Long Day’s Journal Into Night

A couple of months ago, the editor of a journal that has published my psychology work multiple times let me know that the journal would cease publication at the end of 2020. This sent me into a passive sadness and fitful sleep for a couple of days, both of which many of us probably experienced at various times this past year.

Part of my response was practical; I was concerned that my hard work would disappear. The journal publisher assured me that the existing volumes would continue to be available in perpetuity. I guess I kind of knew that, as I have never really seen a periodical completely disappear, especially one from a major publisher. It would continue to exist online, in databases, and elsewhere – there just would not be anything new. So, what made me feel withdrawn and down, not really wanting to talk (or rage) about it but needing to spend some time letting my feelings just be?

First of all, I am particularly proud of what I wrote for the journal, and feel that those articles perhaps provided a contribution, however small, to my research area. I have not always felt that way about my work. I have believed in a lot of my work and hoped that one study or paper would be a ‘hit’, and yet I have been disappointed more than once when the citations have been respectable, but not the astronomical numbers that colleagues have achieved. So, the thought (even if imagined) of my work becoming harder to find because it was a part of a discontinued journal scared me.

More than this, I think that much of my response was to do with an underlying anxiety and frustration about my work. I have often felt at sea in my profession, where after my PhD I traversed into another discipline for my postdoctoral work, feeling cut-off from what I had studied, but never quite more than an ‘honorary’ (that term was used, although benignly, again and again, often in meetings) member of the other discipline. Since returning to my original field of research, it has been hard to renter that world. I have been at the table on more than one occasion with people who have the resources, the grant money, the teams (all necessities in the academic world), who have seemed very interested in my ideas, but have not then invited me to collaborate with them. All I can say is that I have certainly seen how useful my ideas have been to their subsequent work.

This journal ‘disappearing’ felt like another example of my work, my attempts to contribute something, to have some identity as a researcher, being erased or downplayed. Almost as if even if I could get my work out there, it would get swept under the carpet.

Perhaps this is how so many of us feel in and out of academia. My mentor and friend, Dr Rosalind Dymond Cartwright, has been called the Queen of Dreams for her pioneering clinical and research work on the function of sleep and dreaming over more than 50 years. Dr. Cartwright has formulated a theory based on her decades of research regarding how sleep and dreaming can help us to regulate negative emotions and experiences of the day, as well as having an important role in modifying our self-concept. I would also call her the Queen of Empathy given her pioneering and first work in that area in the 1940s and 1950s. On more than one occasion, she has read my work, provided much welcomed and useful feedback, and given good sage advice. She has championed my right to work in the empathy area, referring students and noted researchers to me. And yet, even someone as accomplished as Dr. Cartwright can feel like an outsider, as she demonstrates with an interpretation of one of her own dreams in her book, The Twenty-four Hour Mind: The Role of Sleep and Dreaming in Our Emotional Lives (2010).

In the dream, Roz – I still want to call her Dr. Cartwright, but she signs off her emails to me with ‘Roz’, so I will try – watches colleagues receive awards in succession at a conference, as they are lauded for their work and treated with much respect on stage. When it is her turn, a harlequin assistant figure takes the mickey out of her, pretends not to see her, and does not give her to the same reception. In that moment, “I was on the outside, literally standing on the fringe, while the others were insiders, on stage or seated with their backs to me” (p. 170).

As Roz explained in her wonderful book, her dream was likely triggered by the rejection of a symposium proposal she had formulated for the conference, which had tapped into feelings of invisibility and a conflict she had felt between being an independent researcher versus playing the game to be a part of the ‘club’. As she put it, the rejection “threatened a core characteristic of my self-concept—‘I am a good sleep researcher who goes her own way’” (p. 171).

Interestingly, Roz had come across that harlequin character during sleep back when she was a child, and he has been a returning day (or night) player every so often in her dreams. However, compared to his appearances as much more menacing robber in earlier dreams, his appearance this time was different (p. 171):

The harlequin is not as feared in this dream as when he had the role of a robber. He was still engaged in robbing me, now of professional recognition, and in both dreams he was thinly disguised, a bad man pretending to be good … This time, the bad man did not frighten me; the feeling was of puzzled disappointment. I see him as only a ‘clown.’ Even more positively, I knew in the later dream that I had produced a body of work that I deemed was worthy of being noticed. The emotional message of that dream was: ‘You know what you have done; you don’t need the clowns to applaud you.’

I spoke to Dr Cartwright a couple of weeks ago to wish her a belated happy 98th birthday.

May we all spot the champions, and harlequins, in our 24-hour lives.

Shining Star

Remembering Galyn Görg (15 July, 1964-14 July, 2020).

Almost six months on, it is still so sad to think that Galyn Görg is no longer here. Galyn passed away from cancer at the too young age of 55 on 14 July, 2020 in Hawaii. I interviewed Galyn for this blog in 2017, and we had so much to speak about regarding her career that it ended up being a two-part piece. She was kind, beautiful, oh so talented and just pure light. Compassionate. Brilliant really.

Galyn had been a dancer and actress for over 30 years. In that time, she had experienced mega success in Italy with TV series Fantastico before embarking on a career in America in film (Point Break, RoboCop 2) and TV (Twin Peaks, her starring role on M.A.N.T.I.S.). Despite it all, Galyn was humble and gracious…and just genuine.

Galyn had great relationships with the people with whom she worked, having kept in touch with many of them. Sue Giosa, Galyn’s co-star in one of her first films in the ‘80s, the post-apocalyptic America 3000, told me, “She was an incredible person – equally talented as an actress and dancer. Beautiful inside and out”. Sue shared with me this picture of them during a break in filming in Israel all those years ago.

Sue and Galyn in Israel (Photo: Sue Giosa private collection).

Michael Kerr, who played Galyn’s love interest in Living the Blues (1986), a film conceived by Galyn’s filmmaker father Alan and involving much of the Görg family, told me how sad he was to hear Galyn was gone and what a wonderful family the Görgs are.

Galyn and Michael in Living the Blues.

While an absolute professional, Galyn also brought a sense of fun to her work. She told me with glee about how much she loved the costumes she got to wear on so many sci-fi shows like Stargate SG-1 and Xena: Warrior Princess. Galyn had some time away from film and TV in recent years but was excited to be back. Always looking to refine her craft, she was still attending improv classes. She also immersed herself in arts education for young people. Galyn led a creative life whether she was working or not. Loved creating. Loved her family.

Galyn was a spiritual person. I dare say much of that came from her upbringing in and connection to Hawaii. I know she and her family always believed in a higher purpose. I am just sad that someone who loved life so much here had hers cut short so young and with so much she wanted to do. When I’ve much watching Netflix recently, I will come across a cool role and, with no disrespect to the actor playing it, think to myself, Galyn would nail that!

To keep in touch with Galyn after our time together for the blog was a blessing. She often ended her messages with an emoji of a star. She was one here and I just know that she is one somewhere out there. We’ll miss our friend.

Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview.

The Best Thing Since…

During the pandemic, we have not baked bread. Well, we did bake some banana bread one weekend, on account of a miscommunication where both Bob and I came home on different days from the supermarket with a bunch of overripe bananas. But we have not engaged in the more traditional loaf baking that everyone seems to have been doing. We also did very little yoga (Bob was more diligent with it than I was), and the only thing I planted in the garden was a hydrangea while friends tended to start veggie or herb patches. Gee, do we even pandemic?! Guess we are doing it wrong.

Indeed, it seems that Bob and I are in the minority, with bread makers a popular purchase in Australia during 2020. Picturing all the loaves cooling on kitchen tables around my country got me wondering as to whether the true bread makers, the French, were similarly busy at home. It turns out in France there has been a surge in sales of bread. After all, why would the French make their own when they are so renowned for delicious baguettes, pain de campagne, ficelle, and other variants baked by true artisans? Accurate or not, don’t we all imagine the Frenchman on his bike leaving a boulangerie with a baguette sticking out of his satchel? As an aside, my grandfather has had a bread maker for many years and will still often make bread. I am usually the one who mangles his beautiful work when attempting to use the manual slicer.

At first thought, the community’s rise in bread making seems largely practical. That is, so long as one can get one’s hands on the requisite ingredients (challenging during various times over the past few months), it is a source of sustenance that does not depend on the vagaries of the supply chain we depend so much on; and the ability of one’s ravioli vendor to keep up with (mostly my) demand. Same with the veggie garden. But it seems there is something very ingrained in all of us that has seen bread making become much more important during the pandemic. As Emily VanDerWerf wrote in a fascinating Vox article a few months back, bread is “one of the very foundations of human civilization”, although it is also intimately linked with factors such as romanticism, nostalgia, and gender roles.

In the article, Emily highlights the physical action of making the bread and watching it rise as a fundamental aspect to what we get from the process, with its rolling, kneading and, I might add, hiding it under the bed – at least, that is what my mother always did when making pizza dough and she needed a dark place for the yeast to do its work. The yeast itself is fascinating, a “sort of sufficiently advanced technology that is indistinguishable from magic”. As Emily suggests, baking can “reorient you in time and connect you to the past, even if it’s just your own past”. From my work in psychology, the importance of the physical action and being in the moment makes a lot of sense.

Over the past few months, within the confines of our homes (we have been very fortunate in Adelaide, I should add), I think we have all needed to get out of our heads a bit and do something with our hands, our feet, and our hearts. Hence, perhaps, the yoga craze or the surge in gardening, the latter which cannot be accounted for solely as a fear of running low on coriander…and who really has that fear? Do you even pandemic, coriander lovers?

Perhaps the need to be out in the world, when paradoxically the world seems so closed off, is also why I did not write anything on this blog in 2020.

Maybe homemade bread is a manifestation of many of us wanting to be creative when so many have been locked in their houses, faced with uncertainty, or just plain bored. I am aware what a luxury it is to be bored, rather than having very acute fears for the health of loved ones or loss of jobs in countries where the pandemic seems out of control. But creativity and providing a contribution, particularly through my psychology work, are important to me, and so I wondered about what I could do in even a small way to help others.

I research empathy and, as part of that, compassion is an important aspect to consider in my work. I have become particularly interested in self-compassion in the last couple of years. Self-compassion is receiving increasing attention in psychology. According to Dr Kirstin Neff, who is at the forefront of the area, self-compassion involves three components:

  • being kind to ourselves
  • recognising our common humanity – that is, seeing that we all suffer, we all fall short sometimes, and that we are not alone
  • being aware of our thoughts and feelings in the present moment without becoming overidentified with them.

COVID-19 is a shared world experience, and so I began to wonder whether seeing our experiences as being shared (that common humanity) would make us less hard on ourselves and kinder to ourselves and others. To me, COVID-19 has shown us so many rich examples of people extending empathy and compassion towards their fellow citizens. However, in talking with friends and colleagues, many of us have not extended that same compassion towards ourselves.

As humans, whether by nature or nurture, we can be very unkind and critical of ourselves when we do not meet self-imposed standards, all the while being so nurturing to those around us in similar predicaments. Have you found this tendency to be exacerbated during the pandemic? Perhaps you have experienced self-recrimination because you feel you are not getting as much work done since transitioning to working for home, or perhaps you feel you are not giving the children (also home from school) the attention which we would like to give them.

We can feel like we are the only ones struggling or failing. This may especially be the case when we see others supposedly doing so well making tasty bread or mastering intricate yoga poses. They say a lotus grows in the mud…well, at least something is; it’s not my coriander! At the same time, our thoughts and threat system are likely running rampant as we deal with a situation we cannot really control, trying to put on a brave face or denying what we are feeling because we believe we have got it pretty lucky.

Drawing on my work in empathy and compassion and the work of others, I thought I could provide some tips for how during all this uncertainty, we can build the soothing emotion of self-compassion. I contacted some ABC radio stations around the country and was pleased to be able to speak about self-compassion on some programs. I also did some presentations and write-ups on the concept for my workplace.

What else has fuelled my want for creative pursuits during this time? Well, my friend Donna Loren and I started a podcast. Donna is a singer and actress who, as a teenager and young adult, appeared in the Beach Party films, starred on pioneering rock ‘n’ roll TV series Shindig!, and guest starred on the original Batman TV show and The Monkees. Donna lives in Palm Springs, California, and so we are physically at a distance. So how did this Swinging ’60s Beach Chick come together with this South Australian, once-brooding ’80s kid who doesn’t like to get his hair wet. As the title of Donna’s old column in Movie Life Magazine advised: Let’s talk it over.

Back in the early 2000s, I was a contributor to TV Tome, an online database that was almost a television-only version of the Internet Movie Database. It was more much focused than IMDB was at that time on features such as building full episode guides. You could also nominate to shepherd particular TV series or performers. I cannot remember all the pages I was responsible for, but I know they included the Australian TV series A Country Practice. I started an episode guide for that show, but with 1057 episodes and the series only available when it was rerun on TV, which required me to tape as many episodes as possible, I bowed out early in the piece. Interestingly, as more of us have stayed at home in 2020 and ACP’s original network, Seven, has put all 13 seasons onto their streaming service, there has been much renewed interest in the show (and I am sure others to write the episode guide).

On the creative side, I took care of more than a dozen of the pages of some of my favourites including Jonathan Daly, whom I interviewed on this blog in 2015, Lorrae Desmond from ACP, Kasey Rogers from Bewitched, Evelyn Scott from Peyton Place, Gregory Calpakis from the Canadian TV show Cold Squad, and Donna.

By this point, Donna and her husband Jered were running their fashion design and retail business, ADASA Hawaii. Donna had not performed in many years, but Jered had taken a keen interest in locating as much as Donna’s 1960s work as he could. He emailed me to ask if I had a copy of Donna’s guest appearance on Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., where she played Anna Kovach, one-half of a pair of star-crossed lovers from feuding Hungarian families (the episode was called “Love and Goulash”) requiring Gomer’s gentle counsel to bring them together. I did not have  a copy of this or another appearance (I cannot remember which) Jered asked for. But I had been a fan of Donna since I had seen her Beach Blanket Bingo performing “It Only Hurts When I Cry“. I was also studying TV and film at university, and so I decided to ask if I could interview Donna.

