I’ll never forget the Christmas of 1984. Santa finally broke down and brought me the neon orange fingerless lace gloves from Limited Express I’d been begging for all year – a look inspired, of course, by MTV’s new reigning queen Madonna.
I also got a blinding chartreuse sweater, pink day-glo socks and a vivid orange scarf that matched the gloves. The crimping iron and big puffy pink jacket with the padded shoulders would have to wait until the next Christmas, but I had my lace gloves, so I was happy.
Clearly, I was not the only one begifted such tokens by Saint Nick in ’84, as one look at Deborah Allen’s ROCKIN’ LITTLE CHRISTMAS video indicates. The country-pop singer was rockin’ more than just Christmas in her rhinestone-studded Lycra dress with asymmetrical miniskirt, black lace fingerless gloves and a long mane of painstakingly crimped hair.
Though Deborah looks eighties-licious in the clip, I can’t help agreeing with this list that rates the crimping iron the 14th worst invention of all time, right behind guns, New Coke, and crack cocaine. All it seemed to do was make hair simultaneously more stick-straight and frizzier, which is the worst of both worlds if you ask me.
But details like Deborah’s crimped hair are precisely what make ROCKIN’ LITTLE CHRISTMAS so fun to watch. The song, a lightweight but catchy blues-country-rock number with a few mournful bars of “Silent Night” as its intro, simply cries out for a New York City-in-the-eighties video, and that’s exactly what it gets.
The clip begins with a saxophone player on a brownstone stoop, setting the mood while Deborah writes her letter of longing to Santa Claus. All she wants is a rockin’ little Christmas with her beau (apparently the male model whose picture came with the frame that sits by her side). Bundled New Yorkers in the streets sip hot coffee and smoke cigarettes, and women in their miniskirts and pumps hop up and down to keep warm.
Enter Deborah, posting her letter to Santa in her big pink jacket zipped over a neon green blouse and low-slung belt, black leggings with fuchsia and lime green scrunch socks topped off with black stiletto lace-up booties.
As she passes by shop windows, sings into a payphone and flirts with a street corner Santa, we see the full glory of her accessories: piles of rhinestone bracelets, rhinestone drop earrings and a pin, a chunky necklace with pastel stones and the ultimate eighties winter accessory, her multi-colored knit gloves – black over the hands, but each finger a different bright color.
Deborah bops around the city emitting her neon glow, getting double takes from random men, doing some last-minute shopping, foiling some gay sailors who seem intent on following her and taking a spin with a pair of street break-dancers as they pop and lock. These scenes are intercut with Deborah slinking around in her aforementioned blue Lycra dress and lace gloves to form a simple, upbeat, innocently sexy video that should have been more popular than it was.
ROCKIN’ LITTLE CHRISTMAS never made much of a splash at the time and is largely forgotten today (except by plundering country singers who’ve re-recorded Deborah’s number and released it on their own Christmas albums), but I think it – unlike the crimping iron – deserves to be resurrected each December.
At the end of the clip, Deborah finally gets her Christmas wish, falling into the arms of her picture-frame hero as she purrs “You can jingle, jingle… jingle my bells,” her rhinestones sparkling, her smoky blue eye shadow shimmering. Merry 1980s Christmas, everyone!