Thursday, March 31, 2022

Showbiz Against Showbiz - Bob + Lenny

Watching the TV series Fosse/Verdon, I noticed a thread of anti-theatricality in the life 'n' work of the dancer-choreographer-director. Bob Fosse seems to have had a compulsive need to inject reality into showbiz - sour notes of the sordid and grotesque, the abject and corrupt.  Among his singular achievements is that Cabaret was the first movie musical to be given an X Certificate. 

Yet equally Fosse was unable to abandon showbiz completely. Indeed his chosen artform was the most artificial form of it, musical theater. In real life, nobody breaks out into a song-and-dance routine. Fosse loved all that stuff - he's the guy who invented all those moves with bowler hats and jazz hands, turned-in knees and limb-dislocating dance-stances. But he also seemed to despise it - as fake, as cheap, as pandering to the punters, as a form of prostitution almost. Why else the obsessive need to combine the high unreality of show tunes and spotlights with the seamy side of life, to expose the grim and gross beneath the greasepaint? 

In one key scene in Fosse/Verdon, Bob is talking to his playwright / screenwriter pal Paddy Chayefsky (Network, etc). On the subject of his next project, the barely-veiled autobiopic All That Jazz, Fosse says "I want to do something real - not some bullshit fairytale". Chayesfsky says, "you want true - go to a priest, not a playwright." 

Unsurprisingly, these themes surfaced in All That Jazz the actual 1979 movie. At one point the Fosse alter-ego Joe Gideon is watching a TV variety spectacular presented by showbiz trooper O'Connor Flood (played by real life showbiz trooper and Fosse friend  Ben Vereen). Flood launches into his usual corny patter about the next guest performer being such "a dear friend, a great entertainer, a great humanitarian". Gideon grimaces and spits, "Boy, do I hate showbiz". To which his lady companion protests, "you love showbiz!". Gideon retorts with a wry "I could go either way".  

The film follows the pill-powered, chain-smoking 20 hour-day lifestyle of the director-choreographer as he simultaneously rehearses a new musical and edits a movie, while juggling a number of girlfriends (mostly from his own chorus line). In Fosse's real life, the movie in post-production (the editing so intricate and involved it took up a whole six months) was a biopic about Lenny Bruce, pioneer of "sick humor". In All That Jazz, it's a film about a fictional comedian called David Newman who similarly breaks taboos and has a turbulent life. 

When the movie, titled The Stand Up, is released, it gets good reviews from everyone except a TV critic who's something like a cross between Pauline Kael and Roger Ebert. She observes of the film that "slickness obliterates reality, razzle-dazzle obliterates drama...  Gideon wants too hard to please". The director is crushed;  all the other positive notices count for nothing. He feels exposed as a fraud. 

Fosse's real life attraction to the story of Lenny Bruce as subject for the follow-up to his monster success with Cabaret (itself a pretty bleak and despairing vision, top toons and routines notwithstanding) is revealing. Wasn't Bruce in his own way anti-theatrical? He tried to inject the unseemly and squalid into comedy, get rid of all the Borscht Belt one-liners about "take my wife - please" and replace them with the raw ugly truth of sex, drugs, racism  -  any and all subjects hitherto deemed unfit for comedy. And then in another parallel with Fosse, Bruce became a kind of meta-comedian, his performances increasingly self-reflexive, consumed in laboriously detailed accounts of his own legal battles -  reading from the transcripts of the obscenity trials, expounding upon the grand struggle between free speech and censorship.... 

Here we have another entertainer not content to merely entertain - Bruce wanted to challenge, confront,  educate, and even elevate, albeit via a tortuous, or perhaps torturous, route through mutual abasement. “All my humor is based upon destruction and despair.”  Delivering the eulogy after Bruce's death from a morphine overdose, Reverend William Glenesk recognised a fellow priest, describing the comic as "in a sense an evangelist, on a street corner. He was a man—up tight against an artificial world... who shattered its facades, and its hypocrisy... he saw life as it is." Reviewing Lenny, the Fosse biopic, Roger Ebert - not convinced by the film - similarly described Bruce as "a sort of four-letter evangelist". He also likened the comic to "a sort of hostile therapist who preaches liberation through the defusing of highly charged words." Others described Bruce taking on "a nearly rabbinical lucidity" in his later performing years, even a messianic aura. 

