The Unbearable Tightness of Being in Polyester Pants: Three Dog Night – “Eli’s Coming”

Three Dog Night Eli's Coming

Note: This is a performance clip from a TV special, something I normally don’t mess with, but after watching it I knew I wouldn’t feel good in the morning if I let this one go. It’s from 1972, and that alone should explain everything that’s about to happen. Here we go…

We start out with a blurry image of what might be the drummer, followed by blurry images of anonymous hands playing a piano and tuning a guitar. Are we standing in line at a methadone clinic? (To be fair, the blurriness is probably the degraded quality of the film and not the result of some artistic director proclaiming “we must open with blurriness!” and then taking a defiant drag on a clove cigarette.) Then we get a shot of one of those Troll dolls (you know, those old-school asexually naked things with fuzzy hair) stuck on the end of a guitar, and I start to get nervous.

Then we pan over to the person holding that guitar, and I’m not trying to pass any judgment, but based on the facial expressions he’s making, he’s clearly stoned out of his mind, or at least has severe focus issues. But it’s all good, because we soon cut to somebody singing the opening bit of the song, and you forget all about drug usage because this singer’s hair is quite stunning. I’m not sure what he was going for with that look, but I hope he found it. Then we zip over to another singer (I have no idea how many of them we might meet)  and this one is wearing an even more expressive hairdo, one that Cher would later use during that artistic part of her career when she wore a thong whilst straddling a big gun on a battleship.

Okay, we’ve got another vocalist, this one upping the hair challenge by sporting a mustache that could rake the leaves off your front lawn. Oddly enough, he can’t help but giggle during his lyric delivery, which I take as another sign of recreational inhalants, but many of the women in the audience take as a cue to start screaming in worship. Since I was only 7 at the time of this video, I’ll just assume there were things going on in the world that I was clueless about as I played with my G.I. Joe and watched violent Saturday morning cartoons.

Mustache Man starts messing with the crowd, throwing in some “wooh!” noises, encouraging folks to scream some more so that it drowns out the song, which is kind of sad because he really has quite a nice voice. (But I think he knows that.) He throws in a cryptic Tiny Tim bit of falsetto flourish and then he passes the vocal torch to yet another singer, this one wearing a startling mini-vest thing that looks like something you would put on your Streetwalker Barbie Doll and not on your G.I. Joe. (Unless Joe was raised in Venice Beach.)

This magical vest causes the music to really ramp up, and we cut to the audience to see how they are enjoying things so far. I would say that they mightily approve, especially the one woman who appears to have just had a spontaneous orgasm. We head back to the stage, where all 140 lead singers are posing in a head-to-toe camera angle, letting us know that the Theme of the Day is overly-tight slacks that highlight your crotch. Just to make sure we understand this theme, the Cher-Hair Guy grabs the waistband of his pants and pulls them even higher, helpfully letting the world know that he hangs to the left.

We get some more audience reaction shots, and I do believe that this has now become some type of religious ceremony, with folks raising their hands to Jesus, or at least signaling to the traveling beer vendor that they are a bit parched. We have a brief re-visit to the stage and then we’re back in the audience, where everyone has been inspired to rhythmically clap with a frenzy that would cause psychologists to widen their eyes in alarm and smile in satisfaction, knowing that their client list is about to grow.

Stage again, where the camera appears to be zooming in toward the Mini-Vest Guy, a development that forces me to take another swig of vodka as reinforcement against what might happen. Mini-Vest proceeds to wiggle his hips in a manner that I would think is ill-advised, but based on the audience reaction, there was apparently nothing sexier in 1972 than somebody shifting from foot to foot like they have seriously got to pee. (This also might explain how Nixon managed to get re-elected in 1972. He always looked like he had bladder issues.)

Then some of the 280 lead singers start raising their hands in the air, officially transitioning us from a mere concert into a frenzied praise celebration. (I guess everybody is quite happy about those tight pants.) The Cher-Hair Guy is the most invested in this bit, flailing his arms like there were some vicious jalapenos in the bean dip, and causing Mini-Vest Guy to glance at him like “does it always have to be about you? Didn’t we discuss this on the bus coming here? And stop pulling on your pants, we get it, you have a penis.” Or something along those lines. I wasn’t there and nobody forwarded the meeting minutes.

