Bambi Woods grew up on Long Island in an upper middle-class family and attended an exclusive Catholic Girl's school as a teenager. She ran away in 1975, when she was sixteen years old, and got married. The marriage didn't last though, and by the time she turned seventeen she had divorced and returned home. Bambi Woods soon rebelled against her parents again and decided to hitchhike across the country to San Francisco, apparently carrying a small billyclub to dissuade any amorous truck driver who wanted to give her more than just a ride.
Bambi was 19 and living in San Francisco when she ran into financial difficulties. "I had a friend who had done a couple of the films and I owed her money. She told me that some producers had called her and were looking for some new faces and said I should go down and talk to them. She told me I was going to get paid something like a thousand dollars a day but when I talked with them, they were only offering three hundred and fifty a day." Bambi, nevertheless, accepted and was cast as Debbie in the now legendary movie 'Debbie Does Dallas' (1978).
The director of the film was originally planning on making a film called ‘Teenage Services’. Things changed when he met Bambi: “A young woman came into the studio that I was working in at the time, told me her story of woe coming back from Dallas trying out for the cheerleaders down there. So I called up my partner at the time and said I got an idea, why don’t we scrap this and we’ll do this? He said, ‘sounds like a good idea to me’. And that’s how it was born… It was really born out of her personality. She was as bubbly as you could get. She seemed to be healthy in her attitude to sex. The only thing she had a problem with that I was not aware of at the time was she had a drug problem. I named her Bambi Woods.”
'Debbie Does Dallas' was a well-made movie about a group of high-school cheerleaders. Despite popular myth, Bambi had never been a cheerleader for the Dallas Cowboys, although she did apparently try out for them once. "It's not about the Dallas Cheerleaders", she later said, "It's about these high school cheerleaders who want to become Dallas cowgirls. The girl I play wants to go to Dallas to try out but her parents won't give her the airfare so she and all her friends get jobs and then their bosses offer them money to lift up their shirts and show their tits and then they start fucking them and they get the money." Although Bambi only appears in one scene at the end of the film, she was perfect for the part. Bambi admitted that she enjoyed making the film, "except for the sex scenes because there were too many people standing around watching."
R. Bolla was the actor that had sex with her in the film. “It was one of the few sex scenes that I felt good about. Where I didn’t feel it was slimy. She was too innocent for it to be vulgar… I went out with her on one date. She was very sweet. We went out with her the next night after shooting. That was the only time.”
Herschal Savage, who also appeared in the film, would later recall “I never met Bambi Woods. I saw the film afterwards and I regretted not meeting her, because I think one thing that works about this film, even though technically speaking it’s, come on, it’s a porno film, it’s not good on many levels. But the fact that this girl is the object of the viewers desire and no one actually gets to have sex with her really created a great tease. Back then Bambi Woods was considered really beautiful.”
The film went on to become one of the top five grossing porn movies of all time. In order to make it they conned the top two administrators at the New York State University at Stony Brook into giving them full run of the campus, and even playing themselves in the film. Although they had no idea it was a porn film, the end result was an embarrassment for the state, from the governor down. The administrators lost their jobs and a state attorney got a much ignored lifetime injunction against any theatre showing the movie in New York.
Bambi had no intention of becoming a porn star. "The only reason I went in the first place was because I needed the money. I didn't go looking for it but I needed the money." After 'Debbie Does Dallas' was released, she supported herself by working as a stripper at New York's Melody Burlesque Theatre with other top names such as Seka, Kandi Barbour and Lysa Thatcher. Fred Lincoln, porn actor, director and producer later recalled: “I was the first person to ever put porno girls in theatres and nightclubs in New York. I did it by convincing this guy, Bernie, to hire Bambi Woods. He paid her three thousand dollars and told me, ‘If she don’t make this money back, you gotta pay us.’ She packed the club.” One visitor remembered having "Bambi Woods sprawled out totally nude across my lap, hands permitted anywhere - she just wanted a buck every 2-3 minutes or so."
In 1983, however, she decided to make a comeback, starring in 'Debbie Does Dallas II'. Jim Clark was again the director, but unlike the original, this time Bambi appeared in almost every sex scene. The film picked up with Debbie not making the cheerleading squad and travelling to see her aunt Sadie who ran a brothel. The film was not as successful or as funny as the original, and according to Clark, “the reason that film got so messed up was because a friend of hers from Brooklyn came up and turned her back on to things that she had been off, and she went off the deep end.” Although Bambi had a new image in the film, she was still as sexually explosive as she had been five years earlier. It was initially to be titled 'The Best Little Whore In Texas', but had to be changed for fear of legal problems. "It's very funny," she commented at the time, "I have stood right next to the original movie poster outside of theatres and no one recognizes me."
At the time Bambi planned to continue making porn films, including one that was to be a take-off on 'National Lampoon's Animal House'. She even admitted, "I fucked him last year. He's really great in bed. You might not think so, but John Belushi is a great lover." Apart from one Swedish Erotica loop though, she once again disappeared from public view. It was not until 1985 that Bambi Woods finally starred in her third and final porn film, imaginatively named 'Debbie Does Dallas III' (1985). Unlike her previous two films, however, Bambi only appeared in nude non-sex scenes. The sex scenes she does appear in are actually out-takes from her previous two 'Debbie' movies.
The fate of Bambi Woods in the mid-1980s became a mystery and later the subject of a documentary, ‘Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered’. According to the Art Director of the original ‘Debbie’ movie, “She was a little bit shy and a little bit hesitant… She was a private girl from a tremendously different upbringing and she was all of a sudden in a whole different world..” Clark claims, “I heard that in 1986 she died of an overdose, but I’m certain not sure.” According to Eric Edwards, on the other hand, “From what I heard from other sources I think that her parents rescued her from this industry and took her away into seclusion and probably gave her counselling.”
Regardless as to what actually became of Bambi Woods, she remains one of the iconic stars of porn's golden age. She may have starred in these movies for financial reasons and had no intention to take her involvement in the industry any further, but she will forever be remembered for her role in 'Debbie Does Dallas'. For many Bambi Woods was Debbie. According to the films distributor, Bob Burge, “Bambi was the girl next door. She was the cheerleader. She had that cheerleader look. She had that girl next door look.” Today the film is perhaps the most well known porn film ever made. In Japan a series of comics were named after it, while in Australia there was even a rock band touring the college circuit called 'Debbie Does...' In 2002 it was transformed into a successful mainstream Broadway musical, thereby bringing the original movie, and it's main star, even more exposure.
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