As the video starts, front man Holly Johnson arrives at Wilton’s via rickshaw, ironically less flamboyant than Champagne Charlie’s white horse drawn carriage of music hall days. Instead of the Wilton’s we know the venue is transformed into an S&M parlour frequented by leathermen, the bar managed by a towering drag queen and all overseen by a rotund Roman emperor looking down from the balcony. The decadent scene recalls Wilton's Methodist Pastor Ernest C. Willis’ description of the former hall from The Story of the Old Mahogany Bar, 1951: ‘The Bar was the resort of many people of ill-repute. Sailors were induced to enter, drink and dance. On many occasions these men were plied with drink, knocked senseless, and after being robbed were thrown out into Graces Alley.’ Holly Johnson is lucky to get away with being thrown to a tiger onstage.
With straw thrown over the floor, medieval torture devices, Victorian décor and Roman coliseum set-up, all lit with neon signs the timeless aesthetic of the video is nevertheless a definitive product of the 1980s. The risqué costumes, big hair and heavy make-up are the epitome of the post-punk, new romantics era with a movement towards more fluid gender and liberated sexuality. The video is a record of a vanished sub-culture, albeit in a highly mythologised form.
In other ways too it translates London in the 1980s. The chaotic orgy in the ruins of the past is a metaphor for the scramble for the decimated docklands, overseen by greedy developers, emperors of planning and gentrification which Wilton’s at the heart of the East End would get caught up in. The video was all too much for audiences of its day and was banned by both the BBC and MTV. However, just as Wilton’s was reborn in the image of its boisterous music hall past, so too the suppressed video has been reassessed and is now considered an iconic example from the golden age of music videos.