Vanity 6, Whodini, and the Fat Boys

So this new thrift store recently opened across town, and it’s in a weird location that’s not really near anything else so the odds of me just “being in the area” and dropping by this place are pretty slim. It’s been open for about a month now, but because I would have to make a special trip across town just to visit the place, I haven’t been there. Or, I should say, I hadn’t been there, until this past weekend.

Even though I’m not a big fan of modern radio, I listen to it quite a bit while driving because my truck isn’t very mp3 friendly. I have one of those mp3-to-radio adapters that plugs into the cigarette adapter, but to use it I have to unplug my phone charger, plug the mp3-to-radio adapter in, find the cord (usually hidden somewhere beneath my passenger seat) that plugs in to my phone, and then go through my phone’s menu to start the music playing. Usually all of these steps are performed with one hand while barrelling down the highway.

So while facing a half-hour drive across town, I went through the hassle of connecting my phone to the car and I’ve got it on random play, which is guaranteed to serve me up a sampling of 80s and 90s classics. Excluding podcasts, I’d say my mobile music collection is probably a 50/50 split between heavy metal and 80s classics, although half of those 80s classics include rockin’ bands like Motley Crue, Judas Priest and Metallica. When my iPhone’s a rockin’, don’t come a knockin’.

As I pulled into the nearly abandoned strip mall, I thought for a moment that I had written down the wrong address. The place was deader than dead. And then, two things happened at exactly the same time. The first was, I spotted the thrift store — a dumpy hole in the wall that barely looked big enough to hold any customers, much less treasure. I was tempted to leave the truck in drive, do a u-turn, and head back home. But then, at the exact same second my eyes discovered the store’s front door, the following song began playing on my iPhone.

Out of the thousands upon thousands of mp3s stored on my iPhone, I really can’t think of a better omen than that of the Fat Boys popping up in my playlist. I threw the truck into park, and went inside.

For the most part, my gut reaction was spot on. Instead of cool treasures from the 70s and 80s I found a lot of clothing and dishes. However, in the very back corner, I found the record area. I did not rearrange the albums for this photo. These were the first two albums I saw as I walked up to the record bins.

Vanity 6 was a group of three women assembled by Prince back in the 80s. Because this is a family show I cannot tell you what Prince’s original suggestion for Vanity’s name was (hint: it also starts with “V”) or what the “6” represents. I can tell you that Prince’s original working name for the group was “The Hookers”. Vanity 6 only released one studio album (you’re looking at it), which surprisingly (probably due to Prince’s influence) yielded several singles, the best known of which was “Nasty Girl.”

For a short period of time Vanity dated Prince and was set to star in his 1984 film Purple Rain. After the two had a falling out, Vanity dropped out of the film and was replaced by Apollonia. Apollonia also replaced Vanity in Vanity 6, at which point the group became Apollonia 6.

Whodini (the other album pictured above) was on the ground level of rap music as it began making its way across the country in the early 1980s. Their first single (the “Haunted House of Rock”) from their debut album has appeared on lots of rap compilation albums as well as many Halloween-themed albums. My favorite song of theirs was “Magic’s Wand,” which I had on an early K-Tel breakdancing compilation album called Electric Breakdance along with “Jam on It”, “Rockit”, and several other classics from the era.

“Back in Black,” the band’s second album (and the one I found), did not do as well on the charts.

I spent the next 30 minutes or so digging through a treasure trove of 80s hip-hop and rap classic albums, and walked away with about twenty new additions to my collection. If there’s a moral to this story at all, it’s that when in doubt, listen to the Fat Boys.

Rob O'Hara

I'm into old video games, old arcade games, old computer games, writing, photography, computer/network security, and of course, the 1980s!

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One thought on “Vanity 6, Whodini, and the Fat Boys

  1. Love it. Good story. The power of music. Among its many magical powers… It can help make a decision for you. It can bring back an old memory in an instant. Thanks for sharing.

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