Perfecting my Nick Rhodes impersonation
November 16, 2011 3:54 PM   Subscribe

In a couple days, I will be dressing up as Nick Rhodes from Duran Duran and serving waffles to gallery patrons in a performance art piece in Chicago. This is a live version of this blog. The problem: I only know a little bit about Duran Duran, and even less about Nick Rhodes. Help me be the best Nick Rhodes I can be!

Details: This will be part of a larger gallery event that features other food-based performances. The waffle recipe was created by Nick's ex-wife, who is a professional chef. There will be another Nick Rhodes there, serving waffles alongside me. I am a dandy butch lesbian.

Nick Rhodes fans, I could use your suggestions in a few areas.

1) Ideas for what to say when I hand out the waffles. Are there any Duran Duran lyrics or references that spring to mind? Maybe some Duran Duran trivia that I could tie in?
2) Advice for a costume that typifies early 1980s Nick Rhodes. Also, ideas for where I can get cheap Nick Rhodes-ian costume jewelery in Chicago.
3) Body language, acting, and movement tips. How do I conjure up the essence of this foppish New Wave Brit?

If you need clarification on any of the details, you can email me at

Anonymous because this question is pretty identifiable.
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Before you serve them, ask people if "They're Hungry Like the Wolf".
posted by Rob Rockets at 4:17 PM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

Jesus god, this is awesome.

1. Possible lyrical references (all from the first two albums, spanning my short run as a Duranie in junior high):

- "Hope you're hungry like the wolf" ("Hungry Like the Wolf")
- "Save some room for the seconds after" (from "save a prayer till the morning after" from "Save a Prayer")
- "This is your waffle" (to the tune of "this is Planet Earth" -- you can add the "ba-ba-ba, baBAH-ba-ba-ba" bit that's sung afterwards, if you like)
- "Please, please, eat this now" (from "please, please, tell me now" from "Is There Something I Should Know?")
- "This is your waffle and it doesn't taste like sand" ("Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand" from "Rio")

2. My first thought: a brightly colored two-piece suit (with wide shoulders and narrow lapels), matched with light-colored oxfords (a la the Rio video). I don't think of Nick wearing jewelry (besides earrings) so much as wearing A TON of makeup, but a big rhinestone brooch at the neck (in place of a tie) strikes me as the kind of early '80s thing he might have worn at some point. Otherwise, go for a horizontal striped top, baggy black pants, and a headband (I think that's what he's wearing in the Planet Earth video).

3. Nick always struck me as someone who moved and spoke very deliberately. What I always found interesting about him is how he combined an obvious visual flamboyance with a kind of precise masculinity, if that makes any sense. He struck me as copping quite a bit of mid-to-late '70s Bowie, in that regard. Vocally, he actually has a pretty deep voice. He strikes me as the kind of person who would stand to the side at a party and affect a very blank face while silently judging everyone.
posted by scody at 4:23 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

there's a lot of striking going on in point 3 for some reason.
posted by scody at 4:26 PM on November 16, 2011

The Reflex, especially 1:48-1:57, is what I think of as The Nick Look. Angora sweater (no, I'm not kidding). Leather pants. Eyeliner. He also rocked some bright-red hair in some of the early days. You can see it at 2:46 in Rio and the few shots of him during Girls on Film (you can use Simon's side-tied headscarf thing seen there -- Nick did that too). Keep your butt tight (I can't figure out how better to say it, but that's the biggest body language clue I have for him) and sway your shoulders "sensually."

Make jokes about "At least my last name isn't fockin' TAYLOR."

Tell guests to beware, because the Union of the Snake is in Simon's pants.

And that if they take seven waffles, they get a ragged tiger.

And that you saw someone WATCH.ING. over lucky syrup, isn't that bizarre?

And would they like some waffles with that cherry ice-cream smile? You suppose it's very nice!

Say that after your waffles, their mouth will be alive, all running inside.

[OMG I have to go to this party.]
posted by argonauta at 4:38 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

To get Nick right I think it's a combo of hairspray, eyeliner and attitude. The attitude is all about deadface pouting. He absolutely never breaks that face (and that face is fully made up!). Clothing wise, he also really wore a lot of structured jackets with wide shoulders (the Reflex angora sweater is SHOCKING) and lots of stuff around his neck - collars, scarves, cravats, etc. He's absolutely the dandiest. I think he must have been in so little of the Hungry Like the Wolf video because he must have been so uncomfortably dirty the whole time.

I'm terrible at puns but I'm laughing so hard at what everyone else has come up with. How you'll maintain the straight Nick face is beyond me.
posted by marylynn at 4:45 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think he must have been in so little of the Hungry Like the Wolf video because he must have been so uncomfortably dirty the whole time.

Fun, may-be-apocryphal trivia that I have no idea how I know: Nick evidently showed up in Sri Lanka for the Hungry Like the Wolf video shoot (they also shot Save a Prayer there, I think) having packed mostly leather suits (oh, Nick), which were of course so insanely uncomfortable and impractical in the heat and humidity that he couldn't really wear them most of the time. Hence why he doesn't show up much, as he only had one or two changes of clothes that he could bear to wear. No, I really don't know how I might know this.

posted by scody at 5:10 PM on November 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

frosted pink lipstick?
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:13 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

This is a hard one because Nick Rhodes would not be caught dead serving waffles! I remember reading an interview in which he refused to be a gas station attendant in order to keep receiving money from the dole while he was a a teenager. So maybe handing out the waffles as if they were leprous scabs and you have much better places to be would be the best tactic. The most iconic and yet potentially doable Nick Rhodes outfit I recall has to be his wedding outfit. The top hat, shirt and brooch should be easy-ish to find, the rest, well, a pink pantsuit will do in a pinch.
posted by devymetal at 5:13 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

