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The Labyrinth: Can't Get Enough Penis

March 25, 2005

I can never pass up a bargain bin of DVDs. The other day while shopping for a new vacuum, I spied one of my old favorites: Labyrinth (1986).

Today's family movies are nothing without the requisite CGI animals, monsters and/or monster animals voiced by the likes of Robin Williams and Cameron Diaz. The movies of my childhood were a little more low-brow. We had puppets. And David Bowie.

Gelfling, Gelfling! Labyrinth was yet another Jim Henson creation. Riding high on Muppet madness (and their taking of Manhattan), Jim thought he'd give goblins, ogres and misshapen dwarves a shot. He'd already hit puppetry gold with his Gelflings and Podlings in The Dark Crystal. The sci-fit tip suited him. With Labyrinth, he earned an extra boost of cred by bringing on Captain Hair, George Lucas, as executive producer. (Just for the record, I'd like to publicly make known my hate for The Dark Crystal. Something about it makes me want to hurt people, as does the midget in Willow.)

Dancing in the Street/Dancing in the Bed David Bowie stars in Labyrinth as Jareth the Goblin King. The mid-1980's cannot be considered the cream of Mr. Bowie's career. He appeared in Labyrinth shortly after recording Dancing in the Street with Mick Jagger. You may recall that rumors were rife of a Bowie/Jagger sex scandal. Supposedly they were caught in bed together by Angie Bowie. She later recanted, admitting that they had passed out and were not having sex. I say let them have each other; the world would have been Billy Squier rocks me better off if neither passed on his dental genetics.

Whether or not they shared semen does not change the fact that Dancing in the Street is the worst video of all time. One may argue that this honor should actually go to Billy Squier's video for Rock Me Tonight. (A gentle reminder in case you may have forgotten: think pink half-shirt and painter pants, dancing as though he'd recently suffered a stroke. The Stroke? Who can tell.) The bottom line is that, unless we're talking about Michael Jackson or Donnie Wahlberg, white men should not be permitted to dance in their videos.

Jennifer Connelly, age 16
In addition to David Bowie, Labyrinth stars a sixteen-year-old Jennifer Connelly. She is Sarah, a dreamy teenager who is content to play with her dolls and run around the park in costume. (Nothing wrong with fact it kind of sounds like my life). The film opens with Sarah gazing soulfully into the camera. She recites lines from what we find out is Labyrinth the play. (I love heavy handed foreshadowing).

Goddamn you! Sarah is also a frustrated older sister, forced by her stepmother to stay in with her baby brother Toby. One night, Sarah is fed up with Toby's crying. Without realizing the power of her words, she calls "I wish the goblins would come take you away. Right now." Well, big surprise, the goblins heed her call and do come take Toby away.

Do you want to touch my hair? Sarah flies into a panic when she realizes that Toby has disappeared. Her parents' bedroom (complete with a canopy bed...the poor, poor emasculated father) is alive with goblin activity. Always just out of her sights, goblins pop up in corners, giggle from the closet and slide down the bed posts. It is not until the menacing hair shadow Solve the labyrinth, Sarah appears across the floor, heralding the arrival of Jareth the Goblin King, that Sarah understands the severity of the situation. Toby is being held captive in the castle beyond the walls of the Goblin City. She has only thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth before her brother becomes one of the goblins. Muahahahahaha.

Gotta love a pissing dwarf Sarah meets many strange characters on her journey through the labyrinth. She first encounters Hoggle, a dwarf with a penchant for cheap jewelry and killing flying fairies. Hoggle is voiced by Jim Henson's son, Brian. From a young age, Brian Henson appeared on Sesame Street, voiced various Muppets (including Dr. Phil Van Neuter), was the chief Hoggle puppeteer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and is now the producer for Farscape, a sci-fi show on USA. Sarah happens upon Hoggle as he is ever so elegantly pissing into a fountain.

The labyrinth
Hoggle is initially wishy-washy about helping Sarah through the labyrinth. After he abandons her for the first of many times, she struggles to find an opening in the seemingly endless passageway. A worm, armed with an English accent and an ascot, helps her find her way into the maze.

Meanwhile, Jareth has launched into a musical number aimed at gaining Toby's affections. Magic Dance involves performances from all the castle goblins. Toby is tossed high into the air while Jareth sings:

Slap that baby, make him free
Dance magic, dance
Put that baby spell on me
Jump magic, jump
Jump magic, jump
Put that magic jump on me
Slap that baby make him free

That's it. I'm calling social services.

