Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My TV Credit (I may rewrite this later)

My friend Nicole doesn't believe that I was on The Richard Simmons show in 1983. I know that many things posted here seem unbelievable, but I can assure you, my loyal readers, and Nicole that I was indeed on Richard Simmons. (If my parents ever move into their new house I can get the vhs tape of it and upload the footage to YouTube.)

My parents and I went out to Los Angeles to visit my mother's older sister, Lori. As I was five years old I don't know who's idea it was that my mother, my aunt and I try to get on the Richard Simmons exercise show, I'm certain it wasn't mine. And I have strong doubts it was my father's. (Though, he does come up with crazy schemes to avoid his inlaws) I remember when we arrived at the studio where Mr. Simmons taped his exercise show my Aunt got cold feet. To get her to come on the show with us we had to promise we'd get ice cream afterwards. For a five year old that's a win win situation, I get to jump around for an hour and then I get ice cream. Suweet! For an adult it seems counter productive.

Prior to the taping they have the eager women ready to exercise in letards and leg warmers on nationally syndicated television sit in some type of holding area. An audience coordinator--the women wrangler-- noticed me. She told my mother in front of all the other woman, "I don't know if we're going to be able to allow your daughter on the show. Mr. Simmons has had some difficulties with children in the past. " My mother assured the woman I was very well behaved. I would not cry. I would not run about. And that was the truth I was a very well behaved child, it's as an adult I've become an obnoxious crier. The women wrangler was not so sure about this, but my mother the ultimate saleswoman. (My mom has sold everything from phones, to limosine service, to MRI imaging, to selling me the idea of a blind date with a boy who's never heard of Tito Puente and didn't know what the word 'serene' meant) This 22 year old assistant producer was no match for my mom. I was in.

Richard chose "enthusiasm" as that days theme. The first song we worked out to was a Manilow standard. Who has more enthusiasm than Barry Manilow? You have to hand it to Richard he knew his audience.

I have no recollection of breaking a sweat or loosing my breath, but Richard decided his class needed a break. It was probably somewhere near the first commercial break. He stopped the music and discussed with all of us his understanding of "enthusiasm." I believe we all had to shout the word in unison at some point and we had to shout it with enthusiasm. He then said, "You know who has enthusiasm? Children. Children have enthusiasm." He walked out into the sea of 80s active-wear, picked me up, brought me to the front of the class, turned me upside down, and said, "Don't they? Don't they have enthusiasm?" And at that time in my life I was very good natured and unguarded. I laughed and giggled. I was adorable. Then, he put me back in the ocean of jealous jealous women. The music came back on (It was some one- hit- wonder, soft-rock tune. All I can remember right now is the refrain "into the night, into the night." It had but not new wave synths) and Richard Simmons continued to work these women until their heart rate increased just ever so slightly. -- A star was born.

Side note: my mother was not completely happy with my tv exposure. An English woman who cut hair at my Aunt's barber shop/salon had styled my hair into cornrows earlier that day. "It would have been so much cutier if your hair was down when he turned you upside down." I suggested we reshoot it, but who listens to a five year old. I sat contented with my dish of mint-chocolate chip ice cream. And my Aunt lamented that she was going to be soar tomorrow.

1 comment:

Will McKinley said...

I want to see that video, if only for the corn rows.