But behind the scenes, it was more like Face Without Eyes. I’m not abridging this story. Thank you Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks for writing the book I Want My MTV. Also, thank you John Diaz and Billy Idol for sharing this story.
John Diaz: On “Eyes Without a Face,” I brought in Tony Mitchell as DP–that was one of the first videos he shot. David Mallet directed, and David always shot in 16mm. I said, “I don’t care what else you do, but we have to shoot this in 35mm and Billy has to look like a beauty queen.”
Billy Idol: The video was super-important because we had large hopes for “Eyes Without a Face.” We poured into it not only ideas, but also money and time. For three days, I didn’t see anything but dry ice, smoke, fire, and naked bodies. We hardly slept.
John Diaz: Bill Aucoin brought some new contact lenses for Billy. I said, “You can’t give them to Billy, they might redden his eyes during the shoot.” Well, he gave them to Billy. David Mallet liked to use lots of dry ice in videos. So Billy was laying in dry ice for quite some time, and he was really tired, and his eyes dried out. The contact lenses fused to his eyeballs.
Billy Idol: We’d been up all night finishing the video and got straight on a plane to do a gig in Arizona. It was boiling hot so I laid down on the grass outside the venue, and when I woke up, a sheriff was standing with his gun drawn. I’d never really had a gun barrel in my face.
I almost couldn’t think because of the pain in my eyes. I’d fallen asleep with my contact lenses in, and they were dried from being on set, then on an airplane. I said, “I’m with the band that’s sound-checking inside that building.” My eyes were tearing, pouring water. So we go inside and the sheriff made my road crew line up. He said, “Who is this?” And they said, in unison, “The boss.” So he left me alone. Then they had to take me the hospital because I’d scraped the cornea so badly. I had my eyes bandaged for three days, until the cornea grew back. It was stupid, really. But I wasn’t thinking too much, I was just trying to get the video done.
According to the authors of I Want My MTV, during this period, “the average budget had been $30,000 to $40,000, but videos now became more sleek and elaborate–and so grueling that three different people went temporarily blind.” This wasn’t even the only time somebody went temporarily blind on a Billy Idol video.
Stories like this are something to keep in mind the next time you see a music video you love that isn’t in IMDb. People temporarily lost the ability to see in order to get these made. So, submit.
30 Days Of Surrealism:
- Street Of Dreams by Rainbow (1983, dir. Storm Thorgerson)
- Rock ‘n’ Roll Children by Dio (1985, dir. Daniel Kleinman)
- The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
- Take Me Away by Blue Öyster Cult (1983, dir. Richard Casey)
- Here She Comes by Bonnie Tyler (1984, dir. ???)
- Do It Again by Wall Of Voodoo (1987, dir. ???)
- The Look Of Love by ABC (1982, dir. Brian Grant)