(Photo: Bill Cosby, me, Johnny Carson, 1983)
Here’s a Link to 2nd of 20 Carson appearances, where I debuted my song, “Use Me.” Above is 3rd appearance, where I debuted my song “Angry Woman.”
1983 – I was living in South Pasadena, 1133 Buena Vista Dr., sharing a 1920’s mansion with 5 other hippies, one ate fire, one made stained glass windows, one had an accent and was always almost nude, pot was nearby…I had done my first six minute set on Johnny Carson, and was asked back and did my B material, and was asked back and I had nothing…Jim McCawley, the talent scout who had first seen me doing stand up at my $3 an hour cigarette girl job at the Variety Arts Center, said this time it had to be “something really big!” So, I thought and thought and then had a light bulb moment. Mix gymnastics and singing. I’d never seen that before. I asked the nearby gym if I could work out for a couple months to get my old balance beam routine back. I grew up with a beam, bars and tramp in my backyard. My dad was a women’s gymnastics coach. Gymnasts peak at 14 and I was now 23. The gym said, “No. We don’t want a lawsuit if you get hurt.” Jim McCawley, talent scout, went to the gym and assured them he would be responsible and that The Tonight Show would put their team on TV if they would let me work out. The gym said okay. I signed a paper.(The Tonight Show never did put the team on TV.)
McCawley sent me to Vancouver to try it out on a show there first, they had to find a balance beam and transport it into the studio, etc. I think it was the Alan Thicke show. I didn’t fall or get paralyzed so they let me do it for Carson, Later, I did the same routine in London, on the Bob Munkhouse show and in Toronto on the John Byner show.
It felt like a public thank you to my Dad the coach, but even more, to me personally, like a way to make use of the 18 years of tedious, daily, painful, sweaty workouts. I mean, what can you do with a gymnastics background if you don’t make the Olympics and end up on a Wheaties box? Coach is all. And, I wanted none of that! Repeating “Point Your Toes, Straighten Your Knees” all day every day?! No thank you.
Reminds me of the Bible verse Genesis 50:20 when Joseph told his brothers, who sold him into slavery, “…But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good…” God can use bad things and make something good out of them, “beauty for ashes.” Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
When I found out that my Furman University gymnastics coach had “forgotten” to tell me that I’d made Small College Nationals, and I was hurt, quit the team, and lost my scholarship, (I’d never really wanted to be a gymnast, my dad wanted me to do it,) I ended up transferring to Auburn, becoming a “Drama” major, and years later being inspired to sing “Angry Woman” for Johnny Carson!
Trusting God with our mistakes and with others’ trespasses against us, is the way to live!
Proverbs 3:5,6. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”