Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Girl in the Video: “Kiss and Tell” (1988)

Introduction to series “The Girl in the Video 2” (including list of interviewees).

The video: “Kiss and Tell” by Bryan Ferry.

The girl-now-woman: Denice Lewis.

How old were you when you appeared in the “Kiss and Tell” video?

I was in my twenties during that video but I don’t recall what year we filmed it. [I was born in] 1960, if you find out when it was filmed and do the math.

Where were you living at the time?


What music videos, shows, or movies had you appeared in prior to that?

I honestly can’t really say what came before or after. In those days I was working and traveling so much and in different times zones—the time frames are really a blur.

I did a video for Duran Duran’s [side project band] Arcadia—
The Flame”; Elton John and Cliff Richards’s “Slow Rivers”; Zucchero and Paul Young’s “Sensa Una Donna”; Flash and the Pan (title unknown); Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”—they [used] footage from [a] Vivienne Westwood show in their video and didn’t pay anyone [the film was considered public domain]; Praise (a band including George Michael’s cousin); and a group called Conspiracy (title unknown).

The glimpse of Denice (right) in “I’m Too Sexy”

Interestingly enough, about a year after I did the video for Conspiracy, I was at a pub with my acting coach and one of the boys from Conspiracy was also there. He came up to me to inquire if I was me. We chatted for a bit and then out of the blue, I decided to ask them to write a song for me. Andros [Andreas Georgiou], George Michael’s cousin, had suggested that I try sing myself because we were lip syncing in the Praise video and apparently I did it perfectly on the first take.

So I went to Nick Gatfield at EMI and asked for a budget to record a demo which he agreed to; Sasha and Michael wrote the song and off we went to Depot Studios and recorded it. Apparently EMI really liked it so they gave us another budget to do a second one which was really good as well.

Around that time I was having my 30th birthday party and everyone came. It was really crazy. George Michael was the DJ and all kinds of friends (over 300) showed up at my house. Richard Branson and John Kerry [MTN: yes, the future presidential candidate] crashed and George kept playing my records over and over to dance.

Amazingly, Richard Branson asked me if I wanted a recording deal with Virgin and I told him I was already with EMI. Can you imagine? We had a full-color page in Tatler Magazine’s Society Page and The London Times called it “Party of the Year”! All of the television shows and feature films I did came after that when I moved to Los Angeles.

How were you cast in “Kiss and Tell”?

The same way most of them are. A simple audition then perhaps a callback and then maybe you book it.

Do you remember what your reaction was when you were cast?

[No, but] I remember my reaction when I booked [the 1999 film] End of Days. I thought my manager was joking and the when she convinced me that she was serious I started jumping up and down and running around the house screaming in my leopard print terrycloth bathrobe and managed to tinkle on myself!

Where was the video filmed?

It was at one of the studios. I really don’t remember the name.

How long was the shoot?

We shot all day.

How did you feel making the video?

I felt high from the pain meds but happy and having fun.

What was the hardest part of the shoot?

I don’t ever look at any aspect of shooting as being hard. I love working in front of a camera and to me it is always exciting.

How was it to work with Bryan Ferry? What was he like? Did he hit on you?

LOL! He’s great! And he definitely didn’t hit on me. For some reason the theory about the casting couch and stars hitting on you has [not] happened to me once in all the time that I have worked.

Any funny stories from the shoot?

I had just flown from Houston, where I had surgery on my right foot to remove a broken sesamoid bone that had become arthritic and arrived in London just in time to go straight to the studio to shoot the video. Thank God the doctor had given me some pain medication as we were dancing all day! That was no easy “feet” (pun intended!) in my circumstance!

Naturally I took the medicine and as I was walking up the stairs, I tripped and fell up the stair and torn my stiches! Ouch! As I’m sure you have guessed by now, it was time for another dose. “Someone” (and I won’t say who!) noticed me taking [the medication] and managed to convince me that I wasn’t the only person in need of pain relief. In the end we all were very “happy” during filming of what turned out to be a great video.

Anything go wrong on the shoot?

Not that I am aware of.

What did you think of the video?

Love it!

What did your parents think of it?

I doubt they ever saw it. And they’ve both been deceased for many years.

What did your friends think of it?

If they like Bryan Ferry, they love it.

Did the video ever affect your dating life in any way (i.e. when you first told boyfriends you were the woman in it)?

Not at all. I was a very independent person and it wouldn’t matter to me if they didn’t like it. I wasn’t doing it for them. I was doing it for me, my career, and my paycheck.

Did you receive fan mail? If so, do you still have any of it?

I’ve received a boatload of it and if I still have any of it would be in my storage unit.

Did the video generate any controversy that you know of?

It generated a lot of appreciation from his fans.

What were you paid?

British pounds! LOL!

Were you ever recognized in public?

LOL! All the time. I have no idea when last. No stories, really, other than some of the amazing things people will ask for in fan mail like money to travel with and [the opportunity] to become my personal photographer.

Tell me about shooting the Arcadia video “The Flame.” How was it to work with Duran Duran? Any funny/unusual stories from the set?

That was great! The guys are all so super creative and supportive. It took us three very long days to shoot that one. We would wrap around 3 a.m., drive home for an hour, and be right back on set at 8 or 9 a.m. Thank God I was never one who needed much sleep! 

Julie Anne [Rhodes, then-wife of Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes] was pregnant with Taji [Tatjana] at that time, so I think it was difficult for her seeing me as the new kid on the block spending so much time with Nick [Rhodes], but very soon we became friends; although we don’t spend much time together these days due to our very busy schedules, we love each other and I would trust her with my life. She beautiful inside and out, talented, has an amazing sense of humor! My friendship with her was the greatest thing that I received out of the Arcadia video.

Did you ever meet other women who were female leads in a mainstream ‘80s rock video?

I think the one I remember most was Julie Pankhurst from the Robert Palmer video. She is such a great beauty and a darling person.

If you went to college, where and what did you study?

I went to San Jacinto College in Houston and studied cosmetology. Graduated in 1980 and then worked in a salon for three years before I was discovered.

What are you doing these days?

I am an artist now.

Where do you live?

I live in the West Adams Historic District (Los Angeles) with my teenage sweetheart, Ken Steen. We reconnected after 35 years and are planning to marry.

We live with our seven babies: Romeo (a pitbull, 4 years old), Orlando and Othello (teacup Chihuahuas, 4 years old), King Cat Cecil (25 years old), Queen Monkee Monk (15 years old), Princess Onyx (age unknown), and Bijoux, the rare spot-bellied bonsai tiger (approximately 6 weeks old). She somehow managed to crawl into the engine of an SUV that belongs to my neighbor and survive [a] trip from another location to our building. After several attempts to rescue her by many neighbors and animal control, my next-door neighbor and I got her out and now she lives with us. We are a rather big family!

What was Ken’s reaction when he learned you were in music videos?

Ken was very proud when he saw all of the videos. He loved it! He thought it was cool! That is an exact quote from him this very moment.

If you have kids, what do they think of the video?

No actual children so I can’t say.

What did you think when you first heard from me?

You may find this answer strange, but I’ve always be very tuned-in spiritually and about a week before I heard from you, I had a very strong sensation that someone would be contacting me for something about my life during that time. And then you showed up!

Has anyone else ever interviewed you about this?

Not at all.

Have you appeared at any fan conventions to sign autographs? If not, would you?

No, I never have and if I were to consider it there would have to be an interesting offer on the table.

Did you stay in touch with Bryan Ferry after the shoot?

I did a shoot with Lucy Ferry (his wife at that time) and Manolo Blahnik’s sister for something and ran into Bryan here and there, but we didn’t attempt to stay in contact.

When was the last time you were in touch with him?

In the ‘80s.

How do you look back on the experience?

With great fondness not only for that video but for the entire experience of living and working in the UK.

Tweet about this interview to @bryanferry @DeniceLewis!

Next: Billy Joel, “We Didn’t Start the Fire” (1989).

1 comment:

Denice Lewis said...

Marc! That's fantastic! Thanks so much for including me in your project! Bravo my friend!!!!! Bravo!!!!! XO, Denice

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