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Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Slumber Party

Last night I went to a slumber party at Ms. Wellspring's house.

The Boy (and probably a lot of others like him) think that at girls' slumber parties, we lounge around like Elvgren Girl pin-ups in frilly negligees, giving each other pedicures and talking about them (boys), breathlessly waiting for the Panty Raids to start and hoping some handsome scamp will climb in through a window to kiss and/or ravage us.

When, in truth, most slumber parties involve wearing baggy sweats and/or fleece and old t-shirts (but sans bra so I guess that is somewhat titillating--pun intended), eating unfortunate amounts of junk food (including, but limited to, Doritos, potato chips, Red Vines, cookies, ice cream, hickory-smoked almonds and microwave popcorn--but we also had some grapes), talking about ourselves (maybe we did talk about you guys but only for a second and then it might have been to make the others laugh), and watching silly movies.

The only difference between this slumber party and ones we had when we were twelve were that we did not do makeovers, make crank calls or have a seance (light as a feather, stiff as a board) but only because we had to start our party after we had gotten off of work and we had already lost a few hours.

So it was a pared-down slumber party but still lots of fun and pretty true to the original format.


This slumber party was very educational because the first movie we watched was Flashdance. I remember seeing this movie when it came out and I'm pretty sure I liked it. I didn't remember a whole lot about the particulars of the movie aside from Jennifer Beals' torn shirts that created a huge fashion trend of which I was a lemming to, some sexy dance scenes (see below) and that she played a welder.

Watching the movie after a 20-plus-year hiatus was a sociological event and an opportunity to hone our skills at playing Mystery Science Theater 3000. I had no idea that Flashdance was such a bad bad b-a-d movie! It also raised a million questions in my mind, including:

1. Did we really look that stupid in the '80s?! (Yes.) Between the giant padded shoulders, stiletto heels with white anklet socks, shredded clothing and ratty hair, a miasma of bad wardrobe images floated in my memory. The '80s look made the '70s look seem like a well-considered fashion statement.
2. Why was it okay for an 18-year old to be stalked and hit on by her employer who was, oh, a good 20 years older than she was? By stalked, I mean following her home on dark rainy nights in his Porsche while she rode her 10-speed bike back from work and coming on to her at work and where ever else he stalked and found her. But then she stalked him too and pyschotically threw a brick through his window and generally acted like a freak.
3. What is it that a 40-year old guy sees in an 18-year old girl who works as an exotic dancer? (Silly question.) One ponders the scintillating conversations they must have had about life, the universe and everything. Clearly they had so much in common.
4. Who hires an 18-year old girl to be a welder in his factory, for Chrissakes?!
5. Why must a young woman become a stripper when her career as a waitress and her chance to become a professional figure skater don't work out?
6. Why did I not realize that Jennifer Beals did not actually dance in any of the dance scenes? Other dancers wearing crazy black poodle wigs were flinging themselves all over this movie and I had no idea it wasn't her until last night.
7. Why did I not remember this being one of the worst films of all time?


Had I absorbed some Life Lessons from this film in my formative years, I could have known the following Truths about Life as "Important Things I Learned From Flashdance":

1. You can ride your bike to a fancy evening at the ballet in a sequined gown and high heels without looking like a sweaty mess.
2. You can live in a cool-ass loft complete with Shabby Chic antiques and a dance studio on a welder's salary.
3. You can work as a welder and an exotic dancer. You can have two careers AND have a dream of being a classical ballerina.
4. And most importantly, it is okay to stick your foot in a man's crotch while you are in a fancy restaurant. And to eat lobster like a crazed ho as long as your date is paying. (Bet you don't remember that scene! I sure as hell didn't. And I don't think my mother does either.)

Below is all I really remembered about Flashdance until last night. Thanks, Ms. Wellspring, for allowing me to rediscover my buried memories of the '80s while eating Doritos and Red Vines in a sleeping bag at your house.

The scene we all remember (no, it's not Jennifer Beals.)

And this scene, which ain't her either.


Malevito April 12, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

Hi TB, how are you?

