are my thoughts about people and aspects of the billiard world
that are essential in my mind for others to know about. Perhaps
no one else is going to recognize their significance, but nonetheless
I felt the urge to showcase these people, events and my beliefs
on certain topics within these pages. Please keep in mind I have
a reputation for being controversial, a moniker I treasure.
POOL INSTRUCTOR PAR EXCELLENCE
BILLIE BILLING TEACHES ON TV, MOVIE SETS AND IN
PREEMINENT PRIVATE CLUBS AROUND NEW YORK CITY
started teaching pocket billiards throughout the New York City
area in 1979. By 1980, she had built up an extensive clientele.
A life-long learner of the game, Billie is committed to the art
of teaching pool. She keeps her students interested and makes them
want to learn more by providing positive, encouraging feedback.
Besides having a great deal of patience, she knows that little
steps in learning go a long way. Billie is willing to keep explaining,
knowing that eventually it will make sense. Flexible in her style,
Billie is cognoscente of the fact that everyone learns at their
own pace and have different methods of assessing concepts. Her
students feel comfortable and at ease with her and enjoy having
her as their mentor and coach.
has a way of explaining things in a slow, well thought out manner." conveyed
Julia Barr (Brooke English) after being tutored by Billie, the
consultant on an episode of "All
My Children". "It's almost poetic."
.....Besides teaching at pool halls
around NYC, Billie taught at the Friar's Club, the University Club,
Long Island University and was a consultant for various TV shows
PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ORGANIZATIONAL TALENTS
DRAWS TV COVERAGE
TO WPBA TOURNAMENTS
LEADS TO MAJOR SPONSOR AND ROOM OWNER SUPPORT
THE WOMEN’S POOL PLAYER COMMUNITY
Burden is a housewife from Connecticut. She is not a great pool
player but is a pool devotee. Playing pool gave Betty a method
of getting away from it all. She played at Gold
Crown Billiards and participated for years in the BCA and WPBA qualifiers held
there. In 1979, Betty traveled to Brooklyn, NY to play in a WPBA
qualifier at the 18th Avenue Billiard Room owned and operated by
Ernie Costa. Much to Betty's surprise, she found herself giving
a pool lesson to an ABC TV commentator, Julie London, on the evening
news. Because of Billie's expertise as a public relations specialist
she was able to attract all types of media to WPBA tournaments:
TV, radio, newspapers and magazines.
.....Because the level of play
among women players was amateurish, a different negotiation point
had to be made with room owners in order to entice them into holding
a qualifier and paying the qualifying fee to the association. After
all, holding a qualifier meant giving up profits that could be
made from table time throughout the weekend. Typically, tournaments
were held from 11 AM to 10
PM on Saturday and 11:00 AM on Sunday
sometimes to 2 AM Monday morning. Room owners soon became aware
that by having a WPBA qualifier the organization would bring
much needed publicity to their establishment. Most importantly,
women were key figures in cleaning up the public's image of the
sport of pocket billiards.
her four years as WPBA President, Billie Billing allured TV into
many of the rooms that hosted qualifiers for the women's organization.
She was the first promoter to bring TV to the rooms of Barry Behrman,
Ernie Costa, Sy & Dolly
Eckstadt and John Ogonowski to name a few. All of these pool
hall proprietors told Billie unanimously that this was the first
time, despite all their efforts, that TV coverage of their event
came to their rooms.
THE VELVET CUE STICK
the late 70s and throughout the 80s, the main job of the WPBA President
was to increase the number of players and raise their skill level
which would result in more sponsorship and higher audience participation.
Until that happened the only way to raise prize monies and revenue
for the day to day operations was to convince the manufacturers
and room owners that they would have a public relations vehicle
via the women's pocket billiard tour. Billie created many publicity
stunts to attract the media to the WPBA competitions, notably the "Velvet
Cue Stick" who
made several appearances between 1978 and 1981. A little known
fact was that every time Velvet appeared she was a different WPBA
player. Sometimes tall, sometimes short, Velvet kept the spectators
guessing as to her true identity.
Jon Hasson shaped her game by participating in many WPBA tournaments
during my administration. Entree to competition at an early age,
along with her family's proprietorship of their own pool room
giving her free access to the court, aided her in becoming a champion
in years to come.
.....Loree Jon won over 50 titles, including the prestigious
World Pool-Billiard Association (WPA) World Championship over the
course of her career and was honored five times as "Player of the
Year by both Pool
and Billiards Magazine and Billiards
Velvet Cue Stick was a great entertainer who drew newspaper
reporters and TV newscasters to many events.
of the WPBA NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP
1977, Billie was told by a representative of the men's Professional
Pool Players Association that women pool players would never be
able to garner enough sponsorship or audience support to hold their
own autonomous tournaments. Billie declared right back, "Oh
yes we will!" By 1979, Billie proved them wrong by founding
the pinnacle of the women's pocket billiard professional tour,
the WPBA National Championship, which still stands today.
The first event was held in August at Rudolfo's in Hammonton,
NJ. In appreciation of her achievement the players presented her
with a special award. Here she is congratulated by her brother
Charles who attended the WPBA showcase event.