Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Sat 10 Sep 05 06:13
Angus, I am so pleased that you are a fan of those writers. I literally stumbled across Ellen Willis's writing and was astounded by her talents and acumen (as well as the fact that she was the rock critic for the New Yorker in '60s and '70s). I had heard of Roxon's "Rock Encyclopedia" but didn't know much more about her. When I went through her columns for the New York Sunday News, I realized that there was a lot more to her and her career than the encyclopedia. Yet I had never heard of either of these women when reading about rock critics of the '60s and '70s. Roxon forms a really essential link between the Walter Winchell-type gossip columnist and the infotainment folks of today. I am anticipating doing some more work on her role as (and the role of)gossip columnist. Willis's work is simply a benchmark for the field at a very formative time for rock journalism. I would like to see her work accorded the respect and notice that it deserves. Her activism, as a founding member of the radical feminist group Redstockings for example, also makes her unique in American cultural history. There simply was no one else who was so involved in both of those subcultures at that time.
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Sat 10 Sep 05 08:59
I hadn't realized that Willis was part of Redstockings. I've learned as much about rock from her work as from anyone's, though, and more than a little about writing.
Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Sat 10 Sep 05 10:32
There is a good account of Willis's involvement with Redstockings (as a founding member) and NY Radical Women, as a member, in Alice Echol's "Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America, 1967-1975."
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Sat 10 Sep 05 11:28
Angus, Lisa's attention to Lillian Roxon was really gratifying for me too. I've hung on to my Rock Encyclopedia all these years, feeling like she'd been shunted aside and forgotten. But she influenced me greatly. I'd like to see a book on female rock critics through 1980 (which, to me, is the dividing line between the generations). Ellen Willis I discovered much after the fact - growing up in suburban San Antonio in the late 60s didn't offer much access to media - yet she too influenced me. I'm also fascinated by Patricia Kennealy, whom I have a passing acquaintance with. A writer who fell in love with her subject. For all the dismissal she got for her story of a handfasted marriage to Jim Morrison, I totally believe it.
Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Sat 10 Sep 05 15:09
I wonder if the groupie phenomenon was a way of flipping the woman-as-sexual-object mean on its ass, so to speak. Treating men as objects, that is. Counted, compared, brandished, etc.
Low and popular (rik) Sat 10 Sep 05 17:29
For some, yeah. The Plaster Casters and Connie from Little Rock were definitely about that. But far more of the heartland groupies were simply the smart girls in town who were bored with the local boys, and looking for some excitement. They knew that we were on our way out of town the next day, and wouldn't be bragging around to all THEIR friends.
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Sat 10 Sep 05 17:58
>>far more of the heartland groupies were simply the smart girls in >>town who were bored with the local boys, and looking for some >>excitement. Rik, that's a pretty accurate aspect of the equation for me. Suburban San Antonio definitely qualified as heartland when it come to my teen years as a groupie. In those old daze, before the internet and cable, gathering information from the underground was a real challenge in the hinterlands. It was part word-of-mouth and part ideas etc gleaned from publications like Eye magazine, sometimes Playboy (which I had little access to), and specifically Rolling Stone. Underground radio shows were good for music but not always helpful about the general counterculture. I usually went to the record shop in the mall and nosed around, looking for reading material. Things got a little better with the advent of the headshop in the late Sixties, where you could find other offbeat papers and magazines and meet others with common interests.
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Sat 10 Sep 05 18:06
Dennis, In my second incarnation as a groupie - 1979-1984 - it was all about empowerment. That was something I tried to impress upon the Texas Blondes. But I never approached the way a few men do, as strictly notches on the belt. I always approached it as an equality thing: "I know what I'm here for and you know what you want." If we used anything to our advantage it was the Texas mystique, especially for English musicians. They loved the way we'd float backstage in a cloud of drawling girlish chatter. Occasionally, we'd get slagged as dumb blondes but I taught the girls Dolly Parton's comeback. "Sure you can call me that but I'm not dumb. I'm also not blonde."
David Gans (tnf) Sat 10 Sep 05 18:17
EYE Magazine! Man, I wish I'd saved a few of those.
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Sat 10 Sep 05 18:19
A longtime male friend of mine thinks I demean myself by embracing my groupie past. "That's really disgusting," he tells me. This from a guy who was notorious as a cockhound in his younger days. But it's true, I have run into a few men along the way who are really alienated by that aspect of my life. Most of those don't have much of a relationship with me but a few do, like my old friend. I just shrug it off. Nothing I can do about the past now. And yet as a working music journalist, I continue to cross paths with musicians who I once slept with or had a non-professional relationship with. It's not embarrassing nor does it make me self-conscious. Sometimes they know and remember me but sometimes they don't. John Cale remembers, Iggy Pop doesn't. What I get out of that in some cases is priceless: I can ask John to perform at the Music Awards at SXSW and he will without hesitation. He knows he'll get a good audience and great press, and that I wouldn't ask him to do anything that wasn't good for his career.
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Sat 10 Sep 05 18:20
You too can relive your past with Eye magazine, David. I bought an entire collection (less than two years of publication and a Hearst mag!) on Ebay.
Dennis Wilen (the-voidmstr) Sat 10 Sep 05 18:24
Here's another question: There aren't too many film treatments of the groupie scene. One I'm most familiar with is in "This Is Spinal Tap," which features the band's encounter with the "ass casters" of Chicago. http://www.spinaltapfan.com/atozed/TAP00078.HTM Any comments?
