Sunday, May 25, 2003

I remember watching my first music videos.

It was in the early '80's, when there was a show on Canadian television called "Friday Night Videos". Mom and Dad, my sister, everybody was asleep but me, and I was staying up to watch the late movie. The video show was on first, however, and I was captivated as I sat on our brown couch in our small living room with the green carpet over the old peach linoleum.

Only one video sticks in my mind from that night. There was a guy standing on a sort of pedestal, and he was dressed all in shiny black vinyl or leather, sort of a biker outfit but shiny, and he had a policeman's hat low on his head. He had big black sideburns and a pencil-thin moustache. There was a woman by his feet in a sleazy dress, sort of writhing and trying to climb up his leg through most of the song, and he was ignoring her. The guy was singing "Shoot it up, Smack Jack, shoot it up, Smack Jack, it's a drag with a monkey on your back, Smack Jack..." in a gravelly voice, and every time he would sing a word with a short "a" (smack, jack, drag, etc.) he would open his mouth and stick his tongue out almost to his chin.

I was entranced! I was confused! I had never seen anything like this in my whole life! It wasn't until the song was over and they showed who it was that I realized the singer was a woman, Nina Hagen. My mind was blown wide open. The thought running through my head was "There is a whole world out there that I know absolutely nothing about!". And then the video sort of faded from my memory as time passed. They certainly never played it on Friday Night Videos again!

Many years later, after I'd left home, I saw "NunSexMonkRock" for sale at a used record store. I bought it, ran home, put it on my record player, and there was Nina Hagen, singing "Smack Jack" for me again. I could see myself sitting on the couch watching it, remembering the feeling: revulsion and attraction swirling together, like a lava lamp. I had thought I had forgotten the video, but the world it had introduced to me had lain in my thoughts like an undercurrent, slowly pulling me towards experiences that reproduced the same feeling. I wanted purple hair (this was way before you could buy purple hair dye in any drug store!), I wanted to look shocking, I wanted to not understand everything that was put before me.

Maybe I can blame everything on Nina Hagen!! I'll bet she would't mind. Actually, I'd rather thank her. Wanting to not understand everything has been a great freedom for me.

Nov. 15, 2006--Note: Thanks to YouTube, I have been able to rewatch this video for the first time in over 20 years. I have put a link to it, but have not changed the memory as written here. I am amazed at how close my memory is to the actual video, and interested to see which parts chose to stick in my mind.

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