Billy Idol, "Sweet Sixteen" And Wild Women of Wongo
Before "Cradle of Love," the song that introduced Billy Idol to a generation of '80s babies (this writer included), the shock-haired singer already had one song about a heart-stealing young vixen under his belt. Since the moment we heard "Sweet Sixteen," it's been our favorite piece of Idol's solo work -- but it's the backstory, not the melody, that makes the 1986 tune interesting.
One weekend several years ago Rocks Off, a B-movie aficionado, watched a film with the most-excellent title Wild Women of Wongo. The plot is your typically weak Corman-esqe storyline, the sole purpose of which was to facilitate the on-screen antics of young loincloth-clad actresses: a tribe of men who live on a deserted island discover a tribe of women living on another island. Late-'50s risqué sexiness ensues.
As we were watching the film, Rocks Off's partner, who grew up in Florida, immediately recognized Coral Castle from this scene.
Coral Castle is a roadside attraction just outside of Miami that was built in the first half of the 20th century by a Latvian immigrant named Edward Leedskalnin. Seeing as how cheesy mid-century roadside attractions are another of Rocks Off's obsessions (and Florida has a wealth of them) we soon made it our mission to learn everything we possible could about the Taj Mahal of the South Dixie Highway.
Turns out, the real history of Coral Castle is pretty hard to uncover. Leedskalnin was a pretty freaky, private dude, and the museum that now holds his work in trust does everything it can to perpetuate the myths he developed about the project. Here's the "official" story: