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Transcript of interview with Fluff LeCoque by Joyce Marshall, May 5, 1997

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1997-05-05
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This interview is compiled in the bound book version for OH-02270. Born Ffolliott Chorlton in Butte, Montana in 1923, Fluff Le Coque embarked on a career during World War II that would span fifty-five years. Le Coque’s experience as an entertainer started at the age of seven when she began dance lessons during the Great Depression. She expanded her interest in show business at the University of Washington. Attending on a drama scholarship, she performed in theatrical productions and supplemented the scholarship by teaching coordination to university athletes through dance. Le Coque toured as a dancer in a road company during World War II. After the war she came to Las Vegas for the first time. Although she did not consider herself a singer, she performed as a vocalist with the Chuck Gould Orchestra at the Last Frontier. After a brief excursion to Hollywood, she returned to Las Vegas to work at the Thunderbird Hotel as a dancer. It was at the Thunderbird that she became part of the glamour publicity that would help shape the image of Las Vegas. Crowned “Miss Thunderbird,” Le Coque took part in publicity photo shoots designed to attract vacationing customers to the Las Vegas resort casino. While performing at the Thunderbird, Le Coque learned of an opportunity to showcase her talents in a wider arena. She joined a touring company that was preparing to take the production of Hollywood Extravangza to Europe. In Paris, Le Coque took on additional responsibilities in the production end of the business. She served the Hollywood Extravaganza as principal dancer, choreographer, and ballet mistress. On her return to New York, she firmed up her career-long relationship with producers Donn Arden and Ron Fletcher. Le Coque’s association with Arden-Fletcher Productions proved beneficial for an already successful career. She performed as principal dancer for Arden and Fletcher beginning with a six-month engagement at the Lookout House in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the late 1950s Arden wanted her to return to Las Vegas and she accepted immediately. The Las Vegas Desert Inn opened a newly remodeled showroom with Fluff Le Coque as a featured principal dancer. Arden-Fletcher Productions kept a number of performers busy throughout the United States from California to New York. Le Coque, now a valued talent, appeared in the Arden-Fletcher production at the Moulin Rouge in Hollywood. She worked there as company captain and principal dancer for ten years. Following her extended engagement at the Moulin Rouge, she toured the United States and Europe before returning to Las Vegas for good in the late 1960s. Arden again asked her to open a renovated showroom at the Desert Inn and again she agreed. This time Le Coque made Las Vegas her permanent home. She danced until she was forty-five years old and during the later years worked both sides of the stage, as company manager and dancer. Fluff Le Coque retired from dancing in 1970 to enjoy leisure activities and volunteer work. She learned to paint and served as publicity director of the Las Vegas Art Museum. She was wooed out of retirement by Donn Arden, to become company manager of the production show at the new MGM Grand Hotel [later reopened as Bally’s]. At the time of the interview, Le Coque continued to serve as company manager for Jubilee at Bally’s Hotel & Casino. Le Coque’s narrative provides a vivid account of the history of the Las Vegas entertainment industry. In addition to the organization of club circuits during the post-war years, the narrative provides clues about white-black relations during the era. It also informs a wider historical context. Post-war American society underwent significant changes economically, politically, and socially. Expanded work opportunities for women were among those changes. Le Coque’s choice to complete a college education during the 1940s was atypical. Her successful dancing career and later move into production management provides an example of career achievement decades ealier than the majority of American women. By extending her career as a dancer into her forty-fifth year, she resisted the evolving publicity hype that only an ingenue could be a dancer. Her narrative provides a compelling description of both the glamour and physical demands associated with the Las Vegas entertainment industry.

