CYNTHIA MYERS

RETROCRUSH INTERVIEWS THE STAR OF BEYOND THE VALLEY
OF THE DOLLS AND THE #10 PLAYMATE OF THE CENTURY

Cynthia Meyers pictorials were some of Playboy's most popular and recently she was voted Playboy's 10th Playmate of the Century. Cynthia also starred in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls which is being released on a special 2 disc DVD set on June 13th. On the eve of her Dolls multi-city promotional tour Cynthia took some time to speak with us.

How did you become a Playboy Playmate?

When we went swimming in the quarries of Ohio so many people would say, "You should be in Playboy magazine." A friend of mine said the same thing. I remember going through his magazine and finding a picture of DeDe Lynn. I went through the other pictures to see if Iím in that category. Can I look as good as these other girls? I sent in a Polaroid.

Where you on spring break from college?

No, I was still in high school. They took my pictures at 17, but they held them until I was 18.

Where did they take your playboy photos?

Because so many in Playboy where California girls they were trying to break the mold. Theyíd always say, "There are so many places. Why are they always from California? Why are they all blonde and on the beach." Since I was from Toledo, OH they thought it would be a catchy phrase to name me "Holy Toledo".

That was cute, but I didnít get to shoot in an exotic place. They wanted me to be the hometown girl. The most exotic place I got to go was in front of the library in Toledo. I was disappointed because I know they flew other playmates to Jamaica or under a waterfall, and I was back in my hometown taking a picture in my front yard.

They must get permission to do that right in front of the library?

The shots were of the girl next door. Youíve got clothes on and youíre going to check out a book.

People talk about how the Playboys from the 1960ís and 70ís were so much more natural looking.

It seems like when Marilyn Monroe emerged then you had the Jayne Mansfield and the Diana Doors, and 4 or 5 copies. They didnít have individuality. The playmates that I looked at in the 60ís and the 70ís thereíd be a beautiful redhead and sheíd have freckles or a beautiful brunette and they all had their own individuality.

Then Pamela Anderson came to the forefront and a lot of the girls thought this was the standard of beauty for Playboy so everybody got the same hairdo and literally the same body because you could do that. There was no plastic surgery with the girls of the 60ís and 70ís so we were the real deal. I donít think thereís anything wrong with what the girls do today. I think theyíre all beautiful. I personally wish they would be more true to themselves as far as their individuality. You donít have to be that color blonde just because somebody else is.

You were also in Playboy after Dark with Hugh Hefner.

Mr. Hefner asked if Iíd like to be part of the regular cast and I was very flattered. I said I would love to. It was so nice to be able to go to work and find out who the guests were that day. To be right there on the living room set with Tony Bennett, Three Dog night and other very talented people that you normally would go see their films or concerts. Here I get to be in the same room, have a front row seat, and get paid for it.

You were friends with Bill Bixby?

I was taking an acting class. I was getting a lot of offers to pursue a career in Hollywood. He gave me some good advice.

He told you to have a real orgasm in the lesbian scene in Dolls.

I had played this over in my head so much that I was getting a permanent migraine with so many thoughts of whatís my mother, father, grandfather going to say. Ten years down the line am I going to say I wish I hadnít done it? He put my mind at ease. If youíre worried so much about pretending just donít pretend. Just do it.

You dated Burt Lancaster?

I feel like a Mae West line, "What a man!" To possess something that you want to put in words, but the only thing you can think of is charisma. Just to walk into a room and be yourself. Not try to be clever, handsome, or whatever. Just to be that person is very rare indeed.

Burt was like that.

Oh yes. He couldnít think of what all the fuss was about. It was sort of a long, quiet relationship. Weíd discuss my acting coach and Hollywood in general. The trappings you can fall into. He was very kind that way.

Did you audition for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls?

Now that Russ is gone I canít ask him how it all happened. I heard rumors he was friends with Mr. Hefner from the old days when Eve Meyer was a playmate. With his glamour photography he had shot two or three playmates. I guess Russ saw my picture and he tried to contact me.

Thatís when I was traveling between Chicago and the Playboy after Dark show. I either didnít get the message or maybe it was sent to me and I was rushing out the door for the airport. I think he was casting Vixen! I finally did get the message when he was doing Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. That meeting went well and then there was a screen test. I decided I better find a place to live out here Iím going to shoot a movie in two weeks. I stayed and it turned out to be a very fun, interesting adventure.

You were dating Michael Blodgett from Dolls for awhile.

It was short, extracurricular activity to break the daily monotony. Actually, there was nothing monotonous about anything.

John Lazar and Michael Blodgett didnít get along very well?

I donít think they did any male bonding.

There was a scene that was cut with an executive coming after you.

I was looking forward to that and Russ with his humor would have shot it in a very funny way. Itís just up his alley with his humor. The big Hollywood Producer who is rotund with his feet up on the desk. Hey baby, Iím going to make you a star.