I didn't know you were a MiSTie! I miss that show. I still like to watch the episodes I have on tape when I'm sick.

Re: Flashdance--I watched that movie a lot when I was a kid, too, but mostly for the scenes with the Rocksteady Crew (I was a b-boy so many long years ago). And along the lines of dance/body doubles, the scene where she does a backspin is actually one of the Rocksteady Crew guys, the legendary Crazy Legs, in a wig and tards. Hope he got PAID, because you know he would have taken some serious sh*t from his buddies after that.

I recall taking a film class in JuCo and we had Mick LaSalle come to do a talk. Apparently, he considered Flashdance to be a minor classic and a quintessential defining movie of the 80's. I remember him saying that he'd never seen a guy look hornier in a movie than Michael Nouri does in that. Incidentally, I'll withhold my opinion on Mr. LaSalle as a critic.

Anyway, take care you maniac, maaaaaniac on the floor...

Psyche April 12, 2008 at 5:57 PM  

You're quite right: Flashdance has not passed the test of time. Fortunately Dirty Dancing has, so its's all good. You can never have too many girly evenings spent watching Dirty Dancing.

Relyn Lawson April 12, 2008 at 8:49 PM  

I haven't laughed that much in all week. Your review of Flashdance was hilarious! I missed out on Flashdance in the 80s, so I got it from Netflix a few months back. I had heard it called an 80s classic many times. ICK! I didn't make it much past the first dance scene, so I missed the Life Lessons. Thanks for passing them on. Now I know I can sell my car and just bike everywhere.

Anonymous April 12, 2008 at 10:04 PM  

Oh TB. I'm going to have to give you slumber party lessons!!! Even guys know that at the very least, girls have pillow fights, which make their shirts fall off!!!

As for Flashdance... there was a plot? I thought porn didn't have plots. I'm kidding. I hate to admit that I loved the music. I thought Michael Nouri was gorgeous. And whoever WAS dancing had a great butt.

So there.

AlexTangoFuego April 12, 2008 at 10:11 PM  

Hola baby...thanks for the report...

I told ms.wellspring that you all should have skyped me from the party...talk about a fly on the wall...

girls do slumber parties...boys "spend the night"...the last time I spent the night at a friends house was when I was 13 years old...I woke up in the middle of the night with two Chee-tos in my nostrils and one in each ear...

Apparently, I can sleep through pretty much anything...

(P.S. and I just realized why I hate Chee-tos...)

Red Shoes April 13, 2008 at 4:48 PM  

Ooh. Slumber party. Slumber parties should involve the baking of brownies, IMO.

Holly April 13, 2008 at 6:27 PM  

What the heck are Red Vines?

Anonymous April 13, 2008 at 6:50 PM  

So... she plays an 18 year old and he plays a 40 year old but they both look about 27. ok. :-)

I wish my butt would stay still when I jumped up and down like that.

studio wellspring April 14, 2008 at 9:23 AM  

hee hee tangobaby ~ so fun to read your review ~ & i agree whole heartedly! too bad that we got too tired after watching 2 movies to also watch "dirty dancing". that is definitely a much better film than flashdance. hopefully next time. and also next time we should absolutely take red shoes' advice and bake brownies. :o)

tangobaby April 14, 2008 at 9:59 AM  

Hi Malevito,

I loved Mystery Science Theater! That was the BEST show, ever! What you should also know about me is that I was raised on a solid diet of Ed Wood movies and other questionable sci-fi, and I may be the only tanguera you know who actually OWNED a copy of Robot Monster, widely considered to be the worst movie ever made.

I have to say that I'm a little dumbfounded about the Mick LaSalle confession. I happen to really like him and read his blog and reviews regularly. I have both of his books, Complicated Women and Dangerous Men, and the former book especially is a great primer on pre-Code Hollywood and actresses who deserve a lot more recognition than they get these days.

Now, I'm going to have to weigh his commentary against his position on Flashdance. Or maybe he's right and the 80s weren't much to look at!

