During the time I performed at Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas (1997-2000), I spent most of my time trying to figure out how to get the attention of agents, managers and anybody who could help me take my career to the next level.
After several failed attempts at getting big agencies like ICM or CAA to come see me perform, (Kah-who?) I turned my attention to the celebrities that were performing in the casinos adjacent to Caesar’s Palace.
I was performing in a show called Caesar’s Magical Empire, an extravagant dinner/magic/theater show that took guests back in time through the catacombs of Rome and into ornate dining chambers, which is where your personal wizard (me) would perform for you and the other guests.
For an unknown actor like me it was a great showcase, and I knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
But what good is performing in Vegas if the right people don’t see you? I decided to use the pedigree of ‘having my own show at Caesar’s Palace’ to entice celebrities to come and see me perform. Whoever was in town would hear from me. Lionel Richie, Bette Midler, didn’t matter.
The most important thing was for me to sound like I owned the place, to speak with authority – fake it to make it.
My first call was to Luther Vandross, who was performing in the main room at Caesar’s Palace. I called the Caesar’s Palace operator and asked for Luther Vandross. ’Please hold while I connect you’.
‘Yes, this is Kahlil calling for Luther Vandross.’
‘This is Luther’.
I nearly shit myself. It’s HIM! But it was too late to turn back. Fake it to make it.
‘Hey Luther, it’s Kahlil, I have a show here at Caesar’s Palace and I’d like to leave a few comps for you and a guest to come check me out’.
‘Well, I would love to come support you young brotha, but they got too much air conditioning in this casino. Bad for my voice. I ain’t comin down
there unless they turn off all the air conditioning.’
‘Well, I don’t know if that’s possible sir, but…it would be great if you could just…’
‘Sorry Kahlil, can’t do it. But good luck with your career, and thanks for calling.’
Wow. That wasn’t so bad.
Now I was feeling myself. My balls doubled in size. (figuratively) I called Bill Cosby’s room at the Mirage.
‘This is Kahlil calling for Bill Cosby. What? Yes, he is expecting my call.’
‘This is Bill’.
I nearly shit myself.
But I held it down, and Bill and I spoke for almost 30 minutes, and the conversation ended with him saying he was impressed with my courage
and he’d love to see my show.
I told him I’d leave two tickets at the box office for the next night. When I hung up I ran to my General Manager and told him about it. He didn’t believe me.
Bill never showed up. He sent Cameron Cooper, his assistant, to see my show and I also got an autographed photo with my name spelled wrong.
Mr Cosby had to leave town abruptly for LA because the trial of the person who shot his son was beginning sooner than expected.
But I didn’t care. I was one step closer to conquering my fear of picking up the phone and calling ANYBODY. Agents, managers, whoever.
One of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned – I needed to stop scaring myself into being scared. Success is simple – just believe.
All I had was a phone book and a little courage. (and extra underwear just in case)
Now, it’s your turn.
Who you gonna call?
-Kahlil (at) gigsmacked (dot) com