January 20th, 1996. Orlando,
In The Beeline Diner at the Peabody Hotel,
Neil and Chris discuss tomorrow's video shoot with Bruce
Weber. Bruce Weber is the famous photographer and
filmmaker who has directed just one music video before
now: the Pet Shop Boys' "Being Boring" in 1990. His second
will be for "Se A Vida E (That's The Way Life Is)", the
song which will be released this summer as the Pet Shop
Boys second single of 1996.It is to be filmed at
Wet'n'Wild, a theme park full of water rides. Confident in
Bruce Weber's ability to conjure up something fabulous,
they have not yet burdened themselves with the details of
what the video shoot will actually entail.
exactly are we going to do?" Chris asks him.
work before ten o'clock," mentions Neil.
is," says Chris, "what to wear. There's no way I'm going
to go down rides in a pair of swimming trunks in a video."
"I could in the right circumstances," suggests Neil.
"If I was only seen from here upwards." He indicates a
line not far below his chin.
Bruce Weber explains some
of his ideas:
"There's this thing called the Lazy
Riven.. There's a weird photo booth...I've this friend
who's a surf photographer and he sent me this film of
surfing and I want to have it projected, so you'll sort of
be in the water...I like the suburban-ness of it, all
these people in bathing suits...the weird attitude of
it.." He has this breathy, gentle and incredibly
enthusiastic way of talking which makes everything he says
seem really inspiring.
The diner's other tables are
packed with the international cast of beautiful and
interesting people who Weber has gathered together to star
in the shoot. "It's a cast of thousands," says Chris.
"It'?; Ben Hur." Bruce Weber calls one of them over. His
name is Pablo and he is a painter; Bruce Weber suggests
that Pablo should paint the Pet Shop Boys during the
"It's so us," says Chris. "We can be still."
Neil wonders whether maybe the painting could become the
single sleeve. "We've never ever ever ever ever managed
once to get the sleeve to coordinate with the video. This
could be the first time," he laughs, "for our 26th single
They discuss how explicit the video can
be. Though it is one of their favorite videos, "Being
Boring" was never shown properly in America because of the
bare flesh. Neil and Chris want to make sure this video
can be seen by everybody. "In Europe no one has any
problem with nudity," Neil explains. "I mean, you couldn't
show an erect penis. But America has a thing about
bottoms. You actually have a rule that you can't see an
arse-crack." He laughs. "When we told our American manager
you were doing this video he went pale."
reassures them. "I thought I'd just try to make the video
the best it is for the song. People love your music. And
because there're so many trendy videos that way, maybe
it's sexier not to."
"Exactly," Neil nods. He points
out that cigarettes aren't allowed either. "And we're
"I think they should be banned,"
says Chris, then adds, "and I think all other drugs.
Should be legalized."
They survey the cast, most of
"It's amazing," says Chris. "When you
see pictures of me when I was young I was a geek. Tragic."
"Were you?" says Neil, surprised.
"I think so,"
"Well, I was tragic," retorts Neil.
It's not entirely clear whether he's being sympathetic or
"How you've transformed yourself," Chris
"It's called money, Chris," says Neil dryly.
"It's amazing how it transforms you," Chris laughs.
They discuss transport to the set for the Pet Shop
Boys with stars.
Next day. Chris says they should get
a limo; he has spent the previous week on holiday in
Florida with friends and he has got used to a better class
of transport. "On this trip," he says, "we've not done it
by half. We've limoed it, we've helicopter it, we've
boated it." The helicopter ride was in Miami, where they
flew over Madonna's house.
"You ruined her afternoon
nap," Neil tuts.
"We went so low over Madonna's
house," Chris giggles. "In fact, we circled it. And
Sylvester Stallion's. If I was Sylvester Stallone I would
have blasted us out of the sky." In their Miami hotel they
met Jimmy Nail (who Neil and Chris recently had dinner
with, thanks to a mutual friend). Jimmy Nail is officially
described as "quite moody".
"I'm going to bed," Neil
"Don't forget the creams," teases Chris. "The
"You're the one with the
creams," Neil retorts, and retires.
The next morning.