Next time you bust a move at Cellspace, I'll know that your Rocksteady moves are bubbling up from your past! ;-)

Hi Psyche,

Unfortunately, we fell asleep before we could watch Dirty Dancing (we had that one, too). So I predict another slumber party in the future...perhaps you can join us then?

Hi Relyn,

You were with us in spirit. I'm glad you laughed, 'cause goodness knows we were pretty hysterical.

Let me know how it goes with the bike.

Hi Johanna,

You gave away the secret of the pillow fight! No, actually, if we had a pillow fight, we would have exploded into a giant mess of feathers, candy and potato chips.

There seems to be some controversy as to whether that was a woman's or a man's butt. No joke.

Hi Alex,

Thanks...I used to like Cheetos. Well, if you're not eating them, and neither am I, then there's more for Britney Spears. I hear she is a big Cheetos fan.

Hi Red Shoes,

I don't have my Easy-Bake Oven anymore. Maybe you can help us in the brownie department next time!

Hi Miss Tango,

Red Vines are really cheap red licorice. People either love them or hate them. Me, I'm a Red Vines fiend. They are also hollow, so you can bite off both ends and use them as a straw for your soda.

Hi Tina,

Was she really 27? I read that Michael Nouri was 36. She can't be that old...nah.

I would like to think that the butt was created in CGI, but I think Flashdance came out too early for that, so it must be real.

Hi Ms. Wellspring,

Well, you are the hostess with the mostess, so I'll do whatever you say. It's just funny how none of us can stay up late anymore, even if we had brownies.

Thanks for being the Queen of Fun.


Anonymous April 14, 2008 at 10:14 AM  

Well she certainly doesn't look 18!

Anonymous April 14, 2008 at 10:21 AM  

I once saw an interview with a young Israeli girl that was supposedly the body double for that movie. So, the controversy continues.

Either way, that's a butt to die for.

studio wellspring April 14, 2008 at 12:11 PM  

actually, i'm outraged that more of the real dancers weren't credited in flashdance. for me the dancing was all that was film-worthy in it. so i did a little searching & here's some of the best i found:

"A hot topic regarding the merits of Flashdance as a legitimate dance film is how little dancing Jennifer Beals actually performs. It's no secret that the majority of Alex's dance is done with tight close-ups and deceptive lighting. As many as three dance doubles were used in the climactic audition scene alone, with Beals' main double being French actress Marine Jahan."
From: http://www.dvdizzy.com/flashdance.html

here's what wikipedia has to say about marine jahan:

and here's the only thing on youtube with her in it {and snoopy!}:

paris parfait April 14, 2008 at 4:44 PM  

That dancer was French - and there was a big uproar at the time about the studio trying to make the public think Jennifer Beals was doing her own dancing. And yes, looking back at it now, it was so completely over-the-top - but then, so were the '80s in many ways. I was living in NYC at the time and had the torn t-shirt, like practically every other girl who had seen the movie. Thank goodness that didn't last long! Thanks for the memories. Sounds like you had lots of fun at the sleepover. xo

tangobaby April 14, 2008 at 8:12 PM  

Hi Ms. Wellspring,

Well, thank you for doing such a great job with the research! Let's hope that when we watch Dirty Dancing, it does not inspire such controversy.

I agree with you, it's horrible that the dancers did not receive the proper credit.

Hi Paris Parfait,

Imagining how things must work behind the scenes in the movie biz, I guess I'm not too surprised that the studio made out that Beals did all of her own dancing. Which leads me down memory lane again...which Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly film have you seen where they didn't do their own dancing?! Or Cyd Charisse? Or Leslie Caron?

Seems to me those movies don't exist. Which is why most dance movies today suck. Because it's all smoke and mirrors and at the end of the day, the person dancing can't do an entire number unaided by extensive editing and MTV tricks.

Psyche April 15, 2008 at 8:16 AM  

Baby, I would love to come and watch Dirty Dancing with you one day. As I've said before, noone puts you in a corner.

tangobaby April 15, 2008 at 12:40 PM  

Hi Psyche,

You know you have a spot on the sofa next to me when you're ready to come through town. Who knows, you might love us here and live in SF someday. I think you would like it...