Johnny Caps 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s, Bikini Summer, Bob Hope, Body Double, convention, Conventions, dancing, Final Analysis, Galaxy Hunter, Jane Blonde, Kid Creole And The Coconuts, My Stepmother Is An Alien, Pretty Woman, Rising Sun, Shelley Michelle, Showgirls 2: Penny's From Heaven, The Hollywood Show, The Naked Truth, The Prince Of Tides, Thighmaster 0
My newest interview subject, Shelley Michelle, is a woman of many talents. She’s a dancer, a model, an actress, a singer, a writer and a world-famous body double. As the Body Double To The Stars, Shelley has doubled dozens of actresses over the course of the past several decades. Do you remember the poster for the classic Julia Roberts romantic comedy Pretty Woman? That’s Shelley’s body they put Julia Roberts’ head on. Shelley has been active since the 1980s, and isn’t showing any of signs of stopping any time soon. With the help of our mutual friend, and my recent interview subject, Sheila Lussier, I was able to connect with Shelley on Tuesday, March 9th for an epic interview about her many adventures.
Say hello to Shelley Michelle!
Johnny: First of all, before anything, thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to speak to me.
Shelley: Oh my gosh, no problem! It’s my pleasure. You did a really nice job with Sheila, so I thought, “Well…”
Johnny: Well, she’s a great interview subject and person. I have the questions ready on my end, so here we go, starting with this: You started as a dancer, and you’re still dancing to this day, so what led you to become interested in dancing?
Shelley: Well, what led me to become interested in dancing is that my mother put me in at a young age. She was a dancer, and I was just really taken to it. I was like a duck to water, and I loved it. I think it’s kind of a funny story. They used to put me on a table when I was really, really young, and just tell me to dance, so I would dance and entertain them. I was probably only about two (laughing), so I was kind of a natural, and now it’s definitely my passion. I dance every day, and I’m with a company called Pacific Festival Ballet. It’s a professional company, and I’ve danced in The Nutcracker for the last three years. I dance with them every day, and that’s about it.
Johnny: Alright. What dances are you most proud of having performed?
Shelley: I’m going to say the most recent Nutcracker that I’ve been in with Pacific Festival Ballet. I was in the last three years of The Nutcracker, and it’s a really, really wonderful show. It’s at Christmas time, and the kids love it, and the parents love it. I think my favorite part is when it snows on the audience.
Shelley: I play the Ambassador Of Spain’s Wife, so I’m always in the opening party scene. The whole show starts with me and this dapper gentleman that plays the Ambassador Of Spain. I’m going to say The Nutcracker is my most recent proud performance.
Johnny: To go to my next question, if you had a time machine, and could put any dancers throughout history on your dance card, who would you choose?
Shelley: Oh my gosh, this one is like a no-brainer. Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.
Johnny: I asked that question of another actress and dancer, my Facebook friend Jamie Rose, several years ago, and she mentioned them as well.
Shelley: Oh, absolutely. Those were the days with Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. Oh! I think, back in the MGM days of Hollywood, you had to be a multiple threat, singer/actress/dancer, tap, jazz, ballet…You had to be very well-rounded, and I think that’s what I’ve strived for, to be well-rounded in all the performing arts, with acting and plays and work like that.
Johnny: Alright. How has your work as a dancer impacted other aspects of your career?
Shelley: I think that being a ballet dancer gives you a lot of poise and grace, and it helps you to carry the way you walk through a room, and the way you present yourself, so I think I take the aspect of dance with me throughout everything I do. I think it’s impacted my career to further my career all the way round. I think being a dancer and being able to move has helped all aspects of my career.
If you’re able to move, things come off more natural. You become a better actress, and dancer, and stage performer, because the dancing gives you poise and confidence, and an inner strength. I call it kinesthetic, which means that you’re working through your body, and that kind of leads me into the body double work because, here, I have to mime or mimic these actresses when they put me in as a body double.
Johnny: We’ll get more in-depth about that, but before that, you’re also an accomplished singer and songwriter, so who have been your biggest influences in those fields?
Shelley: I really studied a lot of different singers, from classical opera singers to talents like Madonna and Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lopez and Celine Dion. Nowadays, there’s Lady Gaga and even John Legend. They have backgrounds of singing in choirs and churches, and Mariah Carey started as an opera singer. I’ve been kind of mentored by these successful singers. Songwriting, I think, is a really good way to put your life, and all your thoughts and emotions, into words, and to get them out on paper. It’s kind of like a journal, and I think a lot of singers and songwriters will tell you that. If you’re going through rough times in your life, write a song and you’ll feel better.
Johnny: That definitely makes sense. That goes for all sorts of writing, and that does lead me to ask: Which songs that you’ve written would you say are most indicative of your craft?
Shelley: The song that I wrote that was really indicative of my craft is Body Double.
“I’m the real Pretty Woman,
hiding my face beneath the lace,
In the movies, on a screen,
I’m the legs you thought you’d seen.
All the work and never fame,
Just my body, not my face.
Parts I’ve played, clothes I wore,
Wouldn’t you like the real thing?”.
