Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Girl in the Video Epilogue: I Want My MTN!

logo adapted by Leigh Cullen @DesignLeigh

Or rather, MTN wanted his MTV, so I tracked down the 20 people who kindly agreed to be interviewed for the first-ever oral history of the music video from the POV of the stars. No, not the bands—the stars. The ones who shine in the distance, unnamed. In other words, the love interests.

I am profoundly happy about the enthusiastic response the series has gotten. 

Sherrie Swafford said Steve Perry liked her interview. 

Lysette Anthony said Bryan Adams thought her interview was good.

Michael Jacksons nephew Taj tweeted that the Kelley Parker interview was wonderful.

I’ll let the Internet elaborate on the rest:


 Yahoo! Music 7/18/13 (last I checked, 4.5K shares on Facebook!):

Swafford, who has long shied away from the spotlight, was recently found by Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of the Noblemania blog, while he was working on a piece about all the lovely ladies who appeared in the Separate Ways video [MTN: Actually the project, as you have seen, is about lovely ladies from 13 videos; there was only one in Separate Ways]. She declined to be interviewed or photographed, but gave him a short statement acknowledging that his detective work was spot on and giving him the low down on her current activities.
a-ha Facebook post 7/20/13; 
more than 4,800 likes, 680 shares, 210 comments

a-ha retweet 7/19/13

Huey Lewis and the News Facebook post 7/22/13; 
more than 320 likes, 30 shares

Huey Lewis and the News liked on Facebook 7/20/13

 Huey Lewis and the News Facebook post 7/30/13

Martha Quinn (VJ) 7/19/13





Kurt Loder (VJ) 7/15/13

More than 700 likes, 100 shares, 60 comments. 
Journey fans = any way, they want it.

Peter Lenkov (husband of Audie Lenkov) 7/17/13

Julie Anne Rhodes (ex-wife of Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran) 7/14/13

MTV Hive favorited tweet 7/19/13

Yahoo Music favorited tweet 7/19/13

Alan Hunter (VJ) 7/12/13

 It even made an app.
(And a fun app—it’s right there in the name:
Guess What? It’s Fun.)

More reactions:

“Total score for Nobleman! (Steve Spears, Stuck in the 80s)

…big shout out to author Marc Tyler Nobleman, who’s been tracking down and interviewing a lot of the video babes of MTV’s classic era. … They’re pretty entertaining. (SPOILERS: When music videos first became a thing, nobody knew what the hell they were doing!) Check it out!” (Popdose)

“[Marc] was able to...get Kym [Herrin] to spill her guts, to agree to a feature story…who is this dude? Hugh Hefner? Marquis de Sade?” (Santa Barbara News Press Blog)

“Thanks, Huey, for sharing this from noted geek historian Marc Tyler Nobleman. :) Also, saw where MTN interviewed the girl from ZZ Tops ‘Legs’ video...AWESOME!” (Facebook share by John D. Nole via Huey Lewis and the News)

“This is the greatest! I’ve wished for a long time that someone would cover this topic in detail and you have come to the rescue.” (wuenchdog, in a blog comment) 

Someone get this man a book deal and a Pulitzer. (@SmashCutMag)

Easily the greatest interview series in journalism history. What happened to the 80s MTV video vixens? (‏@AndyGlockner, a Sports Illustrated writer)

“Marc Tyler Nobleman: true American.” (Southsidesman, in a comment under the Yahoo! article about my Devon Kidd interview)

EXCELLENT job finding and interviewing our childhood favorites and memories. Its a theme that just works.” (@RickCanton)

“I guess if I had just made one video, it would have led to fame of some kind. Should have tried out rather than just sitting home watching them.” (friend Tammy, on Facebook)

Ive gone down the rabbit hole with your blog. Literally cannot stop reading. So, thank you for this! Im in awe of your research abilities. I think of myself as being pretty darned good when it comes to stuff like this, but you, sir, are the man!” (Shana, by email)

Huey Lewis and the News posted it on their site.

I heard from Greg Kihn’s people.

And I even heard from one of the guys who sang na-na-na-nas in the 1968 “music video” for “Hey Jude” (wearing glasses and tie and appears in close-up starting at 3:28).

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Girl in the Video: “Free Fallin’” (1989)

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

The video: “Free Fallin’” by Tom Petty.

