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The next time you’re sitting in an expensive seat at USAir Arena, KenCen, or RFK, look around. Is there a dark-haired, lantern-jawed young man with piercing black eyes who seems to be enjoying himself just a bit more than most? Well, that fellow might be Scott Kerman. And the reason for his cheerful demeanor has less to do with whatever show is going on than with the fact that he’s using the $30, $40, $60 you and everyone else had to spend on a ticket for more important things. Like beer. Kerman saves the cover charge by sneaking into concerts and sporting events—basically anywhere he hasn’t been invited or paid to attend. This may be a crime. It’s also his career.
While hometown fans must be content with their couches and Domino’s, Kerman cleverly worms his way into Super Bowls and World Series. He nibbles catered eats backstage with R.E.M. He schmoozes with Tony Curtis at Spago. Behind the ropes at Jim Carrey’s hands-in-cement Hollywood Boulevard photo-op, he gives Rodney Dangerfield directions to the post-event party—another function that doesn’t have Kerman on the guest list. Kerman counts more than 300 break-ins on his outlaw résumé. He even admits to sneaking into a Billy Joel concert.
When he’s not subtracting from the paid-attendance figures of other entertainers, D.C.-based Kerman is praying for audiences to show up for his own shows as a stand-up comedian around the country. With his high-pitched Boston brogue and balmy grin, Kerman bears a fair resemblance to another Massachusetts native, Jay Leno. And like the increasing list of fellow laughologists-turned-authors—Jerry Seinfeld, Tim Allen, Paul Reiser, Brett Butler, Ellen DeGeneres, Dennis Miller, etc.—Kerman has a book out. All Sold Out! How to Sneak Into Sporting Events and Concerts, published by his own Ya Gotta Laugh imprint, is an instruction manual for others who won’t take scram for an answer.
Not so much written as transcribed from a series of comedy sketches, Sold Out presents “Professor” Scott J. Kerman delivering a lecture on the facts of false entry in chapters headed “Outfits and Props,” “What to Do Once You’re In,” and “Methods Not to Try.” Kerman admits that his primary goal with the book was to prompt laughter. The second was to impress his ill-gotten knowledge upon a world burdened by Ticketmaster service fees. What it lacks in literary finesse, Sold Out makes up for in information specific enough to alarm any self-respecting rent-a-cop.
Kerman is quick to point out that he never resorts to violence to gain access. “I don’t climb over fences. I don’t do any of those things that can get you hurt or arrested.” No common break-in artist, Kerman relies on the power of persuasion: He pretends to be on the guest list, pretends to have a press pass, pretends to be selling popcorn. The book details the triumphs of his will—and how to make them your own.
“I paint a picture of the event—of what you’re going to see and how you’re going to deal with people. And I show you—don’t be intimidated. Just go and do what I tell you to do.”
For instance: Always take the offensive. Act like you are someone who should be inside, and the staff will be more inclined to believe you. Where some might be daunted by imposing venues like USAir Arena, such sites only rate Kerman’s contempt, their security toughs mere “idiots” in “bad red polyester coats.”
“To this day, I go in there with a cellular phone and say I’m here to pick up tape for one of the [TV] stations. Like a cellular phone is so real. I think they cost a penny now.” Acting like a harried media peon with anything but seeing the game on his mind, Kerman forges a fake bond with the working crew. “I’ll say “Spanish network.’ I’ll make shit up.
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“See, I don’t say “can you let me in?’ I say, “I’m here to pick up tape, where do I go?’ I just have to persuade you that I’m legitimate for five to seven seconds. Remember, there’s people [waiting in line].” Equally important is to stick with your story and maintain eye contact. “I can look you right in the eye for an hour and not tell a word that’s the truth,” says Kerman, 45 minutes into our conversation.
“People generally don’t want an antagonistic relationship, unless they’re from New York. They want to let you in. They assume that if you’re there, you must be legitimate. And I continue that assumption all the way through.”
His confidence stems from a lifelong study of event psychology. Kerman claims to have always been an outsider looking to get in. “I always loved to beat the system. I’ve always been a little con artist. I love to beat the big boys,” he chortles.
