Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Girl in the Video: “Legs” (1984), part 1 of 3

Introduction to series “The Girl in the Video” (including list of interviewees).

The video: “Legs” by ZZ Top.

The girl-now-woman: Wendy Frazier. [MTN: Kymberly Herrin and
Danièle Arnaud are in separate posts.]

 


How I found Wendy:

  • “richlunt” posted she’s from Marlborough, CT.
  • The high school for Marlborough, RHAM, confirmed she was class of ‘81 but would not say (or knew) nothing more.
  • On the chance that “richlunt” was a man named Rich(ard) Lunt, I searched “Lunt” in CT phone directory.
  • Luckily, one was listed in Hebron, a town next to Marlborough and one of the towns that feeds into RHAM.
  • The person at that number is related to Richard and gave me his number. (That number matched a Richard Lunt on Zabasearch.)
  • I called and Richard’s wife gave me his e-mail.
  • I did not hear back so I checked with a town librarian; she came up empty but suggested I call the town tax collector, who gave me three names, but two actually did not know the Fraziers and one said she’d pass word to her daughters. I did not hear back.
  • I searched the web for “RHAM class of ‘81” and searched some of those names on Facebook. One ‘81 led me to others via her friends list (there’s an option to view friends by high school). I contacted several and then randomly chose one and searched “Frazier” on that person’s high school list. No luck, but when I searched it on her whole friends list, Wendy Frazier came up.

[I recount this only to give insight into my research process and to show that dead ends should not be deterrents; I cite details that are already public but out of respect for Wendy, I am, of course, vague with private details. I probably do not need to state this, but please do not try to contact her, or anyone else profiled in this series. If you disregard this courtesy, both the Eliminator girls and a biker gang will show up and make you regret it.]

Wendy unshackled herself from my Q&A format and answered in a (lovely) free-form essay.

Once I started to think about it I was surprised how many memories came back to me.

When I was a young girl, I always dreamed of being Miss America. The excitement I felt each year when it was televised was more than picking the winners but also slipping into their crowns and being carried away, away from my simple and at times abusive childhood.

[Just after] I just turned 18, I moved to Los Angeles with a girlfriend. I can’t say my initial intention was the silver screen; [it was] more of an escape from the small town I grew up in. My father always told me when I was a little girl to get out of Marlborough, CT as soon as I could and see the world. I remember[ed that] he once lived in California so my tongue always tasted its sweetness.

My girlfriend and I took off from the east coast on a drive across country in her Porsche convertible, chiffon dresses peeking thru the small trunk and blowing in the wind. I was young and naïve, she was older and experienced, so I followed her with the intent of growing up and exploring the life I felt destined for. 

Not long after I arrived I met two girls, a crazy beautiful party girl named Nina and a stunning model named Julie Anne. I will get to Julie Anne later…

I loved Nina. Not only was she fun but also a great singer, always focused on making her first album—a common dream in this town, but I believed in her. We became fast buddies. Nina had her hand in many pots and was well connected, so hanging out with her was a bevy of wild new experiences, not always good…

[I asked her to elaborate]

Anything said about Nina was “light-hearted.” I have learned, although sadly it took a while, that there are no bad experiences with friends, loved ones, etc., just circumstance to teach you more about yourself. All of the pains and joys I’ve experienced or mistakes/hurts made by myself or others were fundamental in becoming who I am today. Rehashing negativity [is] pointless. I prefer to move forward in my life positively.

While driving down Sunset Boulevard one afternoon, I ran into her at a stoplight. She told me that she was on her way to audition for a rock video and [asked me] to join her. I’d never done anything like this and the butterflies started flying but I followed her. The band was called Baxter Robinson or Robertson [MTN: Robertson] and the song was called “Silver Strand.” I got the part!
I was shocked, nervous, and beyond excited. I don’t believe MTV had launched yet but would in the very near future [MTN: this video was in 1983 and MTV had debuted two years earlier]. The director was Tim Newman, [who also directed] most or maybe all of the innovative storytelling ZZ Top videos.

Nina later starred in Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face.”

My first experience in front of the camera, although terrifying, was a dream. All of the attention I received having my hair and makeup done, a stylist dressing me, even a choreographer—I was constantly pinching myself. The video premiered the same day of MTV’s launch [MTN: as noted above, MTV launched in 1981 and this video came out in 1983]. I waited at the foot of my bed watching every video until 4 a.m. when it finally [aired]. I never heard of the band after that but for me it was unforgettable and almost as exciting as “Legs.”

I’m not sure how much time had passed [when] I received a call from either the casting director or Tim Newman’s office and was asked to come down and audition for “Legs.” When I walked into Tim’s office, he was on the telephone; I remember him saying something to the tune of “I think ‘Legs’ just walked in.” My heart skipped a beat.

From what I remember I was brought into the final audition [during which] only a few girls were being considered. I got the part. As excited as I was, I felt I would never be able to compete with the sexy ZZ Top girls, gorgeous playmates who “knew how to use it.” I say that playfully—I was in awe of them.

