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.

Ready to Begin Again … Again


Oh, hi there!

After a too long a hiatus, I’m really pleased to say that in the coming days, I’ll be posting a new interview. I cannot believe my last post was in April 2017. That wasn’t (only) down to having forgotten my password. A lot has happened in the last year and a half. I look forward to sharing it with you all soon. Until then, I hope you’ll come back soon, and I hope not to be gone so long again.

The photo of the umbrellas suspended in mid-air is one I snapped in July last year while waiting to see the band Heaps Good Friends perform down an Adelaide city laneway (Tam-O-Shanter Place) for Scouted, a music showcase as part of Umbrella: Winter City Sounds. The photo does not really relate to anything I’m writing here, other than having been in the back of my mind to use on the site. If you’re in Australia (for those who are not, remember our seasons are opposite to those of the U.S.), it’s likely you won’t need an umbrella right now except, perhaps, for the sun. But I love the colours and thought you might enjoy it.

Heaps Good Friends have a charming song called “I Could Eat a Whole Packet of Yo Yo’s”. Yo Yo biscuits are uniquely South Australian and, given I spent a good part of my childhood in front of the TV with a packet of them and a mug of Milo, to the band I say, “I think we should be friends, friends”.

Chat soon.

Jill Foster 1930-2017

Jill Foster’s daughter, writer Laurie Newbound, has announced that her mother passed away peacefully on March 24, 2017, “shortly after midnight, at home surrounded by love”.

I was first drawn to Jill after watching her on reruns of Bewitched in the early ‘90s. Indeed, Jill was probably best known outside of her native Canada for playing adman Darrin Stephens’ (Dick York) girl Friday, Betty, on the series. Darrin actually had eight “Bettys”. Long before that HR nightmare Murphy Brown, it seems that McMann & Tate Advertising had a niggling problem with secretary turnover, but didn’t want to go so far as to hang the expense of a new desk nameplate. Jill’s Betty appeared in 10 episodes from 1965-1969. Interestingly, often her character’s surname differed: with Betty Schaeffer, then Willis, and then Wilson arguably giving Liz Taylor a run for her money. One Bewitched website owner, Vic Mascaro, suggests, “Apparently while not in the office, she was finding new husbands!” In real life, Jill wasn’t doing anything of the sort. Her part on Bewitched came about through her partnership with one of the show’s writers and script consultant, Bernard Slade, whose actual name is Bernard Newbound. Jill and Bern (as he likes to be called) were married for nearly 65 years. He survives her, along with children Laurie and Christopher.

Jill in Bewitched’s second-season episode, “My Boss, the Teddy Bear”.
Jill feeling under the influence of one of Endora’s spells in Bewitched’s fourth-season episode, “Man of the Year”.

It is somewhat peculiar that I singled Jill out from the cast, particularly since her part was typically small and restricted to a few scenes in an episode. I have a way of doing that. Of course, I adored the series lead Elizabeth Montgomery. After all, what 10-year-old child, unless utterly devoted, writes for a school assignment a recipe poem (remember those?) about a woman who had played a witch 20 years previously, and who was now busying herself starring in TV movies as vicious nurses, domineering mothers, and serial killers? But I’m often drawn to the co-stars and featured performers. On Bewitched it was people like Jill, Kasey Rogers (as Louise Tate, Larry Tate’s wife) and guest stars Charles Lane, Reta Shaw, and Sara Seegar. Perhaps it was also because while Jill’s part was small, she was terrific in it, and it hinted at the depth of her comedic acting ability.

Beware of Endoras bearing gifts. Jill and Agnes Moorehead in “My Boss, the Teddy Bear”.
‘You know a psychiatrist could cure you of an attachment like that’. Jill and Dick York with a furry friend.
‘Mr Stephens, teddy bears don’t have heartbeats’. Betty gets pragmatic.
Jill with Lael Jackson, Henry Hunter, and Jack Collins in “My Boss, the Teddy Bear”.

Born Florence Jill Hancock on May 9, 1930 (we share a birthday, albeit some decades apart) in Toronto, Jill did have office experience. As Frank Peppiatt told it in his memoir, when TV first came to Canada in 1952, Jill was working in a stockbroker’s office, as well as a member of a theatre group. Frank and his pal, John Aylesworth, were working at MacLaren Advertisting when their former colleague, Peter MacFarlane, now a producer and director at CBC, took the pair to lunch. Based on their office straight man-funny man routines, Peter asked if the pair would write some comedy, the one genre, as Frank wrote, “CBC lacked … on its television schedule”.

After a few nights staring at what other writers have told me they dread the most – the blank yellow legal pad – Peppiatt and Aylesworth came up with the idea of a skit involving “seeing comic book characters relaxing on their day off”. More specifically, the skit would involve Superman “at home in a crappy apartment”, with “a creepy father who couldn’t care less about his prowess”, and his “floozy-looking” mother. The brass asked Peppiatt and Aylesworth to appear in a test of the skit, and so they had to find Mother. Peppiatt remembered a friend’s ex-girlfriend named Florence Hancock, who had starred in a production of Born Yesterday, as well as playing “the nutty mother” in You Can’t Take It with You. Peppiatt told Aylesworth, “I saw her play the lead in Born Yesterday – you know, the Judy Holliday part. She was hilarious”. Rehearsing the skit in Peppaitt’s mother’s basement (I won’t ruin for you how they managed to put Frank’s Superman costume together; CBC didn’t yet have a costume department to furnish the outfit), as well as another skit where Florence would play a gun moll, Florence allayed the men’s fears about their abilities to memorise the lines. She also brought along her new guy, Bernard Newbound, to help cue the trio during rehearsal.

Based on their studio test filmed one Saturday morning, CBC offered Peppiatt & Ayelsworth and Jill Foster (Florence’s chosen stage name) an initial run of 10 one-hour live shows. And so, After Hours was born. Jill and Bern were married the same year, on July 25, 1953.