The girl-now-woman: Devon Kidd (Devon Jenkin).

How old were you when you appeared in the “Free Fallin’” video? 

Hmm…old enough to skate a half-pipe that led to professional downhill skateboarding—first female against 200+ men, many with tattoos everywhere and longer hair than me. Where are your manners, young man (LOL!)—never ask a girl her age, silly. Wink wink.

Where were you living at the time? 

Manhattan Beach, CA. Great place! Ever been there?

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

I was the Wienerschnitzel girl for several years during the Lakers’ three-year championship sweep. I didn’t do too much before, but certainly after. The “California skateboarder/surfer girl” type wasn’t in the limelight, of course, except for Malibu Gidget.

How were you cast?

This is the fun part. I was doing a modeling shoot with gold medalist Cathy Rigby for a water ad. I was a gymnast. While I was in the middle of the shoot, I received a call from my agent saying “There’s a music video audition. I don’t know if you want to do it. It’s a small job.” I asked who the artist was and what the song was. When she said, “Tom Petty, ‘Free Fallin,’” I jumped! I asked the photographer of the shoot what time we’d be done, and he said in an hour or so. I asked my agent if they could change my audition time to later. As I waited quite anxiously, had a hard time sitting still for the shoot—but the enthusiastic energy I felt inspired a great shot! I was able to be let go early.

I drove from Sherman Oaks to Melrose Boulevard, West Hollywood, and went to Aardvark’s second-hand store. Two men who loved to dress women helped me find the perfect outfit. Then they directed me to a Wal-Mart-type store to buy cheap fifties-style peg shoes. (The hairstylist on the shoot [had done] my hair fifties style.)

I had more fun getting to the audition. When I arrived, I saw a huge line of ladies looking similar to myself out the door and around the building. I ran in to sign in. I was full of smiles while everyone [looked bored] waiting for their turn. I was like, “Are you kidding me? This is amazing! How can you not be excited!” When it was my turn, I auditioned with two other ladies. One of them starred as Priscilla in [a] TV movie about Elvis Presley, the other was an old friend of mine from high school—a boarding school in Arizona. We hadn’t seen each other in years, so you can imagine how much fun we were having.

I was asked back to meet the director, Julian Temple. He asked if I could skateboard and made his hands go up and down. I had been skateboarding nearly every day after school since I was 3-4 years old. I responded, “You mean a half-pipe?” He said, “Yes, that thing.”

My enthusiastic passion came prior to the audition. I was living on the north shore of Oahu, listening to “Free Fallin’” over and over on top of the mountain while gazing into the most stunning sunset wondering what I was going to do with my life. The lyrics captured the essence of my attention inspiring me in a direction that took hold of my dreams.

Do you remember what happened next? 

How can I forget! After the audition, I went home, cancelled all of my plans, and just stared at the phone. My agent called me and asked, “Are you sitting down?” I said, “No, I can’t. Okay, I will. What happened?” She said, “You got it!” I said, “I got what?” She said, “You got the lead.” I screamed, I danced like the movie with Tom Cruise in his underwear, and I said, “Thank you to Jesus!” Yes, I really do love Jesus of Nazareth! I couldn’t have done anything or got through anything without Him. He is my hero, my savior!

Where was the video filmed?

Hollywood Hills, Sherman Oaks.

How long was the shoot?

Surprisingly—two days.

How did you feel making the video? 

As you can see, I felt great! I [did] wish I had more time to prepare. During the last audition the director said that we were filming that next day. Not much time to brush up on skills. No worries—it all came back and it was good! Amazing how fast childhood experiences flash forward to the greatest moments! The best part of the video was standing on the half-pipe—there was [that] awe-inspiring look that many people remember. I was capturing the freeze-frame miracle moment—the most incredible, super-huge full moon—directly in front of me, I’m skating with cute guys, Tom Petty is singing my favorite song of all time to as if I was his love interest (I’m such a fan!), and an awesome sunset behind me. It doesn’t get any better than that!

What was the hardest part of the shoot? 

Reading the directions wrong! Long story left behind :)

I’m madly curious. Can we bring it back?

