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In 1905, promoter Eddie Johnson goes to Coney Island to find his rival and pal, Joe Rocco, who cheated him out of his share of the carnival they ran together. Eddie is determined to obtain a share in Joe's new saloon, which features singer Kate Farley, but after Eddie denigrates Kate's low-class style, Joe orders him to leave. Eddie then persuades his friend Frankie, who runs a sideshow featuring a tattooed woman, to allow him to turn it into a "Turkish Harem" with dancing girls. Kate, who is mad about Eddie's earlier insults, heckles him, but his idea is a smash and draws away Joe's customers. When Kate informs Joe about Eddie's success, he sends his thugs to destroy the place. In retaliation, Eddie and Frankie instigate a huge fistfight in Joe's saloon, and during the fracas, Joe accidentally knocks out Finnegan, a lovable souse. Eddie and Frankie spirit Finnegan away and give him money to go to Atlantic City for a month, then stage a fake funeral for him. Eddie convinces Joe that he killed Finnegan and threatens to turn him over the police unless he is allowed to make over and run the saloon. Joe reluctantly acquiesces, although Kate is more resistant when Eddie attempts to tone down her garish costumes and frenetic singing. Eddie's methods are successful, and within two weeks, the saloon's business has tripled and Kate is a hit. One afternoon, Finnegan appears in the saloon, and Joe figures out Eddie's ruse, but decides to bide his time to exact revenge. As the weeks pass, Eddie and Kate fall in love, and Eddie makes plans to open his own nightclub. Joe grows jealous of their romance and argues with Eddie, who reveals his plans to leave and take Kate with him. In order to prevent Eddie from getting Kate, Joe is willing to give her up himself, and writes to Broadway impresario William Hammerstein, who comes to hear her sing. Eddie and Frankie conspire to get her out of the saloon that night, however, and when Joe learns that Kate has missed her audition, he tells her that Eddie is only using her. Crushed, Kate accompanies Joe to Hammerstein's theater the next day to sing for him, but reconciles with Eddie when he apologizes. They prepare to marry that afternoon, but Joe again comes between them by hiring an actor to tell Kate that Eddie has secured a bank loan for his club by using her singing services as collateral. Kate is devastated and breaks up with Eddie, despite his pleas of innocence. Later, Hammerstein stages a show starring Kate, and Joe, who acts as her business manager, proposes to her. Kate gently refuses, and when Eddie appears backstage that evening, he tricks Joe into revealing that he broke up their wedding as an astonished Kate listens. Kate returns to the stage, but after the finale, Joe sneaks Eddie into the orchestra to play the piano. Kate realizes that Eddie is there, and the couple smile at each other as she sings a romantic ballad to him.