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Book Review: Let’s Spend the Night Together – Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies by Pamela Des Barres

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Pamela Des Barres, most famous for her 1987 tell-all I’m With The Band, parlayed her sexual exploits with such notorious rockers as Keith Moon, Jim Morrison and Jimmy Page into a career as the world’s most-quoted groupie. “Miss Pamela” as she was christened during her ‘60s heyday as a member of all-girl band the GTOs/Moon Zappa’s nanny/Hollywood super-groupie, has spent the last few decades extolling the merits of the rock concubine lifestyle. Her latest book, Let's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies, focuses on her successors and some of her contemporaries.

Among the interviewees are muses like Catherine James, Tura Satana, Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), and Patti D'Arbanville. These women were models, actresses, and entertainment personalities in their own right before, during or after their stints as groupies. Sex with rock stars was part of the package, not their sole reason for being. (Though Pamela’s breathless prose sometimes makes you think so.) Des Barres is a wonderful writer. I wish she would pen books on other subjects, although she did write articles for New Woman magazine in the 1980s.

In Spend the Night's middle chapters we glimpse an “in between” phase in groupie history with well-known '80s stars like Billy Idol and David Lee Roth as the main lust objects. For all their philandering, we don’t get a lot of ink from groupies wanting to talk about  experiences with ‘80s stars. Of course, groupies from the hair metal years and beyond are brimming with unabashed enthusiasm about their encounters with Kid Rock, Taime Downe and the guys from Pretty Boy Floyd.  

Contrary to public belief, the more recent groupies (including Pleather, a male groupie who catered to female stars like Courtney Love) are smart and know exactly what they’re doing. But there’s an emptiness to some of their stories you don’t find with the earlier groupies. There’s a bond, a real connection to the musicians other than sex with the “trailblazing” groupies like Pamela, Cynthia Plaster Caster and Cherry Vanilla. A love of music accompanies the lust for its makers in many of the early women’s stories. Bebe Buell (Liv Tyler’s mom) has a rock band; Pleasant Gehman and Margaret Moser were rock journalists. That sense of musical camaraderie lacks in a few of the latter profiles.

Spend the Night, in its own ways, tracks the history, backstage and otherwise, of popular music from the 1960s to present day. In the ‘50s, Tura Satana coached Elvis on how to shake his hips, in the '70s, Lori Lightning had a threesome with Mickey Finn of T-Rex and Angie Bowie. In the end chapters, we hear tales of rock stars into cross-dressing and some really icky stuff. Whatever happened to the old-fashioned activities involving genitalia? Of course, these variations may be just another way to engage in safe sex. Time marches on, even in the world of rock stars and groupies.

Let's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies
By Pamela Des Barres
Chicago Review Press
Hardcover, $24.95

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