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Gaywatch: The gayest music videos of the ’80s Part One 1980-1984

Being a “child” of the ’80s and having them be my formative years were truly something almost indescribable. Yet, if I were to try to describe how it felt to be that lonely gay boy, longing for acceptance, I would summarize the feeling with three letters: MTV.

Everyday I was barraged with a wealth of imagery that spoke to some part of myself I was not ready to reconcile, until I turned 15, and then it was game on, like Donkey Kong or even Frogger, as I made my way across the highway of life, trying not to get squashed while doing so.

There are indelible visuals seared into my mind, and when I watch VH-1 Classics (damn, I’m old) and catch them, I get a very tingly sensation that does not require a visit to the free clinic, ok?

Its a sense memory of the very first time (when I was like a virgin) I saw, and heard, the likes of Madonna, Depeche Mode, Wham, Elton John and others who spoke to me two-fold in that secret hiding place.

Then when I came out I knew what it all meant, I was capital G to the A and add a Y for good measure.

So, I’d like to present my hit list of video clues and give my assessment of their sheer volume of being queer and here, get used to it, mmmkay…

The Weather Girls “It’s Raining Men”…

Truly one of the gayest things ever committed to video tape (?), an early effort that showcases the fantastic Martha Wash and that other one that made the group plural. This future gay pride anthem has reallllly bad effects, but its saving grace comes in the form of a catchy tune, sass to spare (mmm hmmm, and we’ve got news for you…watching this video instantly makes you gay, gay, gay) and men in their trench coats, fedoras and Speedos (hey, it was the ’80s, after all). Just the perfect recipe that made me burn my umbrella and run outside to see what the forecast had in store for me. Hallelujah!

ONJ “Physical”…

God Bless You, Olivia Newton-John, this video – and some of the male Solid Gold Dancers superceded my usual TV crushes – Example: Mr. Brady (pre-perm) and any number of ’70s male stars, like Lyle Waggoner.

From the opening scene of all the ripped, hot men (except the dude with the severe Jew Ginger Fro/Porn ‘Stache combo – I wouldn’t touch him to scratch him – that was a precursor to my later days of working out at a mostly gay gym, to Livvie’s headband, this video and song are the shizzle lean. It made me realize that I would never be a chubby chaser, the obese guys just made me want the other guys that much more.

Naturally, the song’s “unless it’s horizontally” message was lost on me. However, the guys going off at the end holding hands was not, although my favorite faux gay, Jack Tripper, never did anything like that on “Three’s Company.”

Elton John “I’m Still Standing”…

This one threw me for a loop! No, not because it had mimes in it! Ok, maybe just a little with those silent clown-like figures, actually, it was other figures that had  my heart acting as its own private bi-plane doing the loop-de-loops and such. Painted men in Speedos, no that’s not some one-hit wonder band from the era, but rather it’s a reference to the guys in the video, especially Mr. Green. and Blue.

I wonder if ole EJ had a handy, er, hand in selecting these dancers, or in the very least applied their body paint. Perhaps, he gave the approval (cough, cough picked out) the leather-esque accoutrements for the non-painted fellow. My guess is yes, yes and yes…I somehow think there may have been something else standing at attention during this shoot, mmmkay?

Billy Joel “Allentown”…

Another “Piano Man” AKA Mr. William Joel doesn’t exactly spring to mind in terms of connecting the word gay to him. Because that would be an unlikely pairing, much like he and Christie Brinkley being married, OK?

While his video for the plight of those “living here in Allentown” wasn’t exactly geared toward a pink audience, save for one sequence and a bit of guy candy in between, including a sweet shot of asses in a shower bears mentioning. And, the shirtless sweaty man in a hard hat, ahem, turning a crank. Oh and the queen with the flaming (subtle) baton wearing onion skins, afflicted by a severe case of jazz hands, which can be cured by getting a good, hard grip on something. Speaking of that cure-all…for the guy quotient, my hat is off to you, Billy, or in my teenaged years case, my pants.

