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Relax!
June 2, 2007 1:29 AM   Subscribe

Some might find it difficult to believe that this was the video to a 1984 number one hit, although it's not surprising to learn that the video was banned (as was the song, leaving the BBC in the uncomfortable position of being unable to broadcast their country's biggest hit on any of its radio or television programs). The G rated version was directed by Brian De Palma and, oddly, appeared (in slightly altered form) in Body Double as a porno film within the movie. Although the band had other hits, notably Two Tribes which was rivaled only by Land of Confusion for most over-the-top Reagan representation in a music video, they have been beset with problems, primarily relating to who owns their name, but rest assured that lead singer Holly Johnson is doing well in his new calling as a painter. This astrological chart nicely (?) sums up his entire career. Incidentally, Katherine Hamnett, who designed the hugely popular Frankie Say Relax t-shirts (along with Wham's Choose Life tees which, ironically, birthed an anti-abortion moto) is still a successful designer, who continues to be active in environmental, HIV eradication, and anti-war efforts. Anyhow, check out the wacky Relax video. But beware of naked, shaving Roman Emperors.
posted by serazin (91 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
One of the best kids-won't-get-this references in a cartoon ever was in "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends" when the character of Frances "Frankie" Foster, granddaughter of the home's founder, is trying to calm down an agitated mob of imaginary characters and Bloo, the show's most troublemaking 'friend' decides to help her by yelling "FRANKIE SAYS RELAX!" Of course, everyone and everything turned quiet, except for the sound of me at home spewing Diet Coke in the direction of the TV.
posted by wendell at 1:46 AM on June 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


One of our cable music channels, Max, has had the filmclip for Relax in high rotation, recently.

The best thing I've seen on Frankie Goes to Hollywood, however, was an on-the-street interview with a bunch of American 14-ish-year-old boys, lining up outside a Frankie Goes to Hollywood concert in the states, talking about how great the band was, totally awesome. Poor, poor naive souls...
posted by Jimbob at 2:00 AM on June 2, 2007


(I always thought "The Power of Love" was a pretty good song, though.)
posted by Jimbob at 2:00 AM on June 2, 2007


Welcome to the Pleasuredome is a great album and is easily in my Top 10 of all-time. I enjoy listening to it today just as much as I did 22 years ago. I remember having Crisco Kisses on a mix-tape I made—I was playing it at my best friend's bachelor party two nights before his wedding, raving about how much I loved the album and singing along, when the guy I was talking to was quiet for a moment and then asked, "So, are you gay or something?"
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:16 AM on June 2, 2007


Slow day on MetaFilter? Just dig out some vintage scandal!

The song was banned on the BBC because of their homophobic DJs at the time. In the 80s Radio 1 was staffed by quite a few right-wing (and decidedly creepy) DJs, ironic considering Radio 1 was the BBC's attempt to embrace modern musical culture which was anything but.

When Matthew Bannister got rid of them, Radio 1 might have started a decline, but it was a price worth paying (although when I hear the shouty jocks they have nowadays, I'm sometimes left to wonder).
posted by humblepigeon at 2:20 AM on June 2, 2007


Maybe I'm showing my youth here, but this is by far a better version of Power of Love. Complete with hoverboards that don't work on water.
posted by phaedon at 2:37 AM on June 2, 2007


Ummm. Was that hedonism bot type dude peeing on people?
posted by quadog at 2:44 AM on June 2, 2007


As a kid we loved Kenny Everett. Superbly funny and superbly gay. Kenny was sacked from the Beeb for the temerity to say the word Bum. The BBC was poorer for it. Sadly Kenny has passed on.

Another bizarre banning was immortal NZ band Split Enz sopng Six Months in a Leaky Boat. Apparently is was about the Falklands war. Or was it just a really good pop song?
posted by mattoxic at 3:05 AM on June 2, 2007


sopng=song
posted by mattoxic at 3:20 AM on June 2, 2007


As a kid we loved Kenny Everett. Superbly funny and superbly gay.

