You may or may not remember when WFME ran into Scott Baio, but the underground fandom for him and his movies seems to continue with the World’s famous support for his “I’m going to use my telekenetic powers to strip off women’s bras” movie, Zapped! It was a time of wonderful reckless abandon…
This week, WFME re-introduces our WFME Interview feature by getting you straight into the mind of Thom Rafferty, one of the past Managers of the Zapped! online fan club. Boasting more than 730 members, it is indeed a subcultre that should not be ignored.
1. What’s your name?
2. Youâ€™re a part of the Zapped fan club online, can you tell me more about the club?
It was created at Excite by an Englishman named Max Fenn on July 19th, 1999. Within one month I discovered it because I routinely troll the internet for anything new about “Zapped!” That’s how I discovered the references on your website. When Excite stopped sponsoring clubs it moved to Lycos and when Lycos stopped sponsoring clubs it moved again to MSN. The club exists to be a central collection point of all things related to the film, it’s cast and crew, and to allow members to add their own views.
3. Number of members?
The last time I checked there were 735 members in the club. Most members “lurk” which means they never post anything themselves but view the postings of others. The current manager is an Englishman named Peter Gibson. “Zapped!” seems to appeal to the English. Perhaps there is a Benny Hill quality to it.
4. Your position within that club?
No-one has a “position” other than the manager. I took a turn as manager after Max Fenn and before Peter Gibson. Presently I am a frequent poster. Max and I collaborated on several Zapped! projects including the “Scenes-In-Depth” where we figure out how the special effects were done, “The Senior Edition” which is a school publication referenced a few times in the film but never shown and “Zapped! Funnies” in which phony word bubbles were put onto scenes in the film.
WILLIE AAMES: Hey Scott, I read the pilot script for “Charles in Charge”. Let’s do it.
FELICE SCHACHTER: Is there a part for me in your new sitcom, Scott?
SCOTT BAIO: Um…Sure, Felice. We’ll call you.
On my own, I wrote a remake screenplay titled “When Pigs Fly” in which the central character is Jane Mitchell, who was played by Heather Thomas in the original and I also wrote a serialized novel titled “See Jane. See Jane Strip” which follows the “Zapped!” characters to college. Hijinks ensue.
5. Why do you think so many people have embraced the movie Zapped?
Most people are nostalgic for High School and this film can take us back better than some others for the following reasons: Much of the film was shot at John Marshall High School during the 1981 spring semester using the actual student body as extras. The story line never leaves the High School. No international spies are after Scott Baio because he is telekinetic and Scott doesn’t try to do anything with his powers other than what a typical high school boy would do, strip girls, beat up bullies and cheat at sports. The Senior Trip is to an amusement park, the Senior Prom is in the gym and the seniors are talking mostly about what they plan to do after graduation. Felice Schacter, for example, was a high school Senior when she starred in “Zapped!” and appeared in one scene wearing a sweatshirt monogrammed “BROWN”. She graduated from Brown University four years later.
6. How has Zapped influenced your own life?
In January 1982 I lost something that seemed important to me at the time and it depressed me for several months. In September 1982 I watched “Zapped!” in a theater. The scene where Heather Thomas lost her prom gown was fun and beautiful. Life was still fun and beautiful after all. My depression lifted. Isn’t that why we have movies? I became a life-long fan of the film.
7. What involvement have you had with cast members from the original movie?
The only “Zapped!” cast member that I’ve met in person is Felice Schachter (see attached picture). The other principal stars seem to be running from this film credit. I am in frequent email contact with Jewel Shepard (girl in car), Irwin Keyes (“Too Mean” Levine), Hardy Kieth Edwards (Roscoe) and Eddie Deezen (Sheldon). I’ve also exchanged emails with Mews Small (Barney’s Mom), Jan Leighton (Einstein) and Maria McCann (Amanda in the sequel “Zapped Again!).
