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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