12.05.2004

For some reason, I'm reading rock-girlfriend tell-alls from the seventies. I just finished Angie Bowie's book, Backstage Passes, and I'm moving on to Bebe Buell's less elegant Rebel Heart. I think that the next long fiction I write is going to be in this area--I'm very interested in what we want from our rock stars, I'm obsessed with why so many people--girls--are so willing to give themselves over--as groupies, as wives--for such little reward. Even footage of a crazed stadium audience for anyone except say Bruce Springsteen really flummoxes me--all these folks are so willing to give it up so easily. I've written fiction in this realm before, but there's so much more here. Why do girls give it all over--not just their bodies, but their potential, their imagination? Proximity, a few goodies, but--what else? I guess it's a busyness, drama, failure of imagination, and of course, entrenched sexism, the near-impossibility, in the sixties and seventies almost absolute but still there to some extent today, to imagine a woman rock star with wildness and power on the same scale as all those boys.

This is why I love Tori Amos--when you see her live, she channels Little Richard, Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Elton John--you can see them in her. Bowie, of course. Prince. But also Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Carole King. That huge rock star space that the men mapped out first, but she takes it to a new level, and maps out in the songs how to get there without camping out in front of a hotel room door, doing too much coke, and having inorgasmic bells-and-whistles sex with someone famous you don't know.

Bebe Buell just wants, as she says repeatedly, "rock and roll." Also, she tells a few mean stories that seem made-up to make her rivals look bad: Cyrinda Foxe breaking the zippers on all Bebe's size six dresses, a gaggle of rock stars including Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart sleeping in an attic to avoid Angie Bowie's advances. Angie Bowie is more complex and spiritual, obsessed with pushing gender boundaries, determined and devoted to her vision of David's ascendance. Buell was more of just a pretty girl with ADD out for an adventure. Both of them put up with ridiculous amounts of infidelity--they just sort of grinned and bore it. Or broke shit and bore it. Or disappeared with Jimmy Page for a week, returned with jewelry and shoes, and bore it.

xo
Elizabeth
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