As I got older, I began putting on shows with the other kids in the neighborhood. I was a one-girl operation, starring in, creating, writing, directing, choreographing and costuming the entire production. By the time I was 8 or 9 years old, my parents knew I had developed a passion for singing, and they genuinely liked how I sang. I can't say for sure how their friends felt about it, but after dinner, they would have to endure another song from little Susan Lucci. Wherever we went, whether to a dinner or someone's birthday party, inevitably someone would ask me to sing a song or two. They'd clear off the table and lift me onto it, where I'd perform like a female Frankie Lymon. I was too ethnic-looking to be the next Shirley Temple. Plus, my older brother, Jimmy, listened to Frankie Lymon, a wonderful, soulful singer with a beautiful, sweet voice, so I had been influenced by his style. To our family and their friends, I was already a star.
My parents decided to send me to a parochial school from first grade until the time I went to high school. Although I enjoyed many aspects of its curriculum, the school was very strict. In fact, we were not allowed to talk during lunch hour. We were forced into silence for the entire time, which was very hard for me. We could laugh and scream outside in the school playground, but inside, it was mandatory quiet. There was always some boy who would break the silence by blowing up and popping a paper bag. Of course, he'd get into big trouble, but we secretly appreciated his attempt to buck the system.
One afternoon, my girlfriends and I were walking in the hall after lunch when I heard a couple of girls whispering and pointing at me. I wasn't sure what they were saying, but it was obvious they were talking about me. Finally, one of them asked if I was going to be in the local Girl Scout play. I hadn't heard anything about a Girl Scout play. I was stunned that I didn't know about it.
"Well, we are going to be in it!" they said. "We got our scripts and we are going to all be in the play." They were being so cavalier.