Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Peppermint Lounge

I have been writing this Blog for over 1 year now and I am just amazed at the response.  We are just a little Blog and went from 5 or 10 hits per week to over 45,000 in 2010, now for a little unknown blog that’s a lot.

I have also been very fortunate to meet (on the internet) many musicians and people who just happened to be there when things happened and can add real colour and accuracy to my writings. One such lady is “Misty” who was a Peppermint Twister from August 1962 through December 1963.  I’m sure she has a lot of stories, has met a lot of interesting people and also met the different Bands that played at the Peppermint Lounge.

25 Oct 1961, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA --- People waiting in line to enter the Peppermint Lounge

Yes, Misty was one of the original Peppermint Lounge Twisters at the very height of the Twist Craze and the Twisters became the first Go-Go Dancers.

Misty was 18 and became a Peppermint Twister in August of 1962 through December 1963.  When she was Dancing there the House Band was “Joey Dee and the Starliters” who had recorded the “Peppermint Twist” in January 1962.

After many emails Misty has agreed to answer some questions about the music, the musicians, and some of the stars that frequented the Peppermint Lounge during the Twist Craze…

Gary: Misty, how did an 18 year old, from New Jersey, become a Peppermint Twister during it’s Hey-Day!

Misty: I was with friends in New Jersey and we were chatting about how popular that club was. I said I’d love to go there and dance professionally.  The gentleman said- “Really, let me see what I can do and who I know there and get with me in a week or two”  I said sure, not thinking really anything would become of it.

Lo and behold, when I saw him again, he told me the choreographers name and to go in and ask for him to set up an audition.  I did go and I had a dance partner with me.

They pointed to the stage and said go dance.  We did.  We did a Swing or Lindy. When we came off the stage, the owner of the club “Sam” said  “now go Twist”

We went back up, did a Twist, came off stage. He took his cigar out of his mouth and said “You’re hired”…..Just like they show in the movies.

Gary: You must have met some of the Celebrities and maybe dated some of the musicians, how about some name dropping!  There must also have been some other great “House Bands”.

Misty: We met a lot of celebrities, it was as constant there.  Musicians, actors, actresses, other dancers from the Copacabana and Radio City Rockettes.  We met Hugh Hefner when he opened the Playboy Club in Manhattan, Warren Beatty, Joan Collins, Ray Bolger sang at the club, (impromtu)…Liza Minielli, Jill Haworth, Brian Hyland (Itsy Teensy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini), Leslie Uggams, famous writers, Tennessee Williams, Tom Wolfe, Fashion Designers, Tony Orlando, Goldie Hawn, Melanie. Dion, the Bandstand Regulars, the Beatles…Andy Warhol, Salvadore Dali…

Our house bands at that time were the Fabulous Epics who were recorded by Warner Brothers.  We also had the Sunliners who went on to become Rare Earth

My first boyfriend was Felix Cavaliere who went on to found The Young Rascals

Gary:  I think the people who read our Blog would like to know just what it was like in that exciting era, from your eyes, because you where there.

Misty: It was very very exciting.  We designed all our costumes.  There was a Costume Maker right across the street where we would go get fitted.

We opened the show with “Peppermint Twist” and closed the show with “Shout”.  We were the original Go-Go dancers and we were also the first to use the Strobe Lighting and Black Lights.  We then spray painted our stiletto shoes to glow under that black light.  At the end of the show, the lights were turned off except for that black light.  It was a tremendous, incredible feeling. My favorite costume and number was Yellow satin with black hand prints that we wore for Stevie Wonder’s hit “Fingertips”.

We made great money, had our own places at 18-21 years old, went to Broadway Plays, the best restaurants, most of the time it was complimentary.

Gary:  How many guest singers and musician’s did you meet and who where they?

Misty: Gee, I met so many, we used to play Monopoly with the Rascals and Starliters and Steve Alaimo, Tony Orlando.  We were always at parties, clubs, performances.  We used to perform between shows.  New York Society hired us as dancers for that.

We also danced at Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, Walforf Astoria Hotel, Plaza Hotel..We were on the cover of newspapers and we were always written about by a famous writer, Walter Winchell.

Damon Runyon Jr., son of the famous Sports Writer, Damon Runyon always came in to take Photographs of us.  Almost every night.

Gary:  Did you party with the Beatles?

Misty: I was touring South America when the Beatles came to NYC.  The reason they came to the Peppermint Lounge was that Joey Dee and the Ronettes opened for them on a tour of Europe a few months earlier.

Some of the other Twisters went to party with them at the Plaza Hotel and there were others from the Peppermint that  knew them from the tour, so the Beatles basically got with them too. Then some met up with them when the Beatles went to Florida.

They were all interviewed over and over again by all the major networks and newspapers.  It was very thrilling !

Gary:  I’m sure that it was a very exciting time for an 18 year old, but along with that comes some disappointments.  So before we end this, I’m sure people would like to know your experiences and how life was after the Peppermint Lounge at 128 West 45th Street in New York City.

Misty:   mmmm….I always thought that a disappointment led to another door to open for a happy moment.   Every disappointment is a learning experience. I guess since that was almost 50 years ago my disappointment would be in all the people that I loved and knew that passed away.  Artists, musicians, that we all know and love, and are inspired by.   Some left us in sad ways, some in unimaginable ways, and some by natural causes.  Joey Dee always said that one that touched him the most by passing was the late , great Jackie Wilson.

I eventually married the Vice President General Manager of a major New York City Department Store,  I became a Footwear Buyer and Designer and traveled to Europe 3 or 4 times a year, depending upon what the needs were of the inventory.

I now live in Florida and until the collapse in Real Estate worked for Custom Home Builders and Architects.

-Misty

Here are some sketches from the Peppermint Lounge and Misty’s picture… [with her permission to publish – RS]

Thanks Gary

—– Original Message —–

From: Misty

To: Gary
Sent: Sunday, January 02, 2011 10:34 AM
Subject: Re: The Peppermint Lounge!
Hi Gary,
Current I can e-mail to you, circa 62-63 I need to send to you.
Funny, my brother went on a cruise and he said the dancers reminded him of all of us at the Pep, they all danced so fast..
Incidentally, that is not the Epics playing “Money” in that vid as one person commented.  The Epics are at the table with the Beatles or standing nearby.
The Epics were the house band and played there for many years, we all loved one another and were like sister and brother.
We all lived on the 4th floor of the Knickerbocker Hotel that was connected to the Pep.  Very cool times.
Current pics and sketches enclosed.
Sincerely yours,
Misty

Misty today 2010

–o–