Monday, July 14, 2014

The Girl in the Video: “Sister Christian” (1984)

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

The video: “Sister Christian” by Night Ranger.

The girl-now-woman: Macha Bennet-Shephard.

Macha would have been far easier to find if I had known she no longer went by the name “Annie Hubbard.” And it wasn’t just the maiden name that is gone; the first name changed, too.

How I found Annie-now-Macha (take a big breath...and this is not even every step):

  • A “Cheryl” in Westland, MI posted on Songfacts, revealing Annie’s name and city at the time.
  • I eventually discovered that Cheryl also posted on IMDB, but with her last name, Carey.
  • I searched for Cheryl Careys in Westland and found the right one; she said she’d been trying to find out what happened to Annie for a while; her additional recollections, alas, were limited (Ritz Café, friends with Dating Game staffer David Greenberg, lived on Sunset Boulevard in early ‘80s but not with Cheryl, though on Songfacts she said they had been roommates).
  • Based on another Songfacts poster’s hunch, I called a Little Rock, AR beautician named Anne Hubbard. Her officemate said “That’s not her,” then Anne herself came on the phone and kindly and convincingly said she is not the one from the video. However, when I showed Cheryl a photo of that Anne, Cheryl said “That is her!” I called Anne back, leaving a message explaining that it would save me time if she would let me know if it was in fact her in the video, even if she does not want to do an interview; however, people connected to her on Facebook who can see her birthday then confirmed that she is too young to have been in that video. Sorry I second-guessed you, Anne!
  • The video was shot at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, CA. I contacted people who were students there at the time; all remembered the shoot but none remembered useful details about Annie.
  • I learned that the three most likely high schools for someone from Cupertino would be Cupertino, Monta Vista, and Homestead.
  • A contact at Cupertino High School checked and Annie didn’t appear to go there.
  • Cupertino Library looked through yearbooks for Monta Vista and Homestead from my estimated years of 1978-1982 and found no Hubbards in either except for Janice Hubbard, class of 1980, at Monta Vista. I contacted her but did not hear back.
  • I asked the high schools (in particular San Rafael High School) if they’d archived an article about the video shoot (I assume a school paper would have covered something as atypical as that), but no luck.
  • I called various Hubbards in the 1982 Cupertino area phone book and Hubbards there now, but no luck.
  • I asked Jeff Watson of Night Ranger via writer Paul Liberatore; Jeff kindly responded but did not remember useful details.
  • I asked other former San Francisco models in this series (Signy Coleman, Janet Cross, Sandra Wilder) if by chance they knew Annie. Janet and Sandra didn’t but suggested checking with San Francisco modeling agencies. I asked which in particular, which led me to former modeling agency head John Anderson (I saw on LinkedIn that he merged two agencies in the 1980s and is now in construction); he remembered Annie and told me to contact Joan Spangler at Look Talent (one of the two he merged, I believe), whom I had already emailed earlier that same day. At the same time, I asked John if he remembered any of Annie’s friends; he didn’t and Joan had no info on Annie.
  • I tweeted my quest, also asking others to do so.
  • I posted a screen grab from the video on the Cupertino Facebook page, thinking that while such efforts usually go nowhere, I had to continue trying any possibility; a few days later, someone named Robin responded…recognizing the photo as Ann Hubbard, Lynbrook High School class of 1982—and even posted her yearbook photo! (Of the possible high schools a Cupertinoian could have attended, I was told Lynbrookwhich is actually in adjacent San Josewould have been the least likely, so I did not even contact them. Relearned a lesson I already knew...try every lead!)
  • For the first time in my research for this project, I used because it posts scans of whole yearbooks; however, Ann did not appear in Lynbrook ‘82. It turned out that the yearbook photo Robin posted is Ann and is from that school but is from the 1980 yearbook, in which Ann appears in the sophomore section; in other words, she would have graduated Lynbrook in 1982…had she stayed at that school.
  • I contacted Lynbrook ‘82 graduates in search of names of people who planned their latest reunion. I found one, and she gave me various names including Robert (not his real name) Hubbard—who turned out to be Ann’s brother—but she did not know where he lives now. I called Robert Hubbards I found in public directories till I reached Ann’s sister-in-law, who was most kind. She said Ann no longer goes by “Ann Hubbard” and said she’d asked Robert (who is a pilot and who was flying at the moment) if it would be okay to tell me more.

The yearbook photo.

The next day, Macha emailed me.

Where you going

What you looking for? 


How do you pronounce your first name?

Ma-sha, like a New Yorker saying Marsha. :-)

How old were you when you appeared in the “Sister Christian” video?


Where were you living at the time?

When I was cast for and during the shooting, I lived in San Francisco, not far from the Mint.

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

I had done one PSA for car seat safety for babies. (I always seemed to get auditions for young mothers or airline stewardesses.)

first photo shoot

 first photo shoot

How were you cast in “Sister Christian”?

