‘”Doctor Zhivago’ on a shoestring”: When Lisa Vanderpump ruled in new wave band ABC’s cult movie ‘Mantrap’

Lisa Vanderpump in ABC’s Mantrap. (Picture: Mercury Information)

Lisa Vanderpump is now actuality TV royalty by way of her wildly well-liked Bravo present, Vanderpump Guidelines. However in 1982, she was the big-haired, big-shoulder-padded queen of the New Romantics, and ABC’s dapper, metallic-tuxedoed Martin Fry was her king, when she took on the femme fatale position of Samantha in Mantrap — the spy caper that accompanied Sheffield band ABC’s decade-defining, Trevor Horn-produced debut album Lexicon of Love, which got here out on June 21, 2022. Directed by the legendary Julien Temple (The Nice Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle, Absolute Newbies, many large ’80s music movies), the surreal movie musical stays a little-seen “underground classic,” however because of the web and Vanderpump’s marquee identify, it has reached new audiences 40 years after its launch.

“She’s pretty iconic in it, isn’t she?” marvels ABC frontman Fry to Yahoo Leisure. “Lisa was a great foil to me. Or, I was a great foil to her. She had a lot of star quality, a lot of ‘old-school film star’ about her — that glamour we were looking for. We wanted a very strong woman. In the movie, I’m bewitched through romance by this beautiful woman, but she’s calling the shots.”

Whereas a lot of ABC’s equally glamorous early-MTV-era friends enthusiastically embraced the then-burgeoning music video medium, Fry explains that ABC all the time wished to take it to a different degree, which led to the Mantrap challenge and Vanderpump casting. “We were New Romantics. There were all those bands floating around, like Duran Duran and Culture Club and Depeche Mode, and it was always about being as modern and as brand-new as possible — redesigning rock ’n’ roll, basically. The medium was the message, and it was very important how you presented yourself,” he recollects. So, when the band was approached by the BBC tv present Area to star in a particular “about four guys that had come out of Sheffield in the north of England and made good,” they didn’t assume that was fairly formidable sufficient. And so, assisted by Temple’s imaginative and prescient, they “decided to go the fantasy route.”

It’s not all that straightforward to sum up Mantrap’s weird plot, nevertheless it goes one thing like this: One night in a posh international on line casino, a lonely, down-and-out Fry meets the elegant and mysterious Samantha (“kind of a Cruella de Vil type”), and his luck instantly improves. Not solely does Fry clear up at roulette, and never solely do the 2 fall in love, however Samantha recruits him to affix ABC — who grow to be in a single day pop sensations, touring Europe in a bullet prepare and headlining London’s Hammersmith Odeon as they carry out The Lexicon of Love.

However Fry is an unwitting pawn in an espionage grasp plan: ABC’s shady new supervisor (performed by villainous veteran character actor James Villiers) and Fry’s bandmates try to interchange the frontman in the group with a doppelgänger Russian spy, in order to sneak the spy again behind the Iron Curtain. And so, in an epic, climactic combat scene, Fry should have interaction in a “battle of wills” along with his look-alike nemesis — in order to “make the world safe for New Romantic synthpop,” after all.

“I suppose it was kind of mid-through the Cold War, and that’s what was on people’s minds,” Fry says of Mantrap’s Soviet plot twist. He amusingly recollects, “We went down to [London’s] Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill, and there’s a supermarket. … It looked like a lookout post, and it’s the bit we used to pretend that we were traveling through the borders. We did re-create quite a lot of Communist Russia in Notting Hill, in surrounding areas. It’s amusing to walk past today… and think, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s the place where I stood in line with Lisa and we pretended we were traveling across Russia.’ It was Doctor Zhivago on a shoestring.”

Fry did his personal stunts in the “all-hands-on-deck” funds movie (“You threw everything you had, heart and soul, 100 percent, into what you were doing back then — that’s very much what Julien Temple encouraged”). And Fry’s gold-suited double in the combat scene was really performed by Lisa Vanderpump’s brother, Mark, who tragically passed away at age 59 in 2018, and with whom Fry had remained buddies. (“I ran into her brother quite a lot; he came to shows sometimes and stuff,” Fry says sadly.)

