Monday, July 15, 2013

The Girl in the Video: “Legs” (1984), part 2 of 3

Part 1.

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

The video: “Legs” by ZZ Top.

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



In I Want My MTV by Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks, ZZ Topper Billy Gibbons describes Kym as a
groovy hippie chick (page 119). Her patience is certainly groovy, as it took me several months of trying to reach her before I knew she was on board. Kym was the second ZZ Top girl to opt for an essay rather than a Q&A-format answer.

The first time I saw a ZZ Top video, I was in a club and “Sharp Dressed Man” came on. I recognized one of the models, a centerfold friend of mine, Jeana Tomasino. She was one of the three hot ZZ Top girls. I remember thinking, “Wow, I would love to do one of these MTV videos. This band is so good. The girls are super hot.” The director [Tim Newman] was the first to use three girls in videos. Everyone started using three girls after (“Addicted to Love”). [MTN: Actually five girls!]

I was in L.A. partying with some friends. I was up late. I had a cold. I checked my [answering] machine in Santa Barbara and there was the casting call. Be there today and I had one hour. I flipped out. I found the building. I was wearing a T-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. I had nothing [else] in my car to wear, and my friends were on their way to work, so I had nothing in the way of cool clothing to wear within 30 minutes. My voice, from the cold, made me sound like Kim Carnes. Deep and masculine, but good.
I looked in the window into the waiting room and there must have been somewhere around 15-20 beautiful girls. Miniskirts, high heels, perfect hair, nails, and makeup. I came so close to leaving, getting on the 101 freeway, and hightailing it home. I walked into the room and the girls [looked] me up and down, [as if] thinking, “Oh, she’s no competition.”

They called my name and I met the boys in the band. I apologized for my appearance. Then I asked if anyone had mineral water—or better, a beer. They must have been thirsty, also. Out came the beer and we started talking about everything—motorcycles, chili cook-offs, Santa Barbara…and we had mutual friends in S.B. They were super nice guys. We hit it off.

I went home and told my friends there was no way I was going to get the job. I looked like crap; I [hadn’t even used] a hairbrush. Next day a call came from my agent: I got a callback. I couldn’t believe it. This time I was dressed to kill, the works…

They had me dance with their choreographer. I had to have attitude in my dance style and be able to follow and learn new dance moves quickly. The next day I got the call. Yahoo, I got it!

We had a blast shooting the video. Apparently something happened [with] the blond girl on the set of “Sharp Dressed Man” [the second in the video trilogy that began with “Gimme All Your Lovin’” and ended with “Legs”]. Danièle and Jeana didn’t like her. She was pushed out. Danièle and Jeana didn’t get along [either]. I was the third girl and I was new so I didn’t think I would even be seen in the video. They were always pushing me to the back. They said my red top stood out on screen.
We were paid really well. We all got over $2,000 for the shoot, which is so much for a video dancer. Most people won’t believe it. I would have done it for free!

At the shoot everything went fine, I thought. I was sad [when] it was over because everyone was so nice. I believe it was one or two days later [when] I got a call from the casting agent. Something had gone wrong in the lab [when] developing the film. I’m not positive exactly what it was, but I heard the film came out black. We had to reshoot a major portion of the video. Good for me. [More] money and more fun.
My father [had] passed away [before the video]. My stepfather is a retired judge. Everyone [in my family] was very supportive. I never did anything that embarrassed them. They thought the video was great.

My friends saw the video before I did. They told me [my] red top popped on the screen and the garter belt with the fishnet stockings looked great. I was on the coral coast of East Africa, near Madagascar, and a guy asked me if I was the girl in the “Legs” video. Once in Australia, a young boy, knowing I was an American model, flipped when he recognized me. He said that ZZ Top just won MTV’s Best Group Video [1984]. The Aussies treated me like an American movie star. I was blown away.
The man in glasses in the back is director Tim Newman.

Billy Gibbons was my favorite [member of ZZ Top]. We became good friends later. He gave me the video on tape. We went out a few times (just as good friends). The night he was on Johnny Carson, he sent a limo from L.A. to pick me up in S.B. That night he spent the night our ranch in Carpinteria (10 minutes from S.B.). My boyfriend [at the time] told Billy and me to go out. I was wearing tiny shorts and was going to change and Billy said, “No, wear those.” But Billy was a super gentleman. My boyfriend was surprised at what a gentlemen he was. Still is.

Whenever ZZ Top [came] to S. B., Billy always [left] me a couple front area and backstage passes. He introduced me to his friends backstage, invited me and my sister Debbie to dinner or any get-together after the concerts.

I partied with Danny Aykroyd and John Belushi, just us three. [At the time] Blues Brothers videos [were] running on MTV.
John Belushi died in March 1982, meaning this photo was taken
at least a year before “Legs” and two years before Ghostbusters.
I would’ve thought Kym would’ve met Dan Aykroyd on set.

They were super fun and nice. The first night they took me to Madison Square Garden—Grateful Dead, backstage. Jerry Garcia was a good friend of theirs. He followed us to the “Blues Brothers club.” [It was small and] I think it was a personal bar with instruments and a great old jukebox, [a place where] they could bring their friends and not be surrounded by fans. We danced, everyone jammed a little.

Danny showed me the town in New York for a couple days. Great memories.
I also met, but did not exactly party with, Dan Aykroyd.
Blame it on my hair and blame my hair on 1994...and a $5 college haircut.