One of my agents—I think I had five at the time—called me with the one and only audition he ever got for me, if I recall correctly. He said it was for some sort of musical, which made me most nervous as I thought it would possibly require singing or dancing. Neither is in my skill set. 

The audition itself was in a hotel room with the director’s wife, Mary Rezeka (sp?) [NOTE: Mary Guida directed the “Sister Christian” video, and she and fellow former video director Mark Rezyka know each other]. She looked at me, asked me a few questions, and that was pretty much it.

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

No, [but] knowing me I’d assume I was anxious and very excited. But mostly anxious.

Had you already heard of Night Ranger?

No. But I’ve never been someone who pays attention to what’s “in” at any given time, so that doesn’t mean much.

Where was the video filmed?

In a high school not far north of San Francisco. [San Rafael High School]

How long was the shoot?

I’m not sure, but I think it was a two-day shoot.

How did you feel making the video?

Great. It was fun. It was odd being the “star” character, but it was a pretty small, low-key production, so it wasn’t too much.

What was the hardest part of the shoot?

Nothing, really. It went well as far as I could tell, and my part was pretty easy. The hardest part of any shoot is always the “hurry up and wait” thing.

How was it to work with Night Ranger? What were they like? Did any of them hit on you?

Now how did such an indelicate question get in here? I’m quite sure it must have been a mistake, so I’ll just pretend it wasn’t asked. The band were, of course, all complete gentlemen. ;-)

Any funny stories from the shoot?

Um…no, not really. Not that I can remember. There’s a brief shot of nuns at the top of the staircase, waving as the girls go down the stairs—they were on roller skates. That doesn’t qualify as funny, but I’m afraid it’s the best I can do at the moment. If I do remember any I’ll of course send it on…

Anything go wrong on the shoot?

Not that I can remember. From my 19-year-old perspective, it ran like a well-oiled machine.

What did you think of the video?

I thought it was “tame” at the time. Now I look back and think that for the most part, it was in pretty good taste compared to some of the other stuff being made at the time. It’s stood the test of time better.

What did your parents think of it?

That’s a good question. I don’t really know. They didn’t say much.

What did your friends think of it?

They loved it. And they loved having a friend who was in it.

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

You’re going to hate me—I don’t remember. Probably not. Maybe I did.

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

I don’t think so. I didn’t/don’t date a lot. I usually didn’t tell people right off the bat, only after I got to know them. Now I hardly tell anyone. :-)

How did it come to pass that you were also in “When You Close Your Eyes”?

I don’t remember. I think it was all arranged over the phone; they were hoping to recreate the success of “Sister Christian.”

What was that shoot like? Any stories about the chimp (or anything else that happened on set)?

The chimp’s trainer was down in the foot space (don’t know what that’s called) and had an immense chain attached to the chimp. That added a rather disturbing element to the scene. I really liked the chimp. But then I like animals better than people.

There was a scene where I had to throw a flower in the band member’s face (my character’s boyfriend) and I just couldn’t seem to do it. I don’t throw things in people’s faces and couldn’t seem to get beyond it.

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

No. I never got mail, even before I changed my name. 

Why did you change your name? 

It was due to personal family issues that are best left alone.

Did the video generate any controversy that you know of?


What were you paid?

$250. :-)

Were you ever recognized in public?

Yes, I used to get recognized. All. The. Time. People used to ask for my autograph, which I found funny as they had no idea what my name [was]. It always seemed I was more likely to be recognized when I was running down to the corner store for some half and half first thing in the morning, no makeup on, in sweats, hair not brushed…

I don’t know if you remember, but at the height of its popularity, that video was shown every single hour. I’d turn on MTV and see myself on TV at pretty much any given time. That’s a very strange thing. Feeling blue? Turn on the TV and see yourself! Instant mood-lifter!

another from the first photo shoot

after she started at Cal State L.A., 
by which time she had changed her name

Did you appear in other music videos after that?

The next one—
When You Close Your Eyes”—but nobody seems to remember that one.


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

No, I don’t think so.

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

Yes. I went to Cal State LA first, then transferred to Art Center College of Design and graduated with honors with a BFA in fine arts/painting.

What are you doing these days?

Mostly I “mom.” I have an image consultancy, but I’m not putting a lot of energy into it at the moment. The economy isn’t really in the proper condition to support such a “luxury” service, so I’m not pushing very hard. And momming is pretty time consuming anyway.

Where do you live?

Los Angeles.

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

I was married. He remembered it and thought it was pretty “neat.” Most people my age remember it.

How many kids do you have?

One son, nine years old.

What does he think of the video?

He doesn’t really get how big MTV was at the time or how popular this video was. He makes animated films (at his school, he’s won the PTA art contest in the “film production” category two years running) and I’m sure some day he’ll appreciate it. He’s just a little young.

What did you think when you first heard from me?

“How the hell did you find me?” :-)

Has anyone else ever interviewed you about this?