I had never interviewed anyone before, nor did I have a place to publish the interview. But lo and behold, Donna agreed to it, and we emailed back and forth on a series of questions. I found a free web hosting service, the now defunct GeoCities, and called my resulting article Somewhere Down the Road, the name of one of her songs from the ’80s.

Without realising it, I put a decidedly rosy spin on her 1960s career and life, which was somewhat at odds with the more nuanced story. But sometimes you make a heart connection with people that traverses distance and this was the case for Donna and me. We kept in touch in the ensuing years on email and I even sent Donna and Jered a copy of my PhD thesis when I completed it in 2009. Mercifully, I sent it to them on CD rather than in printed and bound format. At over 300 pages, another friend, Mark, has had to lug that thing around during multiple house moves over the past decade. Around this time, Donna and Jered were winding up their business and Donna had decided to renter the the public eye with new music. Donna had also started to put her life story to paper. I guess Jered and Donna thought enough of my writing to ask if I would collaborate with Donna.

What ensured over around two years was a true collaboration. I would arise early in the morning, which was afternoon in the U.S., and we would Skype and work on Donna’s life story. Donna had her old appointment books from the 1960s and so we used them to start a timeline and to formulate the chapters. I would ask questions and Donna would tell me stories that I would transcribe, or she would do some writing between our ‘sessions’ and so we would review that. I would have questions, and this would help us to refine her narrative. In the meantime, I would research appearances or pieces of work that I thought important for us to cover.

Donna took a leap of faith to trust me with her story, which her public had never really heard. At the heart of it was a family secret and Donna’s attempts to make sense of that when it hadn’t made sense at the height of her success after she was signed as the Dr Pepper Girl in 1963.

When some friends and I decided to take a trip to the U.S. in 2011, I added an extra week at the end of our group trip to my itinerary. The plan was to stay with Donna and Jered at their home, and so when my friends returned to Australia, I met up with my hosts. In the months preceding the trip, Donna and I had developed at least ten or so chapters. We decided to read them out loud over a series of days and nights to our audience of Jered, which would be the first time someone had read/heard them and would also allow us to edit the manuscript in real time.

Our work was interspersed with tourist trips for me, such as to The Getty Villa or the Farmers Market, or a dinner out with Donna’s children Katie and Joey, the latter whom I have been able to take out to lunch when he visited Adelaide as part of the Rogers Waters Us + Them Tour in 2017. In fact, that, I met up with my future hosts one night in Hollywood at the start of my group trip. Jered and Donna had bought tickets for us to attend a 50th anniversary celebration of The Dick Van Dyke Show being held at the Egyptian Theatre. Dick and Carl Reiner were interviewed on stage by Garry Marshall and there was a screening of some classic episodes. I sat with Jered’s best friend Phil Sloan – that’s P.F. Sloan of “Eve of Destruction” fame. All very cool.

Towards the end of my stay, the airline contacted me to let me know that my flights would delayed for a day or two, and so Donna, Jered, and I decided to take a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway on one of the extra days and stop at some of the beautiful beaches. Incidentally, these included the locations of Donna’s Beach Party movies, including the iconic Leo Carrillo State Beach with those distinctive rocks that formed such an important aesthetic for Beach Blanket Bingo. Donna and I took in some shopping (I bought a pair of James Perse pants that I just loved), and the three of us also took in lunch at Nate ’n Al’s historic deli.

Donna and I in 2011 at Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu.

When I finally could get a flight home, we bid a fond farewell. We continued to work online on the manuscript over the next year. We finished it and began to look at publishing options, but something did not quite feel right. Some time passed and Donna suggested that we may want to revisit our structure and to delve more deeply in parts. And so, we took another several few months to rearrange and reconsider our approach. I think we have a high-quality manuscript, but for whatever reasons, it has not seen the light of day. Until now.

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, Donna wondered if we might do something creative. Something for us, but for others as well. At the forefront of Donna’s approach has been a want to help people. While she is happy to share all the stories of her music and television/movie work, her story is one about seeking to find and live in truth and to really understand herself and those around her. So, we hatched the idea of reading excerpts from the manuscript, and then discussing them with my expertise from psychology and Donna’s learnt lessons given it is her story. We have kept the structure loose, and so sometimes there will be chat about appearances, sometimes included is a song, perhaps an interview with a collaborator. But all the time we use Donna’s stories to delve into issues that many of us may have faced. Compassion and connection in action, I hope.

It has been a creative, enjoyable ride that we will continue in 2021. I even got to have some fun being interviewed on Plastic EP Live TV, an internet series out of Melbourne, Australia.

So, no bread for us. As I said, I am terrible at slicing it anyway. This is something, perhaps, the French do not need to worry about when they buy a whole loaf or baguette. My friend Mark tells a story about when he was out with his French friend Maxime, and someone uttered the well-worn, “Best thing since sliced bread”.  Maxime thought carefully for a moment about it and then replied, “I remember when my town got sliced bread”. I’m taking a little liberty with his response for comic effect. But I think this demonstrates that while our experiences of the slices of life my differ, what we value and need is pretty similar. Comfort food and comfort with others. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Love’s A Secret Podcast
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These Walls

What’s left of the once mammoth Le Cornu Furniture building, Keswick, Adelaide, October 2019.

There’s been a lot of demolition since we moved into our neighbourhood two and a half years ago. Mid-century houses are being levelled and replaced with two, sometimes three, townhouses at breakneck speed. Some, but not all, were quite worse for wear. I know it probably makes sense in those cases for their demolition. But as Bob and I often discuss when we go for a walk with Lucy: will these mid-century houses come to be seen as something to preserve in the same way that we covet houses from the early part of last century?

We were probably part of the problem, having been 1920s wannabe home owners from the time we rented an early ’20s bungalow a few years ago. Alas, a long-lost great uncle with a hefty inheritance didn’t materialise, and we went mid-century. I’m glad we did – a ’50s house for my ’50s-’60s vases.

The houses being demolished are mid-century Australian, rather than the ones you’d see in, say, Palm Springs or immortalised in mid-century American movies like the time capsule Bachelor in Paradise starring Bob Hope and Lana Turner.  I’m glad that many of the neighbourhood’s houses that would have been built by immigrants – largely Italian and Greek – in the ‘60s have so far remained. These houses are very distinctive and look like what my grandparents and relatives live or lived in. They are the houses of my childhood.

I’ve never had precise spatial awareness. However, it is really put to the test once the roof comes off one of these houses, gardens are cleared, and fences torn down. I cannot reconcile how what looks like such a small space sheltered, fed, and slept families within four often-painted and papered walls that kept their secrets and made memories. How quickly a well-used backyard or long-established garden can be turned into a dirt patch. Indeed, how quickly a whole block can be reclaimed (briefly) by vegetation! Then again, I guess these blocks aren’t that small, as they’re making their way to shelter, feed, and sleep two or three families. Still, it feels strangely disrespectful, even when I have no link to these houses nor am I clamouring to buy one. Perhaps it’s just garden envy. There was one house I used to walk past with a wonderful front garden made up largely of succulents. I wish I’d gotten my act together and taken some cuttings of their purple aeoniums before they were cleared with the rest of the garden.

Notwithstanding my spatial ability, one building and block of land that was definitely not small was Le Cornu Furniture, which traded from 1974 until 2016 on a huge lot in the Adelaide suburb of Keswick. My family bought a lot of furniture from there. Whose didn’t? For the past several weeks, demolition of the site has been in earnest after the building sat vacant for the past three years. I couldn’t believe how quickly it was being torn down, and so last week when I was driving past, I decided to drive around the block to where some building remained and to take a handful of photos. All that really remained was a small slither of the building (photo at the top of the page), the front of which is on the Maple Avenue side of the site. I then drove to the parallel street and took a picture through the fencing so that the inside of the building could be seen.

Didn’t there used to be more furniture in there?

I’m not sure why this part of the building was still standing, but without most of the cream Le Cornu (now Le C) cladding that modernised the building, I imagine that we are getting a glimpse for the first time in years of the original Chrysler manufacturing plant that pre-dated Le Cornu. As an aside, I’ve read that an old Chrysler sign that was above part of the building further down Maple Avenue has been saved, so I presume it was moved off-site before that part came down. A free-standing Le Cornu sign, akin to those old mid-century motel signs (without the neon) is supposedly being kept safely in storage, too.

I must be thinking a lot about buildings of late. Early last year, my friend Mark and I were heading back to my car after dinner out in the city one evening. I’d heard just a couple of weeks earlier that The Planet nightclub building, which was on the same street in which we’d parked, might be demolished after being left empty for the better part of a decade and a half. Since we were there by happenstance, I decided to walk a little way down the street and take some photos of this building where I’d spent a good part of my teens (shh!) and early twenties.

The Planet nightclub building in March 2018.

Across the street I stood, looking at the old girl, snapping some shots on my phone. We then ventured across the street and tried to peer through the windows. A security guard was just about to set an alarm for the evening. I guess whomever owns the building still wants it intact, even if disused. I told him why I was there – that I had been for so many years and wanted to take one more look. He nodded and told me it was fine to keep taking my photos. Then, as he looked at us curiously, recognition dawned on his face. “Oh yeah, The Planet. That place used to go off”, he said as he sauntered away.

Only the lights remain of The Planet nightclub sign. I hope it’s gone to a good home.

By the way, the building is still there almost two years after I took these shots. From what  I’ve read, it will be levelled at some point in the next couple of years along with the building on its right – once a seafood restaurant called Pescatore – and left – a building that housed, amongst other things, a baguette bar I’d stumble toward after a night at The Planet. But, after many rumours of its imminent demise over the years, for now at least, it’s nothing if not a survivor.

House, businesses, buildings. Perhaps furnished by a store that, itself, is being torn down. If those walls could talk, indeed. Regardless, the memories remain. Even if, after a baguette, they got a little fuzzy.

Our Vines Have (Two) Tender Fruits

At last – the signs of spring. Our ornamental pear trees, which are planted along a side fence at the front of the house, have started to leaf out. They lost their foliage a lot later this year, and so I figured there would be delay in their blooming. For some reason, I got more anxious as the days went by with not a sign of a bud or leaf. In the backyard, Japanese Box planted late last year as a border hedge in the raised garden seems to be growing by the day – well, except for the individual plants that yellowed and died early, but which I didn’t pull out as a rallying cry for the other plants to avoid the same fate.

Best of all, the passion fruit vines that my grandfather planted last year have snaked around the trellis he put up and are flowering…and fruiting. Well, so far, we have one nicely shaped passion fruit and one that is the size and colour of a green olive.

I’m glad the cold weather is receding, and it’s cool enough to start to sit outside in the evenings. It really has been the winter of my (and many others’) discontent. It seemed like it would go on forever. It wasn’t so much the wet, winds inverting your umbrella, rain soaking your socks, kind of winter. It just felt very cold. I had a brief reprieve during a trip to sunny Cairns in August, but other than that, two blankets were kept on the bed at night, one of which would make its way to the couch in the morning while I’d have my morning coffee and toast.

I’ve also been unwell over the last month or so, probably because I haven’t been looking after myself. Not so much neglecting eating my greens, but I haven’t been engaging in much self-care, such as getting good sleep, exercising, and taking time to be do enjoyable things that take me out of my head and put me in the moment. When the idea of filling up the bath seems too much, you probably need to fill that bath. Yes, I’m aware of how privileged that sounds. I’m sorry. I am grateful for my bath. My tiredness and feeling sorry for myself has been exacerbated with a lot of work travel this year. It can – and did – wear me down.

Right now, I’m looking at the passion fruit vines. For people who are not natural green thumbs, Bob and I are really pleased with their progress. I kind of want to grab the (non-olive) one and exclaim like Ingrid Bergman in my favourite film, Cactus Flower, when her titular desk plant finally started to flower, “My passion fruit [obviously, she said “cactus”] – she is blooming!” The symbolism of the cactus or my pear trees is not lost on me. As Sarah Vaughan sings on the opening track to the film, “The Time for Love is Anytime”, which was produced by none other than Quincy Jones, “some flowers blossom late, but they’re the kind that last the longest”.

Like my trees, I think a lot of us are waiting for the renewal that comes with spring. We’ve got to play the long game and realise it’ll come…

Happiness is a Hydrangea

New interviews are coming…I swear. It was gratifying to receive a note from a reader telling me that they enjoyed my interviews and wanted to see more on the site. I’ve been working on a long-term project not related to this blog, and so most of my time for interviews has been devoted to speaking to people for that project. However, new conversations will be posted here, if not by the end of this year, then in a flurry for you to enjoy over the holidays. Make sure you hold me accountable to this promise!

Speaking of holidays, I wanted to share with you a photo (you can click on it to see the larger image) I took back in January when we were on holiday in Tasmania. The beautiful flower caught my eye while Bob and I meandered around the suburb of Battery Point one Saturday morning. Hydrangeas may be my favourite flowering plant. I’ve been trying to grow them in our garden with varying success, but am heartened by my friend Alida who tells me that she grows potted hydrangea plants in her terrace in Manhattan. As she says, “Happiness is a hydrangea!” And I agree!

Tonight, I’m sitting outside with my dog Lucy and I can spy one of my heartier hydrangeas from my chair. I’m reading Rebekah Robertson’s book, About a Girl. I started reading it last month in Brisbane. I was there to speak at a conference on compassion. You might say my research area, empathy, is compassion’s groovy cousin. Anyway, I was taking in some of the city streets before heading to the airport. I happened upon Rebekah’s book in the memoir section of a bookstore.  I’d recently seen her daughter, Georgie Stone, make her acting debut on the Australian TV series Neighbours, and so I was interested in reading more about her and her mother’s story.

Georgie and Rebekah advocated for removing the requirement in Australia that the Family Court hear applications by transgender children and their families for the child to be able to access puberty-blocking medication and, subsequently, hormone treatments. This came about through the family’s struggles to get Georgie timely access to treatment when she was 10 years old, and their subsequent challenge to the Full Court that such decisions should rest with parents rather be heard in the court system. Usually I’m more of a deliberate than voracious reader (a library copy of Catch-22 followed me through a house move), but I’m making quick progress with this book because I want to know more about their story.  I’m learning a lot about gender identity and the legal processes to which Georgie and children and families like her and hers, respectively, were subjected. I hope to write more about this book once I finish reading. Hold me to this promise, too!

