Our Fair Lady
her name is lee ann michelle and, by george!, we think she's got it
The first thing that strikes you about Lee Ann Michelle (well, maybe the second or third) is that she'd be perfect for the role of Eliza Doolittle in G.B. Shaw's Pygmalion. First of all, she's English, born and raised in Surrey, and her accent has a lilting, lyrical intonation that could charm even the most hardened Anglophobe. And second, she's got a certain versatility of expression -- one moment she'll mimic a London street urchin and the next she's as polished and elegant as British royalty. The fitting paradox to all this is that most people who meet her just sort of naturally fall into the Henry Higgins role. "It's a funny thing," she says, smiling impishly, "but when people first meet me, they have this incredible urge to educate me. I don't know why, I don't look innocent." And, indeed, Lee Ann hardly needs to be educated -- at the ripe old age of 18, she has already had more than her share of experience. Two years ago, she left school in England to seek her fortune. "I went naïvely looking about for a job," she says, "but no one would hire me, because they said I didn't have any experience. So I took to modeling. Since I looked older than my age at the time, I became a page-three girl for the London papers." (Page-three girls are models who appear topless in London's tabloids, notably on page three of The Sun. See Playboy's Roving Eye, January). Reactions to Lee Ann's page-three debut were mixed: "None of my girlfriends at school would talk to me. They thought it was disgusting, but all my grandmother's friends thought it was wonderful. Odd, isn't it?" At 17, a calendar shooting for British Leyland Motors took her to Hollywood, where she was discovered by both Playboy and Motown Productions. The people at Motown were so taken by Lee Ann they've decided to film their next movie, a Paramount release, around her. Naturally, she'll star. "It's called The Golden Goose," she tells us, "and it's about an English singer who thinks she's making it on talent but discovers that her voice has been dubbed all along and it's the hype that made her a star. She's been sort of manufactured, you see. It's emotional and funny and very musical." Sounds, as the English put it, like a jolly good show.
Photography by Mario Casilli