Ann Curless, one of the three singers in the hot dance-music group Expose, recalled an embarrassing incident in a San Jose club last fall.
Curless and her colleagues Jeanette Jurado and Gioia Bruno--all in their early 20s--are really Expose II. They had replaced the original trio, which had one of the biggest dance hits of 1985, "Point of No Return," plus another sizable dance hit, "Exposed to Love."
Since the first group was well-known on the dance circuit, some observant fans realized they were seeing a totally different unit.
"There were some hecklers in the audience," said Curless with a shudder. "They gave us a hard time. They were yelling, 'You're not Expose. I want my money back.' Man, was that upsetting. It was one of our first appearances together. We were just getting our choreography together and we were just getting our confidence level up. And then zap!--they nailed us. It makes you want to run and hide.
"It took a few months for people to forget the old members. The first hit for the new members changed all that."
Curless was referring to "Come Go With Me," a great dance single that also became a Top 5 pop hit, featuring lead vocals by Jurado. Then they redid "Point of No Return," which also shot into the Top 5 on the pop chart. (Adding to the confusion: Nu Shooz's popular 1986 single of the same name, an entirely different song.)
Expose's current single, "Let Me Be the One," is a hit, too. All these songs are on the first Expose album, "Exposure," which has sold more than 850,000 copies for Arista Records since early this year.
Why is there a new Expose?
You would have thought that, sensing success, the old members--lead singer Ale Lorenzo, Laurie Miller and Sandee Casanas--would have stuck around. They didn't have an album deal, but with two big dance singles it should have been relatively easy to get one. In fact, two big dance singles would normally mean an automatic opportunity to make an album.
But Arista Records, which released the original singles, wasn't eager to invest in the old Expose. The word was that those women had the wrong look and little star potential. The official word is that they left to start solo careers. But according to an Arista Records source who asked to remain anonymous, what really happened is that they were fired and this new trio was hired.
(In a separate interview, former member Laurie Miller said she left the group because she lost interest after the other two originals, Lorenzo and Casanas, departed. While she admitted the first group's exit was bitter and abrupt, she wouldn't say the members were fired. But she did say that another ex-member, Sandee Casanas, got a "raw deal." In another interview, Casanas would only say that she left for a solo career.
(All these personnel changes happened, Miller said, after the recording sessions for the album had begun. Though all three former members sing on the album, none receives performance credit. Both Miller and Casanas currently have solo deals on Atlantic Records to make dance singles. The other former member, Ale Lorenzo, Miller noted, is currently not in the business.)
The source said Arista's head man, Clive Davis, wasn't particularly interested in Expose last year, even after those two dance hits. Hiring a more dynamic, charismatic new trio didn't change his mind either. Davis is simply skeptical about signing dance acts to album contracts because they have no longevity.
The Arista source said that the pop chart success of "Come Go With Me" inspired Davis to rethink his attitude. According to Curless, it was Davis' idea to have the new trio redo "Point of No Return" and aim it at the pop market. With a third hit single and the album well on its way to the 1-million sales mark, Davis is quite proud of his new band.
Surprisingly, there are remnants of the original group on the "Exposure" album. "Exposed to Love" is the version recorded by the first trio. The initial printings of the album included "Point of No Return" by the original trio. Later printings feature the new group's recording of the song.
Curless and company, who are based in Miami, were residing at a West Hollywood hotel during a recent local visit for a Universal Amphitheatre date. The bright, personable Curless was sitting at the breakfast table in her room, relishing a day off from performing. The interview obviously wasn't serious business for Curless, who was smiling and joking a lot.
Curless is still startled by her sudden success: "I don't like to dwell on this because every artist with their first record must say the same thing, but all this really is hard to believe.
"Last year at this time, I had just graduated from college (the University of Miami, with a degree in music and music merchandising) and I was nobody. I was singing in a Top 40 band, one of many Top 40 bands I sang in when I was in college. I had dreams of getting further, but I wasn't sure I ever would. But I got a break."