Another tip: Always get in line. “It legitimizes you,” Kerman explains. “ “Don’t bother me, I’m in line.’ ” Kerman used this technique at this year’s Preakness, for which a buddy had foolishly acquired him lawful entry. (“I sneak in when I have tickets.”) By force of habit, Kerman saw a line and stood in it. He was soon handed a box lunch meant for event staff. In fact, Kerman got the last box lunch—too bad for the six real staffers waiting behind him. (“It had cake and everything.”) With a free meal vouching for his legitimacy, Kerman was given an all-access stamp. He promptly sold his ticket.
But cheaters shouldn’t be whiners, says Kerman. “You never disclose how you got in. You can’t complain that you’re not getting your money’s worth.”
A major sports fan, Kerman justifies his guerrilla actions by attacking the current state of the sports industry, which is alienating the public by putting more events on pay-per-view and cable. “Now a normal middle-class and blue-collar and poor kid can’t even watch these games,” he contends. “Doesn’t it bother you when you go to a sporting event and there are 30,000 empty seats? Why aren’t they filling these with the Boys Clubs? Why aren’t they letting kids who have never been to an event in?”
Kerman continues to press. “So tell me, what am I taking from people? None of my people would buy tickets. People who are going to sneak in could not afford a ticket.” Kerman mocks any sympathy for overpaid athletes and rock stars who make “a million a concert.”
But I confront Kerman with an anecdote from his book about his once having wrangled a “job” as a stadium popcorn vendor, then ditching the tray and finding a seat once the game began. What about that poor working stiff who trusted Kerman to sell his wares?
“I’m there for him,” Kerman says straight-faced. But—you ditched the popcorn! “Right.” Somebody’s got to cover that loss. “Why is that a loss for him? Each vendor has [an individual] relationship with the concessionaire. As much as they sell, they get paid. How am I affecting them? They don’t run out of popcorn! They have an unlimited inventory!” Kerman laughs at my naiveté.
“In your mind of minds, you’re thinking, “Omigod, he’s right! He’s right!’ ” In fact, all I can do is laugh. “I’m not bent,” Kerman insists. “I’m not going to be on a rooftop shooting people. I pay my taxes. I’m a good citizen.”
However deep in denial Kerman is, he also presents an entertaining case. It’s true that people do enjoy a good scam artist. And Kerman is working this new act for all it’s worth. He has made the rounds of local and national TV shows. He stretched what was supposed to be a 15-minute radio interview into two hours and finally a sportscaster job with the station. Last month, Hard Copy flew Kerman to LA and taped him at various concerts and celebrity events persuading police to open locked doors. The show dubbed him “Backstage Bandit.” Kerman refers to himself as “America’s Guest.”
Just how charmed Kerman’s life seems to be—and how modern priorities are set—can be illustrated by the story he tells of sneaking into the 1986 World Series. The Boston Red Sox were playing the New York Mets, a big deal to a Beantown boy. Kerman was inside four hours early. His exuberant face attracted the attention of, not security, but a Boston Herald photographer. The next day, Kerman made the front page. For the final edition, he’d been moved inside, taking most of Page 3. Under his beaming “We’re No. 1” mug, crammed into a corner of the page, was the small headline “Elie Wiesel Wins Nobel Peace Prize.” The story is too sadly absurd not to be true.
But like stand-up and newsprint, Kerman’s adventuring is ultimately ephemeral. He craved the permanence of the bound volume. “I wanted to write a book for one reason. Because a hundred years from now there’s gonna be a flea market and two old women are going to be haggling over whether they should buy my book for a dime or a nickel, and it’s gonna be a dime ’cause it’s signed. My book is going to be a burden to everybody who buys it. It’s gonna be in moving boxes—you can’t throw that book away, it’s a book! I’m gonna travel across the world, my book, my words. ‘Cause it’s a book. I’m gonna be in all these moving vans, I’m gonna be in bookcases. People are gonna leave their coffee on me. I’m gonna be winged across the room at people. Even burned in protest. That’s cool!”
Persons interested in either beginning a life of crime or obligating themselves to the care of Kerman’s work may order All Sold Out: How to Sneak into Sporting Events and Concerts for $8.95 by calling 1-800-507-BOOK.