My first exposure to my newest interview subject, Linda Carol, came when I purchased the DVD of Reform School Girls in 2001. Her work as Jenny, one of the innocents behind bars at Pridemore, really made an impact on me. Many years later, I befriended Linda Carol, shown in the cover photo taken by Maurice Brogan Jr., on Facebook, and we’ve become good friends since then. I interviewed Linda on Friday, June 12th, and I hope you all enjoy getting to know her.
Say hello to Linda Carol!
Johnny: Hello, Linda.
Johnny: How are you?
Linda: I’m doing good. How are you?
Johnny: I’m doing good. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me.
Linda: Sure. I mean, anything I can do to promote my career (laughing), you know, and anything to make the teenage society of America be more informed about B movies, ha ha…
Johnny: Alright. I have my questions ready to go, starting with this: Had you always wanted to be an actress, or did you initially have a different career goal in mind?
Linda: I wanted to be a model. I entered beauty pageants to be a model, and then that brought me to Miss Teen Talent America when I was 15 and I was in New York. I met Franco Zeffirelli from the movie Endless Love, and he auditioned me for the lead in the movie.
Linda: I started going into movies when I was 15.
Johnny: To go to my next question, your ticket to Los Angeles was purchased for you by a mobster. You’ve written about that before, but what’s the short version of the story?
Linda: He was my boyfriend, and his name is Dennis Lepore. He was my boyfriend for about thirty years. One day I said to him, “I want to go to California. Can you buy me a ticket to California?”, and he said yeah, so he bought me a one-way ticket to Los Angeles, LAX. From there, I met friends in California that I had met in Boston. I stayed with them, and then eventually I moved to Los Angeles. I was in Newport Beach, and then I was in La Jolla for about five or six years, and then I had to move to Los Angeles for casting opportunities that were available to me.
By the way, Johnny, it’s really great that you reached out to me to do an interview. It’s really great that you do that. I really appreciate your interest because my career means a lot to me, and any time I can talk about it, or if anybody is interested in hearing about it, it’s very stimulating to me.
Johnny: Oh, it’s my pleasure. To go to my next question, your first credited role on IMDB was playing one of the many Hogs and Hogettes in School Spirit, a movie which also featured two former interview subjects of mine, Toni Hudson and Becky LeBeau. What do you recall the most about working on that film?
Linda: Well, I got my period on the film. I left the set, and the director told me to never leave the set. When I came back, they announced that I had my period over the intercom to everybody on the set. I was an example. I also met Larry Linville from MASH. He played the principal in the movie.
Johnny: Oh, cool. Any stories about him?
Linda: I never got close to him. I just did the Hogs and Hogettes scenes where I went down the oiled slide. I just did that, and then I did a scene in the shower. That’s how I got my SAG card. I did a shower scene, topless, in School Spirit, too. I was supposed to have a line and say something, but they cut that out.
Johnny: Alright. To go to my next question: One of your most noted roles came in 1986’s Reform School Girls, the first movie I saw you in, where you played Jenny. That movie was a great example of 80s B-movie cinema. What was your favorite part of working on that film?
Linda: Well, I really enjoyed working on the film. I didn’t think it would get as big as it did, as far as the exposure that the movie’s gotten, from different networks. I believe it’s on Amazon Prime right now for rent at $2.99 or something. It just hasn’t gone away. I’ve done 20 other films, and they make their appearances, but there’s nothing like Reform School Girls. Prisons have played it. It plays in all parts of the world. I liked the parts where I got to play dramatic acting scenes, combined with sexuality and youth. I liked that.
Johnny: You certainly did a great job in the movie.
Linda: Thank you.
Johnny: No problem. At the end of Reform School Girls, Jenny leaves Pridemore in better hands than it was when she got there. What do you suppose Jenny would be doing now if there were a follow-up to Reform School Girls?
Linda: (Laughing) Oh, probably going to a junior college somewhere, dating a normal guy, maybe being pregnant and having a kid. Maybe, if it was a follow-up movie, have the guy who caused her to go to jail come back after she gets out of jail, and have something happen again with him. Sybil Danning, who was the star of Reform School Girls, asked me to write Part II of Reform School Girls. In 2005, she asked me to write a Part II of the movie. I tried, but I really couldn’t figure out anything too dramatic.
