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Interview with Sharon Middendorf

[ Conducted in November 2012 ]

Sharon Middendorf was the object of desire in the Beastie Boys' first music video, "She's on It."

How did you get involved in the "She's on It" music video?

I was modeling and writing music in New York during the time. I was with Elite Model Management, John Cassablanca's agency. John discovered me in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. I had just appeared in the first MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall, where Rick Rubin saw me. Rick contacted my good friend Les Garland, who was the president of MTV during that time. Les called me and said that the Beastie Boys were looking for a woman to be in their music video and asked if I wanted to meet Rick Rubin. Of course, I was very flattered and agreed to meet Rick. A couple days later, Rick came over to my apartment on 13th street in the East Village. It was right behind the Palladium (now NYU dorm apartments). I remember he was super-cool. We chatted for a bit, I showed him my modeling portfolio, and then he asked me if I would put on a bathing suit. I did, and he hired me right there on the spot.

Sharon and Adam

Where was the music video filmed?

It was filmed out in Brooklyn, where Rick grew up, on the beach [Long Beach]. They didn't have a ton of money, so they put me up for one night at Rick's mom's house. I actually slept in Rick's bedroom where he grew up. He had a twin bed with AC/DC, Kiss, and Led Zeppelin posters plastered all over the room. It was pretty cool, as I loved all those bands. It was fun to stay in his room and meet his family. They were very nice people. On the day we filmed the video, it was warm, sunny with bright blue skies, and just amazing. I had to go and find a bikini for the shoot on the boardwalk near the beach. I found a thrift shop and bought a cute little gold lame bikini. I have it to this day, and it still fits!

Has anyone ever approached you on the street and asked if you were the girl in "She's on It" video?

Yes, I think that may have happened once or twice over the years.

Tell us about your work now. What are you up to?

I built my first website for my band Motorbaby in 1992, and ever since then I've been obsessed with technology. Over the years, I've developed many sites and am in the midst of launching Tagasauris, a data curation platform that makes your content smarter. Our customers include Magnum Photos, the Museum of the City of New York (Tagasauris won a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to annotate the museum's archives), Ryerson University, the New York Times, and others. Imagine you have a vast archive of photos--or any type of media--that doesn't have metadata attached. There's absolutely no way a computer can see or find this content without metadata. Our platform combines humans via crowdsourcing, machines, and semantic technologies and attaches all this data to your content. Check it out at

Watch the video clip for "She's on It" here.

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