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WSI News - Sox Interviews

Flashing Back with...

Disco Demolition's
Lorelei

another EXCLUSIVE from White Sox Interactive!   

By George Bova
 
For Sox Fans of a certain age, there can only be one woman who will ever again be known by the simple name Lorelei.  In 1979, when baseball on Chicago's South Side was second-rate, the biggest night of the year at Comiskey Park had absolutely nothing to do with America's national pastime.  It was all about rock'n roll.  And nobody in Chicago--NOBODY--embodied it more than the blonde rock'n roll siren featured in all the advertising of Chicago's #1 rock'n roll radio station, the Loop FM-98.

Chicago's Rock'n Roll siren,
The Loop, FM-98's
Lorelei

It was Lorelei who was on the field next to deejay Steve Dahl that fateful night at Comiskey Park when the local reputations of both were forever sealed.  A simple promotion to blow up disco records-- and of course, proclaim the entire music genre's "suckage"--turned into an anxious mob of over 50,000 fans inside sold out Old Comiskey, 10,000 more outside the ballpark trying to buy tickets to get in, and perhaps another 10,000 hopelessly stuck in a traffic jam that stretched for miles around Chicago's South Side.

It was Disco Demolition Night!  She stood at the epicenter when the fans rioted.  As the Loop's rock'n roll siren, hers was and still is a unique perspective of the notorious events of July 12, 1979.   That's Lorelei! 

A long-time visitor to White Sox Interactive, Lorelei Shark comes forward in this exclusive interview to offer her insights into the craziest night from the craziest era in the 100+ year history of White Sox baseball.  From her home she answers questions asked by WSI's George Bova.

Chicago's Rock'n Roll Siren--from California!

GB.  You're from California.  How did the opportunity to become part of a Chicago radio station's marketing campaign come to you?  

LS.  I was a professional model in Los Angeles.  In 1970, I was hired to do a billboard campaign for a Los Angeles radio station called KIIS Radio.  It was the first time a billboard was only a single face and it became a big hit, ultimately serving as a spin-off for TV commercials for KIIS.  Chuck Blore, a veteran in radio marketing, conceived and produced the first commercials.   

GB.  What launched your career in modeling?  

LS.  I began my career as eye candy on the last season of "Playboy After Dark."  Hef and the Playboy people liked me and I was in half-a-dozen issues of Playboy a year, for a few years - doing editorials and ads.  I would not remove my clothing and prided myself as the model who was in Playboy more than any other model - with my clothes on.  Well, shortly after doing the first Loop commercial I got a call from Tom Staebler, the Art Director of Playboy, who flew out from Chicago to meet with me.  When I walked into the meeting, I reminded Tom who I was, and that I had shot a cover with him a couple of years earlier.  He proceeded to offer me $10,000 (which was quite a bit, back then), telling me how much they wanted me to do a layout in the magazine.  I reminded him that I do NOT take my clothes off...he said he would get back to me... and he did.  I got a call a week later, saying that I didn't have to take my clothes off - the spread would allude to nudity.  Of course I turned it down - knowing that there is no such thing as Playboy alluding to nudity.

GB.  Can you describe the process of how those famous "lip sync" TV commercials were created?  Had you ever done anything like this before?

LS. The commercials were designed so I wouldn't have to speak...I have a slight stutter, which gets dramatically worse in front of a live mike and camera.  These first commercials started on my lips, then pulled out to reveal my full face at the end.  The spots were a huge success... I did several syndicated commercials for various radio stations across the country.  It was in 1979 that Les Elias, General Manager for WLUP, catapulted the TV spots to the next level.  WLUP contracted to have me to do a spot for them ...we met in Los Angeles.  Les wanted me to wear a T-shirt with the radio station's logo "The Loop" and have the camera pull out to reveal my full upper torso.  This first Loop commercial was shot by a cinematographer who had mostly shot porn films.  He lit me so that I looked like I had a "Pamela Anderson" bust-line.  I am endowed - but not like that.  The commercial took-off and the rest is history.  I wore station ID t-shirts in every spot I did, for every station, after that initial one.

GB.  Those lip sync commercials became famous.  What else can you share about them?

LS.  It's a little known fact that not only did I perform in my commercials - I also produced them.

