Monday, August 06, 2007

Stepping Out with Stephen Forsyth

In case you've ever wondered what became of Stephen Forsyth, the star of Mario Bava's HATCHET FOR THE HONEYMOON ("My name is John Harrington -- I'm a paranoiac"), he decided he didn't like the roles he was being offered and quit acting circa 1970. Then he returned to his native Canada, where he dedicated himself to a new career in music. I knew about this because he told me so when I interviewed him for the Bava book, but I could never get him to tell me anything too specific about his last 30 years in music. He said that he composed music mostly to accompany performance art, but that was about it.

Now up on YouTube are a pair of fascinating videos from the musical career of Stephen Forsyth. The first, dating from the 1980s, is a rock video called "Step Out of Love" and it actually features Stephen. The song (which he wrote and recorded) is catchy, the choreography is very impressive (I don't think I've ever seen Iggy Pop quite this animated in a video), and he remains very photogenic. By Googling around, I found out that this piece was part of a live Twyla Tharp dance retrospective held in New York in August 1990, reviewed by THE NEW YORK TIMES here.

"Step Out of Love":

And then for something completely different. The second video, dating from the 1990s, is an avant garde piece for piano and dance:


The work showcased in these two videos seems poles apart, representing opposite musical disciplines, yet both are very well accomplished. The second piece, "Helios," shows Stephen to be at home in atonal classicism, while "Step Out of Love" presents him as a fine pop tunesmith, vocalist, and (most surprising to me) dancer. And, unlike many other MTV acts of the period that look dated and silly now, Stephen's pop video remains convincing -- it looks like hard work played out with panache -- and the editing still feels contemporary.

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