Chapter Four: Birth Of A Star
The tall, willowy girl in her early twenties knitted her brow into a petulant frown, banging her fist down on the big hard-wood desk with a noise intended to gain attention. “Are you listening to me? Daddy!”
The grey haired business-man glanced up finally from his paperwork, favouring his only child with a faint smile and setting the paperwork aside.
“What is it, sweetheart?” he asked, his mind still clearly not entirely on the conversation. “What’s wrong?”
“Daddy, I’m bored!” The girl, twenty three year old Phyllis Gabor threw herself down in one of the leather chairs that surrounded her father’s desk, offering another scowl. “I want to do things, not be stuck here in this boring office all day!”
“Well, then, why don’t you go out and enjoy yourself?” Her father, successful businessman and billionaire, Harvey Gabor asked her, a note of irritation in his voice. “Phyllis, sweetheart, I have a lot to do and it isn’t going to get done if you’re here watching over me. Go and do something else, but stop interrupting me.”
“But Daddy…I need money!” Phyllis turned her gaze on her father, her tone becoming beseeching. “Pleeease, Daddy?”
“Here.” Harvey pulled a box from his desk which contained in petty cash enough money to pay the electricity bill of a regular house for a month and counted out several notes, handing them over to his daughter. “Now, get out of my hair, will you? I didn’t bring you along to have you spend the whole time complaining!”
“Thank you, Daddy!” Phyllis kissed her father on the forehead, pocketing the money and leaving the office. Very rare was the occasion when Phyllis Gabor did not get what she wanted from her father.
That was, except love.
Her mother had left them when she had been a small child, and it had damaged the family structure irrevocably. Phyllis had lost her trust in the world and Harvey, not knowing how to handle his wilful daughter had pulled away, furnishing her with all the material objects that she might need but not giving her the affection and love which would have made her a well-rounded human being. As a result Phyllis’ only understanding of the world was in the material sense, and generally a wad of cash from her father was enough to keep her happy. Not that she didn’t love her father – somewhere beneath that spoiled exterior she did. But those ties had become less important to her over the years. Her father was now principally her source of money, and that was all.
It did not help matters that the interests of the two had always diversified from each other. Harvey’s only interest was business, and for many years he had fondly hoped to see his only child follow him into his empire. But Phyllis had had other ideas. She had always dreamed of being a star – fame and adoration were the things she craved, to make up for the lack of affection in her life so far, though even she herself did not realise the reasons behind her desires. She had nurtured the desire to sing – to be a success, and to have the world chant her name.
That was why she had come to Los Angeles in the first place. Born in San Diego, Phyllis was not averse to travel, for her father had estates all over the world, but California was still home to her.
And California had something that had been her objective all along…Starlight Music.
Phyllis was under no illusions about executives of big music companies. She trusted them about as much as she trusted most of her father’s advisers, and knew that the way to many of their hearts was with a large wallet full of cash. She had heard through one of Harvey’s contacts that the new manager of Starlight Music, Eric Raymond was looking for new talent, and even more, she had learnt that he was not averse to a bribe. So, when Harvey had told her he was going to Los Angeles to finalise a business deal she had leapt at the chance to come too.
Three days was not long, but long enough to secure a recording contract, after all.
Phyllis smiled. She could see it now…she would be a hit, a real hit. How could she fail? She was a Gabor – and the family name oozed success from every pore.
“By tonight I’ll have everything just as I want it.” She mused to herself as she summoned one of her father’s big black cars and slipped into the back, too much engrossed in her thoughts even to hackle the driver. “The world had better watch out…Phyllis Gabor is coming through!”
* * * * * * * * * * *
“Are you sure about this, Roxy?”
Mary glanced at the outfit on the hanger, then back at her houseguest. “I…I don’t think fishnet is…well…me.”
“Oh come on, live a little.” Roxy smirked. “You gonna wimp out on me?”