Now, what’s your happiness flower?

Plutarch and Chill

At seventeen before school formal.

Back in April, I went to my 20-year high school reunion. It was a combined event of the last four decades of the graduating classes of years ending in 9. Since my cohort falls at the relatively more recent end, we were younger than two of the other groups, but staggeringly (for me) no longer the youngest at such an event. I’ve noticed this has been happening increasingly more of late. I still get a little winded when I cross over into a new age range on a survey. It seems like yesterday that I was in the final year of high school, rushing home to eat dinner before settling in to do my homework all evening while burning some lavender oil using a burner my friend Carlo had bought me. I did push myself hard in Year 12. Turns out he thought I needed to chill the fuck out…imagine that.

It was a fairly small turnout from all the graduating classes at the reunion. I imagine the school had twenty-plus year-old outdated addresses for many of my classmates. For others, they may have felt little nostalgia for revisiting high school. I’m still best friends with six of my classmates and we decided to go and make an afternoon and then, once the school portion wrapped up, evening of it at my friend Darren’s pub. We were probably the largest “group” there. The nerds shall finally inherit the earth! Or, at the very least, based on where the school sits, the valley. I don’t think we were actually the nerds in our year level, but I’m not sure where we fit. In the final year of high school, each clique had a table in the common area. We sat smack bang in the middle between the sportos (jocks in North American slang) and the boarders (the country kids who lived on site) and mingled with them and everyone else on either side of us. Then again, perhaps we might not have thought we fit a “type”, but it’s usually others who decide what type we are in high school, isn’t it?

We were taken on a tour of some of the school and I was surprised by how little it had changed. Even the small physical education changing rooms (the place where high school homoerotic dreams were made) in the auditorium looked – and, shudder, smelled – the same. I was taken aback that the library had moved to an undisclosed location somewhere else on the grounds. During Year 12, I’d start my day by reading the newspaper there and then booking in a lunch session to use one of the few computers in the school with Internet access (remember, I said we weren’t the youngest cohort at the reunion). I’d send emails from my Hotmail address (who the hell was I sending them to?) or play Hollywood Stock Exchange with Carlo. I just looked this up, and it still exists. I wonder if I still have my stocks in Mackenzie Astin.

After our night on the town, I hadn’t given the reunion much thought. But this past weekend, I was moving around some boxes and found a copy of a collection of student writing put out annually by the school. The volume was from my final year of high school. It wasn’t the first time I’d come across this small volume in recent years (see here). I was runner-up in the year-level writing competition. The winner was at the reunion – a delightful poet named Thom Sullivan. It’s probably better that I didn’t remember this humiliating (not really) defeat until after the reunion. My base instincts and a couple of beers may have led me to break his quill-holding hand and right a wrong I hadn’t ruminated on in two decades.

Over a cup of coffee, I reread my piece. Looking back from the vantage point of time, I can tell that I was very consciously trying to use every word in the dictionary. Why else would I use “gossamer” or “nadir”? My story was about a woman named Genevieve, who was named for actress Geneviève Bujold, whom I think I’d just seen in a movie. The fictional Genevieve had a life, friends, a job, and an apartment I called a “tenement”. I so obviously didn’t know what that word meant as I also gave her dwelling a mahogany door. However, for all that Genevieve had done, she had never really made her mark. The story was called “Deliquesce”, which essentially means to dissolve away. There was also something in the story about water and a seashell with the voices of the past and present, and I threw in the word “soubrette” to get my Shakespeare on. I left it open as to whether Genevieve died in the end. I can’t remember if I wanted to kill her off, but as Bette Midler said in opening her Divine Madness concert, “After many a summer dies the swan. But not when she’s stuck in a turkey the size of this one!”

When I reread the story, I smiled – if the execution was inelegant, it still isn’t half-bad. Plus, 17-year old Adam was hard enough on himself, and so he doesn’t need my help with that. My ideas were influenced in no small way by some of the giants we were reading at the time in English class – mainly, Death of a Salemsan by Arthur Miller and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Miller and Fitzgerald’s works dealt with the feats of two men who bought into a dream that did them no good. I had also fallen in love with the historians of Ancient Greece and Rome – Herodotus, Suetonius, Thucydides and, particularly, Plutarch. These historians of antiquity tended to focus on noble and ignoble men, alike – but men (unfortunately, so many of the women’s stories are lost to time) who had gone down in history.

Just as there’s no coincidence that these books are chosen for final year high school – a time when you’re figuring out who you are and who you want to be out in the world – my homing in on these themes wasn’t just because I had no other inspiration. Essentially, I remember how much I grappled with the question of “what is a life well lived?”. I imagine this to still be a pertinent question for a kid going out into the world today, although I probably wouldn’t have phrased it like that back then. For my 17-year old self, I thought a life well lived meant a life where I achieved something and was known. Wanting to “be known” was not restricted to the wider world, but I was very conscious of building a circle of friends and acquaintances, perhaps at a bar where everybody knew my name. Indeed, one day after school I went to a lunch bar/café in the city, ordered a cappuccino and Berliner bun with pink icing, and people watched. Though I spoke to not a one, I left that café determined to get to know these people, whom I imagined were regulars, in the coming months.

What struck me about this story, though, is how little my values have changed in 20 years as reflected in the story and what I remember from Year 12. Much more recently, I’ve been delving into the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), particularly what the approach has to say about values. As my teacher in the techniques of ACT has shown me, the commitment comes from wanting to commit to actions that move us towards living life in line with our values, even when negative experiences, emotions and thoughts abound (that’s the acceptance part). As ACT expert Russ Harris succinctly puts it, “The goal of ACT is to create a rich and meaningful life, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it”. I didn’t realise how much ACT is reflected in many spiritual traditions until I read Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose on the recommendation of my friend Donna Loren. She often seems to know exactly what I need, even before I do. Donna’s worked to understand her experiences, and, in the process, her insight has helped me and others to look more deeply.

Utilising the work of Dr. Harris (p. 23), it turns out three Cs are most important to me:

  • Contributionto contribute, help, assist, or make a positive difference to myself or others.
  • Creativityto be creative or innovative.
  • Connectionto engage fully in whatever I am doing, and be fully present with others.

It seems that while my more nebulous “being known” goal at 17 has evolved, it still has at its core a want to be known for doing and contributing something of importance. I think the need to be creative is a part of that overarching contribution value. The importance placed on connection has moved beyond wanting to know the patrons of a café to paying mind to the relationships I do have and being in the moment when I’m with those people. When anxiety takes over my brain and turns it into scrambled eggs, as it is apt to do, I find being present and in the moment with people terribly difficult.

Where does one get the most chance to contribute or be creative? Lots of places, but it’s often at work. And here’s the kicker. If I’m totally honest with myself, I spent a good part of the last decade in a job where, by and large, I don’t feel like I made that positive difference. While there were certainly exceptions of which I am proud, I stayed too long, even when I knew early on that this wasn’t the right fit for me. Yes, I had to pay the bills, I had just met my partner, moving away from family and friends for work wasn’t something I wanted to do, and so on. But I felt controlled and, in response to that, chose the path of least resistance and went with it. The genesis of this blog was my chance to be creative at a time when I didn’t feel I could find creativity anywhere else. As a result, I now feel at a stage where people who started their careers at the same time as me are really hitting their strides in an area in which they chose to research. More than that, they look like they are really enjoying the chance to be innovative and creative.

I’m now somewhere where I do think I can make that contribution and do more engaging work. At first, I was very anxious that I must hurry to catch up to everyone. Now with help from ACT principles, I’m realising it’s more about being conscious of the goals I want to achieve and to what end am I striving towards these things (that is, what are my values?). So long as I’m working towards them, that’s a good start. Again, I need to chill. Maybe I should get out that oil burner.

Being fully present with others is still sometimes hard. I’ve had to find mindfulness activities that work for me in all sort of circumstances as I wrote about a little while ago. I tried the raisin meditation once, where you essentially focus on the sensations associated with putting a raisin in your mouth and – here’s the important part – eventually swallow it. I put it in my mouth and down it went. Worrying that the person leading me through this would think less of me, or at least not have another raisin to give me, I pretended it was still in my mouth for a few minutes and swished around this imaginary withered old grape. Best imaginary raisin I’ve ever tasted!

Oh, you might be wondering what ever happened to that café. It barely lasted the year and folded before the close of the millennium. But I do now have another place to get a drink where a few people know my name. It’s all good.

Reaching the Surface

Grant Denyer (right) with Peter Rowsthorn and Natarsha Belling on Celebrity Name Game (Photo: Facebook).

I was in Melbourne last week for a conference. When I checked in to my apartment late Wednesday afternoon, I was told there was a heated indoor pool on my floor. Swimming has never been one of my past times. I used to watch the Beach Party films and be internally screaming, “Frankie! Annette! Get back in the beach house! Nonna will see!” Of course, they couldn’t hear me – Donna Loren was likely singing on the sand for the beach kids and Miss Perpetual Motion, Candy Johnson, would have been nearby dancing her ass off to the beat. Well, something came over me and I walked to the nearby outlet mall and bought a pair of swimmers. On that rainy afternoon, a middle-aged man lapped me to my right as I, freestyle-cum-dog paddling, imagined myself in an old Esther Williams film. I hid from him for a while under the water. Eventually I figured he was just getting started, and so I came back up to the surface, got changed, and settled in for a night of MasterChef and the premiere of Lucy Lawless’ new show, My Life is Murder.

My kind of million dollar mermaid.

On Saturday night I had some time back at the apartment before the conference dinner. Channel 10 was showing back-to-back repeats of Celebrity Name Game hosted by Grant Denyer. I make no secret of how much I enjoy watching Grant. I think he’s probably the best compere on Australian television. At a restaurant once with friends, I spied Grant at what looked like a promotional dinner. In a flash, I was halfway out of my seat when my friends told me to wait a while before approaching him. They also nixed me following him into the bathroom. Well, I waited too long and he exited the building when I wasn’t watching. Not even a bombe Alaska could lift my spirits (it did almost singe my eyebrows, though, because it was so doused in spirits). I’d missed my chance to meet him. It still hasn’t happened.

Grant on Family Feud (Photo: Facebook).

Grant returned in May to the 6PM weekday time slot with Celebrity Name Game. He’d held that slot previously when he hosted Family Feud from 2014 until mid-2018. Family Feud was must-see viewing for me. Some friends turn their noses up because I watch shows like Family Feud, The Living Room, and MasterChef, when they think I should be ensconced by the TV only enjoying scripted shows from the current Golden Age of Television. I get it, but after some hard days at work or when my head isn’t quite as clear as it could be, I can’t always sit down to a big drama or my favourite genre, described by Marge Simpson as “people coming to terms with things”. And there’s nothing wrong with liking these shows. When Grant accepted the 2018 Logie award for Most Popular Presenter for Family Feud, he ended his speech talking about the importance of fun and silly television, where “as angry and as scary and as crazy as this world gets”, people can “put their brain in neutral and have a little laugh”.

Family Feud was important to me for another reason. It started while I was in the first few months of writing my blog. Looking back, I really don’t know how to explain the volume I managed to write in the those first couple of years, other than to say that I was enjoying it so much and was champing at the bit to tell the world what I thought after not doing anything very creative for a while. All of a sudden, I felt very creative and energetic. I also dropped about 12 kilos…and got myself a therapist. The show was very important to me, running as it were in parallel with my starting to feel my head was above water again.

Without my realising it, I think it was a similar time for Grant. When Mr. Denyer also won the top award at the Logies that night in 2018 – the Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television – he told the audience how Family Feud came to him when he was experiencing a really difficult time. He said, “I wasn’t particularly in a very good place, I wasn’t very well, I was in a bit of a hole”. For Grant, Family Feud brought him back and it gave him “a ladder out of that hole”.

I’m really enjoying Celebrity Name Game. And, Grant, next time I see you, wherever that is, I promise I’ll say hello.

Dancing Through Life – Part 2

In Part 1 of our interview, Galyn Görg and I spoke about her early dance training, starring on the Italian variety show Fantastico, and the films Living the Blues, Dance Academy, RoboCop 2 and Point Break. Here in Part 2, we pick up with Twin Peaks, Galyn’s roles in science fiction and fantasy TV series including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Stargate SG-1, and Xena: Warrior Princess, and her arts education work with young people.

Adam: Last time we spoke, we ended on Point Break. It is probably timely to talk about Twin Peaks given the recent revival of Twin Peaks. You were on the second season of the original series. It had just blown up during its first season. What was it like to go into that phenomenon?
Galyn: It’s always interesting to watch a show and then have a part on it. Johanna Ray was the casting director. She always was a fan of mine and just so sweet to me. She called me up for so many things. David Lynch, I already knew who he was. As a director, I was somewhat in awe of him. It was great because I love that whole genre. The producer Mark Frost cast me after that in Storyville. I just had a communication with him recently. He was great. David was great. It’s so much fun creating art, and then when you get to work with people who are just kind and everyone’s supportive of each other. And Kyle MacLachlan’s cool, so it was a great experience. It’s like you’re stepping in and helping create this world, so I really enjoyed it. Sherilyn, I had that little bit with her, she was – everybody was really cool. I enjoyed it.

Adam: I love watching Sherilyn Fenn. Victoria Catlin, who played your sister, is someone I haven’t been able to find much about since Twin Peaks.
Galyn: Yeah.
Adam: This is probably a question that actors get asked a lot, but when you’re doing it, do you ever have a sense of what might stay around in the way that Twin Peaks has stayed around all these years?
Galyn: I had no idea. I didn’t know that it was going to be so successful. When the new Twin Peaks was coming out, I posted some shots of me on set of [the original] Twin Peaks. I think they got more ‘likes’ faster than anything I’ve ever posted, and I was shocked. It was shocking the amount of interest in that show all these years later. I had no idea that there was such an interest in it.

Galyn and Victoria Catlin in Twin Peaks.

