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Published on 19 May 2010 | over 7 years ago


The story behind the music, and what became of that grand circus of flamboyant characters...

As a kid I used to think the song was about taking drugs (seriously! - my excuse is I heard an idiot DJ say that.) and had somehow slipped through the BBC censorship net. It was a huge surprise to discover what the song was *really* about!

This video was created for a HND Music Production course at South Thames College around 2001.

The course was for budding record producers, and huge fun. At the end we were meant to hand in a theis, but I asked if I could instead submit an interactive CD-ROM. This was cutting edge technology at the time! I used Adobe Premiere and Macromedia Director. My PC was so slow back then it would only work at 12fps, so that's why some of this plays back a bit jumpy, but I think it gives it a nice retro look.

I thought I'd lost all the source files, so it was great to find them recently on an old hard drive, and have the opportunity to re-purpose it for the internet.

The video snippets were gathered from TV programs I'd recorded to VHS over the years about Lou Reed and Andy Warhol. Particularly helpful were an excellent BBC Arena, and the 'Classic Albums' edition on Transformer.

Although it's presented here as a wide screen video, the way it originally worked was that when you inserted the CD-ROM the PC screen would go blank, and a series of video windows and menus would start to play, change shape, and move around the screen. I loved making this, particularly that I wasn't bound by any traditional video 'frame' . Great fun. You MUST watch this full screen to appreciate the effect!

note: This video wasn't made by a production company nor broadcaster. I did try, but couldn't double-check every detail. I'm disappointed to find how inaccurate some of my sources were. For example Candy Darling died in '74 and not '76. May her soul rest in peace. And there's some some disagreement about Andy Warhol's cause of death. He died of a botched routine gall-bladder operation, but my understanding then (could so easily be wrong) is that the gunshot wound(s) damaged his health in a way that compromised his ability to recover.

A frequent question here has been "Who was the Sugar Plum Fairy?"
It was a reference to actor Joe Campbell who played a character by that name in Warhol's 1965 film, My Hustler. It seems he was an energetic dancer: 'you should have seen him go go go'. (SPF was a colorful term for a drug dealer or male prostitute, depending on context.) Campbell had a relationship with Harvey Milk for 7 years, and died from AIDS in 2005. More on him here: everything2.com/title/Joe+Campbell

Lou Reed: lead vocals, acoustic guitar
David Bowie: acoustic guitar, production
Mick Ronson: electric guitar, string arrangement
Herbie Flowers: fretless bass, double bass
Ronnie Ross: baritone saxophone
John Halsey: drums
Thunderthighs: backing vocals
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