Homeless, yet living in the finest hotels

homelessWhen I was in my twenties, I traveled for 85% of the decade.  When we were “Commonwealth”, we toured the Playboy Clubs and Marriott Hoteis. There was no need to set up housekeeping in any city because all you did was sleep in hotels.

I found that a trunk, instead of suitcases, enabled me to carry a crock pot, a skillet and spices. Yes, I did, I cooked my meals  in my room. The guys would sometimes come over after the show for whatever concoction was simmering and melting with the spices and vegetables in my room.

It used to be “all healthy things.” I was a vegetarian, as a teen and only dabbled with fish or meat infrequently in my lifetime. I also had a large arsenal of books, to keep me company at night, until Jorge Casas the bass player , arranger and songwriter became my love and roomie.

But, even before Jorge was my BF, he influenced what books I read. He turned me on to the classics, PBS , and fine living. Maurice, the leader, from London also influenced my reading. They thought American girls were under-educated, and they were right in my case!

I took my dog, a one-eyed shitzu, named Sammy Davis with me when I was with Spiral Starecase. I gave up the trunk and crock pot and took my dog. It was so nice to have a furry little friend on the road when it is a 12 piece horn band and you are the only girl. I remember working Buffalo, and it was freezing when I had to take Sammy out to do his business.

It was always lonely on the road, except for that one time when Jorge and I had a life together. That was a minute in time. the other years, it was a lot of books, insomnia, and  dates with sometimes very strange people. For Instance, I was at The Chicago Playboy Club, and we all went out after work to see Linda Clifford and her band.  Nightlife was great in Chicago, you could party all night.

Soul Train - Don Cornelius

Soul Train – Don Cornelius

Guess who i wound up with, dancing, and then going to breakfast?  Souuulllll train’s Don Cornelius. He was a nice man, and took me out for the best pizza i ever had, { well, it was Chicago}  we had a wonderful evening, a long dinner, and then he asked if I wanted to see his penthouse.  Yeah, I was dying to see where this icon lived.  He drove me to a high-rise and valet-parked. We rode a private elevator to his beautiful, very clean, penthouse. He showed me around, never once touching me. Asked me if I wanted to stay over. I really didn’t have those feelings so I declined, and he was a perfect gentleman. Probably very sorry he wasted his time on me! He drove me back to my hotel, and we said farewell.

Another Chicago time, there was a very blonde very tall, very handsome Swedish guy who eyed me for 2 or 3 nights on stage. I finally went over to meet him. he had a thick accent, and we went to a late dinner. Lunch the  next day, and dinner again. He said he was in town for the week. we spent every day and night of the rest of his stay.

On the last night of his visit, he said I was so nice and he felt so badly about lying to me. I said “Oh no , you aren’t married?” He said “No, worse, I’m American. I only pretended because girls go for it.” I was livid. I could not believe how stupid I felt. It was a long time before I dated on the road again. In fact shortly after that, was when Jorge and I started looking at each other in a different way, and got together.

Being on the road is hard enough but being a woman on the road is murder. I can’t believe I survived it.  I read a lot of books, met a lot of kooks, but also some very nice people. In Memphis Tennessee, I dated a really cute younger guy who I would fly back to see on my days off. He looked like Paul McCartney and was so nice and really fun. So, the road was good, and the road was bad. But it made me the person I am, and gave me the stories to tell here on my blog posts!  The road was great after I had a partner , in Jorge,  before that it was awful!  Thank goodness, We are still good friends. forever. 

Mr. Hefner, working for your organization was heaven, and I miss the clubs, the shows, and the bunnies. This is a new era and superior venues for musicians are few and far between. I miss living in the Playboy hotels a bit. Takes me back to write about it. Thank you Irving Arthur who booked us, if you are still with us. Thanks to all the agents, Bobby Morris, who kept me working my entire young life.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

It’s all about the ‘juice’ – Wayne Newton and more

In the 60’s and 70’s, you had to know someone to work in Las Vegas. In the 60’s. I was too young for casinos  and didn’t care, because I was rocking the concert scene as an opening act, in big arenas.We were the “FREE CIRCUS” and quite good. Performed mostly originals, some covers. Opening for Santana, Three Dog Night, Cream, The Grateful Dead, Steppenwolf, Electric Prunes, Sweetwater, and every super-group that played Las Vegas.

Wayne Newton

Wayne Newton

Then I was in plenty of lounge groups as the “chick singer”, The Sunshine Company, Spiral Starecase, and Commonwealth, the best group that toured the Playboy clubs. I got plenty of life lessons from living on the road, touring all the clubs, and living out of a suitcase.

When my bass player boyfriend in Commonwealth, Jorge Casas wanted to go back to Miami to finish his college degree, I was opening for Gallagher at the Marina Hotel, and we kept getting held over week after week after week. I just didn’t want to leave. He went to Miami, got his degree, paid his dues and in the 80’s was discovered by Emiio and Gloria. Jorge has been with Gloria Estefan ever since!!!

After the Marina showroom engagement ended, it was time to really roll up my sleeves, and make a name for myself. Ha! I couldn’t get arrested. No One would even give me an audition.

The entertainment directors were not interested in me at all. At that time, my dad , Irv Kluger, was the vice president of the musicians union.  He suggested I call Wayne Newton for “juice.” That is what we call a connection, in the biz.

Wayne had wanted to import a musician from out of state, and dad gave him the OK, so he owed daddy one. And he liked daddy. I called Wayne using dad’s name. He told me to come see his show that night , visit his dressing room with a demo and he would see what he could do.

I was 26 or 27 and dressed up pretty hot, and played him my demos. He called in Walter Kane (Howard Hughes’ right-hand man), then in charge of all Summa hotels. Walter loved me, and told me he wanted to see my group on Monday at the Frontier Hotel. I put together a quartet, rehearsed a few tunes, and voila!, an open ended contract with Summa. We worked mostly at the Sands Hotel as “Jessica and Fantasy” I hired a public relations representative, Judy Gold. We worked non-stop for 2 years. My name in lights, and even on the Sands postcard!

Even with all that publicity, tv, radio, news print, when Summa started selling off the hotels, we were let go, and guess what, I couldnt get arrested!!!  AGAIN!!

I wound up auditioning for Donn Arden and driving to Reno for the big production show “Hello Hollywood Hello” at the MGM Grand Reno. After that, “Casino De Paris” at the Dunes.

Without juice, my name was never in lights again.

When you hear the term: show business, the business can be nasty. It is all business and don’t ever forget it. Learn from it and remember that who you know is often more important than what you know.

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