Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Girl in the Video: “If This Is It” (1984)

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

The video: “If This Is It” by Huey Lewis and the News.

The girls-now-women: Janet Cross, Sandra Wilder.



Nature is rife with classic battles. Fire vs. water. Lion vs. tiger. Earthquake vs. tornado.

Brunette vs. blond.

This last one plays out to comical (and, at times, convincingly heartfelt) effect in Huey Lewis and the News’s “If This Is It.” The two women playing Huey Lewis’s then-and-future girlfriends:

  • Janet Cross (brunette)
  • Sandra Wilder (blond)

Sandra may be Wilder, but in terms of the various ways I tracked down the 20+ people for this series, Janet was the wildest. The method I tried in looking for her may become a new paradigm for my research.

How old were you when you appeared in the “If This Is It” video?

Janet: 25.
Sandra: Around 28.

Where were you living at the time?

Janet: Palo Alto, CA.
Sandra: San Francisco, CA—Marina District.

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

Janet: No music videos. One [1978 TV movie called Lady of the House], about (California madam/restaurateur/mayor) Sally Stanford, starring Dyan Cannon as Ms. Stanford.
Sandra: “No One Like You” by the Scorpions and a small part at the end of the movie The Woman In Red (1984).

How were you cast in the video?

Janet: Through a San Francisco modeling agency.
Sandra: I believe my agent sent me to the audition, which was held in a motel in Sausalito.

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

Janet: Glad to have the part.
Sandra: Yes! You [would] go to a lot of auditions and get so few parts.

Where was the video filmed?

Sandra: Santa Cruz, CA. A beach near a boardwalk.

How long was the shoot?

Janet: One day, all day, and part of the evening.
Sandra: Two days max. I know we spent the night in a hotel in Santa Cruz.

How did you feel making the video?

Janet: Great. It was a fun shoot.
Sandra: I’m sure I was nervous and extremely excited to be a part [of it].

What was the hardest part of the shoot?

Janet: Looking angry at Huey Lewis was tough.
Sandra: That I waited for a whole day for my part and they shot it in two or three takes. The sun was going down and they wanted it at that time of day. Unfortunately, the sun was directly in my eyes and I could barely keep my eyes open. You can see it in the video. Always hated that part. 

How was it to work with the band?

Janet: Great. They were really nice guys. Very funny and sweet. They had a band camaraderie.
Sandra: They were fun-loving and professional.

Did anything go wrong on the shoot?

Janet: It was boiling hot.

Anything funny happen?

Janet: The whole filming was hilarious, one stunt after another and all the different boyfriends they gave me. When [Huey and I] were pretending to fight it was hard not to laugh.

Did any band members hit on you?

Janet: Not at all, not even one.
Sandra: No.

What did you think of the video?

Janet: I loved it.
Sandra: I loved it, but I was hoping for the bad girl role. They didn’t decide until we arrived, as I remember. Pepper [Janet
’s stage name at the time] made a great “bad girl,” though!

Janet, where did the nickname “Pepper” come from?

: When my mother was pregnant with me I kicked a lot, so she nicknamed me “Pepper” [as in] “full of pep.” It was my nickname throughout childhood. I kept it until I went back to finish college. By that time I felt I had outgrown it and wanted to use my real name.

What did your parents think of the video?

Janet: My mom loved it.
Sandra: Coming from a very small town in Georgia, they were proud their girl was on TV.


What did your friends think of it?

Janet: Very positive.
Sandra: They loved it. I got calls from people I hadn’t heard from in years. And many still remember the video. 

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

Janet: One or two were impressed and maybe a little nervous as I [had played] such a vixen.
Sandra: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think it would have been something I would have brought up.

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

Janet: Never. How would they know where to send it—there were no credits?
Sandra: No.

Did the video generate any controversy that you know of?

Janet and Sandra: No.

What were you paid?

Janet: $750 for the day, no overtime.
Sandra: I don’t remember. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get rich off of it, though.

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

Janet: Never saw the premiere.
Sandra: No, I did not see it.

Did you have any favorite bands/songs/videos at the time? 

Sandra: I think Pablo Cruz was big at the time and my boyfriend and I were friendly with two of the band members.

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

Janet: Never.
Sandra: A couple of times. I remember someone asking me for my autograph but I think it was because I was dating a tennis star at the time. I had to laugh about that.

Did you appear in other music videos after that?

Janet: One more Huey Lewis video (“The Power of Love”). My hair was short and it was not a major role.
Sandra: Maybe the Scorpions one came after filming this one.

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

Janet: A woman named Signy [Coleman who] starred in “Heart and Soul,” [also] by Huey Lewis and the News. We were friends then but we haven’t kept in touch.
Sandra: No.

Janet and Sandra in an Outdoor Life ad 
shot on Sandra’s boyfriend’s boat; courtesy of Sandra. 