The idea of seeing "life as it is" as a form of anti-heroic heroism crops up in Lenny. The comic starts rapping onstage about how "the trouble is we all live in a 'happy ending' culture.  A 'what should be’' culture instead of a 'what is' culture.  We're taught that fantasy, but if we were taught 'This is what is', l think we'd be less screwed up. Dig what l mean?". The real-life Lenny Bruce riff goes like this:  "There is only what is and that's it. 'What should be' is a dirty lie". Another variation, one of many, goes "Let me tell you the truth: The truth is what is. And 'what should be' is a fantasy -  a terrible, terrible lie that someone gave the people long ago."  The reference to happy endings sounds like something Fosse might have added. After all,  it was he, not Bruce, who was truly enmeshed in an entertainment industry that demanded and delivered heartwarming resolutions (like the happy ending to Sweet Charity, resented by its director, one Robert Fosse),

Fusing the dark razzle of Cabaret with Lenny's unsparing realism, All That Jazz was where Fosse's divided impulses meshed and ran riot.  As critic Adrian Martin put it, All That Jazz is an "anti-musical"  while Fosse was "the man who made the musical grotesque.” Elaborating on this idea, Stéphanie Debaere notes that watching the film, "there are few moments when you don’t feel some discomfort. Take Joe’s morning routine: a montage sequence shows him showering, taking his medication, turning to the mirror: “It’s show time, folks!” As his health deteriorates, the routine becomes more and more painful to watch given the regular coughing fits and him clutching his painful wrist". Pains in the arm , of course, can be a warning sign of cardiac arrest - a narrative premonition that 70-cigs-a-day, Dexedrine-gobbling Gideon/Fosse doggedly ignores, but we the viewers cannot. (Another area of identification between Fosse and Bruce, both amphetamine-fueled workaholics; as Dustin Hoffman, who played Bruce in the movie, told Rolling Stone, "It’s a key thing that Lenny didn’t use drugs to flake out, to get wasted. The drugs were usually uppers. They were used... to keep him going for four days. He’d do a tremendous amount of work.") 

Mirroring what happened in Fosse's own life - a heart attack, albeit not fatal in his case, at least this time - All That Jazz ends with Gideon in hospital, dying. His final vision is of a spectacular stage routine. It starts with Vereen / Flood introducing his next guest:  "This cat allowed himself to be adored, but not loved. And his success in show business was matched by failure in his personal relationships bag - that's where he really bombed. And he came to believe that work, show business, love, his whole life, even himself and all that jazz, was bullshit. He became Numero Uno game player, to the point where he didn't know where the games ended and the reality began. Like, to this cat, the only reality...  is death, man. Ladies and gentlemen, let me lay on you a so-so entertainer... not much of a humanitarian... and this cat was never nobody's friend - in his final appearance on the great stage of life,  you can applaud if you wanna, Mr Joe Gideon."  

After this savagely unsparing self-portrait, what follows is a glitzy high-energy dance number / song medley that includes a rocked-up poor-taste version of The Everley Brothers's "Bye Bye Love" (the words altered to "bye bye life, hello loneliness... I think I'm gonna die").  Confronted with the Ultimate Reality -  the Void -  Fosse/Gideon can't resist hamming it up with a delirious romp of kinetic kitsch. 

The film's final image is Gideon's corpse being zipped inside a translucent plastic body-bag, while Ethel Merman's version of "There's No Business Like Show Business" takes us to the credits. 

"There's no people / Like show people / They smile / When they are low". 

Fosse's next film was Star 80, a beyond-bleak biopic about the Playboy model and actress Dorothy Stratten,  murdered by her estranged manager-husband. Here Fosse finally pushes completely past the strictures of Hollywood / Broadway and makes a picture where the audience entering the theatre know in advance they are guaranteed a bad time.  Indeed just to make sure, the movie starts with the unhappy ending: Stratten dead, her murderer ranting  over her corpse about the events that led up to her demise and that will within minutes lead to his own suicide. The rest of the movie is a flashback. 

Released in 1983, Star 80 bombed at the box office, making back six million on a 12-million budget. It was Fosse's final film. Four years later, he died of a massive coronary on a Washington DC street: he had been walking back to his hotel with his ex-wife and co-director Gwen Verdon, after a day  rehearsing the theatrical revival of Sweet Charity. 

