Elevate Difference

Video Slut: How I Shoved Madonna Off an Olympic High Dive, Got Prince into a Pair of Tiny Purple Woolen Underpants, Ran Away ...

Sharon Oreck has the career that any child of the ‘80s would envy. She has produced over 600 music videos, many of which defined the monolithic “MTV generation.” She has been nominated for Oscars, Grammys, Women in Film awards, and of course, MTV Music Awards (twenty total!). From 1984 to 2000, Oreck’s work was a model for the visual repertoire that shaped the collective imagination of teens around the globe. Her role in popular culture is so far-reaching that she has been included in a film alongside such figures as Hillary Rodham Clinton (14 Women).

The majority of Oreck’s memoir relates events that occurred while shooting Sheila E.’s "The Glamorous Life," Aha’s "Take on Me," Madonna’s "Like a Prayer," and my personal favorite, Chris Isaak’s "Wicked Game." Upon viewing the videos, Oreck’s talent is immediately obvious. But what was she thinking when she was shooting? Apparently, she was thinking about a lot.

Reproductive rights, feminism, beauty—these are just a few of the topics that Oreck contemplates in Video Slut. Her most empowering moments as a writer occur during the introspective climax, which pairs her decision as a pregnant teen to keep her baby with the demise of her first production company, NO Pictures.

Oreck’s book is written in a tips-from-your-cool-older-sister style. Oreck spares no details and even offers pointers for making it in the scantily clad rock video world—most importantly, don’t make fun of executives until after they’ve left the room. More notably, this narrative updates the classic format for celebrity memoirs by exchanging the contexts of alternating chapters between a video career and an early pregnancy at sixteen. Video Slut puts the spotlight on the largely undocumented moments during video’s heyday—overqualified assistants, moonlighting pot dealers, egotistical bigwigs, and pop stars are the mediums through which Oreck relates her professional and personal milestones.

This is one of the most likable new books that I have read, and I look forward to more of Oreck’s outstanding work; her experiences combine elements of after-hours stand-up comedy, frank confessionals, and visionary strategies for survival when the odds don’t look so good. After all, that’s what petty cash is for, right?

Written by: Maria Guzman, August 24th 2010

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