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OH-02269
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LeCoque, Fluff Interview, 1997 May 5. OH-02269. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada. http://n2t.net/ark:/62930/d1891236w

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i An Interview with Fluff LeCoque An Oral History Conducted by Joyce Marshall ____________________________________________ Las Vegas Women in Gaming and Entertainment Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 1998 ii © Las Vegas Women in Gaming and Entertainment Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 1998 Produced by: Las Vegas Women in Gaming and Entertainment Oral History Project Women’s Research Institute of Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-5083 Director and Editor: Joanne L. Goodwin Project Assistant and Text Processor: Dona Gearhart iii iv This recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of the Foundation at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The Department of History of the university provided a home for the project and a wide variety of in-kind services. The department, as well as the college and university administration, enabled students and faculty to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank the university for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing. These measures include the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases, photographic sources (housed separately) accompany the collection as slides or black-and-white photographs. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Las Vegas Women in Gaming and Entertainment Oral History Project. Additional transcripts may be found under that series title. Joanne Goodwin, Project Director Associate Professor, Department of History University of Nevada Las Vegas v Illustrations Fluff LeCoque posing for publicity photo at Thunderbird Hotel, 1951……….frontispiece The following photos may be found following the text: 1. Fluff LeCoque in showroom production number at Desert Inn in 1953 2. Fluff LeCoque as Miss Thunderbird in 1951 3. Publicity Photo of Fluff LeCoque at Thunderbird Hotel in 1951 4. Fluff LeCoque as company manager for Pzazz in 1968 All photographs are courtesy of Fluff LeCoquevi Preface Born Ffolliott Chorlton in Butte, Montana in 1923, Fluff Le Coque embarked on a career during World War II that would span fifty-five years. Le Coque’s experience as an entertainer started at the age of seven when she began dance lessons during the Great Depression. She expanded her interest in show business at the University of Washington. Attending on a drama scholarship, she performed in theatrical productions and supplemented the scholarship by teaching coordination to university athletes through dance. Le Coque toured as a dancer in a road company during World War II. After the war she came to Las Vegas for the first time. Although she did not consider herself a singer, she performed as a vocalist with the Chuck Gould Orchestra at the Last Frontier. After a brief excursion to Hollywood, she returned to Las Vegas to work at the Thunderbird Hotel as a dancer. It was at the Thunderbird that she became part of the glamour publicity that would help shape the image of Las Vegas. Crowned “Miss Thunderbird,” Le Coque took part in publicity photo shoots designed to attract vacationing customers to the Las Vegas resort casino. While performing at the Thunderbird, Le Coque learned of an opportunity to showcase her talents in a wider arena. She joined a touring company that was preparing to take the production of Hollywood Extravangza to Europe. In Paris, Le Coque took on additional responsibilities in the production end of the business. She served the Hollywood Extravaganza as principal dancer, choreographer, and ballet mistress. On her return to New York, she firmed up her career-long relationship with producers Donn Arden and Ron Fletcher. Le Coque’s association with Arden-Fletcher Productions proved beneficial for an already successful career. She performed as principal dancer for Arden and Fletcher beginning with a six-month engagement at the Lookout House in Cincinnati, Ohio, in the vii late 1950s Arden wanted her to return to Las Vegas and she accepted immediately. The Las Vegas Desert Inn opened a newly remodeled showroom with Fluff Le Coque as a featured principal dancer. Arden-Fletcher Productions kept a number of performers busy throughout the United States from California to New York. Le Coque, now a valued talent, appeared in the Arden-Fletcher production at the Moulin Rouge in Hollywood. She worked there as company captain and principal dancer for ten years. Following her extended engagement at the Moulin Rouge, she toured the United States and Europe before returning to Las Vegas for good in the late 1960s. Arden again asked her to open a renovated showroom at the Desert Inn and again she agreed. This time Le Coque made Las Vegas her permanent home. She danced until she was forty-five years old and during the later years worked both sides of the stage, as company manager and dancer. Fluff Le Coque retired from dancing in 1970 to enjoy leisure activities and volunteer work. She learned to paint and served as publicity director of the Las Vegas Art Museum. She was wooed out of retirement by Donn Arden, to become company manager of the production show at the new MGM