GROWING UP IN THE ’80s knee-deep in Punky Brewster, Diff’rent Strokes and Choose Life T-shirts, I vividly remember being mortified at the musical cries for help that were the soundtrack of my youth. As I crimped my hair wearing khaki cord knickerbockers with metallic copper piping, the adults around me reminisced about being a teenager to the sounds of Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Velvet Underground, Joni Mitchell and Elvis. It then dawned on me that one day I would have to own up to being 16 and listening to Spandau Ballet, the Thompson Twins, Culture Club, Duran Duran and Cyndi Lauper. I was so deeply embarrassed that these were my coming-of-age anthems, I clearly remember thinking, “There is no way that the ’80s are ever going to be fashionable again.”
How wrong was I? I enjoy ’80s music now far more now than I ever did during the ’80s.
Which may explain why I love watching Chartbusting ’80s. It’s an ’80s music video show with a live band, some old clips and a few ’80s-inspired games. Sure, sounds unremarkable on paper but this show has been running for six years and is the highest rating show on Channel 31. It’s clearly more than simply a good house in a bad street when you consider that it attracts about 100,000 viewers twice a week and the show has its third DVD coming out in October.
So what’s its secret? A female host with the body of Sophia Loren, the mouth of a wharfie and more front than Myer. Josie Parelli hosts this show with Jeff Jenkins. Well she doesn’t really host it, she takes over and mercilessly torments Jeff, or BR as she prefers to call him which stands for Bald Rodent. All between bad dancing, appalling singing and taunts such as, “You couldn’t get a root with a fist full of 50s.”
If I had three words to describe Josie I would use Bogan Wog Goddess. She prowls around the audience threatening to humiliate anyone who dares take her on in her ’80s clothes and disco hair. And they love it.
The Age’s Jim Schembri, a longtime supporter of the show, had a go at her boogying during film clips and she retaliated by giving him a good spray on air saying that he was so low he would turn up at an Italian wedding with a gift of $20 sheets. She then introduced the Jim Schembri Dancers. That’s chutzpah personified.
Tune in for the season’s finale: two bands, two hours and two people who were married in the ’80s who will renew their vows after sending in their what-was-I-thinking wedding photos.
Josie told me that the more profile she gets the more people suggest she lose weight, be submissive to Jeff and be less confronting if she wants to break into commercial TV. Fat chance. I was stunned when she told me that commercial TV had not approached her until I remembered that famous quote, “Women live in fear of men killing them and men live in fear of women laughing at them.” Keep laughing Josie.