Any questions about Lorenzo Lamas having no career after Grease were squelched by his success in the 80s. Sure, he starred in that Falcon’s Crest show, but his career didn’t truly hit its peak until 1984, when he starred in the ultimate cracker’s breakdance movie, Body Rock!
With the first pulsing electronic beats of the slammin’ Maria Vidal title song, we are taken to the scary streets of New York City as they were in 1984. But fear not. As hot pink letters in a slashing font splash across the screen, spelling out the title of the film, the big scary apple turns to sweet cinnamon apple sauce. A line of dancers grooves across the city street, wearing bright neon colors, mesh shirts, half shirts, Flashdance off-the-shoulder shirts, and studded belts. And these are the guys!
But none of these men is as pretty as Lorenzo, his body perfectly sculpted, his buff hairy chest bursting forth from his jean vest, and his hair a perfect mirror of his Grease co-star Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” hair style, right down to the head band. He’s our leading man. He’s Chilly D.! And here I thought Pauly D. from Jersey Shore was one-of-kind. Anyway, Chilly D. is…I’m not sure. A graffiti artist I think (I forgot how cool spray paint cans were in the 80s until this movie brought the memories flooding back). Chilly hangs out with a DJ and a gang of breakdancers at a club where they sort of work together as a ‘performance’ group, graffiti on the walls, the DJ spinning, the dancers breaking, and Chilly D., I don’t know, MCing I guess. Even his DJ friend asks him later, when they’re thinking of taking their act to the professional level, “What do you do?”
So, before they can go pro, Chilly has to get breakdancing lessons from some little black kid on the street. Their dance lesson montage puts the Kevin Bacon-Chris Penn montage from Footloose to shame, because Lorenzo and his little friend are joined by a man-sized…robot??? Now I understand why there’s that “don’t forget the robot” line in Robin Sparkles 80s hit “Let’s Go to the Mall” on How I Met Your Mother!
When it’s time to perform for the talent scout, Chilly still doesn’t dance much, but he does rap! Yes, Chilly D. and his white DJ friend rap with a Jerhi curl-sporting audience that looks like it could have been Prince’s backing band the Revolution in Purple Rain. There’s even a gang of mean looking steroid-swollen black dudes who I’m convinced are Full Force. I was expecting Samantha Fox to come prancing onto the screen singing “Naughty Girls Need Love Too”.
Body Rock IS the 80s. Every guy has an earring only in his left ear. There’s a fantastic should-have-been-a-hit Laura Branigan song called “Sharpshooter” featured in a sex scene that focuses mainly on Lorenzo’s body as he strips down and the camera hovers just millimeters above his curly cues. Wow. There are groundbreaking camera angles I’ve never seen before in any of the other 80s breakdancing classics: overhead views and underfloor views of the dancers spinning out on the floor, which lends itself to a whole lot of focus on their swirling crotches. And speaking of crotches, there’s another 80s staple in this film—Meat from Porky’s! Yes, big hunky handsome Meat has a ‘small part’ as a bouncer.
But it’s really the gay aspects of the film that make it a classic of the 80s (No, I haven’t even gotten to the real gay stuff yet). First, Chilly D. eventually cuts a record and promotes it by performing it in the club with disco ball mirrors glued to his face. Lorenzo actually does the vocals, singing a song with lyrics that I’m convinced Trent Reznor plagiarized: “I’m gonna suck you like an animal, eat you like a cannibal.” And if that isn’t gay enough for you, Lorenzo eventually ends up in a gay leather bar! Yeah, this is definitely not a breakdancing movie made for the genuine hip hop culture of the time. Lorenzo is showing just as much flesh as the gay leather men, and although they are all in manly black as compared to his flaming day-glo colors, he has to assert his heterosexuality by punching out a man who kisses him. What a disgrace that Lorenzo Lamas has not been honored with a GLAAD award (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) for helping to break new ground in cinema with his man-on-man kiss. I guess he blew it with that whole gay bashing bit. But hey, it was the 80s, and that’s just what straight guys with an Olivia Newton-John “Physical” hair style, disco ball glitter on their face and Jennifer Beals’ Flashdance shirt falling off their shoulders did back then. Gotta love the gayties. I mean…eighties.