It’s kind of about being behind the scenes, with people thinking “Whose body is that?” or “Is that really the actress?”. I called it Body Double (The Breaking Out) because it was controversial that it was me they were watching, not the actress. I think it was a song that really was kind of MY coming out, face and all.
Johnny: Well, from the bit you just told me, that’s an excellent song you’ve put together.
Shelley: Oh, thank you!
Johnny: No problem.
Shelley: Yeah. I’d done many, many versions of it (laughing) when I produced my pay-per-view specials. I’ve produced over 60 pay-per-view specials, and it was all based around my music. I would write, host, cast, wardrobe, and do the soundtrack.
Johnny: More proof of your great versatility.
Shelley: Yeah, even for Galaxy Hunter, and the Agent Blonde series that’s going to be coming up, I have all the soundtracks for that, which I kind of think is unusual for somebody in Hollywood with my degree of fame for what I’m known for. I write, host, cast, wardrobe and do the soundtrack. I wear all the hats. I do all of it, and I think some of the best directors and actors branch out. They do everything. You almost have to nowadays.
Johnny: Alright. What’s been the most unusual source of inspiration for one of your songs?
Shelley: Most unusual source of inspiration…What do you mean?
Johnny: Like let’s say something happened in your life. Something interesting happened that you didn’t think would be fuel for a song, but you found yourself returning to it again and again, and it inspired you to put together a piece of music.
Shelley: Oh. Well, I’m going to say my body double career, being chosen out of 5000 pairs of legs for Kim Basinger, doubling for Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and not even knowing that was going to become one of the biggest movies in history. I think that’s unusual (laughing). I would say Pretty Woman is the most unusual source of inspiration to my Body Double song. Does that make sense?
Johnny: Oh, yeah. That makes sense. I can definitely see where you’re coming from. Staying with music for one more question, you spent some time as a member of Kid Creole and The Coconuts. What are your favorite memories of being in that group?
Shelley: Oh my gosh, that was fabulous, being a Coconut. I was flown to New York, and I had to learn the choreography for 22 songs within two weeks. I was living, at the time, on Central Park West, between the Plaza and Essex House, and I was Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley’s neighbor. We then started traveling all over the world, and we went to Paris. We were number one in Paris, and I think my favorite memory is meeting The Gipsy Kings.
I met them at this old church in Paris, and they were, like, 12 flamenco guitars across the stage. It was not commercial yet, so there was no band or drum machines or anything. It was just the flamenco guitars and the fast, rapid clapping of their hands. I remember sitting there with a 98-year-old woman and a two-year-old baby, and then here we were, the Coconuts, right here live in front of The Gipsy Kings before they broke and became super-famous.
Traveling on tour in Paris, and being the number one band at the time, and playing the Ku Club in Ibiza, Spain…They would serve Cuckoo Locos, and they would put clear plexiglass over the swimming pool when we did the show. We used to have to do a 7:00 AM breakfast show (laughing) after a 2:00 in the morning show. They had to take a siesta in Spain, so you wouldn’t even go onstage until 2:00 in the morning, then we had to come back out at 7:00 in the morning. Those were quite some fond memories of being in that group.
Johnny: It sounds like it was exhausting, but fun.
Shelley: (Laughing) Yeah, it was exhausting for sure, but it was not only fun, it was learning the culture. I mean, we were playing in bullfighting rings in Madrid and Barcelona and Majorca, then all throughout London and Paris and Germany. This might segue well into your next question because, all of a sudden, I became known as this famous body double. The Pretty Woman story broke, and I was in the most famous magazine in Paris, Paris Match, and they did a four-page spread on me which was, like, unheard of.
Instead of the television stations asking about Kid Creole, they were saying, “Oh, which one’s the body double?”, and they wanted to interview me. When that started happening, and the body double career started heating up, that’s when he got a little bit uncomfortable with my fame that was taking the spotlight from him.
Johnny: I’m sorry you had to deal with that experience. I would think that he would’ve been happy for you, and I’m sorry that it didn’t turn out to be that way.
Shelley: Oh, no. I think he was happy for me, but being as he was Kid Creole, and that was his band, and I was just a Coconut, it was like, “Wait a minute. She’s not the star. I’m the star!” (laughing). I don’t know. I shouldn’t really say, but perhaps it bruised his ego a bit (laughing), I guess you could say. I loved the group, though. It was fantastic, and it was on-and-off for, like, 12 years.
August Darnell, Kid Creole, is one of my favorite people in the world, and I’m very grateful to him for the experience I had with that fantastic calypso-funk band. Unbelievable. Anybody who knows that band is like a cult following. They can’t say enough about how fabulous the music is, and the dancing on stage.
Johnny: Oh, yeah. I can definitely see that. My personal favorite song by the group would have to be Endicott.
Shelley: (Singing) “Endicott don’t drink alcohol. Endicott don’t do drugs at all. Endicott don’t eat candy sweet…Why can’t you be like Endicott?”
Johnny: Yeah. I found myself relating to that song in my younger years because I was trying to live life on my own terms, but it was kind of awkward to do because I was unusual and not like the people around me, in both good and bad ways. I just found myself thinking of that song a lot.
