Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The curious, shiny case of Deanne Berry

VIDEO: "Clubland Work It Out," (2008, Universal Pictures UK)
STYLE: Dance aerobics, dance, kickboxing and toning
INTENSITY: Moderate to difficult
STRUCTURE: 10-minute warm-up; 15 minutes of aerobics; 15-minute dance routine; 15 minutes of kickboxing; 15 minutes of floor exercises; 12-minute cool-down. About 80 minutes total.
GIST: I LOVE THIS WORKOUT. That's it. But it's not available for purchase in the U.S. Wah wah.*

See this creature? Is she the second coming of Xanadu-vintage Olivia Newton-John? A Barbie brought to life?

This, friends, is Deanne Berry, the queen of Clubland. She's a supernova of the sassosphere who burned bright for several thrilling years in the mid- to late-aughts and, after some TV spots and an ill-fated attempt at a recording career, all but disappeared. Where she now roams nobody knows. Intrigue!

Today we're going to be talking about "Clubland Work It Out," which is, in my opinion, Deanne's most solid effort. Like all the Clubland videos, it's not available for purchase in the U.S. *If you buy it off, it won't work on most American DVD players or computers, because it's coded with a different "region." There are ways around this, but they're long and maddening. I don't think I can legally tell you to download it from a file sharing site, but if you don't know how to download it from a file sharing site, you can find most of the workout in the links I provide below.

Ready? Ok!

Like Aphrodite rising from the foam of severed testes cast into the sea, she burst onto the scene a fully-formed workout goddess -- or at least she played one convincingly in the shamelessly lubed-up video for Eric Prydz's "Call On Me."

The video was a crazy gigantic hit across the pond -- one interviewer in a TV spot says she "captured the imagination of the country" -- and even though Berry was just a dancer, not an aerobics instructor, the UK music label Ministry of Sound invited her to host the next in their series of "Pump It Up!" workout videos. THIS IS WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF, FOLKS.

So she rustled up some fitness certifications and did just that, bringing her Aussie looks (slammin tanned bod, toothy smile) and dancer's nuance (so much sassy hair-flipping!) to the workout video world. After another title with "Ministry of Sound," she jumped ship and moved over to Clubland, yet another UK house music label with a stake in the fitness video market. (WHY DON'T WE DO THIS IN AMERICA???)

That brings us to "Clubland Work It Out," a dizzyingly ludicrous display of quality dance aerobics, music video fantasizing and a whole lotta ass-cheek. Exhibit A (har har):

Bottom line (ok ok, that was the last one): This video is CRAZY FUN. Like, I'm-12-years-old-making-up-a-routine-to-C+C Music Factory-at-a-sleepover fun. Except I'm wearing a sparkly bikini and dance sneakers and there are shirtless hot boys and a flashy nightclub set. Wow, that sounds wrong. But there you go. Besides, it's a challenging, thoroughly satisfying, sweaty workout. And the soundtrack, though super clubby and sort of embarrassing to listen to in real life, is dynamite. (As I've talked about before, Clubland and Ministry of Sound use all real tracks from their own catalogues.)

Let's take a virtual tour, shall we?

Warm-up, 10 mins: An ideal warmup! Not too much choreography, some gentle stretching, a steady acceleration of aerobic activity and some hip/chest isolations and spine rolls to loosen up. The warm-up is also a perfect introduction to Deanne, both her instruction and her wardrobe. She's casual and chatty without talking too much, confident without being intimidating or arrogant (cough cough Jillian), and she's a little bit weird, which is reassuring. Like, sometimes she sings along to a snippet of the soundtrack in a funny voice. She says things like, "Turn your front on," to mean, "Turn to the front." It's just charming.

AND THE OUTFITS. Me oh my. The sprayed-on cobalt leggings and Amoxil-colored Jessica Simpson ta-ta top in the warm-up are just the beginning...

Aerobics, 16 mins: This Jem-inspired look on Deanne slays me every time. It's like some sort of American Apparel reverse irony, sticking it to Dov Charney by putting his clothes on a big boobied, totally made up, not-at-all-likely-to-fuck-Dov bombshell. You just stick it to Dov, Deanne. Dude's a creep.

This section is 80s-style dancey aerobics, pure and simple. Heart rate goes up like whoa, and you kinda want to die if you're a newbie or you ate a lot of crap that day. But that's good! And for powering through this section, you're rewarded with...

Sassy routine, 14 mins: Oh my lord THE FASHIONS in this segment. This is the video's apogee in that department, both for Deanne and her very accommodating backup girls. (The one on the right is named, brilliantly, Sherene Flash, and she has the distinction of once being punched in the face by our dear departed Amy Winehouse.) I asked my roommate to help me accurately describe the overall look here, and he said, "It's like if a Pussycat Doll and a Texas cheerleader had a slutty baby." I don't think I can top that.

I love the way Deanne structures this routine, demonstrating a phrase, practicing it, moving on to the next phrase and seamlessly putting them together bit by bit. It's like a regular dance class, just without any pauses -- except for the ones you add yourself, which I recommend on the first few tries. It took me a while to get all the moves down, but once you get the routine you can really have fun and mess around with your own little inflections and accents. Yes, you're going to look wack and busted at first. Just toss that reservation out the window right now. But soon you will feel hot and righteous, and sometime after that you will actually look hot and righteous. I've actually turned myself on doing this routine in the mirror. I'm so not kidding.

Kickboxing, 15 mins: Since the dance routine section is less intense than the first cardio segment, it's great to have this, which brings your heart rate back up, gives it a pounding and then lets it sail right through the rest of the workout. Deanne isn't the best at kickboxing instruction, but whatever. As long as you follow basic technique and keep your core stable, you'll be fine. Plus, hot boys with no shirts on! This video is an equal-opportunity objectifier.

Floor exercises, 15 mins: Bitch does man pushups in a purple tube top. What.

Cool-down, 12 mins: Donning serene silver, Deanne finishes out the workout with some nice, thorough stretching. I love the way I feel after finishing this workout! It's brilliant.

So whatever happened to Deanne Berry following the success of the Clubland series? Where is she now? You'll have to wait on that. We all will. It's a mystery. She's dropped off the map. And believe me, I've spent a frightening amount of time googling this lady. No website, no Facebook activity since like early 2010, multiple shady-looking Myspace accounts. It's weird. Maybe she has a drug problem. Maybe she got a huge ego and alienated everyone around her. Worse: MAYBE SHE GOT FAT. (Kidding.)

Come back, Deanne! We need you! I NEED YOU.

The end.



    Pretty sure Deanne Berry would be First Lady of Sassy City

  2. Deanne Berry is fine.! I found recently. She looks fantastic!Look!

  3. And look!