Culture Club “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me”…

Bless my Aunt Maryellen’s heart, upon seeing this video on the MTV for the first time, she gasped, “Looks like he should be called Girl George.” Someone was quipping to be clever, indeed.

For whatever reason, the official video for this song is not on the youtube…but I have very fond recollections of B.J., err, B.G. skipping around the pool setting everyone’s nerves on edge…was he a man, a woman? He was Boy George, dammit and he was schtuping Jon Moss the drummer…good work, gurl. This was way before his penchant for chaining escorts to walls; side note…wouldn’t it have made more sense for Andy Bell of Erasure to have done that, as he sang about the “Chains of Love,” and all? I’m just sayin’.

Here’s a “live” version of said tune:

Village People “You Can’t Stop The Music”…

You can’t stop the music, nobody can stop the music…and your eyes cannot unsee Bruce Jenner in Daisy Duke shorts and a half shirt; guess there was something more botched than his unsuccessful “trip to the dentist” that has him looking like Miss Hathaway from “The Beverly Hillbillies” nowadays. Eek!

I often wonder, as I am want to do about certain movie productions from this era, about how much cocaine went into its making. My guess here is a shitload, aside from Bruce Jenner’s hysterectomy shorts and fuzzy navel, you have the very best reason to go to the “Y.M.C.A.,” in the form of a gay pornish (it’s a word) visit to the establishment that was B.W. (Boner Worthy). However, the tune was brought to us from the ’70s.

But the title song, and co-stars Valerie Perrine and Steve Guttenberg’s career trajectories, are definitely from the ’80s…even it is still from the Disco Era that hadn’t ended yet. Don’t you wish there were more novelty acts like The Village People, today? I do…sigh, but they’d probably be all P.C. and watered down. How is it that 30 years ago things were somewhat evolved in some areas of gayiety and have now slunk back into the shadows? That’s one to grow on!

Depeche Mode “People Are People”…

In terms of being a gay video, Depeche Mode’s “People are People” is pretty in pink for its ability to make a lyrical call to arms about “why should you and I get along so awfully.” This song was out when I was closeted, but having my first encounter, so it holds a near-and-dear placement in my heart. No, it didn’t make it grow two sizes too big…it’s still me, hello!

The B-52’s “Song For A Future Generation”…

Hi, my name is Tim. I’m a Pisces and I like computers and hot tamales! Well, that would actually be Ricky Wilson who professed that on the song from their 1983 effort Whammy! C’mon mammy throw that whammy! Big bucks, big bucks, stop! And for the record, I am a Pisces and am all about big roosters and, well, computers…can’t have one without the other, really.

Back on track, steer the course…OK, naughty thoughts averted for the moment. “SFAFG”  also informed us, between choruses of “la la la la la” that the Athens-based band was primed to take over not only the fashion world, but the entire galaxy as well. As in yearning to be “the empress of fashion” and “the captain of the Enterprise.” The former was achieved with Cindy Wilson’s Judy Jetson-inspired ensemble, plus Ricky and Keith Strickland’s flying saucer-shaped hats in pink and white, respectively.

There is also an odd “Brady Bunch” quality to their dance number, albeit done in the spirit of campiness and not in the area general lack of rhythm. Oh, and the video also has Fred Schenider in it, which makes it instantly gay, especially with his desire to “explore the caves of the unknown. Hmm, that’s queer.By the by, I do killer and spot-on impressions of both Ricky and Cindy’s likes, if you see me around just ask me, I “may” be coaxed into doing it (cough, attention whore, achoo, no shame).

Taco “Puttin’ On The Ritz”…

I’ve oftened wondered where I could go where fashion sits and have a Taco at the same time? Oh, I know…I can jump into the video for Taco’s ‘Puttin’ On The Ritz.” Or as he calls it The Ritzsss, that is sssso ssssuper, but I didn’t order a Taco with a lisp.

