Tough Broads

From a tender age I’ve always been attracted to strong women. None of those squealing, fainting damsels for me. Thinking back, it was probably Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in ALIEN that started it all. She’s gotten sexier as she’s aged, putting more meat on her tall bones, but she was all attitude in Ridley Scott’s classic horror film. The part was originally written for a man, and her husky voice and take-no-shit attitude grabbed me by the underoos and made me pay attention. She’s remained one of my favorite actresses, even when she’s played against type in the hilarious GALAXY QUEST. She’s got a smoldering glare that adds an edge to her husky voice.

Sigourney about to rip John Turturro’s arm off.

Speaking of husky voices, Kathleen Turner is the undisputed queen of that, no? She made her bones (and mine) in the excellent noir BODY HEAT directed by Lawrence Kasdan. She plays the ultimate femme fatale, a siren who can dupe even a clever man into doing her bidding. She did this again as Jessica Rabbit, but one of my favorite roles is her psycho Martgha Stewart clone in  John Waters’ hilarious SERIAL MOM, a movie more people need to see. “Is this the cocksucker residence?!” She’s been playing a tough bitch on “Californication” lately. Time hasn’t been as kind to her physically as Sigourney, but she still has the attitude that makes her believable as a vamp who can get away with saying “You aren’t too smart, are you? I like that in a man.”

Gena Rowlands in John Cassavetes’ 1980 film GLORIA epitomizes the term “tough broad,” and the film’s offbeat tale of a mob gun moll who takes a kid who witnessed a hit under her wing appealed to me then and now. What boy wouldn’t want to be clutched to Gena’s bosom while she cocked a magnum at bunch of goombas? She oozes old school, classy sexuality so effortlessly that even Angie Dickinson in POINT BLANK or Tuesday Weld in THIEF could learn a thing or two from her.

Now we get to the broad who inspired this post- Debbie Harry, this month’s Garden State Playmate at The Sexy Armpit– otherwise known as the lead singer of Blondie. She took off with a disco-rock aesthetic hit “Call Me,” and blasted into her own punky, glammy campy form of rock ‘n roll that’s never been duplicated. She’s covered calypso and helped put hip hop in the mainstream with “Rapture”- no joke- commercial radio wouldn’t play that “fringe” music back in the day and neither would MTV. Black and white charts- cough, I mean “pop” and “R&B”- remain segregated, but she introduced millions of white kids to hip hop. For me, that led to Run DMC and Grandmaster Flash, and culminated in blasting NWA when I went to college in Newark, even though I looked like TweedleDee with a Wopfro back then. Anyway, back to Debbie- she was a Playboy playmate with a brain, and that wry grin that punctuates much of her music is her great appeal. I liked that she voiced Angel in the ’80s rock cartoon ROCK ‘N RULE (full review) and her roles in VIDEODROME and of course, John Waters’ HAIRSPRAY – the original. With her silken voice and smart way of winking at the audience, her lyrics are deceptively simple and catchy. Between her and Chrissie Hynde, I’d give her the crown of Queen of Rock ‘n Roll.

Sorry. I didn’t notice her flagrant crack until just now.

And that crown will be passed on to Joan Jett, once those two pass into the great gig in the sky. Joan Jett is the sexiest woman in the world. How I came to this hypothesis, proven so far only in my own personal universe, begins in the year 1980 when her album “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” was released. While we fondly remember the classic rock of the ’70s, we mustn’t forget that the air and our ears was heavily polluted with a substance known as Disco, which made Indians cry and men wear pants so tight you could tell if they’d been circumcised. The late ’70s rock ‘n roll and punk resurgence saved us from all that. So we need to thank Iggy Pop, the Ramones, the Dead Kennedys, Debbie Harry and of course, Joan Jett for dragging us out of it alive. Joan took the raw edge of punk and rockabilly, slammed it with a bit of Bowie’s glam for image and rocked into our world with an unapologetic tomboy swagger, leather jacket and guitar. She’s STILL sexy as hell, even when she forgoes her sneer for a light-up-the-stage smile:

The sexiest rock ‘n roll girl ever.

That’s her at the premiere of THE RUNAWAYS biopic- pronounced BIO PICK, not like bionic, Firecracker!!- which is a fine movie detailing how creepoid rock promoter Kim Fowley put together the first all-girl rock band by sexing up these rocking teenagers and exploiting the shit out of them. Joan managed to ride that wave and transcend it, getting even bigger by covering practically every inch of her body and showing us more simmering sexuality in one smoldering glare on her debut album cover:

So who are your favorite tough broads?

