Analysis Culture

Lori Loughlin and the queens of retro movie nerddom

Author’s note: I said Mia Sara was next. But I bumped Loughlin up on the list just due to timeliness…

Being the Retrologist of the group (I was there, man!), I feel this is really not only my lane… but my responsibility. NAY! My obligation! My lot, even. My crux.

My blessing and my curse. (Coming of age in the 80s made some things really difficult in the modern era. Do you know how hard it is to find tanlines these days?!)

I’ll start by defining the parameters. The temporal bookends here are 1979 and 1988 (arguably the Golden Age of Retro Nerddom; if not golden, then certainly golden-with-a-broad-silverish-buffer). There are exceptions to this time frame, but none of the movies/women mentioned herein fall outside it. (The definition — mydefinition — of ‘retro’ will be a standalone rant all to itself.)

‘Movie’ is explicit: not TV shows, not games, not music (that’ll be its own list later), not MTV hosts or game show models — because let’s be honest, every woman ever on The Price is Right would be on this list (even though no one knows their names), and Vanna White. Anyway, feature motion pictures (as B as some of them may seem). And the movies need to be pretty nerdy, or cult filmy. This counts out a lot of movies and ladies, in my opinion. Doesn’t mean the movies aren’t rad, or that the chicks aren’t bodacious. (I’m looking at you, Adrian Barbeau…) But having a Cannonball Run lunchbox made you cool. Having a Labyrinth one… did not. (Just trust me on this one.)

‘Queen’ is not quite so explicit. Nor, in this case, is it literal. Although one of the females on this list did play an Empress, and one was technically offered a queenship… you get the picture. And, to the best of my knowledge (and trust me, here, I’ve searched), they are all females. (And any American dude my age *can* verify that as of May 1987, Vanna White was very much a female.)

Objective: To flesh out the top-shelf 80s females, movies, and roles that absolutely no doubt live on the hearts and minds of (at the very least) dudes who were old enough to go to the skating rink alone or ride their GT Pro Performer without training wheels at the time these flicks came out on Betamax, VHS, or Laserdisc. (I’m looking at you, Frumentarius. I know Geo Hand had already traded in his Ghetto Blaster and cardboard mat for an M-16A1 and mortar baseplate by then…)

This list is reasonably definitive to me. I’d like to suggest that you make your own, and let us know. Although I obviously can’t be wrong about it, I can certainly be enlightened on someone I might have overlooked at the time. And if there is a movie on this list that you haven’t seen… find it. Go down to your local Blockbust… wait. Uh. Find it.

This list is in no particular order, because they are all first place for one reason or another.


Lori Loughlin as Christian Hollings.  RAD (1986).  (Holy shit, man.  This is gonna be serious.)

Guys, listen… I’m not sure if I can ever fully express to you how much time I spent on my BMX bike between 1985 and 1994.  Or fucking with it on my back porch.  Or how many miles and miles I put on that thing in 110 degree Arkansas summer heat.  Or how much all I wanted some days was to throw it all away — all the filth and bullshit of 6th grade — and just feel the wind in my mullet.  I’m also not sure how comfortable I am sharing with you just how… pink that bike was.

I say was. I still have it. It’s a totally radical electric blue and hot pink SE Racing PK Ripper. (All of my bikes are SEs, if you want to know. And I have them on two continents. That’s gotta be some kind of record… or cry for help.) If you don’t know what a PK is, look that shit up. PKs are as much of a cornerstone of 80s retro culture as checkered Vans, big bangs, couple skating, or Tawny Kitaen dancing on fucking Jaguars for some reason.

I paid for all my bikes as a kid with my own money. I mowed lawns, sold shit, asked for money for birthdays and Christmas. Hutches, GTs, a Dyno… but I settled on the monogamy of my PK, those sweet pink AME grips caressing me as I caressed them. Pink mags whirring a love song as I rode.

I would say that I’m digressing here, but I’m not. This article is about Lori Loughlin playing the role of Chris Hollings in RAD. But ultimately, it’s about so much more. And if you never broke in your pre-pubescent ass on a BMX seat over a summer of riding, you can never really fully appreciate the love that a boy could have for that girl’s character.

And although “nerdy” shit doesn’t tend to be physical stuff like riding a bike, you’re missing the point. Nerdy shit is anything that someone may be “too” into that isn’t specifically popular or socially mainstream. And my adult ability to multitask a half-dozen careers and lives is rooted in my life as a kid who was *fully* into shit like BMX, D&D, metal, video arcades, Christy Canyon. Even as shit overlapped back then, my BMX life wasn’t my D&D life. Those compartments didn’t mingle. I think we were probably all into Ms. Canyon, though…

Moving on.

First off, her name is Christian Hollings… and if I find out that my buddy and sometimes colleague Alex Hollings is any relation and I wasn’t told, I’m buttering somebody’s necktie.

Secondly — as with all the movies in this series — if you have not seen RAD, do so. Immediately, if not sooner. Although I can’t imagine anyone who had a BMX bike ever in their lives has not seen it.

