Thursday, April 30, 2009
In the late sixties, Uschi Obermaier was one of the sexiest women alive. She rarely smiled; instead, she would pose, mouth agape, so we could savor those luscious lips and big, fierce teeth. Uschi Obermaier is probably the prettiest Stones Goddess outside Anita and Marianne (they were the zenith blend of classy, sassy, and gorgeous), and hardly anyone knows about her. Born in Munich, Germany on September 24, 1946, Uschi's career began when the magazine twen featured her on the front cover. Her dark, cascading locks, deep tanned skin, and incredible mouth--not to mention bod--led her to many modeling jobs, although she was petite and quite thin. Uschi was the first female model to expose frontal nudity on the cover of a magazine, and she was actually quite revolutionary for so special and lesser-known a celebrity.
Uschi is credited not only as "the most famous German groupie", but also for advocating the sexual revolution with then-boyfriend Rainer Langhan. I love photos of the two of them together because she is so young, fresh and utterly gorgeous, and he's this grisly, artsy-looking fellow. Anyway, the pair moved into the Kommune 1 in Munich and many German commentators have said that Uschi and Rainer directly influenced the likes of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who advocated liberal views of love and nudity in the early '70s. There were quite a few photos taken of Uschi topless and smoking marijuana during this time, and they were published in magazines. It makes for quite a striking image actually; this tiny, gorgeous creature with to-die-for lips and a tassle of voluminous hair--possessing an innocence that at times is almost childlike--her hands holding a fat joint.
I first heard of Uschi about three years ago when I read Victor Bockris' biography on Keith Richards. They dated in the 1970s, (she went on tour with the Stones in '75) and she is said to have also had affairs with Mick Jagger and Jimi Hendrix. Today she lives in Topanga Canyon and designs jewelry.
Uschi, I salute you!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Patti donning her Keith Richards tee:
(Click for larger images)
I finally got Patti Smith's 1971 book of poetry, Seventh Heaven, in the mail yesterday. She dedicates the book to gangster writer Mickey Spillane and heavenly creature/Stones babe (and my personal idol) Anita Pallenberg. Patti is such a bad-ass, I love her. Check out her poem about Marianne Faithfull...
I think it's amazing that Patti grew up obsessed with the Rolling Stones (particularly Keith, Mick and Brian) and their amazing women (Faithfull and Pallenberg). I find it even more amazing that 38 years later, I, a 22 year old girl, feel exactly the same way she did.
Here is the full text of "Marianne Faithfull" (exactly as it appears in the book):
‘I was born in Hampstead. My mother wasn’t screaming so they didn’t believe she was in labor. Later I went to convent school. Later I rode in leather. Later I took some sleeping pills. I needed to lose…'
there is a sweetness
in your little girl mouth
and the pearls you hold
in the palm of your hand
everytime you extend that hand
you break down you fantasize
you are circumsized
pierced four times
your sacred heart bleeds
drips and drips down
women weep at your feet
twelve men turn you
twelve men desire you
(ammonia clouds your armpits)
a starfish quivers in your belly
and the arrows shake out
shake out shake out
and the muscles in your heart ache
a fish slaps back your face
you roll you roll over
in the sanctuary yards
in a coarse black dress
bless your hot virgin mouth
you would be Judas
and Christ himself
you would be Mary Magdalene
the only woman
who made our savior weep
yet you would pull mandrax in
like the sacred wafer
leave me for eternal sleep
But no. I wont let you go.
I wont let you go.no.
wont let the honey drain
from your sweet sweet box
wont let the crowds blush and gasp
while you carry your cross
wont let the flower girls fan you
hind a big black hearse
wont let the pearls
from your little girl mouth
Note the copy of the Stones' Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)
"Have we met?"
"Won't you get on my back for a piggy back ride"
"Ladies and gentlemen..."
"Act 1, in which she pretends she doesn't care about him. Act 2, in which he pretends he doesn't care about her. But he goes right for her."
"I am a golden god!"
"Hi, Mom. This is Russell Hammond. I play guitar in Stillwater."
"You are home."
The Band Aids: Polexia Aphrodisia, Sapphire, and Estrella Starr:
"Famous people are just more interesting."
One of the movie's most beautiful scenes: Penny Lane dancing around the empty venue to Cat Steven's "The Wind"
"What kind of beer?"
"I'm tired, and I'm retired."
"She always said, 'Marry up. Marry someone grand...' And that's why she named me Lady."
Almost Famous, or Untitled, the bootleg version with 30 extra minutes, is unequivocally my all-time favourite film. It is perhaps Cameron Crowe's finest and most perfect movie. I dug Jerry Maguire and Say Anything (like everyone else) but I still found the epicenter of the romantic relationships in them to be slightly 'off' in some way, somehow just a tad uncompelling and unrealistic. Maybe it was the actors who portrayed certain characters that lent me this feeling of discomfort, but nonetheless, there is something wanting. In Almost Famous, every actor does such such a suberb job it was as if they were born for their roles. And I mean everyone; Frances McDormand as the smart and loving (yet overbearing) single mother; Jason Lee as the funny but not-quite-star material Stillwater lead singer; Philip Seymour Hoffman as legendary no-bullshit rock critic Lester Bangs; Patrick Fugit (the protagonist) as the precocious and sympathetically unaffected William Miller. Even Jimmy Fallon does a superb job as opportunistic big-name band manager Dennis Hope.
