Ric Ocasek on the cover of Andy Warhol’s Interview
When the Cars released their Heartbeat City album in 1984, they garnered a massive MTV hit with the iconically “totally 90s” computer animated music video for “You Might Think,” so pop artist Andy Warhol had his work cut out for him when he was tasked by band leader Ric Ocasek with directing their next video.
Technically the “Hello Again” video was co-directed by Andy Warhol and Don Munroe, who had worked with Warhol on his various cable access TV shows in the early 1980s and later Warhol’s short-lived MTV series, but other than showing up I can’t imagine that Warhol actually that all had much else to do with it.
There are however, some distinctly Warholian touches to “Hello Again”: As the video begins we see bartender Andy watching a fake youth culture show on TV, with one kid arguing how every skyscraper is a phallic symbol (a nod to Warhol’s film Empire, his eight hour and five minute long “portrait” of the Empire State Building.) Voyeur Andy also watches people kissing like in his 1963 film Kiss. We see several glamorous “superstars” dancing and prancing around with revealing costumes. One of them (John Sex) has his own pet python wrapped around his body. A gorgeous young Gina Gershon is seen with alphabet soup letters on her tongue. Busty New York City clubland “It Girl” of the early 80s Dianne Brill is her usual effervescent self and there’s Warhol’s studio assistant Benjamin Liu appearing in drag as his alter ego Ming Vauze. And of course the Cars, let’s not forget them.
At least that’s what happens in the tamer, PG-rated version of the video. The “uncensored” version features small cars driving all over some exposed breasts with stop motion animation! WHERE did they think this could or would be exploited? Only HBO could have aired something like it at the time. I guess it was for nightclubs. Most Cars fans didn’t even know the sexier version existed until YouTube came along.
From an entry dated Thursday, March 29, 1984, pages 560-561 in The Andy Warhol Diaries:
It was raining and snowing out and this was the day we had to film all day doing the Cars video for their song “Hello Again” at the Be-Bop Cafe on 8th Street. Benjamin [Liu] came in drag to pick me up for shooting. He was going to be in it, too.
I had to be a bartender and wear a tux. The crowd of extras looked like the old Factory days—Benjamin in drag, and a bald-headed mime in a Pierrot outfit, and John Sex with this snake. And then there was Dianne Brill with her big tits and hourglass figure. The Cars were cute.
They finally got to my part at 8:00 and I had to sing a song but I couldn’t remember the words. And I had to mix a drink while I was doing it, and with my contacts on I couldn’t see the Coke button on the soda dispenser.
And that meant being face to face with the Cars for a while, and it was hard to talk to them. I didn’t know what to say. I finished at 9:15. One of the kids gave me a ride home.
The words Warhol couldn’t remember were apparently just “Hello again”...
According to Cars keyboardist Greg Hawke:
“I think [Warhol] mainly did some of the conceptualizing and showed up to be an extra. And he invited his various friends to be in it. It was like any video shoot, but with a more interesting cast of characters. And you could always look over on the set and go ‘Hey that’s Andy Warhol.’”
Sounds about right!
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct The Cars—Ric Ocasek, Elliot Easton, Greg Hawkes, Benjamin Orr and David Robinson—later this month and Rhino has just released expanded editions of two of The Cars’ most iconic albums Shake It Up and Heartbeat City on CD and as a double-LP set. Each release features the remastered original album expanded with rare and unreleased bonus tracks. Illustrated booklets accompany the music and contain extensive liner notes written by rock journalist David Fricke. Enter below to win.
After the jump, watch the notorious “uncensored” NSFW version of “Hello Again”...