Johnny: Well, I’m sorry that didn’t work out, but I have seen your writing on your Facebook page, and you do have a way with words.
Linda: Thank you.
Johnny: No problem. When I interviewed Sherri Stoner, who played Lisa in Reform School Girls, I mentioned to her that I sympathized with her character because of the turbulence I experienced in my late teens and early 20s. I also sympathized with Jenny as well, so have you ever had fans telling you about how the movie impacted them personally?
Linda: Yeah. I have a lot of fans who write to me and tell me how the movie helped them get through dark times in their life. I think you wrote something, but a lot of people write to me to thank me for doing the movie. I don’t know how it helps them, but it does. It changes their outlook on life.
Johnny: Well, cinema does have the power to impact people. It was Roger Ebert who said that he views movies as “a machine that generates empathy”, and that’s what I think even a movie like Reform School Girls can do. It provides a sense of empathy. You see the characters going through what they do, and you can associate that with what happens in your own life. Even a movie like Reform School Girls can do that.
Moving along, in 1987, you played Bridgette in Back To The Beach, another movie that gave me much enjoyment. What stood out the most to you about working on that project?
Linda: Well, I worked with a lot of stars on that movie.
Johnny: Yeah, that was a really loaded cast. It was really great fun to watch, so what would you say was your favorite memory of working on that project?
Linda: Stevie Ray Vaughan was in it, and it was nice to see him play. There were also a lot of character actors from the 60s like Tony Dow. It was nice. Even though it was packed with stars, they were all doing their own thing. Frankie Avalon was there, and so was his son. Annette Funicello and Connie Stevens were there, and they all had their own acting schtick going on, preparing to shoot for the cameras. We shot for, like, seven weeks. One day, we had filet mignon and champagne with Alan Hale Jr. and Bob Denver, and we actually went to the set drunk. We had drank a whole bottle of champagne, and then started shooting in front of the camera after we had lunch and drinks. Paramount wanted to do that. Not long after, Alan Hale Jr. died.
Johnny: How lucky you were to get to work with all these talents. To move along to 1988, you played Michelle in Future Hunters. What was your favorite part of working on that movie?
Linda: I liked working with the director, Ciro Santiago. He was a really good director. He passed away about ten years ago. I got the lead in the picture, and I liked how he gave me control. I did everything the way I wanted to do it, and he kept prints of everything, and made a movie out of it. He didn’t make me do it over or anything like that. He had a lot of faith in my ability and talent as an actress.
Johnny: It’s wonderful when a director has faith like that in you, and again, how lucky you were to have that. It always heartens me to hear stories about actors and actresses being given that kind of faith by their directors. To move along to 1989, you played Heather in Beverly Hills Bodysnatchers, a rather unique comedy-horror film. What did you think of the script when you first got it?
Linda: I thought it was funny and a bit dark-humored, although it turned out to be more dark-humored. It was pretty much a story about them turning into monsters, coming back from the dead and bringing them back to life. I thought it was a pretty interesting and unusual script. There are a few horror scripts like that, but I don’t know. I don’t think they made a really good script. They could’ve made a better script, I think, because it wasn’t scary enough. It was Frankenstein and gangsters.
Johnny: Yeah. I definitely think that if you’re going to go with a plot like that, you need to go all-out. You can’t just soften it. You’ve got to really take it to its’ limits. No offense or anything.
Johnny: Also in 1989, you played June in La stanza delle parole, also known as The Room Of Words, one of the first adaptations of Anais Nin’s Henry and June. Had you read the book, and if so, how did it influence your portrayal of June Miller?
Linda: Well, I was living in West L.A, and I had just come back from modeling in Milan, Italy. The director auditioned me, gave me the lead in the movie and signed me to a contract. I went to the library in West L.A, and I got a book on Henry Miller. I think it was Tropic Of Cancer. I also read some other books by Anais Nin. The filming was in two weeks, but I didn’t know anything about Henry Miller or June Miller until I read the books, and then I was flown to New Orleans. I think we stayed there for eight weeks shooting this movie. That was the most I heard about the characters from the books. I really liked it. I sang in the movie, but they dubbed my voice. I can’t believe they dubbed me. I took singing lessons where Michael Jackson took singing lessons in Los Angeles. I paid $200 for the lessons as I wanted to sing in the picture. I used my own voice, and then when it came out, it was all dubbed with somebody else’s voice.
Johnny: I’m sorry to hear that, and I hope that your original audio tracks still survive somewhere.
Linda: I’m sure it does, Johnny. You know it does. They don’t throw anything away (laughing) ever.
Johnny: That’s true. If you were offered the chance to record an audiobook version of Henry and June, would you take up the offer?
Johnny: Alright. I hope that someday that offer may come across. Moving into the 90s, in 1991, you played Elise in Carnal Crimes. That movie had a rather intriguing plot, but did you like making it?
Linda: Yeah. I really enjoyed making the movie. I think it took eight weeks to make the movie, and I was really tired. I think we shot ten scenes a day for eight weeks, and it was very tiring, but I really liked making a movie. What was included was massage, makeup, tanning and all that, and I got a massage every two weeks. One time I passed out from the massage because I was so tired as filming takes out a lot of energy, you know? I really enjoyed making the movie. It was supposed to be called Love Crimes, and then a movie named that with Sean Young came out, so we changed the name to Carnal Crimes. Oddly enough, they had the same plot, similar to the films about Anais Nin and Henry Miller. Going back to The Room Of Words, Henry and June was by a big studio. My movie was done by an Italian producer who had seen Reform School Girls and said, “I want this girl to be in my picture”, and it was about four years after he saw the picture.
Johnny: Alright. When it does come to Carnal Crimes, it was directed by adult film legend Gregory Dark under his mainstream name, Alexander Hippolyte. What did you think of Gregory Dark as a director?
Linda: I think he’s really talented and really undervalued in Hollywood. I think he’s got a very weird reputation. After every take we did, I always looked to him for approval. He was one of the best directors I ever worked with, and he helped change my entire character. He printed everything that we did together as an actress and director onscreen. He also directed Britney Spears in a few music videos, and he was trying to get a reputation of a bigger director, but he’s really a very talented director.
Johnny: He definitely is a talented director, and I’m glad you had a good experience with him. Moving along to my next question: You played the title role of The Hitchhiker in the segment of the same name in the anthology film Inside Out II, which also featured three former interview subjects of mine, Kitten Natividad, Lisa London and Tane McClure. Did you have any input into the character of The Hitchhiker, like coming up with dialogue for her?
Linda: No. I worked with a director, Paul Rachman, who is based in New York where he works with up-and-coming directors. He directed me. There were a number of lines, and I just remembered the lines, dialogue like, “What are you looking at? Are you looking at me?”. I really enjoyed making that. That was one of my favorite films. I contacted Paul Rachman, trying to be in one of his projects. He was always involved in these dark, kind of sexual, twists of fate movies and TV shows, and I wanted to be in a movie like that, so this was the closest I could come to be in a movie like that, a kind of mystery noir.
Johnny: Alright. Going from the screen to the stage, I’d like to ask about some of your theater work. To start off with, you filled Faye Dunaway’s shoes as Diana in a stage production of Network. Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay had amazing, but very wordy, passages. Was it difficult to get his words out on stage?
Linda: it was a very high-energy play. Diana is a very strong character. It’s a very good script for a character actress to show herself. I practiced that kind of stuff, and was hired to do it, so they could see I could do that. I did Network and Bus Stop and Blue Denim. I did all these plays in theater. I also did a play called Goddess at UCLA with John Richardson. He passed away, but he was a very good director. I took a class from him for $1200 at UCLA. We would pick our own scenes, and he would direct the scene. I picked Goddess. That was about twenty years ago, and the director was great.
Johnny: Alright. Another noted theater role you played was Heavenly in a production of Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird Of Youth. Williams is one of the great playwrights, so what was your favorite part of acting in that play?
Linda: When she talks to her father about having an abortion. I think that’s in the middle of play. It’s very strong. First she talks like a little girl. “Daddy’s so powerful”. In the play, he’s a very famous politician in the town. Before the break in the play, she says, “Dr. George Scudde’s knife cut the youth out of my body”, cold as ice. He’s in his office saying, “Let’s get reelected. Let’s get elected again”, and he couldn’t really care less about his daughter’s abortion. He didn’t want her to have the guy she got pregnant by’s baby before his election.
Johnny: It was definitely a very powerful play.
Linda: I’m surprised you found that play I was in. Heavenly was my very first character that I played on stage. My costar in that play passed away. So many people have passed away that have been in the theater business, but that’s life, right?