I dropped my modeling agent (Nina Blanchard) when I was pregnant with my 2nd child - in 1976.  My lip sync commercials actually happened after I was no longer professionally modeling.  Shortly after my first commercial for WLUP, I had a salary dispute with Mr. Blore, the producer of the TV spots.  I was being paid double scale (around $400) per commercial and wanted more.  Mr. Blore was going to replace me with another model who would work for scale.  I asked if I was able to do a spot for a station if they requested me - he said he couldn't stop me.  So - my husband Marc, who was a writer/director, and I formed a production company and began producing the commercials ourselves.  We kept the lip sync format (which couldn't be copywritten); dropped the "remarkable mouth" line (which was Mr. Blore's) and put in "POW!"  

We syndicated our spots nationwide and expanded on the concept - holding lip sync contests and putting ordinary people in the spots with me. I even did a spot with Pete Rose and another with a baby orangutan.   I also produced all of my photo shoots for billboards and publicity stills.  

Hey Sox Fans!
Learn more about
Disco Demolition Night with the most-complete set of fan memories from that fateful night.

Another internet
first from
White Sox Interactive

GB.  What about this comic book you and the station developed?

LS.  WLUP bought a concept we presented to them, for producing a promotional satirical comic book, based on the deejays and myself as the characters.  I had no idea how to publish a comic book - but I learned.  We put out two issues of "LOOPS".  It was not the success we had hoped it would be, but it did lay the groundwork for my next profession.  I have been a graphic artist and art director, specializing in motion picture advertising, for over 20 years.  

GB.  Is that your famous mouth on all the promotional materials for The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

LS.  Yes, I am those famous biting lips in the "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" poster.  I received $120 for two hours modeling ($60 an hour at the time).  I recently found and framed a Rocky Horror Picture Show poster that says "A different set of JAWS"  Seeing as my name is now, Lorelei SHARK - I couldn't resist the double entendre.

GB.  You were married and a mother of two children when the Loop hired you.  Did the radio station ever try to suppress this information from your adoring "fans"?

LS.  I did quite a few interviews - always being very honest about who I was and what I was, I had nothing to hide  Radio stations in general, preferred that I not offer information, but rather omit information as opposed to lying about it.  I cannot say that the Loop asked me to suppress the information.  In looking back at old newspaper clips that I have, it was clear that I was married with kids.  I remember meeting with Gary Deeb from the Sun Times.  I was warned that he was tough and I should be careful about what I say.  We met at a cafe, near my home in suburban Los Angeles.  We actually had a great time - I was me - I held nothing back - and the interview came out really well... married, with kids in suburbia.  I've always felt that honesty is the best policy... karma and all!

GB.  The black "Loop" t-shirt was your signature garment.  Do you still own one?  

LS.  I have three original Loop t-shirts, round neck, V-neck and tank top.  I took my t-shirts to a dressmaker, who would take them in until they looked like a second skin.

GB.  Do you ever wear any of them around the house?

LS.  Uh, no, I don't wear them around the house - thanks for the memories, but no thanks!

GB.  Besides Disco Demolition, what sort of personal appearances did the station arrange?

LS.  I remember doing a fun, big bash event called LoopFest.  I was in Chicago three or four times, but honestly don't remember what I was doing there.  Several of the stations flew me to their towns for public appearances... at this point, they get jumbled in my memory.

GB.  WLUP-FM played hard rock.  Describe how you felt meeting so many teenage boys and twenty-something young men.  Any marriage proposals?

LS.  I had full-time body guards every time I was in Chicago, whether I was filming or doing appearances. No marriage proposals, nobody ever got that close.

I loved hard rock - I still do - I'm a 60s person.  I felt very strange having tween-agers ogle me as a sex object. Of course this is what I represented, but I never had to face it unless I was doing a public appearance...I did not like it at all.  I felt very conflicted - torn between the image that I was projecting as a nubile rocker sex goddess and my real-self as a suburban housewife & mother of 2 young children.  I understand that I was perceived as being much younger than I was - at Disco Demolition - I was over 30.  In fact, I wrote a poem about my feelings after Disco Demolition.  (Editor's Note--Lorelei's poem appears at the conclusion of this interview.)

