By Liz Tracy
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By Abel Folgar
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Parents, there's a new menace out there waiting to take over your child's life. No, it's not Internet porn or R-rated movies or even the superbug. It's worse. Miley Cyrus is on the loose, and no one can seem to stop her. She's lurking in the hallways, hiding in the bushes, and dying to max out your credit card one concert at a time.
You could consider the hysteria regarding 14-year-old Cyrus overblown, but whenever the highly talented yet still overrated star of Disney's Hannah Montana rolls into town, if your kids aren't at the concert, chances are they'll hate you forever.
There's a good number of parents in South Florida who are feeling the sting right now, because last night, Cyrus and her "Best of Both Worlds" tour hit the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise in front of a sold-out audience.
And unless you're in good with a ticket broker or that Almighty Scalper in the Sky, chances are your kid wasn't there.
If you think the J-Lo and Marc Anthony tour or even the Police were the hottest concert tickets of 2007, guess again. Those folks are ancient. Dinosaurs. Strictly entertainment for those with one foot in the grave. A bubbly teenager, barely old enough to have a pimple, is the most sought-after ticket thus far — and it's also one of the priciest.
When tickets for the "Best of Both Worlds" concert first went on sale several months ago, with a face value of roughly $60, they sold out in minutes. Up until last night's show at the BankAtlantic Center, those same tickets were being scalped online for as much as $2,200.
That's an astronomical markup, and it's got a lot of parents ticked off — some of whom are filing lawsuits across the country against Ticketmaster — and it's got Hannah Montana Fan Clubs angered because its members didn't get any sort of preferential treatment. People are also upset about having to deal with brokers or forking over a mortgage payment just to gain entrance to a kiddie concert. Sure, it's ridiculous, but it's the only resource a lot of people had left after trying to get tickets the traditional way proved fruitless.
It's not surprising that Cyrus' first major tour would become a smash success. She's got cute looks, a famous father (she's the daughter of country star Billy Ray Cyrus), and a stranglehold on Americans between the ages of 5 and 17, with her bubblegum pop lyrics and teeny-bopper sass. So, of course, the chances were slim that Joe Blow was going to wind up with a ticket in the first place. Brokers are using automated computer bots to snap up seats by the hundreds — and unless you're faster than a computer chip, the odds are not in your favor.
Sandra Groody of Lighthouse Point thought she had a foolproof plan to make sure her kids would get to enjoy Cyrus in concert last night. Through strategy and wit, Groody had a small team working the phones and the Internet to ensure that her 13-year-old daughter, Heather, would have tickets as a birthday gift. They assumed their plan couldn't fail.
"The minute they went online, at 10 a.m., I called Broward Ticketmaster trying to get whatever was available," Groody says. "My husband called New York; then we called Texas while my 18-year-old son was on the Internet trying to do all of this online. We finally got through in Dallas, but there was nothing. Meanwhile, as crazy as this sounds, another friend of ours was calling at the same time, so there's three of us calling simultaneously all around the country and one working the Internet — to the second that these tickets came out. And we couldn't get anything."
In today's roboscalper wars, you're not just competing against everyone in your hometown to be first in line; you're competing against everyone around the world.
According to Jupiter Media Matrix, a research firm, Internet ticket scalping is a $1.1 billion industry that shows no signs of slowing down. Concert tickets like those for the "Best of Both Worlds" tour are bought, sold, rebought, and resold like any commodity on the stock market. Sites such as Stubhub and Tickets.com are making it increasingly difficult for the average consumer to buy anything at face value. It was only a matter of time before these sites homed in on the kiddie market. Next, you'll see scalpers outside your local mall at Christmastime, hawking tickets to sit on Santa's lap.
Conventional thinking would lead some to believe that joining Cyrus' fan club would somehow give you an advantage over the machines, but that too has proven false.
Fort Lauderdale parent My Warhaftig says that she joined the Miley World Fan Club for the specific reason of getting tickets for the show. After paying $25 in annual dues, hoping her 10-year-old daughter, Shayna, a student at Bayview Elementary, would have a jump on the competition, she was shocked to find out that even presale tickets were "sold out" — an oxymoron whose gaping misrepresentation of the truth is not lost on Warhaftig.
"You can't even have a child go to a venue without such a heavy price to pay these days," she says. "It's America at its worst."