Full Name: Jewel Shepard
Jewel Shepard has made that difficult, odd segue from working in front of the camera to working in front of the word processor. Since her days in the cradle, her dream was to be a grade “A” movie star. She got about as far as a few dozen grade "B" (or lower) movies viewed on late night TV by either die-hard fans or insomniacs.
It was not the most glamorous of occupations. In one movie -- the immortal Party Camp -- she was thrown into genuine pig excrement. Roger Corman shipped her off to the Philippines for Caged Heat 2, and what the casting director assured her would be “a vacation in paradise.” In that one, she was flogged, beaten up by a band of orange-clad warrior women and practically devoured by bugs the size of Buicks.
Often, they told her the job would involve "brief nudity." In Christina, that meant no clothing in about 88 out of its 90 minutes, including one nude scene shot on location in front of the Eiffel Tower in near-zero degree weather. In The Underachievers, it was just her top that came off in a too-close encounter with a space alien. (At least, in My Tutor, it came off for Matt Lattanzi. On the other hand, in Zapped!, it was removed via telekinetic force by Scott Baio.)
There were other films -- Raw Force, The Junkman, Going Undercover, Scanner Cop II...they all seem to blend together...
It was time to get away from doing her own stunts, eating Spam on a meal break, producers who insisted that a separate hotel room was not in the budget and she had to share theirs, ice-cold sets, colder dialogue and film companies that are so under funded, they can't afford a Casting Couch and expect you to put out on a folding chair.
Of course, there were some good movies. In Return of the Living Dead, she almost enjoyed being chased around a graveyard by a bunch of Zombies screaming, “More brains!” She even got to keep her clothes on. (Of course, her happiness was short-lived: Twenty-minutes later, she was nuked into oblivion, never to be seen in the endless sequels that followed. Such is life.
Occasionally, she had a dramatic moment on film. Scenes from the Goldmine offered her that rare moment where she wasn’t getting whipped, or thrown in pig-dung, or tossed in a hot tub. She got pregnant, instead. But hey, it was a chance for her to work with Sopranos star, Joey Pantoliano, Rock Star (and member of the Mega-group The Eagles) Timothy B. Schmidt, and the actor best known for his eerie depiction of Charles Manson in Helter-Skelter, Steve Railsback.
While all of these people are great, it was her friendship with fellow co-star, Catherine Mary Stewart (Night of the Comet) that made her movie pregnancy truly special. So did her on-screen dad, Alex Rocco, who got her pregnant which somehow led to the part of a blind hooker in Roots of Evil...
And those were the better moments. Time to start on a second-choice career goal...
So Jewel decided to become a writer, knowing full well that she was fighting an uphill battle to get folks to take the star of Hollywood Hot Tubs (and its even-better sequel, Hollywood Hot Tubs II) seriously. She started by polling her fellow B-Movie Queens, interviewing stars of the past and present to create the definitive book on the subject, Invasion of the B-Girls. This is the book that answers the musical question, why would anyone appear in a film called Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-a-Rama? Why anyone would watch such a film is equally mysterious.
Her first book was a smash. It sold like crazy, still sells (do a search on eBay) and even got purchased by Dick Clark as the basis for a not-yet-filmed-but-she's-still-hoping "A" movie. Better still, it prompted a demand for her second book -- an autobiography entitled, If I'm So Famous, How Come Nobody’s Ever Heard of Me? -- and brought her offers to write for magazines, including Premiere, Cosmopolitan, Details and many others. (It also yielded this surreal scene: Jewel autographing copies at the American Booksellers Association, seated between Ross Perot and Senator Paul Simon, both of whom wanted their picture with her.) She also received a fan letter -- which she opened very carefully -- from Ted Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber.
It was Premiere that especially grabbed up her writing, saving her from getting whipped in any more bad movies. She was tapped for a feature article in their "Women in Film" issue, in which she profiled the 6'1" goddess and new reigning "Queen of B-Movies," Julie Strain and her hubby, who became filthy rich by creating the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Five pages later, Premiere appointed her a Contributing Writer and began lobbing assignments her way, covering the Hollywood scene from her unique perspective.
Today, she divides her time between more articles for magazines, special features for the Associated Press and a couple of secret projects. Asked about her work, she replies, "So this is what I do now. I sit in front of my computer and write. I write about people I’ve met, places I’ve seen. Did I mention the experience with African Wild Dogs? Or the last Botswana Bushman? Or the deer people of Mongolia?”