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)?