biopic opens in Houston today, which you already know because you read Hollywood Shuffle religiously
and are sick of hearing us talk about it. We swear this is the last of it.
But before the new film was even a spark in some glimmery vampire-loving actress' eye, ex-Runaways bass player and filmmaker Vicki Blue made a documentary with her former and fellow bandmates about the dramatic rise and fall of rock's first girl group.
was filmed in 2003, more than two decades after the band of misfit teen girls finally dissolved. The documentary starts with L.A. punk scenestress and early Runaways member Kari Krome talking about the fragility of memory, a fitting start since a good portion of the movie involves members of the band telling alternate versions of their history and promoter Kim Fowley's effect on them.
At one point, Cheri Currie talks about Fowley's intimidation techniques, which he used to ensure the girls stayed focused on making music and touring. These included a fondness for the word "dogshit," putting the girls on allowances, various attacks to their self esteem and sexual harassment.
"My father would have absolutely pulled out a gun and blown his brains out," Currie says. "I still hope someone does. Because I think if anyone deserves it, that man does."
What's interesting about this quote is Currie's apparent reconciliation with Fowley
. It also makes him out to be the lone perpetrator in the girls' five-year career, which isn't exactly the case. A carousel of manipulative men had their hands on The Runaways before any of the girls were old enough to drink (legally, at least). It makes a person wonder what fate awaits the young Disney stars of today when fame and fortune is the ultimate goal. Just look at Britney Spears.
The fact that the film was made by a former band member adds an element of intimacy that might otherwise not be present. And by intimacy, we mean intimacy: Currie talks about her sexual relationship with Joan Jett and drummer Sandy West. West, who died in 2006 following a battle with lung cancer, talks about her post-Runaways experiences as a loan shark and drug runner, and her wish that someday the band might reunite.
The eminently likeable Lita Ford talks about her musical influences - each member of the band planned to emulate their musical heroes. Currie was David Bowie, Jett was Suzi Quatro, Ford was Ritchie Blackmore, Sandy was Queen and long-term bassist Jackie Fox was Gene Simmons.
Fox, who declined to give permission for her likeness to be used in the 2010 film, speaks openly about the nervous breakdown she had while on tour in Japan, pointing out the scars from her suicide attempt. She was later replaced by Blue, but the two seem extremely close. Fox was a co-producer on the documentary.
In fact, the film is so honest that the glaring absence of Joan Jett is made even more weird by a lack of an explanation for it. As a funding member, who helped write "Cherry Bomb" on the spot for Currie to sing at an audition, it's strange that she wouldn't at least want to tell her side of the story. There seems to be a hole in the film, but the documentary doesn't suffer too much from it, thanks to the candor of the rest of the band.