Grand Hotel [later reopened as Bally’s]. At the time of the interview, Le Coque continued to serve as company manager for Jubilee at Bally’s Hotel & Casino. Le Coque’s narrative provides a vivid account of the history of the Las Vegas entertainment industry. In addition to the organization of club circuits during the post-war years, the narrative provides clues about white-black relations during the era. It also informs a wider historical context. Post-war American society underwent significant changes economically, politically, and socially. Expanded work opportunities for women were among those changes. Le Coque’s choice to complete a college education during the 1940s was atypical. Her successful dancing career and later move into production management provides an example of career achievement decades ealier than the majority viii of American women. By extending her career as a dancer into her forty-fifth year, she resisted the evolving publicity hype that only an ingenue could be a dancer. Her narrative provides a compelling description of both the glamour and physical demands associated with the Las Vegas entertainment industry. ix Fluff LeCoque posing for publicity photograph at the Thunderbird Hotel, 1951An Interview with Fluff LeCoque An Oral History conducted by Joyce Marshall1 It is May 5, 1997 and I am here in the office of Fluff Le Coque at Bally’s Hotel. Fluff, I’d like to start by asking you to tell me where you were born and a little bit about your parents, brothers, and sisters. I was born in Butte, Montana on August 7, 1923. My father was a baseball player and he met my mother in North Dakota, a little town called Warwick, North Dakota. He’d gone there to play baseball every summer after [World War I]. He was in the Navy in the war, and after the war he came back to Seattle, Washington and he became a professional ball player. He wound up on these little circuits that they played, in Warwick, where my mother went to school. He said the first time he ever saw her he knew that this was the girl he was going to marry. So the first trip that he made to Warwick, he didn’t even introduce himself to her. He just followed her around everyplace she went to see what she was like. At the end of that season, he introduced himself to her and then, in turn, spoke to my grandmother and asked if it would be alright if he would correspond with her. My mother was only sixteen at the time. They said, “Yes, it would be alright.” So the following summer he came back and played another season there and they started going out, not really seriously because at that time she was only seventeen. The following year he came back again. Three years in a row he came back and the third time he stayed. After the season was up he gave up his baseball career and he stayed and worked. He pitched hay and did everything he could. Anyway they eloped. Because she was too young to get married, they eloped. They went to Butte, Montana and my father went to work in the mines. He had only had an eighth-grade education but he had a lot of “pssazz” and a lot of “get-up-and-go” and he wound up being the pay clerk for all the miners. He wasn’t sure how to do it all and so he brought it home to my mother and she would help him with that. So that’s where I was born, in Butte, Montana. We lived there about five years and in the summertime my dad would still play baseball 2 with the Clark -- oh, I can’t remember but William Clark owned a lot of big copper mines in Butte. And so they put a baseball team together and they’d play all the touring teams. They also would play with the prisoners there at the big prison. My mom would take me to the games. I was only about two, maybe three years old. And whenever I heard music of any kind, they couldn’t keep me still. I would just start dancing. Well, lots of little kids do that. So during the halftime they would have the prisoner’s band play and I got away from my folks and I ran out on the field and I was dancing with the band and everybody was laughing. They tried to get me off the field and the commissioner said, “No. Just let her go.” Everybody was enjoying it so much. So that was my debut as a dancer. Anyway we lived in Butte, I guess, until about 1928. In the meantime my oldest brother Jim was born and my mother’s father and mother and her brother came to Butte. This was sort of the beginning of the depression time. They all went to work in the mines and my dad went away to chiropractic school. For three years, I think, he was gone. He’d come back in the summertime and play baseball, then he’d go back to school. Then we moved to Seattle and then the depression hit. My grandmother had been a dressmaker so she set up a dressmaking shop. My maternal grandfather had been a pharmacist and also a carpenter, so he made hand lotion. It’s the best hand lotion I’ve ever [used]. To this day I can remember it. Made out of glycerin and rosewater and some other ingredient. I have the formula at home. So he used to peddle hand lotion. My dad wound up working in a furniture factory and eventually my grandfather did too. Anyway we were in Seattle and my youngest brother was born then. That’s where I went to school, in Seattle. I started taking dancing lessons when I was about seven years old from a woman named Ruth White who had a school there. She was a devotee of Isadora Duncan. The next teacher I think I had was Arville Avery, who had