“Metal In Your Face”: Trashy Victorian glam rockers Britny Fox rocked their hearts out in “Girlschool”

By on March 24, 2017

Night Flight’s “Metal In Your Face” segment from November 12, 1988 — now streaming over on our Night Flight Plus channel — featured music videos from a host of late ’80s-era hair metal bands, including “Girlschool” by trashy Victorian glam rockers Britny Fox.

The video — it starts about 45:00 if you wanna fast-forward to watch it — also featured an appearance by lingerie/poster model Kim Anderson, who during the 1980s also showed up in a bunch of other rock videos as well as a few forgotten ’80s and ’90s movies like Hot Times at Montclair High.

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Kim “Scruffy” Anderson

Britny Fox were formed in 1986, in Philadelphia, PA, after drummer Tony “Stix” Destra and guitarist Michael Kelly Smith — who were both members of Cinderella, at the time a more bloozy-sounding heavy metal act — were both canned from the band at the behest of Cinderella’s record company.

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Within six months or so, Smith and Destra — who was one of Cinderella’s founding members — added bassist Billy Childs and soon thereafter hired lead singer and rhythm guitarist “Dizzy” Dean Davidson.

It was Davidson who came up with the band’s somewhat silly name which he claimed was in honor of a Welsh ancestor (no idea if the ancestor was vexed by using the vowel “e” or not).

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Early on they were described on a compilation appearance as being purveyors of “trashy Victorian glam,” no doubt in part because they favored dressing like dandies in ladies lace and frilly tuxedo-style shirts, usually tucked away under velvet vests and jackets, with their teased poodle-cut hairdos hanging long and loose.

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British glam-rock of the late 70s seems to have been a key main influence (they covered Slade’s boot-stompin’ “Gudbuy T’ Jane”) before they modified their sound, much like most of the so-called hair metal bands of the late ’80s did, adding some yawn-inducing anthemic power ballads along the way.

By the way, we realize that most fans and bands don’t seem to care for the neologism “hair metal,” but that’s what a lot of us called it back then, sorry!

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Philly-based Britny Fox decamped for Los Angeles, as all glammed-out hair metal bands eventually did back then, and 1987, they recorded tracks for a cassette demo, In America.

The tracks were, we think, recorded at the Galaxy Studio in Somerdale, New Jersey, and two songs were written by Destra.

“Girlschool,” however, was penned entirely by Dizzy Dean Davidson.

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We should probably point out that for a long time we thought maybe the track’s title came from the band Girlschool, the all-chick British rockers who formed in 1978 and were contemporaries of Motörhead during the new wave of British heavy metal scene.

It turns out that Davidson was inspired, instead, by a song by Paul McCartney’s Wings, released with “Mull of Kintyre” as a single in 1977 (check out the demo version of Britny Fox’s “Girlschool” here).

By this time, the band were playing showcase gigs, trying to land a record deal, and it was after one of these showcase performances — playing for reps from RCA Records, somewhere in Pennsylvania — that tragedy struck the band, at four o’clock in the morning on February 8, 1987, when Destra was killed in a car accident after losing control of his car at an unsafe speed on an icy road and smashing into a tree.

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Tony “Stix” Destra

Britny Fox took a week off, and tried to figure out how to proceed, temporarily replacing Stix Destra with an old friend of the band’s, drummer Adam West, but he didn’t want to join the band full-time.

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They eventually settled on a more permanent arrangement with John DiTeodoro — better known as “Johnny Dee” — who had been the drummer for the band Waysted (Childs had played in a cover band with Johnny Dee back in Philly when they were still teens, sharing a rehearsal space with a band whose drummer was Dizzy Dean Davidson).

They eventually landed their first major recording contract with Columbia Records, who were drawn to band partly because Cinderella had become a top-selling glam-metal act by then.

Lead vocalist Davidson was also consciously modeling his scratchy yelp vocals after Cinderella’s Tom Keifer by then too.

