Pleasure and Pain

Album: What a Life! (1985)
Charted: 76
Play Video


  • The Divinyls are best known outside their home country of Australia for their 1990 hit "I Touch Myself," but their first charting song in America was "Pleasure And Pain" from their second album, What A Life! in 1985. Like the John Mellencamp song "Hurts So Good" three years earlier, there's a touch of masochism in the song, which explores the fine line between pleasure and pain.
  • This was written by the songwriting team of Mike Chapman and Holly Knight, whose credits include "The Best" for Tina Turner and "Love Is A Battlefield" for Pat Benatar. Knight told Songfacts: "It's a great song, I'm a big fan of the Divinyls. I just like the lyrics. I like that it's a little bit darker and still very sort of poppy. And I was a huge fan of Christina Amphlett from the Divinyls. And I just liked the tune. It's sort of more in the line of "Invincible," but a little bit darker."

    Regarding the song's meaning, she said: "It can be so good and it can be so bad at the same time. If you're going to go for the good then you better expect that the bad is going to be just as strong if it happens. That's something I use a lot in my songs, that dichotomy."
  • The song gets a little intense with these lines, which were written by Mike Chapman:

    Break my body with the back of your hand
    Doesn't make sense from where I stand

    The song's co-writer, Holly Knight, addressed this, telling Songfacts: "There was some brutality in there - it is a very brutal line. A lot of the lines in it are pretty brutal, but I don't know if he was being literal when he came up with that line. I just liked the way it sounded."
  • The Divinyls were led by lead singer Chrissy Amphlett and guitarist Mark McEntee. Amphlett, who died of breast cancer in 2013 at 53, was very expressive, as shown in the video for this song where she throws her whole being into her performance. The group kept making hits in Australia, but outside of this song and "I Touch Myself," didn't have much impact elsewhere, and they split up in 1996.

Comments: 2

  • Pete from CheltenhamGreat video, brilliant album. Had it on cassette since mid 80's
  • Steve from Sydney, AustraliaThe Divinyls video for this song was shot over one night in Balmain Power Station in Sydney, Australia, in 1985. The station had been decommissioned and was closed because it was full of dangerous asbestos. The huge structure has since been demolished and a harbourside housing complex now occupies the site. I was a newspaper reporter in Sydney at the time and I witnessed and I wrote a feature story about the making of the video. It was a long, exhausting night of shooting, but Christina Amphlett was very professional and put a lot of effort into the task.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Incongruent Opening Acts

Incongruent Opening ActsSong Writing

Here's what happens when an opening act is really out of place with the headliner, like when Beastie Boys opened for Madonna.

Subversive Songs Used To Sell

Subversive Songs Used To SellSong Writing

Songs about drugs, revolution and greed that have been used in commercials for sneakers, jeans, fast food, cruises and cars.


CommercialsFact or Fiction

Was "Ring Of Fire" really used to sell hemorrhoid cream?

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors Examined

Deconstructing Doors Songs With The Author Of The Doors ExaminedSong Writing

Doors expert Jim Cherry, author of The Doors Examined, talks about some of their defining songs and exposes some Jim Morrison myths.

Grunge Bands Quiz

Grunge Bands QuizMusic Quiz

If the name Citizen Dick means anything to you, there's a chance you'll get some of these right.

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many Songs

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many SongsSong Writing

For songwriters, Johnny represents the American man. He has been angry, cool, magic, a rebel and, of course, marching home.