Memories From Disco Demolition Night

GB.  Can you recall your thoughts when first told you were to appear at Comiskey Park for Steve Dahl's Disco Demolition Night?  Was there any apprehension about appearing inside such a large venue?

LS.  I thought nothing unusual about coming to Chicago for Disco Demolition night - it was just another job.  I had no qualms about appearing inside a large venue. My biggest concern was what I was going to wear for such a diverse day, from cocktails to crowds.

I was flown in the night before.  To start the big day the owners of the station had a cocktail party in my honor.  I was having champagne, canapés and rubbing elbows with some of the higher-ups in Chicago politics & broadcasting. Before I knew it, I was whisked straight to Comiskey Park to participate in the event.  I was to go to the airport right after the event and go home that night.  The trip was to be short - but sweet.  Well... I never made it home that night - and we all know why!

GB.  Did you have any inkling that Dahl's Disco Demolition craze could sellout the entire 50,000 seat stadium?

LS.  I never thought about it.  I was a professional and therefore looked at it from a business standpoint. Crowds were part of the territory and I didn't think about how big the crowds may be.  I was only hoping it would be a successful promotion for the station.

GB.  Before the game (and the fan riot), what were you directed to do?  Describe how it actually went.

LS.  When I got to Comiskey Park, I was taken to the press room, which was upstairs inside the building.  I put my belongings away and was taken to a spot, near the field behind the bleachers, where I autographed my "Loop" promotional posters for waiting fans.  I remember, as I was signing my autograph, visualizing the posters being thrown in the garbage... I never took myself very seriously.  

Before the first game started - I was taken to the field where I had the honor of throwing out the first ball.  It was great- although I felt badly, because Steve really wanted to throw out the ball.  I was then taken back upstairs to the press room.  Steve was there by then ...we talked and laughed and had a good time.  We were told that 100,000 people showed up for the event.  The stadium was full, standing room only, and tens of thousands of kids were outside the stadium.  It was exciting - we knew that the promotion was a success!  

When the time came, we were taken down to a jeep near the field.   We were told that we would be driven around the field - taken to the middle and dropped off.  Steve was to do his thing - eventually blowing up the records - we would be driven off the field -  and that was it.   We rolled out - there were two body guards in the jeep and two body guards running with the jeep - I thought this was overkill!!!!  We were driven onto the field as if we were in a parade, on a float, waving to the crowd.  When we reached the middle of the field - we got out - Steve had a microphone and started talking to the crowd as I was just waving to everyone.  It was so surreal... I felt like I was in the middle of a beehive... all I could hear was buzzing all around me.  I remember standing there - doing a 360 degree turn, waving to the crowds, trying to hold on to the moment - it was amazing - the energy was different than anything I had ever experienced.  Steve started to get the crowd excited as only Steve could do,  chanting "disco sucks" over and over.  I think that mantra was probably the kicker - the swarming sound was getting louder and louder -  it was deafening.   Steve went over to the big crate of records and finally got them to explode in a huge bang.  Before I knew it, I had a bodyguard on either side of me.  Each grabbed one of my upper arms and literally lifted me off the ground, running with me towards the jeep, throwing me in the back. Steve jumped in the jeep and we started rolling.  I looked behind me and understood why I was whisked off - crowds of people were streaming onto the field.  

There was nowhere to go - so the jeep drove out of the stadium onto the street.  Oh my - there were thousands lining the streets - screaming - they were so happy to see us.  We were waving and screaming back at them - it was literally a riot.  We ended up back inside where the press room was and went back upstairs.  The press was going crazy, trying to find out what was going on.  Steve was being blamed for going too far and getting the kids too riled up.  He went on the PA system to try to calm people down, it didn't work.  We heard that the entire mess was out-of-control and the mayor had called out the national guard.  Nothing worked... the field was totally torn up... they cancelled the 2nd game.  In the meantime, we were basically held prisoners in this press room.  I was supposed to be flying home at 9 pm that evening.  I called my husband to say, "...uh, I won't be making my plane this evening.  The kids got a little out-of-control and I won't be able to leave here for awhile.  You'll probably see it on TV; save the morning paper ...I'm fine."

I did get home the following day - and life was back to normal.  