© 2010 Tommy Salami

80s Trash of the Week: Rock ‘n Rule

“We must remember Zip, that evil spelled backward is live. And we all want to live, don’t we?”
After the rock ‘n roll tittyfest Heavy Metal, Canadian animation company Nelvana tries its own version of a rock-inspired animated film. Theirs was more family friendly, contained anime-inspired funny animal critters based on the bands Cheap Trick, Blondie, and a villainous Mick Jagger clone not-so-subtly named Mok. For years Rock ‘n Rule was kept off DVD due to copyright issues over the music, but when Unearthed Films released a 2-disc special edition, I had to clutch this bizarre nugget of my teen-hood. I inflicted it upon Milky this movie night, and somehow he survived.

When in doubt, skimpy loincloths sell.

This is the first feature-length animated film made entirely in Canada, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs it ain’t! But it’s a lot of cheesy fun, with some really good music, so we’ll forgive them. It’s a simple enough tale about a group of friends in a rock band trying to get noticed, in a postapocalyptic world where the rats, mice, cats and dogs have evolved to take our place- thus explaining the button noses and pointy ears, and giving the movie some kid crossover appeal. The lead singers are Angel and Omar, whose singing voices are Debbie Harry (solo from Blondie at this point) and Robin Zander from Cheap Trick. Angel plays the keytar, and thus second fiddle to Omar’s ranting hard rock guitar. This creates tension, and of course they’re sleeping together, so the band in reality would disintegrate long before a power-mad rock musician stepped in to screw things up. Backing them up are Stretch and Dizzy, loosely modeled on the drummer and guitarist from Cheap Trick.

Fat & Skinny, aka Stretch & Dizzy

Omar and Angel fight over whose songs to play on open mike night, with O growling “Born to Raise Hell” and Angel’s sweet pipes belting out the best song from the movie, “Send Love Through.” Debbie Harry would use the same music and re-release this as “Maybe For Sure” on her Def Dumb & Blonde album, but the chorus seems forced. Here’s the original, and it’s played in pieces throughout the film. It’s so catchy that it helps things along a lot.

Angel’s Song

Lou Reed also has a hand in the music- he does Mok’s songs, and the second-best is definitely “My Name is Mok,” a spoof of superstar rock egos. He does some of the minor songs in the interludes too, such as “Triumph of the Glory in Me,” a goofy anthem used to hypnotize Omar and the boys so Mok can steal away with Angel. The little songs are quite funny and the bands seemed to have a lot of fun working on the film. The movie has its moments, such as the cartoon that Zip, one of Mok’s muscle-head goons, watches. The Uncle Mikey Show, which teaches kids the difference between good and evil. Remember, giving a cow a flower is good. Chasing it around with an axe? Evil.

Good… or evil?

Mok is of course, evil. He wants Angel for her voice- which is the final key that will let him summon an enormous demon to rule the Earth with. But I think he’s just jaded with success, and wants to see the demon eat his audience. He rides around in a zeppelin, between ruined cities like “Nuke York” to perform at “Carnage Hall” or Radioactive City Music Hall. When he finally hooks Angel up to a synthesizer to summon the demon, it’s Iggy Pop, rumbling an all-too-short song called “Pain and Suffering.” Angel is of course scantily clad to give budding teen boys some flashes of watercolor wank material. Which is probably why I remember this movie so well.

Angel and Omar caught in the act.
These are just two freeze-frames that make Angel look like a total slut, which cracks me up. She’s not jacking anyone off or diving for a mouthful of man-meat, but it sure looks like she is. At least you’re not hung like a mouse.

Can Omar get over his pride, and sing with Angel to save the planet? I think you can guess. The movie is a bit slow in points, but it has a lot of character. It couldn’t be as violent and boobie-laden as Heavy Metal, but it makes up for it with wit and charm. And they try to get a little naughty here and there to keep teenagers and adults interested, but it’s a hard sell. It was lazy to make them all funny animals, so they could stick with their usual button-nosey dog-eared rotoscoped models, and the humor is definitely on the corny side. But it certainly has its moments, and some one-liners that stick with you. Like “I spy with my little eye, something that begins with…. FAT!”

The ending.

Nelvana is probably best known for the Care Bears and other ’80s stuff, but they also animated Boba Fett‘s first appearance in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, an abomination that I will probably re-watch and review here someday.

Iggy never looked so good!

Beers Required to Enjoy: 2
Could it be remade today? No way in hell
Quotability Rating: Medium
Cheese Factor: Metric fuckton of cheese curds on poutine
High Points: The songs!
Low Point: Roller-skating disco goons
Gratuitous Boobies: While Angel is hot, they’re mice you furry fuck!