Groupie Girls - My Groovy Date with Miss Pamela Des Barres


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Two years ago I took a life-changing trip to Los Angeles. It all started when my mom had asked for a particular book for her birthday, which I purchased and never ended up giving her. The tome that I couldn’t bear to part with was Pamela Des Barres I'm With The Band. Freshly out of high school and having mostly dated musicians at that point in my life (in fact, it even reigns true to this day – old habits die hard apparently) this book was like tearing pages out of my diary, though with more famous characters. The rites of passage are universal but the details of trysts with Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, and Keith Moon are beyond comprehendible. 

If you aren’t familiar with her work, Miss Pamela is not only a brilliant writer but is also known as the world’s most famous groupie; a title one can’t help but take notice of. She’s a muse, a musician, and an inspiration to many, myself included. When I saw she was hosting another Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour of Laurel Canyon, my mother and I jumped on the chance to be whisked through 1960s Los Angeles.

During the tour I was in a daze, intoxicated by the experience; touching her diary with Gram Parson’s writing in it. I even wore my purple suede fringe vest to get in the spirit of it all. Then it happened, I was thrifting with Pamela Des Barres on Fairfax and the Beatles were on the radio-how could it possibly get any better than this? But it did.

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Before leaving Edmonton, I had contacted her requesting an interview and to my surprise (and insane delight) she agreed! Post-tour, I sat down for a dinner with the lovely Miss P and my mother, just three gals talking about music, men, and the thrills of groupiedom. Much like the way she desired to meet her idols in the 60s and have a CONVERSATION with them, my feelings mirrored that towards her.  Though it never ended up being published in the magazine it was originally intended for, I have decided to post it on my blog instead.


September 4th 2010

SJK                 What would be an average day for you in the 60s?

PDB                Well I never knew what was going to happen, the Mickey Mouse Club back when I was a kid, Thursday was 'Anything Can Happen Day' and that was the way it was like for me everyday. I had no idea what was going to happen. I would get up whenever I felt like it, hang out with the girls, the GTO’s in Laurel Canyon, we would go from house to house to visit our friends in rock bands. Just choose one or two of many choices of bands every single night to see. It was endless. Looking back, now you wait and wait and wait for Dylan to come or Jack White or something but someone was playing every night, usually two or three people we wanted to see. We would make the rounds.

SJK                What is an average day for you now?

PDB                Well my son moved to Tokyo five years ago. I used to hang out with him quite a bit so that was pretty shocking when he left and moved there. My boyfriend, Mike Stinson, moved to Houston a year ago so my life is a little different than it used to be with those guys gone. But I get up late still, I’m a late riser, late to go to bed. I still get up whenever I want to, and pretty much do what I want. I know it sounds crazy but I still do whatever I want to do. I’m writing another book. I teach writing classes two three nights a week. I teach all over the country, doing my writing classes.

 SJK                 And you have a new series coming out?

PDB                That’s going to be soon, probably November, late fall. [The series, unfortunately, never came out. However… if it ever does, I personally volunteer myself to be a groovy character in the production] It’s supposed to be called I’m With The Band but you never know they’ve changed so much. 

SJK                 Do you have any control over it at all? 

PDB                I’m a producer but it doesn’t mean much once they buy you. My ex husband is a producer but so is Zooey Deschanel who’s playing me, or a character based on me. And the writer Jill Solloway is a brilliant writer. She wrote 6 Feet Under for years, she’s amazing. She’s writing the pilot, so we’ll see. 

SJK                 You originally wanted it to be a movie though?

PDB                Yeah quite a while ago I started to get a movie made but when Almost Famous came out I just had to forget it. But an average day, I do interviews with people. I just had a two-year stint as a columnist for Rolling Stone Italy so I was always interviewing whoever I wanted to. That was the best thing about that and traveling a lot for that, I spent a lot of time in Italy, actually. I guess travel is very important. I exercise everyday. I get up and I do some form of exercise. I don’t know an average day; I don’t really have one because it’s different all the time. I pretty much do what I want to do which is great.

SJK                 That’s amazing. Who was your favorite person you ever interviewed?

PDB                Jack White. I’ve got a 26 page interview with him on my website that he says is the best ever. So you should read that. It's on my blog. So recently he’s been my favourite. Chrissie Hynde, I did  a great interview with. I really like her very much. Joan Jett. A lot of women. Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, Debbie Harry I did a good one. Tommy Lee,  I don’t know, it’s just endless. I’ve done so so many that’s just what's popping into my mind right now. 

PDB                I've met almost everybody I wanted to meet but I haven’t spent enough quality time with them. Bob Dylan I have spent some good time here and there, but not enough. Prince, Springsteen, Paul McCartney. I’ve met em all but I haven’t had a whole lot of interaction with them. I would love to just sit and hang out with everyone of those people for hours on end.

SJK                 Did you ever interview Bruce Springsteen?

PDB                No. I interviewed his wife. But one of my favorite things in the world is Springsteen concerts.

SJK                 I saw him in Hyde Park in London two summers ago.