As requested, the Pet
Shop Boys' call time is ten
o'clock. They meet in the lobby. And discuss the merits of
physical beauty. "You don't want a beautiful body," Chris
insists. "You want a beautiful
body on other people."
We drive the five minutes to Wet'n'WiId in a limo, as
ordered. Driving in, Neil spots a long, enclosed, black
water tube snaking down from a great height. "Oh my God,"
he says. "That's my idea of hell."
They go to the
wardrobe room to make the difficult decisions about
clothes. "It's that whole dilemma," Chris frets. "What am
I meant to be? It becomes very philosophical. At the
moment I'm just a straightforward dude."
Neil tries on
a shiny Gucci suit.
"These trousers aren't going to
fit me," he reports as he pulls them on. "They're too
"How too small are they?" asks the wardrobe
man optimistically, still hoping a compromise can be
"They're sort of incredibly too small," says
Neil. He decides to wear the Helmet Lang he brought with
him, until Bruce Weber tells them that the first shot is
in the Wave Pool (a pool with big waves) and that they may
get "a little wet". The cast gathers in bathing costumes,
holding or floating on an array of animal-shaped
inflatable, forming a large, shifting flotilla.
and Chris paddle out to them on lilos. Everyone is
encouraged to have as much fun as possible, while
camera-people with all different kinds of cameras (some
carried on shoulders to keep them from the water, but one
of them inside some kind of perspex box so that it can
shoot near and in the water) rush round, filming.
Wet'n'Wild hasn't been closed to the public today, and so
plenty of curious holiday-makers in the water watch with
curiosity. Soon, with all the splashing, Neil and Chris
are more than a little wet and it doesn't take long for
them both to capsize. It looks terrific fun; this is
clearly not going to be one of those videos where the Pet
Shop Boys look moody and detached. When the song starts
booming out from the pool side - "Se A Vide E" is one of
those happy songs that makes you feel sad - it tits the
"So," smiles Neil, walking out of the
waves dripping from head to toe, "we might get a little
"How much fun was that?" Chris enthuses. "And
the cast, they're all very tactile. You know how we just
don't touch. It's rather refreshing." He turns to Neil.
"They are so nice. It's unbelievable, considering how
good-looking they are."
"Yes," agrees Neil. "In
Britain being that good-looking is a license to be a
Chris wanders off and Bruce Weber
comes over. "Chris is so funny," observes Bruce Weber. "He
loves to hide out I had to get one of my assistants to
keep his boat there."
In their trailer, Chris lies on
his back on the couch, eyes shut, receiving his make-up.
"I guess this is what they do in mortuaries," the make-up
woman says. Chris stirs, and says to Neil, "I'm tempted to
take one of those Gucci suits. Those are the pants (like."
"Wear one in the next shot," Neil suggests. Chris is
horrified. It is one thing to want a Gucci suit; it is
quite another thing to wear one in a video. "I'm a
surfer," he scoffs. He gets out a gray hooded Stussy
sweatshirt with a big "S" on it.
"I've got one of
those," Neil comments. "You mean you went into my shop?"
Chris protests, outraged.
"There's not many
sweatshirts," Neil apologists. "Anyway, [don't wear it
officially - I only wear it practically."
In the Photo
Illusion Booth, for $5 a photo, tourists can shoot
themselves against a variety of backgrounds, and preview
their photo on a video screen before deciding whether they
want to keep it. Bruce Weber ushers the Pet Shop Boys
inside. Chris takes a photo of himself being eaten by a
shark. Neil takes one of himself with a wave about to
crash on his head. Then they do one together, and Weber
declares himself satisfied. "It isn't exactly hard work,
is it?" laughs Chris.
Afterwards they are filmed
walking out of
the photo booth, and so are four
sailors, then two boys and a girl, then a young girl
wearing a strange hat, and so on. Next they have to walk
along the Wave Pool's edge with four sailors, and then
walk towards the camera as the sailors cavort drunkenly
around them. It requires several takes. "Be more drunk
than that," Bruce Weber instructs. "You're had about
"It's not too camp, this video, is
it?" Chris laughs, back in the trailer.
about Emma Thompson in Vanity Fair. "God, they write some
bollocks in this magazine," he remarks.
enjoy the Lazy River so much:
floating round a
slow-moving circuit over and over again surrounded once
more by the cast and their inflatable. "Wet and
miserable," Chris reports. He wants to go on The Rocket.
