Bambi Woods, star of Debbie Does Dallas, one of the most famous adult movie stars of all time, mysteriously disappeared over 20 years ago, and since then, all attempts to track her down and find out what happened to her have been fruitless. Until now.
Today we're pleased to bring you the first of a two part interview with the porn actress with the girl-next-door looks whose movie has passed into pop culture.
First of all, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.
You're welcome Steve. It's nice to say thank you to people who have cared about me for all these years.
Let's begin with the question of your real name. Various reports have said it's Debbie Benson, Debbie De Santo or Barbara Woodson. And, of course, your stage name of Bambi Woods. I'm guessing none of these are right - so, what should we call you?
You're right, none of those are right. I used Debbie as a fake name when I did porn. No-one has come close to my real name which is why I guess I've been left alone all these years! You're welcome to call me "Debbie" though.
Your wikipedia entry says that you were born in Pierre, South Dakota in 1958. Can you tell us a little more about where you are originally from, and where you grew up?
I've never been to South Dakota in my life and was born in 1955, not 1958. I grew up in a town two hours flight out of New York. My family still lives there today.
The stories say you had a very religious catholic background, and went to High School on Long Island. Were you a cheerleader?
My family was religious but not in an extreme way. I did go to a catholic high school but not on Long Island I was never a cheerleader. In fact, the school I went to didn't have cheerleaders!
So you would been 22 or 23 when the movie came out. What happened to you in the few years after leaving school and before the movie opened?
Like all girls I thought about going to college but my grades weren't good enough. I wanted to be an actress so went to New York. I was in New York for 18 months before I did the movie and some friends of mine had met a guy who was into the porn scene and they introduced me to people involved with the movie. Never in a million years did I think that it would be anything like what it became and if I had known I would never have done it! I just thought it was easy money at a time when I had none.
It's also said you ran away from school, and got married and divorced within a year, hitchiking across country to San Francisco.
Wrong on all counts. I finished high school and didn't run away from home and I had never been married when I did the movie and I didn't hitchhike to San Francisco. I have no idea where these stories come from.
Haha - so much for my research. Well, how about this - the publicity for Debbie Does Dallas said you were an ex-Dallas Cowgirl cheerleader - I think you even claimed that in one of the trailers. Jim Clark, the director, says the the whole movie was inspired by that story. Did you ever even try out for them? Or was that all just a promotional gimmick?
I have never been to Texas in my life. I was a complete no-body when I did that movie and was working in a store in Manhattan when I got the movie. I can't remember the name of the store but it was on Broadway. It just used to sell groceries.
So tell us how you first heard about the movie
I remember I was having a drink with my girlfriends at the time and one of them had been in a porn movie which never even got released. I think she got $50 for half a day from memory. Seems like nothing now but at the time it seemed like a lot when you had no money. She introduced me to this guy whose name I can't remember and the next thing I know I had an offer to be in a movie. It wasn't until they met me that the whole Debbie thing was put together.
Where did the name "Bambi Woods" come from? Jim Clark (the Director)?
I think so. I didn't make it up, it was just told to me.
Some scenes from the movie were shot at Brooklyn College, and the Pratt Institute in New York. What do you remember about the shooting?
It didn't take long at all. We could only be there at certain times and we all thought it was hilarious as to what we were doing on college grounds. I can't remember now how long it took but it was only a matter of days. This was a very low budget movie and everything was done as fast as possible.
Herschel Savage, one of the actors in the movie, claims he got paid about $150 a day. Do you remember what they paid you?
I remember vividly. $400!! Pretty good money for one of the biggest movies of all time, hey?
And yet, it'is claimed to be one of the five top grossing adult movies in history - do you feel sad that you haven't been able to share more of that wealth?
Not really. Because it caused me and my family such a lot of grief at the time that sort of takes away from wanting to still be involved with it.
Your co-star in the movie - R Bolla, who played Mr. Greenfield - says that the two of you went out on a date once.
No. We did go out with a group of people after the shooting but not a date by ourselves. I wasn't attracted to him at all and felt very uncomfortable shooting that scene with him.
Tell us about when the movie opened. Where did you first see the finished movie?
To be honest it wasn't a big deal to any of us at the time. We got paid and that was the end of that. I wasn't going to do another one as I didn't enjoy the first one and then the lawsuit happened and people were trying to find me to get me to go to court and that was when I sort of stopped talking to people.
(A note of explanation here. Soon after the film came out, The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders filed a lawsuit against Pussycat Cinemas, Ltd for trademark infringement. While the Cowboys are never specifically named in the movie, the outfit Debbie wears in the final scene looks suspiciously like the ones the real cheerleaders wore. And the filmmakers' case was probably not helped by promotional material they put out with phrases such as "Starring Ex Dallas Cowgirl Cheerleader Bambi Woods" and "You'll do more than cheer for this X Dallas Cheerleader" - claims which, as "Debbie" now confirms, were completely false)
How did you feel about the press the film received when it came out?
The press was all negative to start with because it was to do with the law suit. I was terrified about getting in trouble somehow and everyone wanted to know whether I had really tried out for the cheerleaders and where I was from and I just knew that what I thought was going to be a nothing movie was going to get back to my parents. I never thought they would see it. I rang home and that's how I found out they knew. I guess they read it in the paper along with the rest of America. Scary time.
How about rest of the cast? Did you know any of them prior to the movie? Any anecdotes to share? Did you keep in touch with them?
I didn't know any of the cast before that movie and don't keep in touch with them. The only person I still talk to from those days is a girl who was in quite a few movies and went by the name of Desiree Cousteau. We met at a club in New york and are still good friends to this day. Our kids play together.
Was that the Melody Burlesque Theater?
That's the name I was trying to think of! Well done. Where did you read that? That was so long ago. You've sure done your research! After it (the movie) became famous I took advantage of that for awhile and I'd go to the parties and meet famous people and so on. I started working at the club in New York after the movie happened. A lot of big name porn stars would work there and celebrities would come and meet me. It made me feel special for awhile.
I'm not sure how long I worked there for but it was quite awhile. We just made enough money to get food and drugs and that was pretty much all we did. At the time no-one thought cocaine was bad for you and dope was everywhere and it really was a pretty wild time. I actually got very sick of the attention and worked in a club for about 6 months as a hostess, died my hair and cut it all off and tried to disappear. I think you can pretend to be something you don't want to be for awhile but eventually you have to get away from it.
Tomorrow, in the second and final part of our interview, "Debbie" talks about making the sequel to Debbie Does Dallas, quashes some more of the rumors that have grown around her, and tells us what she's been doing since.