David Gans (tnf) Sat 10 Sep 05 18:33
> You too can relive your past with Eye magazine, David. I bought an entire > collection (less than two years of publication and a Hearst mag!) on Ebay. Can I just come over and browse through yours some time?
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Sat 10 Sep 05 18:55
Absolutely. When I get them back from my editor. Some of them even have the posters intact. On the back of the posters was their gossip section, Electric Eye. That was the stuff I would devour. They were very NYCentric whereas Rolling Stone seemed California-y. Between the two, I knew there was a world out there that was light years from mine, and I longed to be a part of that excitement. My early groupie experiences in 1970 and 71 were as close to that as I could get. I'd go to high school the day after and listen to people who'd attended the show the night before and just smirk. I was so shocked the first time I really listened to the words of Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen" and the line "Oh, but tomorrow morning / She'll have to change her trend / And be sweet sixteen / And back in class again." I must have been about 15 and leading that secret life: How did Chuck Berry know about this stuff??? It didn't take long to figure out.
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Sat 10 Sep 05 19:05
Dennis, as wicked and true as Spinal Tap is, I can't really hold it up for analysis since it's pure parody. I really disliked The Banger Sisters and suspect it didn't help Goldie Hawn's career, especially when her daughter starred in my favorite film about groupies, Almost Famous, at the same time Banger Sisters was scheduled for release. No wonder it was held for release until the stardust settled. One one of the earliest film scenes I can cite that portrays groupies realistically is in Alice's Restaurant. Arlo is on tour and meets a grubby little groupie named Reenie (Shelley Plimpton). He turns her down when she supplicates herself to him. I did know a number of groupies like her and they usually solo players, not part of a gaggle as I was. I am trying to think of more instances of film portrayals of groupies but drawing a blank right now. Anyone? Anyone?
Gary Lambert (almanac) Sat 10 Sep 05 19:51
Shelley Plimpton was terrific in that small part in "Alice's Restaurant." The ass-casting scene does not actually appear in "This Is Spinal Tap," BTW. There are a few seconds of it in the outtake material on the Special Edition DVD. But we do see the band entertaining some groupies in their hotel room during the movie, as in the scene where we first encounter the great Artie Fufkin of Polymer Records. I'm kinda drawing a blank on other groupies in movies as well, although I'm sure there must be some. One that comes to mind isn't a rock groupie -- Amy Wright as the girl that Sandy Bates discovers waiting for him in bed in "Stardust Memories."
Lisa Rhodes (lisarhodes) Sat 10 Sep 05 20:14
The was a documentary, "Groupies," (Ron Dorfman and Peter Nevard, dirs. Maran, 1970). Premiered at the Fifth Avenue Cineman in NYC and played there for a while. Judith Crist, Jonathan Cott, and Pauline Kael (among others) weighed in with reviews, some of them quite extensive. Lillian Roxon also had a long review of it in the Voice. Hard to find now, but it has some interesting footage of several of the better known groupies and some musicians (Cocker, Alvin Lee, Spooky Tooth and Terry Reid). As far as groupies in fictional film, I think you have covered most of the highlights that come to the top of my head.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 10 Sep 05 21:33
Any groupies i Paul Simon's movie "One-Trick Pony"? I haven't seen it in years.
Low and popular (rik) Sat 10 Sep 05 21:54
That one slipped through the cracks and didn't get the recognition it should have. It was well-done, and pretty honest. And I don't remember if there was any of that in it, either.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 10 Sep 05 22:03
I remember it being a pretty believable movie. Great band, too.
Kurt Sigmon (kdsigmon) Sun 11 Sep 05 01:04
Paul goes home with a girl on the road and takes a bath with her. She's rather sweet, as I recall. That was a great film.
Gary Lambert (almanac) Sun 11 Sep 05 08:18
Mare Winningham was the bath girl, IIRC. That was one of the better scenes in a film that I found for the most part an annoying wallow in narcissism, made worse by Simon's dreadful performance. The band was great indeed, though. And the filmmakers managed to reunite the Lovin' Spoonful for an all-too-brief appearance, which is another mitigating factor.
Low and popular (rik) Sun 11 Sep 05 09:32
I haven't seen it in years, but I remember feeling they they got the dynamics and loneliness of the road down perfectly. And I still tear up at "How the Heart Approaches What it Yearns."
Low and popular (rik) Sun 11 Sep 05 09:35
The band, BTW, was that great gang of New York studio players, Stuff. Eric Gale, Tony Levin, Steve Gadd, and Richard Tee, who showed real screen presence and stole every scene he was in.
Margaret Moser (fairblonde) Sun 11 Sep 05 11:21
I liked One Trick Pony despite the flaws. I also really like an offbeat English one from 1974 called Stardust. It stars David Essex and features Dave Edmunds in the Stray Cats, obviously a precursor to the rockabilly trio as Edmunds produced them. It looks dated but the story holds up well enough. Spinal Tap is the best rock & roll movie ever on my personal Top 10. Almost Famous is second. I know I'm supposed to say The Last Waltz but that's actually low on my list. I have a soft spot for Zachariah and will argue for inclusion of Easy Rider.
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