Earlier this year, I had the great pleasure of interviewing the versatile Shelley Michelle, the Body Double To The Stars who is still active and rocking to this day. As I like to keep in touch with my previous interview subjects, I called Shelley recently for a catch-up, and she had so many intriguing things to share that I knew we had to do a second interview. This is the result of that conversation. You’ll read about things like the return of The Hollywood Show, more body double experiences, and some big picture subjects as well.
Say hello again to Shelley Michelle!
Shelley Michelle: Hi, Johnny!
Johnny: Hi, Shelley. How are you?
Shelley Michelle: Good. How are you?
Johnny: I’m good. So I have my questions ready for round two…
Shelley Michelle: Round two…I can’t believe it. This is fabulous that I get to do this!
Johnny: Well, I have my questions ready to go, so let’s just jump in.
Shelley Michelle: I’m ready to go, so let’s fire off!
Johnny: Alright. The recent Halloween picture you sent me shows you still have excellent form as a dancer, but if you don’t mind me asking, how difficult is it to do moves like that?
Shelley Michelle: Well, it takes a lot of flexibility. As you know, I’m a professional ballet dancer for many years, and you have to be in shape. You can’t just stretch your muscles on a dime and think you’re not going to hurt yourself. That being said, even the lady who runs the ballet company where I dance, and where, by the way, I’ll be in the Nutcracker back in a theater after COVID this December, said, “Wow, that was a great shot. That was amazing. It makes your legs look ten feet long!” (laughing).
Johnny: Well, speaking of ballet, beyond The Nutcracker, which I’m glad to hear you’ll be performing in again this year, what have been your favorite ballets to perform in?
Shelley Michelle: Well, my two favorite ballets are Swan Lake and Don Quixote. I’ve also performed in several other versions of The Nutcracker, as well as Sleeping Beauty. Those are my favorites. I think the classics are Don Quixote and Swan Lake.
Johnny: Alright. Staying with ballet for another question, choreographer Toni Basil is well-known for combining ballet and street dance in her work. Have you ever done anything similar?
Shelley Michelle: Well, the lady who runs Pacific Festival Ballet, which I take at the California Dance Theatre, her and her sister used to choreograph and dance for the TV show Fame. The sister who owns this company is versatile in combining ballet with jazz-type moves or street-type moves.
I think ballet has always been a foundation. It’s a foundation that strengthens you, and gives you really good posture. It aligns your whole body and flexibility, and it gives you a strong basic technique that you can carry into street and jazz and lyrical and contemporary, and all these different types of dance. It’s definitely a foundation. A lot of people nowadays, especially younger people, just want to go right into street, and they don’t really care for the ballet because it’s extremely hard, and it really challenges the body. I also think that I’ve used my ballet technique, and different forms of street dancing throughout my career as a body double in order to reach the level I’m known at worldwide in body doubling.
I used to produce pay-per-view, and when you’re posing in photos for photo shoots, or in a movie, or anything that has to do with movement, this is something I always taught when I had my Body Doubles And Parts Agency: You utilize your dance technique in everything that you do. I’ve used different choreography within my pay-per-view specials that I host, cast, write, wardrobe, and star in as well. I choreograph all the moves for all these different shows, and ballet has been my foundation. It’s my life and my passion, and it seems to be what brought me into the business in a really nice way.
Johnny: I can see that, and ballet is, of course, not only used as a baseline for forms of dance. There’s also tales of athletes in various fields taking on ballet classes as a way to improve their form, like football players and baseball players.
Shelley Michelle: (Laughing) Absolutely! Isn’t that funny? They have them take ballet.
Johnny: It all helps out very well.
Shelley Michelle: It all helps out very well absolutely. To me, it’s so strengthening of your posture, and your spine and your core, the whole alignment of your body and flexibility, to be able to agile and such a super-athlete. That’s why they teach it to these athletes. I’m sure Tom Brady has taken ballet (laughing). We’ll have to ask him.
Johnny: Yeah. Well, to move to a different topic, in-between our last interview and this one, you returned to The Hollywood Show after a long, COVID-imposed delay. What was it like to be back there?
