My first exposure to my next interview subject, Jeana Keough, came when I saw Mel Brooks’ History Of The World, Part 1. Jeana and quite a few other Playboy Playmates made cameos along with Hugh Hefner in the movie, and I thought their scene was great fun. As I grew older, I saw Ms. Keough as one of the Eliminator girls in ZZ Top’s music videos and making memorable appearances in movies like 10 To Midnight and Up The Creek. I spoke to Jeana on Wednesday, January 29th, and then followed up with some more questions via e-mail in February. I hope you all enjoy getting to know her.
Say hello to Jeana Keough!
Johnny: First of all, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do this.
Johnny: Alright. Here we go, starting with this: As a model, who were your favorite designers to work for, and what are the most outrageous fashions you can recall wearing?
Jeana: You know, I was very conservative. Halston was my designer, and I’ve always liked Betsey Johnson’s fun, wild stuff. I still do. I like her choice of fabrics.
Johnny: To stay with modeling, you appeared in the pages of Playboy several times, even becoming Miss November 1980. What did appearing in Playboy mean to you and for you?
Jeana: It was such a wonderful experience hanging around the Playboy Mansion. The girls were all like college sorority sisters. I got to go on Johnny Carson and all these amazing shows. I worked with George Burns. I did 10 movies and 150 commercials in my time in L.A, so Playboy just kickstarted my career.
Johnny: Alright. Knowing that not all the photos a model takes get used, did you ever retain any outtakes from your Playboy shoots?
Jeana: No. They have the outtakes. Of course I have pictures, yes, but they’re owned by Playboy.
Johnny: Alright. To go to my next question: The Playboy Mansion was, of course, known for wild parties, so which was your favorite party you attended there?
Jeana: Oh, the 25th anniversary of Playboy, when they did an ABC special. That was the best party ever. Everybody was there. Johnny Carson, Bill Cosby, all the actors, all the girls…It was the best.
Johnny: Alright. Of all the celebrities you met at parties at The Mansion, who were the nicest and who were the meanest?
Jeana: Never met a mean one. Robin Williams was amazing. Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson, and then the young guys like Scott Baio, Dino Martin Jr., and Desi Arnaz Jr., those were my favorites.
Johnny: Alright. To get into your acting work, my first exposure to you came via Mel Brooks’ History Of The World, Part 1, where you and many of your fellow Playboy models appeared opposite magazine founder Hugh Hefner in a memorable cameo. What was your experience working alongside Mel Brooks like?
Jeana: Oh, he was wonderful. His wife at the time, Anne Bancroft, was wonderful. It was a great experience. It was as fun as working with Richard Pryor.
Johnny: Very cool.
Jeana: I love working with comedians. They’re just so awesome.
Johnny: That’s always good to hear. Another role that played upon your modeling experience was Susan in the Michael Crichton thriller Looker. Did you offer any advice to Michael Crichton about writing models?
Jeana: Oh, he used me extensively. He ended up dating the actress Terri Welles, and she didn’t want to wear the same outfit. For a week’s filming, you wear the same outfit because you film a minute or two a day, so he would say, “Go talk to her. I can’t talk to her. She won’t listen to me. She doesn’t want to be seen wearing the same thing every day”. (Laughing) It was quite fun. He looked at me as a friend who helped him a lot with difficult actresses during that shoot. There were a few others that were (laughing) a little crazy because they weren’t actresses, they were models, and I was a Playmate that was an actress, so I helped him a lot with it.
Johnny: Alright. Going into 1982, you played Ducky in The Beach Girls, a favorite film of any 80s teen comedy aficionado. Was the movie as much fun to shoot as it looked on camera?
Jeana: The Beach Girls was great fun to shoot.
Johnny: It certainly did look like fun. I had it on VHS from a video store that was selling their stock. It was great fun, so do you still keep in touch with your costars from The Beach Girls?
Jeana: No. Nobody.
Johnny: Okay. In 1983, you played Karen in 10 To Midnight.
Jeana: That was my favorite, yeah.
Johnny: That movie was a Cannon Films production, and as I’ve interviewed several Cannon Films veterans in the past, opinions on producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus have been mixed to negative, so what was your experience in working with them?
Jeana: My director, J. Lee Thompson, was amazing. Charles Bronson and his wife were so kind and nice. I had the best time. That was my best experience on a movie, except for the Kenny Rogers movie Six Pack. Charles Bronson was so amazing. He gave me so many great tips, and he said, “You were supposed to be my daughter. I wanted you for my daughter in this thing, but they said you were too tall, and you were the same height as the girl they picked”. (Quavery voice) “That’s because I lied about my height for modeling. I said I was 5′ 9””, (regular voice) but I was really 5′ 7”.