On the second day of the shoot, I [allowed] several hours—4+ hours [to be precise]—[to get to] the shooting location. It takes only 45 minutes to 1½  hours to get from Manhattan Beach to Sherman Oaks—so I thought. Mind you, here was no traffic! I would have been a minimum two hours early. 

I realized [in] my nervous enthusiasm, I read the directions on the wrong side of the paper. I began to panic when I couldn’t find the location of the shoot. I’m thinking, “Was the shoot private and I missed the signs?” Overwhelming fear began to [transform] into devastation. [I finally get] my absolute dream job—and I couldn’t find it!

I parked on the side of the road, took a deep breath as my head fell on my steering wheel, and prayed. Then I noticed there were directions on the other side of the paper. How could I not see this? I felt so incredibly discouraged and, more importantly, I felt devastated for everyone waiting for me on the video shoot. I freaked! I quickly drove to the correct location on Ventura Boulevard. I hit one stop light after another. The sun was behind me—directly in my rear view mirror. Squinting from the bright sun, I looked to my right and there was the shoot…and then, right in front of me [was a light turning] red—along with a car passing right in front of me. Yep, I hit the car—right in front of everyone on the shoot.

I felt broken! The people in the car that I had hit were startled but fine; I was scared to death and worried if they were okay. The awesome crew noticed it was me and ran over to get me out of the chaos while a tow truck took my Jeep to a car shop down the street—a whole other story.

The crew immediately put me in makeup and we shot the hot dog scene.

How was it to work with Tom Petty? Or did you not meet him?

We didn’t talk much, but when we did, we were just shooting the breeze while he was playing tag with his daughter. I wish I got to know him better. We certainly have a lot in common.

What did you think of the video? 

I absolutely love it! Julian Temple created a masterpiece of time-traveling into the future, kind of like Back to the Future.

What did your parents think of it? 

My dad thought it was great, but thought I was nutty when racing professionally. I was like, “But dad, you built me a skateboard when I was 3-4 years old and said, “See what this thing can do and get back to me.” So I did, there you go. Everything has a greater purpose than what we can see in that time.

What about your mom?

My mother passed away when I was 11. I’m sure she would have been very proud of me. When we were kids, my mother would make us pick out a present on Christmas Day to give to a sick child at St. John’s Hospital in Redondo Beach. Not a fun thing to do as a young child considering we appeared to be quite financially challenged growing up; my mom worked three jobs to make ends meet. Skateboarding was a way to get around without having to put any pressure on her.

What did your friends think of it?

They thought it was awesome! Most of my friends were guys. They skated and they would take the credit for my skating abilities. Riiiggggghhhhttt. Actually, they did give me pointers and encouraged me to keep going, so I do give my friends a lot of the credit. My girlfriends were excited and a bit jealous. I hate jealousy—it just doesn’t make sense! Everybody has a purpose in life…find it, love it, and live it! Don’t rain on someone else’s parade because you haven’t found yours. Be inspired instead—life is just too short! Live it well while you can.

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

Yes and no. I was always a California skater/surfer girl so I was just being myself, and the men I attracted also skated and surfed. The bummer part was when they took my life for granted and used it to their advantage to excel in their own lives—boasting more about the girl in the video versus appreciating me a person. You can see why many people in the limelight would create an alias—just so people can be themselves around you or treat you as a human being. Whatever the case, it was me, it was my life, and I chose something that came with challenges like any other chosen vocation/career. It is what it is…and I love it either way.

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

Shockingly, I received a lot of fan mail. I never saw myself as famous. I just saw myself doing what I love to do and it led to things I never dreamed of. A lot of people dream of being famous—that wasn’t me. I dreamed of rising to the top to make a difference that inspired people to have faith in themselves, and if fame can do that, then I did my job!

Did the video generate any controversy that you know of? 

Ya know, there’s controversy in everything, which is why I prefer to move on and not dwell on the things have no meaning for today. Sure, I would love to set a lot of records straight, but I [more] prefer to let it go. Thanks for your understanding. Life is good—let’s keep it that way.

Willing for any kind of elaboration? Are you referring to public controversy or private, interpersonal controversy?

Devastatingly (sigh), one of the girls in the video was murdered. People thought it was me. I would prefer to focus on her life-legacy. 

There were many controversies. Let’s just say I’ve never felt more misunderstood while understanding (without blame) why people see the way they do.