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Their debut album, the self-titled Britny Fox, was released in 1988 and featured six re-recorded versions of songs from their cassette demo, along with several newly-written songs.

Record company one-sheets and glossy mag ads featured the following funny text:

The Fox is in the Henhouse!!! Experience the glamslam of the century as Britny Fox invade your privacy with their outrageous debut album, Britny Fox, featuring the devastating new single, “Girlschool,” and the smash hit, “Long Way to Love.” Get Foxed! Britny Foxed!

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The band joined a couple of national tours, opening for bigger hair acts like Poison and Warrant, and their debut became one of the best-selling hair metal debut albums of the year, peaking at #39 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 album charts. It went gold after selling more than a half-million copies (and has since topped a million in sales).

At year’s end, the photogenic fan favorites were named Metal Edge Magazine’s 1988 Reader’s Choice Award for Best New Band.

Along with their first single from the album, “Long Way to Love,” which landed on the lower rungs of Billboard‘s single charts, their follow-up single “Girlschool” would give the band their biggest chart success (#81 U.S./#67 U.K).

A more recent iTunes review of their debut album also says that their “Girlschool” “would’ve made a killer Runaways tune,” and we’d have to agree, it would have.

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Much of its success certainly had to be due in part to generous radio airplay across the country on mainstream rock stations, but mostly, we think, it had more to due to the success of their “Girlschool” video, which landed them in MTV’s heavy rotation.

The video — described by Stephen Thomas Erlewine in his All Music Guide review as “a brilliant teen-fantasy video of a schoolroom of gorgeous Catholic schoolgirls rocking out to a band who wore more makeup than them.”

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Erlewine called the video “a great moment in pop-metal, and it remains one of the style’s best moments.”

As mentioned, most of the action takes place in a high school classroom setting, which we’ve witnessed in so many rock videos during the 1980s — by bands like Twisted Sister (“We’re Not Gonna Take It”), Mötley Crüe (“Smokin’ in the Boys Room”), Van Halen (“Hot For Teacher”) and so many others — that it became a kind of popular go-to trope for a lot of 80s-era music video directors.

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“Girlschool” was directed by Marc E. Reshovsky, (and, yes, we misspelled his name on the chyron, sorry ’bout that) an award-winning cinematographer who was born in Los Angeles and graduated from UCLA from their film department but by the early ’80s he’d made a living working on travel and adventure documentaries, which were shot all over the world.

Reshovsky ended up living in New Zealand, working as staff cinematographer for a production company who filmed commercials, industrials and documentaries, before returning to L.A. in 1984, where he began working in the quickly-emerging world of music videos.

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Prior to working on “Girlschool,” Reshovsky mostly worked as a Director of Photography, along with directors like Wayne Isham and David Fincher, lensing classic early 80s music videos by Bon Jovi (“Living On a Prayer,” “Wanted Dead or Alive”), Bryan Adams, Deff Leppard (“Pour Some Sugar on Me”), Ozzy Osbourne (“Crazy Train”) and Britny Fox’s first video, “Long Way to Love,” which was directed by Nigel Dick.

The scenes for “Girlschool” — which may have been Reshovsky’s first as a music video director — were shot in September of 1988 in an industrial facility in Long Beach, California, which was the same location where an early death scene from 1987’s Robocop was filmed, the one where Peter Weller’s police officer character Murphy was shot.

By 1990, Reshovksy had shot some 300 music videos, plus numerous long-form concerts for such acts as Fleetwood Mac, Bon Jovi and Pink Floyd.

He later moved on to lensing low-budget features (Sorority House Massacre and Teen Witch). Reshovsky died in 2009.

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Notable in the video is an appearance by veteran character actress Marianne Muellerleile, who began making TV appearances in 1981 and at the time was recognizable for being the first “wrong” Sarah Connor killed by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator in 1984’s The Terminator.

