1 November 2007
When I first moved to Vegas, it was to work for Eastern Onion there. It was the original franchise, founded by a couple and an entertainer, Marty Shadin, who wrote the songs and put together the routines. Once incorporated, the couple, who were mainly the business end, promptly voted Marty out of any share of profit. I didn't have the same chemistry with the founders as with Nelson in Miami, so I only lasted a week or two. Can't remember what the issue was, but one minute I'm giving what I thought was constructive criticism, and the next I'm turning in my equipment.
In fact, this turned out to be a blessing, since shortly afterwards I went to work with Marty's company, which was much more original. One of the more popular acts was the Macho Playboy Bunny. The most difficult part was finding a pair of heels that would fit my size eleven wide feet. Since there was no make up involved, I did not feel I was in drag, although in later years when I did this for my own company I omitted the wig, falsies and elbow length gloves, which one time I had put the cash payment in then lost in the middle of a casino, then searched in vain for an interminable period of time when I just wanted to get out of there. Have you ever worn heels?
I hung out at a lot of showcases, yet aside from a brief stab at stand up, remained a spectator. When in costume performing a singing telegram, I took charge, the crowd was mine. Veteran Las Vegas entertainers commented that they could not do what I did, being able to get in, get out and somehow get away with it. Helping someone celebrate whatever occasion, I could make everything else stop and revolve around that special moment. My purpose gave me presence.
Actually ran into Buck Henry in a downtown casino. He was cordial enough, but we didn't hang out. Years later, on a visit, while returning from Lake Mead, east of town on the road that went through the mountains, a bit off the side of the road, someone had left a living room overstuffed chair where you could sit and watch the sun set behind the entire Vegas basin. As the lights came on below and the stars came out above, I wondered why the need to pour on the glitz.
May your dice come up smiling,