Vintage Jack Wagner clippings, 1984-1986
Vintage Jack Wagner clippings, 1984-1986
Beauty Tips, Effervescence, and a “Return” after a brief hiatus: Three Clippings from Soap press outlets, date ranges 96ish-98ish.
Saturday’s new Leo moon was in the 12th House of Destiny, so it was an ideal day to meet in person with someone I’d already “met” through a series of complex, fated steps to see a musical that interrogates the writ large question “What If?” in New York City. The City of Big Things if ever there was one.
I already knew Desirae would be a member of my “tribe.” Her careful, critically adept way of taking in a situation—of leading simultaneously with head and heart—had already convinced me she’d be a person on whom to place bets. Her love of academia and equal passion for one particular gem of pop culture makes her a kindred.
Frisco & Felicia: An Undying Love Affair (FFAULA) brings all kinds (and it takes all kinds. More on that later.), but Desirae’s commitment to the real and reel pairing created a through line that I’ve been able to cultivate with a subset of the larger group.
Arriving at New York’s Penn Station in the midst of a great throng of bodies training and de-training, I vowed to be more strategic about finding my mark than I was a couple of weeks ago when I met Selena. We’d pre-determined the Information Booth as our meeting spot, so I read the signs and headed directly there—no detours.
As soon as I saw her, I threw myself into her arms and I thought, “Wow. She’s only a little taller than me!” There she was. Smart-looking glasses, long brown hair, adorable face—my friend whose face I knew from pictures, but whose face I had never seen.
Emerging into the pale grey light of the day, we made our way to Starbucks for beverages—a grande Americano for me and a hot chocolate for her. It’s July, but we both love hot beverages all year round (see? A kindred!). Drinks in hand, we walked through the kaleidoscopic chaos of Times Square where any number of people suited up as movie and cartoon characters solicit you for photo opps with them.
And if that’s not your speed, you can pose with naked girls whose upper bodies are painted as the American flag. Before we moved quickly through the density of the populous I saw a five-year-old boy posing with one and I thought, simultaneously, “Now, that’s something this kid will never forget,” and “Why are his parents allowing this?”
“Do you want to call your husband, let him know we found each other and that you’re all right?” I asked.
She chuckled. “He said to me, ‘What if she’s a serial killer?’”
“A serial killer who rides the train to see a show, eat some Italian food, and off my victims?” What would my moniker be, I wondered: “The Cultured Killer”? “The Dinner & A Show Kid”?
We laughed and Desirae made the call.
Side note: Recently, a member of a ‘General Hospital’ fan club did kill at least one person in the group, but pre-existing imprisonment was a factor there. I couldn’t entirely discount Mr. Desirae’s fears, I supposed.
Just for the fun of it, we took a small detour through the mega Toys R Us to see the Ferris wheel inside. Children and their parents going round and round on a Saturday afternoon. I took a sweeping look of the toy store and all the faces—as many as I could—before we moved on.
Desirae pointed out the billboard for our show as we got closer to Rodgers Theatre and generously stopped to let me get a few shots and led me to better vantage points. “You might get a better one when we cross the street.” As simple a truth as it is, I was reminded.
The best way to see anything is from a distance. A living lesson about vantage points. I love both pictures I took that day, but the crisper one is undoubtedly the one I took after stepping away. I’m always concerned about losing sight of the truth and the tendency is to keep it right in front of my face so I don’t forget, but you can’t lose the stuff that’s tethered to you…
It’s difficult to stop moving in Manhattan—if you stop, you die—but once we were lined up outside the theatre, I was relieved to simply be standing there with my friend, trading anecdotes about her recent vacation to the Caribbean with her family, sharing incredulous impressions of people’s social media personas. It’s amazing to me that in a sea of mostly benevolent folks that certain relationships managed to differentiate themselves and emerged to bring me to the people whose vision is the most aligned with my own.
Our seats afforded us a perfectly centered view of the stage—all the action right, left, and middle fully available for consumption. For the next two and a half hours, I folded myself into the narrative of a protagonist who’s at a cross-section of choice and seeming happenstance. Having bought the soundtrack a couple of months ago, I was familiar with the general architecture of the story, but being here, now would supply me with those crucial transitional moments, the dialogue—the underpinnings of the story of this person’s life. There’s always so much we don’t know until we sit quietly and open ourselves up to the interpretation. The space between the facts and the events, the how you got there…
If you have the opportunity and the means to see If/Then, then you must. I’ll give nothing of those delicious underpinnings away, but let this suffice: Whether it’s now or later, you will encounter everything and everyone who’s meant for you. And if something, someone, some place is your destiny, it will intersect with the spectrum of your life.