Although the context and the audience could hardly be further apart, Fosse's struggle with his chosen medium parallels similar imperatives within 20th Century modernist drama and fringe theatre - the drive to shove "ordinary life" onto the stage, or to smash through the fourth wall, create a form of meta-theatre, etc etc.  But the motivations seem very different. Avant-garde and radical theatre had utopian political ambitions or sometimes spiritual aspirations. In Fosse's case, the anti-theatrical compulsion seems to stem from a tortured personality and his convulsive love-hate relationship with entertainment itself, possibly rooted in trauma. Entering the world of vaudeville and burlesque at just 13-years-old, he was exposed to its sleazy underbelly at a tender and still-formative age. (Another parallel with Lenny Bruce, who found his comedic voice while working at strip clubs in the Fernando Valley, albeit as as adult and degenerate-in-training).  It's possible the under-age Fosse was sexually abused by much older female burlesque performers (probably imagining they were doing him a kindness - sweet sexual charity). There's a flashback scene in All That Jazz hinting at this kind of initiation.  The raunchy stage moves he saw while working these joints would then feed into his ground-breaking choreography, a classic example of the way mainstream entertainment feeds off low-life forms. Fosse's experiences in the seedy netherworld of showbiz no doubt colored his sense of the life's true nature - "Money Makes the World Go Around" etc -  and probably contaminated his sexuality. 

Finally a flashback to a primal trauma of my own - well, that's a exaggeration, but it did seem decidedly "not right" to my 8 year-old eyes. On holiday in Swanage, we went to Studland Bay, wandering down this lane to the beach and passing a church where there was a fete going on. There, on a stage, in the bright summer sunshine, was a whole troupe of girls, not much older than myself, perhaps ten or eleven, doing "Big Spender" from Sweet Charity, singing and dancing with great gusto. I wonder what frustrated never-got-to-the-West-End wannabe director - or subversive pervert - managed to smuggle that past the school administration and parents! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

"naturally we're punks"


'ere we go now

a sociology lecture

with a bit of psychology

a bit of neurology

a bit of fuckology

no fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun

Recently*, it struck me that Johnny Rotten's wonderful jeering intro to "No Fun....  well, it's an ultra-distilled compression of "Gee, Officer Krupke". Kinda.  

In "Krupke", you have a series of experts in troubled and troublesome youth - the juvenile court judge, the psychiatrist, the social worker -  wheeled out to offer explanations for juvenile delinquency. And then you have the kicker,  the revelation that the real problem is that the kid's just born bad, beyond reforming or redirecting to a positive life path. Which the Jets turn into a taunting gang-chorus of "we're no good, we're no earthly good, like the best of us is no damn good". That bit - the oddly triumphant twist - is the "fuckology" bit.  It's Panopticonized youth telling the authorities and analysts to foucault. 

(And then there's the last line of all, the kiss-off  - "Gee Officer Krupke, krup you" -- as close to the F-word as you could get on Broadway then.)  

Adding "neurology" to the list of mocked disciplines is a nifty update on Rotten's part. 20 years on from West Side Story, neuro-disorders would have been emerging as a way to explain-away restlessness or mischief,  with medication prescribed as a fix-it. Even more so today,  it's how difficult kids are "managed". 

And of course, "punks" pops up in the lyric to "Krupke": 

"Golly Moses, natcherly we're punks"

Another connection... Rotten was a big fan of Alice Cooper (auditioned for the Pistols job miming to "I'm Eighteen") and Alice was a BIG fan of West Side Story . The band did not one but two songs  that interpolated lyric or melodic elements from the musical's songbook. And they named the album Easy Action after a spoken line from the movie.  

Saturday, March 26, 2022

the drums the drums the drums the drums


via Bob Stanley, who quotes Ian McCann description of it as "a dub record in rock"

As someone notes on the twitterthread, this is actually the original that gets "dubbed"

The  Scrap Iron Rhythm Revue is like some bubblegum anticipation of Neubauten

Stripping down to just drums, or nearly just drums, was a hallmark of the era - rock singles targeted at the disco floor 

And often framed with a kind of primality

That was G.Glitter's pitch wasn't it - the furry chest, the grunts, the caveman whoops 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Doll Factory


"Ultravox’s sound incubated in the Doll Factory –a perfect name for their rehearsal space, given its echoes of Warhol and New York Dolls.  It was literally the premises of mannequin manufacturer Modreno, located in an old warehouse in a seedy area behind London’s Kings Cross station. (John Foxx had met the guy who ran it when they both worked painting the faces of showroom dummies at another company). Ultravox rehearsed in the big room, surrounded by “dismembered plastic humanoids”: an ideal environment to hatch songs influenced by dystopian science fiction writers like J.G. Ballard and a sound that would ultimately evolve into robotic synth-rock." - from S+A

Around the same time....