No. No one has found me before.

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

No, I haven’t. I’d definitely be interested in hearing about doing this.

Did you stay in touch with anyone from Night Ranger?

No. I’m not exactly an extrovert, and not particularly social—in case you couldn’t tell.

When was the last time you were in touch?

During the shooting of the video.

How do you look back on the experience?

I’m very glad it happened and that I had the experience. It’s something I’ll always “have.” Like I said before, I feel this has stood the test of time and has aged well. I’m proud of it.

Anything you’d like to add?

When I think of anything, I’ll send it along. (I’ll undoubtedly think of lots of things to add as soon as I hit the send button.)

Tweet about this interview to @nightranger @MBennetShephard!

7/21/14 addendum: A week after this interview posted, Macha and I met in person.

Next: Rod Stewart, “Infatuation” (1984).


Anonymous said...

The original name for Sister Christian was Sister Christy. Kelly Keagy, wrote it for his sister...named Christy. But they changed it at the name at the last minute.

Unknown said...

Thank you for the blog. Night Ranger has always been my favorite band. I remember this video when it came out. She is even more beautiful now :-) I am glad she was willing to do the interview. I am glad that she seems to be doing well these days. It would be great for Night Ranger to get in touch with her.

b said...

I just love this story, the era, the video and all the heart you put into researching it. I've known Mascha for years, and never heard a peep about all this...she is seriously one cool gal!

Unknown said...

yeah greatr story,thamks for doing that. i would like to see night ranger to a remake of the song and have Anne in it agai, that be fun.another way would be when they played in LA... have Anne aa a guess for the song etc..............

Unknown said...

Cool interview---I remember when the song came out and how huge a hit it was, and I liked the video--my favorite prat was when the girls came out their Catholic schoolgirls uniforms showing they were wearing their party clothes underneath---that was fun to watch. And,yes, the lady looks even better now than she did then--andyes, the video wasn't the usual sex-filled junk all over MTV in those days, which is why I liked it.

Unknown said...

Forgot to say I loved the song too---heard it on the radio all the time back in the day.

Unknown said...

I edited this video. Mary Guida was in fact the director and directed several other NR videos. She was the ex-wife of fellow director Mark Rezeka by the way. Thanks for the trip back to those awesome days...

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for going to the lengths you did to get this interview. She was my "dream girl" when I was a sappy teen watching MTV and wishing a girl would look at me like she looked at Jack Blades. :)

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Jason, glad you appreciated it!

Unknown said...

Thank you for not only the awesome detective sleuthing work but the interview also. You truly asked all the questions we wondered about! Now, if you or anyone can get to the bottom of the matter of who dies in the U2 video, All I Want Is You, I will be all set (kind of sad when I put it that way....). If someone has already deciphered or asked the video director, please let me know. Thanks.

Executive Solutions said...

dude, I loved the 80's . All these interviews are great.

As soon as I build my time machine, I'm going back. Let me know if you need a ride

Marc Tyler Nobleman said...

Executive Solutions - one of my all-time fave comments on the blog. I do indeed need a ride, thanks. I'll be out front in my Members Only jacket.

Ananya said...

Wow just wow. What a trip into an side alley. Thanks for all your hard work. I came here after watching the video and searching about her since I was just sitting down to watch Boogie Nights because a friend showed me the scene.

BillTrep said...

When I read her remark about throwing the flower, that reminded me--there are actually two edits of "When You Close Your Eyes." I don't recall all of the differences, but the one that stands out is in one version, you see a wide shot from the side where she throws the flower in Jack's face, and in the other edit, the flower is seen coming straight at the camera lens.

Unknown said...

Hey, I know its late but I want to tell congrats for telling us the girl behind the story. It was a well research story. Good Job!!!

Ananya said...

@In Cognito Who are you referring to? My comment about Boogie Nights? You can watch the relevance here:

Unknown said...

Love Night Ranger, excellent singers, great videos. I enjoy playing drums to their music.

geistmadl said...

Because Macha was in the Sister Christian video. Reading is fundamental.

Andy said...

Thanks for this post. I went to that high school and was initially thinking about posting this to the high school facebook page but she seems like a private person so I'll skip. I moved to the school in 1980 and never heard anything about a former student being in a video. Strange. Thanks, Andy

Neal said...

Great detective work Marc. I was at SR High when they filmed the video and I remember one of the SRHS cheerleaders was in it too.
(It’s also the school where “420” was created.) I asked Jeff Watson if he thought they would play at lunchtime or something and he said he didn’t think there was enough power in the gym, I was really hoping they’d play, that would’ve been really cool. A couple years later my band rehearsed down the hall from Night Ranger, at Hun Sound, and Metallica was across the hall when they were looking for a bass player. San Rafael was a cool hub for music back in the 80s.

J said...

Still a knockout! Blessings and congratulations to her, and good detective work making this happen.