The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

The Creepy (and Unsubtle) Imagery of John Parr’s “Naughty, Naughty” Video

Written by: Sloan de Forest, Special to CC2K

Image You know you’re in for a rough time when a music video hurls the word “fondle” at you before the song even starts. Such is the case with John Parr’s 1985 hit “Naughty Naughty”, a great mid-eighties rock ditty with unintentionally hilarious (if frequently revolting) accompanying visual images. The director of this cheese-o-rama was either laboring under the misguided delusion that Mr. Parr was a sex symbol or playing a cruel joke on the unsuspecting rocker.

Before I go on, skip past the two minutes of two Canadian teen girls from the 80s talking about their families (?), and then watch the video:

The song’s lyrics (Naughty, naughty/Loud and bawdy/T-t-t-t-tease me) already lean enough toward the sleazy side without the video’s distinctly unsubtle interpretations elevating them to a whole new level of tawdriness. But just in case phrases like “Kiss me hard, squeeze me tight, gonna love ya alright” should need more clarification, the video goes ahead and crams as much flashy pseudo-sexiness as can be squeezed into three and a half minutes. On a positive note, at least no one can complain that the video’s images clash with the theme of the song. Besides, when your song’s refrain features the words “bawdy” and “horny”, subtle innuendo is likely to be a foreign concept. In this respect, the clip for “Naughty Naughty” is a masterpiece of pertinence. 

The plot of this turgid mini-drama is as follows: Rock star John Parr (best known today as the man who once assured us that he could feel St. Elmo’s Fire burning within him) stars as a lazy, mullet-coiffed car mechanic who longs to be driving the pristine Rolls Royce he is supposed to be repairing. (Oh, the babes he could score in that Rolls!) In strides the Kojak-esque owner of the garage to remind Parr that he is paying him “not to fondle the car, but to fix it”, so John sticks it to the man and scrams.  

After leaving the garage he either collects his date or picks up a friend’s daughter from school, I’m not sure which, but in any case he is now accompanied by a gorgeous and very young woman played by Lisa Rinna (who would later turn up on Days of Our Lives and Melrose Place in the 90s). Our hero then begins to romance his underage lady friend with all the charm of one of those parking lot lotharios who frequent the outer regions of Stop-N-Go late at night, ogling passing females while finishing off an oversized can of Schlitz swathed in a small paper sack. 

For some reason, this young woman interprets John’s sophomoric pawing as boorish and slaps him across the face (once on each side, just for good measure). She then rips the heart-shaped pendant from around her neck and flings it back at him (in slow motion, yet). How symbolic of her rejection of his love! And how appropriate that his love is symbolized by a cheap gold-plated necklace from the tangled depths of the Ross Dress For Less discount bin. 

Poor, abandoned John now begins to fantasize and the audience is treated to a series of odious scenes designed to convince us at gunpoint that John is a bona fide heartthrob. Some of these delightful soft core dream segments include John driving the coveted Rolls Royce to exotic locales like the Downtown Motel — that’s right, folks, the Downtown Motel — where he is shoved onto the bed, partially stripped and more or less molested by a gang of remarkably flat-chested and rather poorly dressed dancers; John being bitten and caressed by the same gang of dancers, only in the car instead of the motel; a group of greasy auto mechanics in coveralls lip-synching the background vocals while a bare-chested Parr waves around his American flag-decorated guitar, reminding us every few seconds, in song, that he’s a “naughty, naughty guy.”  (Warning: these scenes are not for the squeamish or easily nauseated and viewer discretion is advised.) 

In a twist ending that would make Aaron Spelling proud, it’s revealed that John’s fantasy sequences with the frumpy dance squad all took place inside his head! Lo and behold, he’s still sitting in the car after the necklace-throwing incident, rubbing his eyes as if emerging from a dream. Lisa instantly regrets her hasty brush-off, decides that she was wrong to find John’s lecherous groping distasteful and vows to live naughtily ever after with him. The audience is left to imagine the scores of naughty, bawdy children these two will inflict upon the world someday, and all’s well that ends well. That denouement is pathetic enough without the car taking flight and soaring into the distant horizon, yet we have to endure this Grease rip-off as a final insult to our senses before the video mercifully concludes.  

Despite all of its ill-conceived antics, this 80s classic would be slightly more bearable if it weren’t for John Parr’s constant countenance of smarminess. I’m sure in real life Mr. Parr is a swell guy and a talented musician, but I must be frank: the look on his face reminds me of those dentists who put their patients to sleep and then sexually assault them. Despite the well-kempt and expertly moussed mullet, he does not come across as a particularly sexy man and should probably have shot for cute and cuddly instead … perhaps more along Phil Collins lines.  

But this is not a Phil Collins video, baby! This is a video that rips the buttons from its shirt, bares its sweaty chest and makes lewd gestures at girls from its car. This is a video that sprays your face with saliva as it shouts, “Yeah, I’m drunk, so what!” This is a video that unashamedly plasters a Hooters sticker across its bumper and boldly dares its girlfriend to object. This is a working man’s video; a proudly American clip festooned with American flags and starring John Parr, a good old boy from … Nottinghamshire, England. God, I love the 80s.  

A viewing tip: This video is best savored when one is armed with popcorn, Nerf footballs, or any items which can be repeatedly thrown at the television screen.