Shelley: Oh, wow! Yeah…
Johnny: I had to deal with people saying, “You should shave”. “You should get a haircut”. “You should do this”. “You should do that”. It’s like they were trying to live my life for me, and it was kind of annoying, so I related to the situation in the song.
Shelley: Absolutely! (Singing) “‘Cause I’m free, free of any living liability. Bye bye, bye bye”. (Speaking) Right? I still remember those words like it was yesterday. It’s so funny…Even the moves. That was once-in-a-lifetime. I’m glad that it helped you. That’s amazing.
Johnny: Oh, definitely, but today is not about me, it’s about you, and to go to my next question: We’re still a couple of questions away from the body double work, but have you ever served as a voice double for either singing or speaking in ADR work for movies and TV shows, in case they were too busy to make it to the studio to do pickups, or perhaps dubbing them for the TV print of a movie?
Shelley: Well, I worked at an ADR studio, and they used to bring me in to dub over the voices of actresses in foreign films and stuff like that. I think the funniest story is when I hired this actress on Galaxy Hunter, and it was crucial that we had her for two days because we were shooting this scene where we were in the drug lord’s lair. We shot at Vasquez Rocks, and it looked like a big mansion on a hill.
We had to have her in the lair, and then we had to do the reverse shot the next day. She didn’t show up the next day, so not only did I have to body double her, I had to voice double her, and no one really caught it. They still haven’t caugh it (laughing), but if you look really close, and listen really close, you’ll see it. I was wearing all the hats, so my ADR work helped. I think it was Glen Glenn. I briefly worked there. I was only there for, I think, four or five months. I wasn’t there a long time, but I got a taste of having to be a voice double as well.
Johnny: Okay. To go to on-screen acting, a movie that utilized both your great beauty and your musical skills was 1992’s Bikini Summer, where you played the character of Jazz. Was that movie as fun to make as it was to watch?
Shelley: Oh, my gosh. That was so much fun. We definitely had a great time making that movie. It was a really fun time because I was this kind of an edgy character. I played the guitar and got to sing, and then I got to be a sexy bikini girl as well. They hired me, saying, “Oh, she can get us publicity because she’s known as the Body Double and has some fame going. Maybe we can use her name”.
I thought, for sure, I’d be a bikini girl, but they made me this character, Jazz, who i thought was really interesting because she had talent. I got to be the sexy part, and also the talented part. It got me some recognition on set, and that’s when I decided I don’t always have to be the Sexy Girl or the Body Double or the Gorgeous Girl. You can have this kind of edgy part where it gives you a little more depth in the movie. Jazz was so much fun to play, and it definitely was as fun to watch as it was to make (laughing).
I think that was one of the very first ones before everything started coming out. It was 1992, the year that my celebrity pictorial came out in Playboy.
Johnny: Oh, well, what are your favorite memories of posing for Playboy?
Shelley: Well, it’s funny. Here’s a good thing I’d love to put in this article. Not a lot of people know this, but I was offered centerfold. At the time, I was with Playboy Models, with Irina Kamal and Valerie Kragen. They sat me down and said, “We’d really like to test shoot you for centerfold”. I said, “There’s no way I could live it down with my mother”, because my mother was very conservative.
I come from a very conservative family, and at the time, it was something where I said, “Oh, my gosh, I’d love to do it, but I’ll never live it down with my family”. Things have changed so much now. I really regret that I couldn’t do that, so I lucked out and they did a celebrity pictorial with me. I made the cover in Germany, and was in magazines all over the world with the celebrity pictorial.
I guess I should have done the centerfold anyway and became a Playmate, but at the time, things were different. Nudity wasn’t as accepted, and being in Playboy meant that if you did the nudity, maybe it would hurt your career. It was kind of a catch-22. It’s like you were damned if you did it, and damned if you didn’t do it. I’m also Miss Armed Forces, and when that celebrity pictorial came out, it hurt me as Miss Armed Forces because they said, “Oh, we want you to come as Miss Armed Forces and sing on these bases all around the world for the armed forces”, but there was a little stigma that went with Playboy.
Nowadays, I think it’s much more acceptable, and then the good thing about becoming known as the world’s most famous body double, which is what I became known as, was that it was my body and not my face, so it kind of gave me an excuse to do the nudity. As time went on, the Playboy celebrity pictorial became okay. It was then acceptable, if that makes sense.
Johnny: Oh, yeah, it does. You blazed a trail in your own way.
Shelley: (Laughing) Yeah. If I could really do it over, although I probably would’ve been disowned by my family, I probably should’ve just gone for it, did the centerfold and let everybody get over it, but it was close enough. I was really happy. In Germany, it was just my legs on the cover (laughing). I’ve done several other DVD covers, and magazines throughout the world, so it was a really great experience, and there will never be another Hugh Hefner. That’s for sure, right?
Johnny: Definitely. To jump back to movies, like our mutual friend Sheila, you worked with Nico Mastorakis, playing the role of Miss Honduras in 1992’s The Naked Truth. That movie had a loaded cast of cameos, so what stood out the most to you about working on that film?
