Author Suzanne Krauss, a former Wynnewood resident and graduate of Lower Merion High School, is coming back to Philly to read from her revealing new memoir about growing up in Sin City, To Vegas and Back.
The book starts in the 1960s, when Krauss’s mother uproots her and her brother and sister from their suburban Philadelphia home to follow a man to Las Vegas. Once there, the man kicks the bucket, and Krauss’s mother ends up making ends meet by becoming a showgirl in Les Folies Bergère at the Tropicana. Her mother rises to become one of the most popular showgirls at the time, but it wasn’t all feathers and glitter for Krauss and her siblings, who were subject to the salacious casino lifestyle and an abusive stepfather. Krauss elaborates in an article in the New York Post:
The stage version of my mom was like catnip for men. Roses were sent to her dressing room every night. When celebs came into town — like “Godfather” author Mario Puzo and Sammy Davis Jr. — they’d pose for photos with her. But she’d never tell those guys about me and my siblings — it would ruin the fantasy.
Then she met Paul, a Realtor. He came on strong. And she made a strategic move she’d come to regret.
After only knowing her for a couple of days, Paul said he wanted Mom and us kids to move in with him — into his house with a pool. …
Afterwards, he started making demands. Paul hated that Mom performed nearly naked for men, so he demanded she quit. But she loved her job with all the camaraderie and attention. Then the Tropicana got bought by mobsters. …
Even though she was no longer in the show, things with Paul got worse. He abused Mom, my sister and me. But [my sister] and I never said a word about it. To cope with her own abuse, Mom drank. And Paul was constantly drunk. They’d have bruising, loud fights and make up with even louder sex, sometimes in front of us kids.
Without the show for Mom to escape to, our own sweltering hell in Vegas continued for five more years — until Rani was brave enough to tell Mom what Paul was doing to her when the lights went out. Mom realized she had to get away. She filed for divorce, and we moved back to Philly in 1979.
It’s a riveting, juicy read that will appeal to those who enjoy reading about the sometimes-seedy side of the entertainment industry. Drugs, booze, sex, orgies. It’s all there, and you’ll eat it up.
Krauss will sign copies of To Vegas and Back tonight at Barnes and Noble (1805 Walnut St.) The event starts at 6 p.m.