Marilyn had always hoped to cross over into the music world and be taken seriously as a multifaceted entertainer. Her first attempt at a singing career was a limited run cabaret show that took place at the Riverboat Restaurant in New York in 1974. After appearing in Mind with the Dirty Man in Vegas in 1975, a play in which she did not sing, Marilyn went on to the New York musical stage revue Le Bellybutton, an Off Off Broadway show meant to be in the vein of Oh! Calcutta! and other edgy adult musicals of the late 1960s and early- to mid-1970s. During Le Bellybutton's short 26-performance run Marilyn did not earn good notices for her performance or singing, yet was determined to release a single to showcase her vocals.
She was signed to Roulette Records in early 1977 and worked for several months on the disco-tinged single "Benihana." Written and produced by Michael Zager the single earned some moderate airplay and chart success, though it failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard reviewed the single in their February 5, 1977 issue noting that Marilyn "moans and groans with the best of Donna [Summer] and Andrea [True]. She also sings quite nicely in a sexy little voice in this catchy disco tribute to an Oriental loverman." An article in the April 9, 1977 issue of Billboard notes that an album was being planned "depending on the reaction" to the single. The b-side, "So I Cried a Little Bit," was a ballad.
Copies of the 45, which was issued in both 7" and 12" formats, can often be found on eBay. "Benihana" also was featured on several contemporary disco compilations. A remastered version appeared on the excellent 1998 boxed set The Roulette Story, a three-CD, 84-track compilation of the label's hits and rarities from 1957-1977. This collection is out of print but is worth seeking out. "Benihana" is unavailable in digital format. "So I Cried a Little Bit" has never appeared on any physical or digital format outside of its original 45 pressing.
Benihana/So I Cried a Little Bit (1977)
"Benihana"/"So I Cried a Little Bit"
Performer: Marilyn Chambers
Writers: Michael Zager, Barbara Soehner
Producer & Arranger: Michael Zager for Love-Zager Productions, Inc.
Executive Producer: Jerry Love, "A Product of Love"
Released: Roulette Records (Catalog #R7206) [US]; Pye International (Catalog #7N 25737) [UK]
Left: Marilyn promoted the single in several music publications including a 1977 issue of Discoworld. Right top: 7" single with picture sleeve, France. Right bottom: 12" single with picture sleeve, U.K.
Future Shock (1976)
Marilyn lipsynching an abbreviated version of "Benihana" on the short-lived Future Shock, hosted by James Brown. Also featured on the video page.