Uploaded: January 31, 1978
Description:Janis Schmitt can't help but remind you of the elusive blonde bombshell in American Graffiti, the one who cruises the streets in a spanking new white sports car, leaving poor Richard Dreyfuss frantic at every sighting. Janis tours the streets of St. Louis in a bright-blue Triumph Spitfire convertible, leaving contingents of wide-eyed, double-taking men in her path. Today she is wearing a skintight sweater dress with holes in appropriate places and black high-heeled boots, and as she extracts her 5'4" frame from a bucket seat and enters Houlihan's - a funky, Friscoesque bar-restaurant in St. Louis' West County - a huddle of businessmen at the bar stop abruptly, as if frozen in time, martinis poised in mid-air, mouths agape. She pretends not to notice, orders a bloody mary and stirs it with a celery stalk. "I can't believe men sometimes," she says. "You know, I bicycle almost every day in Carondelet Park. I get up real early in the morning, before the nuts come out. I wear my hair pulled back, an old T-shirt, some old gym shorts and no make-up - in fact, I do everything to make myself look plain - and I still get slapped on the behind." Bicycling every day - weather permitting - is just one of Janis' many activities. At night, she's a Bunny at the St. Louis Playboy Club, a job she's had for three years and through which she became close friends with Playmate of the Year Patti McGuire. Before that, she was a file clerk in a local bank, a bookkeeper in a juvenile court and a respiratory therapist at a local hospital. The temptation to remark that, as a respiratory therapist, she surely must have left a lot of patients breathless is overwhelming, but you let it pass. Janis orders another bloody and carefully flicks a stray bang out of her eye, one of her more frequent and enchanting mannerisms. "I'm basically a very quiet person," she says pensively. "I've been shy all my life. Insecure. Would you believe I've even read books on overcoming shyness? I always wanted to be an actress, but I was too shy in high school to get on a stage. What really makes me mad about being quiet is that people always assume you're dumb, that you have nothing to say. I'm just more of a listener and I suppose that's why I'm attracted to outgoing, funny people." One of her favorite funny people is comic Steve Martin. Says Janis, "I'd love to meet him someday - he's just so off the wall." Comedy figures strongly in her plans. "If I get into acting, and that's my main goal right now," she says between slices of London broil, "I'd like to be the comic type - sort of like Goldie Hawn or Carole Lombard, not a dramatic type - I doubt seriously that I could carry that off." Janis is also an avid reader - of books ("I love erotic paperbacks") and every kind of magazine ("Would you believe I actually subscribe to Andy Warhol's Interview magazine?"). She smiles mischievously. "I want to write a really dirty book someday," she says, "under a fictitious name. It would be kind of autobiographical, like Erica Jong's Fear of Flying, a chronicle of my life and loves. When I was younger, I used to write poetry all the time. I was lonely then and since I didn't have anybody to confide in, I'd write down my feelings. But I'm not lonely anymore, so I've sort of given up writing poetry." Nowadays, she just inspires it.