Shelley Michelle: Well, after COVID, it seemed to be a really different atmosphere. People seemed to appreciate their jobs, and being able to go out to these different events, and see the celebrities there signing autographs. People just seemed to be a little bit more humble. They were eager to help you financially by buying photos and autographs. I did really, really well at this show, and I did this funny short comedy spoof. Instead of Pretty Woman, I did Pretty Wuhan.
I found that people were very aware of whether they’d been vaccinated or not. They would say, “I’m okay. I’m vaccinated”, and they could take their mask off and take a picture with you with YOUR mask off. Of course, we put the mask right back on when we’re done in order to walk around. People were really respectful of that, and a lot of celebrities, I think, were taking pictures without masks, but I would say the fans were really into being safe and going by the rules. They were just happy to be there. They were kind of on their best behavior, you could say.
Johnny: I can understand that. A couple of weekends back, the Chiller Theatre convention in Parsippany, NJ made its’ return after two years, and it was fantastic to be back there. As I wrote on my own wall on Facebook, it seemed like everyone who was returning to Chiller Theatre kind of needed it, in a way, after two years of being cooped up. It was like having a weight lifted off you. “We can go out again. We can have fun”. It was a good feeling.
Shelley Michelle: Exactly. They were thirsty to go out and interact with people again, to see each other and travel.
Johnny: Let’s return to the topic of Pretty Wuhan. Can you tell the Pop Geeks audience a little more about that project?
Shelley Michelle: Sure. Pretty Wuhan is just a comedy spoof, and as you can see on the poster, it’s me with Anthony Fauci. What we’re trying to do is say, “Wear your mask. Be safe. Get your vaccine if you can. If not, try to keep the world safe and do the right thing because there’s a lot to live for, and we want the best for you”.
It’s kind of a nice way to say, “These are the times we’re living in”, and to get people to maybe accept that a little more. Of course, it’s been trying for everyone to be in their houses and on Zoom, and not being able to go out, but we hope to give it an uplifting feeling and a comedy style to it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, but we just have to make sure we’re all vaccinated, masked, and doing our best to adhere to these protocols.
Johnny: Well, I look forward to seeing it. It’s definitely a message that really needs to be communicated, and I look forward to seeing how you do it.
Shelley Michelle: Yeah. It’s just going to be a little short, but it’s going to have a nice message. I’m probably going to be debuting it around the next Hollywood Show because I shot a bunch of footage at this Hollywood Show that’s going to be in it, (laughing) so unless I keep filming…Well, this pandemic is still here, so if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
Johnny: On a similar note, when we did our first interview, you mentioned that you were working on your own streaming website. Can you give us an update on that?
Shelley Michelle: Exactly. Well, as you know, I have a production company, and I’ve produced over 65 shows for Viewer’s Choice and On Demand, In Demand, DirecTV, Playboy Channel, etc., so I have a lot of experience in the pay-per-view world, and I always had this concept that I wanted to have a streaming channel of my own. For me, it’s kind of unique because I also produced and wrote the movie Galaxy Hunter, which I starred in with Stacy Keach, and now I’m going onto a series spin-off of this called Agent Blonde: DD7.
I thought the best way to do this is to put it on a streaming platform, and a lot of my friends are like, “We have content as independent filmmakers, but we don’t know how we can be the next Netflix. How do we do this if we’re competing against these blockbuster movies?”. What I’ve been trying to do is get a unique spin on a streaming system which would offer content that individual producers have made, and they would like to have on the Internet, streaming and available, but they need a vehicle to do that.
My content is not exactly going to be A-movies, but more B-movies, or movies by up-and-coming directors that you haven’t heard of yet, or maybe films that were made way back that we haven’t seen for a while. I’m also going to have a different side of it that’s going to be more like my pay-per-view stuff, which is kind of pretty girl soft content…
Shelley Michelle: Yes. It will be very tasteful and elegant, and done very creative so that people will not be offended by nudity or something they can cut me down for (laughing). I even have a concept for how the viewer would view it, to find out what the viewer likes and then to offer it, kind of like Netflix, but something that will be unique to the way I used to produce things. I’m excited to introduce it to the world. It will be, like, Double Play Digital Streaming, and I have a cute little logo that’s going with it. It takes a lot to get all the content, and get the website going on the servers. It requires a lot of work, so we’re working on the servers right now, and the new website.
