There is almost too much Unlikely Musical Friendship™ going on in this awkwardly posed photo from the 1989 New York Music Awards. Perhaps this UMF overload is why not everybody there looks happy. DMC of Run DMC, who is squatting in front, seems to be the only one who is truly pleased to be with this group. His posture suggests that he truly wants the photo to happen, and will even inconvenience himself to pull it off. Samantha Fox, who had a hit two years earlier with “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)” seems happy to accommodate DMC’s wishes, but there is something of a strain in her smile that suggests she is disappointed by the lack of interest from LL Cool J and Joey and Dee Dee Ramone.
Before we go into how I imagine the exchange to have gone, let’s get a little bit of context going. Run DMC’s game-changing collaboration with Aerosmith — which was at the time one of the biggest UMFs to have ever taken place, let alone have been recorded — was two years in the rearview. LL’s “Walking With a Panther” was about to drop two months after this photo was taken. It featured the hits “I’m That Type of Guy,” “Big Ole Butt,” “Jingling Baby” and “Going Back to Cali,” which was originally released on the “Less Than Zero” soundtrack two years earlier.
Samantha Fox was still cranking out hit singles, having released a successful cover of the Dusty Springfield gem “I Only Wanna Be With You” and “I Wanna Have Some Fun.”
As for where the Ramones were in 1989, they were about to release their eleventh studio album, “Brain Drain,” a month after the photo was taken, and bassist Dee Dee, who is pictured on the right, was just about to leave the band to pursue a rap career that was pretty much universally panned. Click here for proof!
Anyway, here is how I imagine the whole exchange to have gone.
LL Cool J: Hey, Samantha Fox! What are you doing at the New York Music Awards? Aren’t you from England?
Samantha Fox: You’re bloody well right I am!
LL Cool J [licking his lips]: Listen, why don’t you and me…
DMC: Hey! LL! Samantha! What’s going on, you guys?!
LL Cool J [quietly]: Damn, man. DMC’s always gotta come in and ruin my game.
Samantha Fox: Hi DMC, how are you?
DMC: Not bad, not bad.
Samantha Fox: Ooh, excuse me, guys, I see two of the Ramones over there! [shouting] Hey ho! Ramones!
[Joey Ramone waves from across the room. Samantha Fox beckons them. Dee Dee Ramone gives Joey Ramone a slap on the back that says, “Dude, let’s totally go over there.”]
DMC: Hey! The Ramones! I love you guys! It’s so cool that we’re all here at the New York Music Awards! You guys are such an NYC institution. Do you guys know LL?
Joey and Dee Dee Ramone: Hey.
LL Cool J [mumbling]: Hey, nice to meet you guys.
Samantha Fox [trying to get LL to be more social]: LL, did you know that my new single, “I Wanna Have Some Fun” is inspired by the Ramones?
LL Cool J [quietly]: No, I didn’t know that.
Joey Ramone: What? How’s that? I don’t hear any Ramones in that.
Samantha Fox: Well, you guys are always titling your songs with the word “wanna” and I just thought that was so cool. “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”…
LL Cool J [under his breath]: I wanna be your boyfriend, Samantha Fox.
Samantha Fox: There’s also “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and “I Wanna Live.”
Dee Dee Ramone: Don’t forget “Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”! I wrote that one.
LL Cool J [under his breath]: Of course you did, you dork.
Dee Dee Ramone: I also wrote one called “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With You” and “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement.”
LL Cool J [under his breath]: I don’t wanna walk around with you or go down to the basement with you, Dee Dee Ramone.
DMC: Dee Dee, didn’t you also write “Psycho Therapy”?
Dee Dee Ramone [proudly]: I did indeed!
DMC: That song is my jam! We should do an Aero-DMC on that!
Dee Dee Ramone: An Aero-DMC?
DMC: Yeah, you know how we collaborated with Aerosmith to do “Walk This Way”? Well, we should do a rap over that one of yours.
Joey Ramone: Umm, we’d have to talk to our lawyers about that, Dee Dee.
Dee Dee Ramone: Lawyers? Nah, we don’t need to bring them into this. Listen, DMC, and actually LL, you might be interested in this…
LL Cool J [being brought back to paying attention]: Huh?
Dee Ramone: I was just about to tell DMC that I have a rap album that I’m releasing this year. Yeah, it’s gonna be way more successful than the Ramones.
Joey Ramone: Wait, what?
Dee Dee Ramone: Yeah, it’s gonna be so fresh.
LL Cool J: People don’t really say “fresh” anymore.
Dee Dee Ramone: Get this, LL. One of the jams is called “2 Much 2 Drink.”
LL Cool J: Please tell me you’re actually going to spell out the variations of the word too/to when you title it.
Dee Dee Ramone: No way! I’m going to use the number 2 the way Prince does.
Joey Ramone: I bet it will sound like Number Two. Get it? Like poop!
Samantha Fox: I love poop jokes, Joey!
Joey Ramone: Oh yeah?
Samantha Fox: I do indeed!
LL Cool J: What? You love poop jokes? If I had told poop jokes I could have seduced you?
Samantha Fox: Absolutely.
LL Cool J: But what about all your sexy song titles?
Samantha Fox: That’s all marketing, LL.
DMC: Hey guys, look it’s photographer Ron Gaiella from WireImage! We should totally pose for a group photo.
LL Cool J: I’d rather not.
Samantha Fox: Come on, LL, it will be fun! And I wanna have some fun!
Joey Ramone [quietly]: LL, I’m really sorry if I ruined your game.
LL Cool J [mumbles]: That’s OK, I guess. I may have rapped that I’m the type of guy to leave my drawers in your hamper, but I really don’t like poop jokes.
Dee Dee Ramone [sarcastically]: Woah, what a comeback!
LL Cool J: Don’t call it a comeback!
DMC: Hey, you should use that as the opening line to your next album!