There are some things in life you just don’t expect. Ball cancer, for example, or those dreams you have where you’re part of an orgy with the cast of Harry Potter and next thing you know, Voldemort has turned into the Nazi from Schindler’s List and he’s firing his rifle at you, only the bullets aren’t bullets, they’re tiny penises, and you can’t breathe because you’re afraid you’ll open your mouth and Dad will have been right about you all along. Y’know, the usual surprises.
But the really unexpected stuff? It just hits ya –BAM!– and you’re as shocked by your own reaction as the event itself. Which is what happened to me this morning, when I found out Deborah Foreman is on Twitter.
Are you kidding me, Twitter? You have finally justified your existence! The absolute, uncontested, cutest actress in Hollywood for all of the 1980s is posting stuff? The first movie star I fell madly, passionately in love with as a kid is right there, re-tweeting inspirational quotes and pondering her iTunes playlist like the rest of us lowly wretches? It’s almost impossible to believe.
Yeah, you punks today don’t get it. You with your Biebers and your GaGas and your Betty Whites… your celebrity-sex-obsessed blogs (ahem) and your 24-hour entertainment channels and your free porn! There was a time when you could fall in love with a famous person and never know a god damned thing about them ‘cept the movies they made or the songs they sang. I mean, sure, if you were a desperate spaz, you might join fan clubs and send letters, but most of us had enough dignity not to go that route. Maybe a poster went up on the back of your bedroom door, but that’s it. You longed in silent anonymity.
So to have that virtual wall –a wall that’s been there for so long that you forgot it existed– come crashing down is just a cognitive kick in the gut. I feel like I’m fourteen again. Deborah Foreman… the real Deborah Foreman… and I’m her 94th follower. Mind blowing.
Since I've never known a dude who wanted to taste cherry or strawberry while tongue-stabbing a chick's tonsils, I have to assume that this was Maybelline's attempt to pioneer the girl-on-girl-gone-wild market. ... I approve.
To put this in perspective, her movie career was at least as successful as Ashton Kutcher’s is today, so if we had been able to access Twitter on our Commodore 64s, she would have had, say, a couple million followers at least. And here I am, number 94. (That’s. Fucked. Up.)
So why, precisely, did I love her so? Well, obviously, there was Valley Girl, which I caught on HBO when my parents weren’t paying attention. It was one of those films that was immediately strip-mined by Hollywood for its superficial themes, tone, and unfortunately, language; of the hundreds of ’80s films that were filled with characters squealing “ohmigaawd!” and “bitchin’!”, VG was the only one that expended the effort to make an inherently self-trivializing mode of speech sound like something real people would use. And of course, it bestowed upon the world one Nicolas Cage, whose then-abundant hair was already ridiculous.
As another lesson to the youth of today, please note that --in contrast to your reaction to, say, Kim Kardashian walking on the beach with Justin Bieber-- I never once considered hunting down Nicolas Cage and roasting him over an open flame just because he kissed Deborah in Valley Girl. Such thoughts never popped into my head until I sat through Con Air.
(As an aside, do yourself a favor and check out Nic’s chest topiary in the beach scene. It is awesomely tragic. Even then, he was dreaming of playing Superman.)
Watching VG now, you’re instantly drawn to how it looks. It snapshots and exaggerates a time when Douche Culture had taken over… every guy had a popped collar, an absurdly sleeveless/sideless shirt, or both. And girls were more confused about fashion than at any other point in the 20th century… slutty-yet-unflattering jumpsuits, weirdly frumpy, frilly blouses, and more unfortunate hairdos than you can possibly imagine. Never have so many pretty people looked so stupid.
Note that E.G. Daily (right) --whose primary job in Valley Girl was being The Bad Girl who shows her boobs in the first ten minutes-- is now the voice of half the cartoon kids and animals that have graced television in the last 20 years. I feel old.
But what’s really striking is how real and yet otherworldly the whole thing feels; it’s like a sun-drenched, pastel, hairspray’d Dazed & Confused that has lost its anchor in reality. The hippie parents have a likable sincerity, but in retrospect, you realize that by 1983, the average hippie was a hypocritical, upwardly mobile coke fiend. There’s a similar conflict in the movie’s ’50s-meets-’90s attitude toward sex; it accurately reflects what was pretty much a Lost Decade for teen libidos –we had AIDS and Jerry Falwell hanging over us on one side, while Madonna and the VHS porn hidden in dad’s closet were luring us forward– but covers that truth in an infantilizing sheen of fairy tale innocence.
