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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Across The Pond and Beyond - Samantha Fox

Unless you've been living under a rock, don't subscribe to entertainment news, or simply just don't care one way or another, you may have heard that Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries have ended their marriage after just seventy-two days of wedded...well, something. What that something is, I do not know, but rest assured, as of right now, the marriage is over.

And, yeah, I don't really care one way or another as to whether they split up or reconcile. I mean, yes, it's sad when a marriage ends, but that one has been the subject of many rumours, some even doubting the fact that the marriage was even considered to be real. But, that's a whole different story.

With some of my friends, I was actually discussing Kim Kardashian, and the rest of her family, which include sisters Khloe and Kourtney, and brother Rob (what, no K name?) who is a contestant on Dancing With The Stars (or, maybe as of today WAS a contestant...I don't watch the show, so I don't know for sure who is still competing this season), and we all came to one conclusion.

We don't know how the heck they became famous.

I mean, we know that they were all the children of lawyer Robert Kardashian, who passed away in 2003. Robert Kardashian gained notoriety for being a part of the legal team representing O.J. Simpson in his murder trial where Simpson was accused of killing his ex-wife, and her 25-year-old friend in June 1994. But, that was Robert's brush with celebrity. It's hard to determine how their father representing a celebrity in a murder trial somehow warrants the Kardashians to become famous. I mean, did they really do anything other than have a father who was a part of one of the most watched trials in recent history? Not that I can see.

And the Kardashians are no exception to this rule either. I mean, all you have to do is mention other self-dubbed "stars" like Paris Hilton, Snooki, and anyone who ever appeared in a show starting with 'Flavor Of...', 'Rock Of...', or 'I Love Money', and you have people who are basically famous for doing, well...nothing.

I certainly am not trying to be nasty here. I don't know any of the Kardashians, and for all I know, they could be salt of the earth people who may be misunderstood (though given the sex tapes and reported DUI's, that's gonna be a tough pill to swallow). I certainly would not say anything derogatory on purpose against any of them, as I don't know who they are...but sometimes I wonder why people seem to want to keep up with them when it's hard to figure out what exactly they did to become famous in the first place.

And today's blog post subject is someone who back in the 1980s was a person that seemed to get similar criticism for the various things she did (or didn't do).  A lot of people questioned why she, like Kim Kardashian, was famous.  Yet, she persevered and managed to have a song that hit the pole position in seventeen countries, and had great musical success in her native UK. And while she may not have had much success in recent years, at the age of 45, she still seems to want to continue with her career goals, proving that she at least has the drive and the ambition to want something more in her goals towards life.

Samantha Fox is our subject matter for today.

A lot of you younger readers of this blog may not have heard the name before, and that's fine. Her heyday on the charts here in North America was back in the late 1980s, and quite a bit of time has passed since then. Don't worry though. I'll catch you up.

Samantha Karen Fox was born in Mile End, London, England, on April 15, 1966. At an early age, Samantha had the dream of becoming an actress, and had wanted to perform in theatre arts. In 1969, at the age of three, Samantha made her first on-stage appearance, and two years later, began attending the Anna Scher Theatre School at the age of five.

Samantha made her first appearance on television in 1976, at the age of 10. She had a part in the BBC play entitled no way out, and a year later began attending school at the Judi Dench Mountview Theatre School.

At 14, Samantha also discovered her musical side, and wanting the experience of being a singer formed a band. While she did end up signing a contract with Lamborghini Records in 1983, the plans for any career in music and the arts was put on hold after her mother decided to enter her in a contest.

And this is where some of the public criticism against Samantha Fox began to fester. Admittedly, after doing the research on this article, I must say that I'm not so sure that if I had a sixteen year old daughter that I would be, but as you read on, it may start to make sense to you.

At any rate, 1983 was a life-changing year for Samantha, as her mother had decided to enter Samantha in an amateur modelling contest that the newspaper 'The Sunday People' was putting on, looking for the 'face and shape of 1983'.

Samantha ended up placing second in the contest, which I have to admit was quite good. The controversy stems from how her mother sent in her application.  You see, when her mother sent off the application, she had included several photos of the 16-year-old Samantha posing in lingerie to the judges.  I don't know about you, but if I had a 16-year-old daughter, that would be the last thing I would think of to give her an edge in any competition.  I mean, maybe in 1983, sixteen was the age of consent in the UK for such things, but even so, I personally would feel a bit uneasy about doing something like that.  Of course, one can argue that at least she had a mother who did encourage her to follow her dreams, albeit in an unconventional way.

Shortly after placing second in the contest, Samantha Fox was approached by UK newspaper The Sun to pose for a test shoot for the newspaper's 'Page Three' feature.

In case you're wondering, a 'Page Three' girl is a photo of a woman who may or may not be topless, but usually scantily clad, posing in a provocative manner. In order for her to be photographed topless for the feature, her parents had to give their consent (which they did), and Samantha Fox made her first 'Page Three' appearance on February 22, 1983, just three months shy of turning 17.

More controversy arose as a result of this. At the time, Samantha Fox was the youngest Page Three subject ever, and naturally, parents groups and women's rights groups protested this. Saying that she was too young, and ridiculing Fox and the newspaper for making her nothing more than a sex object. But, do you think that this fazed Fox? Not really. She would go on to make several more Page Three appearances between 1986 and 1995, would go on to model in several magazines, including Playboy, was a Penthouse pet in the United Kingdom, and it was reported that Samantha Fox had even insured her breasts for a quarter of a million pounds when she was a teenager!

