Sunday, February 28, 2010

five foot something cherry bomb, she had everything going on

As one of the children spawned by the women's movement generation, as well as the female empowerment sentiment of Spice Girls, I am a sucker for all things girl power. Yes, I do own the first and second Charlie's Angels, as well as Legally Blonde 1 and 2. And yes, I did go to see Whip It! the first chance I could. Which is why I can barely hold my horses for the March 19th release of The Runaways. With equal parts girl power AND seventies rock and roll, this movie was pretty much made for me.
The film tells the rise and fall of one of the first all-chick rock band the Runaways, from being rebel kids in Los Angeles to rock goddesses performing their jailbait anthem "Cherry Bomb" on stages across the world. The film focuses on the friendship between the lead singer Cherie Currie (Dakota Fanning, all grown up) and the lead guitarist Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart, with a mullet and without her vampire), as they deal with insane tours, controlling managers, and making the music they love. The girls become as iconic as their band's music - Jett becomes the badass black leather-and-mullet-wearing rock'n roll pure heart, and Currie becomes the resident jailbait sex kitten - a Bowie-Bardot hybrid in a corset and fishnets.
The Runaways' story is interesting because of the decadent time period - a post-hippie, pre-heavy world that thought itself wild (and was!) but was innocent to the future (AIDS, etc.). The fact that they were still teenage girls when they were thrust into the world of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll is remarkable, and it is easy to see how the band fell under the resident Svengali of Kim Fowley, legendary music impresario who crafts the Runaways' image to make them into a smash hit, no matter how bruised or battered the girls get along the way.
If The Runaways turns out to be anything like Satisfaction! or Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, I will be a very happy girl. I feel like this film could initiate a revival in late-seventies, post-glam pre-grunge awesomeness in the way that girls dress. Joan's uniform of leather pants and faded rock tees with slept-in eyeliner is still working on her over 30 years later, and Cherie's femme fatale looks could easily be channeled to today's wardrobe. It doesn't matter if you just wear a little something that is Runaways-approved, like beat-up black Chuck Taylors or studded dog collar jewelry, as long as you keep that rock'n roll spirit alive. I know that I'm already breaking out my black leather jacket, platform boots and black makeup in preparation.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

there is a blizzard occurring outside my window now...

I think I'm going to have to pull a Doctor Zhivago look today if I ever want to make it outside my door. I knew I should have bought that vintage fox fur hat when I saw it!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"Private? What makes you think my life is private?"

One of the most well-liked gals around is Miss Elizabeth Taylor. Sure Debbie Reynolds is probably not her biggest fan, but during her career spanning more than half and century, Miss Taylor has counted more best friends than husbands (!) Throughout her life she has counted Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, Grace Kelly, Michael Jackson, Liza Minnelli, Jane Powell, among others, as her closest friends.
I have long been a great fan of Elizabeth Taylor's. Ever since I saw her in National Velvet when I was a horse-obsessed six-year-old, I have longed to be like her. There is a definite charming quality in Elizabeth's presence, seen onscreen as well as off. She is always the most beautiful and enchanting person around, bar none.
How to be like Elizabeth Taylor:
  • Start a collection. Elizabeth is known worldwide for her large collection of jewels. She has written a book about her "love affair" with jewelry, though is not against parting with certain pieces if the cause is right. She sold her 69.42 carat ring from Richard Burton in an auction in order to raise money for her politician love John Warner.
  • Love animals. Elizabeth has called her many pets (from puppies to a chipmunk named Nibbles that she wrote a book about when she was a teenager) her best friends. She also shares her love - she gave James Dean a Siamese kitten he named Marcus shortly before the actor's death.
  • Crusade for a cause close to your heart. After close friend Rock Hudson lost his battle with AIDS, she founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
  • Be business-savvy. Elizabeth was the first actress to be paid one million dollars (for her role in Cleopatra), and has been quoted as saying "If someone is dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I'm certainly not dumb enough to turn it down."
  • Live by love and virtue. Elizabeth was an honest believer in finding love. "You don't start a movie expecting to crash," she has said, "You get married expecting it to be forever. That's why you get married." Despite being married eight times, Elizabeth has said "I've only slept with men I've been married to. How many women can make that claim?"
  • Be humble and, most importantly, be yourself. Elizabeth has admitted, "I don't think I am a beautiful woman. Ava Gardner is. I think Audrey Hepburn is. But the way I look is all right with me. Because I want to be me. I don't take vitamins or do exercise. I can lose weight when I want to, mainly by just not eating."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"I want to be a living work of art."