The song is obviously meant to showcase Mr. Bowie's gift as a singer/song writer. However, any talent is overshadowed by his bulging penis sheathed in spandex. Jennifer Connelly is listed second after David Bowie in the opening credits. This honor should really go to his protruding penis. Prominently featured in nearly all of his scenes, the Penis unequivocally steals the show. If you know one thing about Jim Henson from watching this film (R.I.P.), it is that he unabashedly loves the phallus. Labyrinth is chock full 'o cock.

The Penis Gallery

Penis #1 Penis #2 Penis #3

During the thirteen hours that Sarah is allotted to make it through the labyrinth, Jareth undergoes no less than six wardrobe changes. The penis/spandex combo is an ever present phenomenon. If you peer closely enough at the first image, you can clearly see that David Bowie is uncircumsised. I doubt the King of the Goblins buys into the theory that circumcision = improved hygiene.

The pits Hoggle also has a run-in with the Penis. He left Sarah at the gates of the labyrinth, but reappears when she falls into a pit after a poor choice in door selection. As Hoggle helps Sarah escape her cell, she declares their friendship -- much to his hedging delight. But alas! Jareth shows up and demands to know why Hoggle is aiding the girl.

I should back up and explain that, throughout the film, the audience is supposed to think there is some kind of sexual tension between Jareth and Sarah. Before Toby is taken, Sarah tells the crying baby a story about a "tortured young girl forced to baby sit every weekend. Little did anyone know, the Goblin King was in love with the girl". No comment Shortly thereafter Jareth arrives at the window with his glam metal hair and his crystal ball ready to sweep her off her feet. Jareth takes Toby -- not just to add another goblin to his entourage -- but to "give Sarah her dreams" (and let The Penis come out and play).

This theory of Jareth's wanton lust for Sarah is destroyed the minute you see him interact with Hoggle. I almost feel dirty watching them. But not dirty enough to stop.

Hoggle, you've got lovely skin.  How do you moisturize? Jareth corners Hoggle again later in the movie. He looks deep into the dwarf's eyes. I think I saw The Penis twitch ever so slightly beneath the spandex...but it could have been the wind. Jareth presents Hoggle with a peach and instructs him to give it to Sarah. Obviously, the Goblin King wants to take out the competition in order to have Hoggle all to himself. In addition to the peach, Jareth also serves Hoggle with a threat. He vows to turn the dwarf into a prince if Sarah ever kisses him. But wait! He means The Prince of the Bog of Eternal Stench. Ha ha! Jareth always gets the last laugh. (da DUM...more foreshadowing).

Ludo want down
Meanwhile, Sarah makes another friend. She rescues Ludo, a giant Snuffleuluffagus/Chewbacca hybrid from an unruly mob (note the Henson-Lucas collaboration). The poor beast is strung up and bound at the feet. For unexplained reasons, Ludo is being attacked by aborted fetuses-on-a-stick. In the world of the labyrinth, unwanted goblin children are kept alive and forced into a life of servitude as cost-effective weapons. They bite Attack of the teething fetus and gnash their teeth, hoping one day to be set free. (As an aside: they taste great dipped in honey mustard or Hidden Valley Ranch. Delish!)

Sarah and Ludo trundle on and find themselves in a cheaply designed soundstage, I mean, forest. Oops, her furry friend falls into a pit and she Ouch is on her own in the s-p-o-o-k-y s-c-a-r-y woods. this over yet? She has a close call with another band of puppets who try to pull off her head. Whatever is a girl to do?

Hoggle to the rescue!

The ass-ugly dwarf lets down a rope and whisks her to safety. Sarah is so grateful that the inevitable happens: she plants a big sloppy kiss on his warty mug. Uh oh -- Jareth's promise holds true. Down, down they go. Straight toward the Bog of Eternal Stench. The drama!

The Bog of Eternal Stench The Bog of Eternal Stench is renowned for being so foul that, like Anna Nicole's vagina, if one sticks so much as a single toe in, he or she will stink forever. The bog also appeals to those of us with a soft spot for potty humor. It spews and sputters farts so juicy you'd swear it just ate Mexican.