I had my 21st birthday on the set. I believe the band gave me a signed teddy bear. The video was filmed in the Valley in the middle of nowhere, a two- or three-day shoot. Things went fairly smoothly—a few “girl” dramas but I don’t remember who or why.
One scene I remember: after I had been given the ZZ Top keychain and transformed into a long-legged Tinker Bell of sorts, I entered the store and confronted my “bullies”; [when] snapping the nose of Eddie (who was actually the choreographer…and my manicurist [in the video] was Deborah Kurtz, the casting director), [I] really hurt him. My acting skills—not great, so when I did it, I had to mean it < smirk >.
I think the most memorable scene (although some would disagree, preferring the lingerie shot) was being placed by the biker up on the counter and spinning to kick off my boyfriend’s boss. In the process, by accident, just a peek of the crotch of my underwear showed. I was ahead of Sharon Stone. A true slip and never brought to my attention.

The only thing I was aware of at the time was the pain and the horrible bruises on my thighs from the counter. When we returned to the hotel that night, well after 4 a.m., I sunk into a hot bath. I don’t think I ever felt so exhausted.

We had to reshoot part of the video. Something happened that slips my mind. One of the actors had to be replaced, but Alison Reynolds, the makeup artist, made it undetectable. I still see Alison’s beautiful face from time to time.
 
I don’t think I saw the band again after the shoot—maybe once.

I’m not sure if it was his real name or not, but I think we called my boyfriend in the video “Billy.” I never spoke more than a few words to him.

As far as the Eliminator girls [the three ZZ Top bombshells-in-residence], it was the same. Jeana [Ellen Keough, then Tomasino] was the only one who took an interest in helping me, and basically that was limited to “Wendy, no need to keep acting once the director calls cut.”

I never saw or heard from any of them again except to be pleasantly surprised to see Jeana, looking gorgeous, on Housewives of Orange County. Oh…and even more surprising was when my girlfriend Laura Morton, a best-selling author, texted me a couple of years ago to say she was having lunch with Jeana. I think they might have been working on a project but Laura is always cloak and dagger about her work and I know not to ask and never heard mention of her again.
Julie Anne…
I don’t remember how we met but I’m guessing it was a party Nina invited me to. [Julie Anne] was a tall, dark beauty who seemed to know everyone. We became fast friends and I was always her plus one.

Julie Anne invited me to a party aboard a boat to launch an album by an up-and-coming band called Duran Duran. I had never heard of them but after that night there was no forgetting. I spent the evening watching Nick Rhodes fall head over heels in love with Julie Anne while the boat cruised around the marina. Needless to say I drove the car home and Julie Anne went “on tour” with the band.

News of the nuptials was not a surprise. I was so happy for Julie Anne.

“Legs” had premiered and I was ecstatic. It was so much fun! I think the first time I was recognized was at the airport on my way to Julie Anne’s wedding. I was shocked and really flattered.

The wedding was my first trip to London. I met Nina at the hotel and it was a crazy fun week of celebration. The ceremony was at the Savoy; so many beautiful people, flamingos, magic… Nick’s best man was a woman. I don’t remember all the names but the event was star-studded.

Sometime after the wedding, Julie Anne informed me that the newspaper from her hometown had more to say about me being at the wedding than her. I found this hard to believe but reveled in the thought of it. Her comments to me about the article were most likely her just poking fun, her sense of humor dry—something I would most certainly appreciate much more now.


Des Moines Register 8/23/84;
the relevant passage is the following, which includes a statement
from Jay Levitt, a University of Iowa student who attended the event:

[His] biggest thrill was meeting a rock video model named “Wendy.” “She’s in the ZZ Top ‘Legs’ video. … I like that video. It was really exciting to meet her. She was very nice.” The “Legs” video features four pulchritudinous beauties with minimal clothing arriving in a customized street rod to transform a plain Jane wimp woman into a knock-em-dead siren.

My boyfriend at the time wasn’t invited to the wedding; Julie Anne couldn’t stand him, for good reason. I didn’t go back to LA from London and [instead] moved [directly] to New York to avoid further contact with him.

New York…wow. Luckily Nina was around to show me the ropes whether that be good or bad. Ha ha. She was from New York and always had a nose for fun; we moved into a five-story walk-up studio apartment somewhere in the Village.

Not long after my arrival to New York, I was informed that “Legs,” along with “Sharp Dressed Man,” had been nominated for an MTV Video Award. I went to the awards with Tim Newman and sat in the first few rows. Madonna was there performing “Like a Virgin.” Although “Legs” lost to “Sharp Dressed Man” [MTN: actually, “Legs” won “Best Group Video,” beating “Sharp Dressed Man”], the night was magic.

