01 Feb Dads Tapes: The Child Star
My dad was a detective in the Los Angeles area for over forty years. He worked right up until the day he died (which was last month.) He specialized in interrogating perpetrators, especially the psycho or difficult ones. I was going through his things and found a box of tapes. They were all labeled with case numbers and dates. I think they must be the official recordings of the interviews he conducted. I have been listening to some of them and they are more disturbing than you can even imagine.
I am going to share one of the transcripts with you. Please only read if you are able to handle some really fucking creepy shit. I am going to call my dad “Danny” since that’s what he went by. I’ll try to also write notes about the different sounds that happen. My notes will be in parentheses. I miss you, dad.
Danny: Good morning, Ms. Davis.
Ms. Davis: Is it morning?
Danny: Yes ma’am. It’s exactly seven forty five AM.
Ms. Davis: Oh, yes. Of course.
Danny: Would you like to tell me about what happened?
Ms Davis: I can try. Are you recording?
Danny: Yes ma’am. We have to record these interviews.
Ms. Davis: Oh my. Well I don’t mind being recorded. I’m used to it, you know. My sister and I – we were child stars. Like real ones! We got recognized on the street all the time. We had tons of fans and got letters and presents. I still have a big white bear one of my fans sent me.
I started acting in films when I was six. My sister was only four. I guess you could say our parents were “show parents.” Looking back I think they were trying to live through us. They never got to be stars so we were like their little substitutes.
I don’t have too many memories of that time in my life. I was very young after all. But I do remember spending hours in hair and makeup. I was a pretty well behaved as a child I think. I tolerated the fake eyelashes and outfits. My little sister, Missy, was less well behaved. She was always crying and squirming around. But once that camera turned on, we were both perfect.
I don’t act anymore. As you probably know, most child stars don’t have film careers as adults. Once we stopped being cute the industry didn’t want us anymore. For me it was the age of eighteen. No one was interested in my talent after that. I can’t lie, I was pretty sad. I loved being pampered and treated like a super model. Missy, on the other hand, hated the lime light. She was so happy when we stopped acting.
Anyway, I live with Missy in our childhood home. Our parents died when we were twenty two. They left us quite a bit of money, so I don’t work. Missy is in school for social work. She’s always been such a sweet soul. She is going to help so many people with her degree.
I’m getting off topic. I now have a little girl of my own. She’s four and a half. Her name is Lissy. She is so stunningly beautiful I really want to get her involved in acting, but Missy doesn’t think it’s a good idea. She reminds me how difficult our childhoods were. But I think it was good for us! It taught us how to be outgoing and patient.
Lissy is a bit of a handful. She cries a lot and whines. Missy says it’s normal but I think she needs a little structure in her life. And the life of a child star is definitely structured! You wake up, get ready for the shoot, spend all day on camera, and then finally go back to sleep. Missy and I barely had time for ourselves and hardly ever went to school. Missy wanted to go but our parents were very strict about our filming schedules.
Wow, I am such a space case! I totally forgot your question!
Danny: Don’t worry, ma’am. I asked what happened last night.
Ms. Davis: Oh yeah. Sorry! I’ve always been so forgetful. Anyway. Last night Lissy and were watching some of Missy and my old movies. I told Lissy all about how her aunt and I were child stars, and she seemed really interested in seeing the videos. I mean, what little girl doesn’t want to be famous?
I decided to show her our most popular film, which was the first one we ever made. I think it was so popular because we were brand new on the scene and people were amazed by our talents.”
Danny: (At this point dad’s voice breaks just a tiny bit) Are you saying you showed your daughter your…movies?
Ms. Davis: Of course! Doesn’t every star show their children their movies?
Anyway, Lissy and I were watching and she giggled the whole time. The film is pretty simple so she could understand what was happening. It was an easy shoot – it was just us girls in the bathtub. We played with the bubbles and laughed a lot. Then we got out of the tub and our dad dried us off. It’s called “Sissy and Missy have Bathtime.”
Once the video ended Lissy wanted more, so I played her a few more. She liked the ones with us alone the best, although I showed her some of the films we made with co-stars. She didn’t like those as much. It was probably because Missy had a few crying scenes in those. We watched “Sissy and Missy Get in Trouble” and “Sissy and Missy Play Dress-up.” And a few others.
So then Missy walks in on us watching the movie with Mr. Friendly-
Danny: Mr. Friendly?
Ms. Davis: Oh yeah! Mr. Friendly was one of dad’s friends. He was very nice to us. After the shoot we got lots of candy and stayed up all night! I guess Missy didn’t like him very much, because she ran into the room while we were watching and started screaming. She said, “What the fuck are you doing?” (The woman was using a mocking tone for her sister’s voice)
I told her the truth, I swear I did. I said, “Lissy wanted to see our movies!”
Missy looked furious. She kept yelling, “I thought you said you destroyed these tapes!”
Danny: We thought those films were destroyed as well, after the trial.
Ms. Davis: They got rid of the tapes they found, but mom and dad had a whole stack of duplicates under the floorboards. I kept them because I hated to think of my childhood acting career being destroyed!”
Danny: Ok ma’am, so what happened next?
Ms. Davis: Well, Missy kept screaming at me. She yelled and threw things. She threatened to take away Lissy! She said I wasn’t a good mom! She said I was just like our mother, which is ridiculous. I couldn’t believe she said those things. I am a great mom! I just want my daughter to feel like a star too! So I turned her upside down.
Danny: (My dad pauses for a long time) What does it mean to turn someone upside down?
Ms. Davis: Oh, silly me. I forget that not everyone knows that term. It’s an acting term. When an actress isn’t performing right, our parents would turn her upside down. We had lots of sisters who became upside down. They still live with us, it’s just now they live in the garden.”
Danny: How do you turn someone upside down? (I don’t know how my dad remained calm)
Ms. Davis: You stab them. (She starts laughing)
Danny: Are you saying you killed your sister? (My dad’s voice is hard to hear over her laughter)
Ms. Davis: She was going to take away my baby girl. I made her upside down. She can sleep in the garden with the rest of them. She never understood how important it was to be a star. She deserved it! I am a good mom.
Danny: (Dad stays silent for a solid minute) Is there anything else you’d like to tell me?
Ms. Davis: You know, you look a lot like Mr. Friendly. You’re handsome. I bet you’d make a good actor. Have you thought about acting?
Danny: No ma’am.
Ms. Davis: Well you should think about it. My daughter is getting into acting, you know. You two could make a great movie.
That’s where it ends. You see what I’m saying about it being disturbing? Thank god my dad was a good man.