79. Paula

Tapehead no 79

“Have you had it yet?” asked the Channel 4 Press officer with concern. “Have you had sex with Paula ?”

It obviously needed explaining. Just because Tapehead is: a) Male, b) a media star, and c) hung like a llama, it does not mean he’s had sex with Paula Yates. Not necessarily. Even if it is Christmas.

What she meant, of course, was “Sex With Paula”. (With Paula’s love-life, a pair of inverted commas can go a long way.)

Back in 1986 (apparently), Paula was commissioned by Channel 4 to make a series that “explored the connections between love, sex, morality and pop music.”

Instead, she made Sex With Paula, which explores none of these things, or indeed any other things instead. The series was never shown because in the pre-post-politically correct climate of Aids anxiety, Paula was just “too frank”, “too flirtatious” and “cunning” (which is not something you can say very often).

The highlights are as follows: George Michael says, “wanking”. 

Elton John offers us the benefit of his years of experience (“lubricate your knob”). Lemmy says he’d pay good money to see a man fuck a pig. It’s a Channel 4 Xmas Special, in other words.

The main thing to remember is that this show was made back in the days when Paula was just silly and attention-seeking, rather than plain stupid and sad – sucking her thumb or twirling her pigtails as she swoons, “You’re in a group and everything” in a gooey voice, about as sexy as Shirley Temple (or less).

“Do you think young girls feel a certain amount of pressure to go out and lose her virginities?” she asks Patsy Kensit, which makes you wonder just how many chances she thinks a girl gets.

Poor sap. Her idea of what’s sexy or controversial is so tame, so spoilt and suburban. And what terrible taste she had in pop stars too.

Gary and Martin Kemp, the bloke from Cameo, Ben poseur-Unpronounceable from Curiosity. Maybe they should all form a super-group and do a charity record. (To raise money for themselves.)

Needless to say, all the stars on offer say they regard sex with strangers or groupies as empty and unrewarding – which is easy for them to say, considering they’ve had so much of it. (Bastards !) 

Only innocent young Patsy admits (all too eagerly) that people do fantasize about her.

“I’d like to meet them” she giggles. Not as much as they’d like to meet you, Sweet Pea.

Elton John prattles on patronisingly about how hard it is for a pop star’s partner to cope with them being so successful. (The idea that any of them could get a successful job of their own obviously never occurred to him – or them.)

But you watch it for Paula of course -poor, desperate Paula, embarrassing all these handsome young pop stars, clawing at them like some thin-lipped, musty auntie, demanding a kiss at Christmas. 

Channel  4 really shouldn’t encourage her. All the time she was groping them up, forcing herself upon the, she was married and bringing up two kids.

For real musical talent, tune in to The Eagles: Unplugged (sub-titled scarily: Hell Freezes Over) which begins, of course, with Hotel California – such a lovely place/Such a lovely face.”

With energetic over-acting, and eye closing guitar solos as they make love to their (acoustic) axes, not to mention Don Henley over-emphasising every note and nuance of the recorded version (the way buskers do), Tapehead’s lighter was held aloft until the lampshade caught fire. 

“You can check out any time you like/But you can never leave.”

I think we all know what he’s saying.

Compared to Eagles, Pulp (No Sleep Till Sheffield) just haven’t got the songs (they don’t even have room for Lyin’ Eyes).

Essentially one-hit wonders dragging out their 15 minutes, in years to come Pulp will look horribly ordinary – especially when people look back at this.

On tour, Jarvis comes over as a sort of post-modern Charles Hawtrey, clutching his carrier bag wherever he goes, moaning miserably about the travails of his sad, lonely life on the road.

Guaranteed to make you wish you’d never bought his records and made him a star in the first place.


Sex With Paula: Sat, 9.55pm-10.55pm, C4

The Eagles – Unplugged: sat, 11.05pm-12.15pm, BBC2

Pulp – No Sleep Till Sheffield: Mon, 6.45pm-7.15pm, BBC2