Johnny: Yes, and how lucky you were to work with them. When it does come to stage acting, I recall asking this of Sondra Currie when I interviewed her a few months back, but what has stage acting provided for you that screen acting has not?
Linda: Well, stage acting provides the response from the audience and their reactions, negatively or positively, to your presence. You can feel them if they withdraw from you or come towards you. On screen it’s the camera, and everyone around the camera has an artistic part to them.
Johnny: When it comes to acting work, what roles would you like to play that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Linda: I would like to be in a horror movie. In 2019, I did a comedy-drama skit for a YouTube channel, and it was a dream of mine to do a comedy-drama piece. He gave me a few lines and put it in his video, so I want to do a role like that, but in some kind of horror thing.
Johnny: I hope that you will eventually have that possibility come. To go to a different aspect of your work, you did mention that you did do some modeling, so who were your favorite designers to work for, and what are the most outrageous fashions you can recall wearing?
Linda: Well, I was in Rome, and I got booked for a fashion show there. I wore a Christian Dior skirt and jacket, and I wore a black wig. I went down the runway to Madonna’s “Express Yourself”. I also did a fashion show for L’Oreal. I’ve often worn outrageous fashions. In Carnal Crimes, they had me dress up in really bizarre clothes, if you remember, but they weren’t everyday clothes. They were see-through.
Johnny: I often ask that of talents who have done modeling because, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m big into retro pop culture, and the fashions of the past, especially the 80s, fascinate me, but in a positive way. There was a very long period of time when 80s fashions and hairstyles were trashed, and I never understood that because I just thought, and still do think, it was a very unique time for fashion. I really do think talents of the decade looked better than they gave themselves credit for.
To go to another question, you’ve also done some work as a producer. Similar to my question about the difference between stage and screen acting, what has working as a producer provided you that working as an actress has not?
Linda: Well, I just produced all these vignettes I filmed on a website. I like it. It makes me feel powerful. It makes me feel in control. It makes me feel smart, and it makes me feel like I can create art beyond being an actress.
Johnny: Well, I wish you all sorts of success in that field. I hope that, once this all blows over and things get better, you’ll be able to find some really good material to bring forth.
Linda: Thank you.
Johnny: No problem. I now come to my final question: Would you ever attend a convention like Chiller Theatre in Parsippany, NJ or The Hollywood Show in California to sign autographs?
Linda: I was invited to go to The Hollywood Show in California, but right now, I don’t know how I could get out there financially because the hotels are very expensive. They’re like $1000 a night. When I was living out there five years ago, The Hollywood Show contacted me and asked me to sign autographs for Reform School Girls and Future Hunters and Carnal Crimes, all the different films I was in. They asked me to get a booth and put my name in the back, where I would sit and pose for photographs, but it was so expensive to do that. You had to get a bunch of pictures, and then you had to get your name, and then you had to rent a space and get a chair and table, and you had to bring it to the hotel. I’ve been asked to do it. I just can’t *afford* to do it.
Johnny: Well, I hope that someday you will be able to because I can tell you right now that I would gladly pay for your autograph.
Linda: (Laughing) You can have it for free. I’ll send you a picture with my autograph.
Johnny: I would appreciate that. We’ll discuss those details at another time, but for now, that does it for my questions, and I do thank you for taking the time to speak to me. I hope that, once this all blows over, you’ll have a lot of fun things to look forward to. It was an honor to talk to you. As I’ve mentioned before, Reform School Girls really spoke to me, and it was an honor to interview you about it and so many other aspects of your varied career.
Linda: Thank you.
Johnny: Again, I thank you for taking the time to speak to me, and I’ll catch you on Facebook.
Linda: Alright, Johnny. Thank you very much.
Johnny: No problem. Be well, be safe and be happy.
Linda: Thank you very much for the time and interest. Good luck, and I’ll see you on Facebook. Keep shining.
Johnny: Likewise. You keep shining as well. Thank you. See you later. Bye.
I would like to thank Linda Carol for taking the time out of her schedule to speak to me, and for allowing me to use the pictures in this article. Speaking of which, I also thank Linda for providing me with the information about who took all the wonderful pictures that illustrate our interview. Coming soon to the Flashback Interview will be conversations with actress and ADR coordinator Leigh French and actress/model/author/singer Greta Blackburn. Thank you as always for reading.