Tuesday, December 14, 2010


 Left, singer, cinema enthusiast, Krista Wood, right, author Catherine James
Totally blurry snapshot (it wasn't a pay gig, just fun) of the event's panel, L-R: Pamela Des Barres, Catherine James, Lori Mattix, Jenna Rosher, Michele Overman

Let's Spend The Night Together: Confessions of Rock's Greatest Groupies directed by Jenna Rosher premiered 48 hours before its first launch on VH-1 television (to be heavily rotated, as the evening's compere Michael Des Barres dryly noted, "ad nauseum.")

The documentary follows author, groupie and Michael's amicably ex Pamela Des Barres interviewing the real life characters of the film and her eponymous book about their recollections of good times, favorite positions, full access passes, gloopy teenage crushes, gloopy mature obsessions, personal high style and fashion, memorable sex, just how big, just how many and the occasional delusion/buzzkill.

Co-presented by VH1 and movie director Allison Anders' Don't Knock The Rock Film Festival, the event evinced its own festivity with a cadre of vicarious-thrill-seeking young wannabes, music fans "of a certain age" and a lively (and fairly graphic) Q and A panel of special guests seen in the documentary: Pamela Des Barres, Lori Mattix, Michele Overman, Catherine James and the film's director Rosher.

Collective c.v.: Ms. Des Barres successfully has instituted a cottage industry from her own colorful groupie past authoring four books on rock music, culture and personal history. All four subjects stunning to this day, the other three women started their careers as pro fashion models before life launched its surprises in store one grenade after another. 1970s Glam Sunset Strip denizen Ms. Mattix had garnered fame as a teen model and pal of Sabel Starr, the NY Dolls and Iggy and the Stooges when she caught the eye then private parts of Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page; Michele Overman paralleled the same arc with Zeppelin's Robert Plant and managed to retain the rare true friendship afterward. Kudos to Lori for exhorting the film's audience to encourage new generations to rock hard instead of embracing (Michael Des Barres' fave sarcasm victim that night) Good Charlotte.

I retain a special admiration for Catherine James, author of the book "Dandelion: Memoir of a Free Spirit." Immortalized with her baby son via Baron Wolmans' 1969 photos in Rolling Stone magazine plus a renowned beauty who intoxicated the likes of actual Rolling Stones, she was not only the product of the gorgeous genetics of a Hollywood entertainment-enmeshed family, but also of absolutely off the charts family dysfunction, so vile that it seems part Charles Dickens, part Edgar Allen Poe, all Hollywood Babylon, and hardly something you'd associate still happening in the 20th century of her childhood.

The journey away from horribleness remained the heart of her story via assorted redemptions: she fled the orphanages within which her mother dumped her despite custody pleas from other family members; she became the toast of two coasts et al. in the Andy Warhol '60s and L.A./Great Britain 70s; yes, she lived with Mick Jagger and other notables, but she also stopped the destructive James' family cycle with her own child receiving her primary attention and devotion.

I found a strange, personal recognition in her tale of the Mother From Hell, insofar as it showed me even if my own troublesome family had been as creative in the arts as hers, there still would have been the same friction: toxic is toxic, and unconstrained selfishness in parents is poisonous to children.

Returning to lighter matters, besides Michele's pug's antics, two of the film's characters (and they truly are characters) prompted the audience to drown out the soundtrack with raucous LOL guffawing: Cynthia Plastercaster's contemporary plea to commemorate a young subject with extreme parental reservations, and the inimitable "quantity not quality" monologue musings of Sweet Connie Hamzy's approach to serial blowjobbing. Somewhere there's a true, natural-born comedienne/ female mensch with deadpan delivery lurking beneath that slutty exterior.
Miss Pamela and Patti D'Arbanville at recording session for their respective contributions to the spoken word album Hollyword circa 1990.
Spotted communing were Pamela's compatriot Miss Mercy of the GTOs and Dee Dee Keel. Anyone not already familiar with all these famed femmes via their own local scene's past probably was astounded by their camaraderie both onscreen and off in what heretofore had been hyped as a competitive metier. What a shame that, as the decades rolled forth, the requirements for the position of rock star consort shifted away from diverse, vibrant, creative extroverts like these women into the current stasis that only 6'1" anorexics with multiple plastic surgeries i.e. international supermodels need apply.

1 comment:

Say What? said...

Thanks Heather. It was great to see Lori Mattix again after all these years too, she sent me a note Tuesday. Great into to Catherine James, if that doesn't get people to read her book, than they must be blind, no eyes ;o)

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