For days now, I've had the song "Cherry Bomb" running through my brain. "Hello Daddy. Hello Mom. I'm your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!" Over and over again. The funny thing is that I'm not at all tired of it. Usually when something gets stuck in my head like that, I want to scream. Not this time. I rather like the song.
The reason that song is stuck in my head is because of the movie "The Runaways" and the Portland premiere at the Hollywood Theater on Monday night. It was also a benefit for the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls which is an amazing organization. What cool women AND men are involved with the camp. It is all about empowering young girls to believe in themselves, their creativity, their power, and teaches them team building and other life skills...all while rockin' out! There certainly was nothing like this around in 1975 when The Runaways were getting a girl rock band together. That was the same year I started working in radio. Yeah, it was a man's world in both cases.
The movie shows rock in all it's most disgusting ugliness. This is not a movie for kids. It shows the abuse of power, drugs, sex, and pulls no punches at all. It also is pretty truthful about how alienated teenagers are. Even if they are the most popular or beautiful person at school, there's a certain amount of feeling like an absolute outcast that everyone goes through. I'm pretty sure about that. Follow up at your high school reunions and ask questions. If people are willing to let their true self show, you'll find that probably everyone went through something awful, and had no idea how to deal with it when they were in high school. I can think of only one person at my high school who most likely escaped that feeling, and he truly was the coolest dude on the planet. Even at the reunions, he was still "that guy" who was at ease with himself and everyone around him. Not the rest of us. We were all full of angst and our heads were ready to explode. And so it was with The Runaways too.
Back to the movie. The Hollywood Theater was sold out for the premiere. Cherie Currie was there, and looked even more amazing than she did when she was in the band. I congratulated her on her book "Neon Angel" and asked if it was hard to tell the story. She said it was harder to take out the co-author Tony O'neill because he was trying to have it be a very British and proper book, and she wanted the book to have her voice. She succeeded. The book definately has Cherie's voice. The movie follows the book pretty close, but it does take creative license with several scenes.
I found the seat that I wanted way before they let in the crowd, on the aisle and in the back so if I needed to leave I could without disrupting anything. When the lights went down, there was a seat next to me that wasn't taken. This was a sold out show, so I figured it wouldn't last. A woman wandered in late and was looking around, spotted the seat next to me and asked if it was taken. I said "not at all" and she sat down. When she settled in and found room for her backpack, the previews were off and the feature began. She was...a talker. One of those people who in a theater, alone, will talk to the film. Comment on things. Gasp with horror at things. Now, I'm all for laughing during a movie, and there were funny scenes. But there were also very uncomfortable scenes, and she also made it very obvious how she felt about each and every one of them. I have no idea what it is about me that attracts people like this to sit near me at movies and concerts. I'm a magnet. Seriously. I'd like it to stop.
At the end of the movie, Cherie Currie stayed for a Q & A with the audience. I'm so glad I stayed. She was honest, powerful, and had no problem being genuine. There were lots of questions about her past, the depiction of the drug use in the film (Cherie became a drug counsellor for youth after she cleaned up for a while) and the music.
"The Talker" next to me had questions. Two of them. I can't remember what the first question was, but I certainly remember the second one. She said "The film shows a relationship between you and Joan Jett, so was there something going on there?" Cherie answered "Are you asking if I had sex with Joan?" Talker sort of stammered, "well, you know, I, um..." Cherie said again "Are you asking if I had sex with Joan? YES...I did. And she was really good!" Wild applause ripped through the theater at that point. Hilarious.
She also talked about Kim Fowley who I wrote about in a previous blog. What a scumbag! She has forgiven him for the things that he did, and I'm sure that's part of anyone's recovery. To forgive the person who did you wrong so you can move forward. But seriously, what a scumbag. If you read the book or see the movie and don't have this reaction, then you have no shame or empathy. He abused the girls in many ways and they had to finally sue him to get the money he made off them...20 years later.
Bottom line. The movie was great but gritty. Dakota Fanning and Kristin Stewart were amazing. The book "Neon Angels" is also a great read. It will shock you, or maybe not if you've been in the jaded business of rock 'n roll for any length of time.
I must also mention that the sister of the late Runaways drummer, Sandy West was at the movie too, and there's a scholarship in her name for the Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls. If your little girl wants to rock, be thankful that there were pioneers who are now watching out for the girls, and that they all don't have to go through all that to be stars.
"Hello world, I'm your wild girl. I'm your ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb!"
Their music is great and stands the test of time in my opinion. The Best of the Runaways if full of great tunes that most people have never heard. I have not seen the movie yet but will, and I am so looking forward to seeing Joan Jett at Chinook winds later this month.