"Women of the world today all dress alike. They are like so many loaves of bread. To be beautiful one must be unhurried. Personality is needed. There is too much sameness. The world seems to have only a desire for more of this sameness. To be different is to be alone."
- The Marchesa Luisa Casati

No woman in the early half of the twentieth century was as decadently eccentric as the Marchesa Luisa Casati, the most notorious Italian heiress that has ever lived. Arguably the first true female dandy, Casati famously proclaimed that her life's goal was to become "a living work of art."
Born Luisa Adela Rosa Maria Amman in Milan in 1881 to a wealthy Italian family with royal heritage (her father was made a Count by King Umberto I), her parents death at age 15 left Luisa and her older sister Francesca the wealthiest women in Italy. She wed Camillo Casati Stampa di Soncino, Marchese di Roma in 1900. After the birth of their only daughter, Luisa left her husband and daughter in 1914 in order to reinvent herself as a patroness of the arts.
Standing at a near six-feet-tall and dressed in flamboyant European fashions, the Marchesa both delighted and horrified the aristocratic belle epoque. With her fiery red hair teased to a halo of curls and large, overwhelming green eyes - which she exaggerated with both thick rings of kohl and belladonna drops to enlarge her pupils to appear like emeralds - Luisa was like no other woman Italy had ever seen. She was deathly pale, with a cadaverous bone structure, and always kept her lips painted in her signature deep vermillion red.
After separating from her husband, the Marchesa moved into the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, a semi-ruined mansion along the Grand Canal in Venice that would play house to all her future exploits. Tales of her wildly eccentric personality are notorious. She wore live snakes as necklaces. She had male servants wear nothing but a sheet of gold leaf in her decaying Venetian mansion, which was decorated with wax mannequins which she placed in seats at the dinner table, and Chinese lanterns throughout the vast property. Infamous for her late-night walks, the Marchesa would stroll around the city with her two pet cheetahs on diamond-studded collars and leashes, while she wore scant more than a fur coat. Around the Palazzo roamed her exotic pet cheetahs, monkeys, peacocks and birds. In Venice she threw extravagant parties - masquerade balls, gothic black masses, and performances of the Russian ballet. Rumors of her party time attire still swirl - once the Marchesa was said to have worn a freshly-slaughtered chicken as a stole. Another party had her dressed in nothing but white feathers streaked with blood dried on her arms.
During the three decades that she mesmerized the Venetian society, she had affairs with both men and women, but her constant love was writer Gabriele D'Annunzio. A celebrity among the literati set, she was painted by Augustus John, Giovanni Boldini, Romaine Brooks, Kees van Dongen, and Picasso, photographed by Cecil Beaton and Man Ray, sculpted by Paolo Troubetzkoy, sketched by Drian and Alastair, and the inspiration of Erte, Jean Cocteau, Robert de Montesquiou, and Jack Kerouac. Some 200 portraits, sculptures, and drawings were made of her, as she wished to "commission her own immortality." She was also a patroness of fashion designers Poiret and Fortuny, and served as muse to Umberto Boccioni, Fortunato Depero, and F.T. Marinetti. Her affinity for exotic animals and jewels directly inspired Cartier's panther design.
By 1930, Casati's passion for couture, expensive jewels, and other extravagancies left her virtually penniless, in debt for $25 million. An auction of her personal collections drew many bidders, including Coco Chanel. Casati then moved to London, where she resided until her death in 1957. In those years, the fallen heiress was rumored to be seen digging around Mayfair trash bins for plumes of feathers to wear in her hair. After her death, she was buried in her finest black leopard skin piece, a pair of false eyelashes, and her taxidermied Pekinese dog. On her gravestone in Brompton Cemetery is a quote from Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety."
Despite living her final days in poverty, the enigmatic persona of the Marchesa lives on and continues to inspire. She is the namesake of the fashion house Marchesa, and is a personal icon of the house's designers Georgina Chapman (who recently posed as Casati in the March issue of Harper's Bazaar) and Keren Craig. Of Casati, Chapman has said, "Perhaps if she were alive today, she would be a designer. She squandered all of her money. Millions and millions. It's a good take on what's happening now. Her life was one of complete excess; then she had to reassess everything." Other designers, such as John Galliano and Karl Lagerfeld, have looked to the late Marchesa for inspiration. Dita Von Teese has cited her, as well as Anna Piaggi and Isabella Blow, as a key style influence. She has also inspired many film characters, including Isabella Inghirami in Forse che si forse che no, La Casinelle in Dans la fete de Venise and Nouvelle Riviera, Ingrid Bergman's character in A Matter of Time, as well as Vivien Leigh's performance in La Contessa.
The life of Marchesa Luisa Casati was remarkable, and, at times, almost unbelievable. I adore her because she was truly an individual and became her life's wish: a living work of art. She lived for her self and her pleasure, and dared to do things that few others could even dream of.
I am eager to purchase the biography of her life, Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati, and learn more about this fascinating figure in history.