In reading about After Hours and other early television variety shows whether in Canada, the United States, or my own Australia, you get a real sense of the ingenuity of these pioneers. It was all a brave new world, and Jill’s collaboration with the comedy team is on ready display in Peppiatt’s book; as is her excitement at the prospect of the new series. The trio went on to The Big Revue (1953-54) and On Stage (1954-55), with Norman Jewison producing and directing the programs, and then Here’s Duffy (1958-1959). Jill made appearances across other major anthology series of the time throughout the ‘50s and ‘60s, including CBC Summer Theatre, On Camera, and General Motors Theatre (known as Encounter in the U.S., and also by other names in Canada depending on the program’s current sponsor). In one segment of General Motors Theatre, “Blue Is for Boys” (1960), which was in fact Bern’s play Simon Says Get Married, Jill played Julie, the “charming scatterbrain” paired with William Redfield’s character via an electronic dating service. Actually, Jill was also quite active in theatre in Toronto, appearing at the famed Crest Theatre, including in Simon Says Get Married. Gordon Pinsent, who worked multiple times with Jill, wrote of her in his autobiography that she was “a natural comedic talent who never seemed to be ‘acting’”.

Jill on the stage (Photo: Laurie Newbound private collection).

While a genuine comedienne at CBC, Jill played in drama, too, including in a highly-lauded television production of her husband’s play “A Very Close Family” screened on CBC’s Festival in 1964, in which she played Melvyn Douglas’ daughter. She also played the wife of a bank robber who has dynamite-d himself up in “Power to Destroy” (1958) on General Motors Theatre ; a “shrewish wife”, Myra, opposite Gordon Pinsent in an episode of Playdate called “Willow Circle” (1963); and in a segment of The Unforeseen called “Rendezvous” (1959) that sounds decidedly “The Twilight Zone” chilling. Her daughter Laurie recently posted a picture to social media of Jill appearing on General Motors Theatre in “Lost in the Crowd” (1957), directed by – as Jill often was – Paul Almond. Laurie commented “She is so good in this scene, she makes me cry”. The Newbounds/Slades often appeared together, including on the series A Case for the Court (1962), in a story of uxoricide (I had to look it up, too – it’s murdering one’s wife – Bern and Jill weren’t the couple). For some fun, Jill appeared with her husband on his quiz show, Life a Borrowed Life, as well on The Superior Sex.

Jill, Laurie, and Christopher during their first year in the United States (Photo: Laurie Newbound private collection).

The Newbounds moved to the United States in 1964 and Jill’s acting work slowed down. Besides Bewitched, she appeared on her husband’s Love on a Rooftop as Florence (there you go), and in a unsold pilot with a who’s who of comedy, In Name Only (1969), a Harry Ackerman-E.W. Swackhamer production scripted by Bern (Ackerman’s wife, Elinor Donahue, also appeared).

‘No, I won’t cry. He’ll say I’m wasting water!’ Betty has to contend with a thrifty Darrin in Bewitched’s fourth-season episode “Cheap, Cheap!”.
‘I think Hallucination is a very good name for it!’ Dick and Jill try perfume in Bewitched’s fourth-season episode “The Solid Gold Mother-in-Law”.
‘I know it’s part of my job to brush off all the oddballs’. Jill with Dick and Cliff Norton in her final Bewitched episode, “One Touch of Midas”.
Miss Wilson takes a call. Jill with Melody McCord, David White, Dick York, Cosmo Sardo, and Elizabeth Montgomery in “One Touch of Midas”.

In May 1977, Bernard and Jill starred as George and Doris in a production of Bernard’s megahit Same Time, Next Year at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. A newspaper article at the time rightly placed Jill as being “one of the first television performers” in Canada and star of CBC dramas.

Jill and Bern in Same Time, Next Year (Photo: Laurie Newbound private collection).

It was some time before we saw Jill on television again. In 1996, she was back at CBC to appear on the highly-publicised A Tribute to Peppiatt & Aylesworth: Canada’s First TV Comedy Team, as part of the series Adrienne Clarkson Presents. In the interim, Jill and Bern had travelled the world, were now grandparents, and Jill, according to Laurie, was most at home in her kitchen. Reflecting on those early days at CBC and working with Peppiatt and Aylesworth for the program, Jill summed up her feelings, “It was a great period. I guess I’d like to do it again”.

Jill in front of the cameras.
Aylesworth, Peppiatt & Foster.

In 2003, I was looking to locate Jill for an interview. I emailed Bill Aylesworth, John’s son, and then Paul Almond. They were both happy to try to put us in touch and enthusiastic I had an interest in that period and their/their family’s work. Unfortunately, they both let me know that Jill declined. I now know that she was unwell at that time and this was the likely reason for her not wanting to participate. However, I was happy to hear that Jill had maintained her friendships over all that time. As Bill told me in August 2003, “I just saw her a few weeks ago in San Diego. My dad was having a 75th Birthday bash and Jill, Bernard Slade, Rich Little and others attended”. He also mentioned that Jill and his mother played tennis together. Paul told me that he was in continual touch with Jill, and he spoke very highly of her. Sadly, Peppiatt & Aylesworth are now gone. Paul is gone, too. He was a champion for maintaining the history of those “golden years” of television. He wrote in one 2005 email that “I actually put my Moviola into an editing room museum I set up years ago, and now it’s priceless – these early years of TV will be a treasure trove, with all the new digital stuff coming up”.