You climb up an endless spiral walkway until you are at
Wet'n'Wild's highest point, then step inside a
rocket-shaped capsule, which tilts forward until its
bottom, and your feet, are above a near-vertical slide.
When the operator pushes a button, the floor gives way
beneath you, and you drop at an incredible speed, only
slowing down as the slide curves beneath you. Chris, his
friends, and myself, decide to try it.
Chris relates to Neil afterwards. "I love thrills! It was
a Free fall ! It's enough to make you want to jump off a
tower block." It is only then that he is told that, when
you're in the capsule, you can be seen in all your nervous
anticipation on a video screen below. "I'm going to do it
again, looking cool," he promises, though he doesn't. Once
is thrilling enough. "Why can't all videos shoots be like
this T' he asks. "Go to a pleasure park and have fun?"
Neil surveys the supplied fruit. "Banana?" he inquires
Neil, Chris, Dainton and some of the cast go down a ride
called The Surge, where you sit around a circular dingy
and fly down a wide three-stage chute. At the bottom, the
unevenly-balanced dingy flips open.
"I thought, I
don't know where I am," says Chris.
"We did go west
then," chortles Dainton.
There is a small crisis
regarding clothes for the next shot. "Who did you give
your pants to?" the worried wardrobe man asks Chris. Chris
"My pants have gone missing," he
"How interesting." Comments Neil.
sun is now beginning to set, and Bruce Weber wants to film
the cast dancing. This includes the Pet Shop Boys. He
tried to get them to dance for "Being Boring"; he's still
trying. The cast are split up into pairs and have to twirl
and cavort with each other as they move towards the
camera, except that Neil and Chris remain true to their
resolve and mostly just walk. "You're so shy," Chris's
partner observes. When they've done it three or four times
Neil announces, "I think I'm going to get my sausages."
It's about six o'clock, and some sausages have been
barbequing next to the catering truck for a while. He
tucks in. "I'm not regarding this as dinner, by the way,"
he points out firmly. "This is a snack, baby." Chris,
meanwhile, is more preoccupied with the disappearance of
his Stussy sweatshirt. He thinks he left it out by the
Wave Pool earlier. Search parties are dispatched, but it
is never found. ("As usual," says Neil, "I blame the
The day's final shots are to filmed in a
dark projection room. First they have to stand stock still
while two different lights are switched on and off and one
of them is played over their faces. Chris yawns.
like him yawning!" Bruce Weber enthuses.
yawning as one of our things," Neil explains.
Weber sticks a star to Neil's forehead and a smaller one
to Chris's right cheek, and they repeat the process. After
a while some assistants also shower the two of them with
bags of reflecting stars. Then they move across the room;
footage of surfers
riding waves and families playing
in a park are projected over their white clothes. (The
only idea from last night's dinner which didn't
materialize was Pablo's painting.) Bruce Weber is
feverishly excited as this is filmed, his voice reaching a
higher and higher pitch:
"Oh beautiful...Oh I love
it!...Oh Neil, there's a suffer right on your pocket. I
love it, I love it...Oh God...It's so beautiful what
you're doing..." He asks them to look upwards and open
their mouths, as if they are gazing at something in
wonderment. "I love it!...[t's like kids at the
movies...Move your head, Chris...Nice...Beautiful,
Chris...Eyes to the right, slightly. ..Beautiful,
beautiful...Just open your
And it is over.
"That was great," says Neil.
"It was really
enjoyable," Chris agrees. As they get ready to leave,
Bruce Weber describes the film been making around the old
Hollywood actor Robert Mitchum. "He's like the original
bad boy." Bruce Weber grabs Chris's arm. "He's even badder
Chris shakes his head in resignation. "I'm
not bad," he says, with visible disappointment.
Copyright Areagraphy Ltd 1996: All Articles have been
Taken From Literally 1996 Issue 15