Paul Gambaccini was another gay DJ, although he wasn't publicly out at the time. I think there were one or two others but I'm not an expert on 80s Radio 1 DJs (thankfully).

I remember the hardcore of DJs having some dicey attitudes. Once I heard a "My Tune" story about a woman whose husband had affairs with other men.

The issue was that he was being unfaithful, not that he was gay, but the seething disgust in the DJ's voice was audible. The monolog featured the classic line (paraphrasing), "When she found out her husband was sleeping with other men, she made him have an AIDS test. Well, you would, wouldn't you".

Would you? Do all gay men have AIDS then?
posted by humblepigeon at 3:31 AM on June 2, 2007


hi,

a great version of power of love has been posted on music mefi recently.
posted by nicolin at 3:37 AM on June 2, 2007


The 80s were bizarre times. In one week, the top ten bestselling songs might have included Queen, Culture Club, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Bronski Beat, Dead or Alive & Marylin.

I remember having Crisco Kisses on a mix-tape I made


Crisco? Do you mean the oil-of-choice for fist fucking? Heh.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:40 AM on June 2, 2007


Marilyn: Calling Your Name

(and Crisco Kisses must almost surely be a reference to felching, no?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:52 AM on June 2, 2007


Am I the only thinking here that "Liverpool", their second album deserved a better fate ?
posted by Baud at 4:02 AM on June 2, 2007


mattoxic: yeh, grew up with Kenny Everett, also. I think Sid Snot inspired me to become a punk.

In YouTube retrospect, Sid Snot seems kinda gay.

Oh, dear. Here's another Kenny Everett character, Brother Lee Love. Check out the fist...
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:19 AM on June 2, 2007


Nice post! I saw Holly Johnson perform at Pride sometime in the mid 90's, and that man can really hold a crowd. For someone who's basically a short ordinary looking bloke he is mesmerising. I'd never seen the original Relax video (having been, like, 10 at the time) but I remember dancing round the kitchen to the song, and it being a big scandal. Everyone at school was talking about it, and it was cause for yet another serious "what does gay mean?" conversation with my blessedly liberal parents.
posted by handee at 4:21 AM on June 2, 2007


Freddy Mercury on the Kenny Everett show
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:44 AM on June 2, 2007


I believe that it was the same BBC that used to chop off the ending to The Special AKA's 'Too Much Too Young', in it's electric live stage performance film that Top Of The Pops had, because the final line had a reference to contraception: - "Try wearing a cap!" Clearly, advising young people to take precautions and wait to start a family was too radical for Auntie Beeb, because it implies sexual expression. What?

Also, I seem to recall that the ostensible reason Relax - the first in a trio of No. 1's by Frankie - was banned was because Mike Read - one of those closeted Radio 1 DJ's of which we spoke earlier - objected to the emphasis on coming. Most of my mates did not consider it particularly gay - just sex-positive, to use a phrase that had not yet been coined.

All of a piece with the Aunties prevailing attitude, really.

Oh, and do you know the derivation of the name 'Frankie Goes to Hollywood'?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:51 AM on June 2, 2007


For some reason I'd been operating under the belief that Holly Johnson was dead for nigh on many years. I wonder where that came from.

While Relax was a great song, I always enjoyed the numerous 12" versions of Two Tribes. It's too bad they were horribly mic'd for their SNL performance of that song.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:01 AM on June 2, 2007


The Special AKA's Specials' 'Too Much Too Young'
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:15 AM on June 2, 2007


Man, I was twelve when this came out and I remember knowing in my heart that this song was about something dirty, but I just didn't know what...

