There are genres and sub-genres within the category we refer to as Music Books. And these genres themselves have gradients -- from the elite, Hall-of-Fame heavyweights to those who define the bottom end of what can reasonably be considered publishable. And for those of us with the unquenchable need to define and categorize, it is important that the ends of these spectrums be delineated in some way.
Within the world of Rock & Roll books, the Groupie Memoir and its analogue the Rock-Wife Book, hold a noble and respected place. The work that defines the “class” of this genre is “I’m With the Band” by Pamela Des Barres. The other end of this spectrum is occupied by a not very recent book, “Dirty Rocker Boys” by Bobbie Brown that I read for no reason other than a copy was sent to me.
Now Ms. Brown seems like a decent person, swept up as one will be by the glamour of the LA Rock & Roll lifestyle and overly trusting of decadent and promiscuous second and third (and fourth) tier rockers. But quite frankly a starring role as the “girl being hosed down” in a video by Warrant does not really -- er -- warrant -- a memoir. Since one has actually been published let us please agree that we will not go below this almost non-existent level of qualification.
To be fair, her resume includes a brief engagement to Tommy Lee before he married Pamela Anderson AND she had sex with Mr. Lee on the same boat used in the famous Pam & Tommy sex tape. But even that titillating bona fide doesn’t really cry out for a memoir. But there it is.
Within the sub-genre of Groupie Book the critical element, its raison d’etre, is a discussion of penises. The size, functionality and appearance of the rockstar appendage is what it is all about. Although Penises She Has Known make appearances throughout this book, in the first chapter she discusses all the really juicy bits, leaving the discerning reader to wonder -- how ever will she fill out the rest of the book?
Ahhh well, with love lost, love gained, drugs taken, bad decisions made, clubs attended, and a variety of completely non-unique experiences. It makes for mesmerizingly uninteresting reading. And all apologies to their fans, but small time dramas with the lead singer of Sugar Ray and the guys in Vince Neill’s side-project band are probably not even interesting to them.
The true tragedy of those on the extreme perimeter of fame is revealed in her commentary on her brief relationship with Matthew Nelson, half of the mercifully forgotten no-hit-wonder duo Nelson. There was some unpleasantness involving Matthew’s brother and songwriting partner Gunnar and in a moment of quiet reflection Bobbie laments the possibility of her being the Yoko Ono, breaking up Matthew and Gunnar’s Paul and John.
This unintentional hilarity speaks volumes on the narcissism and lack of perspective symptomatic of those uncounted strivers in every other car on the freeways of LA. At a certain level all that is required is a pretty face, a pleasant personality, surgically enhanced breasts and an ability to suppress the gag reflex. Yet instead of society’s scorn and opprobrium, this is celebrated. Indeed it has become its own industry. Several times Ms. Brown laments the fact she did not make a sex tape with Mr. Lee. Her failure to descend into pornographic video is regarded as a poor career decision. Judging by the yardstick of the Kardashian litter she is right.
Since she seems like a nice person, wholesome in her way and loving to her daughter, the tone of the whole endeavor seems completely off-kilter. Instead of the cautionary tale of small-town beauty queen who goes to Hollywood and is swamped by drug addiction and quasi-prostitution it becomes the tale of the nice girl who finds an infinitesimal slice of fame (a book, a role in the “Rock Wives” reality TV show) through drug addiction and quasi-prostitution. Nothing really new about that -- except of course the shift from private shame to public pride.