The videos: “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” by Journey; “Oh Sherrie” by Steve Perry.
The girls-now-women: Margaret Oldsted Menendez (“Separate Ways”); Sherrie Swafford (“Oh Sherrie.”).
“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”
And luckily, she took their advice.
How were you cast in the video for “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”?
I am from New Orleans where music and hospitality is part of our culture. The music scene was new wave and some punk rockers. During my high school and college days, I dated a cute musician, Chuck Menendez. It was his sister, who was in an infamous ‘80s New Orleans band called The Cold, who ultimately led me to the audition for the Journey video.
She was friends with the makeup artist in the production company. I got a call from Chuck because they hadn’t found anyone to cast for the girl part, and they wanted “his girlfriend” to come and audition. I must have been clueless; had I thought it through I probably wouldn’t have even shown up to the audition. I am relatively shy and quiet.
I was a college student at Tulane University in uptown New Orleans. I double majored in biology and environmental studies. I was working and paying my way through college so the [notion] of making money for shooting a video was a godsend. It paid $250 a day and I was paid for three days of work. That was a lot of money at the time for a student like me. So I was now the girl in the Journey video, still clueless.
What was it like making the video?
The first day on the wharf of the Mississippi River by the French Quarter was freezing. There were two Winnebagos, one for the band and another for production. Lots of people were hanging in the production RV. Everyone was friendly, saying Beverly Hillbillies lines—”Y’all come back nah, ya hear?” But in New Orleans, we have southern—not exactly hillbilly—charm. Still, it was laid back and entertaining.
The director called for the musicians. Suddenly the RV was empty. The nice, relaxed gentlemen who were so entertaining [turned out to be] the band, Journey. Immediately I was nervous and also thankful for living a life of bliss—it can save a shy person. Oh, one band member, Steve Perry, pretty much stayed to himself in his (the band’s) RV. The rest of the band continued to use our RV. I have pictures from that day and an autographed album and Steve Smith’s drumsticks, which were given to Chuck.
The second day of the shoot was perfect New Orleans weather. A touch of spring for the Mardi Gras season. I remember the band appearing later than was expected and seemingly confused. They [had gone] out the night before. What they couldn’t understand was why no one ever said “Last call!” Being a New Orleans girl, I couldn’t understand what a last call even was. They explained they were out all night because normal cities close bars and let everyone know that they are closing. But this was New Orleans, and Mardi Gras.
I couldn’t even imagine wearing my hair that way—the video was the first and last time I did. Makeup artists are just that, artists. I really appreciated her talents to enhance not just my looks but also that great time period, the ‘80s! She picked out the outfit in a local store in the French Quarter.
My boyfriend (unlike me, not clueless) bought their new album and brought it to the shoot. His brother-in-law (also not clueless) brought a camera, too [which is where these set photos come from].
How was it to work with Journey?
Everyone in the band was professional and did a great shoot that day. Steve was still reserved and quiet. I didn’t think anything of it; in fact, I thought I was the same way, so it seemed normal. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned of his girlfriend being upset that a girl was in a Journey video.
The rest of the band gladly offered their personal stories, shared photos, and enjoyed being in New Orleans. I rarely spoke, but I did talk to Jonathan Cain. Once again, I was oblivious—didn’t realize he was in one of my all-time favorite bands, The Babys, or I might have never gone near him. (I still listen to their music!)
Were you already familiar with Journey’s music?
I knew the Journey hits and loved their music. However, videos were new novelties so I didn’t know band members like we do now from videos.
Any funny anecdotes from the shoot?
When the shoot went a little longer than expected, I was running late to meet my boyfriend at his sister’s apartment, so I jumped in my car with full makeup and large ‘80s hair. It was important not to be late or I wouldn’t have parking for Endymion, one of the largest parades of the season. Luckily we had ladders set up behind the crowd to be able to see the parade. We had perfect viewing. Then the riders on each float started pointing at us, throwing beads as far as they could, bombing us as each float came by. My hair and makeup were the perfect bead magnets. It was one of the funniest times in my life and one of my best memories.
What did your parents think of the video?
My parents, God bless them, were older when the video was made. They weren’t up to date on pop culture—like knowing what MTV was or what music videos were. They didn’t seem surprised that I would be in a music video mainly for that fact. Funny, but my own children are likely to say the same about me.
What did your friends think of it?
My friends and family were supportive and, of course, happy to say they knew the “girl in the Journey video.”
Did the video generate any controversy that you know of?
If there was any controversy, the band made sure I was not a part.
Did you watch the MTV World Premiere of the video, and if so, how did that feel?
I did watch [it]. I was with friends who were in Chuck’s band at the time. We were so excited we even taped it on the Betamax!
I also watched Marilyn McCoo introduce it on Solid Gold. I have tried and tried to get the tape of when it was on Beavis & Butthead. I think that episode made me really think this video surpasses all others and is a true icon. That was the defining moment.
Were you ever recognized in public? How often and when last? Any stories about that?