That video would have cleared it right up. The concert version never explained anything.
posted by headspace at 5:19 AM on June 2, 2007


Body Double. Huh. Just the other day, I happened to think of Deborah Shelton and this horrifically bad movie. As for FgtH, to me they were just another fad that emerged and faded on the scope while I was in school. Two taste treats that tasted great together, I guess. Mostly I just remember Ms. Shelton's eyes.
posted by pax digita at 5:40 AM on June 2, 2007


UbuRoivas: The Specials = The Special AKA. They went through a few names, I think - no doubt a check on Wikipedia will list all of them. According to this 2 tone site, the "Too Much Too Young" release saw The Specials revert to their older The Special AKA name:
"Released at a time when 2 Tone could do no wrong, this 5 track EP became the labels first UK Number 1 single. Recorded at The Lyceum in London and Tiffanys in Coventry, it was also issued as the labels first picture sleeve and for some strange reason saw the band revert to their previous name of The Special A.K.A.. Why they reverted back to this title remains a mystery and the plot is only further complicated by the listing of the band as The Specials on the records labels."
Just in case you didn't know...
posted by davehat at 5:54 AM on June 2, 2007


Do all gay men have AIDS then?

I can't look at any representation (real or fictional) of gay culture in the early 1980s without wondering how many of these men would be dead a few years later Yes, I read The Band Played On at a very impressionable age, what can I say. But even in the small town I grew up in, the epidemic hit pretty hard.

So when I watch that video, it's half nostalgia for being 14 and having an older friend "decode" the song for us, and it's half worry for those nice mustachioed leather-men.
posted by Forktine at 6:04 AM on June 2, 2007


I wonder for the millionth time why there wasn't a video for Total Coelho's "I Eat Cannibal." This is nicely humorous take on the song, although it couldn't touch the images I had in my mind back in the day.
posted by pax digita at 6:08 AM on June 2, 2007


The 80s were bizarre times. In one week, the top ten bestselling songs might have included Queen, Culture Club, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Bronski Beat, Dead or Alive & Marylin.

Don't forget the lefties: Red Wedge. This was the start of the belief that pop music could change the world.
posted by humblepigeon at 6:12 AM on June 2, 2007


My parents loved Welcome to the Pleasuredome and we even used to have a sign (that came with the record, I think) that my dad hung up in the basement. My mom bought me a t-shirt that said "Frankie Says Relax." To put this all in perspective, I was born in 1980, so I was probably four when I had the t-shirt. (I don't remember the t-shirt, I just know about it from pictures).

When I asked my mom about a few years ago - like when I found out what the song actually meant - she was all, "I didn't know! I just thought it was a neat song!" Ah, Mom, so sweetly naive.
posted by sutel at 6:27 AM on June 2, 2007


Ah! the smell of naivete in the morning.
posted by tellurian at 6:31 AM on June 2, 2007


thanks for remembering me Body Double, one of the few DePalma movies I kinda like (and that scene in the movie was awesome - in a 80's way obviously).
posted by darkripper at 6:37 AM on June 2, 2007


The Specials = The Special AKA

Ah, and there I was thinking that AKA was only the half-assed version of the band after half the members left...

there wasn't a video for Total Coelho's Toto Coelo's "I Eat Cannibals"

Funny. I seem to remember one. Oh, well. Here's something quite similar.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:45 AM on June 2, 2007


Red Wedge was a collective of British popular musicians
Fronted by Billy Bragg, Paul Weller and Jimmy Somerville.

Red Wedge organised a number of major tours. The first, in January and February 1986, featured Bragg, Weller's band The Style Council, The Communards, Junior Giscombe, Lorna Gee and Jerry Dammers, and picked up guest appearances from Madness, Prefab Sprout, Tom Robinson, Lloyd Cole and The Smiths along the way.


no. fucking. way.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:51 AM on June 2, 2007


After watching that I had to email my gay best friend from high school.
posted by suki at 6:52 AM on June 2, 2007


Don't forget the lefties: Red Wedge. This was the start of the belief that pop music could change the world.

Hahahaha! Oh wait, are you serious? You think "the belief that pop music could change the world" started in the eighties? Sheesh, kids today.