“No…” Mary glanced at the outfit once more. She was beginning to regret agreeing to come shopping with her new housemate – Roxy’s taste in things was decidedly wilder than her own, and she was finding herself in over her head. Her doubts had begun when Roxy had insisted on doing her make-up ‘less wimpish’ for her, and she had been adorned with red slashes on one cheek and a lightning bolt of the same shade on the other. Then she had been dragged into the wildest store in town and coerced into trying on some of the less demure outfits that were sold there.
For her part, Roxy was having a good time. For some reason she could not explain, she had developed a tiny fondness for the girl who had played good Samaritan to her, but for the life of her she could not deal with Mary’s shy and retiring nature. She was ‘soft’, and that had to change – Roxy was too conscious of her own image to allow herself to be seen about with someone that prissy. Back in Philly she had had a reputation for being tough as anything – if any of her associates back then had seen her with Mary Phillips they would never have taken her seriously again.
“Go on, it’ll look fine.” She said now, pushing Mary roughly into one of the changing cubicles, then sauntering across the shop a little way to examine a rack of bracelets. It was something knew to her to be in a shop and not to be planning how to make away with items without being seen. But Mary was with her, and Mary had a credit card and a large sense of gratitude.
“I did good, helping that girl out the other night.” She mused to herself. “I could be onto a good thing here if I play my cards right.”
Mary, for her part, had developed a respect for the other girl since that night. Roxy was strong, hard, and took no nonsense from anyone. Roxy was not the kind of girl who would get suckered in by a brute like Ryan, and secretly Mary wished she had even half of the girl’s confident attitude and independence. Had she known the awful past that had led up to Roxy’s lack of trust or faith in anyone, she would have shied away from wanting to be like the blond girl, but Roxy was not telling anyone anything. She never spoke of what she had grown up around, and was determined that she never would. After all, she made her own rules now.
“Well, what do you think?” A nervous expression on her face, Mary sidled out of the changing room, wearing the outfit that Roxy had picked out for her. Roxy’s jaw dropped, then an approving look crossed her face.
“Better. Much better. You look far more respectable now.”
“You think?” Mary eyed her reflection doubtfully, wishing she could lengthen the short black skirt by at least another few inches. The fishnet stockings seemed to make her legs twice as long as normal, and the pink top, with its zebra striped neck had only one shoulder strap. She reached down to fiddle with the heels – purple, and higher than she normally wore – and almost overbalanced. Roxy laughed.
“You don’t look like no wimp, now.” Was all she said, though. “Get it.”
“I’m not sure…”
“I said, get it.” Roxy raised an eyebrow. “You said you wanted a new look. Well?”
“I…I guess.” Mary sighed. “Okay. Let…let me change back, then I’ll go buy it. Anything you want here?”
“Nah.” Roxy shrugged her shoulders. “Not specially.”
Once Mary was changed back into her old clothes and was paying for her new outfit, a commotion at the door attracted Roxy’s attention. A tall girl with a very determined look on her face seemed to be at the centre of it, and as Roxy observed, the girl, who was dressed very much to the blond’s own taste, shoved two of the sales assistants aside with a curt ‘outta my way, I have things I need to do’. One of the sales assistants fell on the rack of shoes, sending most of them flying in all directions, whilst the other grabbed wildly for a rail and only just regained their balance. Roxy sniggered. Nice touch. She nudged Mary, who was putting away her credit card, and nodded in the direction of the commotion. One of the security guards had come to speak to the girl, but she had simply tossed her head, pushing him aside and stalking across the shop to examine a rack of dresses before deciding none of them were to her taste and sweeping them aside till they wound up in a heap on the floor.
Mary’s eyes opened wide.
“Won’t she get into trouble?” she demanded. “You can’t just…”
“Oh, lighten up.” Roxy scolded. “There’s a girl with the right attitude. If you sit around and wait for people to give you stuff in this world, you’ll be sitting at home forever. You gotta take what you find.”
“But…do you mean stealing?” Mary’s tone was incredulous.
