As a teenager, the reason I really liked punk rock, I think, was the way it captured the teenage condition: you’d have this kid singing about how he just wanted a Pepsi, a small-scale drama, but his voice is drowned in this sea of powerful guitars and music. Which is just what being a teenager is like; normal wants and needs, normal voice, sea of powerful hormones turning the whole thing into a loud, awkward, pretty much out-of-control wreck. Like you’re in the driver’s seat of your life, but the car you’re in is swerving all over the road and the engine is screaming at 7,000 RPM.
In college, it got SLIGHTLY better, but at that point the “I like you, MAYBE I like you, I DON’T like you WAIT I MUST HAVE YOU! What? I wasn’t talking to you” games were completely MADDENING. On both sides. I mean, my roomate Todd Pugsley and I used to sit around in our room thinking of ways to invite girls over that wouldn’t, you know, let on that we actually LIKED them or anything: “Yeah, baby, you see, there’s a small amount of plutonium in our smoke detector, and we need a certain number of people in the room to bring down the atmospheric concentration.” Having a rusty old jeep and a learner’s permit at 20 was the ULTIMATE WEAPON: “Say, baby, I need to practice my driving, but I legally need someone in the car with me. It’s a state requirement!”
In other words, I was a manipulative dork, trying to get girls to admit that they liked me WITHOUT letting on that I liked them. I’m not intending to beat myself up, here; that’s pretty much what everyone was doing with every waking moment in college, except the exceptionally well-adjusted ones. Which, in college, I was not.
OKAY COMING TO THE POINT HERE and then one day I saw the movie “Sweet Charity”, released in 1969, and I saw TRAINED PROFESSIONALS doing the “come here, go away” thing combined with the punk-rock “it’s under control HOLY SHIT NO IT’S NOT” thing. Specifically, I’m talking about the “Rich Man’s Frug”, the 90-second clip that gave rise to an entire franchise of Austin Powers movies. The “I’m under control, I’m under control, wait I’M FLINGING MY PONYTAIL AROUND WITH WILD ABANDON” thing just… slayed me.
I think that’s how this clip ended up being one of the building blocks of my friggin’ psyche. Plus (and we’re getting to the reason for posting in the first place) when I go to my first in-person Weight Watchers meeting next week, and they ask my reason for wanting to lose weight, I’m NOT going to stand up in that room and say “so I can grow a chin beard, mutton chops, and strut around like a chicken with a cigarette in a holder.” But I’m telling YOU. Because that’s the TRUE reason.
2 responses to “The Rich Man’s Frug”
I had actually never seen this before but goddamn if that’s not immediately identifiable Fosse. 🙂 Fabu.
I know where Kate can get a really convincing ponytail hairpiece if she’s interested.