I first caught actress Debra Lamb on video in a little-known gem entitled The Stripping Telegram: Special Delivery, which was shot in Hollywood in the mid-80s. In it, she played a pizza delivery girl who forgot the pizza but more than made up for it with a sizzling routine that showed she had formal dance training. Her exotic looks were familiar to me and I was sure I’d seen her somewhere before, so I did a little digging and found her featured in the June 1987 issue of Easyriders magazine I had in my collection.
Wanting to learn more about such a striking girl, starting with her last name, I checked magazines stands, book and video stores (these were the pre-Internet days) and found her featured in a now-defunct publication entitled Focus, which included her bio and list of acting credits. That was in 1994 and she has since been among my favorite B-movie actresses. The above photo of her as “Jessica” from the 1989 B-classic Beverly Hills Vamp should save me from having to explain why.
As well as being a personal favorite, Debra is the most successful (if not only) Asian-American “Scream Queen” of all time. Ranking right up there with other icons of the genre, such as Brinke Stevens, Linnea Quigley, and Michelle Bauer, Debra has appeared in over 40 films and videos, as well as done countless modeling gigs. Despite all that, she still finds it hard to believe that so many people have seen her work and that fans and critics alike consider her one of the big names in B-cinema.
Several months ago, I was wondering if I could find any current news on Debra (if I didn’t, I probably would have done a “Whatever Happened to..?” entry on her), and I came upon her psychic healing website. After sending her an e-mail through her site asking for an interview and receiving no reply, I assumed she wasn’t interested in delving back into her modeling and acting past. However, I recently learned that was far from the case. (It turned out she never received my message due to a technical glitch.) Thanks to a mutual friend putting in a good word for me, Debra sent me a message through Facebook, welcoming me to contact her and was very open to an interview, which we did three days later. While speaking with her, she talked at length about her career, the people she’s worked with, her nearly 10-year hiatus from acting, and her recent comeback. Besides having a great sense of humor, Debra was one of the most enjoyable ladies I have ever met, let alone interviewed, and she placed almost no topics off limits.
During our lengthy conversation, I also learned a lot about Debra that I wouldn’t have found out from other sources, such as; she was almost in the Navy, loves to snack on raw onions, has had almost every kind of pet you can think of, doesn’t close the bathroom door when she’s at home, and politics is not among her favorite topics. The following are condensed excerpts from my exclusive interview with her.
CHRIS CHARLES: First off, thanks very much for granting me this interview because I’ve been fan of yours for a long time.
DEBRA LAMB: Oh you have? Tell me how you know of me!
CHRIS: Well, I first saw you on video was in something entitled Stripping Telegram: Special Delivery.
DEBRA: What one was that? You’ll have to remind me because that one doesn’t sound familiar.
CHRIS: It was probably shot in the mid-80s at a Hollywood nightclub and your role was a pizza delivery girl …
DEBRA: Oh my god! I remember that!
CHRIS: …and your line was, “you ordered a hot pizza with ….anchovies?? Are you one of those perverts who likes that fishy smell??”
DEBRA: Oooh gross! (laughs)
CHRIS: Haha, you remember that line?
DEBRA: Well, not that part but I remember that video. You’ll have to do me a favor and tell me how I can get a copy of that.
CHRIS: I’ll get you a copy of it. I have it on VHS.
DEBRA: That’s where you first saw me? Wow! That was probably one of the first things I ever did.
CHRIS: Well, the first time I saw you in a video. I had seen you in Easyriders and Supercycle magazines before that.
DEBRA: Oh my god! You are a big fan, aren’t you?
CHRIS: Well, yes and your look stood out because you’re Asian and there weren’t many Asian or exotic-looking models doing that kind of stuff back then.
DEBRA: Well, there was this job at a retail clothing store, and that fast food one I hated, but pretty much any “normal” job I’ve had, I’ve hated (laughs).