“Doesn’t have to be.” Roxy shook her head. “You are so boringly good sometimes, kid. Live a little! Stop being so…so wet!”
At that moment the stranger approached the counter, pushing Mary aside with barely a glance and dumping a dress in front of the sales assistant, ignoring the queue completely.
“Excuse me, miss…” A gentleman with glasses began.
“Got a problem, smart mouth?” the girl – who else but Phyllis herself - demanded. The man shrank back…Phyllis was intimidating, to say the least.
“No…not at all.” He squeaked, scurrying off to the other side of the shop. Phyllis smirked. She paid for the outfit, then swung the bag over her arm, sauntering out of the shop.
“Who was that?” Mary wondered.
“That’s Phyllis Gabor.” The sales assistant said with a sigh. “Making a scene as usual.”
“Phyllis? Ew, what a name. Almost as bad as Mary.” Roxy grimaced. “Come on, kid. Let’s blow this joint – I’m bored.”
Without a word, Mary followed her companion out of the store. She half hoped that she wouldn’t encounter Phyllis again…the girl was more than a little scary. Little did she suspect that in a matter of days their paths would cross again – in a way that would decide the futures of both of them.
* * * * * * * * * * *
“I want to see Eric Raymond.”
Phyllis made her announcement to the lady on the reception desk, adding a glower for effect in case the woman decided not to pay her any attention. “Now.”
“Do you have an appointment?” The woman glanced up from where she had been filing her nails, eying the visitor in clear distaste.
“An appointment?” Phyllis’ eyes widened and she let out a snarl of rage. “An appointment? Do you know who I am? I don’t need an appointment!” She swept her hand along the desk, knocking the tray of mail flying onto the floor. “I want to see him, and I want to see him now, do you understand me? N-O-W, now!”
“One moment…I’ll…I’ll tell him you’re here, Miss…?” The secretary reached hurriedly for the intercom microphone.
“Gabor. Phyllis Gabor.” Placated, Phyllis perched herself on the desk, examining her nail polish for chips.
The secretary flipped on the switch, speaking into the microphone.
“Mr Raymond, I’m sorry to disturb you but there’s a young lady here who wants to see you – a Miss Gabor. She seems to think…well, that it’s rather important that she sees you now.”
There was a pause, then Eric’s voice came through the speaker.
“Can’t it wait? I’m busy!”
“I…I don’t think so.” The secretary glanced fearfully at Phyllis’ expression. “I think you should see her now, Mr Raymond.”
“Very well.” There was a sigh. “Send her in.”
“You may go in now, Miss…” The secretary turned to speak to the girl, but Phyllis was not waiting to make niceties with some strange woman. She had already gone into the office, the door swinging shut behind her. The secretary rolled her eyes. What kind of person was Mr Raymond encouraging to come to Starlight Music, anyway? It would never have happened when Mr Benton had been in charge.
“Well? What can I do for you?”
Eric turned to face his visitor, taking in her distinctive features with a widely false smile on his lips. “Miss Gabor, did Gloria say?”
“Cut the niceties, Mr Raymond.” Phyllis sat herself down on the edge of his desk, leaning close to him in order to make her point clear. “I’m here to get a recording contract.”
“Oh, you are?” Eric pulled his chair back, regaining as much of his composure as he could. “Perhaps then you should make an application for a screening via my secretary, Gloria? After all, she…”
“No.” Phyllis’ eyes narrowed. “That won’t do…Eric. I may call you Eric, mayn’t I? I came here to get a contract today, and I am not used to being disappointed.”
“Miss Gabor, I’m…”
“Phyllis.” Phyllis corrected him.
“Phyllis…I’m afraid I have a lot of people to see, so if you could…”
“Would money help?” Phyllis’ voice was soft, enticing and wheedling, her eyes big and falsely innocent. “My father is Harvey Gabor, he practically owns anything that matters in this city. He could buy you out here in seconds if I asked him to so don’t play games with me. I always get what I want.”
“Money?” Eric eyed Phyllis thoughtfully. “What do you mean, money?”
