Working Girl

  1. Long before Hot Flash Suzi, there was Suzi Towson, ingénue and girl-about-town.

A senior at Towson University in Maryland, I moved to Los Angeles just nine credits shy of my bachelor’s. But between a three-credit independent study and a six-credit internship, I’d wrap my degree by summer’s end. I wouldn’t get to walk the stage, but hey, I was in Hollywood. Towson could freaking mail that expensive piece of paper.

The L.A. punk scene was transforming from stylistic glam to hardcore. But New Wave was also coming into its own. So as Suzi Towson began her internship at Side One Music Marketing located in the iconic Crossroads of the World building on Sunset Boulevard, I felt like one lucky girl.

Lucky. But naïve as hell. Case in point from one of my first days of the internship:

It was about nine in the morning. There were no parking spaces on Sunset Boulevard, so I had to drive into a nearby residential area to find a place to park. From there, I set off on foot for Crossroads, rocking an old formal dress I had cut and hemmed into a mini.( New Wave Music was changing fashion, but the stores hadn’t caught up yet.)

Just then, an old man in a compact car pulled over and yelled out the window. “Hey Gorgeous… Are you working?”

Being Suzi Towson, I thought, Wow, the people in L.A. are really friendly. And so, I told him that yes, I was working.

The man looked very excited to hear this and asked me where I worked. I pointed to the general area of Crossroads of the World. “I work in a building over on Sunset,” I said. “The one that looks like a ship.”

“Well, let’s go then,” he answered. “Hop in.” He reached across the console and pushed the passenger door open.

It dawned on me that perhaps we were not discussing the same type of employment. So I did what any decent, God-fearing, twenty year-old girl in a mini-dress and high heels would do at nine in the morning. I ran for my life.

This was just the beginning of my real education as a working girl—and not one of the Pretty Woman variety, but one who pays her taxes—and her dues.

Starting with the internship. It was unpaid. For college credit only. Because of the lack of remuneration from my day job, I took a second gig working weekends at a car wash to make ends meet that summer.

But I digress.

Back to Side One. There were three guys in the office—I no longer remember their names. Mostly because Larry, Mo and Curly stayed in their executive suite and did whatever it was they did.

Teresa, from the University of Kentucky, worked the outer office and I was given a desk alongside hers. We mostly called college radio stations to find out if they were playing the bands we were promoting. Despite doing the same job (she was getting paid for it, I wasn’t) Teresa wasn’t exactly friendly. In fact, I often felt like I was some kind of inside joke when she and the guys got to laughing, so I handled it as per my usual M.O…I silently bore it.

One day, the guys called me into their executive suite and sent me on an errand. This was not unusual.

Getting out of the office was the best part of my job. I was a gopher to every major record label in Hollywood that summer, getting past security and into the inner sanctums of the music moguls.

I even dated a vice president over at IRS Records whom I had met on one of my errands. When this came to light at work, I got the feeling that the VP was also an inside joke to Kentucky-Teresa and the guys at Side One, but hey, I was new in town and a girl has to find a social life where she can get one—the man was always a gentleman to me. No complaints. Just no chemistry either.

Anyway, on this particular day, I wasn’t sent to a record company. I was sent to an office in our same building.

I took the envelope I was asked to deliver, and went downstairs to locate the correct office. When I entered, I met two nice men who chatted me up for a bit. They were both older and had longish hair—one spoke with a delicious British accent. They couldn’t have been nicer, although they both seemed to be somewhat amused.

After awhile I left them and returned to my desk. I had no idea I had been sent on a Fool’s Errand. I also didn’t know I had been in the presence of greatness. The men I visited with were Graham Nash and Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash. (Insert Homer Simpson “Doh!” right here.) The musicians were probably amused at my failure to recognize them. (I found them to be too kind to be laughing at my expense. Not sure about the jackals who sent me downstairs on the errand though.)

No matter. The summer brought me opportunities I’d never have had in Towson. I also went to see killer shows at the Whiskey A Go-Go, Madame Wong’s West, and the Hollywood Palladium. Promotional albums were gifted me, expanding both my taste and record collection.

All in all, it was time well spent—if my naiveté served to amuse others, then so be it. Suzi Towson was waking up in Hollywood during a really cool time in music history—all was right with my world.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the further adventures of Suzi Towson, ingénue, and girl-about-town…

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No longer an innocent…an older, wiser Hot Flash Suzi at Hollywood Studios in Disney World.The first time I saw the replica of Crossroads in Disney, it blew my mind, but it certainly was an icon of old Hollywood–no surprise the Imagineers put it at the park’s entrance. The original building was built to resemble a ship. The Disney version is a facade used as an information/ souvenir stand.


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