Johnny: Well, I look forward to it when it launches. I know you’re going to knock ’em dead.
Shelley Michelle: Oh, thank you! I’m looking forward, too.
Johnny: To go to a different question, I interviewed our mutual friend, Sheila Lussier, around the time her friend Lana Clarkson’s murderer died in prison. Since Lana Clarkson is the person worth remembering, did you ever hang out with her before her untimely passing?
Shelley Michelle: I never really knew Lana. I just knew Sheila, and I wasn’t as close to Lana as I was to Sheila. I knew of her, and I knew where she worked, at the House Of Blues. i remember Lana was a good friend of Sheila’s at the time it happened, and it just took us all by surprise. He was somebody who just didn’t really respect women. That’s my opinion, and I guess, unfortunately, she went over there after working all night. Well, he passed away in prison, so that’s good, right?
Johnny: Yep. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
Shelley Michelle: (Laughing) “Good riddance to bad rubbish”. Yeah, it’s too bad that somebody would ruin their career over something like that. It’s such a waste, right?
Johnny: Yeah, and it always makes me uncomfortable when I’m at my retail job during the Christmas season, and they play selections from his Christmas album. I’m like, “Don’t you know what that asshole did?”
Shelley Michelle: (Laughing) Oh, god. I know, right?
Johnny: Well, on a lighter note, and returning to your body double work, in 1993, you doubled Claudia Christian in the movie Hexed. What do you recall the most about working with Claudia?
Shelley Michelle: Oh, okay. That was a love scene she had with Arye Gross, and it was a really funny scene . I think Claudia, to me, is a great actress with excellent comedy timing, and she’s funny. It required a little bit of a stunt. There was some frontal nudity, but I had to roll off the bed. It was up to the director.
I think Claudia could’ve done it. She was gorgeous, and absolutely fun to work with, but she didn’t want to do this rolling off the bed stunt, or maybe she thought she would hurt herself. That’s what they have to do. They have to protect the actresses from getting hurt. If they get hurt, they can’t go on to do the next scenes in the rest of the movie. They have to protect them, and that’s why they use stunt doubles, right?
Johnny: Right. Since. in our first interview, you mentioned doing a stunt doubling Kim Basinger in My Stepmother Is An Alien, in addition to your body double work, how extensive has your stunt double work been?
Shelley Michelle: Well, I became well-known as a double to make their bodies look great. As you know, I was chosen out of 5000 pairs of legs at 20th Century Fox for Kim Basinger in My Stepmother Is An Alien, and it just kind of snowballed from there as I doubled Catherine Oxenburg, and then Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Everyone in Hollywood wanted the Pretty Woman body, and they’d call me.
I went on to double hundreds of stars in almost every scene, but a lot of times, like My Stepmother Is An Alien, required a stunt. I had to be 25 feet up in the air, bending down and putting on this nylon so it looked like she was floating in space. Hexed had me rolling off the bed. I’m not really known as a stunt double, but a lot of my work did require me to do a stunt or be put in some kind of precarious situation, like taking a blood bath in Bordello Of Blood for…
Johnny: Erika Eleniak?
Shelley Michelle: Well, I did double Erika Eleniak in that movie as well, but Angie Everhart. I took a blood bath for Angie Everhart, and then I did a kind of sacreligious scene where I had to be tied to a big, cross-looking metal thing they were going to have Erika Eleniak lay on. She thought it was sacreligious, and didn’t want to do it, and Angie didn’t want to set foot in this blood bath. It was funny. They made the blood bath, and all it was was red food dye mixed with some flour (laughing). Even though I’m not really known as a stunt double, I’ve done a lot of stunt doubling within my body double portfolio of work, I guess you could say.
Johnny: That makes sense, and again, I’m sure the ballet training helped with the stunt work.
Shelley Michelle: Yeah. I did meet Claudia Christian at a party one time in Aspen. That’s when I went skiing with Ivana Trump and Suzy Chapstick, they called her at the time. I went to a party with Claudia Christian. I think Sean Connery was there, George Hamilton, Sidney Poitier, and Michael Caine. I ended up talking to Michael Caine most of the night about using a double in Dressed To Kill for Angie Dickinson. They were calling me The Hollywood Body. It’s funny you ask me about Claudia, because I think she’s the one who gave me that name, The Hollywood Body (laughing). That’s funny. Yeah, I forgot about that.