She also appeared in the 1984 hit comedy film Revenge of the Nerds (as the woman who answers the door where Harold Wormser goes to ask about the room for rent) and to this day continues to act and has a very long and impressive résumé that you can see over at IMDB.

Also appearing in the video is lingerie/poster model Kim Anderson as a naughty Catholic schoolgirl, who is one of the young girls being lectured by their strict teacher (Muellerleile), only for the walls of the room to come tumbling down to reveal Britny Fox rockin’ their hearts out.

She’s transformed into a rockin’ teen trollop with mussed-up hair and an unbuttoned shirt in a room full of girls who begin dancing to the music (some of them curiously wearing pastel colored long gloves for some reason).

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Kim “Scruffy” Anderson in Hot Times at Montclair High

Anderson — who worked in the accounting department of a Sears department store in the Cerritos Mall in Southern California when she wasn’t modeling or appearing in videos — ended up becoming a music video diva from the late 80’s & early 90’s, even appearing on MTV to talk about the many videos she’d appeared in.

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The Britny Fox “Girlschool” video was also included in the 1991 VHS release, Rock Video Girls.

Hot Times at Montclair High – Kim Anderson as “Brigette Amhurst”

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She also appeared in a few forgettable movies, like Hot Times at Montclair High (that’s her on the VHS box cover) and on TV shows like “Married with Children,” and “Mr. Belvedere,” usually being billed as “Girl #3″ or “Party Girl” or something like that.

Anderson — who curiously had the nickname “Scruffy” for some reason — also made a couple of minor appearances in the “Grapevine” section of Playboy, in May 1990 (“Lying Down on a Job”) and in August 1993 (“Bottoms Up”), but these appear to have been fully-clothed promotional pictures meant to highlight her upcoming appearances in movies.

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Another young actress you might recognize is Darcy DeMoss, who, like the other girls, can be seen in Catholic schoolgirl skirts and belly-knotted shirts, dancing wildly with the rest of the classroom in front of Britny Fox, who appear to the girls but not their teacher, not until she finally gets with it.

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Before appearing in the video, she made appearances in Brian De Palma’s acclaimed thriller Body Double (uncredited as “Barefoot Dancer in Nightclub”), Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Reform School Girls, Return to Horror High, Can’t Buy Me Love, and other projects.

She continues to act to this day, more recently appearing in the 2015 made-for-cable movie Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

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In 1989, after our “Metal In Your Face” special originally aired on “Night Flight,” and shortly after the release of the band’s second album, Boys in Heat, tensions in the band led to the departure of their lead singer, Dizzy Dean Davidson (he formed the band Blackeyed Susan).

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Davidson’s replacement — Las Vegas native “Tommy Paris” (originally Don Jillson of the band Jillson) remained with Britny Fox thereafter, and was weathered their many lineup upheavals ever since, officially breaking up for the first time in 1992, when glam metal seemed to move aside to make room for grunge bands and what radio formats were then calling “alternative rock.”

Original bassist Billy Childs — who today is the only original member of the Britny Fox band still rockin’ under their moniker — reformed the band, under new management, in 2007, before disbanding.

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Seven years later, in 2014, he and Tommy Paris and drummer Johnny Dee reformed Britny Fox once again (along with guitarist Chris Sanders, taking over for Michael Kelly Smith, who had no interest in Britny Fox’ing one more time).

Tthey continue to book and play select dates, according to their Facebook page, in addition to writing songs for a new album.

Check out Night Flight’s late 80s “Metal In Your Face” segment — which also features scenes from Penelope Spheeris’s The Decline of Western Civilization, Part II: The Metal Years and jammed metal in your face with music videos by Nuclear Assault, Kix, Overkill and Suicidal Tendencies (their “Trip at the Brain” music video was directed by Bill Fishman, who we featured in this post about his film, Tapeheads). You can watch it all over at Night Flight Plus, and be sure to check out our post on the 2015 documentary, Inside Metal: Pioneers of L.A. Hard Rock and Metal too.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.