Martin Fry and Mark Vanderpump’s <em>Mantrap</em> fight scene. (Photo: Midnight Films/Polygram)Martin Fry and Mark Vanderpump’s <em>Mantrap</em> fight scene. (Photo: Midnight Films/Polygram)

Martin Fry and Mark Vanderpump’s Mantrap combat scene. (Picture: Midnight Movies/Polygram)

Fry was amazed by the “very young but very experienced” Lisa’s thespian abilities, even earlier than Mantrap. They’d beforehand co-starred in ABC’s Temple-directed “Poison Arrow” music video — which launched the Samantha character, and was later included as a druggy hallucination sequence in Mantrap, with Samantha trapping a shrunken Fry beneath an outsized martini glass. “In the video for ‘Poison Arrow,’ I’m constantly trying to impress her, and she’s constantly unimpressed,” Fry says with a chuckle. “I’ve enjoyed seeing Lisa’s ascent [as a television personality and restaurateur] since then.”

However regardless of his powering via the difficult martini-glass and combat scenes, Fry was “never 100 percent convinced” by his personal appearing — joking that his solely earlier appearing expertise was on Prime of the Pops and American Bandstand. “I suppose I got away with it. It was definitely jumping in at the deep end, yeah,” he says, shrugging. Fry says he “wanted to be James Bond and Jerry Lewis at the same time” as he approached the darkly humorous position; different onscreen inspirations included Cary Grant, The Prisoner’s Patrick McGoohan, The Manchurian Candidate, Mick Jagger in Efficiency, numerous ’60s B-movies, and even Elvis Presley’s filmography. “You never really knew if Elvis’s movies were high quality. Some of them were brilliant and some of them were terrible, but they were kind of always highly entertaining,” Fry explains. “I remember, I think that’s pretty much the area we were working in.”

ABC’s <em>Mantrap.</em> (Photo: Midnight Films/Polygram)ABC’s <em>Mantrap.</em> (Photo: Midnight Films/Polygram)

ABC’s Mantrap. (Picture: Midnight Movies/Polygram)

Sadly, by the point Mantrap got here out, ABC had already moved on to a rawer sound on the sophomore album Magnificence Stab, in order that they did little to advertise the movie — which Fry regrets now. However he says, “It was something we’re really proud of, because a lot of bands talked about doing something like that, but they never actually got around to it. And it was something we achieved. It does document the sort of aspirations of the time.”

However the legacy of The Lexicon of Love lives on. In 2016, ABC launched a well-received sequel (merely titled The Lexicon of Love II, reuniting with Temple for the music video “Viva Love,” and Fry is presently touring the U.Okay. enjoying ABC’s total debut album with a full orchestra, together with an anniversary show at London’s hallowed Royal Albert Corridor this week. It must also be famous that in the ultimate scene of Mantrap, it was intentionally left unclear on the finish whether or not it was Fry or his Russian doppelgänger who gained that new wave fistfight, or if Samantha had been secretly working for the Soviets all alongside. (“You don’t really know if Lisa Vanderpump’s character is a plant, a spy,” says Fry. “You don’t really know who gets deported back to Russia, and who stays to be on Top of the Pops and become the king of the New Romantics.”)

So… all that raises the query: Would there, might there ever be a Temple-directed sequel to Mantrap?

“Yeah, that’d be great. I like sequels,” Fry solutions with a snigger. “I’d like to do one about the Russian pop star who made it, the parallel universe: He became like the Eurovision Russian pop star and then returns. Good story!”

However after all, Vanderpump must be concerned. “Oh, yeah, it wouldn’t mean anything without Lisa,” quips Fry. “She can be on the posters.”

Lisa Vanderpump today. (Photo: People)Lisa Vanderpump today. (Photo: People)

Lisa Vanderpump as we speak. (Picture: Individuals)

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