Phyllis reached into her purse, producing a wad of notes.
“This is what I mean by money.” She murmured. “Dollars. Lots of them. And here’s the deal, Eric…you give me a recording contract and I give you the dollars. Sound like a fair deal to you?”
“Well, I’m certainly open to hearing new talent.” Eric smiled. “You’re talking my language now, my dear. Listen. I have a very important person I need to see in the next few days with a view to setting up a new band to launch Starlight Music into the sky. I’m sure that I can find a place for you in the band…”
“I’m not sure I’m a sharing kind of girl, Eric.” Phyllis’ voice held a warning tone.
“Well, you’d be leader, of course.” Eric assured her. Phyllis paused.
“A singing contract?”
“Well, we speak the same language after all.” Phyllis bestowed Eric with a smile. “Good…I knew we could come to some kind of…arrangement. Where do I sign?”
“I’ll have the contract ready for you at lunchtime tomorrow…and you can show me exactly what you can do.” Eric responded. “I’ve no doubt that someone of your undoubted pedigree could do very well in this business.”
“Well, I think so.” Phyllis stood, moving over to the window. “This is a nice place, you know.”
“I know. I mean to make it nicer.”
“Well, you might get a helping hand, if you’re very nice to me.” Phyllis sent Eric a meaningful look.
“I understand you perfectly.” Eric smiled. “And…and the money?”
“When I sign the contract you’ll get the money.” Phyllis told him. “That’s the deal.”
“Very well. Then if we could meet for lunch tomorrow, we could seal the deal.” Eric suggested.
“Sounds fine to me.” Phyllis nodded. “But no funny stuff, Mr Raymond. My father has a lot of contacts and you wouldn’t want to upset me now, would you?”
“No…no of course not.” Eric shook his head hurriedly. Phyllis beamed.
“Good.” She purred. “That’s just what I hoped you’d say.” She slipped the money back into her purse. “Then we’ll meet tomorrow.”
“First, I’d like to hear you sing.” Eric’s curiosity was getting the better of him. His idea was already working around the musical talent of Mary Phillips – with the financial clout of someone like Phyllis who had no fear of the world and it’s workings he had the makings plotted out of a great new sound. So long as she really could sing…
“With pleasure.” Phyllis winked at him coyly.
“If you follow me down to the studio itself, we can take care of things there.” Eric rose, beckoning for the girl to follow him.
Once he had heard her, he knew beyond a doubt that he was getting a good deal. Phyllis’ voice was not as pure or melodious as Mary’s had been, but it carried power and strength and he knew that she would sell records with her stage presence. With her…with her pizzazz.
“There is just one small thing, my dear.” He said once she had finished and they were finalising arrangements for lunch. “Phyllis is a very fine name, but not quite snappy enough for a career in show business. May I suggest a stage name?”
“Sure, I’ll play along.” Phyllis looked curious. “I hate Phyllis, anyway. My mother chose it for me.” She pulled a face. “What do you have in mind?”
“Well, having seen you perform, there’s only one thing it could be.” Eric grinned. “How about…Pizzazz?”
Chapter One: Mary Phillips
Chapter Two: Enter Roxy
Chapter Three: Developments
Chapter Four: Birth Of A Star
Chapter Five: Eric Raymond
Chapter Six: Outta My Way!
Chapter Seven: London
Chapter Eight: Shawn Harrison
Chapter Nine: The Tinkerbillys
Chapter Ten: Jerrica
Chapter Eleven: Only The Beginning
(The Misfits and Holograms and other animated Jem
characters are copyrighted to Hasbro Inc. All characters who do not
appear in Jem episodes are my own creation. This story is copyrighted
to E.A Woolley (2001). Background image was drawn and edited by me and
therefore is copyrighted to me (E.A Woolley).
Stormer is copyright of Hasbro Inc.
Please note that for the sake of continuity this story includes sections of dialogue which feature in the first Jem episode, The Beginning.