Retro Bizarro: Jefferson Starship’s “No Way Out” video


Mickey Thomas, circa nineteen-eighty-something-or-other, complete with porn actor’s mustache, is taken to a large mansion by a gorgeous blonde. In the basement there is a green chair. Take note. This green chair is important. Because it is green, and it is a chair, and the director decided to include a lot of disorienting shots of said green chair in the video void of any context . . .

That seems to be the premise.

But that’s not where the bizarro elements end. Accompanying the chair we have a doctor and a cave man adorned with face-paint, both quite enthralled by the appearance of this strange porn actor’s presence at their doorstep. We cut back to the actor, who opens the door to the mansion. Inside Grace Slick, dressed in some fucked-up cross between a nun and a roman warrior (with a spider painted on her face to boot) appears in synch with the music’s entrance.

Why is that fucking green chair following the roman warrior-nun and the porn actor up the stairs? Where the hell did Father Guido Sarducci come from, and why is he eating a chicken sandwich while watching the band’s drummer pump iron in front of a geisha? Yeah! It’s that fucking weird!

Why is it bizarro?

1. Green chair.

2. Father Guido Sarducci

3. Wiccan Roman Warrior nun with black widow painted on her face.

4. Drummer pumping iron while Geisha dances before an Andy Warhol print of Mao. If I’m not mistaken, Mao is Chinese and Geisha are Japanese, so on what level are we drawing parallels here? Ok, maybe it isn’t bizarro, but it definitely makes you ask, “what the fuck?”

5. That fucking green chair, now displayed in psychedelic colors.  Why is it flashing on what appears to be an Apple II computer screen? Why is there shit exploding under it at the end of the video? What does it MEAN?!

History/Interesting facts:

Alleged nipple slip around 2:44 in the video. I’m not seeing it, but I do see a plethora of middle fingers pointing at lead singer Mickey Thomas around 3:30 in the video I link to below.

The drummer pumping iron in the video was allegedly later kicked out of the band for punching lead singer Mickey Thomas in the face.

Father Guido Sarducci was a character from Saturday Night Live, created by Don Novello. Search his name and you’ll find some wonderful clips from the early SNL shows.

You can watch the video by following my failed attempt to embed the video below:


16 thoughts on “Retro Bizarro: Jefferson Starship’s “No Way Out” video

  1. Vince Kramer says:

    That was great! The video is a MASTERPIECE and definitely Bizarro. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. And I love the fun facts you put in the end. These things are important.

  2. Haha. Thanks. Now I will have “No Way Out” stuck in my head for the rest of the day, and I only can remember the chorus with the synth riff. I guess it’s better than “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” The most bizarre moment in this video? Definitely the “Drummer pumping iron while Geisha dances before an Andy Warhol print of Mao.”

  3. Seriously though, this is a great song in my opinion. I remember the first time I heard it on the radio. I would have never guessed it was Jefferson Starship. I was so pumped when I finally found it online!

  4. Jive Turkey says:

    Ok….where do I start? I have always shamefully really liked “We Built This City” by Starship. I knew there was a tentative link between the so-called “corporate rock” (just because of references to corporations?). So I dug a little deeper, and found that less than two years before Starship, a little band called Jefferson Starship had a Top 40 A.O.R. hit called “No Way Out” and was curious….to the YouTube.

    Kind of like researching ethnic cleansing, there are some things you wish you could unsee it.

  5. Dutchess says:

    That green chair was on the front of that albums cover ,which was called Nuclear Furniture, which I am sure everyones just forgotten… I always wished they would just go back and redo the video . Loved the song( even more than White Rabbit in the 60’s or Jane in the 70’s).. but just plain dont like that video.

    • Hi, Dutchess:

      It’s one of my favorite songs as well. I’m also a fan of the video. I use it in my graphic novels course sometimes to illustrate the relationship (or lack thereof) between imagery and word.

      For me, I’m always trapped in the synth era. My favorite Rush album is Hold Your Fire, which many I’ve spoken to consider one of their worst. As for the Jefferson saga, the Thomas years were my favorite. You a fan of other 80s music, or primarily Starship?

      • Dutchess says:

        Well actually I am like you in that I like Rush much better from 1980 onwards .. I saw them twice last year ..same tour but I moved to a different city on the west coast from Texas and caught them again. I actually see a guitarist from an 80’s synth band out here that had an remote #1 .. but ive been known to party with a few music men since the 70’s I photograph alot of them . Im TERRIBLE. I actually saw Grace in Target the other day .. I could not stop staring .Seriously star struck.

  6. Dutchess says:

    I forgot to say I loved Moving Pictures and Grace Under Pressure best but ,, I can easily see how you would use that video to illustrate the relationship between imagery and word.

  7. I hope to see Rush before they retire. My summers have been shot the last few years because of school, but hopefully they’ll tour next summer.

    You should start a blog detailing your experiences at concerts and with musicians, add the photos! I’d follow it!

    • Dutchess says:

      God , I wouldnt know where to start … My friends have suggested this MANY times and I swear I just wouldn’t know where to begin …I actually DO have one of those pics as my FB profile pic much to my current musicians chagrin, mainly because its new and its not him.

      I recommend everyone see Rush at least once. I think Ive been 5 times. The energy from the crowd alone during Tom Sawyer is worth the ticket price alone.

      I meant to suggest earlier 2 songs since you like that era and the words / imagery you were telling me. You may already WELL know these but just in case .. one is Ice House BY Ice House . Theres MORE than enough synth/imagery for you . The words/music/images are VERY beautiful . I even remember where I was and who I was with when I first heard it IN 1981, I was 19 then. Here is a link , you can take it out if its not allowed .

      and again Ice House but only from maybe 4 years ago and was never released . Your God Not Mine — Loaded with synth , very lovely but they never made a video so there are just still images .

      Ok now Ill go away lol 😉

  8. That Icehouse song “Icehouse” is decent. The video is great! Wonderfully surreal. Thanks for sharing, Dutchess. Let me know if you ever start a blog. I’ll be sure to stop by and say hello.

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