CluelessFilter: When Y.M.C.A. came out (er, so to speak), my kid brother put it on the stereo and watched happily as the rest of the family started bouncing along and joining in on the chorus. It wasn't until some time later that I learned why he was laughing so merrily.
posted by languagehat at 7:22 AM on June 2, 2007


When Y.M.C.A. came out (er, so to speak), my kid brother put it on the stereo and watched happily as the rest of the family started bouncing along and joining in on the chorus.

I, too, laugh merrily when at wedding receptions groom, bride, Granny, the flower girl and teenage boys all join in the group dance to YMCA. Oh, how they love to spell out those letters!
posted by ericb at 7:28 AM on June 2, 2007


I remember watching a bunch of sailors look at each other all like, "WTF?" when the Village People were performing "In The Navy" on a Bob Hope special.
posted by pax digita at 7:29 AM on June 2, 2007


Frankies Goes to Hollywood had this unique ability to fly under the gaydar of your normal, God-fearing Christian (...) folk. People filled with loathing for Boy George (or even Bronski Beat) would listen to Frankie without batting an eye.

In college, I had somehow managed to create a tradition whereby when one of my lab group had achieved a major milestone, it was time to haul out Welcome to the Pleasuredome and do a grand lip-sync and dance routine to "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" This included a straight-arrow, small-town guy full of the queer fear. Somehow, it just never occurred to him what it was he was doing.

Like "Y.M.C.A." or G.W.B., sometimes, when something is so over-the-top whatever, it's as if it went around to the other side of spacetime and snuck in through the back, people just won't see it.

I, too, thought Holly Johnson was dead.
posted by adipocere at 7:54 AM on June 2, 2007


OMG this brings back horrible memories of sitting in my living room as a teen watching "Body Double" with my parents. I eventually became so embarrassed, I said I had to go to the bathroom and just never came back. One freaky movie, for sure.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:00 AM on June 2, 2007


And despite all this, I'd totally forgotten about The Spitting Image

awesome!
posted by rhythim at 8:12 AM on June 2, 2007


Yep. When we got to the drill thing, I said, "Okay, it's official: Brian DePalma hates women." And I'm not exactly a rabid feminist.
posted by pax digita at 8:12 AM on June 2, 2007


Maybe the video was banned because it was horrible?

I'll always remember seeing someone at the Dayona 500 wearing a RELAX t-shirt. Poor redneck probably didn't know any better.

I'd love to see my favorite banned video "Amplifier" by the dB's.
posted by toddbass10 at 8:21 AM on June 2, 2007


I, too, laugh merrily when at wedding receptions groom, bride, Granny, the flower girl and teenage boys all join in the group dance to YMCA.

The grounds crew at Yankee Stadium do it best. (By "best" I mean "worst," but it cracks me up anyway.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:21 AM on June 2, 2007


Hahahaha! Oh wait, are you serious? You think "the belief that pop music could change the world" started in the eighties?

No, I think that the 80s saw the phenomena of musicians gathering together to try and change the world.

In short, musicians organized themselves into groups and semi-political lobbying organizations. Red Wedge, Band Aid, Live Aid...

The 60s and 70s gave us individual musicians who thought they could change the world, and there might have been a movement or two that wanted to change the world (Flower Power etc), and there might have been concert promoters who thought they could change the world (Concert for Bangladesh etc).

But the 80s when musicians got savvy and started to borrow pages from the politicians' book.
posted by humblepigeon at 8:50 AM on June 2, 2007


I knew Holly and Paul from Erics' in the days before they were famous. Holly was an art student, and Paul was basically renting, and neither of them seemed to stand much chance of success. I remember being at the first rehearsal of The Spitfire Boys, notable for Budgie (Slits, Souxie and the Banshees) on drums, and aside from myself, the others who were there included Pete Wylie, Pete Burns, Holly and Paul. Ian McCulloch was generally around -- being Wylie's best mate at the time, but I don't remember him being there that night. And Julian Cope was part of the same scene, but I don't remember him at all.