Adam: It must be a pretty pleasing feeling to have something like that. You do something, and then you keep working and doing other things and you kind of put it to one side, but then it’s still there all these years later.
Galyn: It’s great because you realise, Oh wow, people were watching. Just before I got on this call, I saw somebody was watching an old episode of Twin Peaks and they took a screenshot and tweeted it to me, “Galyn, there you are!” You do these things and then you forget.

Adam: From Twin Peaks you then got Storyville as a savvy, street-smart escort.
Galyn: I enjoyed that. Mark Frost put me through the audition process a little bit. I remember that I had to really work on that. We shot in New Orleans, or as my character would say, “N’Orlns”. I loved it because I had to really work on the accent. When I have a break in shooting, I always like to stand and talk to the grips or, you know, the guys behind the scene, and the local people from wherever I’m shooting. Then I’ll get some real feedback on how my accent is. They said, “Yeah, it’s good. It sounds authentic. You’re doing a good job”, so then I was like, OK, good. I want to get it from the real people.
Adam: You must have a thing for accents. You have the very natural Italian accent, and the very natural New Orleans accent.
Galyn: I love doing accents. I’m actually going to go to an improv workshop tonight, and I’ll try and do a bunch of accents, yeah.

Adam: In Storyville, New Orleans is really kind of a character in its own right, and there’s definitely the Mark Frost ‘stamp’ on that film. At one point, Piper Laurie’s character says, “Down in New Orleans, the past isn’t dead; it isn’t even the past”. So, it kind of has that very rich characterisation to it.
Galyn: It was the first time I had ever been down there. I got to be down there for a while, and on my days off, I’d go walk around. Whenever I’m on location and I have days off, I always go explore. The whole place is so rich. We were in a great place – environment and atmosphere – to shoot the film. And the food – the grits! I went out to this little breakfast place and had these grits, the southern way they do it. Oh, I loved it. And the music. I’d walk down Bourbon Street and then just wander into these little places, and this incredible music was playing. People always told me to be careful because I was always very adventurous, but I always would just keep a low key and just kind of walk into places. It was incredible, the music and the food and the people. I loved it.

Adam: I’d love to go. That’s one of those places I imagine that kind of makes you feel something. The lead was James Spader.
Galyn: James Spader, that’s right, and Joanne Whalley-Kilmer.
Adam: And then Jason Robards was in it as well.
Galyn: That’s right, exactly. The film was so much fun, even though the character was small. When I’ve watched the scene once in a while of me in the courtroom sitting there, the reason I love it is because I know I was having such a good time. It was so much fun. Everybody was just great and giving and supportive. Jason, he – everybody was just great. I had so much enjoyable time on set. It’s one of my most favourite places to be. I’m always trying to get back to being on set because I just have so much fun, always.

Galyn takes the stand in Storyville.

Adam: Is there different preparation for a small role like that, or the role that you had in Judgment Night around that time, or is it a fairly similar process no matter the size of the role?
Galyn: For me, it’s similar because you’re portraying the human being. You get a lot of details from the script and then because of my creativity of being an artist, my imagination will automatically start to fill in ideas and choices about the character. I’ll start filling in, No, no, maybe not that. Maybe she’s that way or maybe she, and then I’ll decide, Yeah, that’s what it was, she was raised by her mother and then the father left, or no, she was raised by two parents, then I’ll start saying, OK, yeah that will be it. Sometimes I’ll get really specific, OK, her favourite colour – it’s fun, that creativity just to create this person, this human being, and then just to play in that field. But it’s pretty much the same process, no matter how big or small. At least it is for me.

Adam: I was talking to an actor about this recently because I do work on empathy and how we take other people’s perspectives. I guess that’s really the height of acting, isn’t it? It’s really getting into someone else’s skin as much as you can.
Galyn: I always feel the compassion that I have for people and world events when I watch the news, I attribute it partially to being an artist and being an actor because you have to have empathy for a character no matter who they are, if you’re going to portray them, so it really teaches you a lot of empathy. I agree.

Adam: I really liked the role you had in Judgment Night with Emilio Estevez where you’re playing this woman that those men who come into her apartment have a very particular perception of who she is based on where she lives and whatever else, but she’s not like that. She might be living in what they would see as I guess a ‘dump’ of a building, for want of a better term, but she’s paying the rent, she’s looking after her daughter, she’s looking after her sister or whoever it was. I thought that was a really interesting role for you.
Galyn: That’s true, the stereotype. I mean when they first come upon me, I’m afraid of them and they’re afraid of me in a way. We’re both kind of like wild animals, kind of trying to sniff the other one out, sense if it’s dangerous. But you’re right, if you go to certain parts of Los Angeles that are, quote-unquote, “urban ghetto areas”, and you drive in those areas – I’ve been in a lot of those areas because I have a grandfather who used to own a tyre shop, he just got rid of a tyre shop in East LA – and it is, there’s a lot of that run-down part of the community, but then you have houses with grandmothers and aunts and people and they’re doing their jobs and you think, Well people don’t see this, that it’s a mixture of all of those things.
Adam: That’s a very good point because they were like the well-to-do, whatever, they kind of thought that they were the ones who should be afraid of other people, but it’s interesting it kind of went the other way with her. She didn’t know who the hell these people were.
Galyn: Right. Living in an area where she was, where there is a lot of violence and there’s a lot of betrayal and there is a lot of violence, you would be, if they came up – even if they didn’t look like they were from her neighbourhood or area – you know you’ve got the guys coming up, she had a bat already there to go take out her trash. She was used to living in, you know having to live in, defending herself and being prepared because of violence in the area.

Adam: In 1994 you got your first regular role in a scripted TV series with M.A.N.T.I.S. What was your experience on that?
Galyn: Well, we shot that up in Vancouver, so I went up to live in Vancouver. I love Vancouver. It’s so beautiful up there, the water and the air. Well, one of my co-stars, Christopher Gartin, the young guy on the show – it’s so cool, he and I just connected on Instagram.
Adam: Oh, fantastic!
Galyn: Yeah. We hadn’t talked in a while, so that’s great. Roger Rees passed away not too long ago, the English actor. He was such a sweetheart, and then Carl Lumbly, gosh, he was great to work with, Adam. I lost contact with him and I’ve tried to reconnect with him, but I just haven’t been able to yet. That was a TV series, so lots of hours, lots of days.

Carl Lumbly and Galyn in M.A.N.T.I.S.

Adam: There was an interview in one of the papers at the time, where you said you liked filming there because of the relaxed people, the clean air, the clean water, and the trees, which is probably your Hawaii upbringing as well coming in there.
Galyn: Yeah that’s true, I always appreciate that. Bryce Zabel, one of the producers, and Sam Raimi, that was their baby at first. I enjoyed it because I love any – it’s like sci-fi, even though my character was a detective, I was still involved in a sci-fi show, so that was great. They don’t re-run that show in the States anywhere, but it does re-run in parts of Europe and different parts of the world. I always like to be connected to sci-fi, and it was wonderful being on a series because all these guest actors got to come in, so you got to work with all these different extraordinary guest actors, which was a blast.

With Roger Rees and Carl Lumbly in M.A.N.T.I.S.

Adam: Was Sam Raimi involved in it when you came on, or he had kind of created it and sort of left?
Galyn: He had kind of created it and left. I don’t really know the backstory. Well, you know they re-cast my character and then that’s when I got the part. But then Sam Raimi, I guess went on to other things. I don’t really know the backstory on what happened. Kim Manners directed quite a few episodes. I found out recently that he passed away. He was involved in The X-Files. When I think of Kim Manners, he was like a mad scientist when he was directing.

Adam: That’s a great visual, I love it. It’s interesting because around the same time [as M.A.N.T.I.S.], there was Scully from The X-Files who, similar to Leora, was this strong scientific woman – maybe not scientific in the case of your character, but sceptical voice of reason.
Galyn: Yes, because my character was a detective. We came on the second year of The X-Files. We aired before them [on Friday nights] during their second season. We thought this show was going to keep going because the ratings were doing well, but there was something with the studio that they decided to cancel it. My character was kind of the Lois Lane to the superhero, kind of sceptical, kind of wanting to really have the facts and details, the scientific proof, and solve the crime.

With Chris Gartin in M.A.N.T.I.S.

Adam: We’re going to talk about a lot of your science fiction work. I think what I really liked about that show is that even though the scripts went for that kind of science fiction, it still dealt with very topical issues like all good science fiction does. For example, there was the pharmaceutical episode where the kids had been given some sort of drug to make them more attentive or smarter, or whatever else, but it was having all these side effects. It was that whole idea of drugging up the population. Then there were stories about biological warfare. I think that was a very appealing part of that program. I don’t know if you remember, but towards the end it started integrating a lot more fantasy into well.
Galyn: You probably remember better than I do. [Laughs]. It probably did. You are probably right. I’m just trying to remember. I may have seen some of the episodes, but I don’t know if I even saw every episode. I think when they aired maybe I saw them. I remember the show from reading the scripts. I saw recently on YouTube a scene and I was like, I don’t even remember doing that scene, when my character goes to a psychologist or a counsellor, so it was interesting watching that. It may have gone into that [fantasy]. I don’t remember, exactly. I bet you talk to a lot of actors like that. [Laughs].

Adam: [Laughs] Yeah, they’ll ask you, “I don’t remember that at all. Was I good in that scene? I hope I was”.
Galyn: [Laughs].

As Korena in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Adam: While we’re talking about science fiction, this probably fits in quite well. You had a very sympathetic role as Tony Todd’s wife in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Once again, the good thing about science fiction is that it can be quite topical, and I like what it said about healing, or in this case not healing, from the grief of him losing his father. It was also a very clever script because it had that touch of the reclusive author, the whole J. D. Salinger-type thing. Do you have any stories from that show?
Galyn: I’m trying to remember. I know one thing, first of all, I was a Star Trek fan, my brother and my sisters and I watching the original with William Shatner. So, when I was cast on Star Trek, I was like, Yay! It was almost kind of surreal, so that was exciting right away. I was at a Star Trek convention in Vegas, it was almost two years ago, and people came up to me because I didn’t know that that episode that I did of that series is like one of the most recognised episodes of the series. I had no idea, and people came up to me who said, what you’re saying, the way the story was told, it really moved people and touched people. The story, it really meant a lot to a lot of people. I knew it was different than, you know, Star Trek is that series, all the series, you know there’s always the sci-fi and then there’s the battles and all that, but then they always touch into different parts of the human emotion and human experience, and so that episode really touched on that. I found out later that it was so moving to so many people because at the convention the Trekkies kept coming up to me and having me sign things and thanking me for coming, and that episode, they would tell me it really touched their hearts. That’s when I really learned about it. When we were shooting it, I knew the scenes were meaningful, but then I learned afterwards how much.

Adam: You had some really beautiful scenes in being able to draw out that character of the wife who’s very, she’s very supportive of her husband and understands in some ways what it must be like for him. When he’s meeting his father again for that first time, you can just see how nervous you are for him because you’re so concerned for him. It was really beautifully done. I’m not surprised to hear that it is one – I’ve read that quite a bit, that it’s one of the top episodes for people who like Deep Space Nine.
Galyn: You know, I was going to say, Tony Todd – whenever I’m in LA, we keep talking about getting together for lunch and it just never happens, so he and I were messaging yesterday, I think. I said, “I’m in LA”, and we keep talking about “OK, let’s get together for lunch”. I’d be curious to ask him, I’m curious as to what his experience was on that shoot, what his impression was of that scene and those scenes in that episode, because I’m sure he has a perspective, and he’s probably asked all the time, too. Yeah, now that you bring that up, when I meet with him, I’m going to ask him about his perception.

With Avery Brooks and Tony Todd in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Adam: You also appeared in Voyager, as well, as Nori.
Galyn: Yes.
Adam: Was that a different sort of experience working on that program? You mostly worked with Jennifer Lien and Anthony Crivello.
Galyn: I remember my outfit because my costume is always very important to me, and my outfit was very kind of confining and very structured. It was a completely different type of character; the story line was completely different. I remember the sets – I’m picturing it. It was such a different character because when I was on Deep Space Nine, she was just so much more nurturing in that mothering kind of person, and this character was so different. She [Nori] was kind of in a powerless position.

Galyn in Star Trek: Voyager.

Adam: When you say that, I’m thinking of when you played Helen of Troy on Xena and your take on that character. To some extent, she was very powerless, until she finally tries to find out who she is towards the end of the episode.
Galyn: Yeah, that’s right. There’s a scene – I actually put it on my reel – where I’m yelling, and the character is saying, “Don’t you realise what you’ve done? You’ve killed your own brother and ruined Troy. And for what?”, and she speaks out and uses her voice, so there is a transformation that happens there. By the way, l loved the costumes. I loved what I got to wear in that one.

Galyn as Helen of Troy, with Lucy Lawless in Xena: Warrior Princess.

Adam: And they were fun programs – Hercules, as well. Were they fun programs to do: Xena and Hercules?
Galyn: Yes, those were fun. First of all, I got to be flown down to New Zealand because we shot in New Zealand, so they flew me down to New Zealand. Those were Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi. Lucy [Lawless] was great, and Kevin Sorbo’s a jokester, he likes to play jokes. Those were fun because the costumes – it’s so over the top, it’s such make believe, but when you’re in a scene, you’re really taking it seriously as an actor. But yes – it was almost like you were dressing up for Halloween, it’s like a make believe, like children, you’re really playing.

When I shot Hercules, Anson Williams from Happy Days was the director. I saw him at the Star Trek convention when I was there, and we were talking about that episode. And I remember Kevin Sorbo we were on set and I played, On Hercules, I played an Egyptian princess and I had to hold a cat. I’m allergic to cats, but I was able to do the scene quick enough, so it didn’t bother me that badly. I remember Kevin saying some joke and we were joking. I barely knew him, and he started chasing me – we were chasing each other around the set laughing and stuff, and then we started shooting again. He was sweet. And Lucy, somehow, I needed a ride somewhere. I don’t know why I needed transportation and she was like, “I’ll give you a ride”, and so she and her daughter, who’s probably an adult by now, gave me a ride, and she was just a sweetheart and gave me a ride, and we barely knew each other.  It was just fun. I had a great time down in New Zealand. I took my grandmother with me, so we went exploring. We were down in Auckland. Yeah, it was great.

