Here’s some bad news for fans of actress/model/Penthouse Pet of the Year Julie Strain: Though only 56 years old, Strain is apparently suffering from dementia, brought on by a bad head injury she sustained in her 20s when she fell off a horse, according to this Nov. 26 Bleeding Cool News story.
The same day that story came out, Strain’s caregiver, identified only as Dave, posted this update on Strain’s Facebook page:
Julie’s care at home has become more intensive due to complications of dementia, and she is entering final stage.
Currently, she is in the hospital and is due to return home this week. Her condition continues to worsen, and once again I am letting you know that her time here on Earth is limited.
She will return home, hopefully this week, on Hospice care once again. I don’t believe she will be removed from Hospice going forward.
Earlier posts on Strain’s Facebook page from Dave give heart-breaking updates on her condition:
July 17: Julie was up last night with very sore joints. She is having a good morning and is in good spirits. Later in the day she will have difficulty speaking and imagine things that aren’t there. Also, She will have difficulty navigating to other rooms in the house. When dementia is at its worse, she will not know me; that happens late in the day, everyday.
Also July 17: I do not know when the worse part of her dementia will stay–permanently. As of today, Julie cannot be left alone. And since May, she has needed someone with her at all times; most of time that person is me. Julie cannot leave the house unattended. It is very difficult for her to enter and exit a car. She cannot buckle a seat belt because she cannot navigate inserting the buckle into the slot. She cannot navigate a telephone or a tv remote control. Many basic self-care skills have been lost. Hospice Nurses visit the house two times a week and check that her meds are adequate and check her overall health and dementia condition. A private, Home Health Care Worker takes care of Julie during the day, and is with us 4 days a week for about eight hours each of those days.
July 16: Julie continues to be funny and entertaining at times. Other times she is in complete confusion and requires medicine. There are behavioral patterns, but they are not fixed patterns. My job is to keep Julie happy and comfortable and seek out any way possible to help her. Brain injuries are NOT good, and we are learning more about their impact as we read of athletes experiencing mental problems later in life: mostly football player and boxers specifically. If there was a cure to this disease, I’m sure Muhammad Ali and Ronald Reagan would have been with us much long to provided us with good advice on how to help one another.
Strain starred in more than 100 films and videos, according to her IMDB page. Famous for her huge mane of brown hair and imposing height (she is 6’ 1”), Penthouse named her Pet of the Month in June 1991, and Pet of the Year in 1993. She was probably the most famous B-Movie star of the 1990s, starring in such greats as Witchcraft IV, Heavy Metal 2000, and Sorceress II. While she did a ton of horror pictures, I always thought Strain was best in Andy Sidaris’ series of action films like Fit To Kill and Day Of The Warrior (she appeared in five of them, sometimes playing a hero, other times the villain), which allowed her to show off her wicked sense of humor. In 1997, she published her memoir, titled Six Foot One And Worth The Climb.
“I’m a real-life warrior,” Strain told journalist Stephen Lemons in this Salon story from 2000. “I’m strong. Women wanna be me. Men wanna fuck me. I’ve created this dark, looming vixenous character. Who else is there? Other than Lucy Lawless, maybe.”
In the spring of 2000, Alison M. Rosen–then an OC Weekly staff writer–attended a taping of Strain’s Playboy Channel show Sex Court, in which Strain played Judge Julie. Rosen’s May 18, 2000 story–“Wake Me When It’s Sexy”–is unfortunately no longer online, but here’s how she described the program:
The formula for the show is simple: a case–such as the one I watch in which a couple have been having sex at their office and one day discover they’re being filmed by surveillance cameras and that their boss is making money by broadcasting the footage on the Internet as well as (and this is the big, climactic turning point) pleasuring herself while watching–is brought before Judge Julie, who holds no law degrees but is, she tells me, the most frequently painted nude model in the world. The litigants are actors, and the cases are not real. In its first year, the show (now it its third year) featured actual, genuine, true-to-life cases inspired by viewers. Because, I mean, what exactly do you do when you’re a stripper and your dad doesn’t want you to strip anymore, but then it turns out that he doesn’t want you to strip because he’s sleeping with a bunch of the girls you work with at the strip club, but that’s okay because you’re sleeping with his boss? Or what, please, do you do if you’re a stripper and your mom doesn’t want you to strip anymore, but then it turns out that she recently got implants and now she’s a stripper and she doesn’t want you to strip because she just doesn’t think you’re sexy enough? Or how about if your brother is a constant embarrassment because he keeps having sex–in public–with his blowup doll, who he kinda sorta maybe really believes is his girlfriend? Or how about if your boyfriend wanted you to dominate him and you tried, but you just weren’t convincing enough so he left you for a real dominatrix who leads him around on a leash, but you want him back because you think you’re now ready to really dominate him and plus, that other dominatrix is a total bitch who doesn’t even love him?
We wish Ms. Strain, her family, and friends all the best.
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.