I teared up thinking about all this—how I was sitting in a hushed theatre with someone that by all the facts of my life, I probably shouldn’t know. I thought about the fact that a car accident on Memorial Day night of 2010 is what led me to that very moment, and I could trace every step from then to now, but only from the distance time has provided.
The rain that had been threatening to come all day arrived when we left the theatre, so I huddled along with Desirae under her umbrella while we waited for an available taxi. After several minutes, we moved from the place we were and ducked into a discount store so I could buy a cheap umbrella of my own. She called a car service.
I’d decided when we were sketching out this plan that I wanted to go to Coppola’s because Jack Wagner has been touting it since his own stint on Broadway in 2000—and as recently as two months ago on Twitter. It was too delicious a beat in the story to ignore—too overt a nod to pass up. We took photos under the restaurant’s awning, deliberately leaving out the neon “Psychic Reader” sign that pointed to the business upstairs. Perhaps I shouldn’t have.
It’s smaller inside than I’d have imagined, but the intimacy and ambient lighting suited my sensibilities well. The full-bodied, gracious Merlot I chose eased my worries about everything—including about my recently cut and styled hair that I feared the humidity and light rain had undone beyond repair. I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror. Not too bad after all, I decided. I worry far too much and too often.
Because this isn’t a restaurant review, I’ll say only that our meals were competently prepared and that it was much more about a mission to completion and the intersection of worlds than it was about food. Even if the food had been awful, it still would have been something I had to do, some place I had to be.
On our way out, back into the daylight, we saw what we hadn’t seen on the way in. A picture of Jack from the Jekyll & Hyde era. He was mid-laugh and if the woman in the photo with him had been Kristina, it would have been perfect. But it wasn’t. Part of acknowledging destiny is that you can’t avoid the less than ideal moments—in fact, those get you closer to what’s right, what is perfect… eventually.
And this all reminded me why FFAULA exists. There needed to be something, some place where the work he did with Kristina is esteemed and honoured. The rest of the world seems to have a blind spot where it’s concerned, giving it even less than short shrift. Desirae and I exchanged a look that was the equivalent of a shoulder shrug and went outside to wait for our car.
A few seconds later, the manager came running out with my sweater. I didn’t even realize I’d left it behind. “I caught you just in time,” he said.
When our driver pulled away from the curb, he said in a subtle Eastern European accent “Your name is Desire-y?”
“Desi-ray,” Des said, sounding it out phonetically.
“Oh, Desirae,” he repeated. “I was pulled to this name like a magnet. Desire… I had to take this call to get you.”
Sometimes we are simply drawn—and even when we move away from what draws us, we’re often drawn back at the right time.
So, I was back at Penn Station with time to kill before my train home, charging my phone at one of the available outlets, and letting this all sink in. I thought about how I’d write about it—how the day had bent itself to storytelling like an agreeable friend who wanted everything to be what was most needed.
It was a generous day spent with a person whose generosity rivals her solid sense of the world. And I thought about how lucky I am that something so frightening and unfortunate that happened to me four years ago was not only the ultimate example of averted tragedy, but that it led to the best thing I’ve ever done or been part of in my life—and that energy is rippling out from me and coming back to me all the time.
I was pulled to this like a magnet.
It was a wet washcloth of a day: swollen with humidity, wrung out, and overcast. The kind of day that is thick with the threat of rain. I had packed an umbrella in case the threat was made real. Seated at a café table, we tried to form the day’s plot. Maxed out on the museums from her last visit, it was easy to kibosh that as an option. I was relieved—I didn’t want a focus on anything external to take away from the narrative I knew I’d eventually write about our day. The 2:30 meeting had turned into a 3:00 p.m. conversation in progress that forced the following awareness: we were both hungry.
You’d never know I was a planner from the way I sat there Googling “restaurants near Union Station” like someone who’d never been to the capital, but I had no concrete next step for us to take. The meeting itself was the stuff of whimsy and I suppose I expected the next moment to simply rise up to meet us. The trouble with 3 p.m. is that it’s between lunch and dinner and many establishments are closed to prepare for the evening rush of diners. Just when I was on the cusp of suggesting we leave the train depot and wing it, the sky opened. The rain was insistent, nearly violent when it finally arrived. No umbrella would be a match for it.
Fate once again dictated our course. We were staying in the station, which boasted any number of eating options. It wasn’t the grand adventure I assumed we’d have, but I was with the perfect companion, so the where didn’t matter.
In the first half an hour, we refreshed each other’s memories on the details of our lives that were probably first shared more than three years ago. Gathering up loose ends. I’d forgotten that Selena was a nurse for a while before she built a life in Taiwan, where fate decidedly intervened in her life and saw to it that she meet her husband, just before she was on the brink of returning to America for good. That was 17 years ago.