But the real star of Almost Famous is of course Kate Hudson, who plays the mysterious, multi-layered queen of the Band-Aids, Miss Penny Lane. Penny meets aspiring rock writer William Miller one night at a Black Sabbath concert and promises to try to get him backstage to interview the band. Lester Bangs gave him his first assignment (for Creem magazine) - to write 1,000 words on Sabbath for $35. William, who is extremely bright and on track to be a lawyer at his mother's urging, really has a passion for rock n' roll and writing and has his mother's reluctant blessing as long as it's just "a hobby". He can't get in to interview Sabbath but after ingratiating himself with opening band Stillwater, an up-and-coming American rock outfit, by telling guitarist Russell Hammond that his playing is "incendiary", he finally enters the backstage universe. He gets somewhat taken under Stillwater's wing, as Russell and lead singer Jeff Bebe warm to him and tell him to come up to L.A., their next tour stop. William's Sabbath piece gets in the hands of Ben Fong-Torres, an editor at Rolling Stone, and he wants William to write for them. William, who is only 16, puts on a deep voice to come across as an older, more seasoned journalist (Rolling Stone couldn't exactly hop online and Google him back then), and suggests a piece on Stillwater since he seems to get on so well with them. Rolling Stone agrees and off he embarks. He meets up with Penny and they go see the band at the infamous Continental Hyatt House (knicknamed 'The Riot House') in Los Angeles. There they find Stillwater as well as Penny's crew of friends and 'Band-Aids', Polexia, Sapphire and Estrella who have taken up with members of the band as temporary girlfriends of sorts. But Penny, unbeknownst to William (who is already deeply infatuated with the lithe blonde stunner), used to be involved with Russell, the standout musician and star of Stillwater. Penny uses William's novice as her excuse to hang out with Stillwater again, although she and Russell apparently had parted on semi-bad terms after he "didn't even leave a pass in San Diego". William realizes quickly the relationship between them, keeps his affections quiet, and tries to be a friend to them both.
A $1,000, 3,000-word assignment from Rolling Stone requires that William spend a significant amount of time with Stillwater and accompany them "on the road". Elaine, William's mother, says that he can only be gone ta few days from school and miss one test. Elated that he lets her go, William sets off on Doris, the band's faithful old tour bus. He tries to get the key interview with Russell, but his moody demeanor makes it difficult. The band, though fond of William, knows that he is still "the enemy" - a journalist, and Russell appeals to William as a friend and says "Just make us look cool". William is torn between his camraderie with the group and his ethical duties as a writer. The three days out of school soon turn to weeks, and Elaine is increasingly frustrated. William is too; he loves Penny but sees her in a troubled relationship with Russell, who has a steady girlfriend, the somewhat unlikeable Leslie. During a road manager game of poker in which Russell and William are both present, William witnesses Russell agreeing to 'sell' Penny and the Band-Aids to Humble Pie for $50 and a case of Heineken, because they must leave the tour before New York City (when Leslie is due to arrive).
William also bears witness to tension within the band; Russell is the most popular member and the one people pay attention to, which makes Jeff and the rest of the guys feel jealous and less-important. After a technical difficulty on stage one night that almost electrifies Russell's hand, the band (along with their long time manager, Dick) run out on the concert unaware of how to handle the situation. Enter: Dennis Hope, a big-name band manager, who entices the guys with his experience and understanding of the rock n' roll ball game. They abandon Doris for a plane to play more dates (and earn more money) although no one feels entirely comfortable with the situation.
Penny is gently told by Dennis at her unofficial birthday party that she is not to come to New York City. Although she's tough and fancies herself immune to any sort of heart-break that goes along with the crazy lifestyle, she lets her guard down in front of William, asking if he could please talk to Russell, etc. William is tired of her naivete of the situation and tells her about the side poker deal. Here she cries, a moment that is gorgeously filmed.
New York City: Rolling Stone tells William that Stillwater is to be on the cover of the magazine and that they need his story ASAP, so he faxes them the disjointed bits of notes that he has. William announces the cover-story victory to the band one night at dinner (I think they're eating at Max's Kansas City) and they all rejoice. Then Penny appears across the crowded room, chatting idly and making eyes at Russell. He looks at her, wants to go to her, but fails to get up from the table because of Leslie sitting next to him, already suspicious. Instead, Dick goes to talk to her and she runs off upset. William tries to find her, but to no avail. When he tracks her down at a suite in The Plaza hotel, she has downed champagne and a bottle of quaaludes. William calls for help, a doctor pumps her stomach, and she survives.
A near-fatal crash on Stillwater's plane home the next day leads to a bunch of secrets being revealed. Jeff is in love with Leslie, Russell has been sleeping with Penny (which is news to no one but Leslie), Ed Valencourt (Stillwater's drummer) is gay, Dennis hit a man on the road once and left, Dick took a few dollars here and there from the band, and everyone is resentful towards Russell. William, unable to contain his usually mild temperament, explodes when Jeff refers to Penny as "that fucking groupie". He tells them that she almost died the night before and that she was their biggest fan, one they just used and threw away. The turbulence subsides, the air clears and everyone is silent with embarrassment.
At the airport, Russell quietly tells William to write what he wants, and he finally arrives back home. He is called into the Rolling Stone headquarters and told that his hastened story is a "puff piece". He asks for one more night to work on it. The next day, they are blown away by his true tales of life on the road with Stillwater, but when fact-checking, the band denies all the juicy bits, even Russell who had given him the green-light. Word of this unfairness reaches everyone, all the Band Aids, even Penny. One day Russell phones her and says, "I'm coming to you this time", and she gives him an address. When he gets there, Elaine answers the door and leads him towards William's bedroom. He is confused, then realizes what's going on. William says he wants to do the interview one more time. "Russell," he starts, pressing record on the tape player, "What do you love about music?" Russell grins, flips his chair around and settles comfortably, and replies, "To begin with, everything."
Stillwater gets the Rolling Stone cover, and Penny goes to Morocco away from all the insanity to re-address her life. She thanks William for everything he's done for her. William, his sister Anita, and Elaine reunite and become a family again.