You Oughta Be Me

How to Be a Lounge Singer and Live Like One

Bud E. Luv

St. Martin's Griffin

You Oughta Be Me
ONE
Talent with a Capital T
Thank you! Thank you very much.
Welcome to my book.
Where're you from?
Great.
Isn't it marvelous what St. Martin's Press has done with this book?
Feel the pages. The linen content is outrageous, isn't it? And what a cover--the weight, the sheen!
Ladies and gentlemen, I love this business we call show. It's my life. And as you know, I've achieved a spectacular number of milestones in a career that has spanned over three decades.
Yes, I've created some musical trends over the years--rock 'n' roll, folk music, disco, bossa nova.
And, of course, I've written hit songs for everyone from Elvis and Frank Sinatra right up to Michael Jackson.
I've been blessed. In fact, I am wearing over thirty-five thousand dollars' worth of clothing and jewelry at this very moment.
But what has made it all possible?
Is it luck or fate?
No.
Is it my agent?
No.
Is it you, my adoring fans?
Of course. But it's more.
Allow me to share with you the secret that's made this fabulous career such a fabulous reality.
It's a single word that begins with T.
The word is Talent.
WHAT THAT CAT UPSTAIRS GAVE ME
When did I know I had it? Immediately. I was born with it. I'll die with it. More than diamonds, Talent is forever.
But Talent, my friends, must be nurtured. And the real source of inspiration, light, and nourishment in my career has always been my beloved mother, Perithea.
She scrimped, she saved, and never for a second faltered in her faith in my Talent. She pressed my little school pants twice a day, instilling in me the importance of looking immaculate at all times. She bought me imitation gems. I can still remember staring into those gems nestled in my lunch box and seeing my mother's reflection. Later, she taught me how to do my hair. She even bathed me in virgin olive oil on holidays.
By the time I was six, my talent was so obvious that I was discovered by Milton Berle. By the time I was eight, I had made three albums. National tours. TV appearances. The whole enchilada. At the age of nine, I was hanging out with the Rat Pack--Sammy Davis, Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop. I was guiding careers, writing hits, and choreographing shows for too many stars to mention.
Why? Because I had it. I had talent. It wasn't something I had to think about. I didn't have to send away for it. It came to me like jelly on toast. All I had to do was spread it around and give it back, like cream to coffee. (I should mention that I'm enjoying a large breakfast at my ranch as I'm writing this.)
What is Talent?
Talent is a playful mistress. A ray of morning sun frolicking on the windowsill. A butterfly. A brooding storm. A way to make a buck.
You can't buy it. You can't fake it. You either have Talent--or you pretend to have it.
WHO'S GOT IT, WHO DOESN'T
How can you spot those who have the Big T?
Look for the earmarks. There are telltale signs.
For example, there are very few people in this business we know and love called show who can work with one name. We know who they are. Elvis. Cher. Catinflas. Lassie. And a close personal friend--Charo. She has it.
Look in the tabloids. The tabloids always pick on the very gifted.
Follow the bankruptcies. The truly Talented are often preyed upon by armies of hangers-on who bleed them dry and leave them penniless in a ditch.
Who's singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl? You can bet it's a Super Talent.
And believe me, pal, whoever the comics are imitating the most are the cats and kittens who have the most--Talent, that is.
Look for the relaxed smile, the easy manner with the public. Look at the jewelry--not overstated, but always apparent.
Who has Talent? Many do. Mozart. Da Vinci. Henry Ford. Let's take a closer look.
EYDIE GORME: Elegant simplicity, a capital T.
STEVE LAWRENCE: Excess baggage. She's carrying him.
BOBBY DARIN: A genius. The good die young.
DON HO: Tiny bubbles, tiny talent.
MICHAEL JACKSON: A mega-talent. The vitiligo thing was my idea.
STEVE ALLEN: The schtick--great. The music--this could be the start of something boring. Just kidding, Steverino! See you at my golf classic.
WAYNE NEWTON: Bankrupt or not, always going for broke. A Geronimo with pipes.
WILLIE TYLER AND LESTER: These guys kill me.
NANCY SINATRA: Great boots.
ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK: Making this name a household word was no easy task. Capital T.
FRANKIE AVALON: No.
PHYLLIS DILLER: I love what she's trying to do.
NEIL SEDAKA: Great writer. Sings higher than Wayne, God bless him.
PETER, PAUL AND MARY: Very sincere. Love her, but two bald guys on the same stage? It must be 500 miles to the nearest toupee shop.
TRINI LOPEZ: If I had a hammer, I'd hit this clown on the head. But I kid Trini.
DON RICKLES: Yes. Misunderstood, and a close personal friend.
JOHN DAVIDSON: Hair, A-plus.
DONNY AND MARIE: Teeth for days, talent to spare. I loved what they did with my barbershop quartet idea.
TONY ORLANDO: Without Dawn, we're all in the dark.
TOM JONES: Big T squared. Almost as good as me. One of my model students.
PAUL ANKA: Undeniable.
PAT BOONE: Nothing but white and green bucks. R
OBERT GOULET: On a clear day, you can see his house from my ranch.
PIA ZADORA: Career--bought and paid for. I hope she has a receipt.
ASHFORD AND SIMPSON: Too much hair.
SANDLER AND YOUNG: Too much talent.
AXL ROSE: Misunderstood. A sensitive talent.
JUDY COLLINS: Pitch, Judy, pitch. Pick a key and stick with it.
NEIL DIAMOND: I love the moody thing he does.
MADONNA: Definitely has it. She defined lounge in the eighties.
DINO, FRANK, SAMMY, JACK JONES, LIZA, MEL TORME, AND TONY BENNETT: What do you think? T-T-T-T-T-T-T. Forever.
WHY BILL MURRAY'S A BUM
Las Vegas is built on two things--lounge singing and comedy. Bread and butter. Earth and water. Without music, the laughter is hollow. Without laughter, the music means nothing. Comedy and music need each other.
Bill Murray--comedian--denigrated and disgraced the profession of lounge singing with a tawdry, insincere, and off-key imitation of the work of his brothers and sisters in music. This kind of betrayal is the hallmark of a hooligan, a ragamuffin, and, the worst insult I know, a non-professional.
How would Bill's mother, Mrs. Murray, feel if I, Bud E. Luv, got up and told Bill Murray's jokes without an ounce of feeling or an iota of timing? Bill Murray is an ill-shaved, misshapen bum. May all his sequels be turkeys and all his Christmas releases be bombs.
Actually, I kid Bill. We're very close.
IF YOU'VE GOT IT, FLAUNT IT!
Does Dolly Parton wear a topcoat? Does Tony Bennett shy away from the Big Finish? Does Tom Jones wear baggy pants?
No. They play (and wear) their strongest suit. They amplify. They enhance.
The Chairman phrases. Dino sips. Cher tattoos it. The Chief slam-dunks. Every great lounge entertainer understands the First Commandment of Show Business--Thou Shalt Maximize.
Every night when I go onstage, do I blink and hide in the glare of the lights, skulk, whimper a lyric or two, and scuttle offstage? Of course not. I put on a dazzling display of pyrotechnic talent, a musical explosion that makes the cats' jaws drop and leaves the broads drooling in their drinks.
When you've got what That Cat Upstairs gave me, you don't hide it behind the slots. You flaunt it. All the way. You should do the same.
Everyone's got a special talent. Figure out what yours is and practice flaunting it. Try to get applause for what you do well. If you park cars, try parking them at breakneck speed. Park two at a time. If you have a knack for delivering packages, go the extra mile--deliver more. Balance them. Stack the breakable ones sky-high, and then dump them with a flourish and a "who loves ya" wink. Whatever you do, flaunt and maximize until your customers are on their feet screaming for more.
MY TALENT: THE INCREDIBLE BURDEN
It's true. Having Talent is a burden. And sometimes the weight is overwhelming.
People often ask me, "Bud E., how do you carry the heavy burden of your talent so gracefully?"
Simple.
I wear a Talent Brace.
Send $49.95 to: Talent Brace, House of Luv, Box 711, Las Vegas, Nevada 85103. No checks, please.
But even so, when you're the special me that I am, sometimes the ordinary Bud E. gets lost. I get confused. The voices blur in my head: "You're the greatest." "You're a legend." "The white zone is for loading and unloading only."
At times like these, I have to catch myself.
What do I do?
I stop and smell the cactus. I go to the desert. I get out of the limo, get away from the marquee with my name on it (in HUGE letters), away from the standing ovations, away from the groupies and listen. You should do this, too.
If you can't go to the desert, go into your closet. Close the door. Stand among your clothes in the dark, and listen.
If you've got an enormously large talent like I do, you've got to learn to live with it. Buy a king-size bed for your talent. Remember, you've got to sleep with yourself at night. Add a wing to your house. Your talent needs room to breathe. Wear pantaloons.
Remember, only you can face yourself in that morningmirror framed with all those little light bulbs. No one can do it for you.
When you're feeling the burden, when you're at that painful crossroads ... stop. Breathe. Wait. Listen.
Touch your medallion.
And remember: Bud E. goes through this every day.
LOOKING TALENTED: TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO
You may be Pavarotti. You may be Caruso. You may be Florence Nightingale or Florence Henderson. You may have all the God-given Talent in the world. But you're not going anywhere if you don't look talented. And if you don't have any talent, you'd really better look like you do.
People often say to me, "Bud E., why do you look so talented?"
My friends, I'll tell you. There are secrets. And I'm going to give you ten very basic pointers to help you look as talented as you may or may not be.
1. LOOK UP. Look like you have vision. Talented people don't walk around staring at the ground. Get your chin up! Focus on the horizon.
 