I am glad to see he was right, and I look forward to finding much more of Jill’s – as well as Paul’s and Bernard’s and all the countless others who made history –  work. I am reminded in reading over old emails how wonderful it was to email back and forth with Paul over that period. I look back now and, while I was very respectful, I don’t think I really got at the time the fact that these men and women were giants and pioneers. I hope more of the work becomes available. Paul did write me about the practice of kinescopes and tapes being destroyed or lost, which he jokingly said meant that of his work, “a lot is (deservedly) missing”! Certainly, so long as Bewitched is playing somewhere in the world, there Jill will be. And that show really is immortal. Of course, there’s the theory that signals from the early days of television may finally be reaching outer space. Perhaps, somewhere, there’s Frank as Superman, with Jill and John, as the Man of Steel’s parents, telling their son that Lois Lane is on to him.

Mom: She told me she saw you changing in a phone booth.
Superman: No, no, never!
Mom: She’s just stringing you along.
Dad: So she can get scoops for that rag, the Daily Planet.
Mom: Fish wrap.

Now that’s pretty dazzling to consider.

With thanks to Laurie Newbound. Frank Peppiatt’s autobiography (in which the “Superman at Home” sketch is included), published in 2013, is When Variety Was King: Memoir of a TV Pioneer: Featuring Jackie Gleason, Sonny and Cher, Hee Haw, and More. Gordon Pinsent’s autobiography, published in 2012, is Next (written with George Anthony).

Same Time, Next Year quote about Jill from Medicine Hat News, April 22, 1977 (“Focus Section”, p. 8).

And So We Go On

City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane.

The scent of toothpaste took me fleetingly back to Athens.

Let me explain. First, let me wish you a happy new year. I went back to work last week after two weeks off over Christmas. Dusting a shelf at the bottom of my office bookcase, my cloth knicked and got caught on a thick book. The book was from the first international conference I ever attended, which was held in Athens in 2006. The conference boasted an impressive number of individual presentations, symposiums, and posters, and so the abstract booklet was frustratingly heavy as I lugged it around in my backpack after I left Athens and went travelling around Europe with my friend Carlo. Rooming with us for nearly a month, the book often ended up alongside my toiletry bag in my backpack. As a result, it took on a distinct smell of toothpaste that remains to this day. When I started flicking back through that book, I was instantly transported back to sunny Athens and the little newspaper stands that lined the streets around my hotel on Leofóros Vasilissis Sofias. Before you Google that avenue, the hotel was the Hilton Athens. Trust me, the indulgence didn’t last and we then stayed in some decidedly shitty hotels where breakfast was often served cold with a side of surly. While I was on this flight of fancy in my office, memories of Rome, Berlin, and a rainy Amsterdam flashed past.

View from the Hilton Athens in 2006.
Taken before, I believe, a downpour in Amsterdam.

For the last few weeks, I’ve felt surrounded by so many different scents. There was the cut and often sprinkler-soaked grass of the suburban streets we walked over the Christmas break. I also threw myself into amateur chemistry when trying on colognes and perfumes for potential gifts, positioning each atomiser’s nozzle slightly higher up my arm. Just the other day, I unwrapped a gift of a lovely bar of L’Occitane soap to use in the shower. Then there are the smells of Christmas. Some would say Christmas is a delicate bouquet of turkey, port, and the bittersweet spice of simmering family tensions and heated recriminations. For me, Christmas smells like panettone.

The first day back at work is always the hardest. It was made harder still by not having anything in the house for breakfast, except for a single chunk of the panettone Bob and I (ok, mostly I) had been snacking on for much of the holidays. Most people from an Italian background will tell you that they start eating this traditionally Milanese sweet bread/cake (or the similar but different pandoro, originally from Verona) just before Christmas Day and continue to do so until at least February or March. From then, the colomba, an Easter cake shaped like a dove, swoops in to save the day. I always knew it was Christmas when I’d go over to my nonna’s house and the spare room was piled high with panettones for family, friend, and (because we’re Italian) foe alike. Easter was denoted by the colomba and plastic fruit and vegetable bags stuffed with Palm Sunday palms. Looking at these, I’d get the distinct impression that when parishioners went up to get their blessed branches from the priest, Nonna had gone up for seconds. For those who have never partaken, panettone smells like sweet dough and candied fruit, and sometimes chocolate. Panettone smells like Christmas. Christmas doesn’t only have a smell; it also has a shape – and that shape is cupola, octagon, or even frustum, depending on your brand of choice.

What’s your flavour? (Photo: Balocco Facebook Page).

That first morning before my return to work, I boiled water, prepared a towel…no wait, that’s not it. Like Prissy in Gone with the Wind, I’m no midwife. The water was for coffee, the towel for a shower. I found some cream biscuits at the back of the cupboard, and I silently cursed my generosity from a few nights earlier when I’d taken to a party the Balocco Torte in Festa with lemon cream (I won’t explain this one – just know it’s delicious) that I’d gifted myself during a trip to the supermarket.

We didn’t do much over the break. It had been a busy year and we (or I, but Bob kindly obliged) wanted some quiet time. I had put a lot of energy into preparing for a conference I was involved in, which was held in Brisbane in late November. Brisbane is one Australian capital city that is less familiar to me than others. I had only been there once before; funnily enough, it was for the same conference. I think that I mentally categorised Brisbane early on with the Gold Coast from a trip my family took to the latter when I was 15. Geography has never been my strong point, and somewhere along the way I started to equate the two as if they were suburbs apart (try an hour to an hour-and-a-half drive). I also don’t seem to have retained any memories of the sightseeing or theme park visits from that first trip. Instead, I have four memories. The first is of a little notepad I’d brought along to write down my thoughts (I’d briefly taken up journaling), but ended up using to jot down the cast lists of any films that were on the TV while we were there. I can’t really tell you anything about the plot of Wild America starring Devon Sawa, but I can tell you who the director of photography was. My second memory is of having dinner on a marina and being allowed to sneak a few sips of my mother’s piña colada. The third is of buying a copy of Lauren Bacall’s Now. For some reason, it had very coarse pages that made them difficult to turn. I didn’t even take off the dust jacket like people do when reading something in public that could get you looks. Finally, I remember the smell of chlorine and beach in the elevators, reception areas, and hallways of hotels and apartment complexes. That probably sticks with me the most. Later my memories of the Gold Coast would be of weddings on houseboats, Bundaberg Rum, and those little circular hotel soaps, but they are stories about another me in another time.

