Born to Perform
For local entertainer Suzi Cruz, there’s truly no business like show business
Ask Suzi Fierstein Cruz if she’ll ever give up entertaining and she’ll tell you she already did it once—and isn’t ready to do it again anytime soon.
The Coconut Creek resident performs in the musical duo Cruzin’ with her husband, Steve. She also performs a one-woman musical comedy act, which includes impersonations of everyone from Tina Turner to Barbra Streisand. She remembers when her parents, Elayne and Arty Fierstein, who founded Sun-Shine Cosmetics in Miami Beach in 1968 (which Cruz still operates today), took her aboard Norwegian Cruise Lines’ MS Southward when she was 14.
“The star of that show on the cruise ship was Claudia Genteel,” Cruz recalls, about the entertainer who is now artistic director of Township Center for Performing Arts.
That’s who Cruz wanted to be. Her dream came true, singing on cruise ships and then touring the country with contemporary show bands. She performed at New York City’s Rainbow Room, and on stage with Sammy Davis Jr. and Paul Anka, to name a few. She met Steve when she began singing with the Kenny Martel Concept, a 10-piece group that was a Fort Lauderdale staple in the 1970s and ’80s.
At the height of touring, she and Steve, Martel’s musical director, wed. That began her more than two-decade hiatus from performing.
“I got married in 1981 and got pregnant right away. By 1982, I decided I was not going to perform for a while,” she says. She and Steve had five sons, so her break lasted longer than planned. “For 22 years, I basically did not do any music. I did little things here and there, but there were times I even forgot that I had ever sung. I was so involved with being a mother.”
In 2003, she decided it was time to make a comeback. After getting a booking at Century Village, she and Steve wrote a one-woman musical show for her to star in, and she hasn’t stopped since.
“If it’s something you’re born with, it has to come out again,” she says. “I tell my kids to be who God created you to be. Fulfill your destiny.”
Two of her sons have gone on to make names for themselves in the music industry.
Derek, 34, tours the world, playing guitar and producing records with rock singer Jesse Malin.
Jordan, 30, has been part of pop music lore since 2013 when Beyonce credited him—actually, his alias, “Boots”—for co-writing and producing her self-titled album. According to online music magazine Pitchfork, there were 452 million Google searches of “who is Boots?” during one seven-day period. Today, he’s one of pop music’s most sought-after writers and producers.
Perhaps that’s why Cruz likes to help up-and-coming musicians. Last January, Genteel asked her to host Creek Idol, a spin off of “American Idol,” a singing competition sponsored by the city of Coconut Creek at the Township Center for Performing Arts. She says she couldn’t say “yes” fast enough.
For most of this month, Cruz is working in the Catskills, where she’s performing her one-woman show with Steve as her musical director. When they return, they will put together a new show for both of them, which she describes as a bit like Sonny and Cher.
“We’ve been married 36 years and the idea has just grown out of the rapport we have on stage,” she says. “People like it, so we said, let’s make it into an act.”
Cruzin’ performs at Fishtails Restaurant and Nightclub, 3355 NE 33rd St., Fort Lauderdale, on Wednesdays and most Saturdays from 5 to 8 p.m., and at Boho World Cuisine and Entertainment, 2861 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, on Fridays from 6 to 9 p.m.