Shelley: Well, M. Emmet Walsh and Yvonne DeCarlo, and all those names of the older stars in cameos. It was such an honor to work with these people, and I really found that M. Emmet Walsh was a total comedian, and Yvonne DeCarlo was such a talent. I really gained respect for them because they were so humble, and willing to talk to everyone, and learned all of our names.
It was a really good experience, and Nico was just a wonderful director. Somehow he could pull off all these cameos, and then all these pretty girls. I think the funniest scene was when we shot at LAX. We got to shoot while all the planes were unloading and there’s a movie going on. It was quite an experience, and loaded with cameos. It really just stood out that, “Hey, these people are just like you and I”. They love their work, they have passion for their work, and being able to rub shoulders with them just really gives you more respect for the business.
Johnny: Oh, definitely. To go to my next question, you acted in 1993’s Rising Sun. Had you read the book before signing on for the movie, and if so, how did it influence your work on the film?
Shelley: I was cast by Sean Connery himself in the part of The Blonde. I remember I had to go to, like, five different callbacks over at 20th Century Fox. I had a part where I was a tap dancer, and then there’s a scene where they’re eating sushi off my body. Actually, maybe that was a film *I* would’ve used a body double in. There was an element to danger to the scene where they were eating sushi off my body.
Sean Connery was the executive producer, and that was his movie. Here’s a cute story. One day he was shooting for Entertainment Tonight. He’s a real leg man, and he calls them “gams”. I was coming out of my trailer, and I had this robe on and these curlers in my hair, like you wouldn’t really recognize me. I went walking by as he was doing this interview, and he stopped the interview. He said, “Excuse me”, stopped and said, “Gams, come over here!” (laughing).
He called me “Gams”, and he introduced me as “The World Famous Gams”. He said, “Have you ever seen a pair of gams like this?”. He was just the nicest man in the world, and I couldn’t believe that here I was, in this robe with my hair in curlers, but he recognized those gams, and introduced me to Entertainment Tonight through the interview.
I’d met him in Aspen when I was at a party with him, Michael Caine, Sidney Poitier and George Hamilton. I ended up talking most of the night with Michael Caine about the body double they used in Dressed To Kill for Angie Dickinson. Because of that, Sean never forgot a great pair of gams, and ended up casting me in Rising Sun. That’s a movie I still get residuals on to this day.
Johnny: That’s definitely a great story of how you came to know Mr. Connery. May he rest in peace.
Shelley: I know, I know. Ugh, I’m so sad about his passing. He was somebody who, when he walked in the room, it’s like all eyes were on him. He commanded the room. I remember one time, on set, he got a little angry with the crew, and he wouldn’t allow them to speak for two days straight. No one could speak. It’s like, “You don’t cross him”. He was like a god not only on set, but wherever he walked. He just had this charisma. He was, like, 6′ 6” as well, very tall.
It’s funny. Sean was helping the director, and if you noticed, my part opens on my legs doing some pirouettes, a couple of spin turns. I’m dancing with Cary Tagawa and Tylyn John, who played my opposite part as well, and he opened the whole scene on the gams (laughing), on the legs. You can see me as a tap dancer. I’m doing a couple of turns, and then the party starts. It’s like I have two parts in the movie, and 20th Century Fox actually hired me to teach Cary Tagawa how to tap dance for that part. It was amazing.
Johnny: It definitely was, and the movie was definitely excellent.
Shelley: Oh, yeah.
Johnny: To jump ahead into the 00s, you starred in, wrote, and executive-produced the sci-fi movie Galaxy Hunter. What went into the creative process for that movie?
Shelley: Well, I always loved James Bond movies, and I do martial arts as well. I’ve trained with Dolph Lundgren and James Chalke, and I got up to Brown Belt. Being a dancer, I could really kick and turn. That was kind of my forte. I always had it in my mind that I wanted to do Agent Blonde, Jane Blonde, Double D-7. It would be like a spoof.
Galaxy Hunter was kind of like the first Jane Blonde, Double D-7 movie. I wrote the concept of the whole script and the characters, and then I worked with other different writers to put it all together, but it was my baby. What I always wanted to do was the female version of James Bond.
Johnny: If I recall correctly, in our initial getting-to-know-you conversation, you mentioned that you were working on a sequel for Galaxy Hunter. Did I hear that correctly?
Shelley: Yes, absolutely. We shot one scene a while back, and I think we’re going to continue as soon as the pandemic rides out here (laughing), and we can all get back to work. Galaxy Hunter was with Stacy Keach, who played my father. A lot of that movie will be what happened then, and then we’ll go through a time lapse. We can show where Agent Blonde came from. It’s kind of evolved. This is where she is now.
Maybe now it can be that I lead a group of bounty hunters like I did. We’re all on different missions, and they send us in. When we started shooting, we were trying to make it look like it was shot in Thailand. There was a huge Buddha, and then there was another smaller Buddha that was worth a lot of money. The slimeball producer steals the Buddha and heads back to Hollywood, and we’re all sent up to his house to retrieve this Buddha at this party he’s throwing, but he doesn’t realize that we’re all agents looking to find this Buddha. You never know where we’re going to head next.
Johnny: Well, I know it’s definitely going to be entertaining when you get there.
Shelley: Yeah! I can’t wait for the sequel.