Another quick shot of the audience, reminding us that none of the women in 1972 yet had access to the hair-styling products that would later allow Farrah Fawcett to dominate the planet, and then we focus back on Mini-Vest. He’s now whipping one arm downward like he’s in the final stretch of the Kentucky Derby, urging his stud horse to triumph over the other studs. (I think he’s trying to be sexy with this mess, but it doesn’t appeal to me in the least, probably because I already had no intention of sleeping with someone who considers vests an aphrodisiac. But judging by the euphoric reaction of the women (and a few of the men) in the audience, they are clearly prepared to be ridden across the finish line in a frenzy of flying dirt clods. I guess you had to be there.

And I guess the cameraman relishes the fact that the audience is on the verge of massive sexual satisfaction, because he happily records more shots of people clapping and waving their hands as they approach the Big O, or find salvation in the Lord, or both. Whatever it is that they are doing somehow resulted in the creation of disco music a few short years later. No wonder plaid polyester suits became all the rage about this time. If a man in a mini-vest can help you find your g-spot, anything can happen.

And that’s how we wind down the video, with the 360 lead singers doing their thing, an apparently mesmerizing performance that totally enraptured thousands of people before cable TV was invented and allowed people to find peace and sexual redemption without leaving their homes. There’s a final shot of the audience members thrusting their hands in the air in a manner that would later become required movements by people attending mega-churches where nobody knows your name, and then we close out with Mini-Vest on the stage warbling the last bits of the song.

As the satisfied members of the audience finally relax, lighting a post-coital cigarette and tossing a donation into the offering plate being passed about, the 480 lead singers leave the stage and begin searching the phonebook for chiropractors who can help their testicles re-descend after being confined in restrictive pants at the prayer circle…


Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 04/01/13, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.


Bobbing for Apples in the Chapel of Love: The Killers – “Mr. Brightside”

Killers Mr Brightside

We start off with the band onstage in what looks like a cross between a fancy nightclub, a Chinese Buffet and a bordello. There are lots of people off to one side, lounging around in the V.I.P. area of the buffet, with the women all dressed like unfocused hookers. (So much for not objectifying women, eh? Oh wait, just look at the album cover.) There’s one woman in particular that we are supposed to pay attention to, because the camera keeps doing so. She’s got pale-white, baby-doll skin and enough frizzy white hair to fuel Amsterdam for a month.

Hold up, was that Eric Roberts sitting in a throne-like chair and wearing a bathrobe? That can’t be good.

Lead singer Brandon finally starts singing, and he makes sure that we can see his snazzy threads, a mix of Willy Wonka and David Bowie going to church. Then we have another shot of Eric, and a shot of Frizzy Hair looking bored because she doesn’t have a gentleman that she can straddle while all of her little slut friends do such. Suddenly, Eric throws her an apple, which she happily snatches out of the air with uncontrolled lust.

Frizzy is now inspired to start pawing on a few of the gentleman callers, which in turn inspires her little slut friends to up the ante with their provocative poses and thigh-exposure. It’s suddenly very hot in there as people yearn and stretch and wiggle their tongues. Brandon keeps singing about not wanting to see all this mess, but it doesn’t stop him from looking. He might have some unresolved personal demons.

Eric throws another apple at Frizzy (did he bring a basket of them?), since she apparently isn’t being trashy enough. Frizzy gets back to work with her latching on to old men while Eric sweats and smiles. (Like he’s not creepy enough when he’s dry.) I’m just guessing here, but there appears to be an overall vibe that Brandon is not impressed with Frizzy humping everything in sight. Why he’s not impressed is unclear, what with this being a vintage bordello and all, but perhaps Brandon misunderstood the mechanics of an establishment where rich men plunk down disposable income with the intent of sub-leasing an orifice or two.

