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So L.A. : Angelyne & Me : What's the Story Behind the Billboard? Share the Pain of One Who Tried to Find Out.

April 23, 1995|AJAY SAHGAL | Ajay Sahgal is a novelist. His last article for the magazine was on poet Wyn Cooper

I'm guessing you drive around this city more than you care to, but then that's life in Los Angeles. You have to do it, so you try to make the best of it. Talk radio helps. So do books on tape. Some of you even read (don't shake your heads--I've seen you, People magazine propped on the steering wheel). And sometimes you even look out. What do you see?

Billboards. Chances are, you pass one every day that you can't figure out: An overly buxom blond woman, dressed in pink, reclining on a pink Corvette. The name Angelyne is written across the photo. You know the one I'm talking about. Down in the corner you see the word management and a phone number. You probably think: "Who is Angelyne?" But do you bother to find out? Do you call the number? No.

I do.

I have lived in Los Angeles all my life, I have seen Angelyne billboards almost every day for 10 years and I have no idea who this woman is.

"Hello and welcome to Angelyne Management Co.," says a peppy male British voice, a recording. It gives me information on the fan club and another phone number I can call to join. Then it tells me to leave a message. I do not call the fan club hot line. I leave a message stating my intention to do a profile of Angelyne.

A few hours later, I get a call from Scott Hennig, who says he is calling from Angelyne Inc. He asks me about the intended article, and I tell him that this will more or less be the standard celebrity profile.

Hennig says he'll ask Angelyne and get back to me.

*

The celebrity profile I envisioned should have gone something like this:

"Angelyne walks into: a) the bar at Musso & Frank Grill b) the lobby of the Chateau Marmont c) Swingers, wearing her skin-tight hot pink ensemble, oozing fame. She gives her order for: a) a bottle of Ty Nant water--still b) a caffe latte c) milk, and then attempts to flirt with me. The Angelyne experience has begun."

This would gratify certain expectations that readers have come to share, and it might have actually told people something about the woman whose form is draped all over Los Angeles. But this is Angelyne, and apparently things are done Angelyne's way or no way at all.

"When can we meet?" I ask.

"Angelyne's too busy right now," Scott Hennig says. "It's best if this interview was done over the phone."

"But I'm looking to get a different kind of piece here," I say. "I want to get a look at who the woman is, the woman behind the billboards."

"I'm going to fax you some information and clippings on Angelyne," he offers. "Look them over."

"When can I meet her?" I ask again.

Hennig says he'll talk to Angelyne and get back to me.

*

I dig around. I do research. I investigate. That's my job.

I have seen Angelyne in person perhaps half a dozen times. She's almost invariably in her car, a hot-pink Corvette with a license plate that reads LEAN LUV. She has always been driving in the opposite direction, so my Angelyne experiences have been more or less through the rearview mirror.

I have a friend who claims to have been at a party in Laurel Canyon in 1986 when Angelyne walked in with KROQ-FM deejay Rodney Bingenheimer. My friend didn't talk to her.

Another friend was at an ATM machine on Fairfax and Beverly in 1990. Angelyne was next in line. He got her to autograph his receipt. I ask to see this receipt but am told it was lost years ago.

Someone else I ask says that he saw her at the then-raging nightclub Power Tools in 1987. Calls to the guys that ran Power Tools go unanswered.

The press materials that Scott Hennig faxes over reveal that Angelyne has recorded four albums and appeared in at least 15 movies and hundreds of TV shows. I rent "Earth Girls Are Easy" and "Homer & Eddie," her more well-known film roles. Total combined screen time: 80 seconds. Long shots, passing shots, looped dialogue. I go over it all, frame by frame. In this day and age, considering our computer technology (see "Forrest Gump"), I'm not entirely convinced of the existence of a person called Angelyne.

There are those billboards. There are those who have seen her (or so they claim). All I can be sure of seeing is that Corvette and a flash of blond hair, maybe red lipstick. There are 80 seconds of screen time. Angelyne is still an enigma.

My thoughts lead to only one place: conspiracy. Possibly reaching to the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Hennig calls back and tells me that because of a series of wardrobe fittings, Angelyne will not be able to meet with me.

"Wardrobe fittings," I say. "Wardrobe fittings for what?"

A long pause, silence over the phone line.

"Perhaps you should ask Angelyne that," he says finally.

"I'd like to ask her in person," I say. "It's impossible to get a full picture of someone until you've met them."

"That all depends on how you write it," he offers. (Helpful writing tip from Scott Hennig, I think; I'll try to remember that.)

"I need to meet her, or I'm afraid this just won't work," I bluff.

Hennig says he'll ask Angelyne and get back to me.

*

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