Johnny: Speaking of sequels, in 2011, you played Katya Vardiova in Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven, sharing some memorable and, if I may be so bold, scorching scenes with Rena Riffel. Was the Katya that you played in Showgirls 2 supposed to be the same Katya you played in the 90s erotica film Lover’s Concerto, or did that just happen to be a coincidence?
Shelley: Oh, that was definitely a coincidence. The Katya I played in Lover’s Concerto was a ballet dancer, probably because I was a ballet dancer, and they really couldn’t find somebody who could do ballet dancing and was comfortable with the nudity.
Rena cast me. She came to see me in a play called Forever Fosse. It was at a theater on Sunset, and I was playing Lola from Damn Yankees. I graduated USC with an outstanding student scholarship in acting, and I did all these plays. My background was theater. I think she thought that because of this role of Lola, “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets”, that I had the air of sophistication she was looking for, that she could really sink her teeth into this character that she’s supposed to trip up so that she could take over her role, right?
Shelley: Also, with the way Rena wrote it, she was so genius to put in some comedy, and comedy’s always been my forte, so I really went off in the cold cream scene. I went overboard in the role when I was shooting it, and I really made her a funny character, but also kind of tragic. A lot of people said I stole the show because I was a great supporting actress for her, and I was hoping she would do another one, but she’ll definitely be in the Agent Blonde series, the follow-up to Galaxy Hunter. We will meet again. We will be on screen again (laughing).
Johnny: Very cool. Now we do come to your body double work, and I would like to ask about doubling Kim Basinger in 1988’s My Stepmother Is An Alien. Was there any initial hesitation on your part before you started doing body double work, or were you ready to go for it?
Shelley: Well, I really didn’t go in for body double work. I was at 20th Century Fox for My Stepmother Is An Alien. They were casting for Kim Basinger’s double. Kim Basinger was a ballet dancer about my height, and I looked like I could double her, but they were looking for million dollar legs, and the reason why was because it required a stunt where Kim Basinger had to be 25 feet up in the air as she was coming in from a spaceship. She’s bending down, putting on nylons, getting dressed.
They were really looking for fantastic legs, and she couldn’t do the stunt. They wouldn’t allow her to do the stunt as it wasn’t in her contract, so they went through 5000 pairs of legs at 20th Century Fox. There was Richard Benjamin and Dan Akyroyd, and they were like, “Your legs? No.” “Your legs? Yes”. “Your legs? Maybe”. I got five callbacks, and 5000 pairs of legs later, it came down to my legs and one other girl, and Kim Basinger chose me because I was the closest, I think, because we both had similar legs from doing ballet, and similar statures, the same height and all that. That was kind of what really kicked off my body double career. It was being The Legs in Hollywood.
Johnny: Well, you certainly do look great.
Shelley: Oh, thank you!
Johnny: Oh, no problem. That does lead me to ask about body-doubling Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. When you were working on that movie, did you have any idea that it would become the cinematic milestone that it did?
Shelley: No. In fact, at the time, they called the movie $3000. At the time, I was dating Jeff Rector, who was Richard Gere’s body double, and at the same time, I got this audition through Irina Kamal at Playboy Models, and she may have even gotten the call from Central Casting. At the same time, all three things came together. They brought me on set, and I went into this trailer. Garry Marshall came in, looked at my legs, turned back around and said, “Hire her!”.
At the time, they gave me a SAG contract, and I thought it was so wonderful that I would actually be on-screen. It would be my body, but then, I guess because I didn’t have any lines or anything, they downgraded me to a Featured Extra, and to this day, I wish I got the residuals from Pretty Woman. That would’ve been fantastic. I was making $750 a week, so I went to the union to see if we could get body doubles more money. We’re not stand-ins. You’re actually seeing our bodies on screen.
There was a lot of controversy that went with Julia Roberts using a body double. In the beginning of the movie, you saw my body putting on boots and bracelets and all that stuff, getting ready. I worked with her for 4 1/2 weeks, doing all the Rodeo scenes. We had no idea it would even be called Pretty Woman and be such a blockbuster, but it ended up being Julia Roberts’ big coming out as well.
Johnny: Staying with Pretty Woman, you have Pretty Woman-related material you sign at your convention appearances. Which of those items is the most popular?
Shelley: Well, definitely the film poster, which is Jeff and I. There’s also a pink vinyl soundtrack out, and also DVDs of the movie. I think the movie, the poster and the soundtrack are most popular, and I just came out this year in a 30th anniversary People Magazine Special Collector’s Edition that’s all Pretty Woman. It’s everything you want to know about Pretty Woman for all those die-hard fans. For the 30th anniversary, I have 30 of them I’m going to be signing at this next show. Where do you live?
Johnny: I live in New York.
Shelley: Oh, you’re lucky. I love New York. I’m going to be in Burbank, California, signing. Hopefully the show goes on in May. I’ll be at The Hollywood Show. I hope this article can help push it a little that I’ll be signing there.
Johnny: Oh, of course. I’ll definitely mention it. To detour back to music briefly, with your musical talent, have you ever considered recording an album where you would cover the Pretty Woman soundtrack track-by-track?
