It’s been doing the rounds on social media since the weekend: a bizarre cover of Michael Sembello’s “Maniac” (from Flashdance) accompanied by a hyper-speed dance routine that’s fitting of the song title. If you’ve somehow managed to miss it over the last few days, get ready for the ride of your life.
For most normal people who look at the internet, this wildly dated clip is something to chortle at, then keep scrolling. But after I witnessed it for the first time, I was left with questions—so many questions. Who was that woman? What variety show was this? What (obviously European) country originally aired it? And do people’s legs still move that fast, or was it merely a side-effect of ’80s aerobics?
I learned quickly that the high-kicking lady in the half-shirt is named Heather Elizabeth Parisi, an Aquarian who was born in 1960 and raised in Hollywood. (I was quite thorough.) Not only is Parisi a California girl, she spent portions of her youth studying at both the Sacramento and San Francisco Ballet, both of which awarded her scholarships. (We should have known—no one gets this weird without first living in the Bay Area for a spell.)
Anyway, via a series of twists of fate—Italian grandparents, getting spotted in a nightclub while on vacation, etc.—Parisi ended up having a long career on Italian television. On her website (because yes, she still has one of those), she attributes her success on European TV to being “sexy, full of energy, ironic [!], blonde and with an irresistible American accent.” K.