Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Nineties Rembered by J.P. Bowie

Wow, the nineties...trying to wrack my brain here for things I did, heard, didn't do (a lot of those) and places I visited. Actually in 1990 I left California and moved to  Henderson, Nevada a growing suburb of Las Vegas. At the time it seemed like a good idea. I'd thrown off the shroud of my fading show biz career and become a real estate agent. I wasn't exactly crazy about this switch in careers. Showing properties to squabbling husbands and wives while their kids destroyed the inside of my car with their sticky fingers and unreliable bladders, was never a favorite occupation of mine. Fate determined that this real estate venture would be short lived. The company I went to work for went under as the Vegas real estate market (as is its wont) crashed, and I was once again a member of the great unemployed.I flitted around from one RE office to another but there was nothing doing.

Well, Vegas being famous for its bright lights and tourists anxious to throw away their money, I thought, why not help them do that? I reluctantly paid the several hundred dollars it took to become a trained 21 dealer and spent every day for the next few weeks trying to prove to myself I could be an ace dealer. I had to finally admit I sucked at it. I think I already told you the story of the nickel in the slot machine, but it was then I decided I had to get a real job.

In 1991 I applied for a position in Bally's casino and for a time was a floor supervisor. Hated it!
D'you remember the Pyramid schemes? You know where you buy in at the bottom of the pyramid then get some other idiots to buy in and push you up the ladder until you come out on top with thousands of dollars.  Right. Well, in 1992, it actually worked for me first time around, which was fortunate because I badly needed a new car and I had enough for a hefty down payment. The idea of course is that you buy in at the bottom again to give those floundering halfway up the pyramid a kind of equal opportunity. Like the nice guy I am I did just that, and of course, disaster struck and quite a few of us were left with a half built pyramid slowly sinking into the desert sand.

Singing the blues to anyone who'll listen sometimes bears fruit. There I was, unemployed again. Bally's was going through a rough time financially and their method of saving the CEO's zillion dollar salary was to lay off those peons who were considered disposable - yes, I was one of those. But - cue the drum roll - my grumbling paid off when a friend mentioned they were looking for back stage help at the Mirage's Siegfried and Roy Show. Off I went to interview and got a job as part time dresser. After only 2 weeks, one of the guys who'd been with S&R for a hundred years decided he'd had enough and retired. I got his full time position and for the rest of the decade worked for those Masters of Illusion. Or so they liked to call themselves.

In the meantime, Phil, my now husband, and I had been dating on and off. A bit difficult as he was still in California, but in 1994 I persuaded him to leave the surf part of surf and sand behind and move in with me. '94 was a good year for me as in addition to having a live in partner I also became an American citizen - and in 1996 could help Bill Clinton keep his job as Prez. I know he was really pleased because he sent me a signed photo of himself as a thank you gift.

1997 brought sadness. I still vividly remember all of us backstage listening to the news reports of Princess Diana's death in Paris in that awful car wreck. Later that year Phil and I were in London and there were still floral tributes to her outside the gates of Kensington Palace.

I enjoyed working at the Mirage, but after nine years of tedious summer heat, we were ready to move back to California, so in 1999 we were once again living near the ocean. I know I haven't touched on my writing in this time capsule - that's because I was a reader in those day. The writing , although  straining to come out and be noticed, didn't happen until 2000. Books I remember reading in the nineties - in no particular order were, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt, The Reader by Schlink, The Green Mile by Stephen King and Possession by A S Byatt. Oh, and a really good mystery series by gay author, Michael Nava.  It was he who inspired me to write mystery novels. I'm sure he'd be really pleased to hear that.


  1. Gah. I wonder why my comment disappeared. :(

  2. Okay, now that Blogger seems willing to let me post, here is what I said before: What a series of adventures, JP! As much as it must have sucked to be unemployed or employed in some shaky money-earning scheme (like building a house on sand, to use a Biblical metaphor), you can get some interesting stories out of all this.

  3. This sounds like quite a roller coaster ride and makes for interesting reading. What exactly was your show biz career before you threw off its fading shroud? Were you a performer? Or a behind-the-scenes guy?

    1. I was a singer/dancer with a little acting thrown in for good measure. Came in handy when I did audio books a couple of years ago.

  4. JP
    Where would we be without those formative years that some people call "salad days"? A lot of days just suck, but time helps us see how they led to what we are today. Thanks for sharing your adventure.

  5. We are learning of your rich and varied career, JP, or maybe that should be several careers. Seems you get your jobs the old fashioned way- you fall into them. I've always appreciated the variety of things I've done in the name of making a living. In the best of circumstances, a new job can set us up for another chapter.

  6. Seems like the more decades you've seen, the more they blur together, with those when you were younger more vividly remembered than some later ones. I have a hard time remembering anything specific about the nineties except suddenly realizing that if I were ever going to write stories, I'd better get with it, because it was almost too late.

  7. You've got an awfully good memory, J.P.! Of course, it sounds like a lot happened during that decade.

    I remember "Possession". One of my all time favorite novels.


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