And we went all the way back to the bare bones of our story—the why of forming FFAULA, the real why. Ultimately, we’d both found Frisco & Felicia again at about the same time in our lives and the rediscovery connected us back to something at the core of ourselves, back to the time in our lives when our ideals were being shaped. And those two characters and the two people who brought those characters to life, brought us together.
FFAULA was formed to send love to those two people, to reconnect them to that part of their lives as much as it was an expression of our love for what they made. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and we knew that what they put into the world was very much alive. Every post on the group wall, every video compilation, every backdated magazine purchased, and every old interview shared has been a step in the direction of reminding us and reminding them of that indestructible magic, even though we only had what we put into the universe as a through line.
Someone once said to me of Jack’s eventual return to General Hospital, “you seem to have willed this…” Sometimes, the initial outcome of a fated event can look very much like disaster. I didn’t wish for a return to the soap, per se. I simply wished for a sparked awareness in both of the principals that “F&F” still mattered. I very much feared a return because I didn’t know if current writers could be trusted with the fictitious narrative. We now know that they could not be. But something far greater will come from that, has in fact already emerged. Whatever this is is not yet fully articulated, but I feel it as strongly as I did at the age of 11 when these two people (and their fictitious counterparts) first came into my life, into our lives…
A real part of this meeting was recounting the story of our unfolding friendship as we recounted our love of their story, which was part of us years before I stumbled across Selena’s first video on YouTube.
To meet was to tell each other the story again.
I ordered my signature cocktail—a vodka martini straight up. Selena ordered a Guinness, and we talked about the future, what it might hold in the short- and long-term. Short-term, we sketched a plan for group activities to dovetail with the actual 30th anniversary of Frisco & Felicia appearing together on our screens. Long-term, I learned that of the many options for happiness available to her when Selena and her family eventually return to the states, that running a food truck may be what occupies their time.
We were just two women whose lives intersected over something—a phenomenon many would write off as ancillary at best and stupid at worst—but we were still two people with our own narratives, fears, and insecurities. FFAULA is a safe space, meant to be fun—a rescue from drudgery. This is why we agreed that it must never become a task or an assignment. If it’s not fun, we shouldn’t be doing it. FFAULA has an open door so that anyone can walk through it, out of it, and in again if it comes to that.
I was sitting across from someone who is every bit me—the mirror image of my intentions—with her own story that unfolded in just such a way to get us to this point. Face to face.
Pisces rules the 12th house—the House of the Unconscious, or more aptly, the House of Reckoning. This house most commonly reflects our subconscious and is associated with psychic sensitivity. Virgo rules the 6th house—the House of Health, Enemies, and Work Activities. This house concerns itself with duty, necessity, obligation—but also with these questions: What is the purpose of our work? Where is its joy?
Polar opposites on the zodiac wheel, these two mutable (adaptable) signs form a vertical through line and together, are concerned with the highest level of consciousness and the perfect execution of the ideal. In “Danny’s song,” Kenny Loggins’ intones “Pisces, Virgo rising is a very good sign, strong but kind…” In the person of Steve Jobs, a Pisces with Virgo rising, we had someone who esteemed flawless design and elegant function equally, and we saw the collaboration that was possible when these “houses” came together in one vessel.
Whenever I work with a Pisces, I experience a delicious prescient, flowing exchange of energy and ideas. Even if the associations are fleeting, there is a psychic world that waits for me—a mutual understanding of intention and motivation that is kind and generous and fierce. Native.
Selena Lee, the co-founder of Frisco & Felicia: An Undying Love Affair (FFAULA), lives in Taiwan. Time-wise, she is 12 hours ahead of me. As the Pisces in our Pisces-Virgo pair, it is fitting that she abides just ahead of me, accessing the higher, intuitive knowledge of those advanced hours. Yet, we have seemed to land in the same place at the same moment at a handful of critical junctures.
In the early part of 2011, I gave up trying to find the “Frisco & Felicia Make Love For The First Time” arc on YouTube. Many commenters had been asking, clamoring for this critical, yet missing piece of the characters’ history. I found a questionable peddler of GH episodes on DVD on the Internet and placed an order. At this time in my life, I had no idea how to upload a video of my own, let alone convert something from DVD to a video file to upload myself. But as I watched those grainy, visible tracking-adjusted episodes, I wished more than anything to be able to give that gift to the small community of “F&F commenters,” as I’d come to think of them.
Not two days in to my own viewing, the very same clips and edits I was watching on my television appeared, incrementally, on YouTube in the “suggested videos section.” It was as though I, in a parallel, universe, had willed the appearance of them—so effortless was the dovetailing. That was Selena, mirroring my energy, on the other side of the world.
Within a week or so, Selena and I became fast friends and within 4 months, we were drafting the Mission Statement for FFAULA and preparing for the rollout of the group to hand-selected people we’d “met” on YouTube by way of their comments on Frisco & Felicia videos.