Quotes about the Marchesa:
  • "The story of the Marchesa Luisa Casati's life resembles a fable for our times ... The story of Italy's richest heiress at turn of the last century, whose married aristocratic life and progeny were cast aside to indulge in a dramatically theatrical existence ... She emerged a heroine, living the fantasy, all the way to the end." - Glass Magazine
  • "Her carrot-coloured hair hung in long curls. The enormous agate-black eyes seemed to be eating her thin face. Again she was a vision, a mad vision, surrounded as usual by her black and white greyhounds and a host of charming and utterly useless ornaments. But curiously enough she did not look unnatural. The fantastic garb really suited her. She was so different from other women that ordinary clothes were impossible for her." - Catherine Barjansky
  • "The Marchesa lived partly as a slave to her dream world. She had two venues; her palaces and her aristocratic circles. They served as stages where everyone was usually an actor, but when she made her entrance, they automatically became spectators or background extras." - Alberto Martini

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"you haven't got any. your future is all used up."

One of the last true Hollywood film noir pictures was Orson Welles' Touch of Evil (1958). Centered in a bordertown between Mexico and the United States, the film is about how easily the law, justice, and personal interest can become tangled. Charlton Heston appears (in dark makeup and moustache) as idealistic Mexican drug enforcer Mike Vargas, who recently wed the beauitful-but-dumb American Suzie (seriously - who in their right mind would voluntary follow a strange man halfway across a sketchy Mexico town?). Mike soon begins work with corrupt U.S. police chief Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) to solve the murder of a local businessman and his girlfriend. While on the case, Mike seeks to expose Quinlan's frauds, while a parallel plot with Suzie being kidnapped by Mexican drug lords ties the narrative together. A pre-Psycho Janet Leigh, who just about has the worst luck when it comes to motels, stars as Heston's bride, who spends most of the film holed up in a bordertown motel or being doped up by "reefer stubs and heroin." The gorgeous Marlene Dietrich pops up as Quinlan's former amour and local madam. Keep an eye out for cameos from Welles' friends and colleagues, like Joseph Cotten, Mercedes McCambridge, and a young Zsa Zsa Gabor.
The film was controversial on its release due to the massive reediting the studio did from Welles' original cut. The DVD version released in 1998 aimed to honor Welles' vision for the film, closely following his original 58-page memo he sent the studio after screening the finished product. The opening shot of the film is amazing - a three and a half minute tracking shot that delves straight into the action of the story and succeeds in creating great suspense in the audience. Despite the controversy, the film is a treat to watch - no matter what version you're seeing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

why do my thoughts loom so large on me? they seem to stay for day after day, and won't disappear, i've tried every way

There has been a wee bit of controversy in the comments section this week over Bebe Buell. To anyone that may have been offended/annoyed/or any other emotion by my mentioning Miss Buell's book when talking about Pamela Des Barres' I'm With the Band, I am sorry. That wasn't my intention. The only reason why I even brought up Rebel Heart was because I had literally talked about it with my friend the hour before - it was on my mind, it was not a deliberate attack on Bebe.
I read Rebel Heart a few years ago, probably around 2006-ish (which seems like forever ago), long before Dandelion, Wonderful Tonight, or a bunch of other books were even published. I remember reading it and immediately identifying with so much of the book. But finishing it, I didn't enjoy it on the whole. There were many parts that were moving and charming, but there was a tone about it that sort of rubbed me the wrong way. In comparison to I'm With the Band, where Des Barres is almost purposefully self-deprecating, I thought Buell's book was less humble. But, I also believe this had a lot to do with Rebel Heart's coauthor, Victor Bockris. Reading interviews and messages written by Bebe, it is so easy to see that she is a warmhearted, intelligent, and funny girl. But Bockris I think made her story sound more tawdry and scintillating, which was really unnecessary. With a different cowriter, perhaps David Dalton (who worked with Marianne Faithfull on both of her books), who worked to retain an authentic voice, Rebel Heart would've been on a different level completely - totally mindblowing.
For years I've secretly hoped that Bebe Buell would publish a second book - one that would talk bout her years as a singer and writing/recording albums. To me, that would be fascinating. To whoever commented that they are obsessed with "Sugar" - I definitely agree. I play it all of the time. I even forced one of my friends, who is a DJ on the radio, to play two of her tracks for me for my birthday.
I feel like an idiot for how I came off sounding because I adore Bebe, she's a fantastically amazing woman. I wasn't trying to slag off on her, but I just offered a bit of criticism on her book. Perhaps unwarranted, but that's my fault. All I wanted to say was that I didn't enjoy Rebel Heart, not that I don't enjoy Bebe or her life's story. As I've said before, there are large parts of the book I really like, but the overall tone of it was off for me.
There was a comment that I deleted initially because it was so mean that it almost made me cry. I almost wish that I had kept it up there. It was mean not just to me, but also to what the person had said about Bebe. I don't consider her a 'groupie' or a 'whore' like this person said, nor do I consider myself like that, which this blogger also said.