been with Fanchon and Marco, the big road company. They had big, big road shows that traveled all over. I went to grade 3 school and high school and eventually college. Did your father ever work as a chiropractor? Yes he did. When we first moved to Seattle, he was working as a chiropractor. But then the depression hit and the man that had the business lost all his money, I guess. He jumped out the window and killed himself. So that was the end of that. You stayed in Seattle and went all the way through high school? Yes. And all the way through college, the University of Washington. I went to the University on an Evergreen Drama Scholarship for four years. At that time they had two theaters there; the theater-in-the-round, which was conceived and built by Glen Hughes. It was the first theater-in-the-round in the entire country. It was called the Penthouse Theater and it’s still operating today and my name is in flagstone in the courtyard. Then the other theater was a legitimate theater called the Showboat. It had a raised stage, a slightly raised stage, and we used to work in the those theaters all the time. If you weren’t acting, you were doing props or scenery or costumes or selling tickets or doing something in the theater. It was really wonderful training because it was like a job. You’d go to class and also during those years I had a dancing school. I used to give the football players ballet lessons. Was that for coordination? Yes. My youngest brother was an all-state basketball player and you know the basketball community, especially in that town at that time. Everything was very small. The coach got wind of the fact that K [Byron] was so good because he also had dance training. So they came and asked me if I would give their football team dancing lessons for coordination. So they could pivot fast, turn fast, and they could jump. So I said, “Sure.” 4 I had this dancing school right on the University Way but the football players would sneak in the back door because they didn’t want anybody to know they were taking ballet classes. That didn’t last very long. Anyway, those two theaters were really, really great. Each play ran six weeks, six nights a week, in length. So during the four years I did a lot of shows. Then you left? Then I left. I left to go to Hollywood. No, before that I left college to go on the road with a little road company. We joined Junior Equity and we went first to Spokane. The guy that put this all together, he and his wife were old vaudevillians and they had done a lot of road shows, tap shows, things like that. So he got the idea of putting this company together and he had all these young kids, you know his wife and himself included. We were all excited. I packed up my trunks and I thought, “I won’t be coming home again.” Now this was during the first years of the Second World War. It was about 1945, I think. I can’t remember the exact dates. Anyway we wound up in Spokane, Washington, which wasn’t too far away from Seattle, in the middle of the winter and we all stayed in the home of one of the young fellows. His mother was a school teacher in Spokane. She had this great big house so we all stayed there. We worked in this theater that was on skid row and it was cold. You’d go into the theater, and they ran movies in the daytime, but inside the theater you’d look up to where the skylight was and all the glass had been knocked out and the pigeons used to roost in there. They’d roost up in the balcony so the balcony was closed. What would happen is all the alcoholics, all the winos and everything on skid row, would buy a ticket to this theater and then they’d go in and they’d sleep all day in there. Right next door was a whorehouse. Well, I didn’t know anything. I was really dumb and stupid, very innocent in those days. We were just really innocent. We’d go to the theater and I’d see all these men going up the staircase to the 5 next landing and I thought, “Well, probably a rooming house or whatever it was.” I found out later that it was a whorehouse up there. And in the basement, the dressing rooms were in the basement. They were really very nice and excited about trying to get this Embassy Company, we were called, this project together. So they were really very nice and they whitewashed all the dressing rooms downstairs because they were really raunchy and old. So they whitewashed them. What happened was, when you were in the dressing room making a costume change and people were upstairs on the stage, as they walked across the stage the whitewash would flake off. So you’d get up there and you looked like you were covered with dandruff. [laughter]. Oh, we had so much fun. We did Arsenic and Old Lace, and we did all the old things that you didn’t have to pay any royalties on. It lasted about three weeks and then one day we went down to get our money at the box office and the woman said, “Well, there isn’t any money here for you.” We said, “There isn’t any money?” They said, “No.” So we went to find the owner of this company and of course he’d split. He just left us all stranded, high and dry. So I said, “I’m not going home. I made my decision. I’m going to go on with my career.” My girlfriend and I, she was about five foot, eleven [inches] and here I am about five foot, four [inches], we decided we would head back to New York. But in the meantime [in 1943 or 1944] we would go stay with her family for a while in Montana