Introduction to series “The Girl in the Video” (including list of interviewees).
The video: “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
The girl-now-woman: Wish Cohen (Louise “Wish” Foley).
Did the video affect your dating life at the time?
Yes. Immensely. It changed everything.
Just before I did the video, I had been dating a guy (certainly not a man) who was physically abusive. A few months before I interviewed for the video, the loser I was with knocked me out with one punch. It is not hard to do with a sucker punch. It is not an easy situation to explain except that physical abuse in conjunction with psychological abuse is a “dog chases tail” existence.
I had left the guy, but he was stalking me. The end came when he showed up at my mother’s house on an afternoon when both of my older brothers were visiting. He came to the back gate and my brothers both jumped up and said they needed to talk to him first (they had seen the bruises on my arms before, and the sucker punch was the last straw). After they spoke to him, he just left. It was a year or two later that I found out that my brothers told him that if they ever saw him again or heard that he had been anywhere within a mile of me, they would take care of business.
So when I did the video, I was fresh out of hell.
On the first day of the shoot, I met the drummer Stan Lynch. He was 29 and so attractive to me at the time. I didn’t even consider that he would be attracted to me because he was a cute musician at the height of his fame, and besides, there were three beautiful models on set (in the black and white slinky muse outfits) hanging out with the single band mates most of the time.
There were two occasions on set when I felt that perhaps he had noticed me. When we were [about to do] a camera run-through, the three guys (Benmont Tench, Stan Lynch, and Howie Epstein) were arranged around a very tall and wide chair that I was sitting in (the scene where Howie serves me the cupcakes and then each band member steals them one by one). While we were all making small talk, Stan did a very dramatic sniff in the air and said, “Wow, what is that perfume you are wearing?” I replied, “It’s called Sweet Honesty.” And without skipping a beat, Benmont said, “I think he meant me—it’s called Filthy Liar.” We laughed, me especially, because it was such perfect timing. Though it dashed what I found out to be Stan’s icebreaker line.
Later, Stan approached me and complimented me on the very first shot I had done with the handheld camera guy (who was the first to give me the “always had a fantasy about Alice in Wonderland” line).
So for the rest of that first day, it was a little easier for us to have conversations.
On the last day, he stayed (after 24-hour nonstop filming) even though the band had been dismissed. After that last shot in the teacup, he asked me if I’d like to go to breakfast. As much as I was coming out of my skin with excitement and flattery, I declined because I was exhausted.
So he took my phone number instead.
He called me a day or so later and asked me out. This began our five-year relationship. I went from being a starving actress to the girlfriend of a rock star. When we began dating, I was driving an old, mustard-colored Chrysler Newport (440 engine!) that was truly an eyesore. Stan drove either his Black Jaguar XKE or his restored red 1970s convertible. It was a beautiful, huge, heavy old car. I think he was embarrassed by that car.
We [had] met in March and he had invited me to spend Easter with him at Don Henley’s house on Mulholland Drive in Hollywood. I, of course, accepted. My baptism into this world was unbelievable to me, even to this day. When we entered, we did a lot of introductions and shaking hands. Then after a while, we were sort of sent out to the backyard for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. But before we walked out I had noticed about three drop-dead gorgeous women sitting on Don’s large curved couch. I said to Stan, “I feel bad for those girls. Nobody is talking to them and they aren’t even talking to each other.” He snickered and said, “Those girls are brought in for anyone who doesn’t have a date. They’re probably Playboy bunnies.”
Reeling from that weirdness, I stepped out to the yard and saw Mary Kay Place and many musicians who were well known. I had a cocktail with Mary Kay Place. That was surreal.
Then it came time to sit down to eat on a beautifully laid out table under a huge old tree. Next thing I know, this woman sits next to me and starts talking to everyone. Like the life of the party had just shown up, the whole table came alive. The man sitting across from her was wearing a checkered suit, a checkered shirt, a checkered tie, checkered shoes, and a checkered hat. It was the most fun outfit I had ever seen. Then I realized that his wife was the woman next to me. When I turned to sneak a glance at her, I was breathless because it was Bette Midler. She told some jokes that day that I tell people to this day, always giving credit for the joke—“Bette Midler told me that one.”
Don stood up and explained that “This ham is from so-and-so’s in Virginia, this one was flown in from so-and-so’s in France...” Then he announced that the dirty rice and gumbo was from his mother and had been flown in fresh that morning.”
It was a long day and Don asked me if I could start the tea kettles (I happened to be in his kitchen with the staff) while the staff began prepping desserts. I agreed easily because I was a little uncomfortable being a small-time actress around some very famously artistic people. I filled about four tea kettles and was standing there in front of the stove when someone says right in my ear, “A watched pot never boils.” I turned and it was Jack Nicholson. All I could manage was a kind of huffing giggle.
The reason I started telling you about the Easter lunch was because when Stan asked me to go, I asked what I should wear. He asked if I had anything “Easter-y.” I told him I would find something appropriate, but he said, “No, let’s go together and find you something.” I was so embarrassed to have to tell him that I couldn’t afford to get a new anything. He said he was going to get it for me.
[The] Saturday [before Easter], I came to his house and he had ordered a limo. We went to the Laura Ashley store in Brentwood where he had made us an appointment to shop. We were escorted to a beautiful dressing room, much like a bridal salon, where two women waited on us hand and foot. I left there with a few new skirts and as many shirts.