This dandy fellow, who is obviously from somewhere in the Deutchlands or Netherregions (Geology was not my strong suit), is decked out in a tux and even has his own lit up cane for his remake of Irving Berlin’s song from the ’30s. Umm, there are even some folks in black face, that ain’t right! Maybe Taco should have hit them with his light saber, but if he missed and fell they may wipe off his lipstick! Thanks to my friend Frank for reminding me about this one.

Kajagoogoo Kajagoogoo”Too Shy”….

Lead singer Limahl’s eyes punctuated each “hush hush, eye to eye” lyrics, while his blond on top, brown on the bottom spiky hairdo that looks like a gay porcupine died on his head from peroxide asphyxiation, definitely made it known that this video was born in the ’80s. Gotta give props to his open at the sides shirt.

I do like the video concept of playing to crowds throughout the ages, and I am sure that ole Limahl was sure to be the living embodiment of the “Welcome Home Boys” banner in the first portion. Oh, and I’m “pretty sure” that the waitress was post-op. “Hey girl, move a little closer,” indeed. Thanks Scott for the reminder.

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”…

How can you NOT love Joan Jett I implore of you; I wouldn’t for the sole factors of (a) I love her brand of Rock ‘N Roll and (b) she could kick my ass. She exemplifies the ultimate rocker chick in the video, in both attitude and looks, but I was not surprised when she came out. Could. Have. Knocked. Me. Over. With. A. Feather.

Besides, this video could be used as an argument against the tired belief that lesbians and gays do not mix…example, she seems to get along fine with the little Mary “standing by the record machine.” Honey, the DSL’s give you away!

Adam And The Ants “Goody Two Shoes”…

Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? Well is you are one Adam Ant, you demonstrate how to get Ant ready for any event in this video, especially if you wanna put on a little makeup, makeup – just be sure they get your good side, good side. I always got a gay vibe off of Adam, perhaps if I HUGE glasses like the lady in this video, I would have seen it up close when my gaydar was just forming.

Bonnie Tyler “Total Eclipse Of The Heart”…

Definitely one of the weirdest videos I ever, um, deposited into my spank bank repertoire of my youth. No, not because Ms. Tyler sounded like she smoked about 20 packs of Pall Malls, it was the imagery inherent in this plea for bright eyes to turn around.

As the head mistress at an all-boys school, Tyler is haunted at night by her Children of the Damned spooky eyed charges, who tend to spend their nocturnal hours fencing, doing gymnastic flips, practicing football sans shirts, but not shoulder pads (hot) and doing Jazzercise in loin cloths. Talk about living in a powder keg and giving off sparks, must have been all that !

Missing Persons “Destination Unknown”…

Since there is no official video for “I Like Boys,” this runner-up from Dale Bozio and crew (hey Warren! ‘Sup dog?) definitely encompassed the feeling one gets, while primping your pink streaked hair just so, about where you would end up by being a gay homosexual. At least it did for this kid. Of note, Lady Gaga is always compared to Madonna, has anyone ever made the connection between her look and that of Dale Bozio. Life IS so strange!

The Waitresses “I Know What Boys Like”…

Patty Donahue (no relation to Phil) laid it all out on the checkered tablecloth with this song, such as said boys wanting to touch her, but she never let them. It doesn’t appear that it would have been too difficult to catch Donahue, who gives off a slightly medicated vibe in her appearance and delivery of the lyrics, but she is sass-tastic, too; especially when she intones, “Sucker.”

Stevie Nicks “Stand Back”… 

Who didn’t try to recreate Stevie’s signature spinning move from this video (I’m still dizzy), or the one she performs on a futuristic treadmill, complete with blue lighting to highlight its sides. All you needed was said treadmill, a fan and a shawl from your mom and voila, you have a good way and reason for your peers to “Stand Back” from your fierceness. Werk it out!