Just to prove I'm not a heartless bitch or a liar, my favorite bits from Rebel Heart:
  • The part where my sixteen-year-old self fell in love with her: "My secret desires were locked up inside of me. I didn't dare tell anybody what I realy wanted to be. All I knew was that I wanted to be somebody. That somebody resembled Anita Pallenberg, Pattie Boyd, Marianne Faithfull, Jane Fonda, Brigitte Bardot, and Janis Joplin! Or at least resembled their essence."
  • "I always had fantasies of being some kind of artist. A performer, a "somebody." But I was afraid that people would laugh at me because I wanted to be famous."
  • On meeting Pattie Boyd: "Mick had told me how he lusted after her. Eric almost killed himself over her. Woody, who had had an affair with her, claimed she was the ultimate girl. I saw her in A Hard Day's Night when I was eleven, and I thought she was the ultimate rock star's girlfriend. And here I was, finally sitting opposite her, and I realized that she was just a normal woman - one who had very large breasts. That was another thing that was very shocking. I was thinking, Pattie Boyd has these really large tits, but she has this tiny little body. Then I thought, That's the key - the Barbie Doll body."
  • On Keith Richards: "I really loved Keith, and he treated me like a jewel. One time when we all arrived at a party, Mick just got out of the car, but Keith got out, twirled and extended his hand to help me out, then twirled back and executed a complex bow that would have out him in good standing alongside Sir Walter Raleigh. I remember thinking, Jesus, that was gorgeous. He had class, and he was a little more considerate of women, of their feelings and opinions, than Mick was."
  • About the Birds of Britain: "Music represented freedom, inspiration, rebellion. The British bands brought a whole new generation of British girls into the limelight - Marianne Faithfull, Chrissie Shrimpton, Julie Christie, Patti Boyd, Linda Keith, Anita Pallenberg, and Hayley Mills, among others. The majority of my friends hated these competitors for their heroes' attention, but I was as infatuated with them as I was with the boys in the bands. When I was a young girl, I used to look at Marianne Faithfull and Anita Pallenberg and think those girls were gorgeous. I used to think, Jesus, they are so free. They are so wild-looking. These must be the girls that the guys write the songs about. These must be the girls that make the whole fucking thing tick. That was before they called girls 'groupies.'"

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Boy Meets Girl

I've always been a fan of fashion that is both masculine and feminine. A certain level of androgyny is gorgeous on anyone. Whether adding subtle touches to your look, like a pair of Oxfords or a tailored vest, or going all out in a suit and tie (and suspenders, vest, hat, dress shoes, and cane), the tomboy look is a go-to alternative that everyone should have in their closet. The sharp menswear look is not just a passing trend, but a timeless style that has had major moments for the last seven or so decades.

Here's some inspiration:

Woody Allen's then-flame Diane Keaton in her most famous role Annie Hall, wearing a mix of Ralph Lauren menswear and her own boyish pieces.

Audrey Tatou looks contemplative in a still from Coco Before Chanel, outfitted in own of Chanel's signature tailored tuxes.

A Brian Jones-era Anita Pallenberg is seen running through the streets in her pinstriped suit.

Cate Blanchett is shown getting into her role as a young Bob Dylan in I'm Not There.

Another famous figure that Blanchett once portrayed, Katharine Hepburn, is seen smoking a cigarette on set of Woman of the Year in her trademark tailored trousers and blazer.

Marianne Faithfull outside of a London courthouse following the Redlands bust.

Kristen Stewart pals around with her Twilight castmates Kellan Lutz and Robert Pattinson, while wearing a white suit.

Wonder Woman Lynda Carter with date Ron Samuels in his-and-hers tuxedoes at the Golden Globes in 1977.

Bird of Britain Pattie Boyd wears a baggy suit and tie (borrowed from George, perhaps?)

The lovely Kirsten Dunst looks every bit a fashion icon in her androgynous look, adding a feminine flare with her Louboutin heels.

Patti Smith, long known for her music and her tomboyish style, on the cover of her debut album Horses, from 1975.

Studio 54 regular and rock star wife Bianca Jagger swaggers along in her white tux, bowler hat, and cane.

Yé-yé darling Francoise Hardy is shown out and about in the mid-60s in a menswear-inspired look.

Milla Jovovich matches her boyish suit with a cropped 'do and minimal makeup.

Yves Saint Laurent's famous Le Smoking tuxedo suit for women.

