Pamela Des Barres, More Than The World's Most Famous Groupie
Pamela Des Barres is the world's most famous groupie. In 1987 she published her first book, I'm With The Band, a collection of journal entries and stories detailing her life growing up in Los Angeles at the height of the 1960s music revolution, her years as a groupie and her relationships with everyone from Noel Redding to Jimmy Page to a young Don Johnson. The book was a bestseller several times over, and she became a heroine to women everywhere who hope to score the ultimate concert souvenir. Rocks Off has never wanted to bed a rock star*, but we adore Des Barres' candid writing, so when we found out she'd be at Mike Stinson's monthly Wednesday night gig at Under the Volcano, we decided to act like a groupie ourselves and try to steal a few minutes with her. The funny thing about meeting Des Barres is that Rocks Off was actually nervous, something that rarely happens in interviews. But then we realized that she has had to approach hundreds of famous people over her lifetime, so we figured she'd be kind to us. "I still get nervous," she said. "I interviewed Jack White. I thought, 'I'm gonna meet someone who stimulates me.' That made me nervous."
Des Barres is now a magazine writer with four books under her belt and a fifth in the making. Her book Let's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies has been turned into a series for VH1 that will debut at the end of 2010. And her original memoir, which was optioned by Ally Sheedy years ago but was never made into a film, has turned into a miniseries on HBO that will star Zooey Deschanel. Des Barres wears a watch with Elvis Presley on the face and has James Dean's signature tattooed on the back of her neck. Like most girls in the 1960s, she was hit hard by Beatlemania, which led to a lifelong obsession with music - and musicians. Des Barres and Stinson have been dating for about six years, and since Stinson moved from L.A. last summer, she's come to Houston three times to visit him. When she travels, she often tries to organize one of her women-only memoir workshops. Tomorrow and Saturday, she'll be teaching a workshop hosted at the home of one of her fans. Registration is $100 and there are still empty slots, she says. "They're very cathartic. I usually have between 8 and 15 women. Women need each other because we're all kindred spirits, and we all love music." But were all the groupies kindred spirits? In the 1970s, Des Barres was dating Jimmy Page when he famously dumped her for a groupie from a new generation, Lori Maddox - who was a mere 14 at the time. Rocks Off asked Des Barres if she ever had any rivalries with other groupies. "We loved and appreciated each other because we all loved and appreciated music," she said. "In my VH1 special, I interview Lori Maddox and that's pretty interesting."
Mike Stinson and Pamela Des Barres at Under the Volcano
In 1977, Des Barres married actor/glam-rocker Michael Des Barres. The two had a son, and divorced in 1991. According to the amazingly detailed but long-dead Web site Groupie Central, Des Barres has also been in relationships with Waylon Jennings, Dennis Hopper and Terence Trent D'arcy. Des Barres first met Stinson through a mutual friend, singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams. "Who also used to be his girlfriend," she said. "But they broke up, so I moved in. Mike has written 7 songs about me. I'm still a muse, and I love that." In the late 1960s, Des Barres befriended Frank Zappa, who cast her in his conceptual girl group, The GTOs. Later, she became a nanny to Zappa's kids, Dweezil and Moon Unit. She also dated Don Johnson before he became famous on Miami Vice. Rocks Off asked her how it feels to have seen so many people come into their fame. "I can pick them," she said. "Mike is the most talented person I've seen in many years." Des Barres said she touches on that subject in the new book she's working on, Treat Me Nice: How To Make Love To A Rock Star. "The title's from the Elvis song. It was the first single I ever bought," she said. "I have the phrase tattooed on my back." Des Barres said she considers herself a feminist, even though in the '60s and '70s many feminists looked down on her lifestyle. "I was considered not that. But a groupie - it's a woman going after what she wants, a lifestyle she wants." But that doesn't mean the inroads she and other feminists made have caused much change. "This country is so fucked up sexually. It's still a battle for sexually free women to express themselves. It's such a male-dominated society." *Who are we kidding. Mick Jagger? We'd still hit it.
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