Anyone who saw a dance demonstration segment on Soul Train from 1980 in which an enthusiastic teenage girl in a white jumpsuit busted some on-point locking moves with her dance partner to Trussel’s “Love Injection” saw how self-assured the girl was. But that’s how Patricia Bagley has always been. This pop-locker has always been an individual, never one to do what everyone else was doing and marches to her own beat.
SoulTrain.com: What were your aspirations growing up as a child?
Patricia Bagley: My aspirations were to be an actress, a dancer or to do modeling.
SoulTrain.com: How did you become a Soul Train dancer?
Patricia Bagley: I was connected to people who danced on the program.
SoulTrain.com: What do you recall about your first time on Soul Train?
Patricia Bagley: I got into the studio but the people I was with were not able to get in. I guess this was because of the fact that you had to have a certain look because at that time the show was based on what you wore and what your whole demeanor was. I liked to lock and at that time I wore a locking outfit, so I fit in with what was going on with the show at that time.
SoulTrain.com: What were your first impressions of being on the set?
Patricia Bagley: Well, being that I had never been in a studio set like that it wasn’t what I expected. I was such a curious person and in time I came to know a lot of the people in production. Edward Johnson, who was the assistant director to J.D. Lobue, became my mentor/godfather and he introduced me to many of the production people. As a result, I had more access and was able to bring more of my friends on to the show.
Patricia Bagley: Locking was a form of dancing that came to me naturally. I just enjoyed it. Cleveland Moses recognized me and took me under his wing and taught me pop-locking. I was also a gymnast at an early age.
SoulTrain.com: You’ve seen a lot of recording artists come through on Soul Train. Who were among your favorites?
Patricia Bagley: I enjoyed seeing Jermaine Jackson. His mom and Janet were in the audience when he came to the show. During his performances I was on the outskirts of the dance floor where everyone would dance, and Mrs. Jackson actually approached me about my dancing and complimented me. I was later in Janet’s “Control” video. I also enjoyed all of the other artists from Motown that came to the show as well as Kool Moe Dee.
SoulTrain.com: How long were you a dancer on the show?
Patricia Bagley: From 1980-1985, and then I came back on in either 1987 or 1988. In 1990 Don asked certain dancers not to dance on the show anymore and I was one of them. The feeling I got was that he didn’t want certain regulars on the show anymore.
SoulTrain.com: There were no hurt feelings or misunderstandings because of this?
Patricia Bagley: Absolutely not. I was dating Don’s friend David Banks at the time, which brought Don and I closer in terms of communicating more. Don was not really cordial to the dancers unless he had some kind of connection with certain dancers. By me dating his friend, I was okay with him and had a connection with him.
SoulTrain.com: Did you enjoy your share of the cold fried chicken at the tapings?
Patricia Bagley: I ate that day old chicken for a little while but as I progressed on the show, and due to my godfather Edward Johnson, I was able to eat the regular meals that were for him and the rest of the production staff.
SoulTrain.com: Were you ever recognized in public from dancing on the show?
Patricia Bagley: I don’t think I was. I didn’t really stand out too much.
SoulTrain.com: Are there any special moments from the show that you hold dear?
Patricia Bagley: It was an honor to do the spotlight dance with Redd Foxx when he came on the show to do “Tuti Fruti.” It was an honor to meet that man. After seeing him on television for so long, I was surprised he was also a singer. I think my Asian features really sparked him and he chose me to be a centerpiece dancer during his performance. Another great moment was when Juliette Hagermann and I wore masks and white outfits and did a sword dance routine with Nona Hendryx on her song “I Sweat.” That was an honor.
SoulTrain.com: Who were some of your closest friends on the show?
Patricia Bagley: Derek Fleming will always be my brother and best friend. We maintained a connection. I was also friends with Gina Sprague, whom I met when I was on American Bandstand, and we are both good friends to this day. Another good friend on the show was Yvette Moss. We both did foster care work and she still does to this day.
SoulTrain.com: You mentioned dancing on American Bandstand. What were your memories of being on that show?
Patricia Bagley: It wasn’t for me. That show was for couples and I am not a “couple dancer.” I’m a pop locker and I like to showboat when I dance. Not that I want to take the spotlight, but I like spontaneity.
SoulTrain.com: Were you in other music videos?
Patricia Bagley: I appeared in Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” video.
SoulTrain.com: Are you still involved with entertainment?
Patricia Bagley: I recently applied to do seat filler work. I like doing things like that as well as voiceovers.
SoulTrain.com: Do you still dance?
Patricia Bagley: Yes! Nowadays I do the Lean, the Dougie, the Chris Brown Slide and Moonwalk.
SoulTrain.com: What do you want to say in memory of Don Cornelius?
Patricia Bagley: I miss him and our talks. I understood where he was coming from. It was hurtful to hear how he died. I would visit his office on Sunset Boulevard once in a while. He was a private person. My mother’s death and then his death hit me hard.
SoulTrain.com: What word of wisdom do you want to share with SoulTrain.com readers?
Patricia Bagley: Don’t judge. So many times people are hurt because they are being judged. When I meet people, I love them. I don’t judge them. Everyone has faults. No one’s perfect. Respect people for who they are.
Journalist, actor, filmmaker, dancer, performer, writer, poet, historian, choreographer. That’s Stephen McMillian.