Galyn in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.
With Kevin Sorbo in Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

Adam: You’ve done better than I have. Obviously, Australia is very close to New Zealand and I’ve never been, so that’s another place that needs to be added to the list.
Galyn: That’s right! You’ve got to go.
Adam: And those shows were very big down here when they were on – they were kind of staples of the Saturday night schedule. That’s great to hear that they were fun to do. They’ve got quite a cult following. Star Trek has obviously got a massive following. Like we were talking about with Deep Space Nine and fans thinking that your episode is one of the best, one of the favourite episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fans is the episode you did: “Boxing Helena”. Were you a fan of that show when you got that role? Had you watched it?
Galyn: Yeah, I had watched that show. Of course, Will Smith, he had been doing music before, and I liked him. Everybody loved him. I went to NBC Studios out in Burbank to audition for that. I’m trying to remember – what happened in the room? There was a producer and a director, and the reading went really well, and then I got it.

It’s television and you have studio audience, so we rehearse all week, you know Monday through Thursday, and then rehearsal Friday, and then tape Friday afternoon, early evening. The thing that was great about working with Will is that he liked improv, so he goes off the script. You know, we have the script, but then we’ll be in the middle of a scene, and if a creative idea – as an artist, if you have the opportunity – he would go off the script and play with ideas or change something during the scene. So that’s what was great about shooting that.

We had a scene in the boxing ring. He and I have a scene, and so he started improvising and so I started improvising, and I made up some part of that scene. I think the “bwak bwak bwak” – the chicken thing – I made up that. I made up some part of the scene, and they kept it. It was fun working with him. And I knew it was a good episode. You know when you asked if you know – and I don’t always know, but I remember before we taped, he called everybody, the whole cast had to come into his dressing room and we all got in a circle and we did like a focus, energy positive. I don’t know if you want to call it a prayer or whatever, kind of “Everyone focus”, and he said, and whichever other regular on the cast – I don’t remember – said, “Oh, we’ve got a good episode. This is a good one”. Because they do so many, but they knew it was a good one. It was a funny episode.

Will Smith and Galyn in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Photo: IMDb).

Adam: Do you like the chance to do that improv within a scripted program, TV show?
Galyn: I liked it. If the writers are open and are confident enough to let you kind of play around with it because it enhances the story and the jokes, it makes it so much fun.

Adam: I imagine that a lot of being able to improv also comes from having the preparation, knowing what your script is, knowing who the character is, so that you can kind of go in a direction that might be unexpected but makes sense from the point of view of the story and the characters.
Galyn: Yes, exactly. You don’t want to veer off the storyline or veer off the character, you want to stay within those parameters. It’s like I’m a dancer, I have ballet and I have modern, I have jazz, I have all these techniques, but when you perform you kind of throw in your own flair and your creative artistry comes through, so it’s the same. You have the structure of the script and you have the idea of the character. You play within that.

Adam: I love the way you’ve described it, that use of self, even within a technique you’re still using yourself and what you know and what you bring to it. Let’s talk a little more about science fiction and fantasy because you’ve appeared in quite a lot of science fiction, and I know you said you quite like it. Is that a case of you being asked to play those roles, or they appeal to you, so you audition for them, or something else?
Galyn: It just seemed to kind of happen. I think one of the reasons is because of the way I look. If you audition, they call it “ethnically ambiguous” some of the time, and so it seemed like in the sci-fi fantasy genre – I seemed to fit in there and it was acceptable, kind of this ethnically ambiguous. That’s what I’m thinking, Adam, is what happened, but I like it, I like the sci-fi fantasy stuff.

Adam: One of the shows you did that we should talk about is Stargate SG-1. Like any good science fiction, your episode dealt with very human themes. You had the lead role in that. You played Kendra, who’s a healer, but she’s been ostracised because she was taken over by one of the Goa’uld. I felt it was really interesting that Kendra speaks of being restored to her true self and what she used to be, her voice within and facing fears, and there’s a whole lot of that sort of metaphor and allegory. There was an allegory with race a little bit, in that she sought to separate herself from those who had done wrong. I thought that was a great role for you. Did you enjoy doing that one?
Galyn: I did, and I think that’s one of the things that’s so great about sci-fi, fantasy, that kind of thing, because on so many projects that I’ve done there’s always this, there’s either commentary, or it seems – yeah, there’s a lot of delving into deep human conditions. I just love it.

I had a great time [on Stargate SG-1]. We shot that in Vancouver. It just felt like it was like a dream come true in a way, just being able to have the character and tell that story and have that kind of character with that background and that dialogue. The director, Brad Turner, he was great. And the actors – everybody was nice and kind. As I talk to you about all of these, I realise, Wow, how grateful I am that I’ve worked with – I’ve always had such good experiences. Everybody was so welcoming.

I loved my costume, by the way.
Adam: [Laughs].
Galyn: I loved the dress. I’ve got a Polaroid of me standing outside the costume wardrobe trailer in my dress, holding up my arms. I got to have the cape – OK, so I loved my outfit [laughs].
Adam: [Laughs].
Galyn: It’s always important. My sisters, some of the first things they’ll say, “So how’s your costume?” [Laughs].
Adam: [Laughs] I love that.
Galyn: That was an incredible costume.

Galyn in Stargate SG-1.

Adam: When you come onto an existing program, do you generally find that the actors tend to be quite welcoming to their well-oiled machine?
Galyn: They usually are. I can think in my mind of one – there’s probably been more – I can remember an episode of a show that I worked on and they weren’t, but I won’t mention – I’ll always say the positives because I won’t mention the ones where it wasn’t. I don’t know, it wasn’t super welcoming, but usually it is. Usually, I find that it is. I’m real open and not standoffish, and I’m like, “OK, I’m a professional artist, we’re all professional artists”. Like when I worked on Colony recently, Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies, right away, because I met them at lunch, they were like, “Hi, welcome, sit with us”.

Adam: That’s really great. I like that focus on those experiences, and let’s forget the other ones that weren’t so fantastic.
Galyn: Yeah, yeah.
Adam: It’s funny you talk about the costumes, as well, because a friend of mine, Donna [Loren] who worked a lot in the ‘60s, when she was quite young – I ask her sometimes, “Do you remember doing this show, or this song, or whatever, and she’s like, “I don’t, but what was I wearing? That might help me remember”.
Galyn: Right! [Laughs].

Adam: You took a bit of a break, or you scaled down from work, around the early-mid 2000s. Was there something that led up to doing that?
Galyn: Well, Adam, you call that a marriage and a divorce.
Adam: Ah, that’ll do it every time.
Galyn: That’ll do it, Adam! [Laughs]. Yeah, I got sort of sidetracked. I got into a little bit of some challenge, challenges. I mean, I never stopped. I continued to take classes to a point, and I continued to dance, but everything kind of got really challenging at times, so that’s when I kind of had that break. I didn’t mean to, it just kind of happened.

Adam: I speak to a lot of actors who often take a break, for lots of reasons. I guess in your case it was just that kind of other things were going on and it’s not necessarily that you mean to take a break, but you just move into another part and things happen; and sometimes if things are a bit chaotic, or whatever else, your attention is sort of elsewhere.
Galyn: That’s pretty much what happened.

Adam: As you said, during that time you were still going to class and so on. Were you in Hawaii around this time?
Galyn: I was in Los Angeles a part of the time and then I was in Hawaii part of the time. I was in Los Angeles and just got sort of sidetracked into a whole different kind of journey for a while, and then I was in Hawaii for a little while. I’ve been slowly kind of getting back into the industry, and I’ve started to get some traction again, which is good.

Adam: Fantastic. From a practical point of view, is it difficult once you’ve been out of it for a few years to get back into it?
Galyn: Well, it can be because you have to have some current credits to really kind of get in there. My resume is extensive, so getting representation is not usually difficult. I actually just signed with a new team, Media Artists Group, which is great. It’s funny that I’ve started my social media pages, Instagram and Twitter, and I’m on Facebook, too, and that’s where I’ve been contacted by different people in the entertainment industry.

Adam: You were on the last episode of Parks and Recreation. What was that like?
Galyn: It’s so funny how sometimes things just kind of happen. I just got a call, “Galyn, you want to do this?”, and I said, “Yes”. I had a small scene – I hadn’t done anything in a while. Being an improv – I’m part of the main company of a group called IFTP, Improv for the People, in Los Angeles – so if they say Amy Poehler, I’m going to say, “Of course”. You can YouTube and watch her do improv, and she’s just phenomenal, so I was like, “Yes!”.

I had a little speech on there, but my interaction was with Amy, and she was great. I remember the scene we had, we didn’t talk about it, but there was a cue that I had to give her in there, and it was so cool because I know what she was expecting as an improv artist. She’s a genius comedian, a genius improv artist. When I told the other people at IFTP [about the role with] Amy Poehler, everyone was just like, “Wow”. She’s held in high esteem as an improv artist.

Galyn with Ray Katz and Brian Nelson, Improv for the People (Photo: Facebook).

Adam: It’s interesting what you say about people tracking you down on social media. I think even David Lynch put it out to social media to try to find Everett McGill when he was doing [the new] Twin Peaks and couldn’t find him anywhere. What I particularly like about what you post is, like you said, there’s the film stuff, there’s the TV stuff, but then there’s a whole lot of other things. You strike me as someone who’s very committed to self-reflection and development. Is that something that you’ve actively pursued or is that something that came over time investigating different, I guess, modalities, for want of a better term.
Galyn: I think it’s probably because of my parents and their background. I mean, of course I love having success and being prosperous and being well, but at the same time I also want my piece of mind, and I want to be able in this wild, wild world, to find, you know, so I am a voice, what I put out there, what I share is something that maybe helps someone else also be happy or create some peace or some beauty. I consider myself a performance artist, a dancer, so I like to do different poetry, images, and I post them on those platforms.

Part of the missing years around not acting, I spent much time with the Lakota and the Diné and the Hopi, different Native American tribes, and so in that time when I wasn’t acting, I was spending a lot of time doing different ceremonies and different practices and different teachings. That’s one of the things I was doing. Images of beauty in the Native American – there’s a saying, the “beauty way”, it’s the beauty way, so anything that I can do to bring beauty into the world into the world, and compassion, I think it’s a practice.

Adam: And you also teach and work with children. How has that been?
Galyn: Yes, I’ve done a nice amount of that. In those years when I wasn’t acting, I taught quite a few workshops all over the Los Angeles area. I’ve done dance, I’ve done theatre. It’s all arts education. I’m starting to put together all the footage – I have so much footage of working with youth. And that’s part of my heart. I have another project I’m developing. It’s kind of a book, it’s based on the – I don’t know if you know from the ‘70s, it was called Free to be You and Me.
Adam: Of course.
Galyn: Marlo Thomas did it, it’s based on that format and it’s really good. I’ve got so much material already compiled. But working with young people from, you know, I’ve worked with gang members, probation kids. I’ve worked at Hollygrove where Marilyn Monroe was when she was young. I’ve worked with wealthy kids and poor kids, all over the LA area, and I love it. I’m good in the room with them, and I think, from what I’ve learned, I’ve helped a lot of young people and they’ve helped me, too. I enjoy it.

Adam: That’s fantastic and I love that idea that you get as much from them as they get from you. And you do see that, the kind of effect that you can have on people. Sometimes with what I do, I write, it goes somewhere, and it disappears for how ever many months and by the time it comes back it’s almost that delayed gratification. But when you’re in the moment in a classroom or somewhere else with people, you kind of see people “getting it”, and they get it in that moment and you get that feedback, sometimes quite immediately.
Galyn: It’s so true because I’m in there for arts education, but what I was taught from a lot of the arts organisations is that what I’m bringing in there is important, but in the present moment whatever is happening with the young person in there, whatever issue or whatever’s going on with them, that is more important than anything.

I’ve taught little ones all the way up to high school. The population that I didn’t know would be receptive to me is these high school boys. I thought, Oh gosh, I could never teach high school boys, but I taught in the last two years and, Adam, they were some of my favourites. I taught at an education centre and these young men, African American, Latino mostly, they just were so receptive. I had such a great rapport with them. Man, we had a lot of fun. If you have something interesting, they’re just sponges to learn and want to improve. They have so many dreams, and you’re just helping them believe and bringing out their potential that has to be cultivated, it has to be guided in the right direction I just really loved working with them. I didn’t know that I had the ability and it was just great to do that.

Adam: That’s so interesting what you say about getting them to believe because I think sometimes when you come from parents or families who have given you that, when as you’ve grown up they believe in you, they make you believe in yourself, you kind of think that must be the way that everyone has it. But there’s so many people who never had that foundation to begin with, and so it really has to be nurtured in them and treated as something important and special.
Galyn: It’s true because if I stand in a workshop and I ask, “Everyone raise your hand if you have someone in your life that’s telling you you’re stupid or making sly comments, or [telling you] that you are not smart, you’re stupid. Raise your hand if you have someone in your life like that”. Usually everyone raises their hands. So, to be that voice; it was wonderful.

Adam: Dance is still a very important part of your life. How has your identity as a dancer evolved over time, has it evolved, has it changed?
Galyn: I took two classes yesterday, that was three hours involved. I did a lot of Brazilian samba and then dancing the different Brazilian styles. Dance, oh my gosh, Adam, the thing that is so great because I’ve danced for so long, going to the different cultures and different styles of dance from the ballet to the modern, I did some tap, into jazz, I took a little hula, but I’m not considered a hula dancer. You know, when I was in Israel, I went into dance class; when I’m in Vancouver, I go into dance class, wherever I go – when I was in New Zealand, I jumped into a dance class. Wednesday night, I’ll probably go take a West African dance class, Thursday night, I might take a contemporary. Just to be able to express, it’s just – I’m trying to think of the question. I mean, it’s always been good, and it always gets better and better. It’s so fulfilling, and if I’m down or not feeling good, if I walk into a good dance class I will walk out, and I will be transformed.
Adam: It’s almost like, “Build her a dance studio and she will come”
Galyn: Yes! [Laughs].

