Vital Signs

Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo

You don't hear much about groupies anymore. This is strange, since the demographics of the rock audience—ranging from about 40 to 10—suggests there ought to be more groupies than ever slithering around out there.

If Pamela Des Barres (I'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie, New York: Beech Tree Books) is a typical groupie, then it's easy to understand the lack of publicity: many of them must die off before they can even give an interview. Des Barres recounts her experience with a drug called Trimar, a liquid that is normally measured by the cc but which she handled by the quart: "Even when I found out that it was used in zoos to knock out gorillas and elephants, I refused to believe it could also knock out my brain cells." Her readers will be less skeptical.

The best way to get a grip on Des Barres—to use a metaphor that seems appropriate—is by considering her descriptions of the man who changed her maiden name from Miller. Michael Des Barres, an insignificant glitterpunk performer, was "a degenerate drug-taking sex-dog" who "didn't take many showers" and whose "teeth were all chipped from banging them with the microphone." Of their courtship she writes, "He gave me scabies and I didn't care." Love means never having to say you're sanitary.

Why was this book published? Who could possibly be interested...

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