So, yeah, you can only imagine just what kind of criticism that she may have gotten as a result of this. Oh, sure, teenage boys and young men were likely Samantha's biggest fans, but a lot of people shot bullets of criticism her way at all possible angles.

Still though, Samantha did at least make most of those decisions herself, and she would later admit in subsequent interviews that she had no regrets over anything that she did in her early career.

By 1986, Samantha Fox had grown tired of modeling, and wanted to do something more with her career. Remembering that she once had dreams of making it in the world of music, she decided to focus her attention on a music career. At the age of 19, she began work on her first single while beginning the transition from model to singer by retiring from her modeling career (though she would make one-off appearances in magazines as recently as 2008).

Nobody knew that Samantha Fox's first single would end up being a massive hit when it was released in early 1986, and I imagine that a lot of people initially dismissed it as a fluff piece by a 'simple Page Three girl'.

Ah, but this leads into a life lesson I've talked about beforehand, which is not to judge a book by its cover. Or, in this case, not to judge a song by its singer.

ARTIST: Samantha Fox
SONG: Touch Me (I Want Your Body)
ALBUM: Touch Me
DATE RELEASED: March 30, 1986

Samantha Fox's first single, Touch Me (I Want Your Body) was a worldwide smash. It may have only peaked at the fourth spot on the Billboard charts, but it peaked at #1 in seventeen countries including Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, and South Africa.

It certainly wasn't the most original song out there. It was more or less another song about a woman who is looking for a man to love.

What made it stand out though was the fact that the music video was one that really stood out. Whether it was the sexy outfit that Samantha wore, or the sexual innuendos that blended into the song with lyrics such as “like a tramp in the night, I was begging for you, to treat my body like you wanted to”, or whether it was the close-up shot of Samantha moaning as if she know.

And the audience ate it up.

Now some may argue that the only reason Samantha sold so many records was because of the fact that she was sexing it up in her music videos. But, then again, Madonna, Britney Spears, and several other female artists have done the same thing, so it wasn't like she was doing anything differently.

But I offer you this. If you really examine the lyrics behind some other Samantha Fox hits, you may see that the meanings of the songs are a lot deeper than you'd necessarily think.

Take Samantha's 1987 release 'Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now'.

Certainly, the music video shows Samantha gallovanting around the world in expensive cars, and boats, and helicopters, and the first impression some may get is that she is living a charmed life filled with entitlement and privilege, but if you listen to the lyrics, it's actually a song about female empowerment and moving on from a toxic, one-sided relationship. It's about a woman taking control of her life, walking away from the relationship, and enjoying her life the way that she wants to in her own way.

(Wow...come to think of it, I wonder if Ms. Kardashian will be downloading this song on her iPod soon?)

Or maybe we can take a look at her 1988 song 'Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)'.

I think this is a great song that could be somewhat autobiographical for Samantha in a way. Some of the choices she made in her youth, such as her Page Three modeling career could be considered by the public as being somewhat on the naughty side. But as Samantha sings in her song, even 'naughty girls' deserve to find real love, and in the lyrics, she actually shows a bit of a mature perspective towards the whole idea of love amidst a steady beat of loud music. She may have played mind games and played hard to get, and acted a bit easy before, but now that she's found sincere and true love, she realizes that is more important than just a cheap thrill. It really is a nice message, and one that some people could really benefit from today.

So, yeah...some rather positive and inspirational messages from a singer who some may have dismissed as being just a Page Three girl.

Samantha's career may not have lasted very long in North America. Aside from a couple of hit singles and a guest appearance on the sitcom 'Charles In Charge', she has more or less faded into obscurity around these parts. But her recording career continued. She managed to release five albums in five years from 1986-1991, released a few more albums sporadically over the last few years, and is still interested in recording today.

She has had quite a few happenings in her own personal life that have somewhat caused her hardships.  Remember how I explained that her own family life was kind of a bit on the unconventional side?  Apparently Samantha's father wasn't exactly the most supportive adult figure to her.  He managed Samantha's career until 1991.  By 1991, Samantha Fox's music career was stalling, and despite minor hits such as the one below, it was clear that the music industry was changing.

1991 was the year that Samantha fired her father from managing her career.  And, she had a very good reason for it too.  Mainly because that was the year she discovered him embezzling money from her to the tune of one million pounds.  She sued her father shortly after the discovery was made, and while it took time, she was eventually awarded a court settlement in May of 1995.  Still, the damage by this point had been done, and Samantha's father passed away in 2000, with Samantha still unable to forgive him for what he had done.

Samantha also had to deal with rumours and tabloid stories about her sexuality, as tabloids had repeatedly tried to 'out' her for years.  She finally admitted that she was a lesbian in 2003, citing the reason that she didn't come out earlier was because she was afraid of public reaction.  Although it became more acceptable to be gay or lesbian by 2003 as opposed to 1983, Samantha was worried about how her fans would react to her being involved in a relationship with a woman, as she had to deal with stalkers and obsessed fans since starting out in the world of show business.  As of right now, Samantha has found love with her partner of several years, and is reportedly happier than ever.

Although her early beginnings may have been a bit controversial at the time, and while some may have dismissed her as being just a 'tart', she really did have more depth to her than initially thought. I would actually go on the record to say that despite what people have said about her, her persistence and her dedication towards her career goals was greater than a lot of other people I know, and to me, that's worth something.

Who knows? Maybe the Kardashian sisters will prove me wrong like Samantha Fox did back in her heyday, and maybe they'll do something that will make me write a blog entry 15 years down the line about how they overcame their own negative labels to do something worth talking about and promoting.

All we can do is wait and see. Or, at least until more information about the Kardashian divorce is known.

If anyone still cares enough to want to know, that is...

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