Love That Viral ‘Maniac’ Dance Clip from ’84? The Star of it Made Many More

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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.


Most importantly though, what that long career means for us is that YouTube is awash with very strange Heather Parisi dance routines. Some of which I have compiled here for those of you for whom “Maniac” was not enough.

Here’s Heather Parisi doing a hilariously literal rendition of “Eye of the Tiger”:

And here’s Heather Parisi giving a very pointed delivery of “One Night in Bangkok” in front of what appears to be a room full of German diplomats:

Here’s Heather Parisi performing a ... well ... Rocky-Horror-Flash-Gordon-love-triangle-fever-dream?

Here’s Heather Parisi and a variety of other female dancers pretending to be inflatable sex dolls on primetime Italian television. (Parisi’s dance partner literally pretends to blow air into her leg throughout.)

And here’s Heather Parisi performing her big Italian chart hit, “Cicale” (which is about friggin’ cicadas) performed on a giant pirate ship.

Anyway. There is a wealth of Heather Parisi weirdness just waiting to be discovered on YouTube. Truth be told, I’ve barely even scratched the surface here. So before you fall into your own Heather Parisi internet hole, allow me to leave you with this clip that starts with Parisi smashing through a giant window while strapped to a car with eyelashes, and ends with her doing the splits in the arms of three spandex-wearing men. God bless the internet.