Of course, with all that going on, it’s easy to overlook what VG was really about in its day: it was the first time that someone remade Romeo & Juliet and put the narrative focus squarely on Juliet and her choices. For such a small movie, it had an enormous impact on the cultural landscape. Make no mistake: you don’t get any sex in your city or travel in your pants without Valley Girl. It was arguably the first visible sign of the sexual revolution firing its second stage, pushing us out of the atmosphere we’d known and into the complicated realm of Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville.
Odd trivia about Valley Girl: director Martha Coolidge has an unusual number of movies in her filmography that feature the word "girl"... Valley Girl, City Girl, Material Girls, and An American Girl. Then again, I have an unusual number of posts on this blog that talk about my wang, so who am I to judge?
The next time I saw Deborah was in Real Genius, easily the most ludicrously underrated film of the ’80s. Starring Val Kilmer (the official Greatest Leading Man To Spend His Career Being Box Office Poison), RG was smart, funny, and aiming way higher than 99% of the other teen movies of the day. It also featured Deborah in a small role that nonetheless graced us with an exchange of dialogue so perfect that it still kills me and makes me slightly horny:
I never actually got to see her next flick, My Chauffeur, but that was purely a timing issue. I made it all the way up to the ticket window, where the dick behind the counter promptly turned me away for being sixteen; I think my friends and I ended up going to see Silver Bullet instead. Yeah, I went for Deborah Foreman, and got stuck with Corey Haim… that was my ’80s, in a nutshell. As opposed to this, which should have been my ’80s:
(Upon reflection, I would settle for that being my 2010.)
Next was April Fool’s Day, about which Vincent Camby said “… the dialogue is mostly composed of rude variations on eek, ugh, and I’d like to sleep with you this evening.” To which I can only offer an ever-so-polite “Fuck you, ghost of Vincent Camby.” Yeah, the ending was irritating, but it was really quite decent overall.
The problem with AFD was that fellow '80s cutie Deborah Goodrich was cast in the movie, too. To this day, I know people who get her confused with D. Foreman. Which to me is weird because, while they were both pretty, well, let's just put it out there... Deborah Foreman had boobs. Sorry D. Goodrich, not tryin' to hate.
And then came Waxwork. I’ll just say this up front: it’s not for everyone. But it featured a “holy shit, I know that guy!” cast of ’80s semi-All Stars… that dude from Fright Night, that naked chick from Blame It On Rio, that kid who ended up playing Bobby on Twin Peaks, and most significantly, Deborah. It was like Robert Altman made a horror flick.
Here’s the thing about Waxwork, though… it doesn’t make the list because the movie is –in and of itself– great. It’s not bad (it actually has a significantly higher TomatoMeter rating than AFD), but as a film, it’s nothing special. What is special? The sex. Or rather, the sexual implications.
Had anyone asked, I would have advocated Deborah spending the entire decade soaking wet.
I’m not aware of any other movie of the time that had such an impact on the flowering libidos of teen boys and (more significantly) girls. I could probably write a dissertation on Waxwork‘s psychosexual influence on the American adolescent, but basically, if you saw it, some part of it stuck with you. At least one of its vignettes tweaked a sexual hot button you didn’t know you had, and you filed that shit away for future contemplation. Vampires, werewolves, madonnas, whores, the Marquis De Sade… it had something for every nascent pervert. It was kinda like Twilight, minus the undercurrent of Mormon shame.
Sadly, I lost track of Deborah after that. A couple years later, I became enraptured with Sherilyn Fenn (who needs her own post, at some point), and after a while, adulthood kinda killed the part of my brain that was capable of full-on celebrity crushes, as well as the part that was convinced masturbating five times a day was a productive use of time and energy.
But here we are in 2010, reunited, bound once more by the fading echoes of youthful adoration and her complete ignorance of my existence; it’s 1985 Redux. Only now I spend all my time thinking about the vaginas of famous women, and she runs a Pilates studio. (Okay, so one thing is different.) We live in interesting times.
Now, if only Phoebe Cates will join Twitter. Then I’ll follow her and Debby simultaneously, and it’ll be like the fantasy threesome I always wanted… just textier.
UPDATE: After I followed her, she sent me a DM that said “Thanks for following me! smiles, Debby”. I’m going to start a bucket list, just so I can mark that one off.