and get fattened up, rested up. We had enough money to buy a train ticket so we got on the train and it was a troop train going back east. There were only two seats available and they were at opposite ends of the car. All these kids were going back East, you know, to be shipped out. They were cooking over sterno in the aisles and everybody trying to sleep and oh, it was some kind of a trip. Anyway we got to Montana and we stayed there about three or four weeks. I called home and said, “I think I’d better come home. I don’t have any money.” That was the first time I left home. 6 Then I went back to school for another year on scholarship, again. I worked in quite a few shows and then I left and came to Las Vegas for the first time in 1947. I came here as a singer with a band, at the Last Frontier Hotel. It was with Chuck Gould’s Orchestra and at that time there was only the Last Frontier and the El Rancho Vegas and a place called the Bingo Club, which is now the Sahara. And out on the highway [there was] the Red Rooster, where what’s-her-name -- I can’t think of her name. Her son was Peter Hayes. Mary Healey. No, Mary Healey was married to Peter Hayes. She was quite famous. Of course there was downtown too.1 How did you get this job with the band? I went with the orchestra leader. Well, that’ll do it. That’ll do it. So as well as acting and dancing, you sang. A little bit. I really could not consider myself a singer. I never did. But I looked good and I could play the maracas. In those days every band had a girl singer. That wasn’t my goal in life but I was able to sing three or four songs and play the maracas, and that looked good. How long were you in Las Vegas? 1Le Coque is referring to Grace Hayes. 7 That first time, I was in Las Vegas six weeks. Now the interesting thing at that time, and this was at the Last Frontier, all the movie stars used to come there for the weekends. I saw Gary Cooper, who was my absolute idol, I saw him in the lobby and my mouth just flew open. My knees got weak. He came in with his wife and they were checking into the hotel and I just said, “Hellohhh.” He said, “Hello. How are you?” And that’s it. And there was a famous gambler here at that time called Nick the Greek. Have you ever heard of him? I’ve heard of him. My stint was playing the maracas and singing songs for the dinner show, then they had a floor show and while the floor show was on I would be off the bandstand. So I’d go have a cup of coffee or something to wait until the next band session. Well, in the coffee shop -- I don’t know whether you’re interested in this. Yes, I am. Sitting in the coffee shop, I used to see this man. It was like I was at one end of the room and he was down at the other end of the room. I didn’t know who he was but he was having his dinner and he would stare at me. I was going with the orchestra leader at the time so I wasn’t interested in anybody. But he would just stare at me. This went on for about three nights. Finally one night, the bell captain came up to me and said, “I want to ask you a question. Do you know who that man is?” I said, “No. I don’t know who he is.” And he said, “Well, that’s Nick the Greek.” This is a famous gambler who would stay up three or four nights in a row if he was on a winning streak. [The bell captain] said, “He thinks that you would bring him good luck.” And I said, “He does?” And he said, “Yes. He wants to know if you’ll stand with him at the tables while he’s gambling. You don’t have to do anything, just stand there behind him at the table while he gambles. 8 He said he’d pay you two thousand dollars.” Now I was thinking, “If he stays there all day and all night, what do I do?” Then I thought I’d tell him, “Well, I’m very sorry but I’m engaged.” I didn’t even think about the fact that he might want extra-curricular activities. I really didn’t consciously think about that. Something just told me not to do it. That was a tremendous amount of money. It was. I just said, “No. Please tell him that I’m engaged, and I don’t think my fiancée would approve.” Which wasn’t true, even though I was going with somebody. But something just warned me off. Now you know, Joyce, that was always the case in all the years I ever worked in this business. I never, ever got involved with anybody. That was probably the best policy. Well yes. I never got involved with anybody. Once again, not consciously thinking about it but having seen the girls that did get involved and that they were -- I don’t know, it just didn’t seem right to me. It wasn’t that I was a prude because I was living with somebody and not married. But I just didn’t want to mix my business with pleasure. And you know that paid off very well in the long run because the gentlemen that I worked for -- and they were always gentlemen to me -- knew that they could trust me. And they respected me. They knew that they could trust me, and they knew that I was about business. I wasn’t out for anything else. I was about taking care of my business as a dancer or a company manager or whatever. There were lots of opportunities but I just knew that was not for me. And so it was a good policy. You said something that I’m not real clear on. You were part of this band and then the show came on. 9 Well, in those days they used to have dinner dancing. The Last Frontier Hotel had a dance floor and tables all around the dance floor. The band was up on a slightly