Deborah Voorhees: Her Personal Friday The 13th Nightmare
My view on nudity is not from prudishness, rather it is from my belief in a theory known as The Law Of Unintended Consequences. Unfortunately, I have never quite succeeded in concretely illustrating this concept, until now. I believe I will accomplish this by recounting the abortive teaching career of Deborah Voorhees.
Deborah Voorhees – known better as Debi Sue Voorhees, who played the murdered Tina in “Friday The 13th Part V: A New Beginning” (1986). Voorhees is an interesting and dynamic person. A one-time Playboy Bunny, she recounted that her nude murder scene was shot on the first day of filming, and lasted 13 hours.
Realizing that perhaps acting was a dead-end, Voorheesgraduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Texas Woman’s College in 1990. Between 1993 and 2004, Voorhees was a journalist, editor, and educator with the Dallas Morning News.
“Ostracized then kicked out,” she moved to New Mexico’s Ruidoso High School in 2009 hoping no one would know her. She lasted one year, before being asked to leave 2 weeks before her class’ graduation.
Deborah Voorhees doesn’t do regret:
“Everything I do in my life is about the experience. At the heart of me I’m a writer, but at that time I didn’t think I had the intelligence. I thought I needed to do something off of my looks to make some money while I could and I didn’t want to have to depend on a man to take care of me.”
The next stepping stone evolved into teaching when the newspapers started having to lay off staff and the other City paper folded (no pun intended) wiping out the much needed competition:
“I wanted to pay something back to kids. I could share my story with them”.
Deborah’s Hollywood career comprised less than 10% of her life. She worked for 3 years in Texas as a teacher before someone found out about the ‘boobs’.
“I was firstly ostracised and then kicked out. So I went to New Mexico as I thought no one’s going to recognised me there”.
She lasted a year, and was “thrown out” 3 weeks before her students graduated.
“The irony of it was I pushed my kids, I pushed them hard. I was one of the strictest teachers around! I went to the principal and I said look I understand people are worried about this nudity thing but it’s not as if I’m going to go tell a young girl to go pose nude – not that there’s anything wrong with it – last time I checked babies breast feed, that means they look at our boobs!”
But unfortunately those aforementioned boobs were being texted amongst the boys in stills from ‘Friday the 13th Part 5’. In the end a number of students and parents actually rallied and lobbied the principal and school board to reinstate her: unfortunately to no avail:
“Their support meant a lot to me. I eventually got permission to go and be in the general crowd at the graduation – I wasn’t allowed to sit with the teachers. A child called out my name on the football field after the ceremony. I turned around and saw who it was. He’d given me absolute hell in class; he threw his arms around me and said I’m so sorry I never intended to hurt you. So many of those kids I still see – I can walk into a grocery store and they’ll still come and throw their arms around me.”
It occurs to me that Miss Voorhees was perhaps actually their ‘living’ guardian angel while she was teaching them. Yet at the same time as being an angel-like inspiration, Deborah was also accused of something darker than just boob exposure… According to some you’re also a Satanist…
“Yes, on Thursday’s, the Methodist church in my town in the late evening turns into a Satanist group (ha ha!) No, what actually happened was I taught Dante’s Inferno, and I was trying to teach Milton’s Paradise Lost, which incidentally, was approved at the time by the principal – but of course when the shit went down it wasn’t approved anymore!.
We had kids doing poetry, painting and music; they were producing some amazing things. At one point I was even told that I was the kind of teacher they could write movies about – and then they found out about my tits and suddenly I couldn’t teach my way out of a paper box!”.
She was so upset that her husband said she was evencrying in her sleep.
“The principal took control of all the students grade books and changed the grades – upped them. So the students suddenly all got better grades with me gone. And yet they still fought for me”.
(DAN PETERS) Do you regretc.l of the nudity you did for your role, or even the role in general now that you look back on it?
(DEBI SUE) Regrets aren’t healthy. I have had some tough times because of that decision, such as being judged unfairly and not being allowed to teach (one of my passions) in high school. I taught British Literature, English, grammar, and journalism in high school for four years. Two school boards exiled me because of it. At one school, some boys got a hold of the tit shots from the film and text messaged them around the school. This was three weeks before my seniors graduated and I wasn’t allowed to stay through the end or sit with my students and fellow teachers at graduation. I still went to graduation and sat in the stands with the public. When the public was allowed to go down to congratulate the kids, I held my head high and tried to find as many of my seniors as possible to congratulate them. That was hurtful, but after only four years I have so many students who have let me know I have made a difference for them. I have so many e-mails and letters that warm my heart. Several of my kids signed a petition on my behalf, wrote letters, and spoke with the principal on my behalf–even several months after there was no hope of my returning. One of my boys gave me a huge hug at graduation and told me how sorry he was. “You have no idea how guilty I feel. You’ve taught me so much and helped me so much.” That meant the world to me. I do not regret the times in my life that have made me who I am. So many live a life of “quiet desperation.” My life has been anything but that. I’ve gone from working as an actress to writing as a journalist for 16 years (last 11 years at the Dallas Morning News) as well as writing fictional screenplays and my novel Memoirs of a Hit Man, to experiencing the joy and pain of teaching teenagers, to coming full-circle back to the film business. So, absolutely, no regrets.
(DAN PETERS) Is there anything that you would have changed? More importantly, would you do the same role today if given the chance?
(DEBI SUE) I can’t change the past, so speculating different choices smacks too close to regret. So, no changes.
(DAN PETERS) It was said that Danny Steinnman had shot your sex scene with John in a very graphic way. Most of it had ended up on the cutting room floor. Were you aware of Danny’s background in the porn industry during the production? Do you have any resentment for Danny shooting the scene so long and with such a gratuitous amount of sex?
(DEBI SUE) Rumors are a funny thing. Rarely, do they speak of truth. No the sex scene with John was not shot in a graphic way. It was all make-believe. Danny is a fabulous man—always kind, considerate and always careful that I was covered as well as possible. No I didn’t know about his background in the porn industry, but that would not have changed my thoughts about him. I’ve been judged too much for my past to judge others for their past. In fact, I hope to be able to tell him that I’m directing my first film. I know he’ll be proud of me. He always saw me as more than boobs and legs.