a clip-on light.” It wasn’t until he moved to Las Vegas in 2002 that he was sent to work a tradeshow. He vividly remembers working his first tradeshow—CES in Las Vegas—because he not only was part of the rigging team that built the Sony booth but a stage within the booth that was more elaborate than many of the live shows he had worked. One of his favorite memories as a stagehand was working the NFL Super Bowl and several NCAA Final Fours—especially when he got to see Prince perform Purple Rain in the rain during Super Bowl XLI in 2007 in Miami.
He spent six years in the Business Representatives office for I.A.T.S.E. Local 720 in Las Vegas from 2011-2017 and was then hired as an international representative in the tradeshow department of the I.A.T.S.E., 28 years with them so far. He’s the proud father of a 14-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son, happily married to his wife for nearly 20 years.
ECN: What do you like best about your job?
JG: The people. As an international rep for the tradeshow department of I.A.T.S.E. , I get to assist locals around the country, build relationships, attend tradeshows, bring education classes, like our AV Essentials Program and our Customer Service class, to Locals in need. It is great to meet the people who are actually doing the work, a time to listen first hand on what the latest trends and emerging technologies that are happening out on the show floor at the moment.
- ECN: Did you have a mentor? If so, could you tell us a little about him/her and how they assisted you? Are you a mentor yourself now?
JG: I have had so many mentors it’s hard to pick just one—from family members, to my Local One and Local 720 Brothers and Sisters, to Anthony DePaulo, who’s a retired International Vice President, I.A.T.S.E. to Bill Gearns, who’s also a retired International Vice President, I.A.T.S.E. and former director of the tradeshow department. I had the pleasure to work with Bill over the years and always admired the way he handled himself both professionally and personally, he’s one of those guys that you say “they don’t make them like that anymore.” He was the one who brought me into the tradeshow department before his retirement, hopefully I’ll get to catch up with him for a round of golf someday—and that’s just naming a few of my mentors.
- ECN: Do you have something you wish you could tell exhibit managers to make your job easier?
JG: Communication is key.
- ECN: Do you have a favorite tradeshow? Or a favorite tradeshow city? Or a favorite tradeshow memory to share?
JG: I’d have to say my very first tradeshow in Las Vegas—CES—one of the larger tradeshows in Las Vegas. I worked the Sony booth and they put more thought and money into doing a tradeshow than I’ve seen on some TV productions. I was amazed at the elaborate sets, lights—we built a theatre inside of the booth with these large automated entry doors along with some large rigging structures surrounded with a video wall. It wasn’t what I thought would be getting set up at a tradeshow that’s for sure–it reminded me of setting up some stages for the MTV Video award shows at Radio City Music Hall earlier in my career… Needless to say, I was impressed.
- ECN: Do you have any advice for someone just entering the industry?
JW: Run fast and go back to school! Seriously, just show up on time, do your job, bring your tools and be professional. It’s a crazy business, I didn’t see a Christmas, Thanksgiving and most other holidays as a stagehand (I was always working crazy hours and days) until I moved to Vegas–nobody plans a tradeshow on the holidays!
This story originally appeared in the January/February issue of Exhibit City News, p. 48. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_flipbook_janfeb2019web?e=16962537/66750078