My eventual goal in show business is to host a talk show that airs in a tiny little square at the top of the screen on the TV Guide channel.
Berri Lee, the guy who books and MC’s this room at the River Palms is a pretty amazing guy. He was on the Ed Sullivan show, the Steve Allen show, and the Joey Bishop show. Cary Grant saw him perform and got him on the Ed Sullivan show. He did USO tours in Vietnam. He has lived and worked in Vegas since the 70’s. He’s got stories. Once on a dare in the 70’s he streaked Wayne Newton during his show. He said Wayne Newton is an asshole. Once at a show at the Tropicana Berri had to follow Frank Sinatra. He said “Ladies and gentleman, Id like to thank my opening act Frankie Sinatra, he’s a good kid and I think he’s got a shot in this business.”
My favorite old show biz story he told me is one time Sammy Davis Jr., Danny Thomas, and Joey Bishop were driving back from Vegas to LA one night. While Sammy was driving they got pulled over for speeding. Danny Thomas leaned his head out the back window and said to the cop “Hey do you know who that is driving?”
“Yes I do, that’s Sammy Davis Jr.”
“Well you know he’s only got one eye right?”
“Well do you want him to keep it on the road or on the speedometer?”
After talking to Berri for awhile I realized when I’m his age all my stories are going to suck.
“Did I ever tell you kids about the time I worked this cowboy bar in Montana?”
“Once I opened for the Beach Boys when they were 80.”
That’s actually true I did open for what’s left of the Beach Boys in Elko Nevada.
It was sort of sad to talk to Berri too. He’s made a lot of money in his life, but he’s still got to hustle at age 62 to get by. In the 70’s he made $3,500 a week. Nobody pays that in Vegas now. Plus a few years ago his wife found Jesus and gave $250,000 of Berri's money to TV evangelists. Jesus never had to follow Frank Sinatra.
My favorite Vegas rumor that Berri told me was that Celine Dion did her deal at Ceasars Palace because her husband owed Ceasars Palace 10 million dollars in gambling debt. God I hope that’s true.