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Entry date: 5-28-2024 – Summer Camping – Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,


Today I start summer camp. I’m hoping it will be pretty easy and fun. My job is to be a PE teacher for 14 days for fifth graders. Something will change at the last minute, though, I’m sure, so who knows who I will be babysitting.


I used to really enjoy working at summer camps in the old Casa days. We even tried to do our camps for years. It was something my old boss, Stephanie (RIP), was so keen to do. We had all the curriculum to make a fun and empowering camp for kids, but never really had the funding to get it going the way it should have happened.


Maybe someday after I sell one of my stories to Hollywood and it becomes a hit TV show, I’ll use some of that money to revive Casa and make sure that kids have access to sexual violence prevention curriculum for perpetuity. I love that thought.



Dear Universe,


Please keep the kids in mind.

Don’t let assholes take advantage of them.

Please keep the adults in mind.

Don’t let assholes take advantage of them.

Please keep the assholes in mind.

Teach them how to be better and embrace their souls and brains.




I’m a sucker for a good song. In 1984, I heard “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood and thought it was fucking great. I make no apologies for loving the song. I can also say that I had no real idea about what it was all about at the time, either. I just knew that I liked it and liked the music video. I could have cared less about the sexual politics behind it.


At some point in the spring of 1985, there is a big lip sync contest at Deer Valley High School where I was still a student. My buddy, Jerry, and I decided to enter the contest with a couple other guys and perform “Relax” dressed up like the guys from Frankie Goes to Hollywood. I was going to be the singer. He even called me “Holly” for a while.


My dad and stepmom came to the show in the auditorium, and it was great fun. Of course, now I realize why my dad was concerned that I might be gay. When I listen to Welcome to the Pleasuredome now, I hear all the innuendo and find it super entertaining. The early 80s were a different time and place, that’s for sure.


I loved being Holly Johnson for two nights (we did a similar contest at the teen night club, Tommy’s). We didn’t win anything, but we did really well, and I made friends because of it, including a few young ladies. I liked the attention a lot.


I also hear a manufactured band put together to showcase Holly Johnson’s talented singing voice. Well, manufactured in the studio, at least. Frankie Goes to Hollywood was a real band, but what you hear on Welcome to the Pleasuredome is mostly studio musicians playing the backing tracks.


“Relax” is still a song I enjoy hearing. It’s got a kick ass beat and it completely thumbs its nose at the world. When I was a teenager, I thought the video was quite good, too, with Johnson cavorting on stage with the small spotlight. I had one for the lip sync contest. I even had the dance steps down.


One of the other things I hear now, though, is how much the band was based around one basic riff. It goes through the almost fourteen-minute title track opus, “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” and is also right there in “Relax” and “Two Tribes.” I don’t know if I ever noticed that back in the day. It’s a good riff, and possibly it is by design that it finds its way through the rest of the record, but in “Relax” it’s a tad slower than the title track and in “Two Tribes,” it is sped up.


There are moments throughout the record that I still find pretty great, too. “Two Tribes” is a song that I spin now and again. I’ve toyed with the idea of coming up with a cover version of it but never have played around with it to see what can be done. This was another one that had a great video. I would watch MTV in anticipation of seeing it, but they only played it late at night.


Silly MTV. It seems quite tame by today’s standards, but back in the day, it was subversive. The song has a certain power to it that is not found on the rest of Welcome to the Pleasuredome.


At some point in 1985, Frankie Goes to Hollywood played at ASU Gammage with Belouis Some. It was a great show. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so much neon clothing in one place. We danced our asses off. It might have been at the show where I realized, again, why my dad was concerned about me being gay. I got a lot of smiles from boys that night.


The cover of “War” is pretty darn fun. Johnson’s vocals sound great and the Reagan-esque voice over is a great touch. It was a pretty good deconstruction of the song. I also am fond of the “Born to Run” and “San Jose” covers, too, but for different reasons. I like the Springsteen cover for the sheer fact that they did a great job with it and “San Jose” is just so deliciously cheesy.


There is a whole lot of silliness on the record, too, to go along with “San Jose.” For example, “Tag” and “Fury” (the latter being a strange take on “Ferry Cross the Mersey” by Gerry and the Pacemakers) are just pure nonsense. 


“Wish The Lads Were Here” is very Culture Club-ish and “Ballad of 32” tries to be super arty but comes up a little short. “Krisco Kisses” always reminded me of Adam Ant, so I like the bounciness of it. “The Power of Love” is a pretty song that I don’t hate at all. I tend to skip the rest of side 4, though.


A couple of years ago I tried to get an interview with Holly Johnson, but it didn’t come to fruition. I would probably fan boy out a bit, even at 54. Somewhere I still have my “Frankie Say Relax” shirt.




See you tomorrow.

This is what AI came up with for "Frankie Say Relax."

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