Oh wait, Frizzy and Brandon have now run behind a convenient curtain, and they seem to have reunited and it feels so good, so I don’t know why Brandon is still even singing this song. Hmm. We’ll have to figure that out later because, based on some signal that I must have missed, all the slut girls dismount from their aging partners and head out to the dance floor.

Once there, the harlots start doing some choreography that mostly involves twirling without letting their massive hairdos unravel or their body paint to start flaking off in a rude manner. (Patrons of Red-Light Emporiums generally do not care for airborne effluvia, unless they purchased the “Jazz Hands” package.) Whoops, the Ladies of the Evening just lifted their tawdry dresses so we can see their barely-clad crotches. Then they do the same with their hind quarters. Apparently you don’t really have any status in this place unless you advertise your accessibility.

We get a quick shot of the patiently-waiting but as yet unattended gentleman callers in the V.I.P. lounge, with their angst at not being immediately serviced clearly evident. (Most of these men are old and decaying, which would explain the Hesitance of the Harlots, but there is one dewy youngster among the waiting cavalcade. He looks exactly like LeAnn Rimes, which is perhaps the oddest thing about this odd video.)

Anyway, while the Slut Dancers finish up waving their love boxes, we cut to an outside balcony where Brandon hooks up with Frizzy again. They clench hands romantically for 3 seconds, and then Frizzy runs back inside and hops on Eric’s lap. Frizzy really needs to make up her mind. To be fair, maybe she can’t see with all that hair, so she’s sleeping with everybody just to make sure she gets around to her real boyfriend at some point.

Well, it seems Frizzy can’t keep her eyes off Brandon even while she’s riding Eric, a distracting element that Eric really can’t ignore, so he throws her to the ground in a rather dramatic dismount. (Don’t worry, her hair cushioned her fall and she’s just fine.) The director throws in a pointless montage of debauchery to lengthen the running time of the video, but a few scenes later we have Frizzy meeting up with Brandon in yet another secluded area of this apparently mammoth bordello. They fondle each other with unregulated (and unpaid for) lust, possibly rekindling whatever fire they once had, but we have some serious trust issues with Frizzy and her wantonness. There are still a few men hanging around that she hasn’t sampled.

And there she goes, snagging up yet another beau so they can do a sexual tango in some ballroom, which quickly morphs into Frizzy and Brandon dancing, then back to Frizzy and Alejandro, then Frizzy and Eric, then back to… oh, who cares. Lots of people are dancing, that’s all you really need to know.

The Waltz of the Multiple Personalities goes on for a bit, with absolutely no resolution so I’m not sure what the point was, then we’re once again on that outside balcony, where it’s now daylight and Brandon is clutching Frizzy, who has managed to find another outfit, probably borrowed from that odd LeAnn Rimes boygirl.

Aw hell, here come the Slut Dancers again, hooking it out to the dance floor even though you know they’ve got to be tired by now. This time they are even more invested in showing us their personal jewelry collections and flashing their underwear at the Peanut Gallery. Some of them even hold one foot over their heads while belching the words of the chorus with their hoo-hoos. It’s really inspiring.

Cut to Eric and Brandon playing chess, because that’s exactly what I would do in the middle of a Chinese Bordello Buffet. I guess Brandon’s not a really good sport, because when he realizes that he’s going to lose he knocks the table over and stomps away in a little snit, while Eric licks his lips and sweats some more.

We end the song with a whirl of images. We have gauzy scenes of a couple getting married but we really can’t see their faces. (If any of the guys are marrying any of the girls up in this place, they better get a pre-nup.) Shots of Brandon and Frizzy having a tender moment, even though we know she’s only resting before she couples with the next man who walks into the place, even if he just needs directions to Wal-Mart. She’ll offer him the bonus plan.

Final shot is of Brandon walking away and leaving little Frizzy, bereft and all alone with just her raging libido and insatiable hair to keep her company. Poor thing. Oh wait, someone else just came through the door. Yay!


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Originally published on 02/08/11, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.