On set filming The Wrong Crush (Photo: Facebook).

Adam: Acting wise, is there anything you can talk about that’s upcoming or in development at the moment?
Galyn: Yeah, I shot another TV movie. I play a psychologist. It’s called The Wrong Crush. I’m talking to my agents because I’m meeting with directors right now.  I’m meeting with a director and then a producer next week. Because of improv, I really want to do some character work, so that’s what I’m putting out there. I’ve quite a few characters developed. My management asked me to put the characters on tape because I’ve got quite a few. So, I’m meeting with some directors and producers, and we’ll see what happens.

Adam: I look forward to seeing some of it.
Galyn: Yes, and in terms of some of the projects I’m working on, my youth project, I want to complete that. I think young people around the world will really appreciate it. I think it will speak to them.
Adam: Thank you so much. I’ve had such a good time talking to you.

Galyn in Maui (Photo: Facebook).

Galyn can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and at her website.

Dancing Through Life – Part 1

When Galyn Görg answers the phone, she is in Maui. Owing to the time difference between South Australia and Hawaii, while I’m having my morning coffee, Galyn is tucking into a late lunch in between appointments. As we begin to talk about her younger years on the Big Island and then Oahu, more than once I am reminded of where she is. I can hear birds chirping in the background and it seems like it’s a splendid weather. You know how you can sometimes just tell it’s a sunny day, even over the phone?

More than the location, however, Galyn seems to embody a lot of the spirit of Hawaii, as described to me by friends who lived there for many years. It is fitting that at the end of our first conversation, when we’ve just discussed her role in Point Break, which is only about a decade into her more than 30-year acting and dance career, that she bids me goodbye with the Hawaiian, “Aloha”. Like the many meanings of that word, she is open, welcoming, generous of spirit, creative, compassionate and, indeed, it is a joy to spend time in conversation with her. When we pick up for out next conversation, she is now in Los Angeles, her other base, meeting with producers and directors. Wherever Galyn is in the world as she takes on roles in film and TV, she’ll likely be seeking out a dance class or somewhere to improv, and she tells me that she actually plans to do both in the coming days. It’s no surprise why. There’s a clip on YouTube of Galyn after one of her early performances on the Italian megahit variety TV series, Fantastico. The host, Pippo Baudo, asks the breathless Galyn, who had just finished a dance number, “Senti, Galyn, tu quando canti e quando balli, che cosa sente?” In English, he is asking, “Listen, Galyn, when you sing and when you dance, what do you feel?” Galyn replies, “Mi sento felice, una grande gioia, voglia di vivere”. The translation says it all: “I feel happy, a great joy, a desire to live”.

It was with dance that Galyn first began her foray into performance. Her mother, Gwyn, a dancer and model, introduced her to dance classes when the family was living in Hawaii. She was exposed to a range of styles, which has held her in good stead on TV and in her films. When her mother and father, filmmaker Alan Görg, moved the family – her brother Carter, and sisters Gentry, Sunny, and Tagi – to Los Angles, Galyn won competitive dance scholarships, including to the legendary Dupree Dance Academy. Along with sister, Gentry, Galyn was among 51 students to receive scholarships sponsored by the Professional Dancers Society. According to a Variety article (6 March 1981) detailing the presentation of the scholarships, these dancers “were selected from a field of 700 auditioning and competing”.

Galyn in Italy (Adam Gerace collection).

From there, Galyn began appearing in acting roles in TV and film, often playing a dancer, as well as music videos and commercials, including ZZ Top’s video for “Sharp Dressed Man”. One of her first big roles in film, as Lynka in Cannon Film’s post-apocalyptic tale, America 3000, saw the barely 20-year-old Galyn travel to work in Israel, an experience that she loved. Further travel was on the cards for Galyn when in 1985 she won a regular spot as a dancer on an Italian TV series, RAI’s (the national broadcaster) ratings juggernaut, Fantastico. Paired with American dancer Steve LaChance, the chemistry on (and offscreen) was apparent quickly, and a star dancing team were born. After the success of Fantastico, which topped the season’s ratings and regularly took around 45-50% of the viewing audience each week (the finale, alone, drew an over 60% share of the audience, with almost 23,000,000 viewers), Galyn and Steve went on to another Italian variety series, SandraRaimondo Show, hosted by the legendary television husband and wife act of Sandra Mondaini and Raimondo Vianello. Capitalising further on their popularity, Galyn and Steve starred in the scripted Dance Academy (aka Body Beat), an Italian-American co-production set at a classical ballet academy with – thanks to a new teacher played by Tony Fields – a modern jazz flair.

Galyn and Steve LaChance (Photo: Galyn Görg Official Website).

Stateside, Galyn was busy on TV and still more film. One of those roles was starring in Living the Blues, written and produced by her parents, directed by her father, and with her siblings also working on various aspects of the film. In Living the Blues, Galyn is Mana Brown, who is running figuratively (and, in dance sequences, sometimes literally) from her life on the wrong side of the tracks and a grim future she envisions for herself. She meets the upper-crust Abel Wilson (Michael Kerr), and the star-crossed lovers navigate the disapproval of his parents and Mana’s mother, played by Gwyn Görg, while being counselled by Uncle Sam Brown, played by legendary Blues musician Sam Taylor. In dance, music, and poetry, their story unfolds. In a review of the film in Variety (30 August, 1989) Galyn was described as “an appealing screen presence”, with her work in Dance Academy also praised.

Galyn as Mana in Living the Blues.

Galyn moved easily between leading and supporting roles, and the new decade of the ‘90s brought parts in the hits Point Break as Patrick Swayze’s girlfriend in beautifully-realised scenes on the beach at night, and RoboCop 2, as Cain’s (Tom Noonan) increasingly horrified accomplice, Angie. There was also Judgment Night starring Emilio Estevez, Cuba Gooding Jr., Stephen Dorff, and Jeremy Piven, Storyville starring James Spader, and a role on Twin Peaks as Nancy O’Reilly, Blackie’s (Victoria Catlin) nefarious sister and Jean Renault’s (Michael Parks) lover.

Galyn with Michael Parks in Twin Peaks.

Science fiction has formed a fair chunk of Galyn’s career. She starred as detective Lt. Leora Maxwell on Fox Television’s underrated – and like RoboCop 2, I would argue, still topical – science fiction-crime drama M.A.N.T.I.S., alongside Carl Lumbly, Roger Rees, and Christopher Gartin. Filmed in Vancouver, Galyn relished the natural environment there, which is not surprising given her Hawaiian upbringing.

Galyn as Lt. Leora Maxwell in M.A.N.T.I.S.

In quick succession, she also had plum guest roles on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and Stargate SG-1. When I say plum, her episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is regularly ranked among the best of the series by fans and critics, alike. In that episode, “The Visitor” she plays Korena, the wife of a now adult Jake (played by Tony Todd). In one particularly poignant scene, Korena is all hope and nerves for her husband as his long-lost father Sisko (Avery Brooks) appears briefly at the couple’s house. Stargate SG-1 gave Galyn the chance to play the lead guest role as Kendra, an ostracised healer who must confront her past and face her fears in the episode “Thor’s Hammer”. Galyn delved into the lighter side of Greek mythology when she took on roles in fantasy shows Xena: Warrior Princess as the oppressed, but ultimately resilient Helen of Troy, and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys as Egyptian Princess Anuket. Often while watching her appearances in preparation of speaking with her, I would write in my notes, “Great outfit”. Wardrobe wasn’t lost on Galyn, either, and while discussing her roles, we also talk about some of those wonderful costumes.

With Jennifer Lien in Star Trek: Voyager.

Many of Galyn’s movies and TV shows are in regular rotation, and with an extensive body of work (we cover so much of her career, and still can’t fit everything in), many may have not realised that she took time away from the screen in the 2000s. During that time, Galyn engaged with Native American teachings (her mother has Native American ancestry) and immersed herself in arts programs for young people. Her role as teacher and mentor is one that she relishes, along with dancing and improv. And … Galyn is again appearing in a string of films and TV series, which is a very good thing for us.

As Kendra in Stargate SG-1.

When talking with Galyn, it comes across that she loves what she does, is at home on a set, and she is able to form good relationships with her co-workers. I don’t think this comes down to Galyn focusing her recollections only on positive on-set experiences, but instead from that openness and compassion she displays when talking with me during our extensive and enjoyable chat.

In Part 1 of our interview, Galyn and I speak about her early life in Hawaii and LA, being a dancer at the height of the Fame and Flashdance dance craze, starring on Fantastico, her roles in TV and film during this time, and starting out the ‘90s with RoboCop 2 and Point Break.

Adam: It’s been a long time coming.
Galyn: Yes, it has. We’ve been trying to do this for quite a while.

Adam: I’m so pleased to speak to you. How are you today?
Galyn: I am very well. I am very well, just busy, but doing pretty well.

Adam: Thank you for taking the time to speak to me. I guess we can pretty much get started. Well, I guess to begin with, when did you start learning to dance?
Galyn: My first dance class was on the Big Island, they call it here the Big Island of Hawaii. In the town of Hilo, my mother went to take in a West African dance class, and that was my first dance class and I went in and oh, I was in love – that was it.

Adam: How old were you then?
Galyn: I must’ve been about ten, eleven, ten.

Adam: So you started with that dance class and then from there you went on to learn other styles?
Galyn: Yes, then we moved to Oahu and then I began taking ballet with my first ballet teacher. Her name was Helen, Miss Chun I think her name was. I loved ballet, I loved West African. So, I was doing that for a little while, and then as I got older, I tried many other styles of dance.

Adam: Maybe you were too young at the time to think about this, but do you think there were clear divides between those students who learned ballet or learned jazz or learned other styles, or could there be that mixture?
Galyn: For me there was the mixture because after we left Oahu we moved back to Los Angeles, my parents moved us back to Los Angeles, and I was awarded a scholarship. I auditioned and got a scholarship at a studio in Hollywood. It was called Dupree Dance Academy. It was the top studio and we had to take different, we took different styles. We had to take jazz and ballet and I guess you’d call it kind of a funk hip hop was just coming around.  Then I eventually went into a lot Brazilian, I did samba, then I did a lot of West African.  I love them all for different reasons and they’re all challenging for different reasons, but I have loved every one of them dearly.

Adam: When you did move back with your family to LA was that because of your father’s work as a documentary filmmaker?
Galyn: Yeah, that was partially, because my parents, you know, my mother is Black, and my father is White, and they had met in the Civil Rights Movement in Los Angeles, they had met in an organisation called CORE, it was Congress of Racial Equality. My parents had met in that group, and so they were very active in the Civil Rights Movement, with Martin Luther King and everything that was happening, and they wanted to go back to Los Angeles because they wanted to make sure that we were exposed to the arts more and they were exposed to, just more exposed.  And then my father wanted to do more films.
Adam: Last night I was watching one of his documentaries that’s made its way onto YouTube, Felicia.
Galyn: Yes.
Adam: Fantastic, and of course that’s been put into the National Film Registry, so amazing work. Where did you go to school in LA?
Galyn: The first place I went to was called SMASH, and that was Santa Monica Alternative School House. It was an alternative school meaning that the classes were very small, arts were very emphasised, it was like, you know, you have a classroom and there’s couches you can sit in, you can get personalised attention, and your creativity is encouraged. And that’s why I actually excelled in math, which is the only place I ever excelled in math. It’s so funny – because I got so much attention, otherwise I had a really hard time with math, but it was the only place that I did well in math. And then I also went to Santa Monica High School.

Galyn (Photo: Galyn Görg Official Website).

Adam: That’s kind of funny being in such a performance-based school, alternative school, and doing so well in math. Is that where you took more interest in dance and performance?
Galyn: Yes, I think it was there and also because my mother had been dancing and modelling and very creative, and so she just kept encouraging me. I just loved it myself and I have three sisters – I have a brother also, but he wasn’t really interested in that – but my sisters were, and she just kept encouraging us. We would go see Alvin Ailey, we would go see productions and theatre, and we watched musicals all the time, of course Singing in the Rain and West Side Story.

We would see those and then they played, my mother and father, liked Blues and my dad loves Blues. That’s why he made the film Living the Blues, and my parents encouraged us in the arts, we were just always encouraged, and I wanted to be in television and film. When we lived on the Big Island of Hawaii in Hilo, my parents had a theatre group for youth, for young people, so I did quite a few plays when we were on the Big Island with the theatre group. Then on Oahu, that’s right – I’m just remembering this [laughs] – I did plays with youth theatre programs, and I loved it. I did a lot of plays on Oahu and on the Big Island. So then from the theatre there then going to Los Angeles and being involved, I started really getting involved in dance when I won my scholarship to Dupree Dance Academy.

Adam: So, you got a scholarship from Dupree, as well as other scholarships. I think I found your first mention in Variety, where they were talking about the ceremony for the Professional Dancers Society scholarships. There were some big names mentioned: Roland Dupree Juliet Prowse were judges; Debbie Reynolds, Eleanor Powell, and June Haver were at the ceremony. Do you remember going to that?
Galyn: I remember that. I remember there being celebrities and different people like that, but my focus was so on being a dancer, and so wanting to perfect the technique. I was so serious about it and the thing that I knew is because of that level of artistry and those artists involved, it was going to be a high-level experience. That’s what my mom wanted to make sure that if I was going to train, I had the best quality. I do remember that – that I knew I was in good company.

Adam: That’s interesting, that sort of mentality, that performance mentality. From early on, where even though you are surrounded by all that, it’s really on that focus of, “This is what I need to do, and this is what I’m focusing on”.
Galyn: That’s right. There’s a man, Bill Prudich, he was on scholarship at Dupree Dance Academy. He now is the Executive Director of EDGE in Hollywood. EDGE is the top dance studio. He and I were interacting on social media the other day, and I told him that the only celebrity that ever made me nervous was when I met Cyd Charisse. When I was there [at Dupree], she was the one that I was like, Oh my God [laughs].
Adam: [Laughs].
Galyn: But otherwise my parents always said, “Well, you’re an artist and anybody else, famous or not, is an artist, and when you’re creating art together then you’re all artists. You’re on the same playing field, the same level, it’s just art, you know”.
Adam: That’s a great attitude, I love that.
Galyn: Yeah.

