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Angela Robinson: D.E.B.S / HERBIE: Fully Loaded
by TIM NASSON
2005-06-22

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Los Angeles—D.E.B.S.? Yes. It is a movie—actually it is two movies, a 15-minute short, which was presented at many film festivals worldwide in 2003, and full-length theatrical film, which was released in April of this year —that made a bang about as loud as a burping ant. It's now out on DVD.

The two films—the short and feature length versions—tell the story reminiscent of Charlie's Angels, albeit with pretty, young lesbians.

'Hidden within the S.A.T. is a secret test that studies not a girl's reading or mathematics skill, but her potential to perform duties within the realm of espionage, like deception, physical combat and if needed, murder. Those who score high enough on this secret scale are recruited to join a secret academy where they will be trained to become spies in a paramilitary group they call ... D.E.B.S. This film focuses on four of these plaid skirted debutantes as they're recruited and engage in their first mission, which is an effort to rescue one of their cohorts who has been kidnapped by the D.E.B.S. lesbian nemesis who calls herself Lucy in the Sky,' exclaims the films' director, Angela Robinson.

'I concocted the story myself, while at NYU. I was in the film department and was given the opportunity to make a short film. I thought, 'Why not a story where the hero falls in love with a girl, but where the hero is also a girl?'' she added.

While neither version of D.E.B.S. made a splash with moviegoers, fret not. Its director, the openly lesbian Angela Robinson, is far from becoming a has-been who never was.

If her first major studio project, Walt Disney's Herbie: Full Loaded, is any indication, Robinson is destined to become one of Hollywood's most sought-after directors.

I had a chance to speak to Robinson, a vivacious, perky, thirty-something Black woman, in Los Angeles on the night of the D.E.B.S. premiere, a couple of months before the eagerly anticipated Herbie: Fully Loaded. And again recently by phone.

If you, like me, were a pre-teen in the mid-to-late '70s and early '80s, you surely caught Saturday matinees of Herbie Goes Bananas, Herbie Rides Again and/or Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, at your neighborhood movie theater.

Fittingly, in the age of equal rights, the kid behind the wheel of this new Herbie is not a cute little boy, rather a hot young girl, in the name of Lindsay Lohan.

Maggie Peyton ( Lohan ) , the new owner of Number 53—the free-wheelin' Volkswagen bug with a mind of its own—puts the car through its paces on the road to becoming a NASCAR competitor.

'Disney approached my agent, after seeing the full-length version of D.E.B.S. at the Sundance Film Festival last year and asked if I would be interested in directing their new version of Herbie, to which I immediately said yes.

'The chance to work on a big-budget family film, full of action, the movie is rated G, under the Disney banner, was a dream come true. I just hope that audiences enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it. It was a dream come true to be able to work with Matt Dillon and Lindsay Lohan. They are both such professionals and both without any attitude and pretension so prevalent in the movie industry.'

Robinson had no qualms about writing her first feature, D.E.B.S., as a lesbian love story. And as for her being 'out' she has this to say, 'It never occurred to me not to be openly gay.'

The director and writer exclaims with a smile that she is in a great relationship and very happy to be living in Los Angeles, which is where she also grew up. 'I am an L.A. girl, through and through,' she laughs.

Before she gets up to leave, Robinson has a message for everyone, gay and straight, old and young, male and female, a message that all would do well to heed: 'Follow your heart. Listen to the voice in your head. Even if everyone else doesn't believe in what you believe in. It worked for me and will work for everyone and anyone who approaches their life in that manner.'

Look for the D.E.B.S. short on the Sundance Channel, D.E.B.S. full-length feature in your local video store and/or Netflix and Herbie: Fully Loaded in theaters June 22.


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