IIRC, Paul Rutherford was auditioning for vocalist, but he couldn't sing for shit and so didn't get the gig.

Just to show how poor my memory is, I've found this -- which shows he actually did get the gig after all. He still couldn't sing, though he always had a certain presence.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:59 AM on June 2, 2007 [4 favorites]


BTW, I was rummaging through a drawer the other day, and found my original 'Frankie say: Arm the unemployed!' t-shirt. I thought they were much cooler than the Relax ones at the time.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:02 AM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Confirmation camp, summer of 1984, backwoods Sweden. We were not allowed to have any radios or tape players, because they were seen as a way to "get away from the group" somehow. Instead, we were supposed to get together and play our instruments and sing if we wanted music.

My cousin would bike over sometimes, and some of us would sneak out of bed, gather in an abandoned barn a bit away, and she would bring her cassette player and her most recent taping off the radio. Somehow, Frankie's Relax became the unofficial "rebel" song of that summer, and we would sing it all the time (probably severely mangling the lyrics), much to the chagrin of the camp leaders and the camp priest.

Safe to say, we had no idea what the song meant or why the adults hated it so, but it was a great way of poking authority in the eye! Ahh, the whole thing cracks me up to this day. :)
posted by gemmy at 9:05 AM on June 2, 2007


I wonder for the millionth time why there wasn't a video for Total Coelho's "I Eat Cannibal."

But they did, pax digita. It was all the band member chicks doing a sort of caveman-meets-thriller choreographed dance while wearing fetching little outfits made of variously colored plastic trash bags and bones in their hair, IIRC. It's been awhile.

Even my very young self decided that the song was definitely less cool after seeing that.

Serazin, thanks for the post. Although I have to say, the rated-g version of Relax is a better video. Quite emblematic of the 80's new wavy style; the first time I saw the Faint they had the whole fog machine/ laser silhouette thing going on.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:15 AM on June 2, 2007


Man, I have to say I never saw that banned version. Awesome...awesomly bad...but awesome nonetheless. I remember having a crush on Holly, ah...count me as another naive soul.
I used to have an original Frankie Say Relax shirt from the concert but I think my mom threw it away when I went to college. I've been looking for one ever since. I don't want a knock off...i want a real one.
I love this band. Welcome to the Pleasuredome is an awesome song. And I love the jacket of the record with all the orgasming animals walking into a penis head. Yeah!
posted by aacheson at 9:19 AM on June 2, 2007


As for a few people thinking Holly Johnson was dead ... wasn't he supposed to have been on Pan Am flight 103, which crashed at Lockerbie? I think he had switched flights at the last minute, but it was briefly reported that he'd died.

I had the "RELAX" buttons on my bookbag for a year.
posted by lisa g at 9:23 AM on June 2, 2007


This is the type of music that turned me into a metal fan.
posted by jonmc at 9:32 AM on June 2, 2007 [5 favorites]


Do as you are trained... AND KILL THE MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER!
posted by quin at 9:39 AM on June 2, 2007 [2 favorites]


My life was in a strange way that summer [1983], the last summer of its kind there was ever to be. I was riding high on sex and self-esteem-- it was my time, my belle epoque--but all the while with a faint flicker of calamity, like flames around a photograph, something seen out of the corner of the eye.

From the opening pages of Alan Hollinghurst's The Swimming Pool Library (1988).

I remember that there was a clash of currents: the mainstreaming of gay culture which had begun in the 70s against the AIDS panic which followed. I was busy playing at being an anarchafeminist/art punk, so I didn't really listen to dance music; but Relax was everywhere that year.