When the taxi pulled up outside of the Royal on the Park on Alice Street, I knew I’d made the right choice of conference hotel. I’d chosen it largely because it was a couple of minutes’ stroll from the conference venue. However, the late ‘60s or early ‘70s front of the building appealed to me. I mean that in the best way. It seems that ‘60s architecture is widely lauded, but often the images conjured up when mentioning ‘70’s architecture are of wood panelling and burnt orange tones. I happen to love burnt orange, not that there was any in sight. The hotel had a warm, inviting lobby, the elevators a level of bygone charm, and my room was spacious and contemporary after a recent new fit out. The hotel is also across from the City Botanic Gardens. It was a treat to walk to and from the conference passing through those gardens. My stay in Brisbane was a short three days because I had to jet straight back for my friend Tristan’s wedding. That was a lovely, lovely day.

A well-lit path. City Botanic Gardens.
At the fountainhead. City Botanic Gardens.

I was very pleased a month before the conference to be asked back to Sonya Feldhoff’s Afternoons program on 891 ABC Adelaide, which as of 2017 is known as ABC Adelaide. Last time I was on, we discussed empathy. This time, we spoke about social psychology topics I’ve always enjoyed teaching: first impressions (and the errors made in forming them, because we psychologists always accentuate the negatives), schemas, attributions, and self-fulfilling prophecies. We got to cover a lot of ground. I enjoyed mentioning some of the names psychologists gave to their discoveries. Terms like the fundamental attribution error, the primacy effect, and the what is beautiful is good stereotype. I spoke about Robert Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson’s work investigating what happens when teachers are led to believe certain students will “bloom” in the coming year. I only wish I’d mentioned the name of their book, Pygmalion in the Classroom. Aren’t psychologists the best with titles? If you’d like to listen, the recording can be found here. Just a couple of weeks later, I was a guest by phone to discuss whether empathy should be taught in schools. These are all topics I want to address more this year in my blog. For now, suffice to say that I believe more empathy is always a good thing.

In 2017, I look forward to completing and publishing more interviews. I’ve been researching in depth a long-term project, which has meant lots of interviews but not for this blog. However, I have also been researching interview subjects whom I hope to chat with early in the year for this space. My research has involved lots of reading; as well as watching of movies and TV shows that span 30 years (and this is for one interviewee), and even getting some old VHS transferred to DVD for the process. I actually bought a VCR for my grandfather for Christmas. On that topic, I’d like to write about videos and my love affair with them, too.

Most of all, I want to continue to write about the light and the heavy. It is a changing world. Of course, it always has been (you mean, they didn’t have the Prius during the Enlightenment?). But so many people seem disheartened, disillusioned, and in despair. For me, I want to write about what psychology can tell us about, and how perhaps it can help us navigate, such times. Recently, I was chatting a little with Sherilyn Fenn on Twitter (how cool is Twitter that it allows me to do that – and months before the new Twin Peaks?). We mentioned the “noise” that can come from online interaction. I want to write about that. In particular, I’d like to address something I’ve grappled with regarding online communication: whether we should “fight” with those we don’t know, but who have such diametrically opposed attitudes to our own. For some fun, I’m also thinking of a piece that takes a developmental psychology focus to young people’s adoring online fans.

Before I sign off, I’d like to remember here Francine York. She helped me with a project I am currently working on, and in 2014 she participated in a post for the blog where I asked some special people, “What three items would you want to have with you if you were stuck on a desert island?” Read her response – it’s all Francine! Francine loved being a part of Hollywood, worked for over 50 years, was always glamorous and picture perfect, and was such a force of nature. I think that’s why I was shocked to find out she had passed away. It’s hard to believe she’s gone.

Francine York (Photo: Facebook Profile Page).

Tonight, I’m staying in. I might watch a film. Or maybe I’ll finally sit down to a BBC Bette Midler documentary I’ve been meaning to watch. I’ve been so busy since returning to work that the last thing I watched was President Obama’s farewell speech streamed live from Chicago. I want to write a little about that later. I will say that I loved that the applause from the crowd sounded and felt like it would shatter my headphones.

Until then, I want to leave you with a quote from Benjamin Franklin, which is verified as coming from his work. You must check these things. After all, based on all the quotes attributed to her, you get the impression Marilyn Monroe never shut up.

“Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man”.

The Franklin tome in which it appeared was titled Poor Richard improved: Being an almanack and ephemeris of the motions of the sun and moon; the true places and aspects of the planets; the rising and setting of the sun; and the rising, setting and southing of the moon, for the year of our Lord 1758… it goes on. Wow, that’s quite a title. Franklin was many things, but a psychologist he was not. I like that title though because it does say something about change, continuity, and the eternal nature of things even in an uncertain world.

As an aside, I’ve read that a version of panettone may have existed at the time of the Roman Empire. Now that’s Eternal.

You know where I was.

The Trick Is to Keep Breathing

New York City blackout, 1965 by Bob Gomel (via Wikimedia Commons).
New York City blackout, 1965 by Bob Gomel (via Wikimedia Commons).

Where were you when the lights went out?

I was listening for the first time to a CD of mindfulness exercises. Focusing on my chest rising and falling with each breath, I was thrown off when the stereo abruptly switched off. My approach to life when trying new things is to diligently follow directions. Before using another brand of laundry detergent, for example, I read the back label of the bottle just in case they advise of a new and daring way to do laundry. Without my new facilitator telling me how to continue, I panicked. What should I do? Do I keep breathing?

Within a few minutes, it became apparent that most of South Australia and its population of approximately 1.7 million had been plunged into darkness; a blackout that mercifully would last only a few hours for those of us in the Adelaide metropolitan areas, but considerably longer in some of the outer suburbs and farther reaches of the state.