GB.  When the topic of July 12, 1979 comes up, what is the first memory that comes to your mind?

LS.  I had heard that it was only the second time in baseball history that a game had to be cancelled for reasons outside of weather - that's what I think of.

GB.  What emotions best describe how you feel when you reflect back on your entire Disco Demolition experience?  

LS.  Wonderment... I reflect on the ease in which a crowd can be motivated to act in a way they would never act as individuals. This same phenomenon is present at any large gathering.  Group emotions are a very powerful, dangerous force.


Lorelei's famous mouth from
The Rocky Horror Picture Show!

GB.  Was your life back in California changed in any way by the response to celebrity here?  

LS.  My life in California was not changed - but I did get in touch with a very interesting state of being.   I was treated like a superstar in Chicago... I was sheltered from the crowds; I was treated as if I was better and more important than other human beings; I was given a feeling of power, that in reality, I did not possess.  It was a small glimpse into a world in which some stars permanently reside.  I realized that this "special treatment" gave me a feeling of omnipotence.  

I realized that superstars such as Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley and John Belushi, as an example, felt this on a daily basis.  I understood why they tested their mortality with their lifestyles... the drugs and booze... they felt that nothing could touch them.  I learned that contrary to their feeling of indestructibility,  that stardom does not preclude mortality.

GB.  In the years since Disco Demolition, has the media notoriety of your role continued?  How do you feel about your celebrity status?

LS.  Throughout my modeling career - I was on numerous TV shows, commercials, print ads, etc.  I never wanted to capitalize on my success nor wanted to pursue stardom.  

GB.  Does anybody ever recognize you?

LS.  People still recognize me from time-to-time.  I'm happy living life, low-key!

GB.  Do you keep in touch with any of your personal acquaintances--either from WLUP or the White Sox--from that era?  

LS.  No.

GB.  Have the Sox ever invited you back to the ballpark?  If they did, would you accept?

LS.  No, that's the past and I live in the present.

GB.  Did you ever again step inside Old Comiskey Park before it was demolished in 1990-91?  

LS.  No - I was only back in Chicago to film a couple of more commercials.  I was sad when I found out it was being demolished.  I hate to see history wiped out, even though I know we must make room for progress.

Lorelei--Siren of the Past, Sox Fan of the Future?

GB.  You're still remembered by so many Sox Fans from 1979.  What is life like for you today?

LS.  I re-married, happily so, 14 years ago to Dr. William Shark, a Cardiologist/Internist/Intensivist in Los Angeles.  My children are grown - my son just turned 30 and my daughter (a chip off the old block) is turning 27.  I have always been an artist, dabbling in many forms including painting, sculpture, computer graphics and photography.  For the past three years my art has included creating one-of-a-kind jewelry.

GB.  Would you describe yourself as a baseball fan?  If so, which team do you support and where does the City of Chicago and the White Sox baseball team fall inside your heart?

LS.  I cannot tell a lie - I am not a baseball fan.  I support no team - but Chicago and the White Sox will be in my heart forever!

GB.  Is it a good life being Lorelei, the blonde rock'n roll siren wearing the tight black Loop t-shirt on Disco Demolition Night?

LS.  Definitely!!  I am blessed with looks, brains & creativity.  I have fulfilled many fantasies in my life.  I have always asked myself - "what is life about?"  I now realize that life is about memories.  I am an advocate of "be here now" - living in the present.  I also realize that all the moments of the present add up to the memories of the past.  I have many wonderful memories of my stint as Lorelei, the blonde rock'n roll siren.

Rock'n Roll Model & Mom
by Lorelei Shark

I was a pseudo-rock star,  loved by little boys from afar.
They gawked and gaped,  at my curvaceous shape.

They pushed and shoved,  to profess their love.
I felt awkward, like a fake,  this was all a big mistake.

I'm just a model doing her job,
 standing here in front of this mob.

Hey kids, don't you know,
 I'm just a mom, not a show...
I was a pseudo-rock star,
 loved by little boys from afar.

Learn more about Disco Demolition Night following this link!


George Bova is editor and founder of White Sox Interactive, a site devoted to the fans of the Chicago White Sox.  You can email George at george@whitesoxinteractive.com.

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