I seemed to breeze through my first audition for ‘HAIR’ But had a call-back so had to wait a few more weeks, to know if I was hired. This wouldn’t have been a problem if not for my agent. He had started taking me around, looking for an apartment for me.
I hadn’t yet done the call-back for HAIR probably could not afford an apartment. That is when the agent said,
“Oh no, you don’t understand, I get you the apartment, you have all the freedom you want, I will always call first when I come over to spend the night!”
Back at the motel, he came In with me, lay down on the bed, and asked me to rub his neck. I was tearfully afraid and not wanting to be thrown out on the street, I rubbed his back, and then I started to cry. He tried to grab me, and get close, and I freaked out and just started crying. He was mad, He told me he would give me a few days to be out! I am so fortunate to not have been raped. I was a very frightened girl, and had lost touch with my Los Angeles school friends from the time I spent growing up here. I never felt so alone.
I had met a young woman and her little girl in the market. Her name was Mrs. Bloom. Her daughter was Heather. I went to a phone book, and looked for her number. She needed a live in babysitter… like–yesterday! I asked her to PLEASE come and get me. I rang up the theater and gave them my new number.
What a relief, I would walk her to school, then pick her up and make her a snack and that’s it. I loved it. Then came my callback to HAIR, I thought I did all right, and on my way past Ted Neeley, he said “Jessica, Hold On… How do you feel about nudity?” I WAS TAKEN ABACK, I had no idea it was a play with nudity. I said very confidently, ‘I am not ashamed of my body’ Ta Da DUM
What kind of play was this? I had never seen it, I was so busy with my bands and concerts. I made it back to the Bloom apartment, and resumed life, there. Then a few days later, the phone rings,
“How would like to start rehearsal tomorrow? You will have to go to Actors Equity and join, and sign the papers, so, can you start right away.”
I am IN! I am in HAIR; the biggest musical of the decade. ME, right out of high school! How lucky can I be!!!! BUT, I had to tell Heather and her mom, I had a job. She said I could stay awhile, but I had no car, and needed to be closer to the theater to walk to work.
I chose the Hollywood Bowl Motel. It had a community kitchen, and I hated to go out and eat alone. To say I was lonely was the understatement of the century. I was so lonely, that my record albums were my friends. Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Joni Mitchell. It took awhile, but I finally made some friends in the show.
I was at a shop, somewhere on the Sunset strip, when I ran into Jennifer Joseph, who, in Vegas was the band manager for Free Circus. Her dad owned an apartment building on Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills.
She asked, ‘Where are you living?‘ I said, ‘the motel,’ she responded, “NO way, you stay with me.” Great, Here I am in Beverly Hills and livin the life… THEN things got even BETTER…..
Jen and I went to Jeans West on Sunset. A George Harrison lookalike man appeared; in tight jeans and gorgeous hair and eyes, walks over, “Hi Jennifer, who’s your friend?” … “Oh, Tony, this is Jessica, we went to school together and she is in Hair.”
Our eyes locked and I swear, I was going to marry him! He asked for my number, “Jenn, what’s your number??” She had helped me move into her apartment in Beverly Hills, and now I had the hottest guy I had seen in the town!
THANK YOU Jennifer Joseph! Well, you wouldn’t know it to look at him, but he was 36 years old… hmm.. My folks were gonna love this! I was only at Jenn’s about a month when I moved back to Hollywood to live in Tony’s flat off Hollywood Blvd. We were happy and in love.
After a few months, Tony was offered to go across the Sunset Strip and manage North Beach Leather, good for him, because he was from the San Francisco Bay Area, and was familiar with the store. He had clients like Sly and the Family Stone, Raquel Welch… many big names. Hugh Hefner‘s secretary was a big client. That’s how Tony and I got to go to parties at the Playboy Mansion, because of her.
Life was great, a trip to Santa Barbara to see HAIR producer, Michael Butler, play polo. Whiskey A Go Go nights, and so much to do. We hit the MGM auction… wow, the Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of OZ!
I loved being in the show, and was promoted to the role of teeny bopper, Chrissy, who sang ‘Frank Mills. ‘ I understudied the fabulous Jeannie role played by Teda Bracci, and even got to perform that role one night!.
Tony and I really bonded with Red Shepard and his lady Karalee Phillips. She and I are still friends, and I call Red in Texas when I can. We had parties at their rented mansion. Big parties! lots of fun, and vegetarian food. We cooked all day for these parties. Crazy, wild people and lots of film stars. You have never seen so much Fettucine, date nut bread and salad in ONE house! And we rode in a Rolls Royce to the market!
I almost got busted with Sly of the Family Stone. One night Tony was locking up. Sly came to pick up a coat. His car wouldn’t start, we said we would give him a life. He said he had recording equipment in the car, so we started to put it in our car. Just then the police saw what we were doing and pulled in the lot. We were cuffed and knocked onto the hood of the car. I was terrified, Sly had coke in his car, and he swore to them we were not with him, they let us go, Close call.
One September night, a Sunday, with the show dark on Monday, Tony and I left for Las Vegas to see my mom on her Birthday. It was very very windy out in the desert. When we stopped in Baker for a bite to eat. Tony said he was tired, and asked me to drive. I took the wheel and the last thing I remember was a big swoosh, and the car spinning. I woke up in the hospital four days later.
Tony had broken his collar bone, but I had fallen out down an embankment and over the controls and broke every bone in my body. A trucker saw the headlights on and called 911. He saved our lives. I had been in a coma. When I was moved to a room, I remember Ted Neeley came to see me. Wow, I will never forget that. My injuries were pretty serious and my time in the show was over. It was shortly after this we were told we were closing! So sad. I was allowed to sing Frank Mills on my crutches in the very last show. Then we cut an album, for a memory of the great Los Angeles cast.
After my recovery I started acting school, and we had a house in Nichols Canyon. We lived off our savings and disability, then unemployment. Life was still good, I kept in touch with Red and Karalee, and Red had started REVOLUTION RECORDS, with Michael Butler. I sang on a few albums for him, including a rock version of Handel’s Messiah. Got to meet and work for Clydie King, the queen of the background studio singers. It wasn’t until I moved back to Las Vegas that show biz became un forgiving, and quite tough.
So, I will start my next post as I move back to Las Vegas and where my path goes from there!
Las Vegas Vocal Training