He was to lock me in his office and chase me around the desk and slowly tear my clothes off, but it was to be played in a comical way. Russ could do comedy and drama at the same time. He was clever at doing that. I wish we would have had time to shoot that and put it in.

Some of the extra film footage for Dolls is missing.

Thereís a scene where they had aged Dolly and she was in casket. They did a whole storyline with that. Russ decided against it and went another direction.

Had you had a lesbian experience before you shot the scene in Dolls?

No, I had never had any lesbian experiences before. What made it okay with me and where I was comfortable is that I like Erica. Sheís a great lady and a nice person.

She had a crush on you.

I didnít know that. I blushed when she told me that. I just thought she was an extraordinary actress. I didnít have a clue. I was naÔve.

She was supposed to be the seductress, but she was rather shy because she had her girlfriend in the movie.

There were certain days were Iíd say, "Weíre going against the storyline here. Youíre supposed to be pursuing me." There were times that she was a little bit late coming to the set or Iíd see her talking to Russ. Then I found out. Erica would say well, "BeBe is staring at us. Thatís the girl Iíve been dating."

Iíd look over and Iíd get this terrible evil eye from this girl I didnít even know. I thought, "How rude! Weíre trying to make a good film here and you want to throw a wrench in todayís shooting by staring me down."

It could have been a catfight at that point.

It wasnít professional for her to do something like that. Since she knew her Erica should have said, "This isnít the time or place to pout."

Where there other scenes you worried about?

Not really. The only disappointment was not doing the Hollywood actress/lecherous producer scene which I think would have been hilarious. It would have shown another side to my character other than being a singer and not trusting men, then succumbing to Erica.

Dolls is a great movie.

Iíll find that with any films that I watch late at night on the Independent Film Channel. Iíll be half reading something or Iíll hear a line or Iíll see a scene and Iíll go, "What in the world is that?" I say that a lot when I watch Dolls. I think, "This is too much. This is hilarious."

Even when you watch it multiple times you start to notice lines you catch that are thrown in.

Russ is very, very clever. You see the film for the first time and you walk out of the theater and you wonder, "What was that?" I said, "Russ, youíre very clever. Youíve made a film people have to see two or three times to figure out." Thatís the fun part of it.

What if when Z-man shot you it was just a minor flesh wound and your character survived. Where do you think your character would be today?

I never thought of it that way.

I imagine she would mourn the death of her girlfriend.

That could have gone in 10 different directions. I probably would have attended the wedding by myself. I wasnít the type to go out and pick up another lady so quickly.

Do you have a favorite memory of Russ Meyer?

He was so cute he took me to a Jefferson Airplane concert and he was so prim and proper on a date situation to pick me up and take me to this concert. He wanted me to see a female rock singer. During a concert break he looked over and asked, "Do you think this is helpful?"

Do you think that was the normal music he listened to?

No, I think Russ was more of a Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra sort of a fellow.

You lived above where the Manson murders happened.

My house was just above Cielo Drive were the murders took place. I heard the dogs barking in the canyon. Thatís not so unusual except this night it was more ominous. It was like something very eerie. The dogs werenít barking like they usually did where they see a rabbit or another dog. This was a howl. Itís almost indescribable. I remember saying to my friend, "Theyíve never acted like this before. Something is happening." It would be like a pack of dogs and there was a kill. It was a frenzy. Thatís how the sound was. Low and behold it was. I had been to that house.

I love architecture. Mr. Hefner, a few friends and I went there. I was interested because it was Jean Harlowís old house. I heard it was beautiful. I used the powder room. Eddie Fisher had given me his wedding ring from his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor. It was a gold rope design. When you washed your hands the soap would get caught in it so I always removed it and put it back on.

That night I left it on the bathroom sink. I thought, "Oh heck!" I called the house and told them I left my ring there. The houseboy said, "Donít worry its safe. You can pick it up later." The next night the murders happened and I thought as much as the ring meant to me I just thought Iím not going to get such an incidental thing after such a tragedy. I just wrote it off as being lost. People left town they thought they were going to come after other people who were acquaintances.

You dated Eddie Fisher for awhile.

We were good friends. He knew my passion for horses. He had a friend who raised thoroughbreds. He invited me out to his friendís ranch one time.

Youíre a big James Bond fan. Which one is your favorite?

Probably Goldfinger and With Love from Russia.

Iíve read you were psychic?

No. Playboy they take a lot of liberties. I wanted my Playboy layout to show my passion for horses. In showing hunters and jumpers, I ride English. There was a Playmate who had done her layout that was pretty recent about horses. They thought we need to come up with something different.

Any advice youíd give an actress in trying to work in Hollywood?

Stick to your gut feeling. If youíre asked to do something or youíre put in a position or asked to do something. Go with the initial gut feeling. I stayed safe because I always thought, "What would my mother say."

Remember to study with an acting coach or workshop. It just shows youíre serious. There are so many pretty people. If youíre really serious then youíll want to study. It will happen.