Duran Duran “Rio”…

Without question the five lads in Duran Duran set the bar high for what a music video could showcase. This one, while about some chick who “dances on the sand,” happened to feature a hallmark of those early D squared videos, sun, sexuality and Simon in sleek locales and shot with glossy visuals.

Here, the lead singer here is shown in a fashionable suit at first,until a big ball knocks his Speedo’d self into the water, where he sips a pink drink underneath the waves. Nick Rhoades encounters the impish “Rio” while sitting on board, no doubt thinking of what mascara goes with his eye liner. John Taylor gets an eye full of a poured drink, looks like it may even sting…guess he doesn’t know which noises begin the close your eyes portion of things.    Poor drummer Roger Taylor gets the worst case of crabs ever committed to film, but we are rewarded with seeing him shirtless. Yum. It meant so much to me, like a birthday and definitely a pretty view. Not much of Andy Taylor here, must have been conferring with Mitch Gaylord about his solo song, “Take It Easy” for Gaylord’s flick “American Anthem…” I would have been…he was a little bit of alright.

Of course my mind wonders if the melted “cherry ice cream smile” poured onto “Rio” is the equivalent of a gay man faking an orgasm with hot yogurt…of note, do not use the fruit at the bottom kind; it raises too many questions. Oh, you’re welcome.

Madonna “Burning Up”

This was a difficult choice, as this was the time frame in which Madonna became an MTV staple and household name, I mean “Borderline” had a magazine shoot storyline and her Muy Caliente boytoy, “Lucky Star” featured a sparse set and a literal kicky dance routine, while “Like A Virgin” had her dry humping gondolas in Venice, Italy.

But for pure, unabashed sexuality there was nothing hotter than Ms. Ciccone rolling around in a white t-shirt dress on asphalt, no less, asking if we wanted to see her down on her knees, bending over backwards in the very definition of being a slut anthem, as she’s not the same, she has no shame and she’s on fire. Remember kids, Chlamydia is the silent killer.

This is vintage Madonna, before she was a “Material Girl,” in her glory. Plus, she has more roots than an Arthur Haley novel, and its no wonder that she drives away in a car previously piloted by a man fellow, who looks like he’s off to start his very own chapter of a Madonna fan club, in the end. Word.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood “Relax”…

With my gaydar becoming almost fully self-aware, just like Skynet, this video sent pings and pangs all over the place, in essence welcoming me to the Pleasuredome.Why lead singer Holly Johnson even had a flashlight out for me to follow his, uh, lead. And, if I couldn’t figure out why he didn’t like the ladies kissing on him, I could turn to semi-Village Person Paul Rutherford with his porn ‘stache and knowing smile; he also avoids the females like they were made out of kryptonite. That makes sense, as he seems to be Super Gay.

Wham! “Wake Me up Before You Go-Go”…

The gay per capita is pretty high on Wham’s videography, so this again was a difficult task to take on. Would “Club Tropicana” emerge triumphant? Or would “Wham Rap” or its similarly visual cousin “Bad Boys” nab top (or bottom) honors. For sheer, gay gay gayness, one must only jitterbug over to this over-the-top video with the ability to make viewers gay upon viewing.

Jebus, where to begin? Is it the dolphin shorts that George Michael and “the other guy in Wham” AKA Andrew Ridgeley wear? Well, they certainly don’t help matters; the upswing is that they most likely helped Georgie hit those high notes. The lyrics about making the sun shine brighter than Doris Day was pretty telling for music’s answer to Rock Hudson. George certainly turns a “bright spark into a flame” many times over in this video, but never so much as during his day glo jazz hand infused performance. It’s a good thing the black lit effect wasn’t devised by a sex offender’s task force…Lord only knows what else would have shown up, mmmkay.

About timparksmediaho

I am a self professed Media Ho, which is the nicer version of being a Media Whore. My mother actually inspired me to come up with the term

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