TBT: Adam and the Ants “Stand and Deliver” Music Video (1981)

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This classic 1981 music video just came on, and I immediately said, “I need to Frock Flick this!” (Followed by “Trystan is going to be so pissed she didn’t think of this first”). Adam and the Ants are one of the most memorable of the early 1980s British New Wave bands, and their look (particularly associated with their album Kings of the Wild Frontier) was pivotal in creating the New Romantic fashion (and music) style of the early 1980s. And, clearly, it was a direct inspiration for Plunkett & Macleane (1999)’s New Romantic/18th-century mashup.

Stand and Deliver‘s video was apparently based on a Monty Python sketch “Dennis Moore,” in which an over-thinking-it highwayman pulls over a carriage and proceeds to rob them of their lupins (a flowering plant).

Adam and the Ants’s video begins with Adam fixing his makeup and looking VERY pretty:

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

I’m not totally sure on what’s going on with the gold braids … and is that white lipstick?

Cut to Adam sitting in a tree aiming his pistols, supposedly at a passing carriage, but I don’t have much faith in his aim here:

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Maybe he’s hoping to hit a squirrel?

Inside the carriage are Miss Goth Universe 1981 and some loser with bad hair and a Walkman (Editor’s Note: For the young ‘uns, that’s a primitive form of iPod):

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

She’s got a sparkly black snood and a FABULOUSLY black and white striped dress, while he has a weird buzz cut.

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Let us laugh at old technology — his Walkman looks like a VHS tape! I think she’s holding records? Can anyone spot what that one is?

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Nice hat trimmings! Adam’s waistcoat is fabulous, too.

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

HOW MUCH DO I WANT THIS LOOK? SO MUCH!

Adam distracts them with a swishy dance:

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Fear my pelvis!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

And does some pretty sneering.

Meanwhile Adam’s bandmates are ready for the local pirate festival, while they hang with a redheaded version of Nancy Spungen from the Sid and Nancy (1986) movie:

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Is she wearing a retainer? I’m serious here!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

SO ready for adventures on the salty seas!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Little Drummer Boy is very committed to his nylon Grandma lace cravat!

Suddenly it’s night, and Adam decides to taunt his victims with a shiny, shiny mirror:

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

“No! Don’t show me my crappy buzz cut!”

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

“I don’t even have to look. I know I look FABulous.”

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

I suggest Johnny Depp play Adam in the biopic.

Suddenly, we cut to a fancy party in which every Princess Di lookalike is waitressing, dressed as a St. Pauli girl:

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Sadly the camera pans too quickly, but there are like five different versions of this waitress. Note video arcade machine in back.

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Here’s another (blurrier) one. I think the guy on the right is giving that baguette a blow job, but I’m not sure.

Who comes crashing through the window?

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

This just doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

Why, it’s our highwayman, armed with his fearsome mirror!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Apparently Miss Goth Universe 1981 and Crappy Buzz Cut got away? LOVE the “gold” chalices — the finest plastic!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

PUPPIES! That poor mandolin(?) player just can’t shake Nancy Spungen, can he?

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

This guy is having a really good time in his sparkly renfaire doublet.

Apparently Adam isn’t a very good highwayman, because all it takes are two broody rocker boys to “catch” him:

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

I think those are goggles around right-hand brooder’s neck. Early steampunk?

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Crappy Buzz Cut says “Take him away!” Miss Goth Universe 1981 and Rocky Horror Picture Show extra approve. The blonde on the left must be someone’s cousin.

Let’s hang him!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

I so wish I was at this nightclub.

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

18th-century soldiers provide the drumming, while World War II soldiers provide the security.

We get closeups of all of the contenders for Goth Prom King and Queen:

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

I’m not sure how he got in, and I think he’s more of a Steely Dan fan, but I like her black lace veil.

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

I am SO VOTING FOR THESE TWO! I love that Rocky Horror Picture Show extra’s earrings match Too Pink for School’s hair!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

I think they got the wrong extra call. The rich preppy movie is in the next studio.

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Happy Renfaire Doublet Boy has a jaunty accessory there in his blue polyester eyelet lace cravat. Or wait, is that a print made of music notes? Sadly he doesn’t get a date.

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Yes! A crimper has been deployed! She’s doing the Elegant Goth Thang.

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Nancy Spungen has good jewelry, and her date has REALLY good eye makeup.

Mysteriously, Adam is able to just hop off the platform!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Maybe the soldiers were distracted by Blondie on the Left’s hideous sweater/top thingie?

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

World War II soldier boys are confused.

And we all scamper off to the local renfaire!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

On the left, someone raided the Belly Dance Store. On the right, that is a REALLY hideous sweater/top/thingie.

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Jaunty scampering ensues as pretty Adam fades in…

But wait! There are ominous Monty Python-esque monks portending … something!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

This can’t be good!

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

Adam thinks about how naughty he’s been. Or he’s distracted by the gold braid constantly hanging in his eye. I’m not sure.

1981 Adam and the Ants - Stand and Deliver

A final chance to admire a proper Gentleman Highwayman.

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About the author

Kendra

Website

Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

13 Responses

  1. Isis

    Oh, I LOVED this when it came. And Adam Ant was so pretty! And I feel so old…

  2. Julia

    You should do Karma Chameleon by Culture Club! That video is so strange.

  3. Kathleen

    Love this! I used to have an Adam Ant poster hanging on the back of my office door, so no one could see it except me when I had the door closed. Ah, those were the days. Also loved Plunkett & Mcleane — Alan Cumming just stole the show with his purple tricorn. Screenshots, please!

  4. Sarah Lorraine

    Trystan’s approach to costuming now has context.