And there was a theme going on around then, the whole Roman debauchery decadence thing; here's Shriekback's Nemesis from the following year. It's actually a little shocking, in retrospect-- all those pedophiliac images would never fly today. And the portentous quotes from Apocalypse Now... But fantastic bass line, though what else would you expect from Dave Allen, fresh out of the Gang of Four... *wanders off in direction of box full of dusty twenty-five year old vinyl*
posted by jokeefe at 9:48 AM on June 2, 2007


Of course in 1983, my favorite band was these dudes. Even us metalheads were in weird gender territory in those days.
posted by jonmc at 9:53 AM on June 2, 2007


thanotopsis, ditto on the Two Tribes 12" remixes.

FWIW, Phish has a song with a chorus that goes "Relax...", which fans assumed was the title for a while, until it appeared on the next album and it turned out it was called "Frankie Says." (The song starts about 2 minutes into the video.)
posted by muckster at 10:00 AM on June 2, 2007


Ah, yes, this brings back memories of my freshman dorm, where I lived with a pseudo-anarchist whose idea of a good time was to show up at parties dressed in black with a flashlight and a volume of Kafka and Kierkegaard and read in the corner. (Very Breakfast Club, but he thought he was cutting-edge.)

Meanwhile, he loathed my music selection, which included Frankie and Bronski Beat and Romeo Void, and we had endless late-night arguments over whether Angry Samoans and Flipper (his perennial favorites; he was from Forest Hills Gardens in Queens but he preferred West Coast punk) or Frankie Goes to Hollywood and The Smiths were more subversive (because of course nothing distributed by a major label could be remotely subversive). Those were the days.
posted by blucevalo at 10:06 AM on June 2, 2007


Y'all are old, but apparently relaxed. Good?
posted by Green With You at 10:09 AM on June 2, 2007


Yeah, I'm showing my age. Oh well.
posted by blucevalo at 10:14 AM on June 2, 2007


the Power of Love 12" starts with a impression of Mike Read, the BBC DJ who prompted the banning of Relax by refusing to play it live on air - "I'm not going to play this record - it's absolutely disgusting - I'm not going to this record."

The two rockin' Two Tribes 12"s were called Annihiliate and Carnage, if anyone's interested.
posted by forallmankind at 10:14 AM on June 2, 2007


Annihiliate Annihilation
posted by forallmankind at 10:15 AM on June 2, 2007


the hugely popular Frankie Say Relax t-shirts...

Summer 1984: A trashed hotel room in London and one giant dork (aged 15 years).
posted by astruc at 10:19 AM on June 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


jokeefe: I too thought about Shriekback's Nemesis after watching the banned Relax video.
PeterMcDermott: wasn't Pete Burns in the band Nightmares In Wax? (
posted by Sailormom at 10:28 AM on June 2, 2007


Meanwhile, he loathed my music selection, which included Frankie and Bronski Beat and Romeo Void, and we had endless late-night arguments over whether Angry Samoans and Flipper (his perennial favorites; he was from Forest Hills Gardens in Queens but he preferred West Coast punk) or Frankie Goes to Hollywood and The Smiths were more subversive (because of course nothing distributed by a major label could be remotely subversive). Those were the days.

*wipes nostalgic tear*

(Romeo Void were great. So was Flipper. Sex Bomb! Ah well.)
posted by jokeefe at 10:33 AM on June 2, 2007


I still listen to Welcome To The Pleasuredome about three or four times a month.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:44 AM on June 2, 2007


wasn't Pete Burns in the band Nightmares In Wax?

Yeah, but he was better on Celebrity Big Brother. :)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:14 AM on June 2, 2007


I like to think of "Relax" and Y.M.C.A. as the biggest pranks anyone has ever pulled, ever. These guys somehow managed to punk the entire world.
posted by frogan at 12:11 PM on June 2, 2007


This was the start of the belief that pop music could change the world.

*falls about laughing hysterically and gasping for air*

oh, you kiddies just SLAY me sometimes!!!!!!!
posted by quonsar at 12:33 PM on June 2, 2007


I personally view "YMCA" as being in the same (quite innocent) class as Elvis' "Jailhouse Rock" from the 1950s - my big macho stepfather had a fit when he realised the Elvis lyrics!