I haven’t been recognized in public outright. To illustrate, about a year ago, our oldest daughter was presented as a Maid in the court of Neptune. An ‘80s cover band, equipped with videos, played “Separate Ways” at the ball. My daughter and I had the best time dancing and walking and laughing and being in the spotlight during that song! My husband thought the band should know that I was the girl in the video they just played and brought me backstage. For whatever reason, the band lacked enthusiasm. They were, however, polite enough to say that I did look like the girl in the video, especially around the eyes.
What are you doing these days?
I’m very proud and happy that Chuck and I married at the ripe age of 21 (about a year after the video was made). I am super thankful to say I am married to my best friend and sweetheart. We met when we were thirteen, then dated through high school and college. When Chuck got down on his knee to propose, he made sure a Journey song was playing.
I am the proud mother of our four beautiful children. They are Chase (25), who is attending MSU and completing [a degree in] broadcast meteorology; Madeline (21), who is attending Belmont University and studying music business/math while songwriting and recording music; Laina (14), who is entering 9th grade at St. Patrick Catholic High School; and Briggs (9), who is entering 4th grade at St. James Elementary School. I am blessed to be able to be at home raising them and enjoying every moment! I enjoy, and have to laugh, when I’ve been running around all day in sweats and a T-shirt, then I bring Briggs to his guitar lesson and the guy in the music store wants to know “What was it like to meet Journey?”
What do your kids think of the video?
I guess this video stands the test of time. My children are not embarrassed. In fact, they and their friends are impressed. [By] text I get pictures and videos from their friends singing “Separate Ways” to the video while they are out, and at any time of day or night. I love that! Their happiness is priceless.
Where do you live?
We live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Yes, we met Katrina up [close] and personally; she destroyed our home on the beach.
There were many miracles during that time. One, I guess you can say, is that one wall of our home survived the storm’s surge. We returned to survey the damages, and still hanging [on] this wall was the framed, autographed Journey album. It still has the remnants of the marsh and is proudly displayed in my husband’s office. The drumsticks, sadly, are now a part of Katrina’s collection. Luckily, I placed most of our photos upstairs in a container, and I also have pictures taken during the video. Journey came to Biloxi, MS not long after the storm. After the performance, I gave a roadie a picture taken during the [video] shoot. I asked him if he could get the band to sign it. He brought it back to me with thoughtful comments and autographs! That is all the contact I have ever had with Journey since the video.
What did you think when you first heard from me?
Lately the attention I receive from the video has grown. I get random questions about it, stories from friends when they tell other people they know me, and a lot of attention from my children’s friends. I mostly hear “How cool!” Still, even with this attention, I was so shocked to get your request to answer some questions!
Has anyone else ever interviewed you about this? Have you appeared at any fan conventions to sign autographs? If not, would you?
I haven’t been interviewed, other than curious friends asking what it was like to be a part of it. I haven’t been to any conventions, either.
How do you look back on the experience?
I most appreciate the fact that while making the video, the band was especially nice to me. They were all easygoing. I think they truly respected each other. I guess they are genuine, thoughtful people who also have talent beyond belief. Steve Smith seemed to like having a fan who was also a drummer (Chuck) on the set.
Janet Cross (who appeared in Huey Lewis and the News’s “If This Is It” video) is related to Frederick Law Olmsted (designer of Central Park). Are you?
I no longer have my father’s research (Katrina) but he claimed Frederick Law Olmsted was my great-great uncle (?). The Olmsted family tree is gigantic so it’s possible [Janet Cross, AKA Janet Olmsted Cross] and I are distantly related, but it would take some effort to know for sure. Small world! I probably get asked about my famous relative and my connection to him more than I get asked about the Journey video though.
Anything you’d like to add?
Another recent story about this band’s heart and soul is that Neal Schon gave his guitar to a boy in the front row of a Journey concert in New Orleans. This boy loves guitar and was playing air guitar along with Neal during the concert. The cool thing is, that boy not only loves Journey…but his cousin is married to the girl in the video. I would just love for Neal Schon to know this story and how happy he made our little cousin!
Thanks for your interest. I can’t help but smile while thinking someone is actually curious about little ol’ me! I am glad to help you, and as a dear family friend and second mother to me says, “We help each other.”
BONUS: What happened to Sherrie Swafford?
To my great thrill, I found Sherrie. To my great disappointment (but complete understanding), she was not comfortable participating. But to my great honor, she wrote this brief update and said I could share it:
You are the only person [who] has ever received a response! MTV, VH1 [contacted me and] I did nothing and hoped they thought it was the wrong number! I am an esthetician, teach yoga, never married, no children. Love my animals, planting flowers, and life. Cherish my friends (including Steve) and my privacy. It was so different for us! It was just Love, nothing else!
I can see why she and Steve were drawn to each other; they both seem like unwavering class acts. Is it any wonder “Oh Sherrie” is such a beautiful song?
Tweet about this interview to @JourneyOfficial, @TheJonathanCain, @NealSchonMusic, @stevesmithdrums, and @FrontiersRec!
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
Next: ZZ Top, “Legs” (1984).