To give you an idea, for many years, I volunteered at a shelter for at-risk, underprivileged teens. On Christmas Eve, one of the teens I worked with wore the most perfect shirt; it said it all: “I’m not evil, just misunderstood.” I asked him what his shirt meant to him. His humbling response: he just wished someone cared enough to see his side of the story. My heart sank understanding exactly what he meant.

Then he said, “Why are you down here with us? Looking all rich and stuff?” To him, my simple attire was rich. He added, “Shouldn’t you be with your family tonight?” I responded, “I am with my family.”

The teens and I all hugged and said our goodbye for the evening; I headed for a midnight Christmas Eve church service at the Rock Church in San Diego. Miles McPherson, pro baseball player turned pastor, was preaching. He said, “As a gift to Jesus for the gift of life He’s given you, turn to the person directly behind you and tell them what you are most thankful for.” I turned around to share the experience of the teen shelter.

I reached out to shake a young man’s hand behind me, and he said, “Devon! It’s me, Michael, from TTC!” TTC is the teen shelter I had just come from. I’m so not kidding. I had worked with this young adult for over a year, mentoring him through fitness to go after his dream to enroll in the Marines. Then one day, he was gone. It was his time to go, but no goodbye. I’d wondered if he was on the street again.

The world stopped before me with a miracle moment that doesn’t get any better than this! Tom Petty [was] singing my favorite song over loudspeakers again!

What were you paid?

Yep. :)

Given that it was so long ago, I thought you either wouldn’t remember or would be fine sharing. Do you remember? 

Oh, yes, I remember. Let’s just say seven is a good number. If we made the video according to entertainment industry standards today, I probably could retire early. ;)

Did you watch the MTV World Premiere of the video, and if so, where and how did that feel? 

I was really excited! I was literally watching a dream come true on TV. Growing up skating finally made sense. I didn’t think about it; I just did it by faith for [a] reason I wasn’t aware of until that point.

Were you ever recognized in public? How often and when last? Any stories about that? 

For a while, it was tough to accept fame from it. I was focused on doing my job and having a blast doing it. I never really thought about people actually coming up to me and asking for an autograph. It was always the other way around. I loved hearing how inspired people were; hearing their stories really humbled me. I remember driving in Manhattan Beach, looking to my right at sunset, and seeing a little girl trying to learn how to skateboard. It was quite surreal. [In] the “Free Fallin’” video, the girl is going through time discovering her identity and the identity of the times.

Speaking of which, the part of the video [with the] “hippie rocker” character—where the guys get into a brawl while I was crossing my legs reading a magazine in a chair—this seemed to happen quite often after the video in real life. It felt like I was living in a matrix where people [had] made a video of my life before it even started. I was surprised that people have recognized me—even today.

Did you appear in other music videos after that?

Yes, and many commercials, TV shows, and motion pictures (professional stunts).

If you ever met other women who were female leads in a mainstream ‘80s rock video, who?

Not really. I wish I would have; that would have been a blast to meet women who shared similar experiences. Would love to hear their stories. I’m sure they are quite profound and inspiring.

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

Biola University. Degree in organization leadership, minor in theology with an emphasis in eschatology. Yep, I have a passion for truth—Biblical prophecy. My dad was a NASA aerospace engineer who was a key inventor of XM radio. The universe had to be created, it could not exist; otherwise, the physics of cause and effect just wouldn’t make sense.

What are you doing these days? 

I am a fitness specialist, ski conditioning coach, etc. All the fun stuff. My passion is inspiring people to have faith regardless of their circumstances. Go big with passion of heart!

Where do you live?

California is always my home, [but] I live in Colorado—next best thing to Cali. I miss the beach but love the change of seasons with snow.

If you are/were married, what was your future husband’s reaction when he learned you were in this video? 

Well, some things are better left personal. Anyone who embarks on a journey in the entertainment industry [has] to expect [that] people will see them [how] they want them to be, not as they really are.

Do you have kids, and if so, how old are they?

Reread [my answer to] question #1; they are old enough to live their life’s dreams.

Would you be able to share anything more—how many you have, what they are doing generally? 