I received fan mail, none of which I still have. I have moved so many times in my life that any photos, fan mail, etc., from that period have been lost. I never really felt “connected” to any of it anyway. But I will always appreciate the kind words both men and woman expressed—mostly “I wish you would come and rescue me out of my town.” Sometimes lingerie was included and once a pair of sneakers…strange but sweet.

The last time I was recognized was on Easter Sunday in Aspen, CO. I was shocked—it had been at least 10 years since the video premiered. Fun!

It’s been over 20 years since I have seen either Nina or Julie Anne…

My girlfriends still make it a point to tell people we meet of the video. I always blush and tell them it dates me and to stop. Nothing is worse than seeing the blank face of a person who was an infant when “Legs” was in its glory and clueless to the video; however, there are those who do remember and it’s always a treat for me to see the smiles and get recognition.

I have since lived and traveled all over the world, experiencing life to its fullest, learning about and appreciating different cultures, and, most importantly, discovering and appreciating who I am, something I never paid much mind to in my youth.
Upon my return to California, I purchased a beautiful home. I decorated, renovated, and turned it into the one of the sexiest rentals in town, one of my favorite tenants being Kelly Clarkson.

My rental property is like a hotel for those who prefer to stay in a home. It’s cost effective when traveling with others, private, and fabulous, so it’s a full time job. I’m very proud of my “sanctuary.” I believe its energy inspires creativity to those who stay and know it creates a sense of peace and relaxation for them which gives me so much pleasure.

[I asked if Kelly Clarkson knew of Wendy’s own distinguished connection to the music industry]

I guess it sounds as if I name-dropped. I’m blushing… While I respect Kelly’s fame and love her music, she is one of my favorite tenants because of the beautiful energy she left behind in my home; not everyone does, sadly. Kelly had no idea [of her music video past]; my contact [with her was] brief and landlord-like, ha ha.

[I asked why she didn’t continue as an actress/model]

I was never really cut out to be an actress or model, although I loved the attention and did do a few successful ad campaigns and commercials I was incredibly camera shy which caused an uncomfortable anxiety in me. I preferred entertaining and making a home for those I loved. Although a bit wild, I’m an old-fashioned girl at heart.
[I asked if she has kids]
I always thought I would have children, but as of late only a small petting zoo. I would love to adopt a child when and if it is my calling, but for now I am beyond thrilled to be the godmother to my oldest and best friend Randall’s son Miles.

I’m a bit of an artist at heart. My latest passion: designing and creating chandeliers out of semi-precious stones; the first was out of labradorite, the second citrine, the third will be quartz, but sadly, I haven’t had the time to begin this labor of love. This is beginning to sound like an online dating profile so I will stop before I embarrass myself!
I presently live in Los Angeles.

[I asked her reaction when she heard from me]

It was a delight and a bit of a giggle to hear from you; just hoping that you are with good intention and forthright...

Actually it [this interview] was fun—although sobering sometimes, ha ha—remembering.
Tweet about this interview to @ZZTop, @BillyFGibbons, @missfreyja, and @jeanakeough!

Copy and tweet to help me find more 1980s music video girls:

Real research question: if you know the Annie Hubbard who was in 1984 Night Ranger video “Sister Christian,” pls contact @MarcTNobleman

Real research question: if you know the womaneven just her name—in 1986 Cinderella video “Shake Me,” pls contact @MarcTNobleman


Real research question: if you know woman—even just her name—in ‘87 Richard Marx video “Should’ve Known Better,” pls contact @MarcTNobleman

Next: ZZ Top, more “Legs” (1984).

8 comments:

Gregg said...

Wendy is still gorgeous at age 50! She has always been my favorite "music video vixen".

Jim MacQ said...

Fun fact: Baxter Robertson, as B-Flat Baxter, was the lead singer for the Roto Rooter Good Time Christmas Band, which was the group that provided all the incidental music for the Dr. Demento radio show. He is also the father of Allison Robertson, the guitarist for The Donnas.

Anonymous said...

She looks great.

Dex said...

She was always one of my favorite video girls. Probably because she starts out being the girl next door, almost nerdy even.

Some shots of her remind me of the actress Ashley Williams, probably best known now as Victoria, one of Ted's off/on again girlfriends on How I Met Your Mother.

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Dex - I didn't know the actress, but looked her up, and I can see the resemblance you noticed.

Anonymous said...

She still has a very natural beauty! Just gorgeous, not fake and made up, like most of the young stars of today. She seems happy and enjoying life judging by her comments.

hal said...

Hey Marc,

Did you see this? Came out about a week ago on Yahoo:
http://music.yahoo.com/blogs/stop-the-presses/zz-top-legs-women-own-them-210417325.html

richard lunt said...

I am richlunt which I changed my name from Richard Lump to Richard lunt. I live in Los angeles today and London for awhile, changed my name because I have a lovely daughter name is emily and could not see her go thru life as em a lump. Wendy I have only fond and beautiful memories of you and nina was a true love of mine. as for you I should of asked you to marry me don't think you would of but just saying

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