Kate Hepburn, again shown in her classic menswear: a bowler hat, tailored vest, and slouchy trousers.

Pattie Boyd, in an Ossie Clark ensemble, gives hubby George Harrison a run for his (sartorial) money in her white suit, while traveling to the Cannes Film Festival in 1968 for the premiere of Wonderwall.

An early fan of the feminine tux, Marlene Dietrich topped off her look with patent oxford dress shoes and a top hat.

For Twiggy, all she needed was a fashion-forward tie, worn with a minidress and button down, to complete her androgynous style.

Anita Pallenberg dresses like just one of the boys in the airport with Mick, Keith, and baby Marlon in the early 1970s.

Alexa Chung, shown on the city streets, in several tomboyish pieces.

In 2009, Rihanna, Twiggy, and Lake Bell all adopted the tuxedo look for the Met Ball.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

and if i seem to be afraid to live the life that i have made in song, it's just that i've been losing so long

I am a very big fan of Wes Anderson films. I love the self-contained universe that he creates, playing God to dysfunctional characters in quirky settings. One of Anderson's films that has "changed lives," according to a friend of mine, is his magnum opus The Royal Tenenbaums. It's a fantastic film, an all-grown-up version of Salinger's Glass family.
Style-wise, Gwyneth Paltrow will go down in sartorial history for her portrayal of playwright Margot. I was a bit wary of doing a post on this film because so much has already been written about the character. I hope I won't be redundant or anything in this post, but still I felt it necessary to celebrate a character with such a distinct personal style. Born and raised in a wealthy Manhattan family of scholars and actors, Gwyneth Paltrow possessed the same sophistication and wisdom beyond her years that the role of Margot had. Paltrow has said, "I definitely identify with the character of Margot as a younger incarnation of myself ... Everything resonates beautifully."
In her Lacoste tennis dresses, fur coat (custom-made by Fendi), leather Hermes Kelly bag, and requisite loafers and barrette stuck through her stick straight bob, Margot has her look down to a science. Occasionally she changes up her looking by lounging in the bathroom in a nude slip or covering her wooden finger with a pair of gloves. Though the style of Margot was reported inspired by original Chelsea girl Nico, who offered her "sultry bohemian vibe," I see a lot of similarities between Margot and "Little Edie" Bouvier Beale. The heavy fur coats and raccoon eyes are very reminiscent of the lady of Grey Gardens.
It is easy to see why Eli Cash (Owen Wilson), Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray), and her half-brother Richie (Luke Wilson) are all in love with her - Margot has a very enigmatic personality. Whether traveling by way of the green line bus while Nico's "These Days" plays in the background or smoking imported cigarettes with a scowl on her face in her bathroom, Margot makes depression look absolutely enchanting.

Margot's immaculate closet

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

"joni mitchell taught your cold english wife how to feel"

She was the lady of Laurel Canyon, the folk goddess from Canada that took America by storm in the late 60s, remaining a force to be reckoned with forty years later. Joni Mitchell embodied the free love hippie-child of Woodstock, without actually attending the music festival (her manager believed that it would be better for her career to appear on the Dick Cavett show instead). Her look was very simple - long loose blonde hair, a makeup-free face, and cheekbones that could cut glass - but that is what made her style eternal.
First and foremost, Mitchell is known for her musicianship, not her style, but her trademark looks live on in the wardrobes of every It-Girl today. Maxi dresses, thick bangle bracelets, billowing blouses embroidered with flowers, stone and turquoise rings decorating every finger, and broken-in leather boots created Joni's signature style, and some variation on her earth mother look can be seen today. Whether onstage in a flowy dress that touches the floor, or composing a ballad in a heavy sweater and worn-out jeans in the heavily wooded backyard of her Laurel Canyon home, it was clear that her acoustic guitar was her favorite accessory. After overcoming polio at age nine, her left hand was permanently weakened; Mitchell's fight to continue with music accounts for her signature guitar chords and techniques that few other artists can do. Her sound is so distinct that All Music Guide pronounced that "when the dust settles, Joni Mitchell may stand as the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century."
The key to Joni's style is that it never looked like she tried. In a word, her look is effortless. In her knitted dresses and leather boots, it looked as though she had chosen her clothing not based on what would looked fashionable, but what would be comfortable for her to wear while she composed songs. Her jewelry never looked purposefully selected for one reason or another, her rings and necklaces became a part of her overall self.
My favorite songs by her are "The Circle Game," "Big Yellow Taxi," "Coyote," "Woodstock," and "Both Sides Now."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

"models don't look like rabbits"

When I find myself in times of (inspirational) trouble, I always tend to turn to my favorite muse, the beautiful Miss Boyd. I haven't posted any pictures of Pattie in a while, so I figured now was as good a time as any to share some of my favorite looks of hers. This collage is rather India-heavy because I also found out today that I will be spending this summer in India. I am so excited, but I hope it won't interfere too much with blogging.