Johnny: Well, that’s a fantastic story. Jumping back to My Stepmother Is An Alien, Arrow Video recently announced they were releasing the movie on a Special Edition Blu-Ray. Were you approached about being interviewed for the disc’s special features, and if not, would you have participated if asked?
Shelley Michelle: Yes, I would’ve loved to have been asked to be in the interviews. I don’t know. Are they doing that?
Johnny: Well, unfortunately, the special features were already completed, and the Blu-Ray is coming out soon.
Shelley Michelle: Oh, that’s too bad.
Johnny: I’ve occasionally asked that question of talents who I’ve interviewed, whether they’ve been interviewed for the Blu-Rays of movies they participated in. I asked Greta Blackburn, when I interviewed her, if she would’ve participated in Blu-Ray extras for the movie Party Line, and she said if asked, she would’ve.
Shelley Michelle: Yeah. I definitely would’ve. I mean, My Stepmother Is An Alien is what started me. Dan Aykroyd was starring in it, but Richard Benjamin was the director. Dan helped him go through 5000 pairs of legs. I came down to the last three, and then Kim really said, “She matches me the closest”, and you know why? Because Kim Basinger was a ballet dancer.
Johnny: To ask another body double-related question, in our previous interview, you talked about both positive and less-positive interactions with stars you’ve doubled. Are there any talents you’ve doubled that you became friends with, and still keep in touch with?
Shelley Michelle: That’s a good question. Let me think. It’s not like I’m best friends with these people, I think (laughing), but I seem to be brought into celebrity circles because I doubled Julia Roberts, or Kim Basinger, or Madonna, or Sandra Bullock, or Barbra Streisand, or Erika Eleniak. I know who you could say that I’ve doubled and keep in touch with. That would be Rena Riffel…
Johnny: Oh, yeah.
Shelley Michelle: …From Showgirls. Actually, when we did Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven, Rena starred, and I was the supporting villainess actress in that. She used me for a lot of leg shots and doubling shots, so people would think that it was her, Rena. She’s supposed to be the star dancer, so a lot of times I went back, they shot my legs, and then it would go to her.
I keep in touch with Rena, and hopefully she’ll be working with me on my new streaming channel. I think Showgirls 2 will be on there, and more movies she’s directing now. In fact, I just got a call from a director asking if the two of us would be interested in doing a project together, and I said, “Of course!”. We’ve always been great friends, and supported each other in this industry.
Johnny: Well, I look forward to it. That’s a great answer…
Shelley Michelle: Thank you!
Johnny: …And I look forward to your next collaboration.
Shelley Michelle: If you remember, there was also a funny scene in Showgirls 2 where we were in the pool, and for a lot of that, she did not want her body being shot, so they shot a lot of my body. Rena and I look forward to working together in the future on this new streaming platform.
Johnny: Cool. Jumping back to conventions, I hope I word this without offense: When it comes to signing nudes and the like, while explicit personalizations are obviously out of the question, are you okay with sexy, or at least flirty, personalizations if fans ask for them?
Shelley Michelle: Yeah, I’m fine with that, as long as it’s in good taste. In fact, at this last Hollywood show, I put on my Pretty Wuhan poster a picture of my Playboy cover photo from Germany. It’s my bum and my legs, although they had an 8-page layout of me inside that was beautiful, but I did make the cover.
For some reason, everybody wanted me to sign Playboys and sexy photos, and I only mind if they want to say I was with them last night or something (laughing). I mean, you’re there to please the fan, and make everybody jealous of that fan for having met you, so I’m pretty liberal when it comes to that.
Johnny: Alright. While you’re a regular at the Hollywood Show, what’s been the furthest place you’ve traveled to for a convention appearance?
Shelley Michelle: New Orleans. I did an autograph show there. I’ve been asked to do celebrity signing at different conventions. I did one for Viewer’s Choice when I was starring in all my pay-per-view shows for them. I think New Orleans was the furthest I’ve been. I really haven’t gone to Europe yet to sign pictures, but I think that would be a good idea.