"Relax" was far more in your face and subversive. Excellent dance stomper of the time.
posted by Drew Brett at 12:40 PM on June 2, 2007


The difference between Jailhouse Rock and YMCA, is that Elvis himself might not have 'gotten' the homoeroticism of the song, while the Village People were very clear on how gay YMCA was.
posted by serazin at 12:42 PM on June 2, 2007


The difference between Jailhouse Rock and YMCA, is that Elvis himself might not have 'gotten' the homoeroticism of the song, while the Village People were very clear on how gay YMCA was.

Yes, but the effect on those "straights" listening to "Jailhouse Rock" in the 50s was the same as those "straight" members of my family listening to "YMCA" in the 70s - they thought it was just a so-called "nice" pop song. You couldn't make that mistake with "Relax". Thank heavens!
posted by Drew Brett at 12:48 PM on June 2, 2007


Gotcha.
posted by serazin at 1:00 PM on June 2, 2007


Freshman fall in college, and the (straight, jock, drink-til-you-boot) guys living downstairs in the dorm played Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Wham! ceaselessly. It puzzled me then - and still does, really - that no one seemed to know that these bands were So Very Very Gay. Ah, youth!
posted by rtha at 1:14 PM on June 2, 2007


'S OK, q, I already told them to get off the lawn.
posted by languagehat at 1:15 PM on June 2, 2007


All this warm-and-fuzzy '80s nostalgia. I want to gag. Have you forgotten who was president during the happy, gay-dance-music 1980s??
posted by metasonix at 1:41 PM on June 2, 2007


Um, no metasonix. My original post references that piece of human garbage directly, via Frankie Goes to Hollywood's anti-cold war song that I linked to.
posted by serazin at 1:47 PM on June 2, 2007


All this warm-and-fuzzy '80s nostalgia. I want to gag. Have you forgotten who was president during the happy, gay-dance-music 1980s??

Yeah, and I think that's part of why I remember the period so fondly. The President reflected my values and beliefs. It really was a good time. Why, don't you like François Mitterrand?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:09 PM on June 2, 2007


*falls about laughing hysterically and gasping for air*

oh, you kiddies just SLAY me sometimes!!!!!!!


But somebody already made that joke (and I already rebutted!).

You old people! You're SO UNORIGINAL sometimes!!!!!
posted by humblepigeon at 2:25 PM on June 2, 2007


Just because I'm in a ranty mood:

While I sympathize with your intent here metasonix, I think you should take this video in the context of 1984. The causes of AIDS were understood as associated with gay male sex. In San Francisco, public health officials shut down all the men's bath houses and sex clubs that year in an attempt to curb the disease, which was experienced by gay men as an attack on their civil liberties (and later was seen as a lost opportunity to reach the target audience for safe sex educational information). Meanwhile, Reagan had never publicly uttered the word 'AIDS' and his government was doing shockingly little to research this illness.

Homophobia was obviously still completely acceptable, and public images of gay sexuality were not mainstream, to say the least.

In that context, something like this video is a complete anomaly. It was a slap in the face to the anti-sex, anti-gay values held by Reagan and most of the world. The fact that this was the video to an international number one hit is all the more amazing.
posted by serazin at 2:40 PM on June 2, 2007


languagehat writes 'CluelessFilter: When Y.M.C.A. came out (er, so to speak), my kid brother put it on the stereo and watched happily as the rest of the family started bouncing along and joining in on the chorus. It wasn't until some time later that I learned why he was laughing so merrily.'

I always assumed that whoever composed that song had just finished reading John Rechy's book, City of Night, in which the various male hustlers are interchangably referred to by Rechy's narrator as 'youngman'. On his first night staying in NY, he stays at the YMCA, and of course, is propositioned by another resident.

