|that was cool. I didn't mind it at all. I would escape every time. No problem. I was so scrawny I
slipped out of all the knots.
One day while I was tied up on the front yard, my Aunt was visiting and saw me. She
said, "Who do you think you are? Houdini?" I didn't know who she was talking about so I went to
the library and looked under W as in Whodini. I couldn't find anything so I asked the librarian
and she brought me the Walter Gibson Book, Houdini on Magic and Escapes. I read that and it
changed my life.
Did anything else contribute to your future love of magic?
At that time, I went to a school with a big auditorium with raked seating and a red curtain on a
stage. It was a real theater and not a lunchroom. It was truly magical.
The first time I went in there, the audience was dim and the lights were lighting the red curtain.
The principal came out and introduced the show...a magician. It was so memorable. I was
amazed and impressed. The magician made the impossible possible right in the school
auditorium. While the show went on I thought, "I wonder if the magician gets paid to do this?" "If
I could do that, I'd be happy forever!"
I poured through Walter Gibson's book and decided to put together an act. I am definitely going to be a
magician...or Marilyn Monroe.
| Did you ever take part in plays or play a musical instrument?
To do that, you had to stay after school. I had to go home and take care of the kids and make
supper. There was. no one else to do it. My big sister was a bully. Everyone was afraid of her. I
had to do it.
I did start to get together an act that I thought I could do when I got to NY. it was mostly puppets
with a little magic. I was not comfortable in front of people. I found a magic shop in Erie and
bought some props like the Devils Hank and a vanishing candle. I put a Punch and Judy act
together (it reminded me of my life with all the hitting and yelling). I tried out the act a couple of
times for kids and the teenagers heckled me. I then realized that I needed to be in front so I
could handle any situations that came up. I spent a lot of time at the library, learning my craft
from books. It was a safe place.
Did it take you long to save enough money to leave?
My father would find my kitty and steal it. I'd start again. By the time I was 13, I had $3000
saved up and I thought that this could finally work. I also thought that God would guide me
somehow. I found out that my girlfriend's older brother was driving a little red sports car to New
York City to sell to a car dealership. I asked my girlfriend to see if I could go with him and get a
ride to NY. She said "what are you talking about? I explained that I couldn't live here anymore.
This isn't living. I was tired of my dad's actions.
He agreed. I didn't tell my mother that I was leaving. It would have been too hard.
When I got to NY, I called my mom. My dad said that I was not allowed to ever come home.
The guy that drove me never asked me until we arrived, where I was going to stay in the
city. I didn't know anyone. He dropped me off at a newsstand and a grabbed a copy of a
magazine called Show Business. It was like a sign. I was looking in the classified ads to see if
anyone was renting an apartment. I saw an ad from three gals looking for someone to share the
$150 rent. I couldn't believe my luck. I saved up enough money to last a long time.
I answered the ad 444 West 43rd Street (which was in Hell's Kitchen) and turns out that my
roommates were singers, actresses, and dancers. They understood the entertainment business.
I was only 13 but I looked 18 and that was the legal age. Since I had the money for the rent,
they never bothered to ask me my age. I took my one footlocker of all my belongings and
Did they help you get started?
I learned from them how to put on
|makeup and get a resume together. I looked through the
phone book for places I could have worked and wrote my resume which was totally made up.
They taught me that you have to look as if you worked in places before places will hire you.
Usually, no one checks. They also told me to get headshots. To better myself and be more graceful on stage, I also took classes with Phil Black and The Broadway School of Dance.
When I started making the rounds to see the agants, it was the first time I felt free. The city is so democratic.
Everyone is doing their own thing. No one cares about what you're doing. I had no fear because
I didn't know what to fear. Nothing was worse than getting beat up every day. I learned very
quickly that there were a lot of people that you couldn't trust.
My upbringing made me very thrifty. The corner store sold four packs of frozen waffles for a
dollar and that was my breakfast every day. All my roommates were in shows so I would spend
the day figuring out how to get some work and began walking the streets looking for
I lived where there were a lot of agents nearby and I began doing Go-Sees (visiting agents
every day to see if they had any work.)
Did you get immediate work?
In the beginning, they were pretty ugly. They just couldn't see a girl doing magic. One agent
said, "you know, I've got to tell you the truth...you're a great looking gal, just look at you . I could
have you working day and night but you got to take your clothes off. If you could take your
clothes off, people would pay to see that." I would say "thanks" and just go home and cry. This
went on for a while.
I was fortunite to meet an agent named Joe Carroll I handed him my envelope with my picture and resume.
It looked to me like he was going to file it and then he said, "you know what...whenever you are
doing a show, I want to go and see it." I said, "you know what I would really like? I would like to
do something for you. I'm sure you have a job that you want somebody special. I am special.
Thy will love me. He gave me a job and said that I was to do ONLY six minutes.
He loved it. He really loved it. My luck was back. He was a great agent. He had places like the
Waldorf Hotel. He would always try to get us more money than we asked. I really loved working
Then I saw an ad in Show Business magazine