Ode to the Robert Palmer Girls

I’ve been busy as a little bee with many writing projects, but everything came to a screeching halt a few days ago when I got an email out of the blue from a guy named Marc Tyler Nobleman.

He’s an author—calls himself a pop culture archeologist, actually. He writes about all kinds of things, but contacted me because he’s doing a second set of interviews with ingénues from iconic music videos of the 80s, and he wanted to ask me about the Billy Joel video I did in 1989, We Didn’t Start the Fire.

Marc finds and interviews women from 80s music videos who didn’t become household names and gets their story, which I love, of course, because I’m one of them. I was going through his list of “The Girl in the Video” women, and he found all five of the original Robert Palmer girls! It made me realize we went through years of emulating those women and never even knew their names.

For many auditions I was instructed to look like a Robert Palmer girl. When I was a trophy girl at the 1988 Emmy Awards, we were all dressed as Robert Palmer girls. When we shot the Weird Al Yankovic video, UHF, we were Robert Palmer girls only wearing Weird Al glasses and mustaches.

The prop guy brought reading glasses, so we all had Weird Al headaches by the end of the day.
For a solid decade, I sashayed to every interview in a tight black dress and gloppy red lipstick with my hair slicked back, and I sat in the waiting room of many a photographer and casting director looking at many versions of myself, all vying for the same jobs.

So, thank you to Marc for doing some digging and finding these women. And thank you, Robert Palmer girls, for setting the 80s beauty standard that kept me employed.

Julie Pankhurst, Patty Elias (Patty Kelly), Kathy Davies, Mak Gilchrist, and Julia Bolino, I bow to you. I shift my weight back and forth in black stilettos holding a guitar to you. Ladies, you rock.