For a while, I had an in with a Hollywood agent that got me all sorts of interviews with people from my collective memory that had mildly affected me in one way or another. One of those people was Billy Jacoby. He was a teen-age actor in Hollywood during the mid ’80s, most famous for his role as ‘Buddy Griffith’ in the 1985 coming-of-age teen-age sex comedy ‘Just One Of The Guys.’ He played the younger brother of a girl that dresses as a guy to get more respect in high school, and he played it perfectly. He was obnoxious, boisterous and more sexually charged than any 15 year-old kid I’ve ever met in my life. He knew the ins and out of both Playboy Playmates and jock itch, and was constantly searching for any way possible to lose his virginity (which ultimately does happen in the end of the movie.) Basically, he was a lighthouse in the confusing sexual world of every teen-age boy that watched that movie. He gave validity to the awkwardness of puberty and the feeling of being constantly randy, and he made light of these awkward traits, using comedy, brashness and confidence as his weapons of choice. Somehow, I was able to get in touch with him, and instead of talking about upcoming projects or new life developments, I got him to look back and reflect over the suburban legend of Buddy Griffith….
I hope you don’t hate me, but I really only requested this interview because of your role in ‘Just One Of The Guys.’
Billy: Ha! Really? I don’t even remember my character’s name…
Billy: (Pause) That was almost 20 years ago now! It’s not really pertinent to my career now….
I know, I know, but your performance left such a huge impression on the collective sexuality of many pre-teen and teen-age boys in the U.S. when the movie was released.
Billy: I’ve heard that before. But you need to realize that he was just a horny 15 year-old kid. A fake 15 year-old kid written up for a comedy…
Yeah, and that’s the reason that your character resonated with so many boys, including myself. I mean, before that came along, for people that were born in my generation, there really wasn’t anyone or anything to look to that would explain being a young, sexually-charged teenage boy. We were the post-Porky’s, pre-American Pie generation. If it wasn’t for movies like ‘Just One Of The Guys, ‘Weird Science’ and ‘Sixteen Candles,’ we would’ve been really confused kids.
Billy: Ha… That’s funny… I get what you mean though… There wasn’t much else going on then.
So is it OK to reprise that role for this interview?
Billy: I’m already on the phone, so it’s gonna have to be….
Awesome, I won’t take up too much of your time. So the first thing I wanna ask about, was your character improvised at all, or were you just acting out the screenwriting?
Billy: If I remember correctly, it was about half and half. At the time, I actually was 15 or so. Maybe 14 when we were filming. So I could identify a bit with the writing, and I wanted wholeheartedly to be funny…. So if I remember right, there were some bits I added in myself… The one that stands out is the “balls itching” scene. I asked my sister in the movie (who’s pretending to be a guy in the movie) to see how she would scratch her balls. I’m sure you remember this part. She does it really half ass, and then I go on this tirade about how to properly scratch your balls. That bit came from me. And the infamous line that brought the scene to a close, that was me.
What was that line again?
Billy: You’re gonna make me say it?
For my own enjoyment, yeah, if that’s cool.
Billy: (Frustrated) OK… Buddy says to Terri, “All balls itch, it’s a fact!”
Thank you, that was amazing! I totally identified with that line. Jock itch was one of those things nobody prepared me for.
Billy: Well I’m glad I helped then.
Alright, next question. What was your favorite part of working on that movie?
Billy: That’s easy. It was my first role that I got to cuss a lot in. There was one scene where our parents call, and I answer the phone, and I just keep saying stuff like, shit, I don’t even remember, but it was all this inflammatory stuff against my parents, really vile words, and I was, what 14 or 15, screaming that into a phone for half a day during filming. I remember being really excited about that at the time. And when my parents drove me home after that day, they couldn’t touch me. It was beautiful.
That’s it? Nothing about Sherilyn Fenn or anything? Tell me about Sandy the Fish Girl please.
Billy: Dude, nothing happened outside of the movie. We were just working together on that movie. Besides, even if it did, it was 20 years ago and I wouldn’t even remember much of it….
Fair enough. What was it like after that movie came out? Did people view you as some kinda sage-like sex god?
Billy: Oddly enough, a little. I was getting into clubs, dating older women, everything. That went away pretty fast though.
Billy: Cause I started doing voiceovers for cartoons. And dude, it’s totally not cool to women. Try getting a girlfriend by telling a girl in Hollywood that you do the voice on ‘Lazer Tag Academy,’ and see where it gets you. I also did an episode of The Golden Girls, totally not good for a young single man in the L.A. scene… Plus my wardrobe in ‘Just One Of The Guys’ was totally undesirable to girls. They had me wearing metal shirts with sleeveless flannel shirts over them. I might as well have been a burner in a shop class in that film….
Holy crap. I had no idea about the cartoons. I did like your wardrobe though.
Billy: It was a lot worse before ‘Just One Of The Guys.’ I was the voice of a puppy named Petey on an ABC cartoon. That was before I was dating women though….
So OK, let me wind this down. What, ultimately, did you take away from your role in ‘Just One Of The Guys’?
Billy: Hmm, that’s a rough one… I think… I learned, umm, to be comfortable with sexuality onscreen… That’s something I had never done before, and something I haven’t done since. I was on Bernie Mac and Walker, Texas Ranger. They don’t talk about tits and scratching balls and getting laid on prime-time television. It was pretty groundbreaking for me as an actor.
And do you think that exploring sexuality in a comedic light is beneficial or detrimental to impressionable viewers?
Billy: Oh, it’s totally beneficial. Like you said before, my performance got you to be more comfortable with the changes your body was going through…
Yeah, you unknowingly led me through puberty. How does that feel?
Billy: Well, I wasn’t expecting to talk about this. It was a hell of a long time ago at a different point in my life. But if I helped anyone, and made them laugh along the way, then I’m glad.