Galyn in Italy (Photo: Galyn Görg Offical Website).

Adam: You started to appear early on in your career on TV and films that were set in dance schools or dance academies. You did Fame; I know you did at least one episode, I don’t know if you did other ones. You did Mirrors, the TV movie, and then later, Dance Academy.  In your experience of dance school or dance training, were those sorts of programs accurate reflections of your own experience?
Galyn: Um, not exactly because the intensity of where you are. When I was on scholarship at Dupree, we had to take three classes a day, so we had to take about 15 classes a week. You pretty much are eating, sleeping, drinking dance. It’s just your entire – I remember my sister and I, when we would go to sleep at night, we would try and sleep with our legs, our feet in a position to help our technique in the day time. We’d want to sleep through the night to try to have our bodies adjust to a certain technique. Film somewhat captures it. The intensity is sometimes in films or the level of rehearsal and the competition; and some instructors are not nice, and some instructors are nice, and not being able to make the move you want to make and then making the move and having a great show. Aspects are definitely accurate.

Adam: In Mirrors, one of the characters says, “After a week or so, the rest of the world disappears. Nothing’s real, but the show and the people you’re working with”.
Galyn: Mmm, yeah.
Adam: Which is interesting. How did you get Fame?
Galyn: I’m trying to remember. I must’ve auditioned, yeah, I auditioned for that.

Adam: With Fame, did you only do the one episode, or do you think you might’ve done other ones as well?
Galyn: Good question [laughs]. I think I just did, I’m trying to remember. The thing is so funny, Adam, I can picture the set right now, I can picture the hallway, like the classroom hallways. I can picture the set and I was dancing and doing something, and I remember there were other dancers on it. When I was dancing like that, I knew most of the other dancers because they came out of Dupree or Joe Tremaine. I think I did one episode, maybe I did two. I can’t even remember.
Adam: [Laughs] When I do these sorts of interviews, I’m always asking people, “Remember when you did that”, and it’s like “Wait a second, that was 20, 25 years ago”.
Galyn: [Laughs] I know!

Adam: Dancing and acting, of course, are not exclusive, but how did you go from having more of a predominant focus on dance to moving into acting?
Galyn: That’s funny because I was in theatre when I was really young and then I got into dance. I think being on scholarship and the dancers that came out of Dupree, the “Thriller” video, Michael Jackson, all of that stuff was dancers out of Dupree and out of Joe Tremaine; and you know Flashdance and Marine Jahan, she was out of Dupree. I mean I can go on and on and name the dancers. It just happened to be a hot moment, a really hot time for dancers in videos and MTV coming alive, and so I think that’s why I [got into dance]. Music videos, people don’t know I did quite a few music videos, and I did tons of television commercials, and it was mostly dance orientated. Then after I went to Italy and came back, I slowly transitioned into acting more.
Adam: That’s interesting because you did a couple of things before you went over, but predominantly you moved into that phase once you came back from Italy.
Galyn: Yes.

Galyn in Al Jarreau’s “After All” music video.

Adam: What music videos that you did stand out in your mind?
Galyn: Somebody recently messaged me on Facebook a clip of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man”. I think that was one of my first videos, with Peter Tramm, the dancer, who’s passed away. I remember that was like my first video, and then “All Night Long” with Lionel Richie. I had a small part on that. You don’t see me that well. That was my first one or ZZ Top. I can’t remember – maybe “All Night Long”. And I knew the song [“All Night Long] was this great song, but I didn’t know the song was going to be that! I had no idea. I come down dancing on the side of Lionel, Mr Richie, with Lela Rochon. Lela Rochon is on one side and I’m on the other side. When Al Jarreau passed away, I posted [on social media] because I danced in the “After All” video. I danced in a Ray Parker Jr. video right after [he did] Ghostbusters. I did a bunch of music videos. I’ve tried to remember them and post them because people ask me. That was being a dancer and being able to come out and do those, especially with Flashdance happening and all of that. Flashdance was great because of her [Jennifer Beals] kind of ambiguous look; I think that helped me.

I did commercials at the time, too, in between all the other stuff, so I was doing lots. I did McDonalds and Pepsi and Coca-Cola, and all those. Hertz rent a car. I have to look, they’re written down somewhere, but, yeah, a lot of television commercials, too.

Adam: One of your first films was America 3000. There’s a lot of interest in those films again from Cannon, and all of that coming around again. What was your experience on that? What was it like to film in Israel?
Galyn: I loved it! Oh my God, that was in Tel Aviv, the Sheraton in Tel Aviv, and the thing is they booked me for three months, so I was out in Israel for three months, but I only worked probably about a month, so I had a lot of time off. Oh my gosh, I travelled around a lot by myself, and people were [saying], “You better be careful”, [but] I had a great time. I would go to what they call the Arab markets, and then I went with people to the Dead Sea. I had so much fun, the food was delicious, and everybody was so nice. You know there was conflict because there were machine guns and soldiers walking around with machine guns; and there was conflict in South Africa with the Apartheid. I could hear booms sometimes, but at the same time when you meet human beings on an eye-to-eye to level, and you just do that, and you don’t talk about crazy world stuff. I just had a great time with people and the food, and on set. I really enjoyed Israel.
Adam: That’s a great lesson, isn’t it? That whole idea that when you’re meeting someone person to person. And of course, at that age as well – you would’ve been in your early twenties – and sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. I remember when I first travelled, I went to Greece and so on, and, you know, I’d leave my wallet and everything else on the counter, and it didn’t matter.
Galyn: Right.
Adam: Whereas I probably wouldn’t do that now if I went back. But sometimes, it’s fine at that time.
Adam: It’s so true Adam, it’s so true. You’re wide-eyed and just open, and I was protected and blessed and had a wonderful time. I went to parties on roof tops, ate tons of food, and worked on the film, I mean I’m still friends with Sue Giosa who played in that film; and Laurene Landon, I just reconnected with her.
Adam: I saw you just did something with her, A Husband for Christmas.
Galyn: Yes, yes.

Adam: That’s really good to hear that you’re still in contact. And do you remember the producers, Golan and Globus?
Galyn: I remember them, yes. I remember them walking around, stressing out.
Adam: [Laughs].
Galyn: [Laughs] It always seems that the producers are stressing out during the film. There was drama, different dramas. I think one of them was dating one of the actresses, you know these behind the scenes dramas. But I just was into my craft and then my days off.
Adam: I think that’s a good way to be.
Galyn: [Laughs].
Adam: It’s interesting with America 3000 because the dialogue was trying to be very clever, I guess,
Galyn: Yeah.
Adam: with stuff like “hot plastic”. And you had a bit of an intense scene. I know predominantly it wasn’t a serious film, but you had an intense scene where your character is preparing to be what I think they called “seeded”.
Galyn: Yes.
Adam: I think it’s going to come back, this film, I would not be surprised.
Galyn: That’s so – usually I don’t tell people about it [laughs].
Adam: [Laughs].

Adam: From that film then – I think I’ve got my timeline right – soon after you got Fantastico and ended up in Italy. How did you get that show?
Galyn: I was in LA auditioning and there was a notice in the Variety paper. I saw that, and I went to this audition. There was a long line of girls, and I stood in line. I was not in a good mood, I remember that day, and I was going to leave, and I remember being really, Oh gosh, and I walked in. I just remember going in to audition, they interviewed me, and I remember being in a really sort of sour mood, and then I left. Then about a couple of months later I got a call from the two men, Guido De Angelis, who is actually now a very big producer, he just produced the [Maria] Callas movie, and Giuseppe Giacchi. They called me in and asked me if I’d like to come to Italy to do a variety show, and they were going to manage me. So, I flew out with my mother. I went to Italy, came back, then I went to Israel to shoot the film, and then I went back to Italy. The man that had to make the final decision in Italy was Pippo Baudo. He’s like the David Letterman, the Johnny Carson, the big time. He had to approve of me, so I met Pippo Baudo and the choreographer Franco Miseria. They liked me, and I liked them, and it was the biggest variety show in Italy.

Adam: Did you have any concept of how big it was?
Galyn: No, I didn’t know. Even when I was doing it, I didn’t know, really. I had no idea that it was this huge, huge show. I learned as we went because we did a couple of episodes and I couldn’t walk the streets after it. After we left the theatre, we had to try and drive and escape from people. We had to hide, and then that’s when we started to realise, Oh my gosh, this show is huge.

Galyn on the cover of Tele Sette magazine.
Galyn on the cover of Intimità della famiglia magazine.

Adam: You were always on the magazine covers. It’s kind of funny, I was moving house a few weeks ago, and for research, I had all these magazines with you on the covers. And my partner’s like, “How are you going to pack these, you can’t just throw them into a box”.
Galyn: [Laughs]. Yeah, a whole lot of magazine covers. I had a great time. I’ve re-connected with many of those people again. I was supposed to go there in December [2016]. I was supposed to go do a show with Lorella Cuccarini and Heather Parisi, who are very well-known dancers now, but there was a contractual disagreement, and that’s why it didn’t happen.
Adam: Hopefully down the track, perhaps.
Galyn: I have Italian fans always messaging me, contacting me, “Darling, darling, when do you return to Italy, Galyn, Galyn?”

Galyn with Pippo Baudo and Lorella Cuccarini on the cover of Guida TV magazine.

Adam: That’s fantastic. And it was a high intensity show, I mean it was a two-hour show. What was your schedule in any given week?
Galyn: It was intense. We rehearsed all day, must’ve been six to eight hours, and then I had to go into the studio that night and record because we were singing so many songs. It was packed. It was a packed non-stop rehearsal all day, go record in the studio, maybe go and do an interview, shoot a photo session.  It was an intense schedule and the show was live, millions of viewers. It wasn’t like delayed, there wasn’t a three second delay. It was live! And we were doing lifts and all of these – I hadn’t done anything to that level. My partner that I danced with was Steve LaChance, who is actually still in Italy. He had been an incredible dancer. He’d worked with Bob Fosse, and Debbie Allen used to call him regularly to dance on the Academy Awards. Phenomenal partner. I was very lucky. That happened because my mum suggested him to the Italian producers.
Adam: Right, I was going to ask how that came about.
Galyn: Yeah, they needed a partner for me and my mom suggested, “What about Steve LaChance?”

Adam: Did you and he click pretty quickly in terms of dance?
Galyn: Oh, yeah, we kind of clicked, you could say. Yeah, we started dating for probably about four and a half years.

Adam: Was that getting a lot of attention in Italy?
Galyn: Yeah, at a certain point. We tried to deny it for a while, but then people could kind of tell, and then they kind of marketed us as a couple.
Adam: Have you seen him recently or are you in touch with him?
Galyn: He and I contacted each other about a year ago. I’m in contact with his sister and she’s a sweetheart. About a year and a half ago I was in direct contact with him, we messaged, but if I get to Italy – it may happen because of some things that are occurring – I definitely will say hi. I was so lucky to have him as my partner. He’s a phenomenal dancer. He just made me look great, he looked great, and it just worked. It was great.

Galyn with Steve LaChance in Italy (Adam Gerace collection).

Adam: Do you have any favourite performances that stand out to you from the show?
Galyn: There’s a couple of pieces that are my favourites that stood out. Franco Miseria was a very well-known choreographer in Italy. He was choreographing pieces for us and then about the third or fourth episode in he choreographed a lyrical piece for us where I’m wearing red and black. It’s a lyrical piece and that’s the night we started to hit. From then on, we just hit and went to super stardom because our forte was lyrical. He [Steve] and I doing lyrical was just magic, it was just magic. [Adam’s note: You can watch many of Galyn’s Fantastico performances on her YouTube Channel].

Adam: What was life like living in Rome? You were living with your mother and sister?
Galyn: I was actually just living with my sister because my sister was one of the dancers in the show; she was in the chorus dancing. My grandmother came and stayed with us for a while, and then my mum visited for a while. But life was, it was pretty much just rehearsal. The thing, Adam, about the Italian culture that’s so incredibly wonderful is that we would rehearse and then it would be lunch time and it wasn’t so much like in the United States; it was more like, “We stay together, we drink a little wine, relax, we stay together, mangia, mangia, let’s enjoy the life, enjoy the life”. We worked, but then the rest of the time we enjoyed life as we were doing it.

Galyn with her sister, Gentry (Photo: TV Sorrisi e Canzoni).

Adam: My background is Italian, so I understand where you’re coming from with that. How well did you learn Italian?
Galyn: I was getting pretty good when I was there because I had a private tutor. I had a knack for the language they told me, the Italians, that my accent seemed really natural to them. My accent was pretty good, and I had a private tutor, so I was getting it well. Now I don’t have it so much because I don’t practice, but I enjoyed that language and having a tutor really just helped.
Adam: My parents are Italian, but we didn’t speak it at home and they’ve been in Australia for a long time. But when I was studying it in school, I was great at it. I would ring family in Italy, and talk to them fluently, but now it’s kind of a bit hit and miss because you don’t use it that often, you’re not practising it.
Galyn: That’s the thing because if you don’t practice it, then it just doesn’t stay with you.

Adam: When you look at Fantastico, and even other earlier performances – I don’t know if you do that often because I know a lot of performers don’t – but when you have seen those clips, what do you think and what do you feel looking back now?
Galyn: When I look back and see the clips from Italy of the dancing, I was better than I thought I was at the time. At the time, I was a perfectionist, but now when I look at them, I go, Oh, you were better than you actually thought you were.
Adam: It’s interesting to have that point of view separated from it. When you watch clips, do you have a bit of a disconnect where you sort of – like when you’re looking at yourself, is that you, or is that someone that’s not quite you. or does it feel one and the same?
Galyn: Yeah, I think it is kind of like that where it seems like a different self, in a way. It’s like a different self. I’ll even, if I talk about it, sometimes I can refer to it in the third person, “Oh look at her and how she is”. It can be like that sometimes.
Adam: Absolutely, because I was speaking to an actor [Gavin Harrison] whom I’d sent a video to so that he could see when he was on Mission: Impossible when he was a teenager. He hadn’t seen it in all those years, and when he looked at it, it seemed to him like it wasn’t necessarily him, but he was very proud looking at this young kid, thinking, look at how he was just going for it.
Galyn: Mmm.
Adam: He doesn’t have a lot of experience or whatever else, but he’s just really throwing himself into it.
Galyn: Exactly. Same kind of thing where you’re looking at this – it’s this other person in a way. another aspect, another aspect of yourself, another person in a way. Definitely, I’ll refer to myself in the third person.

