The year was 1982 and I was 7 years old. I didn’t really play with kids my own age because the people closest to me were older cousins and an aunt (ten years older than me). They were my keepers, which meant if they wanted to go out they had to take me with them. So I found myself at many a basement parties and watching very unsuitable movies like the classic (and still one of my favorites) Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). At the time, I didn’t understand a lot of the sex jokes but the scene with Phoebe Cates coming out of the pool with slicked back hair, red bikini and hot red lips didn’t require a whole lot of explanation. I didn’t know who she was. I had never seen her before but I did know that I could identify with her.
I was born in 1974 and was a true child of the 80’s. Blonde, blue eyed models and actresses ruled the screen and magazine pages in my issues of Seventeen and YM. Sure, I thought they were beautiful and alluring but I couldn’t feel a connection. Phoebe had dark hair and an exotic look to her. She could easily pass as Caucasian but there was something ambiguous about her that you couldn’t place her ethnicity.
I thank the internet gods for Google because you can pretty much dig up history on just about anyone you wanted (and didn’t want to know).
Phoebe Cates, born Phoebe Belle Katz on July 16, 1963 in NYC. Her ethnic roots? Russian Jewish and Chinese/Filipino. I knew there was a reason I related to her. Being half Filipina myself, she really appealed to me. She was one of my first girl crushes of my youth. She was a teen model in Seventeen magazine, she easily transitioned into acting. Her look was appealing because she looked like the girl next door. Even though the 80’s weren’t as diverse as today, it’s nice to know that a dark haired girl with dark looks still passed as the typical girl next door, albeit an exotic one.
Okay back to that iconic pool scene in Fast Times…I didn’t understand what she and Jennifer Jason Leigh were doing to those carrot sticks or question what Judge Reinhold was doing to himself in the bathroom. All I could think was “wow, she is so beautiful and perfect…I hope to look like that when I grow up.” I still have that wish.
When I think of Phoebe, I think of her shiny dark hair and red lips. To channel you inner beauty icon, take the one thing that gal (or guy) is known for and rock it! I know most people think RED BIKINI when they think of Phoebe Cates, but come on, I wouldn’t go that far even on my thinnest day!
Still curious about Phoebe? Please check out her bio on IMDB. Her son, Owen Kline stared in one of my favorite films, The Squid and The Whale (2005). I love that she’s married to Kevin Kline, proving that a true man with a sense of humor and intelligence can score a chick like Phoebe!
Phoebe is still lovelier than ever!
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