raised height about two and one half or three feet. So the band would play music for the people while they danced. You know, had their dinner and then they would ballroom dance on the floor and then after a certain period of time the main show would come on. Two shows a night. The show usually consisted of a line of girls and two acts: a line of girls, an act, the girls did another number and then the star would come on, like Liberace or somebody. That was the format. And that remained the format for a long, long time until the Folies Bergere came here and the Lido de Paris. And that changed it. And then the ballroom dancing stopped? No, they still had dinner dancing but they had the show. It was just a different format. I never knew about the ballroom dancing before the shows. Nobody has ever talked about that. Well I’ve worked the Desert Inn. The Flamingo used to do that. The El Rancho Vegas, the Last Frontier, they all had ballroom dancing while you had your dinner. Then you had your show. So there were only the two hotels on the Strip then? When I first came here in 1947, yes. Then they were starting to build the Flamingo. And after the initial six weeks that I told you about, I went to California and then I came back again. By that time the Flamingo had been built. It was like a two-lane road coming in from Los Angeles. The Strip was a two-lane road and nothing but desert and dirt. What was your impression of Las Vegas and the Last Frontier when you came? 10 Well, being a stupid naive girl I didn’t know anything about gambling or anything. I was awed because it was a place where all the movie stars came. It was glamorous. I had never seen anything like a resort with a pool out there and gambling and all these people would dress in western clothes all day long. Then at night they would get all dressed up in their gowns and be very, very elegant. I was impressed with that of course. But I would never gamble. I still don’t gamble. Never have. Played the slot machines. In my lifetime I might have put three hundred dollars in slot machines. So you left, then, after the Last Frontier. I left after the Frontier and I went to California and worked in Hollywood. Then I came back again to do a show at what was then the Thunderbird Hotel -- the old Thunderbird, not the one that’s there now -- for Hal Braudis and [pause], I’ve forgotten the name of his wife. They used to have a production company. Hal Braudis and -- oh, I can’t say her name -- the girl that was his lead dancer, her name was Emmie, and she had been with a ballet company. She was a beautiful dancer. She wound up having a dance school in Las Vegas for years and years, downtown. She had a ballet school, Jeannie Roberts School of the Dance. And Emmie taught ballet classes for Jeannie at the school. I don’t think she’s in the business anymore. So I worked at the Thunderbird with Emmie for Hal Braudis. What did you do there? I danced in the chorus. When I was at the Thunderbird I got this call saying from some people I had met in Hollywood saying, “We’re putting together a show to go to Paris. We want to know if you would like to do it. If you want to, come into Hollywood and talk to the producer.” So I went in and they hired me right away. So I had to go back and tell Mr. Braudis that I was leaving the company and going to Hollywood. I went to Hollywood and met the producer. He signed me up and then in November -- I’ll have to 11 look up the year -- we went to Paris. They put together this show called the Hollywood Extravaganza. The whole idea was this man, Jerome Madrano who was a Spanish count but he lived in Paris, owned the Cirque Madrano in Paris. His family had owned the Cirque Madrano in Paris. There were only two circuses in Paris. All European circuses were one-ring circuses. One was the Cirque Hiver, which I think is still going, and the Cirque Madrano, which just expired not too long ago. So Jerome Madrono -- his family built the Maginot Line and of course the Germans just walked right over it. Anyway, he had all this money tied up in Paris because of the circus. 2 So that’s what we were doing there. We were getting this show together. They flew me back to New York. I had to pick up twenty American girls. Now I was only twenty-six years old. They sent me to New York with all this money to pick up these twenty girls and arrange for their passports and all this business. I mean, I was clueless. I really didn’t have any idea. Why did they pick you? I don’t know. I think they just felt that I could handle it. So they sent me there and I met the girls. I had to pay their hotel bills. I had to pay all their debts. I had to get them on the plane and ship them off and take care of all this business. And you know, I think God does protect stupid people because I was running out of money. So I had to send a wire to Jerome’s wife in California and said, “I need two thousand dollars to pay off the rest of these bills.” So she said, “Ok. I’ll send it to you.” She sent it to me via Western Union. Well, at the time I was staying in the Roosevelt Hotel right downtown in Times Square and I went, at two o’clock in the morning, I went to Western Union and got two thousand dollars and walked back to the hotel. Do you believe that? And there wasn’t a soul on the street, and nobody in the Western Union place. I mean it would be lucky if I got around the corner in this day and age. But I didn’t think about it. I didn’t think, right? 