PDB                It’s like going to heaven

SJK                 It’s unreal. UNREAL.

PDB                It’s heaven. It’s a heavenly experience. I saw that same show in Rome actually And in 
                        New York too. I see him whenever I possibly can.

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Miss P and Kip Brown outside the Whisky

SJK                 Would you say, in terms of today, there there isn’t anyone that equals the star quality of the bands in the 60s aside from Jack White.

PDB                Jack White, of course, but my favourites are not big famous people. Rhett Miller is one of my favorites, do you know the Old 97’s? He epitomizes a pop star rock god to me this guy.  He’s the lead singer of the Old 97’s but he also has his own solo records and I believe he’s on Elektra, at least he was. And Ryan Adams, he was in a band called Whiskey Town that was one of my favorites for a long time. And Lucinda Williams is one of my heroes she’s a good friend and she’s a genius. But as far as young bands,  Nightmare and The Cat these local kids, they’re just AMAZING! A throw back to the 60s. They’re so into it and he dances. He’s sort of like a a mime as well. It’s incredible. He’s only 19 years old. His dad is Dave Stewart and his mom was in Bananarama so they’ve got amazing set up there. They’ve got a girl on keyboards and really unique sound, very charismatic kids. I just interviewed them for Rolling Stone Italy. 

SJK                 So you don’t go to Hollywood much anymore? Only for special occasions?

PDB                Just for shows. I’ll go to the palladium to see Bob [Dylan] I think the last time I was there to see someone was Dead Weather which wasn’t that long ago. Occasionally my ex boyfriend plays the sunset strip music festival and I just have to go. It’s just not, people want it to be what it is was so bad. They come from all over and look around like okay what’s going to happen? Nothing happens up there anymore. It’s just not, I mean some people think it does but it’s nothing new, nothing new fresh and exciting and fabulous is going on up there. It’s a lot of rehash going on there on the strip.

SJK                  So what was the best line ever you got given to you?

PDB                The best, I’ve got two of them. Chris Hillman he said he was going to curry me like a  
                        fine mare one night. That’s the best come on. Curry you like a fine mare? It’s the best. 
                        And the other one was Dennis Hopper and he said he was going to worship my pussy. 
                        Those are my two favorite lines I’ve gotten.

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Burrito Manor


SJK                 All the younger groupies that came after you like Sable Starr and lori lightening. What 
                        happened, well I read your other book, but are they nice to you now?

PDB                Sable is dead. But Lori is my friend now.

SJK                 When they came onto the scene and were being mean to you why do you think they 
                        were like that?


PDB                They were little kids. Literally, little children.


SJK                 Wasn’t Lori like 13?


PDB                Yeah and if you read her chapter you’ll see what it was like. She didn’t know anything. 
                        She had no idea what she was doing. They were so young. If you think about when you  
                        were 14 there’s not a lot of wisdom there. But Sable just wasn’t nice, Lori wasn’t really 
                        mean to me, she was just so young. I just didn’t want to deal with it but Sable was a 
                        bitch, I don’t know how you could be a bitch that young but she was.


SJK                 That’s terrifying.


PDB                They wanted us out of the way so they could have all the guys, y’know?


SJK                 I watched that documentary, I think it was from the 70s? It was called Groupies. Who 
                        made that? And how did you get involved with that?

PDB                I don’t know how I met the people. At that point in time the word groupie was getting 
                        very tarnished and I didn’t want to be called that anymore. So they said they weren’t 
                        even going to use the word in the movie and then they called it Groupies of course. 
                        They camped out at my house, they stayed with me. In fact, the place I showed you 
                        today on Alfred street was where it was filmed.

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Miss P on the Sunset Strip with Jesus

SJK                 I know you were talking about Mike Stinson and a lot of his songs are about you, but have there been any other ones in the past?

PDB                Chris Hillman wrote a couple. And I don’t know, I really don’t know. Robert said "Going to California" [by Led Zeppelin] was about all of us California girls.

SJK                 Do you think it’s easier to make it in LA now, or anywhere, because of the internet? Or 
                        do you think it was easier back then to get a record deal?


PDB                Everything is in such a state of flux in the industry now. I think its harder even though 
                        the internet can reach everybody its still, to get an actual record deal, much harder. No  
                        one really knows where the industry is going, if there’s even going to be an industry.



SJK                 With the internet and despite resources that we have today do you think it’s harder to get 
                        backstage and with the band?


PDB                Well, it depends on the band. It depends on what city you’re in, all that kind of stuff. 
                        There’s roadies that still pick girls out of the audience. Depends on the band. A married
                         band not so much anymore because...


SJK                 It get’s around easier these days


PDB                Yeah, exactly. In those days, Led Zeppelin could tell their wives they were in 
                        Timbuktu, Idaho and they were here in LA. That happened a lot. They based  
                        themselves here and went out to their gigs. Their wives did not know they were here. 
                        And now, everybody would know where they are. But they got away with it. You 
                        know girls meet local bands and hopefully those bands go on to be successful. And 
                        they’re friends with them, that’s the way it works now. Or you do what you’re doing, 
                        you meet them by interviewing them, you meet them by taking their picture, you meet 
                        them by working at a radio station.