The… climactic moment, we’ll call it, in the movie has nothing at all to do with a kid ditching his SATs to go do a bike race. It has nothing to do with greedy, money-grubbing corporate douchebags trying to piss on the little guy. Nothing to do with two twin dudes dressed in Star Trek extra costumes doing a weird, obviously choreographed, sandwich dance in front of a bunch of high schoolers. Although, the core gear of this movie does happen at that dance…

We’ve all heard the song Send Me An Angel. If you haven’t, cut and paste that title into YouTube and have at it. But once that lone synth starts, followed by the punchy bass, and Chris and Cru bunny hop onto the dancefloor on their bikes… shit gets real for a gradeschool kid who would have slept on his bike like a Mongol if he could. (I *DO* believe in love!)

I still do that song in karaoke, when the bar has it. I just have to ignore the staring eyes of the other patrons. I know they’d be up there with me if they just had the courage.

Look, I’ve already spelled out here what my ideal chick woulda been. But if I could just add one more small-yet-hyper-significant detail: BMX dance scenes. And I can even look past the fact that Lori had a mullet and mustache in those scenes where actual riding was occurring. Or that she was actually a dude named Martin, in tight white jeans and high-heeled boots. That shit is beside the point; we’re talking about Platonic Ideals here.

There is only one moment like this in the entire record of human history. And that entire movie is built around it. Whether it meant to be or not.

I know Lori was in that TV show later on, but I never saw it. And although Chris’ character in RAD is definitely an awesome one — she’s really that gut-check-bringer that helps Cru break out of his delusional emo pissiness, and start engaging and overcoming — she’s also in Secret Admirer (another fine flick, but hardly on the Nerddom grid). Her character in that movie was also solid — hangin’ on the periphery, trying to enlighten a dipshit who was too focused on Kelly Preston, who (admittedly) is pretty damn focus-worthy; I ain’t gonna lie. (Don’t even get me started on fuckin’ Space Camp.) But the fire that should be keeping C. Thomas Howell warm while he’s killing Ruskies should be the fire of his dumb ass not seeing how legit Toni (Lori) was. But whatever.

Sure, yeah… Cru goes off and does this race against the explicit guidance of his mother, Rocky’s wife. But he falls into self pity and doubt and shit enough that he absolutely would have been busing tables at that main street eatery if it weren’t for Chris doin’ that frowny lip-purse thing so Cru could see the error of his bitchiness and tie that bandanna around his leg and ride like the wind.

I can only imagine that Chris drove out of BFE and back to her hot BMX-chick life after the Hell Track drama was over. Both she and her teammate, Bart (the OTHER gold medalist Olympic gymnast in an awesome/shitty 80s movie), got fired from the Mongoose team. And although Cru offers Bart a place on his Rad Racing team — “You can be my wingman anytime.” — nothing about the rest of the plot is settled. Rocky’s wife was proud of her son, and Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High got to help a local teen chase his dreams.

Win, win, win.

All those years on my bike. Still, actually, on my bike. And I’ve never ever even met one single girl who rides a BMX. Ever. Of course they’re out there. I’ve just never met one. They’re like unicorns.

And for a time, Christian Hollings was my unicorn — my #1. And I’d stare off at the sunset as I rode, the wind blowing through my mullet, and wonder where she was… never caring where her kids might one day go to college, or how they’d get in…

Feature image via IMDb.

Check out more Queens of Retro Movie Nerddom here and here. The series continues…

Please Login to comment
avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
JoyB
Guest
JoyB

“The wind blowing through my mullet”. Why am I imagining a 6th grader with a mullet, diy luccedore mask, riding through the humidity and clouds of gnats and mosquitoes in Arkansas? I had to watch that movie because of my little brother. Several times thanks to cable.

Mic-Mac
Member
Mic-Mac

Haha loved the story Theo. I picture you know as the boy on your profile photo from another site. It is great to read fun articles. With all that goes on it is a a chance to just chill. Awesome!

rynosbucket
Member
rynosbucket

“Of course they’re out there. I’ve just never met one. They’re like unicorns.”
Brilliant timing…
And I can still feel that wind myself. Got out of a Huffy ‘Pro Thunder’ at my first chance to save up enough for a used chrome Skyway TA.

Joni Smith
Guest
Joni Smith

Well I didn’t have a BMX bike because I’m a tad older than you (haha) but I lived on my bike. It was nothing fancy. Red with red and white streamers from the handle bars. I rode that bike from the time I got home from school until it got dark. I think if I had been younger I would have loved having a BMX bike and learning tricks. As it was I could do wheelies and jump curbs. That was about as crazy as we got but the freedom of having a bike take you flying down hills was… Read more »

Miche
Member
Miche

My brothers loved tricking out their bikes with pegs and doing all kinds of crazy stunts–and we had a huge piece of land at their disposal for creating jumps (and puncturing inner tubes with bullhead stickers.) When the youngest brother was a fearless (and perpetually-naked) two-year-old, his version of keeping up with his older brothers was to ride on said bikes while they played. Poor kid scraped up every inch of his body falling off those things, and never once slowed down. I’m mulling over this nerd definition you gave…. I would not at all equate BMX to nerddom; it’s… Read more »

Mason
Member
Mason

Can relate, but BMX wasn’t a thing yet, or at least we where defining it as we went. My friends and I tooled around in Banana seat wonders with rear mags, chrome fenders, ape hangers, and chopper forks . . . which we soon eschewed as we chopped up our bikes and converted to ramp jumping nut smashers. Stripped my red Huffy single speed down (with the coaster brake), sanded it, painted it silver, and gave it black pin stripes along the top tube. Changed the seat to a proper saddle, replaced the forks, and ape hangers with BMX style… Read more »

%d bloggers like this: