Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sheena Easton's 1984 PMRC Scandal: 'Female-Arousing' 'Sugar Walls'

In 1984, Sen. Al Gore's frigid rich bitch wife Tipper decided that gut-slamming three Marie Callender's chicken pot pies with high tea was no longer satiating. The trophy wife needed a cause.

Under the guise of fake organization The Parents Music Resource Center—formed by a gaggle of Washington wives while having their corns soaked at the nail salon—Mrs. Gore led a campaign against music lyrics she deemed "explicit" and a danger to the "moral stability" of her four privileged offspring.

Her first target was Prince's "Darling Nikki," from Purple Rain—the track was never a radio single, mind you—which Gore played on her Victrola again and again, while surreptitiously drooling over a hot dog with chili and cheese, hoping her cobweb-filled kootycat might moisten, to no avail.

"The images frightened my children, they frightened me. I am way frightened," Gore exclaimed in a press interview over an IHOP Grand Slam breakfast and a bowlful of Cheese Whiz dotted with marshmallows. The PMRC, in turn, released its "Filthy Fifteen" list of objectionable songs "attributable to the decay of the nuclear family in America"—every one relished over and again by the lunching ladies with suppressed glee, while giggling and sucking seductively on a stick on butter.

Fabulously, Sheena Easton's "Sugar Walls" was among the contemptible, vile, repugnant, repellant, obscene songs to make the list—cited for its naughty references to "female arousal"—along with Madonna's "Dress You Up" and Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop." The great news: The single's persistent headline-grabbing references by Gore—as she wiped gravy from the corners of her mouth—did nothing but draw more attention to "Sugar Walls," helping propel it to a glorious No. 9 peak on the singles chart.

Of course, the great irony is that if you were a kid at the time, you likely had no clue that "Sugar Walls," written by Prince, was dirty in the least. A grown-up, of course, likely understands that "Come spend the night inside my sugar walls" is deliciously sexual—but a teen is more likely to think sugar walls have something to do with candy or a game or something wholly innocuous.

And come on, who really explores the meaning of lyrics anyway? How many songs have we all sung hundreds of times, only to realize a decade or two later... my god, that's what I've been singing? That's what that means? We've all been there.

I recall laughing myself into a near stupor when Gore said over a large vat of Thousand Island dressing (skipping the salad) in a 1985 TV interview, "When I heard 'Sugar Walls,' I almost drove off the road." Fortunately, there was a Taco Bell around the bend and she quickly recovered with an order of Volcano Nachos and a sour-cream-filled burrito. Sheena was also interviewed numerous times, where she beautifully, succinctly, defiantly defended artistic freedom, in her cute Scottish accent. She hardly came across as "filthy."

Unfortunately, because loudmouth potted-ham loving Gore was a Senator's wife, a governmental hearing was eventually held on the "Filthy Fifteen." Among the detractors: folk rock musician John Denver, who stated he was "strongly opposed to censorship of any kind in our society or anywhere else in the world," stressing that censors often misinterpret music, as was the case with his "Rocky Mountain High."

Likewise, Frank Zappa testified that the PMRC was "ill-conceived nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children (and) infringes the civil liberties of" adults.

Sadly, record labels were running scared as Gore chased them with a giant speckled salami filled with bacon bits. Fearing legislation, in August 1985, they agreed if she'd shut the fuck up, they'd put those god-awful "Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics" labels on albums to warn stupid people to beware. God-fearing Walmart, in turn, refused to sell any album with such a sticker.

Mind you, 25 years later, Al and Tipper Gore are now divorced. She recently purchased a comfortable $8.8 million mansion in California that her husband paid for, where she is surrounded by the comforts of an In-N-Out Burger one mile west and a Dunkin' Donuts and KFC just blocks to the east. And, of course, a TiVo, allowing her to draw the drapes late at night and dress up like Mary Jane Girls, twirling round and round, singing Judas Priest's "Eat Me Alive."