“She’s On It”: The Beastie Boys “Take Off to the Beach” with a blonde vixen & a boom box

By on September 6, 2017

It’s been a long, hot, nausea-filled summer so far this year, so we thought we’d “Take Off to the Beach” and take a refreshing look at some of the music videos we featured in this surf, sand and sun-inspired episode, including the Beastie Boys’ very first video, “She’s On It,” filmed at New York’s Long Beach.

This episode — which originally aired on August 8, 1986 — is now streaming in our “Take Off” section over on Night Flight Plus.

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Read more about the Beastie Boys’ “She’s On It” below.

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In 1983, the Beastie Boys — Michael Diamond a.k.a. “Mike D,” Adam Yauch a.k.a. “MCA,” and Adam Horovitz a.k.a. “Ad-Rock” — were riding high with “Cooky Puss,” a huge hit at the NYC dance clubs, nightclubs and house parties, which is where they met a DJ’ing NYU student named Rick Rubin (“Double R”).

Rubin — still living on an 8th floor dorm room on the NYU campus — was looking for artists to produce for his new label, Def Jam (read more about Rubin and Def Jam in this previous Night Flight post).

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The Beastie Boys with Rick Rubin, holding the big boom box

Def Jam’s debut single, LL Cool J’s “I Need A Beat,” would end up selling 100,000 copies, which helped Rubin and his partner Russell Simmons score a much-needed distribution deal with CBS Records.

In November of 1984, they would release the Beastie Boys’ first Def Jam single, “Rock Hard,” a heavy slab of metal guitar riffage and over-amped drums (as well as samples from AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” without getting permission from the band’s record label).

Then, sometime in early 1985, Madonna — who was planning her first major tour of North America — decided she wanted to use her platinum-selling status to draw attention to her downtown Manhattan origins.

She had her people call Russell Simmons, to ask if he’d let the Fat Boys to join her tour as an opening act.

However, Simmons didn’t manage the Fat Boys, but he used the opportunity to pitch them Run-D.M.C. (featuring his younger brother Joseph “Run” Simmons) instead.

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When Madonna’s team balked at the high price he quoted, Simmons convinced them to take another rap trio he managed, the Beastie Boys.

Madonna — who frequented the Manhattan dance club Danceteria, where the Beasties sometimes hung out — knew who they were, and agreed to take them on tour.

At the time, they hadn’t recorded a lot of songs yet — they had three originals and they also covered “It’s Yours” by T La Rock and Jazzy Jay — and they weren’t sure if they even had enough songs to perform, and so they went into the studio with Rubin to record one more new song: “She’s On It.”

Rubin — who had become involved with Krush Groove, a major motion picture based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings — ended up wanting to include the track on the Krush Groove soundtrack.

Released in October 1985, Krush Groove was not a huge box office success, but today the movie is notable for helping to break out LL Cool J as a major new rap star (he provided two new songs for the soundtrack, as did the Beastie Boys).

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As for the video for “She’s On It,” we see the three young Beasties on a sunny summer day at NYC’s Long Beach, indulging in puerile porn-fed fantasy about winning the heart of a blonde vixen in a tiny gold bikini, even as their efforts are foiled by stampeding scantily-clad fangirls.

Producer Rick Rubin even appears in the video as their guru, but he’s unable to help the Beasties, who resort to using a huge cannister of Spanish Fly and flying over the beached blonde — played by musician and Elite model Sharon Middendorf, who in the 1990s would front her own psych-rock trio Motorbaby — in a miniature helicopter with a lowered net.

Rubin had seen her dancing onstage with ZZ Top at the very first MTV Video Music Awards, and later asked if she’d be interested in appearing in a Beastie Boys video they were going to shoot near Long Beach’s boardwalk, where he’d grown up.

Middendorf ended up buying the gold lamé micro-bikini she wears in a local thrift store, because the bikini they gave her for the video shoot didn’t fit.

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As it turned out, the Beastie Boys didn’t quite work out as Madonna’s opening act. They were regularly booed by her pre-teen, mostly white girl audiences, some who were offended by the giant inflated penis onstage with them, not to mention their lyrics, the way they ran around onstage grabbing their crotches and spewing beer.

They nearly got kicked off the tour too, but Madonna felt they were ahead of their time and “eventually people would embrace them.”

As it turned out, she was right, as Licensed to Ill would prove to nearly everyone, becoming the first rap album to top the charts in the U.S. at #1 (#7 UK), propelled there by their Top Ten hit “Fight for Your Right (to Party)” (#7 U.S.).

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Although “She’s On It” seemed perfect for MTV, it rarely aired on the network, and as a single from the Krush Groove soundtrack, it initially failed to chart.

When it was re-released in 1987, though, “She’s On It” went on to become a Top Ten hit on the UK Singles chart.

You might also enjoy seeing the early Beastie Boys lineup in this January 1984 episode of The Scott & Gary Show,” which we also have streaming over on Plus.

Have a look at this episode featuring videos by Y&T, the Beach Boys, Joe King Carrasco and others in our “Take Off to the Beach,” now streaming on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.