Shelley: I haven’t, but I would love to. It’s funny because a lot of people always ask me to sing Pretty Woman, or they sing Pretty Woman to me, and I think that maybe a remake would be in my future.
Johnny: Well, I definitely think that would make for an interesting album. You definitely have the talent for it.
Shelley: Are you saying redo the soundtrack?
Johnny: Maybe you’d change a couple of words so, like, King Of Wishful Thinking becomes Queen Of Wishful Thinking, or something along those lines.
Shelley: Right, right. I love it! Well, help me out. Let’s do it. You’ve got connections (laughing). Oh, by the way, I didn’t know I was in The Litch. I had no idea. I mean, I think I remember shooting something at a Hollywood Show. Somebody shot some footage of me, and I looked like Marilyn. Maybe that’s what’s in it? Have you seen it?
Johnny: I’ve only seen clips of it, but I’ll have to catch up with it, and when I do, I’ll let you know about it.
Shelley: Yeah. I almost rented it. You can rent it for two days for $4.95 or something, but thanks for telling me (laughing).
Johnny: Oh, no problem.
Shelley: I appreciate it.
Johnny: Oh, you’re welcome. Going back to you, you were Barbra Streisand’s leg double for The Prince Of Tides. You’re the second talent who’s worked with Barbra that I’ve interviewed, the first being Mindi Miller, so as I asked her: I’ve heard mixed words about Barbra Streisand’s interactions with cast and crew while working on film sets, so what were your feelings on working with her?
Shelley: You know what? She was okay. I had to wear a suit that looked just like her’s. Of course, it was this scene where she was sitting on a couch, rubbing her legs together. Barbra Streisand has great legs, and for some reason, she was very, very open to me being the body double. I had to wear a suit that she wore, and they hemmed the skirt to be shorter, so it would show more leg. She even let me keep the suit. She was like, “Let her keep the suit”. I don’t know.
Maybe it’s because I was making her look great that she was really nice with me. Maybe I wasn’t a threat because of it, but by the time I did that, I was doing a lot of press for Pretty Woman, and a lot of actresses wanted to use the body double who did Pretty Woman, and those legs. I got requests from Candice Bergen and Barbra Streisand and Madonna and Erika Eleniak…Lots and lots of actresses. I can’t even remember them all because I’ve doubled over 85 stars. Everybody wanted to use the Pretty Woman legs. It became very trendy in Hollywood (laughing), but now it’s all CGI and stuff.
Johnny: Yeah. That is kind of sad. When I interview behind-the-scenes talents, they’re able to adapt, but at the same time, there’s also a sense of sadness. At the same time, I feel a sense of sadness because these talents…Their craft isn’t used as much as it used to be, and I feel sorry for them.
Shelley: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it’s just not the same. There’s a lot of double entendre and catch-22. There appears to be a stigma that goes with being a real actress and doing nudity. All the new technology has changed the industry, but you’re right: It seems as though a lot of people aren’t needed anymore.
Johnny: Well, even though I’m only connected to the entertainment industry via the writing I do, I can tell talents like yourself that there’s always a place for them with me because you’ve helped to make the material that’s gotten me through some very dark times, and led me to the light…
Shelley: Oh, wow!
Johnny: That’s one of the big reasons why I do these interviews: To thank these talents, like yourself, for doing the work that you do, and for being an inspiration to me, and you are one of those talents.
Shelley: Oh, my gosh. Hey, I’ll have to send you one of my magazines. An autographed magazine for Johnny, of course! (Laughing) On a different tack, I worked with Rhonda Shear recently. You know her. She’s the woman behind Shear Enterprises.
Johnny: Oh, yeah. I did an e-mail interview with her in 2012.
Shelley: Oh, really? Okay. I recently did some modeling for her of her Shapewear and her different lingerie. It was recently that I did this for her, just a couple of months ago, actually…
Johnny: …And I know that you look great doing it. To go back to you, though, alongside our mutual friend Sheila, you doubled for Kim Basinger again in 1992’s Final Analysis. What do you recall the most about working on that shoot?
Shelley: Okay. This is a great question because, at the time, I knew Philip Joanou, who was the director, because he grew up in my hometown of La Canada, California. He went to USC, and Steven Spielberg took him under his wing, and turned him into this amazing director. He saw that this hometown girl was in the L.A Sunday Times with the picture of my legs, and the whole story on body-doubling. He saw that I doubled for Kim Basinger before, and he personally called me in to double her again on Final Analysis with Richard Gere and, coincidentally, Eric Roberts, Julia Roberts’ brother (laughing).
The whole film opens with me. There’s a searchlight going around over this body, an upper torso shot, but they cut out the most interesting scene, where he’s telling her, “Take your clothes off now!”. I think it was a little too violent for the movie, and they ended up taking out that part. I think he screams at her and tells her, but they don’t show it. I’m taking off the panties very slowly, shaking, and all that.
Phil said, “Nobody’s doing this body-doubling thing. You should really do something with this because, as director, we don’t know where to go for body doubles. We don’t know what to tell them to do, or any of that stuff”. That’s when I decided to go to the union to try to get credit as a body double, and I got us in the Screen Actors’ Guild bylaws. We would be credited for our work, we would be paid union scale and, according to how much nudity we would do, we’d be paid and recognized as a double.