Yes, I have two absolutely gorgeous daughters, Kirra and Elise. They are my special “little big” girls—who are taller than me. I’m trying to renegotiate my life contract with God. It’s not working very well. I had them soon after the video was made. I am very protective of them. Kirra (Angel Kirra) is an aspiring gifted artist/fashion designer and Elise (Weesypooh) is an aspiring chef/businesswoman.

What do they think of the video?

They love it and so do their friends. Raising them was a blast—skating down the streets. Neighbors didn’t like me very much at first, but as they got to know me, they were inspired to want to skate themselves. Skating is not a crime. It is an outlet like any other sport. It is a way of life that takes you places. It’s a legacy of love on a stick that rolls with the times—something the video touched on from one scene to the next.

What did you think when you first heard from me? 

I was hoping you would. ;) I got “the memo from above.” Seriously, I think it’s awesome you have a passion for something like this. I hope you are excited about all you hear and are inspired to accomplish great things in your life! It’s nice to know I can help in some way.

“Memo from above”—does that mean you knew you would hear from someone about this, or even knew you would hear from me specifically? If so, when did you get that message, and how, and what exactly did it say?

LOL! Be careful what you pray for right? I mean this in a good way. I had a sense someone was going to contact me sometime in the future, then in the near future. It’s not a prediction or intuition; it’s something much more than that. It’s a gift of understanding the power of prayers and believing they are answered. It’s not religious; it’s a just a special personal relationship between me and Jesus.

Has anyone else ever interviewed you about this? If so, who, when, and for what publication?

Many publications have interviewed me, but the most memorable was Rolling Stone (#576, 4/19/90). Awesome!

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

I have and yes I would; any opportunity to inspire people to go for it is humbling success!

Did you stay in touch with anyone from the shoot? 


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

Good question…brain freeze.

How do you look back on the experience?

The video had more purpose than I could have ever imagined. It set the stage for reaching out to kids from all walks of life with respect, faith, and inspiration.

Anything you’d like to add?

The video allowed me the respectful opportunity to speak to hundreds of kids from all walks of life about believing in their dreams, trusting their life has a greater purpose that’s worth the painful work to get there, and how to use fitness as a tool for their success (with skateboarding in particular as an outlet for their frustrations).

Tweet about this interview to @tompetty, @benchten, and

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

The Girl in the Video: epilogue.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Girl in the Video: “Smooth Criminal” (1988)

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

The video: “Smooth Criminal” by Michael Jackson.

The girl-now-woman: Kelley Parker.

How old were you when you appeared in the “Smooth Criminal” video?

We filmed the “Smooth Criminal” video for over one month and then the rest of the film for about eight months. I was 10-11 years old when we shot the film, and 12 when it finally came out. We had such an extended time filming because we kept adding to the script. It was just going to be an extended video, and then it grew to be a full-length feature, and finally ended up somewhere in between at about 40 minutes.

Where were you living at the time?

I was living in Huntington Beach with my family.

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

I was a working actress at the time. I had been on Highway to Heaven, Superior Court, multiple national commercials.

How were you cast?

I had auditioned and then heard nothing back for over six months, so I assumed that someone else had been cast. I found out later that they had done a nationwide casting and that was why it took so long before getting the call for the callback. After that, I had to come in for a screen test with some of the boy actors that were up for the Zeke role.

The look that I have in the video, tomboy with the messy braids, was exactly how I went in for the audition. I was never a girly-girl, and it was sort of my niche that set me apart from at the other girls. I was a toughie, always wanting to be one of the boys. I think that is maybe what caught Michael’s eye. I was fairly raw, not very polished. I remember being in hair and makeup and they were putting two other girls into braids and putting freckles on them. I remember being upset that they were all being made up to look like me! Now I see what a compliment that was.

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

I was not really all that excited about it. When Thriller came out I was only five years old. So [while I knew Michael’s music,] I was not a fan and really had no concept of who he was! Honestly that probably is part of the reason why I got [the part]—I was so instantly at ease around him because I did not seem him as the megastar that he was. I saw him just as a fellow actor. Gotta love kids!

Where was the video filmed?

We shot the video, which was originally called “Chicago Nights,” on the Culver soundstages. Then for the film we moved over to Universal backlot and soundstages. We shot all the outside field shots at a ranch north of Los Angeles called Disney Ranch.

How did you feel making the video?

