Invisible Stranger


Invisible Stranger

Collecting Crises on Old Compton Street and Beyond

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Little Tinker

Currently clicking:
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Monday, September 29, 2003
Video Killed
It was only a few nights ago, sitting in my local, listening to some live jazz, that I realised I haven't seen a video jukebox for years in any of the bars or pubs I frequent. Does anybody remember them, or is it just me?

For 50p you could buy yourselves some prime Sachertorte pretension from Ultravox; stand out on la Croisette for Cannes campness with Elton; or just drool over Miss Tyler's schoolboyz in "Total Eclipse of the Heart", a video with more homosexual sub-text then the entire Pet Shop Boys' back-catalogue. And, of course, there was always Duran Duran, who took the art of the pop video to a new designer-clad height. Back in the eighties, my greatest ambition was to conduct my life exactly as a Duran Duran video. ("Union of the Snake", to be precise, none of that heterosexual air-brushed "Rio" nonsense for this Stranger.)

I appeared in a couple of pop videos once; it was a quick and easy way to earn a cash-in-hand fifty quid. For one Joan Armatrading promo, I was required to sit in the front row of a Brixton cinema, glammed up to the eyeballs with Number Seven and lip gloss, and to pout magnificently. This was the early eighties. I was a soft-sold, new-waved, rent-boy-aspirational, former New Romantic. You think I needed persuading? My dears, I clawed and bitched my way to the front of the queue for that gig.

Even conventional juke-boxes seem to be on the way out, replaced by the current CD soundtrack of choice of whichever musical no-brainer is working behind the bar tonight. In metropolitan gay bars, this usually means some nose-bleed, shirt-lifting, poppered-out techno, which is all very well and good when you're in the middle of a mashed and muscle-Maryed dancefloor, but gets a little intrusive when you're trying to hold a conversation with someone about the current lending rate (conversations - remember those, my children?). In straight bars, it tends to be some boomingly boring adult-orientated rock (for which read Sting, or Phil Collins), so ponderous in its supposed perfection that you find yourself yearning for Melanie and her "Brand New Key".

So do you remember video jukeboxes? And, if so, which was the one you always put on as soon as you entered the bar?