Will the real Charles Pierce please stand up? Impossible! It's just that there is no REAL Charles. He's made up of bits and pieces of lots of things - all nice, of course. He has the capacity of being anything or anyone as the "Afficionados of Camp" will unhesitatingly tell you. You never know exactly what he's going to say or how or even WHY, but for twelve years now, through eras that have included the sick comics, beatniks, hippies, color TV, wide screens and two wars, he has been working the nightclub circuit from New York City to Hawaii with a four year stand on Miami Beach and his current engagement at The Gilded Cage in San Francisco has been current for five years!
His partner in time is Rio Dante, who accompanies him in the act and on this LP and has been with the show for eleven years.
"No two shows have ever been the same," says Rio. "And a nice raid once in a while has pepped things up."
The "younger" member of the show is Ray Sabu, who has been performer and production coordinator for Charles for four years.
And through the years the greats and near-greats have come to the clubs to catch the act: Martha Raye, Rudi Nureyev and Margo Fonteyo, Shari Lewis, Hermione Gingold, Totie Fields, Fran Jeffries, Rusty Warren, Billy DeWolfe, Robert Q. Lewis, Leslie Uggams, Anna Russell, Frances Faye, Danny Kaye, Jerry Lewis, Alice Faye and Phil Harris, Tony Martin and Cyd Charisse, Patsy Kelly, Kaye Stevens, Jose Greco, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Jay Robinson, Della Reese, Victor Borge, Dick Haymes, Paul Lynde, Jerry Van Dyke and even My Little Margie, Gale Storm.
A hang-nail sketch on his background: Charles Pierce was born in the '40's. The 1840's. He attributes his longevity to Wheat Germ Oil, blood and lots of makeup. His mother was born in Hong Kong and his father in Nome, Alaska. Neither parent ever left home.
Charles graduated from the L.A. Lincoln Heights School of Dramatic Arts at the turn of the century in time to accompany Miss Sarah Bernhardt on her 27th farewell concert. The play was "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and he played Puck to Miss Bernhardt's Bottom. SRO all the way. Next came World War I (which he claims not to have started) and his USO unit toured the front lines in a show strictly for the boys called "Where There's A Lucifer To Light Your Fag". Charles introduced "Nights Are Long Since You Went Away - My Buddy." After the war and with no trenches to play, Charles headed for Broadway but ended up with Thomas Edison's motion picture company "on location" in the Catskills. He played characters, bits and heavies with Gloria Swanson, Mary Pickford and Rin Tin Tin. His films include "Night Train To Culver City," "The Dead Don't Bleed," and "Vampire Virgin."
"All flops," he says of this period in "show biz". "They didn't understand my brand of humor."
Then came the 30's and the depression. Charles was forced to take a job as busboy at Clifton's Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles. But not for long. He went to hair-styling school and soon was ensconced as head stylist in the beauty salon at Walgreen's Drug Store on Hollywood Boulevard. It was there he was spotted by his old friend, Veda Ann Borg, who asked him to be her drama coach for her comeback movie at Republic Studios, "Klondike Kate and the Butch Marine". Soon Charles was coaching other stars also, including a certain well-known actress with the initials of Bette Davis. So, you see, all of Miss Davis' mannerisms have originated with Charles - the rolling, bulging eyes, the flailing hands and ever-so-nervous fingers, plus the smoking and drinking on screen. After he had "finished" with Miss D. , there was nowhere to go but down until one day, while touring Italy with close companions, Charles saw the crater of Mount Vesuvius and said, "Hey, kids, this looks like a wonderful place to put on a show!" And they did, his old act from World War I. The Variety review said "Nothing but trash." The printer was fired, I'm sure, as we all know he meant SMASH.
So now that you hold this valuable recording in your hands, place it gently, nay, reverently, on your phonograph turn the lights way up, invite all your friends in (make it a block party if you like), lie back and giggle the night away with Charles Pierce!
This album originally released by: WANDA RECORDS