My God … It’s Full of Awesome: Ronnie Milsap, “She Loves My Car”
There come times in the pop culture universe where an item is so solidly packed with cheese, befuddlement, and WTF? moments that it falls in upon itself, spiraling into a wormhole in the space-time continuum, and emerging out the other side as something incredibly awesome. It is hard to define: like pornography, you (a) know it when you see it, and (b) may feel the need to wantonly pleasure yourself because of it. This new series gives examples of these mind-blowing moments. And who better kick off this series than … country legend Ronnie Milsap?
As previously mentioned in Part 60 of Dave Steed’s awesome Popdose series “Bottom Feeders: the Ass End of the ’80s,” Ronnie Milsap’s “She Loves My Car” was an excellent little 1984 ditty that was his only single not promoted to country radio in his career. A blatant attempt at crossover chart success, the song only peaked at #84 on Billboard’s Hot 100, but I couldn’t tell in Los Angeles: they played the HELL out of this song on local Top 40 station KIIS FM, probably because the video was set in Los Angeles. And the video … oh man! That’s the reason why we’re here today. This is a big slab of shameless 1980s cheese, slathered in dated pop culture references and blended until insane. And yet, somehow the end result is much, much more than just the sum of its parts — so much more that I told the head of our little consortium (Jeff Giles, y’all) that we needed more than justÂ Captain Video to deconstruct its magnificence: We needed a whole new series. And like a funky Picard, the man said “make it so.” And with that, we commence:
0:00-0:05–Less than five seconds in, and we already have multiple “auto-erotic” images. A car lifting up with a female passenger still in it, sucking on a pair of sunglasses while a man on the other side of the car gazes at her “rising” with a look that somehow combines lust and perplexity.
0:05-0:39–Cut to the inside of an auto dealership.Â A Los Angeles traffic report blares from an unseen radio. On the wall is a picture of the employee of the month: Ronnie Milsap. Right next to the photo, practicing his golf game, is a salesman dressed like Milsap in the photo — only it’s not Ronnie Milsap, it’s 1980s B movie actor Scott McGinnis, whose biggestÂ mainstream role also came the year this video was made, as “Mr. Adventure” in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
It was pretty obvious that the director was facing two problems in this shoot: The first was the obvious pointÂ that you have a song based upon the premise of cars. The video, then, must also be based around the premise of cars. Cars, as you well know, were invented for the purpose of driving. Ronnie Milsap, unfortunately, cannot drive–because he is blind. And while it may be amusing to have a driving Ronnie Milsap in the video, smiling and singing as he takes out farmer’s markets and playgrounds full of screaming children, that’s ultimately not the direction the director thought the video should head. In addition to this obvious point was the fact that this video, being made in 1984, needed a requisite hot video babe, who was usually in her early twenties. Milsap was not only 38, he looked much older than that. To put a fine point on it, consider this theorem:
Hot Video Babe + Ronnie Milsap = Creepy “Give grandpa some sugar” relationship.
So instead, we have Scott McGinnis, who not only was twelve years Milsap’s junior, but also happened to look a bit like Milsap when shot from the right angles.
Anyway, McGinnis falls asleep at his desk (surrounded by his numerous bowling trophies (?!)) and dreams about…..
0:39-0:53–a sports car, being looked after by a gas station attendent (played by Herve Villechaize [!!]). A mysterious video vixen says “I’m gonna go for a ride in your car” and gets in the passenger door (no, it’s not a European model. You can see a glove compartment when she opens the door). We immediately hear the sound of the car starting up (!!), while Tattoo looks off someplace nowhere remotely where the car is, and gazes dreamily as the song finally kicks into gear.
0:53-1:10–As the first guitar lick comes in, McGinnis wakes up, and the prerequisite “video babe” enters the scene. McGinnis gives his collar the necessary popping, puts on his sunglasses, and heads out into the showroom to make a sale….a love sale (owww!).
1:11–Moonwalking in high heels. Nuf’ said.
1:13-1:30–As video babe leans against the cherry-red convertible that’s the star of the showroom, McGinnis opens the door for her and lets her ease herself in,Â then as she paws the steering wheel, he starts going over the finer points of…..
Holy Shit! It’s Detective Benson!
Yes, in her first “big break,” a 20-year-old Mariska Hargitay played the eye candy in this video. Of course, it makes sense, in a way, for Mariska to kick off her career as a video babe, as her mother, the late Jayne Mansfield, was probably the first legitimate video babe in a short but famous scene in the 1956 movie The Girl Can’t Help It.
1:30-1:39–Anyway, back in ’80s videoland, McGinnis removes his sunglasses in a way which is meant to be seductive. But the slack jawed expression on his face and his sunken eyes actually make him look like Ronnie Milsap crossed with a retarded Gary Busey. Well, a more Retarded Gary Busey. In fact, now that that image is in my head, I’m going to refer to McGinnis as Retarded Gary Busey (or RGB for short) for the rest of this piece.
1:40-1:45–Seems like the guy who ran the after-school hangout on Saved By the Bell moonlit as a Max Headroom impersonator on the side.
1:45-1:50–Now for some reason, the car from the dealership is parked on the beach, and Detective Benson is in a swimsuit, lying on the hood, then….
1:50–Oh God! It’s Headroom again! And he’s brought his dad with him!
1:56-2:04–Now Mariska and RGB are cruising along the actual beach…and we areÂ interrupted again by more creepy staring from Max’s dad.
2:05-2:10–More Mariska cheesecake, with her adjusting her hair in the sideview mirror. Suddenly, her reflection changes into…
2:11-2:15–Actual Ronnie Milsap sighting! For four seconds. Enjoy Mr. Milsap where you can, folks, because these four seconds constitute half of the total time he appears in the video (not counting his photo on the wall of the car dealership…which I’m not).