Didymus As they plummet toward the bog, Sarah and Hoggle fall right on top of Ludo. Ooof. They soon happen upon Didymus and his loyal "steed", a sheepdog named Ambrosious. ( Did Jim Henson have a hankering for the mid-west's favorite marshmallow salad, Ambrosia? I was expected to eat that at every family picnic. As they say in Israel: Never again.) Didymus is a cross between a terrier, a rat and a gay biker with a handle bar mustache. He also wears an eyepatch. As the bog bridge keeper, he is adamant that no one can pass without his permission. After a scuffle with Ludo that nearly costs him his other eye, Didymus finally grants permission for passage across the bridge. But -- oh no! -- the thousand-year-old structure gives out, leaving Sarah dangling in peril. More drama! Luckily, Ludo can Help me Obi Wan...oops, wrong movie summon the very rocks with his roar. Boulders miraculously emerge from the depths of the bog to serve as stepping stones for the group. As the rocks are coated in bog (not bong) water, would not one still stink forever after walking on them? Where's my goddamn continuity?

Sarah, I think you're peachy

Finally out of the bog, the group winds their way through another forest. The day is growing late and all profess their hunger. Hoggle timidly makes his move Not the PCP again! and presents Sarah with Jareth's peach. In case you didn't see it coming from ten miles away, this is no ordinary peach. This is a PCP peach. (And I thought I was watching a children's movie...penises, PCP, more penises...Jesus Christ have mercy).

Sarah at the ball One bite is enough to make Sarah forget all about her quest to find Toby. She is transported to a mystical masked ball. Another David Bowie original song throbs in the background. She wanders through the ballroom, dilated pupils pulsing. But what is she looking for? Or who?

Then we see him peering from behind a fat woman wearing a buzzard mask.

David Bowie
How many drag queens on the planet have aspired to get this look? Punky, frosted hair, dashing eyeshadow, pouty coral colored lips and nary a trace of stubble. What was that about David Bowie not sleeping with Mick Jagger?

Your sleeves are really big. Finally, their time together has come. They dance as though made for each other. Her sleeves are puffy; his Brett Michaels inspired hair is sassy. What's the point of all this? Who cares; at least we don't have to look at Hoggle for awhile.

Search and Destroy

But as is the rule: all good things must come to end...including PCP trips. We see a new side of Sarah -- a side that likes to break stuff. Yeah, let's fuck shit up!

Nooooooooooooo She falls...drifts...then plops down in the middle of a giant junkyard. Junkie? Junkyard? She is coming off a bad high after all. Still uncertain what is going on, she wanders into an exact replica of her bedroom. This time, her beloved worldly possessions This is getting tiresome do not provide the comfort she is used to. She picks up her copy of Labyrinth the play...why does it all seem so strangely relevant? (da da da DUMMMMMM.)

Fiddlesticks! Her brother is stuck in the Goblin castle! Luckily, Didymus, Ludo and Hoggle arrive and the quest continues. Onward to the gates Too Close for Comfort of the Goblin City.

The Goblin City has no small amount of obstacles for the group to overcome: battalions of armed goblins, a giant metal goblin that assembles like a Transformer, spears, other pointy things. Jareth is starting to get nervous from his perch up in the castle. She's too close for comfort!

Enough is enough...penis, that is

The magic of the Goblin City is in the subtle details. For instance, a fountain featuring goblin dwarves with oversized phalli is what makes the movie a classic. Like I said before and I'll say again, Jim Henson loves the cock.

Is that Dior? Sarah's final challenge is to endure yet another haunting David Bowie/Jareth the Goblin King serenade. Oh, and she has to figure out another fucking labyrinth. Enough already -- give the bitch her brother back! (Can you tell I don't want to talk about this movie any longer?) Jareth's bulge is at its all-time biggest. Its prominence is only accentuated by his fabulous feather ensemble. This frock is sure to make any queen worth his salt squeal with jealousy (again). Labyrinth is truly a one man drag parade.

Look into my ball and I will  be your slave Jareth asks Sarah to gaze into his ball. He tempts her once more with her dreams. "Just let me rule you. Fear me, love me, do what I say and I will be your slave." That sounds like a pretty unhealthy co-dependent set up just asking for relationship disaster. Jareth needs a head shrinker for both his hair and his brain.

It all comes crashing down when Sarah proclaims "you have no power over me!" Jareth recoils, Toby is saved, Sarah will never know the touch of a Goblin King cock.

All that trouble for THAT And there he is, the little angel that all the fuss is about. Toby, who is also named Toby in real life, is now 20 years old. His career never made it past this first sputter start. One too many on-set stinkies? At least he won't be recognized on the street as the Labyrinth kid.

Also from the bargain bin...coming soon:

The Never Ending Story. (Spoiler alert! It ends!)

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