“It’s Raining Men” is a striptease soundtrack in Magic Mike, but even Channing Tatum’s six-pack can’t compete with the original 1982 video by the Weather Girls.
Not only did the song make the Weather Girls a one-hit wonder (the song peaked at #46 on the Hot 100 but hit #1 on — I kid you not — the Disco Chart), it gave Izora Armstead and Martha Wash a new name for their duo act, which was formerly known as (again, I kid you not) Two Tons O’ Fun. Written by Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer (yes, that Paul Shaffer), the song became a classic of the era and the favorite song of Homer Simpson (Marge: “Homer, he prefers the company of men.” Homer: “Who doesn’t?).
When Wes Anderson makes a film about the disco era, you have to imagine it will look something like the lovingly hand-crafted “Raining Men” video, a perfect artifact of the days when the go-to strategy for making a music video was to literally enact the song’s lyrics. This one starts with Armstead and Wash at a news desk, being handed urgent weather reports by interns who presumably pranced directly over to the Valley Girl set. And then… that’s right, it starts raining men. As the chiseled men fly down in trenchcoats and briefs, the Weather Girls throw caution to the wind and jump out the studio window (which happens to be a plastic sheet) to dance with the men in a miniature cityscape.
And that all happens in the first minute and a half. Before this campy epic is over, we get Mother Nature in a Pink Ladies jacket ordering her foxy male angels to lose their wings and hurl their bangin’ bods down to Earth (watch the ultrasincere look on one angel’s face as he tears off his robe); a roof being ripped off so as to facilitate the men’s dropping in to dance around Armstead and Wash as they lie on a heart-shaped bed in silk pajamas; and another downpour of men, who execute fabulous Fame-style ensemble choreography that involves a lot of spinning and leaping.
Wash went solo in the late 80s, perhaps worrying that the Weather Girls were getting into a rut after their Christmas song “Dear Santa (Bring Me a Man for Christmas).” Wash sang lead on hits by Black Box and on C+C Music Factory’s #1 hit “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)”; having embraced her status as a gay icon, she reprised “It’s Raining Men” in a duet with RuPaul in 1997 and continues to record and perform. If you see a live performance by the Weather Girls today, you’ll be watching Armstead’s daughters Ingrid Arthur and Dynelle Rhodes; Armstead died of heart failure in 2004 and is doubtless lounging in heaven on her heart-shaped bed, sipping cocktails delivered by man-candy angels in silken robes and banana hammocks. Hallelujah!