I don’t mean to compare people, but I must say Billy Gibbons possesses a certain sweet, rare charm. I know all his friends know what I’m talking about. He’s definitely one of a kind. I’m sure his brother Dusty is really cool. I just didn’t get to know him as well. I’ve never seen anyone print up special pads with [their own band] logo and sign them and take pictures with patience. He really loves his fans.

I got three [big] jobs within a two-day period—the ZZ Top video, Romancing the Stone (Angelina, the heroine whom Kathleen Turner is writing about at the beginning), and Ghostbusters.

For Ghostbusters, I walked in and they told me to unwrap my hair and shake it. They told me that day that I got the part of the dream ghost. They did a cast of my body while I was wearing a leotard. Neck to knees. The make a mold in which I would be comfortable when they hung me up. They shot me through six to ten plates so it comes out ghostly. Fans were blowing my hair.
Danny didn’t know [in advance that] I was going to be in that scene, but we had already partied in Santa Barbara and New York. I did not date anyone from Ghostbusters. Danny tried late one night, but I said we were just friends.

I can’t believe how much work I got from being in the “Legs” video. It made me famous. I became [a] ZZ Top girl instead of “Miss March.” That was fine with me. People recognized me more from “Legs” because [my scene in] Ghostbusters was so fast. I also got recognized from Playboy. I made Playmate of the Year. I liked it when I would meet somebody and he wouldn’t know anything of what I’d done before, especially the Playboy centerfold.

I did two ZZ Top videos. I never saw the second one—“Sleeping Bag.”

I was in the Kiss [long form] video Exposed [1987]—about twelve videos. Paul Stanley became a friend and came up to Santa Barbara with some friends. We went out to dinner and came back to my place above the city and got in the Jacuzzi.
I was also one of the girls in the “California Girls” video—the Van Halen guy with the long blond hair. [MTN: We think it may actually be a different David Lee Roth video.] No comment on that shoot.

David Lee Roth… This guy lined us up wearing the smallest bathing suits we had and high heels on the top of a high-rise building in L.A. I decided to [go with] the Sheena/Tarzan look. I was very tan at the time and my girlfriend made me a chamois swimsuit and I wore African accessories. [Roth] made us all step forward, one at a time; he eyed us up and down and said “no,” “no way,” “uh-uh,” “back up,” “you can go,” or “yes, step over there.” He was just sooooo rude in his way of casting. The way he [made] the choices made us feel cheap. We all had been on many casting calls, so we knew a jerk when we met [one]. One girl was in tears when she left. A lot of the girls talked about this after the shoot. It’s not as easy as you may think.

They wanted a dozen girls out of the 40-50 who showed. I got picked. We worked all day. It was cold and windy and the pay wasn’t much. Couldn’t pay me to work with him [again].

My boyfriend Dan died of cirrhosis of the liver after 12 years [together] and then my house—all my material possessions—burned up in the Montecito Tea Fire of 2008. I ran out of the house in slippers with my cat. I could smell my hair starting to burn. Material possessions are not worth crying over. But I did lose all the numbers and addresses of all my friends and fans from around the world. Losing a lot of my pictures [with Dan Aykroyd, etc.] was the hard part. I had a storage unit and I found some pictures. Good times!

In the ‘80s, I had a soft leather women’s apparel company, but even after I was 30 I was still getting a lot of modeling work, so I closed that down. I wrote a book which made me only $20,000, and it’s no longer in print.
Weren’t expecting that, were you?
I was on two Playboy covers [9/82 and 9/83] and worked for Playboy for quite some time. I made lots of money. Headshots cost $10-15 each. That’s less than [what is charged at] the conventions. I’ve been to a lot of promotion[al events] where I sign autographs; I went to one huge autograph show in L.A. a long time ago. Now I have an autograph agent, the one and only Mr. John O’Neill of O’Neill’s Autographs. He is a friend of Hugh Hefner’s and a lot of Playboy Playmates. He has more pictures of me than I do. Checks come three a year. [Want an autograph from Kym? Contact johnb@pin-ups.com.]

I also rent a house in Lompoc, a town in Santa Barbara County.

And now I’m doing a jewelry line called Kym’s Designs. I make them all myself.

I have done numerous interviews with magazines and newspapers. Please be one who prints the truth. Do not take me out of context.

Last time I spoke to Hef [Hugh Hefner] was after the fire. I reordered a necklace, a gift that he’d given us at a reunion. I’d gotten my earlier though. A diamond bunny necklace.

I lost touch with Danny when he married Donna Dixon. He came to S.B. before he got married. We went out to breakfast. He kept me in stitches.

I have not talked to Billy in years. I miss his sweet accent. He always made me smile. I’m going to call his good friend Seymour Duncan and give him my new cell number and tell him to [tell Billy to] call me.

I don’t have kids. I was engaged to a man who had a business in the Florida Keys, but he died of leukemia. And Paul, a boyfriend before Dan [the one who had died after a twelve-year relationship with Kym], [died jumping] off a waterfall in Kauai. He [was with friends at a waterfall and he had gone up to a] higher waterfall. You were supposed to dive to the right. It was an accident. I’m single now.

You really want to know what I thought when I first heard from you? I thought you were maybe some fake wanting to talk to me and maybe something else. You were [contacting] my family in Hawaii and my friends here in S.B. About four [people] saw me and told me your trip. It was my stepsister on Kauai who said you were okay. She is very protective of me and I love her.
7/14/13

Want an autograph from Kym? Contact johnb@pin-ups.com.

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 woman—even 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

2 comments:

Dex said...

Wow, never would have known she was in Ghostbusters! Just goes to show there's always more behind "that girl in the video."

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Dex. I agree - everyone has a story behind the story...

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