In Pretty Woman, they just gave me $750 a week and no credit. It was like they didn’t want anybody to know. Final Analysis kind of started all the controversy over the press that went out at the time, and then Kim Basinger threatened me with a lawsuit after Final Analysis. I guess she’d had some work done or something, and didn’t want people to think it wasn’t her. It ended up being worked out between our lawyers, but she was like, “You did it, but you can’t say you did it. You did it, but nobody can know it”.
I never had to sign a disclosure, so that was controversial as well. I guess, in her contract, she said she didn’t want a double, but they went ahead and put me in anyway. That happened to me a lot, like with Suzanne Somers. They put me in on the Thighmaster commercials, and she didn’t catch it for a year. She never knew that it wasn’t really her hands and legs (laughing).
Johnny: Well, I didn’t know that, either. That’s me learning that today about the Thighmaster.
Shelley: (Laughing) They snuck me in and shot me, and she didn’t even know it. When the Thighmaster is being demonstrated between the hands and the thighs, going in and out, that’s me. After a year, she caught it. That’s what I heard. That happened about a year after Final Analysis. I don’t think Sheila had trouble like that.
Johnny: When I interviewed her, she didn’t mention any trouble on her end regarding that…
Shelley: …I think because my parts ended up in the movie, but I know that she did a few things as well.
Johnny: Well, to go from your body double work to your military work, you’re active in supporting military charities. As you mentioned earlier in the interview, you’re known as Miss Armed Forces for all you do to support the troops. What led you to that form of charity?
Shelley: Well, I was in a pageant in Pasadena that the William Adrian Agency would put on with Johnny Grant. Every year they would appoint a Miss Armed Forces, and I ended up being chosen as Miss Armed Forced way back. Oh, my gosh. It was back in the 80s, like 1980, I guess. That led me to do several appearances as Miss Armed Forces, and when they figured out that I could sing and entertain, they started incorporating that.
I traveled all over doing a show where I would do Marilyn, Madonna and Me. I would do Body Double. I would do My Heart Belongs To Daddy and all that stuff as Marilyn, and then I would do Madonna’s Vogue and other songs. I choreographed the whole stage show, and then I would sell autographs and posters and pictures afterward, and I would donate to the Armed Forces.It’s just been such a giveback, and an honor, to be able to support the troops. It’s so important to support our troops and our country. For me, It was a real giveback in a way that I could be appreciated for my talent, without being judged, as Miss Armed Forces, honoring our country and our troops.
Johnny: That’s very noble of you.
Shelley: Yeah. Even now, at The Hollywood Show or wherever I’m autographing, it’s a donation, a donation I make to the Armed Forces. I did a lot of work with Tom LaBonge and General Tillman. Tom LaBonge passed away this year, too. Do you know who he was?
Johnny: The name sounds vaguely familiar, but I can’t recall him off-hand.
Shelley: He was a councilman in Los Angeles, and he used to put on this event every year at Forest Lawn for Veterans’ Day. He hired me to do a big show for 2000 people at Forest Lawn for Veterans’ Day.
The biggest highlight of being Miss Armed Forces was when I was flown out to the USS Ranger to perform on the aircraft carrier. I performed with Dwight Yoakam, and that was just the most amazing experience of my life, being flown out and landing on this aircraft carrier and doing this show. They actually had me spend the night in the hospital because they didn’t want the guys to catch me (laughing). The next day, they came into shore in San Diego, and I performed at Camp Pendleton. They did a huge show there for over 200,000. It was amazing, so I would say that was the highlight of my Miss Armed Forces performances, for sure, being on the USS Ranger.
Johnny: That does lead me to ask: As the first few decades of your career coincided with the last few of his, and as you both worked to support the troops, did you ever cross paths with Bob Hope?
Shelley: Yeah. I actually did work with Bob Hope on a show we did in San Diego for the troops. I also worked with him on a TV show here in town. He’s been gone a long time. That was way back when he was doing a lot of shows with Brooke Shields. I did a TV show with them, and then after that, I ended up doing a USO show in San Diego that he was involved in with Ronald Reagan and David Foster. That was probably in my early days as Miss Armed Forces, but Bob was very much into putting on those shows, that’s for sure. I think he really made that a priority in his life, to honor the troops.
Johnny: Oh, yeah. Definitely. You’re actually the second person who’s worked with him on a USO show that I’ve interviewed, the first being Khrystyne Haje, whom I interviewed back in 2016.
Shelley: Did you ever interview him?
Johnny: No, I never had the chance to interview Bob Hope because I wasn’t doing interviews by the time of his passing, and even when he was still active, I was just a kid and had no idea that I would do this as a hobby, but I’ve interviewed others who have worked with him, and they speak highly of his professionalism.
Shelley: Oh, yeah. He was very talented with his comedic timing and comedic writing. That’s where I was, in a skit with him and Brooke Shields on one of his TV shows. I don’t know where that’s archived (laughing). It’s somewhere. That was so early in *my* career.
Johnny: To go back to conventions, what’s been the most wonderful piece of memorabilia you’ve signed at a convention?