(song by Foxx-fan Gary Numan)


The pic disc of the album had the mannequins in the nuddy

The singles off Manifesto continued the 'living doll' thematic

While this generic (I assume) sleeve for the American release of "Angel Eyes" fits with the general vibe of artifice, fetishism and retro-glamour

Irresistible as always in this context to think of "the sex appeal of the inorganic", Roxy Music's "In Every Dream Home A Heartache" and its (accidental?) semi-rewrite as Ian McEwan's 1977 short story "Dead As They Come"....

Earlier post on the Roxy Girls and the nude mannequin picture disc version of Manifesto

Friday, March 4, 2022

"the monster with the thousand eyes is shouting to be fed"

When it came to writing about Bowie for S+A, I fancied going deep with his fascinating fixation on  and deep debt to Anthony Newley - which nearly all Bowie biographers seem to glide past in embarrassment. 

Seems to me that there is much more discernible evidence of Newley influence in Bowie's singing and sensibility, than there is of the much-trumpeted (because cooler) supposed influence from Velvet Underground and Lou Reed. 

You can really hear the debt in this clip above for "The Man Who Makes You Laugh" (an expanded rewrite of his earlier "The Joker"). There's the braying way that Newley pushes his voice into ugliness at points in the song, the meta aspect (showbiz's love of songs about showbiz), the mime and Pierrot elements that creep in and out of Newley's delivery, the borderline grotesqueness of it all. 

The thematic - the pathos of the entertainer's craving for attention, the unseemly exhibitionism of performance itself - seems to be a subtext to Bowie's whole career. 

(And perhaps that's what he actually recognised in e.g. Mott the Hoople - Ian Hunter's commentary on rock'n'roll - rather than their purported  "punkness").

Look around you Mister Clown, you're drowning in your dreams

A sea of strangers, each one reaching out for you

Make us laugh, Mister Funny Man

Fame at last, Mister Funny Man

Could the love you crave be waiting in some woman's heart

Or must you spend these endless nights alone among the crowd

Bowing for their laughter in the dark

Wiping off the custard pie that life just loves to throw

Knowing when the audience goes home, that you'll be alone

Look at me, look at me, I'm the funny man

Have you ever heard such clever stuff before

Applauded Time magazine, "He's the laughter machine"

I'm the man who makes you laugh

You killed 'em at the Palace and you thrilled 'em in L.A.

The waiters at the deli know it all by heart

Make us laugh, Mister Funny Man

Be a daft, dummy, funny man

Everyone's an audience and life's a funny line

But when the curtain's sinking are you thinking of the day

Mother gave your dancing shoes a shine

Pushed you on the stage and whispered, "Kid, you'll be alright"

The spotlight hurts your eyes 

But stirred the spark that burns now in your heart

Look at me, look at me, I'm the funny man

And my home is any microphone that's free

Me with nerves of caffeine, I'm the laughter machine

I'm the man who makes you laugh

The monster with the thousand eyes is shouting to be fed

Get your head together for the second show

Make us laugh, Mister Funny Man

Autographs, Mister Funny Man

Fear will drink your whiskey while you think of her embrace

Trying to forget her, though her letter of goodbye

Stares as you repair your painted face

When did she discover that the spotlight was your love

I ask my own reflection and I see the funny man is me

Look at me, look at me, I'm the funny man

"Hello, folks," it seems the joke was all on me

But that's all in the dream of the laughter machine

I'm the man who makes.....

Ha, ha, ha, ha

Ha, ha, ha, ha

Ha, ha, ha, ha


Newley + Bowie (director's cut / prototype excerpt from S+A)

....Not just for the resemblance of vocal style –the Cockney vowel sounds, the un-rock’n’roll  clarity of enunciation, the stagey emphases—but because the shape and range of Newley’s career  (singer, songwriter, star of stage, TV and film)  served as Bowie’s model and ideal. 

