Man it was a long time ago. Maybe the early 80s? Yeah that sounds right so let's go with it. It was the wary 80s, I was maybe 13 or 14, give or take. Whatever my actual age, I was young, physically and emotionally. I was a shy kid anyway, from a small school, in a small town.
I was lucky enough to have a television in my bedroom at home, so I had some freedom to watch television without parental permission or scrutiny. That liberty comes with the caveat that there was no cable, so no late night skinimax or HBO. No, I was stuck with the three networks and PBS. The most risque thing I could normally hope to catch was the Celebrity Battle of the Network Stars. Until that night when I found All That Jazz.
Now while I was a definite TV addict, I was not really one for musicals. I grew up watching late night horror movies with my dad. As a young kid I also enjoyed a cowboy flick, and eventually became a fan of those guest star studded series like The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. Basically I'm trying to say I don’t know how I ended up even giving All That Jazz a chance. But flipping channels I came across it and lingered a bit. With only having a handful of selections maybe I flipped around a few times before either I settled on it. But whatever happened I ended up watching it long enough.
You may know where this is going. Yeah eventually the movie got around to THAT scene. Airotica, a very sexualized dance scene featuring maybe a dozen dancers of both sexes. Now if you haven't seen it, it's hot. It starts out sensual and gets hotter, ended with quite a bit of nudity.
|Sandahl Bergman and me at Pensacon|
Remember now, this was before streaming media, before internet porn, basic cable (at least where I lived) and you just didn't see nudity on the TV. It was a time when VCR’s were still expensive and some what rare. To say I was in shock would be an understatement.. It was a very happy exuberant shock, but still shock. There in front of my eyes, in my very bedroom, on my television were several sexy, mostly naked dancing women, and one of them was a goddess.
That goddess, blonde, statuesque, and beautiful, dancing in nothing more than heels and a thong was Sandahl Bergman. She made an impression, an impression I have yet, and probably never will forget. Enough of an impression that I was able to find out her name. Which was a bit of a feat back in the dark days before Wikipedia and IMDB. Maybe I didn’t know who she was until I saw her in Conan the Barbarian a few years later, but I think I knew her before then. Who knows the memory becomes a bit tricky after 30 years.
The point is she made an impression. She is the first woman I can remember seeing naked. Now I know she wasn't the first. I vaguely remember a school mate bring a worn and wrinkled girly magazine to school once. There was a naked woman but that's about all I can tell you about that experience. This was different. This was a woman who was moving, walking, dancing, shaking her long mane of blonde hair.
It was a fairly short dance scene, but it seemed to last forever. I was glued to every movement by Sandahl and the other dancers. It was my first real taste of growing up. I followed Sandal's career though Conan, Hell Comes to Frogtown, Red Sonja and other films before finally, I let her slide toward the back of my mind. She didn't seem to be making as many high profile films (If you can call Hell Comes to Frogtown high profile). So she slid to the background, but I never totally forgot her.
Now I'm older, a little more experienced and a lot more jaded and world weary. I can still remember All That Jazz though. I still remember Sandahl Bergman. That's why I was so incredibly excited when she was announced as a guest at Pensacon's 2017 convention. I finally get to meet that golden haired goddess who stole into my room that night. On Feb 18th, 2017 I did just that.
I was nervous which says a lot. Over the last ten years, I have met a lot of celebrities. I have met them at conventions, interviewed them in person and over Skype and hung out in bars with them. I don't get excited or nervous very often, but this time I did. I had decided to tell her this story, but now I was getting cold feet.
|Autographed photo of Sandahl Bergman as Valeria|
Would she find the story perverted? Would I look perverted telling it? Would I stutter or drool. OK I think I did stutter a little, but I got it out. She laughed, grabbed my hand and told me what an awesome story it was. Readers of this article may disagree, but Sandahl liked it and that's all that mattered. We ended up chatting several minutes, before I picked out a nice 8x10 of her as Valeria to sign. I got a photo with her, said goodbye and she thanked me for sharing my story, then I went on my way.
It was just a shirt meeting between a celebrity guest and their fan. Just one of thousands of meetings at Pensacon, which is one of hundreds of conventions, but for me it was a lot more. It was meeting a vision from the past. It was taking a trip back to another time. A time of innocence and beauty, when my whole life lay in front of me. When my parents were still alive and I wasn't as closely acquainted to death as I am today. A time when a golden haired beauty danced on the screen of a small television, lighting up the screen and igniting my heart.
Thank you Sandahl