Johnny: I could see that happening. I think international travel would be great once we’re allowed to really do it again. I mean, I know we are now, but it’s still up in the air, pardon the pun, but I could see you doing international convention appearances.
Shelley Michelle: Yeah, I would love to. Well, I’ve been to the Cannes Film Festival several times, but I wasn’t really signing autographs there. I was doing television shows and singing, and promoting my music CDs. I was doing interviews on lots of TV shows, and I think it was more appearances than autograph shows, but I think, at this stage in the game, I’m ready to get my book, Confessions Of A Body Double, out there. I also have an upcoming documentary as well that I want to promote, and the first place I do it will be international in France and London and Germany and Spain, all over.
Johnny: Well, here’s to it. I know from our conversations that the book’s going to be great, and you have a lot of great stories to tell. I now come to my final question, and again, I hope it won’t be a problem with me asking this. I’ve asked this question of several of my previous interview subjects in recent years, and now I’d like to ask it of you as well.
You’re a BoomXer, part of the micro-generation born between 1957 and 1963 that, as can be inferred from the name, bridges the Baby Boomers and Generation X. How has being a BoomXer impacted your outlook on the world?
Shelley Michelle: Well, I guess I’m at the tail end of those Boomers, right? (Laughing)
Johnny: I ask this because I’m in a micro-generation myself. I’m an Xennial, part of the micro-generation born between 1977 and 1983 that bridges Generation X and the Millenials. The concept of micro-generations fascinates me because people in micro-generations represent both an older generation and a younger generation at the same time, and that can lead them to have a certain outlook on the world, maybe an idealistic one, possibly a cynical one, or maybe somewhere in-between the two.
Shelley Michelle: I think that’s a good question because being the mother of a teenager is where I really see the difference in generations, especially because we didn’t have computers and cell phones in high school. They have computers and cell phones and ZOOM, and all this interaction with social media. I sometimes wonder, “How did we get through the world?” or “How did we come out so good?”. Right?
Shelley Michelle: I think if you’re older, you need to think younger, absolutely, and to be encouraging to the audience, it keeps you young to take advantage of all this technology, dealing with global warming and all that’s coming up in this Green Generation. I mean, my daughter’s definitely into “Everything’s green and clean. Everything’s going to be electrical”. Save the planet, that’s for sure, and I think you really have to be on with the generation. Thank god I have a teenager because I’m pushed right into it, and I’m very accepting of it. I think if you don’t adapt, you end up short-changing yourself in life, right?
Johnny: Oh, I can definitely see that. I mean, it definitely took me a long time to adapt to where I am now. It wasn’t helped by the fact that, for so many years, I didn’t have real help with my autism spectrum disorder, but I finally started getting it around 2011, and I’ve been able to adapt very well. I’ve been able to achieve the success I have now, so yeah, you really do have to adapt. I’m glad to see you’re doing it. I’m glad to see I’m doing it. Change isn’t a bad thing. It can be a good thing.
Shelley Michelle: Right. Change is something that, at first, may be a shock, but then you will acclimate to it eventually by being exposed and exposed and exposed to things. I’m sure, in your journey, you’ve seen that. Maybe getting over your challenge at first was devastating, but then as you worked at it, you adapted to it. Luckily, we’re kind of like that. We’re adaptable creatures in a way (laughing). You just have to desensitize yourself.
Johnny: I totally get that, and that does it for my questions. I thank you again for taking the time out of your schedule to speak to me. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you.
Shelley Michelle: Oh, you, too. I love talking to you. You’re the best, best, best.
Johnny: Thank you so much.
Shelley Michelle: I adore you, I love you, I respect you. I’m really proud of you.
Johnny: I love and respect you, too.
I would like to thank Shelley Michelle for again taking the time to speak to me. For more about her work, you can follow Shelley on Twitter. Shelley also recently joined Instagram as well, so you can get to know more about her there, too. She’ll be appearing at the next Hollywood Show in California on January 14th and 15th, 2022. If you’re in the area, say hello to her and tell her that Johnny Caps sent you.
Coming soon to the Flashback Interview are conversations with former adult film star and current musician Michele Gabriel, and Oscar-winning sound effects editor Mark A. Mangini. Thank you as always for reading.