Crass name dropping
The first famous person I massaged was at Bally's. Bally's was my first Vegas job. I got Willy Mays, the ball player. He was an executive host at Bally's AC. This was in 1987, and he was in his early fifties. I was excited; I'm thinking, "I have a special life!"
He had very powerful traps and forearms. He took a half hour massage. He tipped me twenty bucks which was generous, and I got him to sign a fight poster on the wall of my booth.
He signed it Willie 'Hey Kid' Mays. ‘Hey kid’ was his nickname.
Tom Jones was in the spa almost every day a week out of every month. He had a contract with Bally's. He would come in with his blond-haired bodyguard. Jones didn't take massages. He didn't like the oil. He used a tanning bed every day. His skin must be like leather by now. He gave the spa people tickets to one of his shows; both sides, the men’s and the women’s side. I wore a cheap suit. It was a good show, and middle aged ladies were tossing their panties onto the stage; panties and room keys.
Afterward, we went backstage and had a free drink and met the great man for like twenty seconds and that was it.
I got Ricky Schroeder at Bally's; the Silver Spoons actor. He was in the movie 'Champ' with Jon Voight. "Don't die champ! Don't die!"
I get into my booth. The attendant had already gotten him on the table. I get started. The little brat asks me, "Are you gay?" I was quite even tempered about it. "No." Pause. "Are you gay?" "No." So we got that settled. He stiffed me of course. He and another little friend of his got caught upstairs playing the slots. He was about 18 at this time. Well, at least he had a clean body.
I massaged Denis Farina of 'Police Story.' He also acted in "Midnight Run' with Robert De Niro. He was an ex-police and a Hollywood asshole, an arrogant man. He gave me ten bucks for the hour; a standard tip.
Top Rank was promoting cards upstairs at this time. There was a doctor’s scale on the men’s side, the only scale in the hotel. They would haul it up there for weigh-ins. And the fighters would come down to check their weight in the days before the fight. I shook George Foreman's hand. He was just starting his comeback, and I saw the card where he knocked out Steve Zouski, the guy from Minnesota. Foreman handpicked this guy.
I shook Floyd Patterson's hand. He was at Bally's with his adopted son, Tracy Harris, who was fighting on a card. Archie Moore; shook his hand. He was there with Foreman.
I saw Gene Hackman. He was down in the spa with Michael Nunn. He had a piece of his contract. Hackman carried himself well, with modest dignity.
Shawn O' Sullivan was down there. He was the Canadian amateur star who was pursuing a disastrous pro career. Leonard was guiding him. If Sugar Ray had intentionally tried to ruin this guy he couldn't have done a better job.
I also saw a lot of famous fighters at the Golden Gloves Gym and the Tocco Gym. Tyson, Dwight Muhammad Quawi, Micheal Dokes, Chavez, Virgil Hill, Bruce 'The Mouse' Strauss, Kid Akeem, the bantamweight that got ruined in the ring and ended up a suicide. Jeff Mayweather, Jeff Franklin, I remember sparring with Franklin. Trainers: Freddie Roach, Eddie Futch, Hedgeman Lewis and Futch (trained friends of mine).
I also massaged a comedian named Louie Anderson at Bally's. He was a big fat screamer. I wanted to grab his throat, "Make me laugh, big boy!" He gave me three bucks for the half hour.
I saw Rodney Dangerfield at the Trop, in the spa. I gave him juice and a towel. He gave me nothing except a bug-eyed stare. “Where’s the other kid?” “He’s off tonight.”
When I was dealing, I dealt to Chuck Norris at the Barbary. He played green, twenty-five dollar checks. He would bet for the dealers. So I liked him.
When I got to Caesars; more famous muckety mucks. I got Charles Barkley and Rick Mahorn, from Philly; Basketball. Twenty bucks for an hour, which was okay.
I got Greg Norman the golfer; twenty bucks. Neil Sedaka, room massage, a stiff. I rubbed Julio Englasis twice; a room massage. I did a partial; he had a bad back. He tipped a hundred bucks each time.
Jim Belushi was up there. Les rubbed him. I was on my way to lunch, and he was catching the elevator with a friend. I ran to catch up and get in the elevator. So I could ignore him on the way down. Some people say the wrong brother died.
I saw Hector Camacho in the gym. I saw Don Johnson in the gym. He needed a shave.
Nobody is going to remember half these people. But if you work at Caesars long enough -- because everybody passes through there. I think this whole thing, this name dropping is tedious. But what is it about the famous that seems to validate my meager and anonymous existence? Because it did. Somehow.