I liked Suzi’s English accent and her straight –forward, confidant manner immediately. She also seemed to know a lot about the music business though, at the time, I had no idea who her husband had been or what kind of life she had once lead. “I love red hair,” I recall her saying. I’m sure I was polite enough to say, “thank you,” but I was too clueless to grasp the reference.
Suzi and I had instant chemistry: she was no-nonsense but fun– and boy, could she do a blow out! As the years passed, I couldn’t imagine doing a gig without her.
She did my hair, helped with costumes, drilled me on my patter; she was also incredibly encouraging, even when I wept in despair and asked her to collect applications for me for Columbia Teachers College.
Suzi introduced me to her friends, among them the legendary rock photographer, appropriately named Mick Rock. Mick shot Bowie, Blondie, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Motley Crue, Kate Moss, Lady Gaga— oh, and Isabel Rose, not just once, but twice.
“He’d do anything for his Suzi,” he always said.
“You need to record,” Suzi said one day.
So I did.
Swingin’ from the Hip, my debut album, got some great reviews.
It was even named one of Theatermania’s Top Ten albums of the year. I was compared to Ann-Margret by JazzTimes and applauded by iTunes. I did a bunch of radio talk shows and sold out Joe’s Pub and The BlueNote in New York City. I even got booked at Catalina’s Jazz Club in LA, but nothing really happened once I got home and took off my make up.
It was impossible to book anything more than a one-off, and you can’t build a following on one-off’s.
I became disheartened. In fact, I made the decision to focus full-time on my writing career. I moved to East Hampton for the summer and left my sequined costumes and false eyelashes behind in the city.
It felt good. It felt like the right decision.
I was at peace.