Her name is Robey—yes, just Robey—and she gives the appearance of being as shallow as her name might indicate. She is partying at a club in Toronto, the town where her syndicated TV series, Friday the 13th, is filmed. It is Halloween night, appropriately, and Robey has shoe-horned her 5’7″, 105-lb., 34-23-34 body into a low-cut witch’s outfit. “Of course,” says the deejay, when asked if he has a copy of One Night in Bangkok, Robey’s 1985 single that made the Top 10 on Billboard’s dance chart. “It’s one of my favorites.” He puts it on; Robey drags a reporter onto the dance floor, and as she bops and sings along to her own song, the guys ogling her know they are indeed in bimbo heaven.
But appearances are deceiving. Not entirely dismissable, mind you, but deceiving. Connoisseurs of boopsieness would no doubt be surprised to learn that, among her other talents, Robey, 26, is fluent in three languages—German, French and English. She was, moreover, an honors student who took Oxford-Cambridge prep courses while attending high school in Scotland. Back at the table, après dance, Robey says she knows she’s a creature of contradictions. “I’m spontaneous and romantic,” she says with a slight Scottish lilt, “but I’m also business minded. I’m convinced that I will not lose.”
What the singer-cum-actress has won recently is the starring role in Friday the 13th, a series loosely based on the slice ‘n’ dice movies of the same name. Robey and John D. LeMay play cousins who inherit an antiques store from their Uncle Lew. Unfortunately, Lew sold his soul to the devil, and every piece of furniture in the shop is possessed by an evil spirit. Each week Robey and her cousin do battle with a different Chippendale from hell.
Airing usually on Friday or Saturday nights across the U.S., Friday the 13th has been blessed in the ratings thus far. But even if the show eventually succumbs, Robey is likely to live on. Says she: “I’ve always, for some reason, been lucky.” She drags on a cigarette, takes a sip of her wine, then says, not for the first time, “I’ve been around the block.” Believe her.
Born Louise Robey, she lived near military bases in Canada, West Germany, Italy and Norway. Her father, Malcolm, 54, is a former Canadian air force pilot; her mother, Dallas, 52, is a former actress who was once engaged to actor Richard Todd. “I grew up surrounded by men in uniform,” says Robey. “They were young, good-looking pilots. It was just like Top Gun.” Is she partial to men in uniform? “I’m partial to any man,” she laughs. “I love men. There’s no problem there.”
That became apparent at age 17, after she’d spent four years at St. Leonard’s, a strict boarding school in Scotland. Back in Canada, Robey fell in love with a student and followed him to France. The romance went bust, but hers became famous after she was discovered sunbathing on the Riviera one day by the legendary French photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue. His topless photo of Robey appeared in Paris Match with a story noting that Lartigue “has decided to make a top model of this Canadian.” He succeeded, getting her a 12-page spread two months later in French Vogue.
Her folks weren’t much upset—or even surprised. “She had a very conservative upbringing, and she took off the minute opportunity arose,” says Dallas, who lives with Malcolm in Ottawa. “We’re descended from [Scottish poet] Robert Burns, so there’s a strain of free spirit in the blood.”
Which might explain why Robey moved so easily in Parisian circles of eminence, occasionally dining, she says, “with the President of France at the time, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, director Milos Forman and the Prime Minister of Israel, what’s-his-name.” One of the people she met, and moved in with for a few months, was another film director, whose name she won’t reveal. We can say, however, that he is short, has a known fondness for young girls and introduced her to her friend Nastassia Kinski. “Power is a great aphrodisiac,” says Robey. “I love men who are successful. They can come in any shape or form.” As for the diminutive director, she says, “He was wonderful for me. He’s nuts but also the most giving man. I learned about Chinese opera from him.”
Music was important to her because, even as she was modeling, Robey was forming a New Wave band, Louise and the Creeps. The group signed a contract in 1980, moved to New York and broke up, never recording a single note. For Robey, though, the beat went on. She shortened her name—”it had a nice ring”—and went on to record six solo singles and an album called, simply, Robey. In 1984 she went into acting, landing small film roles in The Money Pit and Raw Deal. Moving to Los Angeles last year, Robey auditioned for Friday the 13th. “She gave a lot more than what was on the printed page,” says the show’s executive producer, Frank Mancuso Jr. Small praise, perhaps, given the quality of the scripts, but she did get the job.
Until the series finishes filming at the end of April, Robey is living in a small, sparse Toronto apartment, alone. She’s had boyfriends—none particularly famous and none who endured. “I broke up with my last boyfriend when I came to Canada,” says Robey. “It’s the same old story with me and men. I like them, but I get very intense about my work. There’s no time for anybody. I only have time for me.”
It is 2 a.m. now, and the club is closing. There are no cabs outside, but as if on cue, a rentable, white stretch limo pulls up to whisk her away. She is lucky, but as she points out, luck is something you earn. “I’ve always kept myself open to learning,” she says. “That’s a must. If you’re too scared to do that, well, as Hitchcock once put it, ‘Only the fearful deserve to die.’ ” With that, she closes the door, and the limo’s taillights fade into the night.