Beginning scooter riders can find a veritable biker’s breakfast of pointers on the Internet. One could cobble them together to make a contemporary owners manual, covering such crucial topics as braking, throttling, steering, and staying upright. But sometimes one craves something a bit more elusive, a bit more spiritual. Is there a youtube equivalent of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance?
Not really, but there are these early 80s ads for Honda scooters, featuring some of the era’s most iconoclastic acts.
They put Adam Ant‘s dashing post-punk appeal to the test by confining him in close quarters with Grace Jones. Grace, above, dominated, with all the confidence and ease of a tiger caged up with a peacock.
The prize? Can’t speak for Adam, but Grace got to film another spot. Her co-stars this time were a grid of infants, whose mothers must’ve been relieved that the alien diva queen never actually interacted with them. Can you imagine if Huggies had shared Honda’s adventurous advertising sensibilities?
Jazz great musician Miles Davis didn’t have to do much to lend an air of cool to that scooter. Even the cardboard boxes scattered in the background of his garage benefit from his presence. The Prince of Darkness‘ reputation was never an 80’s-specific phenomenon, but he looks the part, kitted out like the Road Warrior.
Synth-pop superstars Devo urged beginning riders to adopt their extremely unconventional brand of conformity, suggesting that the band’s uniform of coveralls and, uh, shoes was the perfect thing to wear while riding that Honda. Those who wanted to hang on to some semblance of individuality could do so via scooter color.
Ironic though it may have been, their willingness to be seen sporting, nay, promoting helmets makes Devo’s ad my personal favorite.
To see Lou Reed’s contribution to Honda’s series of ads, see our previous post: Selling Cool: Lou Reed’s Classic Honda Scooter Commercial, 1984
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Watch Laurence Olivier, Liv Ullmann and Christopher Plummer’s Classic Polaroid Ads
Klaus Nomi’s Ad for Jägermeister (Circa 1980)
Ayun Halliday is an author, homeschooler, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday
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