The First Video That Meant Something To Me: Seona Dancing's "Bitter Heart"

Part of a series for the new Awl Music app.

For me it was “Bitter Heart” by Seona Dancing, feat. a slender, Bowiefied Ricky Gervais singing the lead vocal ca. 1984. Such a shock he was really quite lovely in that dandified way boys had about them in those long-ago days. I, then a callow goth, was partial to this exact varietal, and should certainly have been setting my turban at M. Gervais had the opportunity presented itself. At the Batcave in London or at the Camden Palace I accidentally went in the men’s room once to find the most ravishing sight, some fifteen boys crowded along a mirrored wall and messing with their eyeliner.

Even more interestingly, I fancy you can sense the hunger for recognition, an ambition to be seen and acknowledged, in those mascara’d eyes; that’s why the video has stayed with me. It’s a strangely touching comment on what performers are like, the lengths they will go to; the protean nature of ambition. (Plus the shadow-hammer guy? What the hell? What are they, in a coal mine? And fantasically incoherent, unmistakably 80s lyrics: My carven smiles // Revolt you in your torturous insecurities.)

Maria Bustillos is the author of Dorkismo and Act Like a Gentleman, Think Like a Woman.