Purely through email, Facebook message, The Facebook Group wall, and Twitter—we built a formal presence for these fictitious Lovers’ enthusiasts. The goal was never for it to rival the larger fanbases of more recent daytime couples. Something small, selective, and nearly spiritual in its desire to connect to a second zeitgeist was what we were after.
Three years to the day of our initial YouTube connection, and three years to the day of the anniversary of FFAULA, Selena and I still had not met, but there was an inkling in the water…
On July 14th, we synched up once again. I woke up to a fraught-feeling day. Fraught by suggestion—weighted because I was meeting someone face to face that is one half of a life-changing and life-defining venture. The fever pitch of beginning it long past us, and now being deeply settled into the “maintenance phase” of our joint project, the moment was still overwhelming.
We had trouble finding each other at first. I arrived at the train station at about 2:30 and the throng of people was disorienting. And I walked farther away from the place where I started than I ought to have. I ended up walking all the way back and found her not far from where I began. That seemed fitting, though I was winded from navigating the nearly palatial station.
I felt like an awkward geeky kid meeting her pen pal, worried that I might be a letdown—just a little. Mostly, though, I let the moment take.
“It’s so good to see you! I’m overwhelmed,” I said.
“Yeah. Me too.”
I purchased a bottle of water and we found a place to sit and unpack our lives.
Kristina [Malandro] Wagner, Interview from General Hospital Featuring Frisco and his Port Charles, March 1990
General Hospital Featuring Frisco Jones and his Port Charles, March 1990
Seriously. How many attractive men had their gorgeousness obscured by these wide-set things? Frisco, in “disguise,” 1986.
Frisco & Felicia Cut a Rug at Duke’s, 1986
Jack&Kristina Wagner as Frisco&Felicia Jones Dance and Duet to “Blue Suede Shoes,” GH 1986
Lia Rojales made this—another in her stunning collection—of F&F videos upon my request/at my suggestion. F&F on the Run, 1986 set to Journey’s “Faithfully”
Frisco’s priorities for going under cover in the Fall of 1986: His Marriage and Total honesty with Felicia.
Soap Opera Digest, 1990. Jack & Kristina and new parenthood.
from the September, 1994 issue of Daytime TV
[Editorial Comment: Jack has always understood Frisco&Felicia and their importance to the audience.]
Just as Jack Wagner (Frisco, GH) returned to his role on the popular ABC Soap, (his second day back as a matter of fact), we received a call at the DTV offices from his car phone while driving on the freeway!
Was it kind of a deja vu when you returned back to the GH set?
Jack: It was kind of like going back to your hometown. It was very nice and I got to see a bunch of people I had not met up with in three to four years. It was great.
Now that you have been primarily concentrating on stage work, what new experiences did you bring back to the show?
Jack: It didn’t change a thing in terms of my acting. I have been doing stage things since 1978. I was just able to get back on stage recently in the Los Angeles area. The stage is nothing new for me, that is where I started my career.
That was They’re Playing Our Song?
Jack: That’s right. It is a two-person play for two and one-half hours. It’s Neil Simon, with quick, bantering dialogue. It has a lot of dry wit and charm. It really takes a lot of concentration and an enormous amount of energy to do Neil Simon, especially with music. It actually kind of whipped my butt into shape a little bit to come back to the show.
What do you mean?
Jack: Being away from soaps is like going to the gym for the first time in four years, and all you’ve been doing during that time is eating Twinkies.
What do you think General Hospital fans should expect from Frisco and Felicia, if they should expect anything at all in the near future?
Jack: I would hope a few good laughs and a lot of good sex! I really think people would want to laugh, cry and be touched [by] the years they were on together and I think the writers knew that too.
What are your plans for the future?
Jack: I am looking into a couple of Broadway shows now and it will be the stage for me for the rest of the year. I’m very excited about it.
@WagnerWorldNews: What does it mean to you that after all this time there is such a demand from fans for a character that hasn’t been seen in eighteen years?
Jack: It’s overwhelming. Life is truly unpredictable n this is an example of that. I never thought I would play Frisco again. 2 have response from the fans has humbled me beyond words.. Thank you all.
@WagnerWorldNews: So not only was Frisco one of the most beloved characters ever, but Frisco & Felicia are one of the greatest super couples in the history of daytime. What was it like working with Kristina again after all of this time?
Jack: Kristina and I have worked very hard on ourselves as well as together 2 b present and available parents given our divorce. To work together and recreate the characters of Frisco & Felicia has been a whole different ball game. We were both nervous as well as committed to evolving these characters, yet maintain the charm and chemistry that these two young lovers possessed. When we’re onscreen together something natural happens.. I hope it still works for the GH audience..it’s been a blessing 2 say the least…