Anyway, I am also looking to find a new book to read. I'm finishing up "A Day in the Life" and am searching around Amazon for an interesting read. Any suggestions?

Friday, February 5, 2010

dandelion don't tell no lies, dandelion will make you wise, tell me if she laughs or cries, blow away dandelion

After being royally gypped in Almost Famous, Zooey Deschanel has finally gotten her chance to play a groupie. According to HBO, Deschanel will produce and star in an adaptation of Pamela Des Barres' epic memoir I'm With the Band. Though she's published other accounts of her life, I'm With the Band is my personal favorite and I'm glad to see this one going into production.
Miss Pamela (born Pamela Ann Miller in 1948) was a girl just like all the rest of us - she had dreams about musicians that she deemed too fantastical to come true, the only difference is that one day she decided to make them come true. A Southern California resident, Pamela spent her teenage years hanging out with groups like the Byrds, content to be friends with musicians, until she befriended Captain Beefheart, who introduced her to several of the Rolling Stones and Frank Zappa. Zappa would play an influential role in the rest of her life - she would become the live-in nanny to his kids and he would be the creator of her group the GTOs. During her years as a groupie, Des Barres famously bedded Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Noel Redding, Jim Morrison, Nick St. Nicholas, Gram Parsons, Brandon de Wilde, Chris Hillman, Michael Richards, Keith Moon, and a pre-Miami Vice Don Johnson.
Pamela Des Barres had the most gorgeous late-sixties hippie child fashion sense. She was oftentimes seen wearing ankle-length Victorian style dresses or tight minidresses in loud prints. She loved to draw small stars and hearts near her eyes, and painted her eyelids like they were half-moons. With light blonde hair that fell in soft waves, she looked utterly angelic frolicking around California with hippies and musicians. My favorite quote about her style comes from Miss Pamela herself in I'm With the Band:
  • "A hippie was sort of the unwashed, unkempt kid. A freak was someone who put a lot of cure and intention into their appearance, wanting to stand out instead of blend in. I was a combination flower child-freak, because the former was all about love and sharing and adoring each other and having flowers in your hair, literally, and lace and feather and all that. I never considered myself a hippie. She'd be wearing one of those Indian madras-type skirts with her hair split down the middle, no makeup, sandals, braless - of course, we were all braless. I would have on an old vintage lace tablecloth with ribbons woven through it, feather in my hair, loads of makeup, sequins stuck all over my face, and spike heels."
I found her book refreshing -- as opposed to a trashy tell-all by desperate hanger-on, or an impersonal history by someone who inserts themselves into a world more so than perhaps was true, or an ode to your own fabulosity (which for instance though I'm a big Bebe Buell fan, I found moments of Rebel Heart to show her to be way too cool for me to really relate to), Des Barres is candid, sweet, and completely guileless. There are no pretensions and she is not trying to impress us. She talks openly about her lack of cleavage, her embarrassing habits (remember her daily Paul McCartney rituals she kept while growing up?), and concentrates as much on the aftermath of a relationship as the dirty little romantic details. She gives her story to the reader as deeply as she gave her hearts to her favorite rock stars. A breast cancer survivor, a fanatical James Dean fan, the alleged inspiration behind Penny Lane in Almost Famous, the star of the world's only 'groupie group' the GTOS, I'm glad to see Miss Pamela receive some mainstream adoration.
And, with the fantastic Miss Deschanel involved, my interest is further piqued. But my question is - at 30 years old, is Zooey too old to play the free spirited girl-child? And who is going to play the famous rock stars (Mick, Jim, and all)?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Most Epic Couples in Music History

1. Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot
No offense to Jane Birkin, but Serge's pairing with bombshell Brigitte Bardot is my favorite of all of his partnerships. Though Birkin and Gainsbourg garnered notoriety for their recording "Je T'aime ... Moi Non Plus," the tune was originally written for and recorded with Bardot on female vocals. I love their 1968 song "Bonnie and Clyde" - its fun, its sexy, and has such an inventive melody. I especially love the promotional video with Brigitte dressed up in her Faye Dunaway-inspired finest and Serge lolling around in suspenders and a button down with a gun in hand.

2. Jay-Z and Beyonce
Just as Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot claimed themselves as Bonnie and Clyde in 1968, in their song "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" Beyonce and Jay-Z declared themselves the B&C of the twenty-first century. No surprise to anyone, but these two basically own the world. With Beyonce's film, music, and fashion career (with House of Dereon), and Jay-Z's career as a recording artist, club owner, designer, and CEO of Def Jam Records (he is the man responsible for making Rihanna what she is today), this pair has been the highest earning celebrity couple for several consecutive years. Despite their high-profile careers, which also consist of several duetted recordings, the duo is intensely private, neither confirming nor denying their marriage, which was alleged to have occurred almost two years ago.

3. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash
Married for 35 years, the story of Johnny and June is legendary in the pop culture stratum. If you are one of the four people out there that still hasn't seen Walk the Line, you are sorely missing out on love story lasting over four decades. After performing onstage together in the 1960s, Johnny popped the question in February 1968 during a concert. After June refused for several minutes, love eventually won out and their engagement was celebrated by the hundreds of fans watching in the audience. Rarely seen without one another by their sides, Johnny credited June for helping him overcome drug addiction, and when June passed away in May 2003, Johnny soon followed in that September. Some alleged it was due to a broken heart.

4. Paul and Linda McCartney
One of the most successful and long-lasting duos on the list is the marriage and musical partnership of a Beatle and a photographer. Though critics and fans alike would occasionally rip apart this musical duo (for Paul’s lightweight or comparatively subpar lyrics (to the Beatles, that is) and Linda’s lack of pianist and vocal experience), the married McCartneys were the most famous and central figures in the 70s super band Wings, racking up twelve top-10 singles in the UK and fourteen top-10s in the US, and each of their albums reaching the top-10 charts as well in the UK and US, with five albums consecutively reaching the number one spot. With several Grammy Awards won for their work in Wings, Paul and Linda were one of the most awarded duos in the music industry. In 1973 the McCartneys shared an Oscar nomination for the James Bond song “Live and Let Die.” But to be honest, this adorable couple was quite easy to make fun of - with their his-and-hers mullets, tribe of children, and their unabashed blind affection for one another, it's hard for a cynic to not to want to take it out on them a little.

5. Sonny Bono and Cher
Husband and wife duo Sonny and Cher Bono took the American mid-sixties music scene by storm with such sickeningly sweet tunes as "The Letter," "Do You Wanna Dance," and "I Got You Babe." After their film, 1967's Good Times, flopped with both the mainstream and critical audiences, their musical careers soon followed as the scene turned away from carefree anthems to psychedelic rock. They hosted several variety shows in the 70s, even after their divorce in 1975. They reunited several times to perform during the years, but that ended when Bono died in 1998 as a result of a skiing accident. They had a daughter Chastity Bono in 1969.

6. John Lennon and Yoko Ono
What can be said about John Lennon and Yoko Ono (or johnandyoko, as they preferred to be called) that hasn't already been said, torn apart, and said again? Easily the most controversial couple on this list, Lennon and Ono will forever be remembered for their controversial activities in both the musical and political arenas. My favorite albums were not their early experimental works, but the more tender albums they made later in their relationship, namely Double Fantasy and Milk & Honey. These albums marked the passage of time and maturity in their relationship, after they had separated for almost two years and John took up with May Pang, and then had a son Sean, for whom John gave up his career for several years to provide for. It is such a shame that their relationship came to such an early end as it did. No matter your personal opinions on the 'woman who broke up the Beatles', it is hard to listen to John's odes to his wife, particularly the rough recording of "Grow Old With Me," without wanting to breakdown with grief.

7. Phil and Ronnie Spector
This pairing of a mega-producer (and creator of The Wall of Sound technique) and the "original bad girl of rock and roll" was an unusual one, especially for its time. At the time of the beginning of their relationship, Ronnie Bennett was the lead member of the girl group the Ronettes and Phil Spector was a well-respected oddball music producer. Their personalities clashed from the beginning - Ronnie sought freedom, success, and adventure, whereas Phil was after control. In her autobiography, Ronnie recalled times when Phil would force her to watch Citizen Kane moments on end in order to stress that she would be nothing without him. Despite his controlling attitude, the duo married and produced several number one singles, such as "Be My Baby," as well as several children. After years of utter domination and abuse, where she was locked away in their mansion for months, Ronnie finally left Phil in 1972. Today, Ronnie is an inductee to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame and Phil is awaiting a life sentence for murder.

8. James Taylor and Carly Simon
In their decade-long marriage, Carly Simon and James Taylor were the reigning king and queen of the music scene. Recording duets and going on tour together, their fishbowl marriage seemed charmed. After they wed in late 1972, Carly and James had two children Sarah (known as 'Sally') and Ben, both of whom followed in their parents footsteps as musicians and activists. Simon scored a huge hit in '73 with "You're So Vain," which Taylor worried was about him at the time. Over the next few years, Simon struggled to break her husband of a drug addiction and raise a family at the same time, all the while facing her own temptations with drugs. The marriage ended in 1983, and the couple now no longer speaks to each other.

