Variety Terminology

In 1928, the year-old Variety Club decided to hold a small celebratory banquet on Armistice Day, November 11th in the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A few days before the affair, the guest list increased from 35 to over 75 people and the original party room became too small to accommodate the growth. The only other room available was a three-story high ballroom which held 1100 people. A desire to not lose party-goers in this immense space inspired classic entertainment business improvisation and the area was quickly transformed.

A circus tent was pitched in the ballroom complete with a saw dust floor, circus acts, side shows, and a circus barker sketched onto the menu. Pleased with the results and noticing the great connection it had with show business, the 11 members of the Variety Club decided to adopt the circus motif.


The vernacular of the circus is employed in the Variety structure with the Chapters called “Tents” and the members “Barkers.” The Board of Directors of Variety International, their Associations, and Tents, are called “Crews,” as they are relied on to “build” our Tents worldwide. They are composed of the following elected officers:

  • President – “Chief Barker”: Calls or attracts people to the Tents
  • Vice Presidents – “First and Second Assistant Chief Barker”: Provide assistance in attracting members
  • Treasurer – “Dough Guy”: Literally the “dough” (slang) or “money” guy
  • Secretary – “Property Master”: Is responsible for crew needs
  • Publicist – “Press Guy”: Handles all publicity and press releases
  • President Emeritus – “Big Boss”
  • International Office – “Big Top”

Variety published a bi-annual magazine distributed by the Variety International Office called “The Barker” which highlighted Tent programs and news worldwide. It is now called the “Heart of Variety” magazine.