I was lucky that I had chosen to work from home that day (September 28, 2016). Many had to brave roads slippery from the severe storm that was in full swing with no working traffic lights. I’ve written before about my theory that Adelaide experiences a type of Gremlins effect when it rains. But, from what I heard, motorists were cautious and courteous on their ways home.

I don’t remember experiencing a lengthy blackout since I was a kid. Those ones seemed to come in summer. Families would walk the neighbourhood trying to get some respite from the heat inside the house; the grownups would check with neighbours to make sure that their house, and their house alone, wasn’t Ground Zero; and the children would excitedly use the torches that were regularly checked and stored securely for such events.

Terry-Thomas and Doris Day in Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (via Wikimedia Commons).
Terry-Thomas and Doris Day in Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (via Wikimedia Commons).

Since then, I’d read about and romanticised another blackout that occurred halfway across the world: the Northeast blackout that blanketed New York and surrounding states (and Ontario, Canada) in 1965. Films and TV series had used this event as a backdrop or inspiration. Doris Day, Robert Morse, and Terry-Thomas got into all sorts of trouble in Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? In Bewitched it was Aunt Clara who was responsible for such chaos. Goldie Hawn, then a young dancer, writes evocatively in her memoir, A Lotus Grows in the Mud, of how friends and neighbours made their way to her apartment at 888 Eighth Avenue on the night of 9 November:

We run around and light the candles as more and more friends arrive on our doorstep. “Okay, I guess the party’s at our house!” I laugh as I bring some glasses in from the kitchen.

“Well, you’re the only people we know who live in a three-story walk-up!” Eddie cries, holding up a bottle of scotch as he waltzes in.

We finish lighting the candles, relishing their flickering light. Someone strums on a guitar and another rolls a joint. My front door is wide open, and, suddenly, standing there are the two guys I met in the dry cleaner’s earlier this morning.

Goldie had been disheartened by her New York experiences and was of leaving the city. After the Northeast blackout, however, she was poised to give it another go. In reflecting on November 9, she concluded: “This one night became, for me, the epitome of the flower-power, peace-and-love days of the sixties. No one slept. Everybody loved each other; strangers made friends with strangers, and we had the wildest, funniest, most romantic night”.

Using Twitter and Facebook sparingly to conserve battery power to stay in contact with the world, I got the distinct impression that South Australia wasn’t experiencing so much peace, love, and understanding, as it was peace, love, and lording it over friends and associates. The state was quickly divided into the haves and have-nots. Those with gas stoves and matches fared much better than those of us with electric hotplates. Others had their camp lights and torches fully charged, and fridges and pantries stocked with staples or prime cuts of meat. Some even unwrapped previously-gifted Glasshouse candles so that they could make their way around their houses – or, if the worse happened and they walked straight into a door, they’d be transported to the evocative Amalfi Coast, glamorous Manhattan, or even the Galapagos as they drifted slowly in and out of consciousness. One friend announced in a group message that “We’re making tacos on the stove … and having a sleepout in the living room … and spending time with the children!” Another friend was trying a new recipe; yet another was fixing a gourmet BBQ.

Of course, I’m sure no one was deliberately rubbing it in what they presumed, in the dim, was my face. But it’s like when you’re single and everyone else is in a relationship. You peer out your window and, in quick succession, see a man reciting a sonnet to a fair maiden, lovers running in the meadows, dogs sharing spaghetti, and trains going through tunnels. Of course, if this is the case, you shouldn’t be looking for a partner so much as wondering, Where did I just move?

the-simpsons-lisa-the-tree-hugger-episode-1

the-simpsons-lisa-the-tree-hugger-episode-2

the-simpsons-lisa-the-tree-hugger-episode-3

the-simpsons-lisa-the-tree-hugger-episode-4

We were squarely in the have-not, Blair Witch-style camp. We’d been so busy during the week that, for the first time I can remember, the cupboard was pretty much bare (“Tarragon, anyone?”). Our torches and camp light were also flat, and our BBQ was not under cover and, therefore, it was not really feasible to use it in the rain. Even our cars were low on fuel, and so driving around to find a delicatessen on a lowly dark road seemed too risky.

Despite being bored and largely in the dark, I attempted to put into practice some of my mindfulness exercises. I accepted what was and stayed in the moment. I fumbled around in boxes and found a few tealight candles. Hungry and tired, Bob and I settled on a bottle of Amaretto and the rest of the pistachio ice-cream in the back of the fridge. One of the laptops mercifully had enough battery power for a few episodes of The Muppets. We joked that there was going to be a spike in pregnancies that could be traced back to this very night.

Like many others, I had always assumed that the Northeast blackout had led to a certain type of activity when the lights went out. Reports from August, 1966 in The New York Times are often cited, where it was reported that “a sharp increase in births” had occurred in several hospitals in areas where the blackout had hit about nine months earlier, but not in areas minimally or unaffected by the power outage, or locations where “many of whose commuters were stranded in the city”. Good to see those train passengers were well-behaved. Experts asked to speculate on why there may have been increased amorous activity suggested that “substitutes for sex … were eliminated that night”. And what were those substitutes? These included “meetings, lectures, card parties, theaters, [and] saloons”. Others suggested it may have been the result of couples not having “access to a major source of amusement” – television, that is; and in some cases, “people may have had trouble finding their accustomed contraceptives”. A lesson for not keeping too many things in the bedside table if ever there was one.

