My Prince-crush has been raging out of control since watching Purple Rain – it’s the biggest it has been since 1996, I reckon. (When I would listen to ‘The Most Beautiful Girl in the World’ on cassette in my bedroom, and cry.) In his honour, this got me thinking about other popstars in films. It also got me thinking that Gaga needs to make a film version of, like, Alice in Wonderland or something, sharpish.
Madonna as Susan (Desperately Seeking Susan)
The perfect role for her because she was essentially playing herself – it’s arguably the only time Madonna has excelled on screen. She’s just so f*cking cool – for some reason, I thought that bit where she dries her armpits in the station toilets, her arms pleasingly chunky compared to today and crammed with rubber bracelets, was the sexiest thing I had ever seen at the time. Not that I saw it at the time. I first saw this film aged about 10 or 11 – which was well into the early 90s. I was entranced and slavishly copied Madonna’s look – scarves round the head, little gloves, lacy socks, plastic beads – not realising that the film was about a decade old and I didn’t look current and cool at all. Thanks a lot, Susan.
David Bowie as Jareth (The Labyrinth)
Obviously Bowie has been in a few films – The Hunger and his turn as Warhol in Basquiat must receive honorable mention – but this is the one, as far as I’m concerned. It was responsible for turning a whole generation of women (hi!) into total twisters, I’m sure. It certainly wouldn’t get made today. You know, ‘OK, so it’s a kids’ film in which we get a sexually ambiguous popstar to wear a skintight unitard and a mullet wig to look menacing, sing songs and perv on a teenage girl!’.
Elvis Costello as Himself (200 Cigarettes)
Yeah, there are probably better cameo appearances by musicians in films. (And this one stars Courtney Love, who is wonderful in it – but I consider her nearly as much an actress as she is musician, really.) This is a lovely and not-well-enough-known film. Elvis Costello’s appearance is hilarious, and sparked a whole new saying for me and an old friend of mine – if ever we thought the other was drinking too much, we would sagely warn ‘careful – or you’ll pass out before Elvis Costello gets here’. We would also caution against staying out too late with, ‘dude, we’ll never make it back to Ronkonkoma!’.
Evan Dando as Roy (Reality Bites)
Just the most genius, meta cameo ever – I love Evan Dando, the sexy puppy. Dave Pirner from Soul Asylum is also in the background somewhere. That’s the 90s in one frame, man.
Nick Cave as Himself (Wings of Desire)
Just all beautiful and sexy – the neglected, arty, black-and-white side to the 80s.