I was a teenage headbanger.
Back in the heady days of the late 80s and early 90s, I identified as a heavy metal chick. I had an impressive array of black T-shirts, was adept at making the sign of the devil and also enjoyed etching distinctive band logos into my school folders. I must admit that I was a bit of a lightweight. Sure, I liked Metallica and Iron Maiden, but my tastes also ran to the odd spot of poodle rock as well.
Metal is out of fashion now, and one of the things I miss most about it was the unrepentant use of spandex. Heavy metal in the 80s required a number of things: an explosive guitar riff, lyrics about sex, death or Alexander The Great and an entire wardrobe of Very Tight Pants.
Speaking on behalf of perving women everywhere, I'd like to say how very cool spandex was. I mean, there was a lot of crotch on display. Sometimes it was covered by guitars (and they were always used as phallic replacements), but you knew there was a lump in the pants behind the Stratocaster.
And we're talking super-manly crotch too. It didn't matter that these singers were dressed in clothing that we'd consider gay now, back then it was all very macho. I miss that.
Of course, alongside the spandex were a delightful variety of sprayed-on jeans and clingy black leather trousers. The important thing was what we in the business call high-profile groinal visibility.
Actually, we don't really call it that. And I'm not in the business.
Anyway, in the spirit of nostalgia and perving, I give you the Top 10 Heavy Metal Crotches.
"We've got Armadillos in our trousers. It's really quite frightening." Any list like this can't exist without mentioning the mighty Derek Smalls and the guys from Spinal Tap. This airport security scene with foil-wrapped cucumber is legendary and pretty much sums up what spandex was all about in heavy metal. You can see the full cucumber effect on stage when the band performs "Hell Hole" in the film (you can see the song at the end of this clip)
The video quality here isn't great, but I just had to include this one. The band members are all very fond of tight shiny spandex matched with kneepads and boots and Blackie Lawless notoriously liked to wear a codpiece with a bansaw on it. But the real appeal of WASP is the exaggerated, bent-legged stances. Blackie and the others stand as though the sheer weight of their penises is making it difficult to remain upright. And I think the use of "guitar-as-cock" has never been more gratuitous in this video. Good fun.
It took Rob Halford until 1998 to finally come out as gay, but anyone watching this 1984 video will see that the message was there loud and clear; no doubt about it, Rob was something of a leather man. Clad in very tight pants in this video, there's several shots where it's possible to tell which way the man dresses. On top of that he's got lasers shining between his legs and he's flanked by two thrashing guitarists in red spandex. Never mind the sexual orientation, this is a true triumph of crotchy goodness.
I could have chosen any number of great KISS classics to include here given that the band's costumes have always included very tight black pants. Gene Simmons' squat stance and studded groin pieces are legendary and worthy of mention (see I Was Made For Lovin' You). Even so, I couldn't go past 1983's Lick It Up simply because of Paul Stanley's testicular separation strap. Not only was he poured into those jeans but the wardrobe department decided to make his crotch bulge obvious with a strip of black leather. Actually, the hair and outfits of the band are strangely feminine, but I guess that was the style at the time. This was KISS's first appearance without makeup and proves, I think, that they definitely looked sexier in greasepaint.
It wasn't just singer Bruce Dickenson who embraced spandex. During the 80s, most of the Iron Maiden bandmembers were gadding about in very tight nylon trousers. They were also very good at putting crotches on show by putting their feet up on the front speakers. This video of The Prisoner, live at Hammersmith in 1982, features Bruce, Dave Murray and Steve Harris in their very best shiny black tights. I should also mention the video to Two Minutes To Midnight which sees Bruce in canary yellow spandex that leaves little to the imagination.
Ah Bon Scott, a master at wearing constrictive Levis. Here we're treated to numerous shots from below revealing that Bon was a man who dressed to the left. And even if he was kinda feral, I still think he's sexy in this video, what with the open shirt and rebellious attitude. If Angus' knees are too distracting I recommend that you focus on the delightfully amateur explosions instead.
As you can see, the correct footwear to accompany spandex trousers should be white and sneakery if the band is British (although boots are acceptable). Def Leppard put on quite the show in this 1982 video, especially when singer Joe Elliot is tied spreadeagled to a metal frame, providing us with some rather frightening male camel-toe footage. The guys were big on showing off their crotches, although in the Hysteria period they opted for super-tight jeans. The video for Pour Some Sugar On Me is particularly fun to watch as almost every band member has followed Derek Smalls' example and put something bulgy into their trousers.
Pretty boy Bret Michaels shows what it's all about in this video, proudly displaying the vital crotchly area with leopardskin spandex and black leather chaps. Add pelvic thrusts, undulations and a little microphone stand humping and you've got a winning heavy metal formula. Bassist Bobby Dall also takes on the wide stance in bright red spandex.
Steven Tyler and spandex are a match made in heaven and Love In An Elevator is a perfect example of why I think this strange looking man with big lips is irresistably sexy. There he is strutting around in lurid red pants with - wait for it - embroidery on the crotch. He indulges in a bit of groin-grabbing and making love to the mike stand, and then he starts humping the stage. Meanwhile, Joe Perry is giving his all while wearing cow-skin spandex with tassels down the side. Glorious.
Ah, 1983, where it was perfectly macho to wear lipstick on stage. Here the Crue perform live at the US festival, complete with the joyous stuff-ups that accompany such performances. Vince Neill starts out with a studded codpiece shielding his spandexed groin but it quickly falls off (not long after we see footage of a very large breasted woman, as it turns out. Coincidence? I think not). Thus, he's forced to continue on with nothing to hide the crotchy outline. The vid is also noteworthy because it features Tommy Lee standing up at the start, showing off his shiny Cher-like loincloth over black spandex. Sixx and Mars are also in black, and they both engage in very Spinal-Tap like moves during the song. All in all, this is some serious crotchly good metal fun.
There's just so much to talk about here. The off-the-shoulder spandex jumpsuit with tassels. The chaps with white codpiece. And then there's that oh-so-80s outfit of t-shirt under black unitard with a pair of red underpants over the top. AND it looks like he's singing into a Hitachi Magic Wand. I don't think anyone can deny that David Lee Roth is sex on a stick in this video, what with his acrobatic leaps, hairy chest and the way he puts his hands down between his legs and... eases the seat back. The song is kickass and the whole band is kitted out in their very best tight pants. Heavy metal crotch heaven.
What is Jethro Tull doing in a heavy metal list? Well, they did beat Metallica to the 1989 Grammy for best Hard Rock/Metal Performance. And Aqualung's guitar solo was recently voted as number 8 in the top 10 guitar solos of all time. So that's enough for me. Singer Ian Anderson was very fond of wearing tights and codpieces throughout the 1970s. In this live video from 1977 he's opted for yellow hose which, when combined with some seriously wide-legged poses gives the viewer a good gander at his goolies. Is Ian worth ogling? Well, given the bulging eyes and crazy hair, perhaps not. He is, however, the only rock musician I've seen who has used a flute as a phallic symbol during performances.
Guns n Roses were always up for a bit of tight-pants wearing, although most of the time they opted for the figure-hugging black leather numbers that Slash wears in this video. But I had to include this performance from the Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992 because it shows Axl in the infamous white lycra bike shorts. The flanno tied around his waist hides most of the indignity but the question remains: what the hell was Axl thinking here? Can you ever be truly bitchin' when you're showing off your knees? And yet not showing us the armadillo in your pants? Perhaps it was a harbinger of things to come - the rise of grunge (as symbolised by the flanno) and the fall of glam metal (barely-there spandex).
Ah well, I guess there's always The Darkness.
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