Tawny Kitaen, 1980s sex kitten, has passed away. She was just 59 years old.
Not even my best friends know about the long term relationship Tawny and I shared. But now that she has passed on to that Great Music Video in the Sky, it’s time for the truth to come out.
But first, let’s pause for 4 minutes and 31 seconds to remember what critics universally acknowledge as her greatest performance: “Hot Babe With Giant ‘80s Hair Rolling Around On the Hood of an ‘87 Jaguar Sedan” in White Snake’s “Here I Go Again” video.
Tawny and I first met back in 2001. Fate brought us together at about 11:30 a.m. on a sunny Saturday morning at Starbuck’s at Fashion Island in Newport Beach. Our relationship quickly blossomed into something truly beautiful and lasted until 11:45. Maybe even 11:47. Longer, sadly, than many of my other relationships.
I love to take my iPad to coffee shops to watch people as I work, but I hate sitting in hard wooden chairs. This particular Starbucks had two plush, comfy chairs just inside the front window. I was seated in one and the other was empty when a beautiful, auburn-haired young woman approached me. She looked deep into my eyes — nay, my soul — and began a conversation that is etched into my memory.
Tawny: Excuse me.
Tawny: I’m meeting a friend here in a few minutes and we haven’t seen each other in a while and I was just wondering if you would be willing to let us sit here.
Jim: Here in these two chairs?
Tawny: Well, yes, if that’s ok with you.
Jim: Sure. Have a seat. If you don’t mind, I’ll just sit here until your friend arrives.
Tawny: (sitting down in the opposite chair) That would be great. Thank you so much. What’s your name.
Jim: I’m Jim. And you are?
Jim: (Still so stupid that I do not recognize Tawny Kitaen) Tawny. How do you spell that?
Jim: Interesting. Is that your given name or a nickname?
Tawny: It’s a professional name. My real name is Julie.
Jim: Do you mind if I call you Julie?
Tawny: (laughing) No. It’ll just be you and my mom who call me that.
Jim: Well, I’m in good company then.
Tawny: (laughing and pointing to my iPad) What are you working on?
Jim: I’m just checking last night’s baseball scores.
Tawny: You’re a baseball fan?
Jim: Yes. I love baseball.
Tawny: My husband is a baseball player.
Jim: Anyone I would have heard of? What’s your last name?
Jim: Are you married to Steve Finley (a player for the Arizona Diamondbacks)?
Tawny: (almost insulted) No. Chuck Finley.
Jim: (sits silently for a moment, dumbfounded because I know Chuck Finley, a darn fine pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, is married to Tawny Kitaen and suddenly realizing who I’ve been sitting there talking to).
Jim: Tawny? As in Tawny Kitaen?
At that moment another attractive young woman, obviously the one Tawny was waiting for, approached us. Tawny introduced us. I graciously offered her my prized plush chair, then walked away and found myself a cold, hard wooden chair on the other side of the store. I finished looking at the previous night’s baseball box scores, re-watched Tawny’s infamous White Snake video (a couple times), checked my email, and then packed up to go home. My car was parked outside the front door, so I had to pass the two friends on my way out. I walked over to them.
Jim: Just wanted to say good-bye. It was a pleasure meeting you, Julie.
Tawny: (laughing) You and my mom.
She jumped up and gave me a big, lingering hug. Well, truth be told I may have lingered a little longer than she did. Perhaps it even lingered into that hazy ok-we’re-strangers-and-this-is-getting-a-little-uncomfortable zone. And with that, our relationship ended. Although I must admit that I went back to that same Starbucks at about 11:30 a.m. every Saturday morning for the next couple months, just hoping that she would be there again. She wasn’t.
About two years later Tawny was arrested for using her stiletto heels to turn her baseball player husband into a piece of Swiss cheese. This is merely an assumption on my part, but I’m convinced the poor woman did it out of frustration caused by the sudden end of our relationship.
Rest in peace, Julie.