Join us this evening with Girls Together Outrageously (the GTO’s!) all grown up… and JUST AS OUTRAGEOUS! Plus, get a chance to read your work alongside the legendary luminaries of rock ‘n’ roll! A lipstick drawing selects the student readers. Q & A closes the festivities.
Moon Unit (author, and daughter of GTO’s music producer, the musician, Frank Zappa)
Catherine James (author)
Mercy Fontenot (author, and original GTO)
Pamela Des Barres (bestselling author, and original GTO)
and… students from the Pamela Des Barres memoir writing workshop! Including: Terry Moreland Henderson, Linda Leather, and Lucretia Tye Jasmine, contributors to Pamela’s most recent book, Let It Bleed: How to Write A Rockin’ Memoir, which is based on Pamela’s memoir writing workshops.
Moon Unit, a freelance writer, actor, guest vocalist on various albums, and the daughter of Gail and Frank Zappa, brought ValleySpeak to the airwaves when she spoke it on her father’s biggest US hit song, 1982’s “Valley Girl.” The phrases “barf me out,” “grody,” and “gag me with a spoon” became popular parlance with her unforgettable intonations. Moon Unit’s memoir, 2001’s America The Beautiful, tells the story of growing up in a “crazy house” during revolutionary times, a house filled with unique musical experimentations and living arrangements as artistic expression and social freedoms tried to mesh with stability and enduring love.
Catherine James, a Wilhelmina model for whom the lyric, “Warm and lovely mystery…abandon your sad history,” were written by Jackson Browne in a song from 1972, ran away from home into a rock ‘n’ roll revolution. Her folk-singing mom played mean tricks on her, from tying her up in a chair to dropping her off in unfamiliar neighborhoods and telling her to find her own way home to abandoning her at an orphanage. But a meeting with Bob Dylan changed the 13-year-old’s life. Bob told her, “It’s only life – it’syourlife.” Her 2007 memoir, Dandelion: Memoir of a Free Spirit, tells her story of emerging free from abusive parents and rock star lovers.
Mercy Fontenot, an original GTO, re-named herself when she was 15, emancipated herself as a minor, and joined GTO’s when record producer, Frank Zappa, said the band needed an “imperative bizarre element.” Mercy gave their one and only album its name, too: Permanent Damage(1969). She sang back-up on the Flying Burrito Brothers 1969 song, “Hippie Boy,” and co-wrote one of my favorite GTO songs: “The Ghost Changed To The Past, Present, and Future (Shock Treatment).” Mercy married Shuggie Otis, the man she dreamed of, whose father, Johnny Otis, is known as the Godfather of R&B. Mercy and Shuggie’s son, Lucky, is also a musician. Featured in an anthology of groupies, 2007’s Let’s Spend The Night Together, as well as in the cult film, 2003’s Mayor of the Sunset Strip, Mercy’s own book, co-authored with Lyndsey Parker, is due out in 2018.
Pamela Des Barres, original GTO and author of five books, including 1987’s bestselling I’m With The Band: Confessions Of A Groupie, the book that alt-rocker, Kim Gordon, calls the best book about music she ever read. She also guides rock ‘n’ roll tours that are an architectural memory of her life through Los Angeles, with the tour as narrative structure, and the exciting possibilities of landscape and architecture as new ways to get places, and foment social change. Her line about a musician on tour is my favorite line on the GTO’s album: “I was a virgin the last time he was in town.” Pamela, the groupie scribe who agrees with Captain Beefheart that god is a musical note, is currently writing a new book about the relationship between spirituality, sex, and music.
Students and the Lipstick Drawing Pamela’s recent book, 2017’s Let It Bleed: How To Write A Rockin’ Memoir, is based on the memoir writing workshops she’s been teaching since 2000. Dubbed “groupie therapy” by her loyal and ever-expanding groupie gang of writers, the workshops are like a literary pajama party with gaspworthy revelations and writing, shared food and feelings, and the consistent pull of Pamela’s fun-loving yet sharp-eyed guidance. Interviewed about her writing workshops by KPFK’s Feminist Magazine Radio in 2016, Let It Bleedoffers many of her best writing prompts and features work from students along with Pamela’s commentary.
Terry Moreland Henderson, currently writing a book about the LA underground clubs and music scene circa 1976-1985, emphasizes a scene that existed before and simultaneously with punk but was much more eclectic with its inclusion of New Wave, Rockabilly, Soul, etc. The story begins with Radio Free Hollywood, an event staged at Troupers Hall by the Pop, the Motels and the Dogs, and was crucial to the emergent scene by paving the way for new bands to once again play the Whisky previously closed to them as it tried to capitalize on showcasing already signed acts and disco and ends with the Pay to Play era. Terry is also staging a concert that reflects this oft forgotten era with the help of her co-pilots Marvin Etzioni and David Jenkins. Penning a personal memoir that begins with her Appalachian Ohio roots through her current status as Hollywood survivor, and recently published in 2017’s Let it Bleed: How To Write A Rockin’ Memoir, Terry’s published works extend to include the academic variety.
Linda Leather, originally from Boston, MA, began writing when she was six years old. She sent her first manuscript to Simon & Schuster, who rejected it, but who also suggested she try Horn Books. They rejected it, too, but told Linda to keep on writing! She’s journaled on and off throughout her life. Linda made the big move to Los Angeles in 2012, and life changed for the better. Published for the first time in 2017’s Let it Bleed: How To Write A Rockin’ Memoir, Linda achieved a lifelong goal. Linda is hoping to write her own book before long.
Lucretia Tye Jasmine, whose wild interests and inclinations to rage against the machine with a self-destructive flair that could equal the groupies and rock stars who fascinate her, published an article about GTO’s in Women Who Rock: From Bessie to Beyonce, Girl Groups to riot grrrl, edited by Evelyn McDonnell (2018). Escaping a small town that felt oppressive, Lucretia Tye Jasmine earned a BFA from Tisch (University Honors Scholar, 1988) and an MFA from CalArts (2006). riot grrrls, rock stars, groupies, and veganism inform all her art and writing. Current projects are the oral history mixtape zines: riot grrrl Los Angeles, and The Groupie Gospels.
A drawing to begin the evening will choose which students read their work from Let It Bleed: How To Write A Rockin’ Memoir. Students pull lipsticks out of the GTO’s record album sleeve, and whichever lipstick has the heart or star sticker gets to read her work from Let It Bleed: How To Write A Rockin’ Memoir.
Q & A after the readings!