This fixation on Newley, regarded as belonging to the square world of showbiz, amused and bemused Bowie’s contemporaries. Looking back on their friendship in the Sixties, Bolan recalled going round to Bowie’s place in South London, where “he always played Anthony Newley records.”  He speculated that Bowie’s explorations of mime in the late Sixties came from Newley’s use of mime elements in his huge hit musical  Stop the World -  I Want To Get Off.  Above all, Bolan claimed, Bowie didn’t have any kind of gut connection to rock’n’roll; his orientation, if anything, was  English music hall. “He was very Cockney then...  We were all looking for something to get into then. I wanted to be Bob Dylan, but I think David was looking into that music hall humour. It was the wrong time to do it, but all his songs were story songs...   They had...  a very theatrical flavour, with very square backings.”  One of his early producers Gus Dudgeon  mused, several decades later, that the young Bowie worked from “the assumption” that Newley-esque “was the only way he could sound. Why did someone with such a unique ability to write ... unusual songs for the time, sound like someone twice his age?” 

Yet Anthony Newley wasn’t actually “square,” a middle-of-the-road performer catering to the middle aged.  He had one of the more outlandish imaginations in the showbiz  realm. Yes, he was the classic all-round-entertainer of variety and vaudeville tradition. Mentored during the Second World War by  a music hall veteran, he had been a child performer, playing the Artful Dodger in a film version of Oliver Twist, and appearing in TV shows. Newley also  scored a smatter of  hit singles that jumped on the rock’n’roll bandwagon, but evinced scant real feel for the  new youth music. By the early Sixties he was performing in musicals he’d written with partner Leslie Bricusse like Stop The World – I Want To Get Off and The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd. Their success in American established him as hugely popular cabaret performer, both onstage and with TV specials. Near the end of the Sixties, Newley  wrote, directed and starred in a film musical that was wackily ambitious but a huge flop:  Can Hieronymous Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humpe and Find True Happiness?,  described by Playboy as "a zany erotobiography that looks like a Marx Brothers' movie shot in a nudist camp". 

What characterized  all of  Newley’s work to varying degrees was the combination of arch Englishness (prissy yet self-mocking gestures) and  mime elements  often compared to Marcel Marceau (as with the  Pierrot-like tragic clown figure Littlechap, the Everyman protagonist of the life-as-circus allegory Stop The World). Other hallmarks were an absurdist-existentialist humour tinged with fatalism, and a ‘meta’ quality: performance that comments on itself, characters that step in and out of persona, action that breaches the fourth wall.  A classic example of these traits is Newley’s song “The Man Who Makes You Laugh”, the blues of a comic, a “laughter machine” who feeds “the monster with the thousand eyes”, i.e. the insatiable, fickle audience.  Performing the song on a British chat show, Newley hams it up in his inimitable style, miming putting on make-up in the dressing-room mirror of the audience’s gaze. 

All of these elements  - mime, meta, music hall, mugging - were intensely present in The Strange World of Gurney Slade, a remarkable TV series broadcast in the autumn of 1960, which starred and was devised by Newley, although actually written by two other people, Dick Hills and Sid Green.  The opening episode starts with Newley, playing the actor Gurney Slade, who has the role of Albert in a TV sitcom or soap.  Surrounded by the drudgery of everyday working class life—a family and its lodger, the arrival of a sanitary inspector, discussion of eggs and preferred ways of cooking them – Albert is silent, ruminative, disengaged.  Failing to pick up his line, to the consternation of his fellow actors and the studio technicians, Albert abruptly walks off set, past the flabbergasted director (“you must be ruddy mad, we’re on the air”), out of the ‘Stage Door’ and into the street, where—suddenly liberated—he capers manically down the street. 

A mish-mash of mime, the Theater of the Absurd, and the tradition of Anglo-surreal comedy that includes the Goons, Gurney Slade constantly disrupts realism throughout all six episodes. (It's notable also that it's from the hum-drum social realist naturalism of the TV soap that Slade breaks loose, escaping into a whimsical world that's both  meta-theatrical and this-is-a-dream psychedelic). Newley addresses the viewer directly, but also converses with a stone, a dustbin, a coquettish cow, and a dog. The latter tells him he’s a fan of Lassie but not Rin Tin Tin, who’s “too exaggerated.... not true to life” because he runs past too many trees without taking a pee. A pretty young woman steps out a Klean-O vacuum cleaner advertising poster and she and Slade dance together down the street. But suddenly we’re looking at the scene from the viewpoint of a passer-by, who sees Slade holding hands with thin air – a glimpse ahead to the broken reality-structures of Antoniono’s  1966’s Blow Up

As much as it’s an existentialist bagatelle, Gurney Slade is a satire / parody of television itself, with a running commentary about the conventions and clichés of what Slade mordantly refers to as “the golden age of British entertainment.”  Late in the first episode, the camera cuts back to the soap opera from which Slade went AWOL: the family are huddled around the TV watching The Strange World of Gurney Slade. He spit ““I'm a walking television show. I can't get away from 'em. Big Brother is watching me, and Big Dad and Big Mum....  I'm like a goldfish in a bowl.... Leave me alone, will you? I've got a right to my privacy...switch me off."