8. What are they doing these days??
Felice was unable to restart her acting and model ling career after college although she was the 1990 St.Pauli Girl. Now she is in film and television production. Her credits include “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”. Jewel Shepard went from her first film appearance in “Zapped!” to star in “Party Camp”, “Return of the Living Dead”, “Hollywood Hot Tubs”, “Caged Heat II: Stripped of Freedom” etc., etc., you get the idea. She wrote two books about her Hollywood experiences that sold widely “Invasion of the B-Girls” and “If I’m So Famous, How Come No-body’s Ever Heard of Me?”. Irwin Keyes has 52 major film credits mostly playing monsters, gangsters and cavemen. He played hit man “Wheezy Joe” hired by both George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones in “Intolerable Cruelty” and “Joe Rockhead” in both Flintstones movies. Hardy Kieth Edwards teaches English in the Los Angeles public schools. Eddie Deezen (“Grease”, “1941”, “War Games”) does voice work most notably as “know-it-all” in “Polar Express” with Tom Hanks. Mews Smalls sings with a folk band and is a perennial congressional candidate with the Naturalist Party. Jan Leighton was in the Guinness Book of Records for most historical impersonations. He does private shows. Has costumes, will travel. Maria McCann remains a struggling actress recently starring in an independent film “God, Sex and Apple Pie” and appearing as a guest star on both Prime Time network television shows of her former “Zapped Again!” co-star, Kelli Williams “The Practice” and “Medical Investigation”.
9. What are your thoughts on Willie Aames and his current career as Bibleman?
For over two thousand years, Jesus Christ has been saving sinners. Why is it so hard to believe that Willie Aames was one of them? If he said he was saved by Scientology, Cabala or anything but Jesus Christ no-one would question his sincerity. By the way, Willie Aames has hung up his purple tights. Bibleman is now portrayed by his successor. You can see Willie starting this month on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club II. Perhaps the tights got a little too tight.
10. Would you support a remake of the movie?
Support? Do you mean with money? I have no money. Felice Schachter estimates it would cost $50,000,000 to make “Zapped!” today. I wrote a screenplay for a remake that anyone with $50M is more than welcome to use. I’ll go see the remake, tout it on the internet and buy the DVD. That’s the only support I can offer.
11. If the movie had to have been titled differently, what would you suggest it be?
The original title was “The Wiz Kid”. The word “zapped” is never used in the film. It was selected for easy use in promotion. Felice has a Tee-Shirt that says “I Love Getting ZAPPED!”. However, the promotion budget for the film was never approved by Embassy Pictures. So we never saw the slogan “Have you been ZAPPED today?”. The only promotion the film received was the complaint Heather Thomas made to the Screen Actor’s Guild about a topless body double being used for her character when she refused to appear topless in the film. A disclaimer was added to the credits.
12. What interesting facts or trivia would people be interested to know about the movie?
Before “Zapped!”, Scott Baio had starred in several films and two television shows but Felice Schachter had only been a regular on the first season of “The Facts of Life”. She never had to kiss anyone in that role and did not know that making a love scene in a movie was different than making love. At least that’s her story. So when it came time for Scott and Felice’s love scene, he was giving her a professional screen kiss but receiving back a passionate french kiss. As he tried to move gingerly around Felice feigning intimacy for the camera he had to endure Felice’s wandering hands and pelvic thrusts. After the scene Felice said “Oh my GOD! Scott Baio is the WORST kisser in the world!” When she was told about screen kisses and movie love scenes she had to apologize to Scott about her lusty behavior and ask the producers to re-shoot the scene. Scott was very gracious but the producers kept the scene in the film as is. That’s why it seems so much more graphic than the rest of the film. The cigarette at the end of the scene was the ONLY thing Felice had faked.
While WFME had no idea there was this much to know about Zapped! I know that WFME is indebted to Thom Rafferty’s time in educating all of us about the past, present and future of the only “oh look my bra came off cause that guy was using his telekenetic powers” movie ever.