Producing shows and hiring entertainers on a regular basis for more than 30 years has afforded me many "magical" moments. Aside from just getting to meet the celebs and putting them on stage, I get the opportunity to share personal time with them. To what degree do we become "buddies," of course, varies from entertainer to entertainer.
However, more often than not, I usually spend some down time with them, whether it be in the dressing rooms throughout the day of their show, or maybe dinner together after a "bang-up job" on our Arcada stage.
I would like to think it is my charm and good looks that enamors them to me, but I fear it may be the fact that I sign their checks, which gives me a "one-up" over everybody else. Regardless, I am still honored to get to know them and have established longtime friendships with so many of them over the years.
So earlier this week, my cellphone goes off, and I notice it is a California number calling. That's not too out of the ordinary as many agents and managers are located in Los Angeles. "Is this Ron?" comes from a sensual female voice on the other end. "Yes, it is," I responded. "I am looking so forward to meeting you!" she replied. "I have heard nothing but great things about your theater!"
"Well thank you," I said. "Uhhh, who may I ask is calling?" I questioned. "It's Priscilla!" she proclaimed. I gulped loudly and had to catch my breath.
For the next 30 minutes, we spoke about her upcoming appearance at The Arcada at 3 p.m. this Sunday. I will be doing a one-on-one interview with her featuring rare video footage and photographs.
Because I try to give our treasured customers memorable experiences when they come to the theater, I do these "behind-the-scenes" interviews as much as I can. Sometimes it's just a couple of minutes pre or post show, like I did with Michael Bolton, Dana Carvey and Kevin Costner. And sometimes it's an all-out talk show-style thing with two big chairs and a video screen like I did with Barbara Eden, Shirley MacLaine and Debbie Reynolds.
To be honest, I kind of expected Priscilla to be a bit stuffy with very strict parameters regarding what I can and can't address in our interview. Most of the time when I do these things, I must send a complete list of questions to be approved before they even land their private jets at DuPage Airport. Then I am given topics, sometimes even certain words and phrases, I am not allowed to bring up.
I then need to submit a security plan to address any unwelcomed show disrupters.
Not with Priscilla Presley!
She was about as upbeat, fun, humble and sweet as anyone could be! She was grateful for the booking and reiterated that the Arcada had such a good reputation she wanted her Chicago-area appearance recognizing the 40th anniversary of Elvis' passing to be with us! Honored does not adequately describe how I felt.
I then began to go over my questions. "Nope, don't bother," she said. "Ask me what you will. I want it to be totally real and unscripted. Nothing is off limits."
"Nothing?" I asked. "Nothing," she replied.
We talked about her ties to Chicago, what she does in her spare time, and how she is spending this historic week. "Most of it around Graceland," she said. "I am only leaving Graceland to be with you," she said. I felt myself blushing.
THIS is going to be an exciting interview! I get to really find things out that I always wanted know about her and the King of Rock 'N' Roll, like why nobody is allowed upstairs at Graceland. What is her favorite possession from Elvis? How did she handle all those women in his life? What was the craziest episode involving firearms? What were some of the most "uncomfortable" nights Elvis hosted with show biz friends? And their love life …?
I need your help! Please send me what you ALWAYS wanted to know about Elvis, Priscilla, Lisa Marie, Graceland, etc. This is a rare chance to learn the inner side of the Presley family!
And if you would like to join me this Sunday at The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, I will offer you, my loyal column readers, a 2-for-1 discount on tickets! I have just a few left, and you can get in for as low as $20!!! Just call us, (630) 962-7000, or email me at email@example.com.
Thank you, thank you very much. Ron has left the building.
• Ron Onesti is president and CEO of The Onesti Entertainment Corp. and The Historic Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. Celebrity questions and comments? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.