Invasion of the B-Girls (1992) by Jewel Shepard.
I’m writing this two months after the previous entry in this blog series, but you won’t have noticed, since that entry was three months ahead of schedule. And the reason I’m all out of sequence here is that the first copy of this book I bought was somehow lost by the mail forwarding service I’m using (the only book they’ve ever lost out of hundreds), so I wondered whether they’d silently just censored the package. (It’s happened to me before with a different service.)
So I had to buy another copy, and that took months to arrive, since I didn’t use any forwarding service.
Confused? You should be. Let’s see if I still remember how to do this stuff…
Oh, my copy of this book is signed by author Jewel Shepard. I wonder if they all were?
Shepard seems to be well-connected, and got all those actors together at the same time to do the photo shoot for the cover, I think? I first assumed that it was a composite, but I can’t see any tell-tale pixels…
ANYWAY! This book isn’t what I thought it was going to be at all. By this point, Eclipse Comics had released some pretty exploitative projects like the True Crime trading cards, and since they’d done titillating violence there, I assumed that this was the same, only with sex.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Shepard sets the tone immediately in the introduction: This is a book about how the movie industry and its fans treat women who act in B movies, and it’s not going to be a book of puff pieces.
The structure is very straight-forward: It’s one interview after another with various female actors in the Paris Review mode, i.e., a straightforward-seeming transcription of a conversation. With some pictures of the actors in question here and there.
I’ve watched a lot of Mystery Science Theatre 3000, but they mostly do movies from the 50s and 60s, and these actors are younger than that, so I’ve seen none of the movies they talk about. Assault of the Party Nerds sounds great!
Some of the pictures are somewhat racy, but it’s mostly pretty demure, so I wonder whether the typical reader would be disappointed here…
But I’m not! Since this is the last book I’m covering in this blog series, I had planned to just skim it and get the blog done already, but instead I ended up reading it all. It’s a fascinating book, and Shepard is a great interviewer. Perhaps as a fellow actor she’s able to establish a rapport immediately, but it’s more than that. She lets them talk about whatever they want to, but also guides them to the subject of this book, so we get a lot of stories about sexual abuse.
So who was the stand-up comedian on Bachelor Party that tried to rape Monique Gabrielle?
And just about everybody in this book has stories like this to tell, but I guess it’s 25 years too early for #MeToo…
Some of the interview subjects, like Haji, are… characters.
And the casting couch situation wasn’t better in the 50, as Kathleen Hughes tells it:
Most of these women have had pretty depressing careers doing shitty movies, like Jillian Kesner here, and employ various strategies to getting a handle on it all. Shepard admirably doesn’t shy away from asking the real questions, and shows the subjects to be thoughtful, if sometimes defensive. Kesner is an outlier here, though: Most of them are more light-hearted.
Let’s get real.
Kelli Maroney got a role in a Woody Allen film, but some b-movie director refused to let her go and do it, because they were shooting some shitty thing.
Anyway, I’m just going to stop quoting things from this book now, because there’s so much quotable stuff in here.
It’s a riveting book, well-written and interesting. At least if you’re interested in the movie business.
Shepard has also written an autobiography, which I’m now contemplating buying, and can be found on Twitter.
I was unable to find a single review of this book on the Interwebs, so I’m going to go ahead and assume that it pretty much sank without a trace upon publication.