Adam: Yeah, that makes sense. Then straight from Fantastico, I think you did the film Dance Academy. Was it because of your popularity in Italy with Steve that they came up with that movie?
Galyn: Yeah that came out of that; the same people were involved. That was part of that production, with an American director, Ted Mather, and then Italian produced. It was a co-production.

Galyn and Steve LaChance in Dance Academy.

Adam: Do you have good memories of that one?
Galyn: I just saw some scenes recently because they’re being added to my website. We had a good time on that. We had finished Fantastico and then we went into that. Steve and I had danced as partners for quite a while, so we had really learned how to work together. Then I had scenes and I got to do some acting, so that was great.
Adam: And it was you and Tony…
Galyn: Tony Fields.
Adam: Amazing Tony Fields.
Galyn: Tony Fields. Yeah, I was watching Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” video the other day and I saw him, and it was like, “Oh, there’s Tony”.
Adam: Isn’t that fantastic?
Galyn: Yeah, with Michael DeLorenzo in that video and – gosh, so many people in that video.

With Tony Fields in Dance Academy.

Adam: You went back to Italy and you did SandraRaimondo Show. What was it like working with new hosts, at a different network, and in a different place as well?
Galyn: Yes, because that was in Milano so that was different, and they had us living in this place called Milano Due, which was more isolated. That show wasn’t live, and those shows were taped, so it was a different experience. But it was nice because we could be in the editing room. I remember we were in the editing room and we could say, “OK, take that, cut this, put that”, so being in the editing room is sometimes nice because then you can perfect a piece in the editing.

Galyn and Steve LaChance at the 1988 Sanremo Music Festival (Adam Gerace collection).

Adam: That must have been quite a different approach, and especially to be able to shape a performance in the editing room as well.
Galyn: Yes. Both experiences are great. Live is one thing, that’s incredible, but then being able to cut and edit; they’re both, I enjoy both processes.

Adam: And just as the host of Fantastico was very big in Italy so were Sandra Mondaini and Raimondo Vianello. Big stars.
Galyn: I had no idea how big until people were telling me, and then I realised they’re legends.
Adam: I’ve had the same with people I’ve met in my work, and you don’t always realise at the time how big they are until afterwards you look back, and it’s kind of a bit staggering for you to go, “Wow”.
Galyn: Yes, isn’t’ that true? That’s so true.

Galyn and Steve LaChance return to a variety show with SandraRaimondo Show with Tracy Spencer and Bonnie Bianco (middle), and Sandra Mondaini and Raimondo Vianello (Photo: Wikipedia).

Adam: This probably leads us in quite well to Living the Blues with Sam Taylor.
Galyn: Sam Taylor. Yeah, he’s like a legend. I had no idea. I mean, I know he was an incredibly talented musician because of the music he was making, and he was a lot of fun on set. He was a real character. I’m pretty good friends with his grandson, Lawrence Worrell, who’s a great musician. He calls himself L*A*W Planet 12. He’s all over social media. But yeah, Sam Taylor, I see a lot of stuff through his grandson; all these photos of him with all these legends. He was a legend in his own right.

Adam: Did Living the Blues come about through your father and mother?
Galyn: Yes, my dad and my mother wrote and produced it, and they shot it around the streets of Los Angeles.

Galyn in Living the Blues.

Adam: Your character was really someone who wants to get somewhere else. She really has this intensity of getting out of the situation that she’s in, but at the same time – and same with her mother, as well – it’s very focused on money and, “If I could just get that money”. Was she an interesting character to play?
Galyn: I think it was the struggle that so many people go through, especially in the African-American community, people who are in states of poverty – just that struggle and trying to keep the dream alive that something can happen. Then there was the mother being really tough on the daughter and wanting her to not make the wrong decisions, but then my character, the daughter, feeling that she’s being controlled too much and wants to make her own choices. It’s that coming of age story of wanting to have respect for her mother and family and everything, but wanting to do her own thing, go out in the world. It’s a real human story.

Adam: And it probably also came from your father’s experiences with his documentary films. The film I watched last night, Felicia, where she’s talking about how she was in the neighbourhood seeing these men who had just given up; they tried and just hadn’t been able to get anywhere, and so they’d kind of given it up. I think your character or the mother in Living the Blues says something about not wanting to be loaded up with babies and always poor.
Galyn: Yes, and then the young man being Caucasian, having his passion for the blues and the music and the culture, and then having to struggle with what he wants and then care for his parents who disagree; and trying to find some balance in following his dreams and what he wants to do, but then having to struggle with his family and identity. I think it’s a universal story.

Galyn and her mother Gwyn Görg in Living the Blues.

Adam: What was it like to work with your family, to work with your dad and your mom?
Galyn: It was great. The only thing that’s different for something like that is if you’re doing your acting, but then you might carry a bag of props to the car, or you might help set up craft service a little bit, you might help with that sometimes. You’re going take on a few more roles.
Adam: Yes, you look at the credits, and you see your father did this, this, and this; your mother did this, this, and this; your sisters and brother did some work on it as well.
Galyn: Yes [laughs].

Adam: I enjoyed the interaction between you and the guy that played your boyfriend, Michael Kerr. Has he ever done anything since? I couldn’t really find much about him.
Galyn: I couldn’t either and I actually tried to find him on social media recently. I thought, Oh, let me reach out, but I haven’t seen or heard from him. I don’t know if he did anything else, but he was easy to work with. He was a really easy person to work with, but I haven’t had any contact with him since then.

Galyn and Michael Kerr in Living the Blues.

Adam: When the film was released on video, you got a good review in Variety. They called you an appealing screen presence and they really enjoyed your performance. I don’t know if you ever saw that?
Galyn: No, I didn’t, I never saw it, never heard about that.
Adam: I’ll have to send it to you.

Adam: One of your movies that has stuck around is The Malibu Bikini Shop. I don’t know how much you come across people talking about that, but particularly over here [Australia] that was one of those ones that was always in the video store, it was always on TV. What are your memories of that film?
Galyn: That’s so funny – I forget about that until somebody brings it up. I remember that we shot on the Venice Boardwalk. I remember being glad that I was going to have – because I don’t think the dancing was in there at the beginning, and I think they added it. Bruce Greenwood was in there and he’s gone on to really big things. I remember the cast – everybody was really cool. I remember it was an enjoyable time, and it was great because it was so local.

Michael David Wright, Bruce Greenwood, Barbra Horan, Galyn, and Ami Julius in The Malibu Bikini Shop.

Adam: And Barbra Horan, who goes by the name Amanda now, runs her own bra and shapewear company, Sassybax.
Galyn: Oh, I didn’t even know that!

With Barbra Horan and Ami Julius in The Malibu Bikini Shop.

Adam: You did a whole lot of other work throughout the ‘80s and you ended up on an Aaron Spelling pilot, Nightingales.
Galyn: Yes.
Adam: What was your impression meeting him?
Galyn: I remember having a little interaction with him. I didn’t have much interaction – he was kind of this, it was like the Wizard of Oz. I was nervous because he had had so much success. I remember Tori and his son. We had a cast party or something, and this was before Tori was on the show [Beverly Hills 90210,] and I remember Aaron was there and he was really supportive and nice because he gave compliments and encouragement and said positive words to everybody. He was huge, but he was very personable now that I remember it and gave words of encouragement. I had a great time with the other actresses. Susan Walters was in it; she’s doing really well right now. I was actually looking for Britta Phillips recently. I remember she was a sweetheart and I thought, I should try to connect with her, but I didn’t find her.
Adam: Other people in there were Kristy Swanson and Chelsea Field, and the director was Mimi Leder.
Galyn: That’s right, Mimi Leder is great; and that’s right, Chelsea Field, I bumped into her not that long ago.

Adam: You didn’t end up in the TV series. Was that because you had other work at the time, or did the character didn’t continue? Do you remember why that would’ve been?
Galyn: I’m trying to remember what happened. We shot it and then everything changed, and I remember there being a big drama about it and I don’t know why they re-cast. I forgot what the reason was, but of course I didn’t like the reason at the time.
Adam: [Laughs] Of course.
Galyn: For some reason everything changed. It was probably the network wanted to see a different look or a different something. But I remember, “OK, that’s done, I should move on”.

Adam: I know that the show didn’t last long, and it had a lot of criticism from the American Nurses Association because it was seen to depict nurses in a non-serious way in this soap opera.
Galyn: That’s right.
Adam: Suzanne Pleshette went to meet with nurses and try to figure that out. I think there was a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes. Do you remember working with Suzanne Pleshette? Did you have much to do with her?
Galyn: Yes, I do, I remember her, and I remember – you’re right, there was a thing with the Nurses Association. I remember Suzanne – she was really sweet. We had a good time on that.

Adam: That’s good to hear because sometimes these things don’t always work out, but it’s a nice process to be in them and to do them.
Galyn: Most of the times that I have been on set working with people, I have had a good time because I think actors are glad to be working. I was working recently on A Husband for Christmas – I had just a small part – and Eric Roberts came on set and he was in such a good mood. I had never met him before and he was just joking with me and everybody.

Galyn in RoboCop 2 with Tom Noonan, George Cheung, Michael Medeiros, Gabriel Damon, and Frank Miller, who also wrote the film.

Adam: In the early ‘90s, you had a couple of big pictures. The first was RoboCop 2. How did it feel to get that plumb role in that film?
Galyn: It’s so funny, I didn’t even realise who Irvin Kershner really was at the time. I had no idea until afterwards. He was just really sweet. We shot down in Huston, Texas. I’m still friends with Tom Noonan; and Frank Miller, he was great, I had a really good time with Frank Miller, he signed my The Dark Knight Returns book. I’ve said this in a couple of interviews lately because I keep thinking it’s going to get back to him, but he and I used to meet for dinner and he told me about this part, he said, “You know there’s this part, this script I want you to play. I think you should play Elektra; you’d be really good as Elektra.  At the time I thought, OK, that’s great, but, you know, they went on and Jennifer Garner did that.
Adam: What a shame.
Galyn: Yeah. I enjoyed it [RoboCop 2]. It was long hours and then they were having conflicts with the script. I mean, I wasn’t really a part of it, but I just could see it in the distance. I wasn’t really included in any of those discussions, but otherwise, personally, I had a great time.

Adam: It’s interesting because RoboCop 2 is one of those films that at the time when it came out, it was part of the discussion in the media about film and TV violence. It was seen as somewhat emblematic of that sort of screen violence. Did you come across any of that at the time?
Galyn: I vaguely remember a little bit of that. I did an interview recently for RoboDoc, the documentary coming out, and I was asked a lot of questions about that. I agreed, because that’s what I’ve heard about in terms of the violence within it and that it was too much sometimes and, you know, who it was being marketed to, young people. To me, it’s just not necessary.

Adam: I know that there was criticism that the young adolescent in it, [played by] Gabriel Damon, was swearing his head off and everything else, and people took issue with that as well. But it’s interesting watching RoboCop 2 now because some of the themes in it are actually pretty timely now. Private enterprise is running a city. At one point, your character picks up one of the vials of the drugs and looks at it and it says, “Made in America”.
Galyn: Right.
Adam: And then Tom Noonan’s character says, “Yeah, we’re gonna make that mean something again”. That happens again where the head of the company says that they are going to make RoboCop 2 in Detroit, and that’s going to create jobs “and make ‘Made in America’ mean something again”. So, interestingly, 25 years later that’s sort of come back a bit.
Galyn: Yeah, it’s so true because there definitely was a social commentary being made in terms of the police, the corporations and money, and the drugs on the street. That was a component of that story. I definitely agree with what you’re saying; there were definitely parallels.

Galyn with Gabriel Damon.

Adam: I think it might’ve been very soon after RoboCop that then you got Point Break.
Galyn: Yes, that’s right.

Adam: As well as Los Angeles, was it filmed in Hawaii as well?
Galyn: No, we filmed it in Los Angeles. The beach scenes, we probably did – where did we do those? Malibu? Somewhere around the coast of LA right by Los Angeles; one of the beaches, as far as I remember.

Adam: What’s your memory of working with Kathryn Bigelow?
Galyn: I was only on the set maybe two or three days. She was very welcoming, and that’s always nice. Very focused on what she wanted to happen in each scene. I remember her being very patient in the scene around the fire with Patrick Swayze. He had dialogue and that day he was – you know sometimes, it happens to everybody, sometimes you just snap and you’re getting a little tongue twisted, and you have to do quite a few takes to get it out. They did quite a few takes of that scene trying to get it the way so the director and the actor, so Patrick and Kathryn, were both happy with it. That happens sometimes. I remember her being patient and I remember him being patient with himself and being patient with the process. And he had enough clout at that time; when you have clout like that and you have to take some time to, it helps. But then they got it and it worked great, and she edited it, so it really worked well. I was very curious when we were shooting that to see how she was going to cut the scene. I liked when she did it. She did a good job.

With Patrick Swayze in Point Break.

Adam: It’s a really good scene. How do you remember Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves?
Galyn: I remember them being really sweet, and one of my dear friends, JP, John Preiskel, was working behind the scenes. He and I are still friends. With Keanu, we used to go out to clubs in Hollywood. Keanu, he was so great and cool, and you know, he’s a musician, he has his band, he’s really into his music. I’m trying to remember the places we went, but we had some fun.

In Part 2 of our interview, Galyn and I will discuss her work on Twin Peaks, two Star Trek series, Stargate SG1, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and more. We also speak about her recent acting work and her work with arts education programs.

Galyn can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and at her website.