The Bitch is Back: The Karen Fields Interview by Greg Tiderington

Any of you who has seen this 1983 cult classic slasher flick 'Sleepaway Camp' will remember this actress who played the nastiest out of all the character's in the film named Judy along with TV soap actress Katherine Kahmi who was a bully counsellor Meg in which they often did their scene's together along with Felissa Rose who was the quiet and shy one at the camp named Angela in which they tormented the hell out of.
Judy certainly was built on a typical teenage stuck up bully that would remind you of a girl you disliked in school without a doubt. Karen was wonderful on how she portrayed this role since she's very opposite to Judy in real life and the best actress in this film in my personal opinion along with Katherine Kamhi. I loved how her character was mocking Angela and forcing this poor child to go into the water with Meg picking her up and throwing her in while Judy was mocking her all the way down to the pier of the lake. Well she got her's big time for her nasty deeds with the hair curling iron. Yet.... Judy wasn't proven dead. Could she be returning in the next 'Sleepaway Camp' sequel we all hope will get shot called 'Reunion 3D'? Well let's see shall we?
After her work in 'Sleepaway Camp', Karen went to study drama at the Syracuse University and then has acted in regional theatre around Manhattan as well as going to California to do voice-over work in radio and TV (Most notably playing Bart Simpson's friends in the blockbuster cartoon Fox-TV series 'The Simpsons').
Then she moved to Chicago and got married as well as having a family of her own which kept her extremely busy. She also became a long distance runner and have completed 2 New York city marathons.
She may return to acting since horror films are really making it big these days and it won't be surprising if directors for their independent productions will cast her.

At what age did you see yourself as an entertainer?

I wanted to be an actress ever since my first summer at sleep away camp! I was nine years old and I hated camp so much that I threatened to stop eating and to runaway. I tortured my parents by mailing home long tear stained letters that itemized each detail of why I hated the bunk, the people, the activities, etc. (My Mom still has a box full of these letters which at the time upset her greatly but are now a source of laughter for both of us) On visiting day the camp director told my parents that I was the most dramatic child she'd ever encountered and that she was certain I was destined to be an actress. Then she told the three of us that I wouldn't be invited back for the coming summer! (Who knew then that sleep away camp would play such a vital role in my life in several ways?!)

Did you ever see yourself acting in horror films?

I dreamed of accepting my academy award like many actors dream of, but I never thought about acting in horror films. I just wanted to act!

What was your very first acting gig?

I was a bunny rabbit in the first grade play 'Smokey the Forest Ranger'. I wore a white body suit, white gloves and a furry hat that had ears made out of hangers and pink tissue paper.

How did you hear about the audition for 'Sleepaway Camp'?

At the time I had a manager.

How old were you when the movie was filmed?

I was seventeen when 'Sleepaway Camp' was filmed

What was the experience like working on the set?

I had a great time working on the set. Robert had an aura about him that made me comfortable and uninhibited. I remember the cast and crew being surprised that such a quiet, shy teenager, (me) could actually be so confidently bitchy.

Did the character Judy ever remind you of a bully in school at all?

Judy is her own unique and special bitch, so I'd have to say that, no, she didn't remind me of any specific bully that I'd ever met. However, I would have loved to have seen the reaction of the bullies in my high school towards my performance as Judy. I'd like to imagine that they'd have been scared of both Judy and me!

How did you relate to the part?

If anything I related to Judy's insecurities more than any of her other traits. The difference between us being that she swaggers, gives dirty looks and curses in order to cover up her weaknesses, while I don't. (well... maybe the cursing part... but only sometimes... and in defense of us both it has been scientifically proven that using foul language actually relieves stress much more effectively than regular vocab does!)

What scene did you most enjoy doing?

The flat as a board/fuck off scene was my favorite (even though I got slapped in the face!!) because the bitchiness just went on and on!!

What was it like when you and Katherine Kamhi's characters were taunting Felissa Rose's character about not going into the water?

Kathy was a very sweet and easygoing person and I had a fun time harassing Angela with her.

Now it wasn't shown how you were murdered by the hair curling iron. What happened there?

Judy is still alive so I really can't go into explicit details about the curling iron and where it went or what the damage was. I think she deserves a bit of privacy after all that she's endured!

Did you find that scene disturbing to do?

I don't recall being disturbed by the curling iron scene. Perhaps embarrassed ... but not disturbed.

What was the most difficult scene you did throughout the film?

