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By David Templeton | January 5, 2005

Hey, says Jean Malahni, plopping down beside me on a lightly-battered couch in her comfy Kenwood livingroom. Wanna look at my photo albums?

Photo albums? I think, eyes scanning the multicolored pile of 3-ring binders strewn across the coffee table. Do I want to look at Jean Malahni’s photo albums? Oh my God! You bet I do.

Granted, the Photo-Album-Treatment is something most people try to avoid; few things are worse than being forced, by some friend or relative, to endure pages of pictures showing average people you don’t really know posing by large, uninteresting objects you don’t really care about. But this is different. Jean Malahni is not your average human being and you have probably never, ever seen photo albums like these.

“Here’s me falling off a cliff”, she says, turning a page and pointing.

Yep. There she is, no s**t, falling off a cliff.

“Here’s me on the wing of an airplane”, she continues. “Here I am falling out of a four-story window after having my throat cut.” And so it goes: there she is, burning to death in a car crash; smashing up a truck in Utah; slathered in blood, dying in the dirt. “Oh, and this is me,” she chirps, “falling off a 15-foot bridge bridge into a river full of alligators.”

The afternoon is warm and sunny, filling Malahni’s livingroom with soft, dusty light. She wears old faded jeans, an oversized black T-shirt – “Don’t piss me off: I’m running out of places to hide the bodies,” it says and a smile wide enough to bridge that gator-infested river she was just leaping into in the latter photo. Malahni, obviously, is proud of her work, proud of her decades-long career as a hardworking, high-falling Hollywood stuntwoman, proud of stunt people in general. Malahni has done stunts, car crashes, fist-fights and…ahem…a whole lot of nude body-double work on dozens of movies – “The Terminator”, “Runaway Train”, “Slumber Party Massacre 2” and countless television episodes, including “The Fall Guy”, “Dukes of Hazzard”, and “Beauty and the Beast”. Her entire career is captured in the various shots collected in these albums all around us, shots populated with some of the most recognizable names in show business: Tom Cruise, Alicia Silverstone, Jon Voight, David Carradine, Hugh Hefner, Madeleine Kahn, Rebecca DeMornay, Matt Dillon.

“This one is from ‘Friday the 13th Part VII’,” Malahni says, wistfully, turning more pages. “I’m a dead body who falls out of a tree. And that’s me flying over the table in ‘Ice Pirates’. I’m so proud of ‘Ice Pirates’. It finally made the official list of all-time cult classics.” With every turn of the page, with each new gore-and-mayhem-filled photo, Malahni stops, laughs, flashes that smile and offers some vibrant tidbit of insider information.

“What a rush,” she exclaims, describing what it’s like to do a fire stunt such as the one she performed in the movie “Nomads”. “Unless you’ve actually done fire you can’t know how superhuman it feels to be engulfed in flames and yet not feel hot – you don’t feel heat because of the Gel you wear that cools you down. When you’re on fire, you can’t see the camera. You can’t hear directions. All you hear is . . . . woooshhhhhhhhhhhhhh! It’s very hypnotic.

Since taking a break from Hollywood 3 years ago, Malahni has lived in the comparatively action-free Kenwood. Her last film was Clint Eastwood’s 1999 drama “True Crime”, and though she’s still willing-and-able to take a stunt job now and then, “If it’s something really interesting,” she says, Malahni describes herself as a typical North Bay resident.

“I’m the Martha Stewart of Kenwood,” she insists, laughing. “I’m a mom. I like to garden. I like going to nice restaurants. I enjoy wineries, though, yes, in my spare time, I do still enjoy being set on fire.”

Don’t know about you, but I can’t quite see Martha Stewart doing that.

See Jean in action in part two of JEAN MALAHNI: BLOOD AND GLORY>>>

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