In a study published in Demography a mere five years after the blackout, J. Richard Udry examined New York City birth numbers for the period June 27-August 15 (chosen based on gestational ages of birth data) for 1961-1966, with 1966 of course being the expected year of arrival of these “blackout babies”. Based on several analyses, Professor Udry stated “We … cannot conclude from the data presented here that the great blackout of 1965 produced any significant increase (or decrease) in the number of conceptions”. Professor Udry believed that that our wanting to think a blackout or other weather event could lead to an increase in birth rates was because “It is evidently pleasing to many people to fantasy that when people are trapped by some immobilizing event which deprives them of their usual activities, most will turn to copulation”. Gracious, I may faint – pass me some smelling salts or that Galapagos candle. I’m surprised this study hasn’t been cited more extensively to debunk this 50-year myth. Sometimes, I guess we like to maintain the fantasy.

Drunk and pre-diabetic, bed time came early. I flicked a couple of light switches so that I’d be aware when the power finally came back on. Lying there in bed, I thought about the day. Goldie’s experience led her to realise “When we strip away the things that seem important and go back to the basics, we discover that all we really have is each other”. I agree wholeheartedly, but this blackout also made me consider our arrogance. We often think we’ve bested Mother Nature. It takes something like this to realise that in one foul swoop, she says, “We’ll see about that”.

I awoke with a startle when the hall lights came on sometime before midnight, and the washing machine starting gurgling. Turns out I had it going during my breathing exercises, but had tuned it out. Perhaps I’m coming around to the principles of mindfulness.

You’re probably wondering, Did I use a new and daring washing detergent? Of course not. Change doesn’t happen all at once.

Goldie Hawn in my all-time favourite film, Cactus Flower.
Goldie Hawn in my all-time favourite film, Cactus Flower.

Screencaps for The Simpsons episode “Lisa the Tree Hugger” via Frinkiac.

Bobby Vee 1943-2016

bobby-vee-photo-from-official-website

Bobby Vee
April 30, 1943 – October 24, 2016

With love and gratitude.

“I’m not a stranger in the hands of the Maker” – Daniel Lanois.

 

Photo from Bobby’s official website. Bobby is remembered at the Bobby Vee Facebook Fan Club and the Bobby Vee Family and Friends Facebook Group. Bobby sang Daniel Lanois’ “The Maker” on his final album The Adobe Sessions, a record made with his family as a love letter to them and his fans. I wrote about Bobby’s music, life, and this album last year. You can read my article here.

E is for Electric Sheep

Walk a block in Carrie Bradshaw's (Sarah Jessica Parker) shoes. Then maybe hail a cab - those shoes could be uncomfortable.
Walk a block in Carrie Bradshaw’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) shoes. Then maybe hail a cab – those shoes could be uncomfortable.

I was happy to be recently asked to go into the ABC Studios at Collinswood in Adelaide to appear on the radio program Afternoons with Sonya Feldhoff. The program airs daily on 891 ABC Adelaide. Sonya had asked me to come in to discuss empathy. I arrived, as instructed, 20 minutes before air time, which was to be after the 3pm news. A security guard promptly escorted me in the elevator up to a waiting area. I was then invited into the control room, and asked how I pronounced my surname. Obligingly, I told the producers, but stressed that whatever way Sonya said it would be fine with me (I’ve heard many fascinating variations). Once Sonya wrapped up a segment, she came out, introduced herself, and asked if I’d like to stand or sit (the desk can be adjusted to either position). Desperately trying to downplay the prima donna label I imagined my Uniqlo jacket conveyed, I told her I’d be happy with either. A little bit of off-air conversation during the news, and we were ready to go!

I really enjoyed being on the show. Sonya had done her homework and, from my point of view, we had an engaging chat. We covered a whole range of topics, including the meanings of empathy and sympathy; how we use our past experiences to understand others; emotional contagion (feeling as if you have taken on another person’s emotions); and the problems one might encounter from having a lack of empathy. I got to quote Atticus Finch; the good one, not the racist one. I even attempted to explain some of the physiological processes associated with empathy. I’m just glad that I didn’t point at my head as if to say, “Thoughts come from here”. Given it was a radio broadcast, that could have been a lot of dead air.

The time flew, and I was glad to be asked to stay a little longer after the 3.30 news. Here’s the link to our June 1 interview if you’d like to listen.

Of course, if you can’t spare a half hour, perhaps you’ll like this shorter discussion between Mark Ruffalo and Murray of Sesame Street about empathy. I love it.

My friend, Fredrik, swears I resemble Mark Ruffalo. I don’t necessarily see it, but he’s insistent. Actually, (the very friendly) comedian Eddie Bannon was finishing up a segment at 891 just as I sat down in the waiting area. He walked toward the elevator, stopped when he got close to me, and asked if I’d ever seen the video of a guy discussing the word “djent”. Supposedly, I looked and was dressed like a very talented man named Steve Terreberry. I had dressed very buttoned-up for my radio debut, so perhaps there’s something there. Like one of my favourite childhood authors, Marvin Miller, would advise, “You be the jury”.

That fabulous jewel thief will steal your necklace and your heart.
That fabulous jewel thief will steal your necklace and your heart.

Buckets of Rain

Adam Gerace in Tokyo

It’s pouring down. I wonder if a good litmus test for whether someone has crossed the threshold into adulthood is what they think when looking out of a window during a storm. If it’s along the lines of, Oh wow, I can turn the sprinklers off and save on the water bill, you’ve not just crossed the threshold, but performed a little pirouette on it. I’m certainly at that point. Maybe not a pirouette; I’ve never been that physical.

I’ve wanted to write a little update for a few weeks, but needed some down time. Turns out that I developed shingles. When I told my friend, Karl, he was incredulous. “Shingles?” he asked. “What are you, Victorian?” Well, it’s true that sometimes I wear my shirts done up right to the top button, but alas it’s a virus. It’s not really contagious (a point I’ve bellowed as friends ran screaming out the door), but lies dormant in anyone who has had chickenpox, waiting for the right time (in my case, probably stress) to come up and make itself comfortable. You might say that I “manifested” it. Isn’t that what Oprah encourages? Well, I have a pretty powerful mind and all I got were these lousy spots on the right side of my torso…yes, you get them on only one side. Symmetry is no longer á la mode, it seems.