2End side 1, tape 1. 12 So anyway we made it back to Europe and I was there for about a year. We went to Brussels and we went to some other cities but it didn’t really go. They had so many strikes at the time. We were doing what the contract said. You were contracted for, I think it was twelve shows a week and a matinee on Saturday and a matinee on Sunday. So that’s fourteen shows, and no days off. But you were also expected to do special shows on holidays. Well if you know Catholic countries, there’s a saint’s holiday every week. Not one but maybe six. So I wound up doing three shows a day -- [I was] only paid for fourteen -- three shows a day, seven days a week. Oh, well. [laughter] I learned a lesson. So then after we came back from Belgium -- they had so many strikes there. They had a taxi strike, they had a metro strike, musicians struck. And they never warn you ahead of time “We’re going to strike tomorrow, so you can’t do anything.” And this just went down, and down, and down. And we weren’t getting paid and finally I said, “Look. I’ve got to have some money, or --.” Well, they weren’t going to let me out so I went to the American Embassy and I told them the situation. They said, “Well, you can take it to court but it will take you two years before you ever get heard.” I said, “Isn’t there any kind of protection?” They said, “Do they have your passport?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Well, we can get your passport for you.” Because it was held at the police station. So they got my passport and I said, “Well, I’m leaving. At least if you can’t give me any back salary, please give me my fare home.” Which they did. But then they wined and dined me the last week before I left. They took me all over Paris, all the places to see and everything else, hoping I guess that I would change my mind. But I didn’t. Then I came back to New York. Landed in New York with twenty dollars, got off the boat with twenty dollars in my pocket, and I headed for the Roosevelt Hotel which was the only hotel I knew. I had to pay the cab driver twenty dollars to get my trunk and my luggage from the pier to the hotel. So here I am in the hotel and I don’t have dime. So I get out my best clothes and I go looking for a job. I went to the Copacabana and 13 they would have a job for me in twelve days. I couldn’t wait that long. And I went other places. I finally wound up in the Arden -Fletcher offices, the Donn Arden and Ron Fletcher offices in New York. I said, “I’m looking for work.” And they said, “Well, would you like to go to Cincinnati?” I said, “When?” And they said, “In three days.” I said, “I’ll go.” So I wired my dad for some money. I said, “I’ll pay you ten percent commission if you loan me this money.” He did. And that’s how I wound up at the Lookout House in Cincinnati. Where you met Kim Krantz. She wasn’t Kim Krantz then, she was Kim Perrin. Kim Perrin, right. Beautiful, beautiful blonde. A really lovely lady.3 This is Joyce Marshall. It is May 12, 1997 and we are here in Fluff Le Coque’s office and we’re going to continue our interview. When we left off last time, you were in Ohio. The Lookout House in Cincinnati. It was a very, very famous nightclub at that time. The Lookout House you’d say Cincinnati but actually it was in Kentucky -- Covington, Kentucky. In Ohio they didn’t have gambling and in Kentucky they did have. The Lookout House and the Riverside were both big gambling casinos. Of course they were run by the mob, the Chicago syndicate -- or the Cleveland syndicate rather. The Lookout House was typical of the nightclubs in that era. It had the gambling and a big bar, and they had a dining room-showroom where the stage was raised up so that people could have dinner dancing while they were dining. The band was on the stage and whenever they finished their dinner, usually when desert was being served, then the show would start. And the same old format -- a line of girls would do an opening production then 3Kim Krantz was interviewed by Joyce Marshall in 1996. See Kim Krantz Interview, conducted by Joyce Marshall (UNLV: Las Vegas Women in Gaming and Entertainment Oral History Project, 1997). End side 2, tape 1. 14 they’d have an act, then the girls would do another production and then usually the star came on. And that would close the show. So it was like two dance numbers that the girls did. And we did two shows a night and seven days a week. We didn’t have any days off. And we changed shows. Every two weeks they’d have a new headliner in. And sometimes it would be every week they’d have a new headliner in. So that usually meant that the dancers would be rehearsing in the daytime and performing at night. And if it was a change of show every week, that’s what would happen. If it was a change of show every other week, then you would have at least one week off where you were only working at night and not in the daytime. But we worked seven days a week. We never had a day off. The format was usually a male production singer and a line of girls -- eight to ten girls. And so I stayed there for about six months doing different shows. And this was all for Arden-Fletcher Productions, based out of New York. While I was there, I heard that the Desert Inn was re-doing their showroom. Their original showroom, the Painted Desert Room, was exactly like this format -- you know they were all over the coun