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.
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.)
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
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.
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 that...in 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).
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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:
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
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.
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
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".
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.
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).
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
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
is on her own in the s-p-o-o-k-y s-c-a-r-y woods. Yawn...is 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 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
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
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?
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
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).
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?
Then we see him peering from behind a fat woman wearing a buzzard mask.
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?
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.
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!
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
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!)