2:25–After changing clothes, RGB and Detective Benson cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway, and apparently catch the attention ofÂ Spongebob Squarepants.
2:28–Hmmmm. Neon lights plus day-glo, floppy overalls plus pop-and-lock modern dance moves. What decade is this again?
2:33-2:35–Our heroes speed by our next “celebrity” cameo: Rebecca Holder, who may be most well known to non-country music fans for playing computer whiz April Curtis during the 1983-84 season of Knight Rider. For country music fans…yeah, she did some of that, too.
2:44-3:01–After changing their clothes again (huh?) and making a detour at the Santa Monica pier, our two heroes are back on PCH. Another classic convertible pulls up alongside of them to check out the scene. Looks like they caught the attention of….hold on….
What. The. Fuck?
Oh…my…God….It’s Exene Cervenka and John Doe from seminal Los Angeles punk band X. I shit you not. And John proceeds to mime the guitar solo for this song, give a seductive leer at the camera, then flop into the back seat of the car…..FUHOISHJPASMFPmpowe*****lost carrier*****
(As you might have guessed, this was the moment of the video when I had to pause it, because my brain had just frozen like a copy of Windows 3.1. After punching myself in the face for a couple of hours, I was finally ready to continue again.)
3:01-3:13–We cut from one cameo to the next, and now our heroes catch the eye of Swedish actress and former Bond girl Britt Ekland.
And suddenly it all falls into place: Never underestimate the power of Milsap and the close-knittedness of country-based musicians.Rebecca Holder was a country music writer and recording artist.Â John DoeÂ and Exene put together a rockabilly outfit called the Knitters in 1985. Doe himself writes and records country music as a solo artist, and appeared as Jerry Lee Lewis’s cousion/bandmate in the biopic Great Balls of Fire. And speaking of rockabilly, guess who Britt Ekland married in 1984? A man (eighteen years her junior) by the name of Slim Jim Phantom, drummer for the Stray Cats. I assume all of them either knew personally and/or were fans of Milsap at the time the video was made. It’s six degrees of rockabilly, served up with Milsap fandemonium.
On the other hand, still I have no idea why Herve Villechaize was in this video.
3:18-3:22–The obligatory make-out scene. The camera pans up, and…
3:26-3:32–OMG!!! WTF!!! RSVP!!! Gas station nunchucks! Combined with funk dancing!
3:32-3:57–A mega dance routine begins, featuring a plethora of back-up video babes dancing pseudo-ballet: an ’80s video standard. Mariska poses seductively on the hood of the car as the dancers circle about her,Â performing a lost Nutcracker act: Dance of the Hairsprayed Club-Girls.
3:58-4:01 & 4:04–Our second and third (and final) real-life Ronnie Milsap sightings, as he slowly spins around the dealership. And just when you think he’s gone…one more second of Milsap–in a spraypaint wipe cut (pazow!).
4:05-4:10: Now the dancers are in place, and the car is slowly spinning!
4:11-4:20: Mariska takes a sign off the car. Wait: the sign says “NOT FOR SALE”. What the hey? Then why did Retarded Busey let her into the car? Why did he take it for a test drive with her around all of Los Angeles? Oh Retarded Busey, when will you learn that the customer isn’t always right? That’s why a blind guy is Employee of the Month, and you’re not.
But, regardless of what the sign says, Detective Benson is going to get her car. She rips the keys out of RGB’s hand, proceeds to yank another woman out of the car (damn, doesn’t anyone read these signs?) and then…..
4:20-4:25–Drives the car through the front window!! Good lord! Now, I’m pretty certain this place has an exit:Â It’s a car dealership, for God’s sake!Â How could the hell could the test drive take place earlier in the video if the only exit was through the front window? Wait, I’m using logic here. That’s going to be a losing battle for me.
On a side note, the window (at least before it was smashed) read “U-WORK U-RIDE / ‘Money talks. Nobody walks.’” Obviously this business wasÂ secretlyÂ ownedÂ by Prince.
4:25-4:30–We cut one last time to the beach. One last time to Mariska splayed on the hood of the car, wearing a matching zebra print swimsuit and heels combination. Yeah….this was the ’80s, all right.
4:31–Back to the dealership. RGB is back at his desk. Another salesman walks by, and proceeds to throw a paper ball at him. RGB starts up, giving the guy an evil glare. Or maybe he’s confused. Or hungry. I don’t know.
Wait, if he just woke up….the that means this was all a dream! Oh, that explains the all the questions I had: it’s merely dream physics. Or rather, horny dream physics.
Oh God. Yuck.
4:55-5:11–As the camera pulls up from RGB’s desk, he struggles trying to get comfortable, so that he can get back to what’s really important: napping. The camera pulls back further, and we see that by his desk he has a televesion tuned to….MTV. Nice plug. In fact, I’ve heard that this video actually had its world premiere on MTV, and wasÂ an “MTV Exclusive” for a period of time–another part of the attempt of pure-pop crossover with this single.
Well, now that I’ve told you what to look for, your challengeÂ is to watch the video, and still keep your mind from being blown. It’s not an easy task. I’ve watched it numerous times in the past weeks, and the blowing of minds still takes place, even with knowing what’s to come. See if you can do any better:
Well, that wraps up the first installment of this new series. If you can think of any other mind-blowing music-relatedÂ things that work awesomely in spite of themselves, let me know in the comments. In the meantime, I’ve got another couple of candidates up my sleeve for future installments.