They met by the edge of the Beastie Boys’ swimming pool and made eyes during the taping of a music video. It was fitting, since both have pop-rock in their blood: She is the lead singer of the Bangles, the all-female band that has sold 6 million records. He is the only son of Mr. “Mellow Yellow,” Donovan the elder.
Susanna Hoffs and Donovan Leitch remember it all as though it were yesterday, which it very nearly was. When Hoffs ran into Leitch last September at the Beasties’ party-hearty homestead in Hollywood (known to insiders as the G Spot), she decided he was “really adorable.” He’d decided the same about her months ago, watching MTV. A few days later, Leitch showed up for the taping of a new Bangles video. “He came to the set with a basketball and didn’t say a word to me; he just played with the basketball,” recalls Hoffs. “I said to the director, ‘I wish that he wasn’t so shy and I wasn’t so shy. I wish that we could just go over to that couch and start making out.’ ”
Anyone who might chance to see them now, kissing amid the cassette tapes in a Los Angeles record store, say, might imagine that reserve yielded quickly to romance. But by rock-and-roll standards, Hoffs and Leitch had a long-playing courtship. It was three months before Donovan Jr. could tell his friends, as he has, “Oh wow, I’m dating this really groovy girl.” Explains Hoffs: “I needed to be sold on him—I thought he was too young, and he was an actor.”
But Hoffs, 30, soon adjusted to the idea of a beau who was barely old enough to buy beer. “He really is an old soul,” she says of Leitch, who turned 21 last August and moved out of his mother’s house just a few months ago. Actually, Hoffs hasn’t been out of the nest much longer, and she thinks that her close relationship with her father, Joshua, a Los Angeles psychoanalyst, has a lot to do with the fact that she has usually dated younger men. “I was always so close with my father, and he was so open and attractive and youthful,” says the self-avowed Freudian. “I was more comfortable with guys who reminded me of my two younger brothers.”
Leitch’s profession was a bigger stumbling block for Hoffs, who considers actors “spoiled” and “needy.” (She has one movie credit herself—The Allnighter, a dopey sex romp directed by her mother, Tamar.) “Susanna really had this idea of a perfect husband and children,” says Leitch, whose seven films include The Blob, Breakin’ 2: Electric Booguloo and the upcoming Glory. “I told her that she was going to spend her whole life looking for this person.” But just to make sure Hoffs knew that he was more than the sum of his B-movie credits, Leitch also tried to impress her with the political connections he had made while campaigning for Michael Dukakis. “I thought, ‘All right, I’ll take her out to the Kennedys’.’ ” They dined in New York City with Ethel Kennedy and her son, Joe—and then politely parted.
What the Kennedys could not accomplish, time took care of, and by December Leitch and Hoffs were inseparable. He took her home to meet his mother, ’60s model Enid Oklahoma, and his sister, lone Skye, the teen star of Say Anything. She took him to celebrate Chanukah with her relatives at a local deli. “They were very impressed that I ordered stuffed cabbage and matzo ball soup,” he recalls.
When the Bangles went on tour this spring to promote their new album, Everything, Leitch joined up with them whenever possible. He’d walk behind Hoffs during her daily jogs and hang out at shopping malls with the band between gigs. The last time he’d been on tour, with his father (who severed all ties with the family shortly thereafter), he was a babe in arms. Now he goes on the road to avoid the alternative: loneliness and phone bills. “I’ll be in some hotel room and she’ll be in some hotel room, and we’ll be, like, ‘Oh, I hate this,’ and we’ll watch TV together over the phone,” he says.
At home, in their neat two-bedroom house in West Los Angeles, Hoffs and Leitch are experimenting with cohabitation. Hoffs, a compulsive organizer who alphabetizes her bookshelves, is learning to “live in the mess.” Leitch, whose longest previous relationship lasted 18 months, is reeling from prolonged exposure to “so many women’s things.” Both have taken up writing—he’s working on a script, Hoffs is composing a novel—and they talk of working on a film together.
Last month they took a vacation in Europe, where the Bangles single “Eternal Flame” is No. 1, and the British tabloids had a field day. BANGLE SUSANNA CAUGHT IN LOVE TANGLE WITH BOY TOY proclaimed one, while others said the couple were about to marry.
Marriage is “a definite maybe,” but for now, Hoffs is happy just to be in love. “He makes life a joy,” says the singer of Leitch. “It all sounds like a trite song, doesn’t it? But it’s true.”
—Patricia Freeman, Michael Alexander in Los Angeles