SJK                 So what you’re saying is that you have to be a bit more creative now?

PDB                We were very creative actually. We were very creative. They wanted to meet us 
                        because we were so interesting and fascinating and all that stuff. But there is so much 
                        competition now, we didn’t have a trillion women after the same guy. I mean it slowly 
                        got that way, but when I first started doing it, like I said I was the only person waiting 
                        there for Jim Morrison.

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Jim Morrison's house in Laurel Canyon


SJK                 How do you think that changed?


PDB                More people became aware that you could actually meet them. People were content, 
                        you know, most people were bobby soxers, the people waiting for Frank Sinatra by the 
                        side of the stage. Most people never thought about trying to meet them. That’s the 
                        groupie mentality. Well I’m not gonna sit home, I’m going to go meet these people that I 
                        feel so connected to.

SJK                 Do you think you’ll ever release your diaries in there entirety?


PDB                I talked to my agent about that. I said let’s do that and he said he wanted to get 
                        something that’s really going to sell. He said oh no that’s a rehash that’s going to make 
                        you look like you’re living in the past. See that’s something I don’t wanna ever want, 
                        people to think I’m living in the past.


SJK                 Yeah but we want it! We wanna read it all!


PDB                I would love to do that. Maybe I could start thinking about some self publishing. Just 
                        like so many bands do their own websites and there music out there that way. Maybe I 
                        should do that. But it’s expensive.


SJK                 The only constant thing that I’ve ever kept up in my life was having a journal. And my 
                        mom bought me my first one with scented pages and this hideous girl on the cover with 
                        a sheep.

PDB                How old were you?

SJK                 Six. Sixish. I mean the first, you know, hundred pages are captivating entries like "it   rained  today."

PDB                I still have mine. My mom got me mine when I was 8 and I wrote from then until I got 
                        married and then I just stopped. I wish I hadn’t. oh my god.


SJK                Why did you decided to stop or wasn’t really a decision.


PDB               It was gradual. Yeah. With a kid and everything. It was a gradual thing.


SJK                Yeah cause honestly, they really could be in a museum.


PDB               Yeah I think they really should be. The groupie is a very important part of rock history.  
                       Much misunderstood. The documentary I did is gonna help. [VH1's Let's Spend The  
                       Night Together]


SJK                 About the GTO’s. Were you ever bummed that you never put out another album?

PDB                Yeah


SJK                  Did you start stuff for another album that never…


PDB                We always wrote and I had so many dreams for the GTO’s but the girls were stoned 
                        you know Frank was straight. And when they got arrested he threatened to not even put 
                        out this record. It was a miracle that he actually did put it out because he was very upset 
                        about about that. So I knew there wasn’t going to be a second album.


SJK                 Really?


PDB                But we were trying to get on the road with Todd Rundgren and there was various things 
                        we were trying to do. It all fell through. There were no girl bands. There were no girl 
                        acts except Motown. Do you have the album?


SJK                 I've been trying to get it for quite a while on vinyl. It’s a unicorn. [My mom finally 
                        located a copy for me and it's in my Top 5 for sure]


PDB                Once in a while it comes up.


SJK                 A definite unicorn.


PDB                Yup.


SJK                 It’s probably one of my favorites. Oh I just think it’s so crazy that you guys actually did 
                        poetry readings on it as well. And its weird because a lot of artists do that now on their  
                        records and it’s like nobody...


PDB                We were so far ahead of everybody. The way we looked, all of it. It was real precursors 
                        to I don’t know what but we were ahead of the game that’s for sure. Time and place.


AK                  I think a lot of people would like to dress like that but they don’t have the confidence or 
                        it's out of their comfort level.

SJK                 Or they don’t want to be looked at.


PDB                We wanted to be looked at. We wanted to turn heads. We wanted to scare, and shock, 
                        and frighten people into being awake. Waking up. But I mean…

SJK                 Well it worked!

PDB                Yeah it did for awhile there. It was fun.

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SJK                 What sort of advice do you have for girls nowadays that are interested in rock n roll?


PDB               They have to do what you’re doing. I talked about that earlier that the girls, unless they 
                       want to be musicians themselves of course because that’s an option now. That wasn’t an 
                       option back then. It’s just get into the industry somehow or other, get involved in the 
                       industry itself and you know start a blog about bands you love and believe me, they pay 
                       attention now because that’s the way they’re getting their name out there is through 
                       blogs.


All photographs are from the Laurel Canyon Rock Tour are from my personal collection.


The interview was condensed from 38 pages! She is such an inspiration, maybe one day I'll even dig deep into my diaries and share my torrid tales. I can dream can't I?

 Keep up with Miss Pamela through her website – and for you Canadian dolls out there, she will be in Toronto this Saturday, November 17th at Sonic Boom (one of my fave rave record stores when I lived there) details on the Facebook Event Page 

Visit my pinterest page for a board completely devoted to Miss Pamela and the GTOs

x Miss Sandy

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