The co-founder of REET, John Mendelssohn writes a blog you might find of interest.
Getting it up with Angelyne in 1993
by John Mendelssohn
Gifted or not, gorgeous or plain, we're all entitled by Warholian decree to 15 minutes' fame. And yet likenesses of the ageless little sexpot who calls herself only Angelyne have been pouting down from gigantic billboards at the unfortunate populace of Hollywood and their visitors for fully a decade now. At another, in the spring of 1987, an eight-story-high, 85 x 44 likeness of her perched protuberantly atop her famous pink Corvette adorned the side of the old building at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. At one point, she was on display in Times Square. She's been in everything from National Geographic to Self, and was glimpsed every week beneath the opening credits of Moonlighting. She's as essential a part of the Hollywood landscape as the garish minimalls that have come to make the place seem like God's pinball machine. And no end is in sight.
In the beginning, she sang, rather in the fashion of Dale Bozzio of Missing Persons. She was no Aretha Franklin -- and at least as good as Paula Abdul. On joining her first group, Black and Blue, it changed its name to Baby Blue, and then, a few weeks later to Angelyne. “You give her an inch,” her longtime patron Hugo Maisnik chuckles admiringly, “and she'll take...the earth!” The grandfatherly president of Myer Show Print, a Los Angeles-, Reno-, and Phoenix-based outdoor advertising company, Hugo Maisnik met Angelyne in 1982 when she ordered a quantity of huge likenesses of herself with which to beautify Los Angeles's bus shelters. When she turned out to be a deadbeat -- “There were spots on them," she's since giggled -- Hugo did the only sensible thing: signed her to a personal services contract whereby Myer would make her famous and then share the profits of her fame.
The cute part being that Angelyne wouldn't actually do anything other than pose for new photographs every half-decade or so atop the 'vette Hugo leased for her. She wouldn't act, that is, or continue making records, necessarily; she would just be famous. "What does any entertainer do?" Hugo submits. “They give enjoyment. Well, Angelyne doesn't have to do anything but be Angelyne.”
Implacably preening and posing in the early days of her fame, fervently coy, rapaciously narcissistic (no fewer than 17 badly painted self-portraits littered her breathtakingly slovenly apartment up the street from the Sunset Strip), she wasn't amusing company. “She needs new writers, ” John Waters sniffed, most aptly. “There is a sad, desparate quality to [her], like a clown still performing long after the circus has closed, “ harrumphed the man from the Times. These days, though, while she persists in revealing almost nothing of herself, she's quite happy to allow the conversation to touch on subjects other than herself, as when she admits to envying Clara Bow, whose biography she's reading, for having “hung out with Gary Cooper, who was incredibly good-looking, and shy. I love shy men.” She seems to try to remember to end every laugh with a little gasp, and walks to make jaws drop, but is otherwise pretty free of affectation.
To see her up close in daylight is to suspect that she's lived longer than Marilyn Monroe did, but she denies that she chose the pricey, mediocre Beverly Hills Indian restaurant at which she meets us for its extremely flattering pink light. “I look good in bright sunlight,” she says, mistakenly. “It makes my eyes shine.”
With those marvels of science, her preposerously gigantic boobs, and her extremely blonde hair, wonderful little legs, and Vegas call girl wardrobe, she may be every schoolboy's wet dream -- at least from a distance — but there are those who suspect the little sexpot is the most nearly chaste...young woman in Hollywood, and the steadfast Hugo's one of them. “I don't think she's ever had a boyfriend,” he confides. “She doesn't like girls. I don't think she likes men. I don't think she likes boys. I just think she's just in love with people in a sense and that sex is not her game.” Confronted with which charge, she demurely bristles, “How could I possibly not like sex? With the right person, it's very beautiful. However, I do think it's very animalistic. You don't do it with just anybody, especially now. I think the best way to have it is the way they did in Cocoon.” Her ideal romantic partner would be "a young Poindexter who wears glasses and has short hair and kind of a cute face, but all he's interested in is his science project."
If every celebrity were as accommodating with her public, there would be no more wars. You might suppose that after ten years, Angelyne would have tired of slobbering neanderthals' guttural expressions of lust. But she implausibly asserts, “I can turn it into something better. A woman can make a man feel like a slob, or she can say, 'Thank you very much for the compliment.'” She claims to be upbraided by feminists infuriated by her being every schoolboy's wet dream only “once in a blue moon.” What most women want from her, she says, is an autograph.
Which isn't to say that she hasn't had to suffer for her celebrity. Five years ago, a fan pestered her so fervently that she had to get a restraining order against him. More recently, after pulling into a filling station, she found herself with three official photographs of herself on hand, and four young men demanding them; the disappointed one called her a whore. And moments before we met, she received a disturbing letter from poor Norma Jean Hausknecht, who believes her to be her long-lost friend Junie Millmooskie.
“I looked in the mirror last night when I got out of my bubble bath and said, 'Oh, my god! Sharon Tate's ghost is in your face!'” She also acknowledges her uncanny resemblance to the cartoon character Little Annie Fanny, and is presently on the outs with the heretofore steadfast Hugo for not allowing the folks who gave us Tron to base a Saturday morning cartoon show on her. “It would have given her immortality,” Hugo laments. “They wanted to majorly rip me off,” the lady herself says. “But the main thing was the way they drew me — too square; I'm more of a round person.”
