Born in Saigon to a Vietnamese mother
and French father in 1945, bellydancer Nai Bonet (pronounced "nigh bo-neigh") moved to New York at an early age and her family moved around from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Yorkville and Yonkers. While visiting a girlfriend who was a belly-dancer, Nai was encouraged to try the gyrations. "I had no experience," she confessed to columnist Earl Wilson in 1965. "I tried it — and people started jumping up and down!"
Nai headlined in Las Vegas's famed Flamingo Hotel at the age of 13. But she gained notoriety in the mid-1960s, adorning album covers, making infrequent
appearances in films, commercials and on television and she also
recorded the cheesy novelty song "Jelly Belly," co-written by Earl Wilson Jr., whose namesake father frequently covered Bonet in his syndicated newspaper column "It Happened Last Night."
As the '70s
were ushered in, Bonet decided to set her sights full-time on acting
but, unfortunately, she found roles were few and far between. She took
supporting parts in the now-forgotten flicks "Devils Angels," "Soul Hustler," "The Soul of Nigger Charley," "The Greatest," and appeared as Sheherazade in the goofy softcore musical sex romp "Fairy Tales."
However, Nai yearned to
sink her teeth into something bigger, so she produced and starred in a
pair of films (1979's "Nocturna" & 1980's "Hoodlums") which were both unsuccessful -- though the silly vampire-disco-comedy "Nocturna" has gone on to become a cult classic. As the '80s were ushered in, Bonet gave up her career and completely dropped off the map.
Internet information about this statuesque beauty is sparse and frequently inaccurate. Allegedly she found religion and ultimately moved to Medjugorje, but whether that's fact or fiction (and where she's located today) is currently unknown. I've been putting hefty research into the enchanting starlet and the short list of b-movies she starred in and I lovingly dedicate this site (which is still under heavy construction) to her.
P.S. If you happen to stumble in here, Nai, where have you been for the last 30 years?