“Ex’s and the oh, oh, oh’s they haunt me
Like ghosts they want me to make ’em all
They won’t let go
Ex’s and oh’s”*
And of course, I understood. Mae West could have written those very words. In every West film, and in her own descriptions of her life, all the men are after her…
In “Ex’s and Oh’s”, all men want the singer because she’s “the best baby that they never gotta keep.” They “always wanna come, but they never wanna leave.” Sounds like West, huh?: “Men are like linoleum floors. Lay ’em right and you can walk all over them for years.”
Of course, when I heard the song, I instantly pictured Mae West surrounded by a throng of half-naked men. Apparently, King had the same thought when planning her video:
It’s hard to describe just how funny this video is: men wrestling over her, an obsessive climbing over rocks to get to her, two models on a see saw, Elle spraying nearly naked men with a hose, her kicking one out of a car because she’s done with him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a video so blatantly objectifying men–even Madonna’s. My favorite? The underwear-clad headstanders she dances around as she plays guitar:
The singer profiles certain affairs to illustrate her commitment phobia: “I had a summer lover down in New Orleans/Kept him warm in the winter, left him frozen in the spring.” The men longing for her are “climbing over mountains and a-sailing over seas.” Like West, who characterized marriage as a “last resort,” there’s no celebration of eternal love here–just of eternal lust.
King is more than just a performer. She co-wrote the song, just as West wrote her screenplays. The two temptresses even resemble each other: both voluptuous, blue-eyed blondes with lovely, pale skin:
I don’t know that West was one of King’s inspirations, but certainly, the two are united in spirit. I hope King’s enjoying West’s films right now, and that all of you West admirers check out this catchy, clever song, and the hilarious video that goes with it.
This post is part of my monthly West moment series.
*Yes, it bothers me too that a writer would think these apostrophes correct. Try to ignore them.