Duranalysis: Girl Panic!
Duran Duran just released their dazzling, gorgeous, nine-and-a-half-minute Jonas Akerlund-directed video extravaganza for “Girl Panic!”, in which a flock of big-name supermodels of days past -- Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Eva Herzigova, Helena Christensen, and Yasmin Le Bon -- play John, Simon, Nick, Roger, and, uh, someone else. Meanwhile, the boys themselves portray an assortment of peripheral characters -- bellhops and drivers and journalists, etcetera. It’s cheerful, decadent, sleazy good fun.
Oh, sure, I originally intended to limit this Duranalysis series to the videos made between 1981 and 1985, but “Girl Panic!” is certainly worthy of an in-depth examination. Here we go:
Naomi Campbell, decked out in a leather corset and teetering stiletto booties and looking like a gajillion bucks, wakes up in a four-poster bed in an luxurious suite in London’s Savoy Hotel.
There’s an empty champagne bottle on a nearby dresser and a couple of scantily-clad women slumbering beside her. She slides out of bed and slinks her way through the suite, navigating around empty champagne bottles and several more passed-out scantily-clad women, most of whom are dressed in some combination of high heels and couture bondage gear. Somebody had herself a fun evening.
Meanwhile, Eva Herzigova glides her way around London, her glittery stiletto sandals dangling from one hand. This is intercut with a bit where she introduces herself as Nick Rhodes to an interviewer, who is played by the real Nick Rhodes. I was going to describe him as “the inimitable Nick Rhodes,” but Eva actually does a damn good job of capturing Nick’s odd mixture of wit and genial snobbery. Nick is still my dream dinner-party guest (just imagine the wine he’d bring!), but in a pinch, Eva could fill in for him nicely.
(While I’m willing to believe this video depicts Duran Duran’s day-to-day lifestyle with staggering verisimilitude, one detail rings false: Can anyone picture Our Nick padding barefoot along the banks of the Thames, the way Eva does here? Even if his feet really, really hurt, he’d keep his shoes firmly on. Suffering for fashion and whatnot.)
We’re introduced to the rest of the band: Helena Christensen, no stranger to starring in iconic music videos, plays Roger, while Naomi is Simon. Of course.
The real John Taylor interviews Cindy-Crawford-as-John-Taylor, who explains that, as Duran Duran has switched guitarists from time to time (Andy to Warren to Andy again to Dom), the band members never know who’s going to show up to play…
…Which segues into the introduction of Yasmin Le Bon. Yasmin informs viewers that she’s not a member of Duran Duran. She’s credited as simply “The Guitarist,” which is as graceful a way as any of getting around the whole Andy problem.
Eva-as-Nick tells Interviewer Nick, “I wrote the last song. I take full credit for it.” According to interviews on the nifty making-of DVD that came enclosed with the All You Need Is Now CD, the lyrics for “Girl Panic!” did indeed spring from Nick’s boundlessly entertaining brain. Nick, by the way, also came up for the idea for this video, which: no kidding. I mean, of course he did. The gorgeous extravagance, the hilariously louche behavior, the gender-bending, the mild kink, the vast amounts of champagne, the pretty sparkly things… this video has Nick’s impeccably-manicured fingers all over it. If you cracked open Nick’s head*, I’m pretty sure this video would spring out, fully formed.
*Please don’t crack open Nick’s head.
When informed by Interviewer Nick that there have been some “truly shocking reviews” of the band in the past, Eva-as-Nick replies, “Damn! I’d love to read all of those.” Oh, me too, Eva. Me too.
John Taylor chauffeurs Cindy-as-John around London in a Rolls. In the backseat, Cindy swills champagne straight from the bottle, sticks her head outside the window to let her glorious mane of hair billow in the breeze, and shows more vibrant personality in these few seconds than she did in all ninety-one exceedingly tedious minutes of Fair Game.
