Scopitone, consider this technological marvel to be the mother of the music video. Before VJ’s, before you saw the moonwalk and even before video killed the radio star, there was the Scopitone Machine. These boxes of imagination and creativity were popular in Europe during the early 60’s and revolutionized the way audiences consumed music, not only through auditory but through the visual, and boy did it deliver.
The Scopitone machine was a jukebox that used 16mm films and featured campy songs and videos that challenged the boundaries of mid-century decency. Consider it the pathway to the sexual revolution of the late 1960’s. This sexual abandon and its tongue and cheek visuals would soon be the demise of the machines which made their way into restaurants, nightclubs, and theatres in England after it became a staple in Germany, Italy, and France. It seemed that the societal propriety of Britain was not ready for the sexual liberation that was already a part of the continents counterpart culture. At the height of its popularity, it produced some of the greatest camp in history. Videos were produced just for the machines which are now fondly called “Scopitones”. The videos had their own unique style, the cheesier the better and encouraged its creators to wear as little as possible. This was powerful fodder for the masses where media consumption rarely provided such an outlet.
These cinematic masterpieces now have a cult following and have emblazoned artists such as Nancy Sinatra and Julie London into camp history. Scopitone could not be mentioned without the “Queen of the Scopitone” herself, Joi Lansing. Joi was featured in a plethora of videos with hits such as Web of Love and The Silencer; these videos gave viewers an exciting taste of the blond bombshell, with her famous hourglass figure and perfect diction. She brought glamour and a quiet coolness to the videos and made everyone fall in love. Sadly, Joi passed away in 1972 from breast cancer and never witnessed the enormous contribution she made on early 1960’s culture.
In tribute to these artists and their highly stylized videos, The Looking Glass Revue is in the planning stages of creating an all-new show in honor of the “Scopitone”. This show is scheduled to lift off in Jun 2018. The show will be a fully immersive event and will have plenty of campiness and glamour to go around while paying homage to the artists who made these cinema snippet gems a must see.