SUNSET BLVD Nights

Program, and my fav souvenier

Program, and my favorite souvenirMy

My Life as a Teen in Las Vegas was actually quite great. I had sung in three bands and they all were  very popular. The last one, Free Circus,was mostly originals and we opened for many big acts. Santana, Iron Butterfly,Three Dog Night,  Steppenwolf,and Grateful Dead to name a few.  If our organist Danny Barnett had not been drafted, we would have gone on to be recording artists. The songs were that good.  We all decided to part ways because we didn’t feel it would be possible in those days to find a B 3 player.   Therefore, I found myself on a plane back to where I came, and was staying in a Hollywood Motel waiting to get an audition. 

I cannot mention the name of my agent, because he wasn’t very well behaved.  This was before cell phones, and life was harder to navigate.  With a lot of time on my hands, I was at a local market to get some food for my room, when a very Dark haired unkept man, was following me around.  I turned and surprised him and said,,’Hi, Are you thinking I am someone you know?’  He mumbled something and asked if I were an actress?   What a line that was in 1969 in L A !    Everyone was an actor, everywhere!   He said he knew the Beach Boys and named some others I didn’t really pay any mind.  He caught me outside and said he would play me a song,,I kept my distance, and heard the song. It was actually ok. He also invited me to his ranch, where I could ride, and even stay there, it was a commune.  Now, I am not high maintenance or anything, but I DO like showers and that fresh fresh feeling of A C,,,so I declined the invite.     A few months later,  I saw this guy on the News,,, His name was Charles Manson… ok.. Welcome Home to L A !

I escaped the escapades of the Manson Family only to  have to deal with my agent. He dropped in on me, and asked for a neck rub. I wasn’t born yesterday, and I got that sense of urgency to get away from his claws as soon as I could. .    I was tearfully afraid and not wanting to be thrown out on the street, I rubbed his neck, 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,  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 did have an audition on my Calendar..This was for a Broadway Musical at 6230  Sunset Blvd, the Aquarius Theatre. This had been the Earl Carrol Theater when I was a kid.. My Dad played drums there. I was excited even though I knew very little about this Play,,’Hair’  I knew some music had been quite famous on the radio.    

prepared for this audition very carefully. I went shopping in thrift stores.  I got some Jean Harlow satin flow pants,  easy to find in Hollywood in 1969!   Then I made another flowy top out of fabric,,,headband and flower to top it and I was set.  I had wanted the clothes to move when I did and be a big part of my song.  I had my sheet music and my attitude,,,and felt pretty good.

A few days before I had met another person in the market, a sweet little girl, named Heather Bloom.  Mrs. Bloom was desperate for a nanny. Someone to live in, and walk her daughter to and from School and help her with homework and dinner. My life was falling into place!  I could now plan to leave the clutches of the agent, if I got this job or not!.  My audition was in a day or so, and I told Mrs. Bloom, that I would call her.

.  arrived at the Theatre, and took my seat on the stairs of the lobby. There must have been around 75 people. It was a closed audition I think, because I had been there through the agency. My Name was called, and I went into this magnificent Theatre, and the Stage was so nice and the band pit  was onstage, I had never seen that before. There were rafters, and stairs, and the seats were just gorgeous. I gave the pianist my music, and sang my heart out.  They asked me to dance, and I did,, then a time step, Thanks Mom, for the tap lessons…I would have to wait for a call back.  I walked through the seats where they had watched me,, The most gorgeous man asked me if I had a problem with nudity…he was Teddy Neeley,,,I had NO idea there was a nude scene, but I dreamily looked at him, and said,, ‘I am not ashamed of my body’ Who AM I??? Why did I say that?  well, I said it and it was true, my family was very modern,,, skinny dipping etc. I think Teddy was the most gorgeous man I had ever seen.. that is my recollection of my first audition.

I called Mrs. Bloom and decided to move in, since a callback isn’t a job!    I just loved working for her,, crazy about Heather,, I was only there a week, when I received a call,, No Call back,, I WAS HIRED,,I started right away.. OMG.   I called my parents, my mom sounded odd,,, I blurted it out. I was Hired,, I am in HAIR. My Mom said that’s terrific sweetie,, but  your Grandad died in San Fransico today, Heart attack,, BAM.  My mom lost her daddy, and it was one of the best days of my life.

I felt awful  for mom, and I didn’t kn ow hat I could do, so I focused on my phone call before,,, when I heard:

“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.”

the tickets for Hair

Tickets for Hair

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,  She moved all of my belongings  over to her place and I was farther  away, with no car, but she drove me to work. Here I am in Beverly Hills and livin the life… THEN things got even BETTER…..

tony good - jessica kluger marciel

Tony Good and I at the opening of LION COUNTRY SAFARI

Jen and I went to Jeans West on Sunset. A George Harrison lookalike  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  town! Next to Teddy, that is,,,

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 Welchmany big names. Hugh Hefner‘s personal assistant from  Chicago Bobbi Arnstein  was a big client. Bobbie did not drive, so when she she not come to the shop in a limo, Tony would drive her to the Mansion.  That’s how Tony and I got to go to parties at the Playboy Mansion, because of her. She was so nice, and tiny, and very cool.  She hadn’t had good luck with Men, her recent boyfriend Ron Scharf was a drug dealer, and with the FBI trying to bust Playboy for obscene content, they harassed her  and indicted her along with Ron on a Drug  deal, and thinking they would get to Her  through her, they killed her. Hefs personal secretary, Mary O Connel, tried to help Bobbie. They all did. 

Not literally, but she killed herself, when she was in trouble with Ron. She was going to jail, and couldn’t cope.    It was all so so tragic.  Tony and I lost a few friends to drugs in those few years we were together. It kept me away from drugs except for an occasional high when I wasn’t working. Nothing deadly.

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!

While there, I met people such as David and Keith  Carradine, their girlfriends Christina Raines and Barbara Hershey, Karen Black, and many colorful characters.

Sly and the Family Stone

Sly and the Family Stone

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, after the matinee  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.  To Be Continued

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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