CHRIS: Well sure, because there’s so much stuff about you on the net and in older magazines, that I’d love to hear some stuff about you that can’t be found at other sources, so please go ahead. (Author’s Note: Debra proceeded to go into a fascinating and revealing story that we later decided to omit here in order to protect the not-so-innocent.)
DEBRA: I took ballet (when I lived) in Oregon until I was 14. Then I moved to Los Angeles and then in Beverly Hills High School (where she says she was the poorest kid) I took modern dance, and when I went to Santa Monica High School I took dance and theater. The first couple of years out of high school were pretty rough. I ended up working in a bikini bar and then I worked in a topless bar. I entered a contest in a (full) nude bar and I actually won. I ended up working there for just one day and decided it just wasn’t for me. But I worked in topless bars for several years while I was acting because unless you live with mommy and daddy or have a sugar daddy, you have to have a job.
DEBRA: Most of it was. I wrote all of the commentary on my movies and everything else is pretty accurate.
DEBRA: Yeah it’s hard! If you do it for more than a minute, you’re like; aaaagh!
DEBRA: I did, but I just kept downsizing. I threw out two full boxes of those Focus magazines, but this was a few years ago when I didn’t think I would be getting back into acting. Not that I didn’t want to, I just didn’t think it would ever happen. But then I got on Facebook and started getting contacted by people who wanted to work with me and send me scripts.
DEBRA: Yes, I do!
DEBRA: It is an Ouroboros. It’s kind of like a symbol for eternity. It’s usually a snake eating its own tail but I had the tattoo artist do it with a dragon’s head instead because I thought it was more feminine. I also have a hamsa hand on my forearm and let’s see….I have (counts to nine). If you go to my Debra Lamb Extreme Facebook page you can see pictures that show off my tattoos. Well, most of them!
CHRIS: I see that you were a guest on (former porn star) Ginger Lynn’s Spice Radio show The Jerk Box, a few months ago.
DEBRA: Yes, we were buddies back in the day because we were in a couple of those Electric Blue shows for the Playboy channel together. So when I got on Facebook, we friended each other and she saw that I’m a psychic and she invited me on her radio show. That was last December and I was on the day before her birthday. She was going to have me talk to people on the phone as a psychic but the show didn’t follow those lines. It was really fun though. We had cake and were doing all these fun things with cake all over us (laughs). I was on the show for the full four hours!
CHRIS: Early in your career, did you ever come across any sleazy producers that wanted to get you on the casting couch?
DEBRA: Uh, one or two, but let me tell you about this bondage photo shoot I went on. I was only about 19 or 20 but I was really innocent at the time. I was taking a variety of modeling jobs, and since I had no money, I was willing to try almost anything. I showed up at this place but I just couldn’t do it because when I saw the set with all the bondage stuff, it really wasn’t my thing so I left. The agent later yelled at me about how much money he lost, but I said I was sorry but I just couldn’t do it.
CHRIS: So, is there anything you did early in your career that you now wish you hadn’t done?
DEBRA: Yeah, there is one nude photo shoot I did that makes me kind of cringe. It wasn’t that bad, and it wasn’t like I was doing anything with anyone else, but the photography wasn’t very good and the lighting was bad. Now, years ago when I was doing all the movies, some of my really early stuff embarrassed me back then, but now I don’t care. I mean, it was so long ago, who cares? I also did a shoot or two with (photographer) Suze Randall, who wanted me to get into porn because she thought I’d be a natural. She was very nice and really professional and I liked her but I had to tell her no because I felt I just couldn’t do that and have a chance at a mainstream acting career.
DEBRA: …even the whole thing with me leaving acting for almost 10 years, I really think it was all for the best. I’m OK with it and I’m happy that I have the opportunity to come back stronger and better than ever! I have a lot of people who are happy to hear from me and happy to see that I’m getting back into acting.
CHRIS: What was the last film you did before your hiatus from acting?