She seems a consummate sweetheart -- the steadfast Hugo assures us that she's the best friend anybody could have — but claims to get “a lot of my confidence and power from anger. I'd rather play the game of revenge than Monopoly or gin rummy or something.” She tells the characteristically implausible tale of a man who'd been harassing all the children in the Idaho neighbourhood of her early childhood. “When the day came that he got to me, he threw me up in the air and threw me down and scared me half to death. So the next morning I got up at six right after the rain had stopped and smeared dog doodoo on his car door with a stick. For 14 years I lived with the guilt. But then I saw my babysitter, and she told me, 'You shouldn't feel bad. He deserved it, and he never bothered anybody again.'” Tiny Angelyne, angel of vengeance.
Having claimed in years past to be a local, she now demurely grouses, “Everybody always puts me down when I say I come from Idaho. 'Oh, potatoes. No wonder you left.' But I'll come from wherever I want to come from.” She would like us to believe that, demure as she is, she relates to “the intenstity, anger, and power of heavy metal,” but has more interesting tastes than such a statement would suggest. She likes Pearl Jam, Kyuss, and White Zombie. She's fervently pro-choice, but can't imagine what she'd say to Hillary Rodham Clinton if they were to run into one another at Playmates, the Hollywood Blvd. boutique in which she buys much of her scandalous attire. She hasn't been following the tragic goings-on in Bosnia, “but I have an agent who's going back and forth to Russia to get me a giant mural before Sony and the oil companies grab every available wall.”
“I don't think about gays in the military either,” she admits, digging into her tandoori chicken in spite of the heretofore steadfast Hugo's conception of her as a devout vegetarian. “I don't think about gays at all except when they're doing my hair or makeup. Seriously, they're very artistic, and they dress up like me for Halloween, and I don't know what we'd do without them.” Her last notable employment in this country was in a cameo in Earth Girls Are Easy, but she claims to have done a glamorous print ad with a cigarette holder and maribou boa and everything for German cigarettes, the health of her Teutonic fans be damned. “I weighed and balanced it and decided it would be all right, ” she says, and then whispers, “I needed the money; I was running out of panties. ”
According to her gaunt, peevish Monkee-haired major-domo, her fan club has an international membership in excess of 20,000, and is a source of revenue. But Herself tenaciously refuses to reveal how she keeps the fuel tanks of her her-and-her pink Corvettes and Cadillac filled. “Right now she's very much on her own,” Hugo tells us, “but she always latches onto support somehow — and not by giving her body. You just can't say no to her. Right now she has about $2 million worth of advertising up. You try to get $2 million of publicity up. I don't know of anybody else on earth who has that ability, except Donald Trump. I've always told her, 'Angelyne, you could run the largest corporation.'”
Everyone in Hollywood has written a screenplay, and Angelyne embodies Hollywood no less than the pockmarked riffraff on Hollywood Blvd. She didn't write The Bra That Ate L.A., about an eccentric scientist who invents a supernatural power-conferring brassiere, in longhand in pink ink, but rather hired a computer tutor to teach her WordPerfect for DOS. She assures you first that it's being shopped by a really top-notch lawyer whose name she's not allowed, of course, to mention, and then claims that she and her investors have already been “this close to having it made, but we decided that we couldn't do it for $10 million.”
Who her investors are she won't say. But the steadfast Hugo is happy to confide, "I don't know if anybody who's done anything for her has ever lost money. If it wasn't for her, I don't think I'd be in business today. The involvements that she got me into are the most successful and long-lasting of all my involvements.
“I'd be at a restaurant with a customer and tell him that someone would be joining us. I would let him face the door. When you'd suddenly be able to hear a pin drop, I'd know she'd arrived. My customer would be smiling from ear to ear -- and want to do business with me.
“When she had that 60-foot billboard in Times Square, we stopped paying for it, but for years they kept moving it all around New York just to build up space. That was a dead wall. They couldn't sell it for anything. It had had the same Coca-Cola thing on it for four years. After she was on it, everybody wanted it.”
Back over her chicken, Herself bores us with one of her canned anecdotes. “One rocker I was dating made an A brand for me,” she murmurs. “I didn't want to use it on him, though, because I thought it would hurt. But he begged me and begged me and begged me, and I'm a real wimp when a guy begs, especially one I could possibly like. So I went ahead and did it, and kind of got hooked on it.” We try to convince her that she'd be better off talking up some obscure cause -- battered undocumented aliens, say.
Lacking the wherewithal to pay her parking bill (your most luminous superstars carry no cash), she enchants the swarthy keepers of the lot with a pout and a flutter of her false eyelashes and is gone, taking the long way home to pass one of her billboards.
John Mendelssohn's music-related e-novels The Mona Lisa's Brother, Formerly Wanton, and Who Is Keri Fetherwaite? are all available on Amazon! He also writes a blog you might find of interest.