By the way, you can see some of Nick's butt-clenched "dancing" starting at 4:17 of New Moon on Monday. Seriously, he was a stiff dude. What's with that arm?? Though he does manage to crack a smile! Meanwhile, I'll make a donation to the MeFi gift drive in thre name of anyone who can tell me what the HELL that video was supposed to be about. Thank you, anonymous, for these fabulous excuses to revisit my misspent youth.
posted by argonauta at 5:23 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

You really need to find some interview clips (especially from the mid-to-late 80s when he was at his most arch) to get the full effect. As someone else said, he's always very precise (and economical, no big gestures) in his movements and speaks in a thoughtful, clipped way. Every interview I think I've ever seen, unless someone managed to hit one of his big geek buttons, he has an air of being slightly, superiorly amused, as if the interviewer has not asked quite the right question. You should regard the waffles and the recipients in the same manner. Obviously, they should be eating crepes.

Frosted pink lipstick is a must.

argonauta, I think if that video had a concept it was supposed to be vaguely Les Miserables-ish and capture the essence of revolution (because the song references torch-waving). I heard Simon try to explain it once and he was clearly pulling it straight out his ass. (Wikipedia says "It has a loosely sketched storyline in which the band appear as members of an underground rebellion called "La Luna" (the name is one of the few connections between the video's content and the song lyrics), organizing a revolt against a modern (1980s-era computers are used) oppressive militaristic regime, apparently in France.")
posted by Lyn Never at 6:54 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

A friend of mine dressed up as Nick Rhodes (specifically in the Planet Earth video) for Halloween a few years ago, here's how he was dressed. He looked fantastic but what really sold it was the way he moved - sharp posture, kept his elbows practically glued to his sides, and mimed playing keyboards every time a song with a keyboard part came on.

Nthing the frosted pink lip gloss and heavy eyeliner especially on your bottom lids. Hairspray yourself a new hole in the ozone layer.
posted by troika at 7:17 PM on November 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nick also has a jarringly deep voice--one that contrasted starkly with his fine features and dramatic, often feminine makeup. So whatever you say, just make sure it doesn't sound drag-queeny. If you can pull of a very nasal Brummy accent, all the better.

His hair was often frosted within an inch of its life, and he favored haircuts that required a lot of hairspray. So I'd go for something in that vein.
posted by yellowcandy at 7:51 PM on November 16, 2011

Oh man. I was a RABID Rhodes fan as a teenager, even in the 90s. You gotta pick which era of Nick Rhodes you're going for, because he was all over the style map in the 80s. I recommend sticking with an early 80s model: blonde highlights and gelled to a crisp, pastel suits, makeup, etc. Because people still tend to picture the Rio and Girls On Film videos when they think of Duran Duran. On the other hand, if there are going to be other Nicks around, they might all be going for that look, in which case you could be an Arcadia-era Nick. That was one of his weirdest looks.

Oh, and don't forget the mole. The mole is essential. You might also carry an 80s camera if you can find one in a thrift store or something. He's known for his photography enthusiasm.

To be a perfect Rhodes, you need to act sort of... detached from everything. Like you're too cool for the room you're in. In every interview I ever saw, he seemed to take a long time to actually finish whatever he was saying. Watch some interviews if you can.

Man, I'm embarrassed by how much I remember.
posted by katillathehun at 8:26 PM on November 16, 2011

Yeeeeeesssss... that set jaw, pursed lips, and a definite sense of detachment (as katillathehun mentioned). Just saw them last month and totally delighted in seeing that face every. single. time. the video screens in the back featured live cam footage of him.

And there's something about his head and body movements that's sort of languid yet mannered, purposeful but can't-be-bothered, haughty and slightly emo. He is ennui.

I love Nick Rhodes.
posted by vespertine at 9:38 PM on November 16, 2011

New Moon on Monday was my favourite video, which was kind of a problem because it was never ever shown on any of the video channels. Basically it's... well, it's the 80s version of OccupyHairspray. But Eastern European and with scarves. I can't even believe they let those guys hold the torches so close to their heads. Also, they dance at the end and it's kind of embarassing. But in my teen head when that nonsense was over Roger (yes, yes, shush) would find me hunched over the printing press and the *real revolution* would begin. No, I had no idea what that was.

Ok, so in hindsight maybe the video is kind of inscrutable.

So, um, when's the sleepover where we rewatch all of the videos and share Tiger Beat articles?
posted by marylynn at 10:24 PM on November 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

katillathehun: You might also carry an 80s camera if you can find one in a thrift store or something.
With lipstick (cherry, naturally) on the lens.
posted by Redfield at 10:42 PM on November 16, 2011

Is this a public event? If so, I'd imagine there are several Chicago-era MeFites who would *love* to see this.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 12:38 AM on November 17, 2011

Note from the OP:
It is a ticketed public event. It would be gauche of me to post event information in this thread, but interested Chicago MeFites can look at the blog link in my question for the deets. This MeFite will be performing Sunday.

Thank you for the overwhelmingly amazing answers! I feel much better prepared to inhabit Nick for a day. The descriptions of his masculinity were particularly helpful. I've always been a punster, so I can't believe that "Hungry like the wolf" escaped me.
posted by taz at 6:19 AM on November 17, 2011

Hey, I photographed this event!!
posted by lee at 9:35 PM on November 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

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