I guess that would be the kiss with Mike (Tom VanDell). Tom and I hadn't spoken more than a few words to one another and there we were kissing on command with the camera crew only a few feet away. We weren't even sure when we were supposed to stop kissing, so we just kept our lips together and our tongues in one another's mouth until Robert said cut. Quite awkward!

Once you saw the premiere of this film how did you feel about yourself while watching you play this bully character on screen?

I don't think I registered myself as a bully. I was more like oh my G-d my hair is too long, oh my G-d I hate that bathing suit... self- conscious teen stuff like that.

Were you ever approached by other directors for independent films after the release of this film asking you to be in their flicks due to your part as Judy?

I sent Judy film clips out to casting people but at the time the horror genre didn't have as much clout as it does today and they didn't help to further my career.

Did you keep in touch with anyone shortly after the release of the film?

I saw Kathy at several auditions but beyond that I lost touch with everyone.

What did you do after the release of the movie?

I went to Syracuse University to study in their drama department.

What made you leave acting?

I stopped acting when I got married and moved to Chicago. I did some radio voiceovers there but once my daughters were born it was just too difficult to run off to auditions.

How did you like the Fangoria Convention on the 'Sleepaway Camp' reunion? Were you aware that you had fans?

The convention was more incredible than I could have imagined! I hadn't seen Robert, Michelle, Jonathan, Paul or Frank since filming, so seeing them after all of these years was like being in a time warp. I had never met Desiree before, and Jeff Hayes and I had been e-mailing one another but I had never met him either. And of course the most amazingly surprising part of the weekend was meeting the fans. I had no clue that I even had any fans! I was blown away by how many people loved Judy and could quote all of her lines. The Sleepaway Camp tattoos on several arms and legs were outrageously awesome, and the posters, original art work and cd and tape boxes that we were asked to autograph made it clear that 'Sleepaway Camp' fans are dedicated fans!! The whole weekend was extremely surreal.

I understand you want to take another stab at acting. Have you gotten any luck with shows? Any horror films?

I would love to go back to acting but I haven't been pursuing it. (If anyone reading this wants to cast me in their next film just let me know!!! I don't even have to play the bitch, although it is definitely a specialty of mine!)

Your character Judy wasn't proven dead and a sequel called 'Sleepaway Camp: Reunion' is being discussed. Do you think you will return as Judy?

Judy is definitely NOT dead, and Yes, we will be both be back to seek her revenge if and when the 'Reunion' movie is filmed.

Did you ever check out the sequels by Michael A. Simpson at all since you recently heard of them and noticed Valerie Hartman's character as Ally in part 2 similar to your role? What were your feelings on these sequels?

I haven't seen part two or three but as several people have asked me my opinion of them I just ordered both and am looking forward to watching them. (I don't have high expectations because as you know Robert didn't write them, and he's the mind behind the success of 'Sleepaway' and 'Return'.)

Now here's some fun stuff: What are your favorite horror films?

I've really begun to appreciate the horror genre but I'm still way behind on the stack I'd like to watch. Out of the films I have seen 'Hostel' is by far the most disturbing and Jack Nicholson in the 'Shining' and Anthony Perkins in 'Psycho' both have the eeriest smiles so far. I also love 'Misery'.

If you were a scream queen for a day whether she was alive or not who would she be?

So many actresses have started off as "Scream Queens" and then gone on to have huge careers. While I'd love to have the opportunities, experiences, and power that they have, there's no one in particular that I would like to be for a day. I'd like to be me and just have what they have!

If there was a show you were in that you'd like to change what would it be?

I'm happy to say that as far as any of the shows I've been in I'm not hanging onto any regrets. I'm sure if I thought about it though, I could come up with several auditions that I would have liked to redo!

What are your ambitions?

Right now my most important ambition is to raise my two daughters to become strong, empathic and self- sufficient women. I spent the past three years passionately, or maybe obsessively, writing a book that I'm no longer sure I want to try and get published, then out of nowhere 'Sleepaway Camp' resurfaced. This whole phenomenon has made me aware that life has incredible gifts that I hadn't even thought to ask for! So, other than raising my daughters I just want to stay positive and open to whatever creative opportunities are coming my way!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My idea of perfect happiness is to be so into what I'm doing that my mind is in that one experience and each moment feels as if it's the only moment that exists. (I'm also very happy when my sixteen year old reaches out to hold my hand, when my twelve year old and I sing together, and when the three of us are together eating tasti D lite ice cream with lots of sprinkles! Oh, and I almost forgot... I'm happy when I listen to Five For Fighting!)