Karen Umphrey Groupie Glam
Conjured by o~ SeMeN SPeRmS ~o on March 20, 2015
The Rodney Bingenheimer of today seems always to be smiling through a deep sadness. He is a small man who still has the youthful cuteness that must have won him friends in his early days. His hair is still combed in the same tousled mid-1970s rock star style, and his T-shirts are the real thing, not retro. He lives now in an inexpensive apartment jammed with records, tapes, discs, and countless autographed photos of his friends the stars. And, yes, they are still his friends; they have not forgotten him, and David Bowie, Cher, Debbie Harry, Courtney Love, Nancy Sinatra and Mick Jagger all appear in this film and seem genuinely fond of Rodney.
Well they might. He introduced some of them — Bowie in particular — to American radio. He was known for finding new music and playing it first: The Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Clash, Nirvana. Stations all over the country stole their playlists from Rodney. “Sonny and Cher were kinda like my mom and my dad,” he says wistfully at one point. He ran a little club for a while, featuring British glam rock, and the stars remember with a grin that it was so small the “VIP Area” consisted simply of a velvet rope separating a few chairs from the dance floor.
The story of how Bingenheimer entered into this world is apparently true, unlikely as it sounds. As a kid he was obsessed with stars, devoured the fan magazines, collected autographs. One day when he was a teenager, his mother dropped him off in front of Connie Stevens’ house and told him he was on his own. He didn’t see his mother for another five or six years. Connie wasn’t home.
He migrated to the Sunset Strip, but instead of dying there or disappearing into drugs or crime, he simply ingratiated himself. People liked him. He hustled himself into a job as a gofer for Davy Jones of the Monkees (they looked a little alike), and then became a backstage caterer; a survivor of a Doors tour remembers a Toronto concert where Rodney had enormous platters of fresh shrimp backstage. But the Beatles were backstage visitors, and Rodney gave them the shrimp, so there were only a few left for the Doors, who had paid for them. Challenged by The Doors, Rodney shrugged and said, “Well, they’re the Beatles.”
Wherever Bingenheimer went in the music and club scene, his face was his passport. Robert Plant says, “Rodney got more girls than I do.” We hear a little of his radio show from the old days, and what comes across is not a vibrating personality or a great radio voice — it’s kind of tentative, really — but an almost painful sincerity. He loves the music he plays, and he introduces it to you like a lover he thinks is right for you. The road downhill was gradual, apparently. We get glimpses of Rodney today, repairing his mom’s old Nova with a pair of pliers, shuffling forlornly through souvenirs of his glory days. He seems very even, calm, sad but resigned, except for one moment the documentary camera is not supposed to witness, when he finds that another deejay, a person he sponsored and gave breaks to, is starting a show of new music — stealing Rodney’s gig. He explodes in anger. We’re glad he does. He has a lot to feel angry about.
The film was directed by George Hickenlooper, who made the classic doc “Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse” (1991), about the nightmare of Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now,” and the wonderful fiction film “The Man From Elysian Fields” (2001). Why did he make this film (apart from the possibility that someone named Hickenlooper might feel an affinity for someone named Bingenheimer)? Hickenlooper has been around fame at an early age. He was 26 when he released the doc about the Coppola meltdown. He cast Mick Jagger and James Coburn in “Elysian Fields.” He was aware of Rodney Bingenheimer when the name still opened doors. His film evokes what the Japanese call mono no aware, which refers to the impermanence of life and the bittersweet transience of things. There is a little Rodney Bingenheimer in everyone, but you know what? Most people aren’t as lucky as Rodney. – Roger Ebert
Conjured by o~ SeMeN SPeRmS ~o on June 2, 2014
Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway is a dramatic made-for-television movie, which premiered on NBC on September 27, 1976.
The story follows a 15-year-old girl named Dawn Wetherby (Eve Plumb) who runs away from home to Hollywood and becomes a prostitute to support herself. Dawn finds herself taken under the wing of a tough-talking pimp named Swan. The film’s soundtrack features the song “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways.
In Randal Kleiser’s telemovie Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch) stars as Dawn, who leaves home at 15 for the glamour of L.A. Friendless, she is taken in by the smooth line of Swan (Bo Hopkins), who offers to be her protector. Before long, Dawn has become a streetwalker, with Swan taking a sizeable chunk of her earnings.
She finds true friendship in the form of another runaway, male hustler Alex (Leigh McCloskey) — whose own story would be delineated in a 1977 sequel, Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn. Having learned a lesson with its controversial airing of Born Innocent, NBC preceded the September 27, 1976, premiere of Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway with a “parental discretion” disclaimer.
Conjured by o~ SeMeN SPeRmS ~o on May 20, 2014
Filmed the previous year, the documentary follows Glitter through a routine of press conferences, radio interviews, photo shoots, concert rehearsals, and so forth. It also includes Glitter’s audition to star in an unproduced feature film.
The picture also documents the people working behind the scenes of Glitter’s career. It shows them pressing copies of his records, and attending meetings where Bell Records staff discuss Glitter’s record sales and arrangements for his concerts.
The movie follows Glitter and his entourage through to a sell-out concert at the Rainbow Theatre in London, and features songs from the show at the end, including a show-stopping rendition of his chart-topping hit single “I Love You Love Me Love“.
This is the best fuckin’ part:
Conjured by o~ SeMeN SPeRmS ~o on December 27, 2012
Slade are a rock band from Wolverhampton, who rose to prominence during the glam rock era of the early 1970s. With 17 consecutive Top 20 hits and six number ones, the British Hit Singles & Albums names them as the most successful British group of the 1970s based on sales of singles. They were the first act to have three singles enter at number one, and all six of the band’s chart-toppers were penned by Noddy Holder and Jim Lea. Total UK sales stand at 6,520,171, and their best selling single, “Merry Xmas Everybody“, has sold in excess of one million copies.
A number of artists have cited Slade as an influence, including: Kiss, Mötley Crüe, Quiet Riot, Poison, Def Leppard, Oasis, Cheap Trick, Twisted Sister, The Runaways and Girlschool. The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Music tells of Holder’s powerful vocals, guitarist Dave Hill‘s equally arresting dress sense and the deliberate misspelling of their song titles for which they became well known.
Conjured by o~ SeMeN SPeRmS ~o on March 8, 2012