Did you go to college? If so, where and what did you study?

Janet: BA Architecture, UC Berkeley 1987; MA Anthropology, Columbia University 2009.
Sandra: No. I did study acting in San Francisco.

What are you doing these days?

Janet: Architecture, exhibition design, and organic farming.
Sandra: I worked as an executive assistant and sales assistant at Goldman Sachs and a startup investment management company for many years. Retired when I married in 1999. Playing lots of golf, traveling, and enjoying life tremendously.



Where do you live?

Janet: Dutchess County, NY, and Manhattan.
Sandra: California.

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

Janet: He [architect Stephen Holl] was nervous but impressed.
Sandra: I was not married [when I shot the video] and did not meet my future husband until 1993; [he] was told by friends of my small parts in this and that and he just loved it. He still does. [
Danièle Arnaud said almost the same.]


Janet: None.
Sandra: None, but stepchildren in their forties.

Sandra, what do they think of the video?

Sandra: Don’t know.

Sandra, is your husband also an actor or former actor?

Sandra: No, but he did star in a commercial for General Motors that played on the Super Bowl. I looked on YouTube but cannot find his commercial. It was filmed in September 1993 in his junkyard at Schnitzer Steel in Oakland, CA.

What did you think when you first heard from me?

Sandra: Suspicious! “This has to be some kind of scam.” Almost hung up but kept listening because it was unique. Then I realized you were serious.

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

Janet: No other interviews.
Sandra: No.

Have you appeared at any fan conventions to sign autographs?

Janet and Sandra: No.

Would you?

Janet: Maybe.
Sandra: Probably not.

Did you stay in touch with the band after the shoot?

Janet: I had one other shoot [with the band]; after that, no contact. I moved to Los Angeles [from the San Francisco area] when I was 27.
Sandra: No, but that wasn’t my choice!

How do you look back on the experience?

Janet: It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed working with the Director Edd Griles and with the band. Huey was especially down to earth.
Sandra: Super fun and a great memory of a great time in my life.

meeting Janet in New York 5/15/13
Anything you’d like to add?

Janet: It was a long time ago but a good memory and I am happy that YouTube makes it so easy to find vintage videos.
Sandra: No. But thanks for keeping the memories alive. Nothing like the ‘80s!

Tweet about this interview to @Huey_Lewis_News and ‏@JanetOCross!

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: a-ha, “Take On Me” (1985).


Anonymous said...

So interesting! It was great to see the interview, and to reminisce over old times.

Anonymous said...

I always wondered who the girl was in the beginning of the video who mouthed "She's not home." At first I thought it was supposed to be the model (Janet)'s roommate, but then I realized the girl was too young. Then I thought maybe it was supposed to be her daughter, but then I realized the model (Janet) was too young for that. So maybe it was supposed to be her sister? Still, I think it would be weird for them to show Huey dating a young woman still living at home with her family. So I could never really figure that one out!

But anyway, great interview. Thanks!

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

I've wondered the same thing about the younger girl! I assumed sister.

cole thunderbolt said...

Extra cool!

Unknown said...

Who was the carnival worker? The guy who Lewis wins the stuffed toy from ?
Michael O'Keefe ??

Anonymous said...

WHo is the girl in the "The Power of Love"video?

Korak said...

The boy on whom the Janet Cross character rubs the suntan lotion at 1:28 is cute. I wonder if he has appeared anywhere else, who he is.

Unknown said...

Great interview. This was one of my all time favorite videos.

Unknown said...

The girl in the bikini at 1:30 steals the show... Too bad we don't see her face!

Dave said...

Always liked that Video and the hot girl in the white swimming costume.

BillTrep said...

Sandra said the Scorpions video might have come after. No. That was in 1982, and you've already stated this one was 1984. It never dawned upon me that it's the same girl, but when I look at the capture from the end of the video above, then think back to the Scorpions video and in my mind, I play back the image of her standing there as Klaus Meine is walking through Alcatraz to see her one more time before he's executed...Yes! Same girl.

imwalrus said...

The carnival worker is John Means aka "Dr. Gonzo" a comedian who used to live in the SF bay area and was a friend of the band. (He was in two of the band's videos.) In addition to playing clubs, he also toured as an opening act for HL&TN, Jefferson Starship, Joe Walsh and others. He now lives in Mason City, IL.

TMelendez said...

I've read some of your other articles before, and someway somehow today I thought of this video, and wanted to see "where the girls were", and I'm so happy you had both!! Funny, I always thought Sandra squinting against the sun was do real and reminded me of so many times I left the beach when the sun was in my face!

Samantha P. said...

This was a great interview with these ladies. I've always wondered who they were as well and now I know. Thank you.

Javier said...

I was looking for the girl in the video do you believe in love from Huey Lewis too. A great surprise i found this. Love the interview and see the girls and how they change. Sweet crush memories from my younger years