2. PRACTICE SQUINTING. The very Talented often tighten their eyelids, as if peering dimly into the future. This can work for you.
 
3. CARRY A PAIR OF GLASSES. Glasses lend an air of intelligence. Put them on occasionally during conversation, even if there's nothing to read. But don't wear them all the time--you'll look like some two-bit scientist.
4. NEVER CARRY PENCILS OR NOTEBOOKS. These things are for secretaries. Talented people seem to be able to keep things in their heads. And if they forget, it means they're really talented.
 
5. WEAR LEISURE APPAREL. Look like you have lots of free time, as if you've just come from the beach, the golf course or the tennis court. Talented people don't have to work as hard as normal schmucks.
 
6. SPEAK SOFTLY. You should act like you're used to being listened to.
 
7. APPEAR SENSITIVE. Stare at plants. Notice colors, tints, hues. Appreciate fabrics. Everyone knows Talented people can find inspiration in anything. Act like you can, too.
 
8. IN CONVERSATION, SAY "WAIT A MINUTE!" BE QUIET FOR FIFTEEN SECONDS. THEN, SAY "Go AHEAD." This gives the impression you've just had a brilliant thought you've decided not to share.
 
9. FORGET TO EAT.
 
10. CONSIDER WEARING AN EARRING. Not right for everyone, but it can lend a dash of flamboyance. Don't wear it all the time, and never wear two.
YOU OUGHTA BE ME. Copyright © 1993 by Robert Vickers. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.