It's hard to mistake the song for anything but being outrageously queer if you've read the book beforehand.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:43 PM on June 2, 2007


Freshman fall in college, and the (straight, jock, drink-til-you-boot) guys living downstairs in the dorm played Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Wham! ceaselessly. It puzzled me then - and still does, really - that no one seemed to know that these bands were So Very Very Gay.

You think that's weird. There's fratboys today who listen to rap music even though it's performed by, get this, black people! Not to mention this weird girl I knew once who would listen to songs sung by bands consiting entirely of guys, even though she was a girl!
posted by straight at 4:52 PM on June 2, 2007


(straight: eponyronic?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:18 PM on June 2, 2007


It's hard to mistake the song for anything but being outrageously queer if you've read the book beforehand listened to the lyrics even once.

How could anybody NOT realize that YMCA is outrageously queer?

And yet, anecdotal evidence supports the idea that there are some who have gone on in blissful ignorance, doing the dance and making the letters all happy-like.

On the other hand, maybe they knew and didn't care?
posted by jokeefe at 5:21 PM on June 2, 2007


All this warm-and-fuzzy '80s nostalgia. I want to gag. Have you forgotten who was president during the happy, gay-dance-music 1980s??

Um, I seem to recall a lot of popular hits that were very dark, and some that made explicit the whole "dance till the bombs drop" ethos, as well. (Remember Dance Till the Bombs Drop, my fellows in 80s nostalgia?) So don't think that the popular music of the 80s didn't engage with that stuff; I mean, we were all convinced, not without reason, that nuclear war was imminent. I remember dance hits like Stand Down Margaret and Free Nelson Mandela and so on.

*rearranges pillows on rocking chair*
posted by jokeefe at 5:25 PM on June 2, 2007


Ummm. Was that hedonism bot type dude peeing on people?

posted by quadog


Hahaha! This is the first time I've seen the video and it immediately reminded me of Hedonism Bot!

(Well, of course they're both patterned after hedonistic Roman Emperors, but still...)

"I apologize for nothing!"
posted by darkstar at 7:14 PM on June 2, 2007


Hey PeterMcDermott-you interested in selling that Frankie Tshirt? I'm serious. :)
posted by aacheson at 8:29 PM on June 2, 2007


Here's a great website with all the FGTH accessories from the 80's. Great stuff
posted by aacheson at 8:39 PM on June 2, 2007


It was John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) who supposedly missed his flight on Pan Am 103.

That video and especially that song really plays up the awful crushing paranoia at least some of us felt during the mid-80s. It has never gone away for me, which is why everything from "I'm Your Man" to "The Bends" to "Jarvis" keeps feeding the twitchy gloom.
posted by kenlayne at 9:38 PM on June 2, 2007


stands there embarrassed, remembering wearing eyeliner, clear lip gloss, overly complicated clothes, white patent leather Capezios, and lots and lots of hair product...
posted by Samizdata at 11:46 PM on June 2, 2007


stands there proud, remembering wearing eyeliner, clear lip gloss, overly complicated clothes, white patent leather Capezios doc martens, and lots and lots of hair product...
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:42 AM on June 3, 2007


"Relax" was my favorite song when I was in fifth grade. It was an embarrassingly long time before I figured out what the song was actually about!

Likewise, it amazes me when I watch the video for "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" that it wasn't obvious to me that George Michael was gay within the first three seconds! Oh yeah, I was 9 years old at the time. (And I even made my own Choose Life T-shirt - obviously not thinking about abortion.)
posted by SisterHavana at 12:00 PM on June 3, 2007


Was it just a case of separated-at-birth, or did Holly Johnson play bass for ABC for a while?
posted by lodurr at 1:14 PM on June 3, 2007


I have the DVD with interviews, tidbits, and all the videos...including the killer Rob Searle remixes.

/frankie never say die
posted by deusdiabolus at 5:17 PM on June 3, 2007


I will not apologize for 80's fashion, but I'm proud of the music we made.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 7:36 PM on June 3, 2007


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