With the passing of Dame Olivia Newton-John last week, there is a renewed focus on the 1978 musical, Grease. This 1950s high school drama is great entertainment, whether or not you like musicals.
It showcases a cast of good girls, bad girls and mean girls and a few boys, of course. But centre stage are the pink girls or Pink Ladies. I’ve provided links to some great reading about The Pink Ladies. Just click and enter the Pink Adventure.
There’s good girl, Sandy played by real-life good girl, Olivia and bad boy, Danny played by very cute young John Travolta. These two lead roles are complemented by an assortment of other characters who belong to two groups. Namely, The Pink Ladies and The T Birds, rev-head greasers who give Grease its name.
The T birds love Ford Thunderbird cars and girls. The Pink Ladies love pink, fun and boys.
They take their name from their signature pink jackets. They are enjoyable characters. Bad girl, Rizzo, is the leader of the cheeky pack. Then there’s adorable Frenchie, so bright and colourful with cotton candy pink hair. She sings the ‘Beauty School Drop-out’ song, after she fails in the tinting class.
Frenchie is friendly and fun and ditzy. She is hard to type as good or bad because she is a bit of both. Fun and cute is the best label for Frenchie. She invites Sandy into the group and they meet after school at the ice-cream parlour and have sleepovers.
Conversations centre on guys, the T-birds, and the feminine wiles needed to attract and keep the boys in tow.
The other Pink Ladies are Marty and Jan. They, like Rizzo, have risqué attitudes about sleeping around. The four Pink Girls are more worldly and experienced than the anguished Sandy.
They are perfect foils for innocent, good girl, Sandy. She isn’t really one of them, but changes to fit in. Rizzo mocks her as Sandra Dee in her song. It’s virgin shaming by campus ‘bad girl’ Rizzo.
Rizzo is the Top Pink Lady
Rizzo rates almost as popular as Sandy judging by the number or rave sites dedicated to Rizzo. She has a cult following. Many women would relate to her as they perhaps were naughty too at school, mature and rather fresh with the boys at an early age.
These days there are probably more Rizzos than Sandys at school. Girls mature earlier than in previous generations. The sweet Sandys may be rare these days.
Rizzo does give Sandy a bit of a hard time when she arrives at Rydell High, but the antagonism does not endure. Rizzo is not really a mean girl, just briefly, a jealous girl, envious of Sandy’s fresh blonde looks and ready acceptance into the Pink Girls, Rizzo’s territory. She helps Sandy dress for the final vamp version of herself in Sandy take 2.
Sexy Cha Cha
Then there is Cha Cha, the sexy perhaps mean girl with all the good dance moves. She tries to steal Danny away from Sandy at the school dance by making a spectacle of herself. And what a spectacle it is. It’s one of the best scenes with amazing dance moves as Cha Cha dances with Danny.
Cha Cha’s screen time is brief, but she makes a big impact. Mean/bad girls always achieve impact. They like attention, they like stealing the limelight and other girl’s guys. Humiliation of others is one of their specialities. Cha Cha is no wallflower. She is a girl with a reputation to uphold. The sexy vamp label really sticks to Cha Cha.
Pink Ladies Changing
By the final scene we see a new Sandy. They are prepared to compromise, meet halfway, a good sign in a relationship. This suggests that people can change, shake their label for a time, maybe forever.
So the line between good and bad girls blurs, but it blurs for Danny too. He becomes preppy to win Sandy as she becomes vamp to win him. Sandy is not all goody-goody and Danny has a sweet side. Can’t you just tell by his smile? John Travolta is pure eye candy.
But should we change ourselves for others? Especially men? And does Sandy totally move on from her good girl image? Serious Grease analysts believe not. They rate Grease as sexist and a horrible movie. Oh, dear! I just enjoyed it and didn’t overthink the possible inherent messages.
We will never know whether Sandy and Danny make it together because they ride off into the sunset in a flying car. Why not! It’s a musical and fun.
Sequels and Prequels for Pink Ladies
In Grease 2 starring Michelle Pfeiffer as the 40-year-old Sandy, we see a reversal of roles as boy moons over girl and reinvents himself to win the girl.
Grease and the Pink Ladies are so popular that Paramount is making a new film, a prequel to Grease, called Rise of the Pink Ladies. There is already a sequel, Grease 2, but now prequels are becoming popular. This is the back story before the story. This could be fun. It is The Rise of the Pink Ladies. Sounds awesome. Sounds fun.
Sadly, however, we don’t get to see a younger Stockard Channing alias Rizzo, or Didi Conn, alias Frenchie. But the Grease movie has become a cult film with massive following and they will be rapt at some new content.
There are dress-up competitions and websites devoted to Pink Ladies. You can buy costumes and other accessories. Once you enter ‘pink ladies’ on Google, you can go off on an entire pink adventure! Have fun if you do. I did.
If only I could relive my teenage years as a pink girl!
Joni Scott is an Australian author with two published novels: Whispers through Time and The last Hotel. She co-hosts a women’s blog; https://whisperingencouragement.com/ and has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.
Unsplash photo Source; Monica Silvan