David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 116: Billy Idol (Flesh For Fantasy)

August 20, 2020

Ladies and gentlemen, a word of friendly advice.  Before your wedding day, try and assess what music will be popular.  Somehow it might end up being linked forever to your special day.

Case in point: my friends Tim and Jeannie got married in November 1984.  It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving so it was timed perfectly to allow friends, especially Tim's, who were in college to attend without worrying about missing class. (Just even writing that line cracks me up.)

Tim and Jeannie were stupid enough (sorry, but there is no more appropriate word than stupid) to allow Tim's friends, meaning the best man and various other hanger-ons, to stay in their apartment after the wedding while they went on their honeymoon. I shouldn't criticize the wisdom of that decision too much, because all the trouble started a few days earlier at the bachelor party (how many times has that line been written?).

In November 1984, Billy Idol's "Flesh For Fantasy" was starting to fall down the charts, but that didn't stop it from heavy rotation on MTV or heavy rotation among a bunch of immature 22-year olds off to see their first high school buddy get hitched. Given that we listened primarily to college radio/alternative radio, Idol's song was destined to come on within minutes of all of us descending upon Boston for the lead up to the nuptials.

In the MTV era, "Flesh For Fantasy" was everything testosterone-filled young men needed for an anthem.  Slashing guitars revving up a song that in its quieter moments was electronic drum machine and popping bass. The video sputtered with female (and male, I suppose) bodies in skin-tight outfits. Heck, the video was more interesting and more subtle than the movies that one associates with bachelor parties. In addition, there was the ever-present Billy Idol's sneer, the way he could curl his lips halfway up his face, almost past his nose. This is no exaggeration: I just spent ten minutes at the bathroom mirror trying to replicate that lip curl. Not even close. What kind of freak was he?

More importantly, we got his guttural "FLESH!" followed by the more seductive "flesh for fantasy," with a few whispered "fleshes" among the background vocals.  Honestly, how could you not go five minutes without yelling "FLESH"?  And within seconds, it became the recurring motif of the week. I have no doubt Tim's Dad heard us, whispering "FLESH!," in his half-slumber as we tore through the Thanksgiving leftovers at 1:00a.m., never realizing that this was akin to an alarm going off that his treasured leftover turkey and stuffing was being eaten by his son and his no-good friends (I like to think Tim's dad never forgave us for that transgression).

Before I go any further, let me just point out that Tim and Jeannie can be thankful that no one (as far as I know) yelled out "FLESH!" during the actual ceremony.  Of course, it was a big old Catholic wedding so who knows what all was said; I think I may have blacked out for awhile. I have sat through James Cameron movies that are shorter.

However, at some point, probably before Tim and Jeannie had even pulled out of Braintree for their honeymoon, the rest of us geniuses had decided that we needed to leave them plenty of "FLESH!" reminders, so by the time we left, we had placed hundreds of post-it-sized notes saying "FLESH!" all over their apartment: in lamp shades, at bottoms of drawers, inside toilet tanks, at the back of the freezer. For months, we'd hear that they had unearthed a new "FLESH!" and our names had been cursed. I like to think we did them a service with the freezer. If Jeannie was pulling out a rump steak in 1987 with a "FLESH!" post-it note on it, she probably needed to ditch the rump (the steak, not Tim, although really Jeannie . . .)

I hope one or two of those notes survived to when they had to give up the apartment. Could you imagine the phone call the landlord might have gotten from a new tenant: "Uh, can you explain why under the floorboards right now, I found a note saying 'flesh?' Aren't you supposed to divulge previous criminal activities that took place here?"  "Well, I don't know, I didn't think 22 year olds and really bad adult movies counted as criminal activity?"

So, by the way, for my wedding in December 1989, we had none of this. I like to think Pix and I got lucky in terms of unintended musical associations.  What songs were ubiquitous at the time? "We Didn't Start The Fire" would have been way too intellectual; Bon Jovi's "Living In Sin" would have been passé since we had already lived together for over a year.  "Love Shack" could have been dangerous territory. Maybe I was helped that the late December wedding, with travel challenges for getting to Ft. Wayne, Indiana, simply meant that the potential masterminds of such shenanigans were not there.

"Flesh For Fantasy." Billy Idol. Rebel Yell. Chrysalis. 1983. Link here.

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Day 117: Elvis Presley "Suspicious Minds."->

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