9. Isaac Hayes and Millie Jackson
Millie Jackson and Isaac Hayes recorded together in the mid-to-late seventies. Jackson was known for her candid, talk-and-sing style and Hayes was a recent success in developing Memphis soul and, with his more recent efforts, laying the foundation of what would eventually be rap. Jackson nows runs her own record label and broadcasts a radio show from her home in Dallas, Texas. Hayes, known to newer generations as the cook on South Park, passed away in 2008 at 65 years old.

10. Ben Gibbard and Zooey Deschanel
Hipsters, indie folk, Seth Cohen wannabes, and Urban Outfitters enthusiasts raised their hands in celebration upon the news that Zooey Deschanel and Death Cab for Cutie frontman (as well as The Postal Service mastermind) Ben Gibbard were engaged. The pair was very quiet about the relationship and few even knew they were together until their engagement was announced. While they haven't recorded anything together, fingers are crossed that Gibbard will soon team up with his She & Him darling. The duo married in September 2009, in a very private ceremony in Seattle.

11. Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon
Sonic Youth members (and personal friends of Lily van der Woodsen, apparently) Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon have been rocking out together since the early 80s. Though Moore claimed in his autobiography that the only reason he went to New York to pursue a music career was to "fuck Patti Smith," Gordon and Moore married in 1984 and had a daughter Coco ten years later. The pair has appeared in a number of projects over the years, most recently showing up on Gilmore Girls and Gossip Girl. Yeah, and Moore still writes songs about how he wants to fuck Patti Smith.

12. Ike and Tina Turner
The married Turners were an American homespun success in the 1960s and 1970s, for their inventive lyrics and beats that everyone could dance to. Together Ike and Tina Turner lasted as a recording duo for over sixteen years, until Tina's emergence as a solo talent in the late seventies. During this time, Ike became increasingly dependent upon cocaine and pills to get by, and often became violent with Tina when he was high. Unfortunately, in recent years the success of Ike and Tina as a duo has been overshadowed by the claims of abuse and drug addictions. Ike passed away in 2007 at the age of 73, whereas Tina is still the phenom as a musical talent at 70 years old.

13. Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani
Since their wedding in 2002, Gwen Stefani has gone from pink-haired songstress from No Doubt to high fashion solo star with legions of aspiring Harajuku Girls following her every step. Both members of popular late-90s bands (Bush and No Doubt, respectively), Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani seemed like a perfect match - after meeting in 1995, the two fell in love quickly and started a long distance relationship, because both of their bands were touring at the time. Though they haven't collaborated musically, they have collaborated reproductively (I know, that's gross - forgive me!) - Gwen gave birth to their sons Kingston and Zuma in 2006 and 2008.

14. Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull
They are the couple that lived too fast, partied too hard, and looked almost too beautiful while they did it. Mick and Marianne - synonymous with late sixties rock and roll, indulgence, and wildness, but how we envy them so! Whether in Morocco dancing with the natives, or in a court house on drug charges, or seeking enlightenment from the Maharishi in Wales with the Beatle gang, Mick and Marianne were where it was at in the sixties. When they first got together, Mick gave her love, fame, and security, and Marianne gave him an appreciation to obscure literature and faraway culture that she so loved, as well as an introduction to the Swinging London scene that she ran with during her marriage to art curator John Dunbar. Together they made the Mars Bar the chocolate candy of legends after the Redlands bust. As a result of that, Mick became the badass rock 'n roller he is today and Marianne became 'Miss X', the tarnished reputation of a folk princess that caused her to become a rock goddess girl on a motorcycle. Marianne proved to be endless inspiration for many of the Rolling Stones' greatest songs, from "Sympathy for the Devil" (Mick got the idea from a book by Mikhail Bulgakov that Marianne made him read) to "Wild Horses" (the repeated line "wild horses couldn't drive me away" was apparently what Marianne told Mick after her 1969 overdose when he told her his worry that she would die and leave him forever). Their breakup in 1970 was largely caused by Marianne's increasing drug addiction, and the separate points they both reached in their careers. One song is credited to the both of them: "Sister Morphine" which Mick wrote the music for and Marianne the lyrics. Both have recorded their own versions of the song.

15. George Jones and Tammy Wynette
When George Jones and Tammy "Stand By Your Man" Wynette hooked up, the country world had found their golden couple. Their marriage, which lasted from 1969 to 1975, was the beginning of many duet albums that they would record over the years. Though blissfully happy together, Wynette found she could no longer stand by Jones, her third husband, because of his severe alcoholism. They continued to record together throughout the seventies and eighties, and released their last album together in 1995.

Who are your favorite couples in music history? Did I leave any of your favorites out?