Don’t Squirt That Thing in the Wrong Direction: Madonna – “Borderline”


We start out with Madonna and a gang of friends all gathered round one of those areas where folks used to do spontaneous break-dancing back in the day, mainly because the Internet really hadn’t caught on just yet and people were bored. There’s a small child doing a backbend whilst Madonna, wearing the trash-girl couture that she popularized back then, does some odd dance steps and then touches his hiney. In modern times, that would constitute child abuse and Madonna would get thrown in the Big House, but such overkill political correctness won’t happen for another twenty years or so.

Then we have a montage of street-dance sequences, where Madonna gets to show off the fact that she can throw her leg over her head, and we get introduced to her lover, a man-boy wearing tighter pants than she is. Everyone seems to be having a very good time, or at least as much fun as you can have when people are spinning around on their backs with their legs in the air. Suddenly, some snooty photographer guy comes waltzing up and crashes the party without an invite.

Normally, this would require that one of the gang members get an attitude and pull a knife, but this isn’t reality, so the street folks just keep spinning and dancing unprofessionally while the photographer (let’s call him Hank) hands his business card to Madonna. We don’t know why Hank would single out Madonna, when most of the other folks are spinning and spreading their legs with much more gusto, so Hank must have a special fondness for the bandana thingy that Madonna has artfully woven through her hairdo that is bigger than Detroit.

Well, Man-Boy doesn’t care for small pieces of cardboard being handed to his lady-friend, and he makes a small scene that implies we don’t need no paparazzi up in here. (Apparently he doesn’t know Madonna very well, since she’s dreamed of paparazzi since the doctor slapped her newborn ass at the age of 10 seconds.) Madonna gives him a look (and a shove) that makes it clear that she and her bandana are going to do whatever it takes to not have to dance on this street corner any more.

Cut to Madonna hopping into Hank’s fancy car (while Man-Boy glares from what looks like a balcony in Barcelona, so there might have been some editing issues), and the next thing we know Madonna is wearing an outfit with extreme ruffles and screwing around with a giant ball while Hank takes pictures. (There’s also some business with Madonna wearing a leather jacket accented by a hairstyle jacked to Jesus, but it’s not clear if Hank is also recording that Madonna or if it’s just her auditioning for a Broadway revival of West Side Story 2: The Hair Product Strikes Back.)

Next up are some shots of Madonna and Man-Boy on a rooftop somewhere. They seem to be very much in love, or at least horny, and they proceed to admire each other’s wardrobe and then make out. Zip back to Hank’s photography studio/penthouse, where now we have Madonna traipsing around in another leather outfit, meandering amongst some fake Greek columns and a giant statue of a naked man. Hank seems to be encouraging her to twirl as much as possible, when he really should be advising her to brush her hair at least once a week if she wants to be taken seriously.

Then we have a montage featuring Madonna in another frilly outfit that no serious person would ever wear unless under court order. (Was Nellie Oleson the stylist for this shoot?)  Madonna and Hank review the photos he has taken, and they both guzzle margaritas like there’s some kind of prize to be won. Apparently Madonna is quite pleased with Hank’s work, because she lustfully kisses him on the lips and they presumably (nothing is clear in a music video, ever) proceed to have questionable sex while the giant naked statue reviews the proceedings.

Cut to a phone booth, who knows where, with Madonna back in her street gear, a colorful ensemble with a Keith Haring theme and more hair that has not received proper attention. (Girl, put some conditioner on that mess!)  She’s hanging up on someone, but we don’t learn who it is (bill collectors? the Pope?) because it’s time for another round of Madonna dancing back at the sex-scented photography studio. This turns into an extended scene where Madonna uses all of her acting skills to show that she can wear an outer garment that is clearly too big for her and maneuver her way through the Greek columns without mishap or any damage to the artwork. (I bet she’s really good at Ms. Pacman.)

Now we have Madonna (back in the Keith Haring outfit) standing on a street corner and chatting with several of her girlfriends, all of them sporting hairstyles courtesy of the Helen Keller Salon in the South Bronx. Man-Boy suddenly shows up and pouts whilst leaning against a lamppost and smoking a cigarette, because his part in the script wasn’t clearly defined and he’s winging it.

