Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Tawny Breast

Postcards from Paradise - Flesh for Lulu (mp3)

It was not my intention to write about anything awkward or sexual for a while, but Whitesnake has a new album out.

No, seriously. Yeah, that Whitesnake. They really have a new album.

David Coverdale, the flaxen-haired lead singer who was already approaching AARP age when “Here I Go Again” became the earworm of choice in 1987, has somehow found three musicians to travel through small casinos and venues to keep the dream of rock immortality on an iron lung just a little bit longer. When his dream isn't on the iron lung, it appears Mr. Coverdale himself is.

Today the part of David Coverdale will be played by Katey Segal in lots of agey makeup!

Or... Whitesnake, featuring lead singer Angela Lansbury!

Here’s the link to the video. I couldn’t in good conscience embed it here, because it’s just not very good. Further, looking at Coverdale in motion rather than in a single still capture just makes me very, very, very sad. And a little bit nauseated.

Coverdale emerged into popular consciousness with Deep Purple, but he was a replacement in that band. Whitesnake was his baby from the get-go.

Like most musical acts in the ‘80s to elevate themselves into platinum stardom, Whitesnake would never have hit the radar without a seriously memorable video. It’s unlikely that anyone filming the video could have predicted the influence of an attractive unknown redhead dancing on the hoods of a few Jaguars. Sure, the song was catchy enough on its own, but something about that woman, and that dancing, and those cars, that combined for an incredibly popular video.

My friend Scott and I were in on a little secret. We knew why the video was so damned popular. We were two of the teenagers who watched the request show on MTV each night to see it. We both recorded it on tape. Several times. Even if we hadn’t been naturally inclined to like the song, we fell in love with it because of what it stood for in its essence: a beautiful, perfect, inadvertently-exposed breast.

Wanna know where I fell on the social ladder? Wanna know how awkward and clueless I was around women? Here’s all you need to know: Scott and I could tell you every last detail about that video. You could blindfold us, and we could still have paused the VCR on the exact moment when Tawny’s breast pops onto the windshield of that Jag. Camera slides in front of band. Coverdale humps the mic as it hangs upside down. Tawny glides belly down the front of the black Jag, and STOP! Boob Time!

(If you must witness this rare moment for yourself, a moment that in the world of Skins is almost yawningly laughable, feel free to go directly to 2:19.)

Younger readers will need to appreciate a crucial difference in teenage life circa 1987. Boobs were precious and rare. Each boob sighting was a gift from the boob gods. It was easier in 1987 for a dorky boy to sight a bald eagle than to see the bare breast of an attractive woman. There was no Internet, no land of unlimited and free porn, no such thing as Google image searches where even an innocent entry can result in a few dozen unwanted nipples.

Boobs back in 1987 were confined to convenience store magazine racks -- most of which remained behind the counter with that grouchy-looking fat lady smoking a KOOL. I was fortunate enough to have located my father’s three Playboys a year or so prior, so I’d had the immeasurable pleasure of getting intimately acquainted with Vanna White’s upper torso. Our coveted swimsuit magazines and the Victoria’s Secret catalogues we snatched from our mothers’ wastebaskets were considered high-test. The occasional sheer nightie or wet bikini, items that permitted a glance beyond mere fabric, became memorized or dog-eared pages. They were the teen testosterone equivalent of highlighted Bible verses. I was perfectly capable of recreating, in my mind’s eye, every last (sometimes, admittedly, airbrushed) detail of a model’s curves.

In certain things, knowledge and information can indeed be counterproductive. I mourn for the current teenage boy who has seen more sexual positions enacted in digital film by the time he’s 16 than my grandfather could have possibly dreamt up. My grandfather surely mourned for me, being exposed to an assault of model-perfect naked breasts and thong-backed bikinis, thus building up an unfair expectation of what an awesome and miraculous spectacle any nude female should be. It's almost impossible for anyone of my generation -- and definitely so for anyone younger than 30 -- to imagine a time when the only way to see a naked woman was to actually have a naked woman physically present in front of your very eyes.

This is the crap that goes through my head when I see the withered and frightening visage of David Coverdale circa 2011.

Tawny Kitaen was at the peak of her attractiveness in 1987. A life of sleeping with overaged rock stars would gradually deteriorate her appearance in ways that mere age cannot.

This video was the pinnacle of their relationship, the band, her looks, his talent. Yet David Coverdale will get no Crazy Heart movie made about his life. No comeback awaits him. He will merely continue to slip into the sad and too-long denouement of an existence that was, for a couple of years here and there, the stuff of envy.

And Tawny... I guess I owe her either a heartfelt thank-you or a sincere apology. Probably both.


troutking said...

Same reason I watched Kentucky Fried Movie any number of times. It's not like it was that funny. 'Bout time for another 80s party!!! Where's the birdbath?

troutking said...

OK I just watched it. That is one obvious boob shot!

Billy said...

Seriously! There's no doubt that PORKY'S would be a much less successful movie franchise today, considering that the only reason it was popular was for the chance to see verboten things.

And yeah, it's kinda out there screaming at you if you're paying attention.