DEBRA: Well, don’t share this website yet because it’s not quite ready, but if you go to my fan site you can see my complete filmography. I actually built both my psychic website and my fan site myself! It’s for my fans. Everything that I’ve ever done up to this point right now. Anyway, there are a few things on the filmography page of my fan site that they don’t have on my IMDb page, like a couple of student films I did. (Author’s Note: Even though it’s still under construction, Debra later gave her OK to link to her fan site.) The last one that IMDb lists is Ballerina Finale, which actually began as a student film in 1994 (under the working title; Curtain Call). The director (Christine Rasmussen) expanded it and made it into more of a feature film that was released in 1997. So, the mid-90s was pretty much the last time I did anything, until the early 00s when I started going out on auditions again. I starred in a few more student films, and I worked on the pilot episode of Star Trek: Enterprise, but unfortunately I was cut out!
CHRIS: Aww! The part of the “alien fire eater”?
DEBRA: Yes, but there is this website that lists actors that were cut out of films and TV shows, and according to them, if you buy the first season DVD set, you can see that I was put back in.
CHRIS: What kind of motorcycle were you riding to your auditions back in the day?
DEBRA: It was a Honda CM400.
CHRIS: Ahh, so it wasn’t a hog like the one you’re posed on, on the cover of Supercycle, which is what I was imagining you riding to your auditions.
DEBRA: No, but it was still a real motorcycle, and I could barely pick that thing up. Every once in a while when I was trying to park it, I would kind of fall over and sometimes I would have to wave to someone to come and help me pick it up (laughs).
CHRIS: You said your stepfather at the time was a weekend biker and he got you that bike so you’d have some transportation?
DEBRA: Yeah, and the bike that I posed with on the cover of Supercycle wasn’t that much bigger than the one I had. And that bike (in Supercycle) was extremely popular at the time so I felt really privileged to be modeling on that gorgeous bike.
CHRIS: You also did a shoot for Easyriders that featured you posing with a bike.
DEBRA: Yeah, the Easyriders shoot was okay, but it wasn’t as good as the Supercycle one. That particular issue of Supercycle is a collector’s item now.
DEBRA: I can’t think of anyone I wouldn’t want to work with again. There may have been some who were kind of full of themselves at the time but I’m older now and I know how people can be when they’re younger. I know that there were a couple of times when I was younger that I wasn’t exactly the most professional person and I learned from that.
DEBRA: There was a brief time in the early 90s when it did.
DEBRA: I’m very good with makeup so I usually do my own. I’ve also done other people’s makeup for photo shoots, including Linnea Quigley and Stella Stevens for Femme Fatales Magazine!
DEBRA: I’ve been to the Bahamas but that was for a vacation. I haven’t traveled outside of the United States for my movies or photo shoots….and I shop at the mall (laughs). Oh, there’s this lingerie shop in Hollywood called Trashy Lingerie. I love Trashy Lingerie. I use to shop there all the time and they have really super top-notch lingerie. I still have a lot of the stuff I bought there.
DEBRA: Are you kidding?! I love anchovies ….and garlic! (Laughs)
With Melissa Anne Moore, Ria Coyne, and Wendy MacDonald at Chiller Con ’93
Call, which was later expanded upon and re-released in 1997 as Ballerina Finale
for a photo shoot she did during the making of Ballerina Finale.
Scream Queen Linnea Quigley is pictured at lower left.
As an Asian Elvira from a 2010 photo shoot for Dark Beauty magazine
holds a clue as to the title of her comeback to the B-movie scene.
Debra as Myra the “Snake Lady” on a episode of the 90s HBO series Dream On
See more of Debra at:
Her Official Website
Debra Lamb Psychic Healing
Debra’s Self-Made Fansite
Her Extreme Facebook
Her Psychic Healing Facebook
Debra at Dark Beauty Magazine
Her IMDB Listing
Big thanks to Reyna Young aka “Miss Misery” at Last Doorway Productions