These meta-television tendencies culminate in two hilariously subversive episodes that cast back to Pirandello’s 1921 Six Characters in Search of  an Author and ahead to Tom Stoppard’s  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (which follows the plight of two minor Hamlet characters exiled to the margins of the plot).  There are also elements that anticipate 1967’s The Prisoner, the cult series that combined Kafka and meta-TV (Patrick McGoohan had earlier played the hero in the spy series Dangerman and reappeared as the same character but trapped in a surreal prison known as The Village). Gurney Slade’ s court-room episode in particular resembles The Prisoner’s  final episode, which also involves a trial.  As if anticipating and preempting the series’s  actual lack of success with the public, Slade is  charged with  appearing  “on a TV screen” in front of “seven million viewers...  for the purpose of amusing said viewers” but having raised “not one titter”.  Slade’s show -  The Strange World of Gurney Slade itself –  is accused not only of being unfunny but of being “calculated to undermine our entire social structure.” In a further twist of meta-mischief, Slade’s clown-like defence lawyer Archie is clearly meant to be Archie Rice, the decrepit music hall performer portrayed by Lawrence Olivier in John Osbourne’s 1957 play The Entertainer, the film version of which came out earlier in 1960.   

The final episode of Gurney Slade takes TV-about-TV even further, when Slade is confronted by the characters he created from earlier episodes, who now complain they’ve been insufficiently fleshed-out (“Do I like parsnips?” one asks) and fret about what will happen to them when the series is over.   But a gentleman from the Characters Bureau turns up and finds roles for them in other series. As for Slade himself, he toys briefly with the faint hope that “perhaps I can persuade them to do another series”, but concludes that “for me this is the finish”.  As “Gurney Slade” transforms by stages into a ventriloquist dummy, Anthony Newley strides onstage and carries away his now wooden mouthpiece / alter-ego. 

One of the eerie things about watching Gurney Slade is that sometimes Newley will say a line and he’ll sound like the spitting aural image of David Bowie – that classless London drone, Cockney without the slang or the dropped aitches. Of course, it’s the other way around: it was Bowie who copped Newley’s phrasing and accent. Bowie was always upfront about the debt. “I was the world’s worst mimic – I mean, Anthony Newley. I was Anthony Newley for a year," Bowie told NME in 1973. "He stopped his world and got off, which is terrible, because he was once one of the most talented men that England ever produced. Remember the ‘Gurney Slade’ series? That was tremendous. A friend of mine has a collection of them, and there’s a lot of Monty Python in there – left-handed screws and right-handed screws.”

You can detect the seed of Ziggy Stardust in the idea of a performer  who stands outside his own performance and comments on it. And you can glimpse “Fame” in  the series’s ambivalent attitude to what Newley, in “The Man Who Makes You Laugh”, called “the spotlight” that “hurts your eyes but stirs the spark that burns now in your heart”. The business of show offers glory and escape from mundanity, but becomes its own kind of trap;  the performance persona is first armour, then straitjacket.  

At the start of Gurney Slade’s final episode, TV executives are shown around the studio by a guide, who points to the captions scrolling down the screen beside them and then discusses the “new design” performer, i.e. Slade. While “presenting problems – a tendency to produce jokes nobody can understand”, this “all-purpose model” will “do practically anything” – “singing, comedy, we hope to do  some recording with it”—if paid “about 500 pounds a week.” Meanwhile Slade himself thinks aloud, ““they think I’m a machine: I’ll show them...  I’ll just sit here and refuse to move,” unaware that his movements are being remote-controlled by someone in the control booth. 

covered in this rave tune !

Bowie impersonate Newley at 3.20 (but when wasn't he?)

As one Peter puts it at YouTube, "I love how his Anthony Newley impression is basically David Bowie doing a David Bowie impression.:


  ... or at least, if not endorsing / encouraging, then at least accepting the existence and inevitability of theatricality as a social mech...