THE URGE TO SURGE
Baywatch lifeguard Yasmine Bleeth was plunging into unfamiliar waters when she signed to star in the live-action CD-ROM Maximum Surge. "I was like, 'What? A CD who?' " Bleeth says with a laugh. "That's how far my computer knowledge extended." Playing a bounty hunter, Bleeth, 26, had to adjust to the special demands of acting for the interactive format. "In most of my scenes, I was speaking to the camera," Bleeth says. "I wasn't really interacting with anybody else. I felt very uncomfortable." Bleeth, who recently returned for a six-month stint of Baywatch filming, hopes Surge will bring her new fans, though she already has crossover appeal. "My friend was online the other day, and he saw a general request posted for a picture of me naked," she says. "I guess there are some computer lovers who are Baywatch fans too."
GIVING GOOD GUESS
William Gibson is the literary guru of cyberspace. He even coined that term in his 1984 futuristic techno-thriller Neuwmancer. Hard to believe, then, that Gibson pounded out Neuwmancer on a portable typewriter. Harder still to hear him confess he knew little about computer technology. So where did he get all that nifty hi-tech jargon? "I listened to what hackers said, not trying to understand it," Gibson says, "but trying to groove on the poetry of it."
Not one to rest on his laurels, the prophet of the digital age has found other ways to trumpet his vision. The new Keanu Reeves
movie, Johnny Mnemonic, is based on a 1981 Gibson short story that he adapted for the screen. Also out: a CD-ROM version that Gibson did not work on but nonetheless pronounces "delightfully seedy." Back home in Vancouver, B.C., Gibson, 47, is writing his next novel on an antiquated Macintosh. And he refuses to join his wife and two children in surfing the net. "My kids seem to spend all their time online," he sighs. "They are jacked directly into the wall."
Singer Sarah McLachlan didn't want to be left behind by the computer revolution. So now she's leading the way with the debut of a CD-ROM, The Freedom Sessions, timed to the recent release of her new album, Fumbling Toward Ecstasy. "The CD-ROM gives people more of a real feel for me than a written interview would," says McLachlan, 26. On a March tour the singer brought along a computer so fans could preview the CD-ROM. McLachlan plans to let more concert-goers in on the experience by setting up 10 computer kiosks for her tour, beginning in July. But despite her commitment to new technology, McLachlan admits to a little nostalgia for less sophisticated times. "I'm still bummed about compact discs," she grumps. "I miss vinyl."