January 11, 1999 12:00 PM

When it comes to performers, there’s the good, the bad—and the acts handled by Chuck Harris Known around Hollywood as the man who’ll manage talent no one else will touch, he specializes in “unusual people,” as he puts it. “I hate to call them freaks,” says Harris, 60, who books his hundred clients everywhere from Letterman to Las Vegas. “The word takes away from the element of class these kids have.”

Like: the Great Regurgitator, who swallows an unsolved Rubik’s Cube and appears to cough it up solved. Or Mr. Methane, who toots the refrain to “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” out the far end of his digestive tract. “He keeps a dignity to it,” Harris insists. “I’m not some small-time guy peddling one-legged dancers who can’t dance. I’d make sure the guy could dance.”

The Philadelphia native began honing his artistic sensibilities at age 5, when he joined his father, vaudevillian Chuck Miller, in a song-and-dance routine. Later he had small roles in 14 films and numerous TV series, including That Girl, did stand-up on USO tours and hosted variety shows. He turned to managing in 1987, when an agent friend referred a performer he found “too weird.” That was Christopher (his only name), who was then dancing with a line of puppet replicas of the Jackson Five and now works with four ersatz Village People. Harris took him from performing for free to making up to $2,500 a gig.

To Harris’s four grown sons (by two ex-wives), their old man’s a hero. “He is like an angel in the corner for the losers,” says the youngest, collegian Adam Miller, 20. “They are the guys who no one wants, but he gives them respect.”

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