It was the most incredible experience of my life! Without a doubt, it changed the course of my life. Michael and I became great friends. He was always pushing me to be better and teaching me about the artistic process. To have someone of his creative genius take the time to teach you at the age of 10 is like getting the winning lotto ticket, and I have always known how fortunate I was to have had that experience. Michael never once treated me as a kid, always as an equal, and as a professional. I imagine it was because he was in the business as a kid so he knew what it felt like to be on set with huge expectations for you to deliver a performance. The pressure is the same whether you are an adult or a kid, and Michael always respected that.

What was the hardest part of the shoot?

I don’t remember any hard parts of the shoot, but I was once sent to the emergency room for an accident that occurred. It was the scene in the caves when Mr. Big (Joe Pesci) pushes me to the ground. One time he pushed a bit harder and I tripped as I fell backwards and was not able to catch myself. I landed on the big mic pack on my spine. I went down hard! Michael was so concerned about me. It was really sweet.

How was it to work with Michael Jackson? What was he like?

Michael was the kindest man I have ever met. I was so lucky to have not just worked with him, but worked with him for months and [go on to be] friends with him for years. He took the time to really get to know me. He was lighting in a bottle; the air was different when he was around. It’s hard to explain, but you could feel him before you saw him.

He was also so much fun on set, pulling pranks and laughing with us. The best example was when we had been filming out at the ranch, and they had been long, hard days in the sun, and I was doing the last shot of the day. I had thought that we were done for the day, and the director said he needed another take. I could see something moving in the reflection of the camera lens; I looked back to see Michael, Sean, and Brandon running at me with water guns and water balloons. They soaked me!

Then there was the first time I walked on the set and saw Michael dancing. My jaw literally dropped. The power he had as a performer was truly one-of-a-kind, and the electricity in the room was overwhelming.

What did you think of the video?

I loved it, and still do. It really is one of the all-time best videos. It has absolutely stood the test of time.

What did your parents think of it?

My parents were proud of me.

What did your friends think of it?

I’m not sure how impressed my friends were at the time, but since then it has definitely given me cool factor points! When it first came out I was working a lot so many of my closest friends were also in the business, and thus they were probably less impressed than the average kids. It was actually many years later when I realized the affect that the film and video had on people.

“Smooth Criminal” and the longer film were part of Moonwalker. It was supposed to be released in theaters in the US, but for legal reasons, it never was. Many kids my age and younger had the
Moonwalker DVD and would play it over and over. Since it was family-friendly, there is a whole generation that was raised on the DVD, kids who probably never saw the actual video on MTV until years later.

When you were of dating age, did the video ever affect your love life in any way?

It had no effect on my love life when I was younger, and as I got older I would not tell people until after they knew me fairly well. I always tried to keep my friendship with Michael private; I was never one to exploit that for my own personal gain. Once a guy would find out, it usually would gain me a few points; many of them had crushes on me growing up.

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

I did get a few letters. They are in some box at my parents’ house.

Did the video generate any controversy that you know of?

I was not aware of any controversy surrounding the video.

What were you paid?

I believe I was paid a SAG daily rate. Originally I was supposed to work for only about a month, but it ended up being so much more than that. They ended up making a lot of merchandise that I was also in: picture books, coloring books, video and arcade games, posters.

Did you watch the MTV World Premiere of the video, and if so, where and how did that feel?

We had a big screening for the film that I went to. It was really fun to see all the videos on the big screen. I did also watch the premiere on MTV. I remember being with my family at home and getting to stay up past my bedtime to watch it. It was surreal to see it, and it was great because then I had an excuse to watch MTV!

Were you ever recognized in public? How often and when last? Any stories about that?

I was never recognized in public except when I was with Michael. When I was in public with him, people would say “You’re the little girl from the video!” It was always fun to be recognized. When people find out today, it is always fun to watch their faces because I see them scan my face for a moment and then the usual response is “You look the same!”

Did you appear in other music videos after that?

Years later, as an adult, I did several videos as a dancer and actress.

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

I studied business and film in school, graduating from CSUN after many years of stopping and starting the process. It was hard for me to get through it in one four-year stretch because I was still working in the entertainment business and would book tours that would take me out of the country for extended periods of time. As I got older the teachers began to trust me more; as long as I was able to get things done and do well on tests, they were willing to work with my crazy schedule. I never gave up on it because it was something that I wanted to accomplish for myself.

