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My Mystery Date With an 80s Sex Symbol

An MTV fantasy was sitting across from me, and I didn’t even know it

early image of the Bangles
Karen Filter/Omnivore Recordings

In the early ’90s, not long after I’d moved to Hollywood to work for a rock magazine, a musician friend set me up on a blind date with a woman named Annette.

She was cute, sweet and laughed at my jokes — loudly enough to get shushed by other tables. Dinner was at a Mexican joint called El Compadre, a legendary rock-crowd hang. I told Annette all about how Guns N’ Roses used to convince female fans to buy them dinner here when they were poor and living across the street.

I knew so many things about music history — except Annette’s connection to it.

“So how did it go?” my musician friend asked me the next day. “You didn’t mention the Bangles, did you?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer. Sure, I spent most of the late ’80s fantasizing about the Bangles. And not just Susanna Hoffs, with her hypnotic “Walk Like an Egyptian” stare. But why would I bring that up on a first date?

I can’t remember all the inventive ways my friend called me a moron. But I distinctly recall being asked how I could call myself a music journalist and not realize I’d been on a date with Annette Zilinskas, a founding member and bassist for one of the most successful female bands in history.

When Annette left to form a punkabilly band, the Bangles replaced her, went on to sign with Columbia Records and became MTV staples.

“If you go out with her again, just don’t mention the Bangles, okay?” my friend warned me.

It was, understandably, a bit of a sore spot for Annette. Think about your biggest regrets. Now imagine not being able to enter a supermarket without that regret being rubbed into your ears.

I called Annette, hoping for a second date. We made small talk, and we agreed that we’d hit it off. I was well on my way to sealing the deal, and then …

“You probably wonder why I didn’t mention the Bangles,” I blurted out for no reason.

Although I couldn’t see her eyes through my 1994 flip phone, I could tell they were now bereft of life. There would be no second date.

Three decades passed, and I passed my love for the Bangles onto my 8-year-old daughter, who proclaimed them “better than the Beatles.” Where most of my Gen X guy friends had lost control over influencing the cultural choices of their offspring, I had succeeded wildly. 

When the Bangles went on tour, I decided it’d be a perfect father-daughter activity. Annette had returned to the band by this time, following Michael Steele’s 2005 retirement.

But their festival appearance near us was already sold out. So I wrote to the Bangles via their website, explaining my situation and asking if there were tickets set aside that I could purchase. A week before the concert, their management texted to tell me how to pick up my free passes. 

I assumed Annette had something to do with it. So I DMed her on Facebook, thanking her and asking if she had any memory of our disastrous Hollywood dinner date.

She replied: “You do remember how many times we got shushed, right?”