Madonna finally wanders over and tries to make nice, but her efforts are thwarted by Man-Boy doing some odd improv-acting with an unexplained pool stick. The subtext is unclear, but he seems to have a number of issues: Madonna is banging someone that is not him, Madonna is getting all uppity and wearing clothes that she can’t get at the dollar store, and Madonna’s hairdo is getting more publicity than his. He stomps away and heads back into a building, leaving Madonna to fret and kick the innocent lamppost, like it had anything to do with her bedding choices.

We go inside the building, where Man-Boy is playing pool (somewhat explaining the stick in the previous scene, but not the manner in which he was fondling it), which is something some guys naturally do when their Former Squeeze is on the brink of international superstardom. Madonna appears in the doorway and tries to interest Man-Boy in her womanliness, or at least her more expensive couture, but he ignores her and keeps shoving balls into pockets. Madonna turns and struts away, apparently deciding that this is a part of her life that won’t make it into her autobiography anyway, so what’s the point?

Brief revisit to Hank’s studio, where Hank is smirking and Madonna is twirling while he takes photos that no one will appreciate except Vogue editors, not showing any signs of guilt about working her way up the corporate ladder or bothering to get an STD check. Cut to Man-Boy walking up to a newsstand, surprising all of us that he reads, where he sees Madonna on the cover of “Gloss” magazine. He snatches up the magazine and proceeds to another Barcelona balcony so he can pout some more and have flashbacks of those special fifteen minutes that he and Madonna had on that random rooftop.

And now we’re at the studio/trysting place once again, where Hank is trying to convince Madonna that she needs to wear an especially unattractive floppy hat for their next photo session. She doesn’t seem to care for it, but Hank gets her on his artistic-vision side by handing her a can of spray paint and encouraging her to draw hearts on his fake marble wall. This development appeals to the street side of Madonna, so she proceeds to graffiti with exuberance, regardless of the annoying hat, whilst Hank points and shoots.

Madonna, who firmly believes in excess, gets carried away and accidentally besmirches Hank’s fancy sports car during the ecstatic bliss of getting to deface property that does not belong to her. Hank gets all pissy with Madonna, despite the obvious stupidity of Hank parking his car in the middle of a photo shoot where aerosol propellants will be introduced. There is an altercation, one that presumably does not lead to wanton sex but does lead to Madonna and her hair no longer being welcome in the House of Questionable Greek Architecture. Poor girl is not going to be the next supernova supermodel, at least not this afternoon. Bummer.

Cut to Madonna waltzing down a darkened street, headed toward the pool hall where Man-Boy is still shoving a stick at balls and making it clear that he doesn’t have a real life or he wouldn’t still be there. First, Madonna greets her gal pals standing outside, because you always have to give props to your sisters or you get kicked out of the gang (you can’t have that kind of mess showing up in your autobiography), then she heads inside for the showdown with Stunted-Growth-Boy.

Madonna and the Pink Ladies sashay their way past Man-Boy, who apparently hasn’t moved from his position on the table since Oklahoma became a state, and then Madonna tries to appear disinterested as she peruses the selections on the jukebox. (After all, Joan Jett advised us years ago that we should put another dime in the jukebox, baby, and peer pressure is really hard to shake off despite counseling and relative distance from your formative years.) The tension in the room is as thick as hair gel as we wait to see what happens.

Man-Boy rushes up to Madonna before she can insert anything into a slot, and they embrace each other fervently, as if Madonna hadn’t recently offered her wares to the first guy who had more than just liability insurance on his car. To confirm their back-togetherness, we cut to Man-Boy showing Madonna just exactly how his pool stick should be handled to achieve the most satisfaction. We finish out with another shot of Madonna singing the final notes of the song and wearing that ill-advised floppy hat with the most obnoxious bow known to mankind, accented by a heart-shaped earring that annoyingly swings back and forth as she lip-synchs. Little did we know that the earring was simply marking time until Madonna swallowed the entire music industry for breakfast and then kept going…


Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 01/27/13, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.