IF you watched music videos back in the ’80s then you’re probably familiar with the pulsating New Wave hit “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
The video for the hit single by the U.K. band was peak ’80s with the band in long trenchcoats and sunglasses singing the song on an empty soundstage that eventually becomes filled with colored laser beams.
This is actually the second version of the video for the sexually-charged song.
The first version filmed for the single has been hailed as one of the gayest music videos of all time and after it premiered it was allegedly banned from MTV and BBC—prompting the record company to film another version.
In the original video out lead singer Holly Johnson arrives at an Ancient Rome-themed S&M club complete with leather daddies, whips and an obese overseeing Roman emperor in a toga.
The whole thing is campy, over-the-top and filled with sexual innuendos. The emperor eventually strips naked and the clip ends with Johnson rolling around with the leather men and being sprayed with champagne.
The band was coy when they were asked what “Relax” was about when it was first released, but two years later bassist Mark O’Toole confirmed in the liner notes for the follow-up album that they “used to pretend it was about motivation, and really it was about shagging.”
Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and went public with his status in 1994, but revealed that he felt the HIV medication he was on wasn’t going to work, but felt he had to live for all of his gay friends he lost to the disease:
“Many beautiful friends who were my gay extended family have gone. So I’m kind of living for them also in some ways,” Johnson told The Observer Magazine.
If “Relax” wasn’t already a gay anthem, this video, and the band’s queer members, proves it deserves to be on the list of gayest songs of all time. There’s even a 16-minute “Sex Mix” version of the song if the album version didn’t quench your thirst.