When I went to the doctor, I didn’t expect to find out it was shingles. I thought that my spots and feeling like I was sunburnt (that’s how I would describe the initial feeling) were the result of working out too hard at the gym and not wearing a suitable t-shirt. It turned out that my bursts of running on the treadmill while watching The Chaser or reruns of M*A*S*H weren’t the cause. Friends and strangers told me that they were surprised someone my age would get it. The first few times I heard this, I thought they were trying to flatter me, and I would playfully throw back my head á la Blanche Devereaux. Turns out they weren’t flirting because, well, who wants to flirt with the shingled patient.

The worst of it has now passed. But this episode has made me evaluate the ways I handle stress and anxiety. It also gave me some time to slow down. I’m rarely bored, but days and nights on the couch with itchy spots and a pricking sensation in my spine started to wear thin. I did start watching Nashville after planning on doing so since it started in 2012! We also watched the really lovely Boy Meets Girl starring Michelle Hendley and Michael Welch. In these days of fearmongering regarding trans issues, I thought it was a sincere and charming film. I hope Michelle makes another movie soon; and I was pleased to reacquaint with Michael Welch, whom I loved watching in Joan of Arcadia but hadn’t kept up with. I’m glad to reacquaint with him.

I also started researching three new interviews (the interviewees are really being patient with me), as well as continuing work on a long-term project. When I haven’t been able to work, I’ve been inspired by creative friends who have completed exciting projects. Bob is doing a great job hosting his Sunday Sleep In on Three D Radio. Another Bob, Bob Evans, has a new album, Car Boot Sale, and podcast, Good Evans, It’s a Bobcast! Simon Williams’ jewellery label, USE, is making its way to international fashion festivals. Nat Luurtsema, who wrote the delightful memoir Cuckoo in the Nest, has a new book coming out very soon: a young adult novel called Girl Out of WaterIn the U.S. I believe it will be called Goldfish, and who knows what the translations will be in other countries (well, I saw on Amazon that the French title will be Moi et les Aquaboys, which is really so fabulous). She has also completed a short film called Three Women Wait for Death (replace “women” with “men”, and you’ve got my social activities covered), which I was happy to be able to help along in the final stage with a little Kickstarter money. Karl Geary has inked a deal with publisher Harvill Secker for his first novel, Montpelier Parade. Like Nat, Karl’s a beautiful writer and filmmaker, and I’m so pleased for him. Patrick Harvey is co-starring in a new horror film named Scare Campaign with Ian Meadows and Meegan Warner. I love a horror film. Speaking of horror, Matthew Currie Holmes, who is well-known for his horror movies (remember him as the director, M, in Wrong Turn 2?), is in post-production for his writer-directorial debut, Traces, starring Pablo Schreiber, Rick Springfield, Sharon Leal, and Sosie Bacon. Matthew is a music aficionado (making music, himself), and music will play a big part in this story of a record-store flunky and former one-hit wonder given another chance at the big time. And Donna Loren has a new pictorial biography coming out, Donna Loren: Mover and Shaker in the Center of a Mid-Sixties Pop Maelstrom. Do you like candids of people like The Supremes, James Brown, and Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as the sets of Batman, The Monkees, and the Beach Party films? Well, it’ll be quite the coffee-table book in beautiful black and white and far-out colour. I have so many people around me who inspire.

Well, that’s all for now. Back to research, writing and, with any hope, sharing some new projects with you. The picture above is a rainy day in Tokyo. I loved the design of the umbrella. I tried to bring it back, but it wouldn’t fit in my suitcase, and I didn’t think the Japanese would have been fond of my Emma Peel impression if I carried it as hand luggage. Right now, I’m reading up on reflexes in infants for a developmental psychology presentation I’ve been asked to give. I’ve come across one I’d never heard of: the asymmetrical tonic neck reflex. It’s also known as the “fencing reflex” because the infant’s head, arms, and legs resemble the position taken by a fencer. Maybe that’s the sign you’ve crossed the threshold from childhood to adulthood: when the tonic neck reflex is replaced by the tonic and gin reflex – the sudden urge when confronted by limes and ice to fix oneself a highball. Bottoms up, I say!

Shiver Me Timbres

Largs Bay by Adam Gerace

“Eventually man, too, found his way back to the sea. Standing on its shores, he must have looked out upon it with wonder and curiosity, compounded with an unconscious recognition of his lineage. He could not physically re-enter the ocean as the seals and whales had done. But over the centuries, with all the skill and ingenuity and reasoning powers of his mind, he has sought to explore and investigate even its most remote parts, so that he might re-enter it mentally and imaginatively …  Moving in fascination over the deep sea he could not enter, he found ways to probe its depths, he let down nets to capture its life, he invented mechanical eyes and ears that could re-create for his sense a world long lost, but a world that, in the deepest part of his subconscious mind, he had never wholly forgotten”.

– Rachel L. Carson, The Sea Around Us (1951, Oxford University Press)

 

Water and sunsets – are there any two other things that are so consistently awe-inspiring? In the past year since moving house, I have seen many beautiful sunsets from my front lawn. However, we don’t live close to water, and I don’t think that there is anything better than a sunset experienced on the beach. A few weeks ago we decided to be spontaneous and drive down to the beach for a relaxed dinner. It seems counterintuitive to me to write that we “decided” to be spontaneous. I’m reminded of Maude Flanders (from The Simpsons) going away to Bible Camp to learn to be more judgemental. Certainly, ours wasn’t entirely a spontaneous decision. We had agreed that we would leave Saturday open and see what we’d like to do, but the beach had been thrown around along with my suggestion that I lie on the couch for the evening and bemoan the fact that the wine bar Bin 273 on Rundle Street would be a perfect place to go; had it not closed years ago and become a Thai restaurant and then an upscale boutique. Every so often I like to let a night take you where it will, but I also derive comfort from at least having a rough skeleton or starting point. That’s why, on the way there, I kept debating internally – and much to Bob’s mild annoyance, externally – whether or not I should ring the Largs Pier Hotel for a booking. I didn’t, and we were lucky to get a table. This put me on edge. However, after dinner when we could walk on the beach, the ball of nerves that is a considerable part of my day-to-day experience receded from the shore.