Shelley: Gosh, there’s so many of them. I think the most memorable thing is my Playboy celebrity pictorial, signing my legs. That seems to stick out in my head. It’s different from all your other work. To be famous for legs is different. It’s not like you’re famous for nudity. I think signing my legs in my Playboy celebrity pictorial, or a Pretty Woman poster, or articles with pictures of talents I’ve doubled from Julia Roberts to Anne Archer, all the lead actresses that I’ve helped do body work for…Anne Archer said I put 10 years onto her career because everybody thought it was her (laughing).
A funny one that sticks out, as I saw her recently on Yahoo, is Sharon Stone. They always refer back to Basic Instinct.
Johnny: Yeah, that does happen a lot with her.
Shelley: Yeah, they always mention the crotch shot, but I remember getting a call when she was doing that, asking if I could be put on hold to do her body work, but she ended up doing it all herself on Basic Instinct. I think she still looks really good.
Johnny: To go to you, and staying with conventions, have you ever appeared at New Jersey’s Chiller Theatre convention, and if not, would you consider doing so?
Shelley: You know, I would love to in the future. I never have. You said it’s in New Jersey?
Johnny: It’s held in Parsippany, New Jersey. They recently started announcing guests for the October 2021 show, which is going to be the first show since October 2019.
Shelley: Oh, really?
Johnny: Yeah. I think you’d make a good guest for that show.
Johnny: When I send you the transcript of the interview, I could also send the Guest Application link for them as well.
Shelley: Sure. It all depends, though. I have a teenage daughter I’m raising, so it depends on school and all that stuff (laughing).
Johnny: I now come to my final question, and it does involve coronavirus: What are you most looking forward to once the chaos of coronavirus passes?
Shelley: You know, I think I’m looking forward to more respect on sets. With the protocols now, and the social distancing, having to wear the masks and be more health-conscious, washing your hands and using hand sanitizer…Maybe since people have been away from the business, and everything’s virtual, maybe once people get back together on sets without the protocol, maybe there will be more respect and more unity in everything.
You always have to find something good out of all this, and I think people respecting each other, no matter what color you are, or size or shape, and maybe body doubles like that are even more respected because we have to come in on set and do things for you, and before you…I think people took Hollywood and their jobs for granted, but now every job is special, and everyone is special.
I think people are going to be really enlightened by it in the end, that they’re a better person due to all of this, and getting through all this together. I’m hoping there will be more jobs, and I can do the sequel to Galaxy Hunter, and the Agent Blonde: Double D 7 series, maybe do some soundtrack work, and get back to working in Hollywood. Maybe before I was stigmatized as just a body double, a body, and I think, in a way, my acting career was cut short because of my body double career, so maybe now that I’m a little bit older and I don’t have to do all that body work, I can go on with some acting, so I’m looking, really, to do more acting, and really show the world my face.
In fact, this pandemic has encouraged me to follow my dreams and launch my own streaming video channel. Ive actually had the idea for a long time, but now that everyone is watching movies virtually, I believe timing is of the essence.
They can remember me as a body double and all that, but that was kind of paying my dues, so maybe out of all this, something good will come.
Johnny: I definitely agree. I definitely think that better times are coming for all of us. That does it for my interview. I thank you again for taking the time out of your schedule to do this. This has been a dream interview of mine for several years now, and I owe Sheila Lussier a tremendous thank you for connecting us.
Johnny: It’s been a tremendous honor of mine to interview you, and when I was talking about how talents like yourself got me through some dark times, I’ve lived all my life with an autism spectrum disorder, and that’s impacted my life in ways both positive and negative…
Johnny: …But I’ve been able to make it work more for the positive over the course of the last decade. Things like the intense focus on a particular subject have allowed me the chance to interview great talents like yourself, and I thank you for the work you did…
Shelley: Thank you.
Johnny: …As a singer, an actress, a body double, all that…The work you’ve done has gotten me through some dark times, and to the light of a better day, and it’s been my honor to interview you.
Shelley: Oh, my gosh, Johnny. Thank you, and you know what? God bless you for getting through it. That just makes you so much stronger. I can relate to your dark times. You don’t know if you’re going to get through them, but somehow, you’ve been able to interview all these stars. I remember doing an interview show covering red carpets and things like that, and it’s really healing to be able to do all that, so god bless you. Good job.
Johnny: Thank you again for your time. It’s been my honor…
Shelley: Me, too!
Johnny: …And I’ll definitely talk to you again soon. Have a good evening.
Shelley: Thank you. You, too. Take care, and god bless. I really appreciate it, and I’ll talk to you soon, Johnny.
Johnny: Absolutely. Be well.
Shelley: You, too. Bye bye.
I would again like to thank Shelley Michelle for taking the time out of her schedule to speak to me, and I would again like to thank Sheila Lussier for helping put this interview together. If you’ll be in the Los Angeles area on August 27th and 28th, meet Shelley Michelle at The Hollywood Show at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel, and tell her Johnny Caps sent you.
I hope you all enjoyed reading this, and if you have any ideas for who you would like to see me interview in the future, feel free to leave a comment below.
Who will I flashback with next? Stay tuned.