You were voted the 10th Playmate of the Century.

That was a nice honor to get after all these years. I remember I opened a piece of fan mail and it was a nice card congratulating me on being number 10. I thought maybe I was just number 10 in his book. That he was complimenting me. He had seen the magazine before I did.

To be chosen number 10 I just about fell out of my chair, I teared up. I almost fainted. What a nice honor. I got such a good feeling of gee, it was all worthwhile. Iím appreciated and everybody wants to feel that way. It was so sweet of Mr. Hefner or the voters. I humbly thank everybody who was responsible for that because all the girls are so beautiful. Each one is beautiful in their own right.

Youíre still so beautiful. You donít have a painting in your room with all kinds of icky stuff on it?

I wouldnít be opposed to being Dorian Gray. Though, it didnít work out so well for him. Thank you for the compliment. I go down to town; I socialize when I see my friends and people who like the movie. Iím a country girl and I stay out in the country. Itís pretty stress free.

Iím sure people would like to see you riding naked on a horse. Youíre a bit of a mom too.

My son still bugs me about what happened to that guitar you used to play. My son loves to play the guitar. It all boils down to if I knew now what I knew then. We all say that. Iíd asked Russ if I could have a few more takes and I could experiment more with my character, all kinds of little things.

With the release of Dolls where you a local girl makes good back in Ohio?

I donít think Ohio was ready for it. I didnít know if I was going to be welcomed or tarred and feathered and hung out somewhere. You couldnít help but walk out of the theater and go, "Wow that was something!"

Russ faded after Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

My agent Siouxzan Perry and I gave him a lifetime achievement award at a benefit. It was so sad you could see in his eyes the struggle to try and remember. He did know he was surrounded by people that cared about him. He knew he was being recognized. That was painful. I have to thank Siouxzan Perry, my manager who I met through a website about Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

It wasnít a lesbian sex chat room?

No, it was strictly a Beyond the Valley of the Dolls fan site. Sheís such an admirer of the genius of the film. We became good friends. I wish Russ was alive and well today. Sheís done more for this film than 20th Century Fox ever thought of doing. Sheís recognized what a cult movie it is. Sheís just visionary that way, to keep the film alive.

Youíre getting new generations of fans for the movie.

Itís going to be a lot of fun to go out to the screenings and see the reactions of the people. Iím going to have just as much fun as they are.

You donít mind hanging with Trannies?

I donít know. I just hear good things. I hear thereís appreciation for Russ Meyerís masterpiece. I have so many gay boys that come up to me or e-mail me and they want to know about my eyelashes in the film. Itís so cute.

How do you do that?

Itís just a little trick I picked up. It just comes natural. I strategically place a few eyelashes and all of a sudden I get that look. I get a lot of compliments.

The movie is so campy that the gay community should embrace it. I think the difficult character to accept might be Z-man.

How do they feel about that? Is he portrayed in a poor light in the gay community because of his aggressiveness?

What about Z-manís breasts?

I thought that the special effects could have been better for his breasts. There was more attention to his breast. They had a heck of a time deciding how theyíd stick on and what kind of spirit gum they were going to use.

Youíre shot in the head.

Russ kept calling, "We need more blood." My mother felt terrible. She said, "I felt so bad when you died honey." I said, "Mom, itís just a movie mom."

Your agent Siouxzan Perry even got you an LA gig.

Iím hoping that Fox will go back to their original plan and have another premiere here at the Pantages Theatre where the original was. All the people at Fox have to do is pick up the telephone. Siouxzan would carry the ball from there. It's a shame she didn't get credit on the DVD. Without her the DVD would have never happened.

For many of the stars of Dolls it was their first big movie.

It was very scary because nobody wants to have eggs on their face on a 60 foot screen. The pressure that I put upon myself was big because I wanted to do a good job. I knew I was inexperienced. It was the best rollercoaster Iíve ever been on. All of our hearts were really right there.

I just wanted to come across okay. It made more than Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and that was a good movie. Time magazine ranked us as one of the top 10 movies of the year. Itís time for us to come out and show people this is a hidden little treasure and everybody should come see it.

-Randy Waage
randy@retrocrush.com

Special Thanks to Siouxzan Perry for arranging these interviews with the Beyond the Valley of the Dolls cast and for working tirelessly to get the special edition DVD of Dolls out to the public.


Check out Cynthia Myers official website at: www.cynthiamyers.com
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls 2 disc Special Edition DVD comes out June 13th!

Am I going to be coming to a city near you?

See the movie and meet the stars: John Lazar, Erica Gavin, and Cynthia Myers:
June 10th - Austin, Texas - Rolling Road Show
June 13th - Los Angeles, California - at the Grove
July 7th/8th - San Francisco, California - Midnight Mass with Peaches Christ
July 21st/22nd - Phoenix, Arizona - Midnight Movie Mamacita

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