Largs Bay by Adam Gerace 2

There is a lot to be said for spontaneity and trusting one’s decisions. In a five-part series (see, I told you) of articles for Psychology Today, Leon F. Seltzer writes that spontaneity is likely linked to the psychological concepts as mindfulness (being in the present moment) and the immersion that comes from the mental state known as flow, which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described as “joy, creativity, the process of total involvement with life”. Marine biologist and researcher Wallace J. Nichols would suggest that one of the best places to facilitate a mindful state is by water. Dr. Nichols came up with the concept of Blue Mind, which he sees as “a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment”. He believes that “it is inspired by water and elements associated with water, from the color blue to the words we use to describe the sensations associated with immersion. It takes advantage of neurological connections formed over millennia, many such brain patterns and preferences being discovered only now, thanks to innovative scientists and cutting-edge technology”. So, perhaps without realising it, my decision to be spontaneous at the beach wasn’t a bad choice after all. Plus, we got to see whales swimming not ten metres from where we walked on the sand; and cute puppies walking the beach with their companions.

Largs Bay by Adam Gerace 3

Largs Bay by Adam Gerace 4

Of course, spontaneity need not be only achieved at the beach. From what I’ve read, spontaneity is a bit like a muscle that should be exercised. That isn’t always easy. Funnily enough when I started to draft this post, my friend Madeleine texted me to ask us to lunch the following day. We already had plans. She understood, and told me that she was just trying to be spontaneous. I appreciated her effort because I increasingly find that by the time I’ve come up with a list of people I’d like to catch up with because it’s been to long, or things I’d like – or feel I have – to do, there isn’t really much room for spontaneity. However, last Sunday, after successfully mounting an internal case (Perry Mason would have been proud) for not going to the gym to face the dreaded rowing machine, we were at a loose end when an afternoon birthday party was cancelled. I suggested that we see a movie, and so we looked up the listings and decided on Hail, Caesar! The film wasn’t on until seven o’clock, which left us with a few hours. On a whim, we texted our friend, Beth, and asked her out for a drinks at a nearby pub. Good conversation over beers followed: now that can be flow, as Professor Csikszentmihalyi would agree.

I’m glad we acted on a whim to catch up with Beth, and then to see the film. Hail, Caesar! was a delightful wink to the studio system and a Hollywood of time’s passed with the inimitable touch of the Coen brothers. Film aficionados will enjoy spotting the inspiration for various characters, subplots, and flicks made by the fictional Capitol Pictures. I thought Alden Ehrenreich, an actor I was not familiar with, was excellent as the studio’s oater star, Hobie Doyle; and that Channing Tatum as a song-and-dance man was a revelation, at least to me. There are treatments of faith, Communism, and moral ambiguity, but I’ll avoid spoilers for the recently-released film. Also, there would be a lot of ground to cover, and while I’d like to explain to you the many intertwined stories, to take the words of Hobie, “Would that it twere so simple”. The Palace Nova Eastend cinemas also offer wine in three pouring sizes: standard, feature length, and epic. The actual film runs a little over 1 hour 40 minutes, but the film within the film is an epic, so, you know…I don’t think anyone will judge you for getting the epic-size option.

Alden Ehrenreich, Emily Beecham and Ralph Fiennes make a period drama in Hail, Caesar! (via Hail, Caesar! Facebok Page).
Alden Ehrenreich, Emily Beecham and Ralph Fiennes make a period drama in Hail, Caesar! (via Hail, Caesar! Facebok Page).
Scarlett Johannson goes for a dip in Hail, Caesar! (via Hail, Caesar! Facebook Page).
Scarlett Johannson goes for a dip in Hail, Caesar! (via Hail, Caesar! Facebook Page).

In preparing to write this article, I started to wonder if spontaneity or doing something on a whim is related to the personality dimension openness to experience. Robert R. McCrae and Paul T. Costa, Jr. are very well-known for their work on the Five-Factor Model of Personality, with openness to experience one of the five traits, along with conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Two acronyms that I wish I had learnt years ago to aid remembering these traits are OCEAN and CANOE. Aren’t they really too perfect for the point I’m trying to make here? Interestingly, I came across the notion of aesthetic chills, defined by Professor McCrae as “transient emotional responses to music or other experiences of beauty”, and which are strongly associated to openness to experience. Avram Goldstein published some early work on chills in 1980. He called them “thrills”, perhaps because this was the ‘80s and in the era of Reagan everyone was looking for a few. In that work, commonly reported stimuli that caused thrills were great beauty in nature or art, as well as musical passages (the most frequently endorsed); scenes from movies, plays, ballets, or books; physical contact with another person; climatic moments in opera, sexual activity; and nostalgic moments. One of the stimuli that endorsed less frequently by participants was parades. I understand – unless the parade is being preceded by “raining on someone’s”, I’m not usually that moved. I’ve probably had more than my share of chills from sunsets and water. Perhaps they come from that feeling of anticipation and that anything is possible, which I have found comes from looking at an infinite ocean, listening to a great piece of music (in fact, that anticipation and possibility is how I described Teddy Geiger’s album The Last Fears almost three years ago), good conversation over moreish food and drink, or a spontaneous day of activities. Where better to get the chills than at the beach? Perhaps avoid recreating that roll in the waves by Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity. I imagine you’d end up with sand everywhere.

Largs Bay by Adam Gerace 5

The pictures in this post are from my night at the beach. If you do decide to use them elsewhere, you may attribute the sunsets and water to God and/or science, but please credit the capturing of those moments to me.