Johnny: Going to my next question, any fan of 80s music videos will remember you from your appearances in four ZZ Top videos, “Gimme All Your Lovin'”, “Legs”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Sleeping Bag”. Of the four, which was your favorite to work on?
Jeana: “Sharp Dressed Man”, because it was their very first music video ever done, and it just went all over the world. That director, Tim Newman, did “California Girls” with David Lee Roth and “Short People” with Randy Newman. The director did the first three music videos, so I was a trendsetter. When it came time to do The Real Housewives Of Orange County, which was the first reality TV show non-scripted about a group of people, besides The Osbournes, I just always felt like I was a trendsetter (laughing). It was fun.
Johnny: They certainly were great videos, so have you ever sung any ZZ Top songs at karaoke?
Jeana: I don’t do karaoke.
Johnny: Oh, okay. I can recall reading that you had been in the Singing Playmates group.
Jeana: Yeah, but I don’t do karaoke. I don’t know why. I just never had the time. I moved far away, karaoke wasn’t popular, and then when it was popular, I had three little kids, so no karaoke for me, but I was in a band. Yeah, I was in a band for about a year. I didn’t like working nights. When Milli Vanilli happened, there was a German singer who used me for all her album covers and her singles. She was not a cute girl, but she could sing like there was no tomorrow. When the Milli Vanilli scandal came out, they stopped doing that. They didn’t want to get into trouble (laughing), but I was on the cover of all these things and it was some other chick singing.
Johnny: That’s fascinating.
Jeana: Yeah, it was fun.
Johnny: Jumping back to 1984, you played Molly in Up The Creek. What was your favorite part of working on that film?
Jeana: My least favorite was going in the raft because it was Summer Solstice, the highest the river had ever been, and I made them do a body double for me. I didn’t feel safe, and in literally the next take, the boat capsized and one of the girls got caught under the raft. I said, “See?”. You couldn’t pay me enough on a low-budget film to die, so I recognized the danger and I wouldn’t go on the raft. My body double wasn’t that cute. I think they did that on purpose. They made her a little fat (laughing). Everything else was really fun. Tim Matheson was great to work with, and Jennifer Runyon and I are still friends. We’re Facebook friends.
Johnny: I’m Facebook friends with her, too. I met her at the Chiller Theatre convention. Very friendly.
Jeana: She’s great.
Johnny: To go to my next question, as with several of my previous interview subjects, including Ona Zee and Shawn Weatherly, you work in the field of real estate, so what led you to that line of work?
Jeana: I loved houses. I loved design and decorating. I just loved it.
Johnny: Alright. What’s been the most amazing house you’ve sold?
Jeana: Mine, the one I sold for 3 1/2 million dollars, the one I used to live in on the TV show. I loved that house. It was a great house. Right now there’s a $31 million my office is selling. I’m spending a lot of time at that house. It’s so magnificent. It’s in West Covina, California. It’s the coolest house I’ve ever been in. $31 million on the beach.
Johnny: Cool. As you’re active in realty, what’s your take on the real estate scene in 2020, your views on the market in regards to the current political climate, economics and things like that?
Jeana: I think real estate is the greatest investment in the world.
Johnny: Alright, I can see that. So jumping back to the 00s and New 10s, our younger readers will know you from your work on The Real Housewives Of Orange County. I’ve asked this of several reality TV veterans, and now I’d like to ask it of you as well: How much reality is in reality TV?
Jeana: None. I don’t think so. I mean, in the beginning, it was all new and nobody knew what to do, but now it’s all fake, I think. It’s not their lives. It’s their lives as they pretend to have all these things they want to sell to people. It’s like, give me a break. It was more real in the beginning. It was more generic and honest.
Johnny: You appeared at BravoCon, but would you ever appear at a convention like Chiller Theatre in Parsippany, NJ or The Hollywood Show in California to sign autographs and take pictures?
Jeana: Oh, I do that a lot. Yes.
Johnny: Okay. To come to my final question: In 2017, several Playboy Playmates including Cathy St. George, Monique St. Pierre, and another former interview subject of mine, Charlotte Kemp, revisited their covers and did new takes on them to reflect how they look now. Were you offered the opportunity to do that, and if not, would you do so if it came up again?
Jeana: I would revisit doing a cover.
I would again like to thank Jeana Keough for taking the time to speak to me.
Coming soon to the Flashback Interview are conversations with actresses Sondra Currie and Christine Elise, both of whom I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting at the Chiller Theatre convention.