What are you doing these days?

I am still in the entertainment business, though these days mostly behind the scenes. I am lucky—because of my varied background I get to work in both live and filmed entertainment. I am a producer for television, a choreographer, and an associate director for large-scale live shows. I love my life; it never feels like work because I love what I do. I started working on the creative behind-the-scenes side of things early in my twenties because I had already been performing for so long, and I was looking to express myself more fully as a creative mind. I owe a lot of that to Michael; the confidence in my own creative and artistic thought came from the time I spent with him.

I recently finished working with Kenny Ortega, who, of course, directed for Michael for many years, and he and I would have great conversations about Michael. It was nice to reminisce with someone else who knew Michael the person and friend, not just Michael the star.

Where do you live?


What did you think when you first heard from me?

I was excited to talk about this very special moment in my life. As I have mentioned, I have always stayed very quiet about times with Michael, but it is nice to have the opportunity to tell people what it was like to be there when this iconic video was made. So many incredible memories of the late-night shoots, hanging with the dancers on set, and watching the process and evolution of the work. I had been dancing since I was three years old and on the mornings I could I would [join] the dancers’ warm-up with the choreographer, Vincent Paterson. They were the most incredible dancers. That cast had such a strong bond and you can feel it when you watch the video; they were like family.

Has anyone else ever interviewed you about this? If so, who, when, and for what publication?

A few years ago I did do a panel in Las Vegas for a screening of the film and video, and a few other interviews here and there over the years.

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

I never have been asked; might consider it depending on the circumstances. There is so much love surrounding Michael and I know how much the video and film meant to so many people.

Did you stay in touch with Michael? If so, how often?

Michael and I remained friends for years.

When was the last time you were in touch with him, and what was that conversation about?

I saw Michael a couple weeks before he passed. [Before that,] I had not seen him in years. I am so happy that I was able to say hello to him and look in his eyes one last time.

How did that come about? Did he call you, you call him, someone email you? Where did you see him?

I work as a choreographer now and have done many shows and a couple films for Disney. He came to one of the shows a couple weeks before he died and I happened to be there that day. He did not know I would be there. It was brief, but I did get the opportunity to see him, and for that, I will be forever thankful.

How and where did you learn Michael died? How did the news affect you?

I was in a rehearsal when the news came that Michael had been rushed to the hospital. I found out in a text from my brother Eric, who had spent much time with me on the set when I was working with Michael.

When I heard he had passed, my mind went blank and my eyes filled with tears. The first person that put [a] hand on me, I collapsed in shock. It was surreal, to say the least, and I was just so sad because he still had so much to give. But thankfully his legacy will always live on, and there was such beauty, love, and outpouring following his death. I think he is looking down from somewhere else and smiling. We were so lucky to have had him here for the time that we did, and he accomplished what was so close to his heart—for people to love one another, to feel joy in their lives, and to believe in magic. And anywhere you go in the world, when his music comes on, that is exactly what happens…people dance, sing, smile, and their spirits are lifted. What a beautiful gift he gave us.

What is your take on the allegations made against Michael Jackson by families of children he befriended?

I can’t speak about nor judge anybody else’s relationship or experience with Michael because I was not there with them. All I can do is say that in all the time I spent with him, he was nothing but the most caring and gentle human being. He was always like a father looking out for me. I spent time with him at his ranch, Neverland, and always had so much fun with him.

I know that people don’t understand why Michael always had kids around, and as an adult I can see why that may look unusual. But all you have to do is look at any kids you know and the fact that they have no filter; they are just honest. Now put yourself in Michael’s shoes: surrounded all day by people who constantly filter what they say to you. How refreshing the honesty [of children] would be.

Michael was always questioning me so that I would grow in my reasoning. We would dream out loud together, make up stories together, and be creative in so many ways. I think he was maybe trying to be for me what he had hoped someone would have done for him as a kid in the industry.

He was the kindest man with the most generous heart. From my experience with him, I can’t imagine that he would harm anyone.

Lastly, were you Annie?

Nope, I was not Annie. I was just “Katy.” :-) We never knew who “Annie” was.

Tweet about this interview to @michaeljackson and @Kellie_Parker!

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: Tom Petty, “Free Fallin’” (1989).