Interviewer Roger asks Helena-as-Roger, “Any addictions?” Helena blithely replies, “There were some episodes, but I’d rather not talk about them.” Cut to Helena-as-Roger passed out atop of stack of Louis Vuitton trunks on a luggage trolley, being wheeled up to her suite by Nick, who is kitted out in the fanciest goddamned bellhop uniform on the planet.
This could be a quick callback to the sexy bellhop in the “Union of the Snake” video, I suppose, though it seems far more reasonable to assume Nick was just looking for an excuse to wear a spiffy uniform and an adorable little cap.
Abandoned by Bellhop Nick, Helena-as-Roger tumbles off her stack of luggage. Finally awake, she looks around in confusion, then staggers to the phone and dials up room service for more champagne. She teeters drunkenly around the suite, taking Polaroid snapshots of the various passed-out girls. Oh, Helena. I think I love you. Or maybe I love Roger? It gets difficult to sort out after a while.
A room service waiter -- that’d be our man Simon Le Bon -- arrives. He’s bearing a champagne bottle and a tray of glasses. When Helena grabs for the bottle, the glasses topple.
The various passed-out scantily-clad girls in the suite begin to wake up. They stumble around with champagne bottles and trip over their high heels and grope each other. I can’t even imagine the champagne budget on this video, but it must have been staggering.
Cindy and Yasmin slink into an elevator with Roger, who’s clad in the livery of a hotel employee, and proceed to paw at him.
When the elevator reaches the appropriate floor, the doors slide open, revealing a stunned and disheveled Roger. You know, this video gets impressively weird when you start thinking about all the gender-reversal and role-switching. So, ah, John just got frisky with Roger in an elevator, right?
Nick -- the real Nick -- continues his interview with Eva-as-Nick: “Now, you have been described as the world's first metrosexual--” Eva cuts him off with a dismissive reply: “I don’t read that stuff, I don’t see that.” A pause, then: “I love my shoes.” Eva Herzigova, you just won the video.
Interviewer John proffers a few genial compliments about Duran Duran to Cindy-as-John; Cindy waxes nostalgic for the days of shoulder pads and big hair. Look, you two, you’re both gorgeous, you both have hair that could incite riots, and I love you both to bits, but compared with the drunken debauchery of Helena’s Roger and the smartest-airhead-in-the-room zingers of Eva’s Nick, you need to raise your game.
Helena-as-Roger: “I don’t really hang out with the rest of the guys all that often. They're a bad influence.”
The band -- the sexy supermodel version of the band, at least -- assembles for a photoshoot for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar UK, under the direction of fashion powerhouses Dolce & Gabbana.
In lightning-fast flashes, we can see that it’s actually Roger, John, Simon and Nick being photographed.
Post-shoot cocktail party: Roger fixes drinks behind the bar while John, Nick and Simon mill about. The party guests consist of their supermodel alter egos and, yes, scantily-clad women in lingerie. More champagne is consumed -- much more -- and the crowd becomes orgiastic. Of this video, a friend tweeted at me that he felt “kinda drunk after watching it.” To which I will now reply: Yes, exactly, but it’s a good kind of drunk.
The band -- the supermodel version -- perform on a Swarovski crystal-bedazzled set in front of television cameras, which are operated by sexy pantsless women in stilettos. No working model in London went unemployed on the day this video was shot.
As at the Harper’s shoot, we see a few ephemeral shots of the real band mixed in with all the footage of the supermodels. Check out the image in the monitor in this shot:
The snazzy and elegant end credits include this very important disclaimer: "NO SUPERMODELS WERE HARMED DURING THIS PRODUCTION."
And it all ends with Bellhop Nick wheeling a passed-out Helena-as-Roger through the Savoy’s opulent lobby on a luggage trolley.
Whew! Giddy stuff. After that super-saturation of glamour, I’m exhausted, a bone-deep fatigue that can only be driven away with vast quantities of champagne and a ride in the back of a chauffeured Rolls. Outstanding job, boys.