The first time I went to Stan’s apartment I thought it odd that his living room had been converted to his bedroom. After touring with him, it dawned on me that, after having spent so much time in hotel rooms, it made sense that the first thing you saw when you entered his apartment was the bed.
During my time with Stan, I met (I’ll probably not remember all but my faves): Timothy Hutton, the Williams Brothers, Warren Zevon (he came over to get his career going again with Stan’s help), Eric Martin (Mr. Big), Maren Jensen (Battlestar Galactica; she was with Don Henley), “Weird Al” Yankovic, Jon Anderson and Chris Squire (the band Yes), double-dated with Mimi Rogers (Tom Cruise’s first wife) and Don Henley, Ric Ocasek and his wife Paulina Porizkova, Bob Dylan, Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox (Eurythmics), Sammy Davis, Jr., Bill Cosby, David Letterman. And was in the same room with David Bowie, George Harrison, Elton John, Paul Simon.
I traveled the continental U.S. constantly to be with him on tour. We never moved in together but I spent the full five years living out of a suitcase. He made room for me in his closet, but I never really felt like we were in sync after the first year or so.
I never really felt that Stan loved me completely. I felt that his emotions didn’t really scratch the surface of what it means to love someone. He was a great guy, but we were worlds apart. Besides, he had no respect for my friends or family, so I didn’t spend much time with either (I always regretted choosing him over them).
What really confused me during my time with him was this: he wanted me to be available to fly anywhere, at any time, to be with him on tour or at the beach house, and I loved him so fiercely that I would go to him anytime at the drop of a hat. But, at times, he would get pissy about small money matters like having to pay my cab fare to get to the airport. There was no way I could hold a job and keep our relationship alive.
The end of us began in a strange way. I remember the very day that I began to pull away from him.
I was at his beach house in Florida, where we spent a lot of time together. He had already left to begin recording in Los Angeles. I stayed on after him. I called a friend of mine in Los Angeles and told her “Come to Florida. I have the beach house to myself and a grocery account and gas account. I’ll have your ticket at the airport...whatever we need. Just come for the month.” And what she said to me threw me back into reality after about four years of this jaded life: “Wish, I have bills to pay. I have a roommate who depends on my half of the rent. I have a job. I’ll get fired if I just get up and leave.”
I had seriously forgotten what it was to support and depend on myself. Worse yet, in the back of my mind, I knew Stan and I were not soulmates.
So I got a menial job at a pharmacy. Stan asked me to come out on tour a couple times, but I stuck to my guns. I began to like being independent.
We drifted apart then back together for about six months. Then one night I tried to talk to him one more time about our relationship, but he didn’t get it. So I never went back and I’ve lived in the real world ever since.
After him, I dated for about six years until I met my husband, Yigal. I dated all kinds. My thought on dating was to never say no to anyone who asked me out unless they gave me the creeps or were too forward. I took it very seriously that you can never judge a book by its cover. With this philosophy, I went on dates with a Foley artist, a really strange and moody poet, a guy who was seriously dumb as a brick, a guy who asked on the first date if I’d ever tied a man up and spanked him, a guy with Tourette’s, a deaf man, two jewelers (both extremely hairy, like even in a dress shirt it flowed out the collar), a reformed alcoholic (that was tough), a hairdresser, a guy who was void of any opinion or the ability to make a choice, an attorney (who felt even murderers deserved the best defense), a guy from Beirut who was the product of first cousins, and other strange men. I didn’t sleep around, just dated around.
I met Yigal through a mutual friend, Mike. I had gone to high school with Mike and he invited me to come to his band rehearsal on a Friday night. I could hardly take my eyes off Yigal. I thought he was so handsome. To this day he is the most handsome man I have ever met (except for a guy in an elevator of my apartment building carrying a bike; [he] said “Hello, it’s a gorgeous day out there today,” and I quite literally mumbled and stammered a string of unintelligible sounds while staring at him wide-eyed).
[Yigal] and I eloped to Vegas and were married by an Elvis on 6/8/97. Under pressure from friends (not family), we decided to have an actual wedding (on our one-year anniversary). So we had a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed wedding. With Edward Scissorhands music.
Yigal is of Polish descent and his family still speaks Polish in the home. He was born in Jerusalem, raised in South Africa, and came to the U.S. as a teenager. With Yigal, I broke away from my habit of dating drummers (Stan was the third in a row) and switched to guitar. Yigal writes and records all-original music and I’d say he never goes a day without working on some instrument.
He is still dreamy.
Did you receive fan mail? If so, do you still have any of it?
I didn’t receive any fan mail after the video. If anyone had tried to find me it would have been a little difficult because I was a member of SAG before they joined forces with AFTRA and modeling was not at all my background. If I didn’t already tell you, I was the first SAG actress to do a music video. MTV was [still fairly new] at the time and I was one of the first contracts written for this type of film. I am unsure how it worked but I know it was the first time that I had to sign away any rights to my own image if it was picked up by satellite or any other devices by earth or “any other planet.” It was so funny at the time, but now I get it.
While dating Stan, I was more recognized, especially in his circles.
Tweet about this interview to @tompetty and @benchten!