Old Friends

My lovely friend Mike Dolan (not to be confused with the other Mike that I’m always blogging about) was going through some old VHS tapes and in the middle found this…ahem…gem video from the way back files. He burned it for me and the results is at the bottom of this blog. I’m proud of myself for figuring out how to convert a VOD file to an MPG and then managing to upload it onto the web. It only took me three days…

The video features footage from a local cable show called Overnight Sensation and features a fairly early, definitely pre-record deal inception of Cycle Sluts from Hell backstage with friends. Those friends are Ryan Maher from Circus of Power (very brief – right at the beginning), my future ex-husband/boyfriend at the time, Curt Fleck, for one second getting stickers slapped onto him and then I’m assuming running out of the dressing room in a rush to locate strippers with drugs and cash (but that’s another blog), and his bandmates in Blitzspeer–Phil Caivano (later of Monster Magnet) and Scott Lano. I don’t know what the host’s name was but I’d like you all to pay attention to the very trendy ear cuff he was sporting. Delightful! 

I am slightly suspicious that despite the anti-drug/pro-beer stance I may have been in a chemically enhanced state as I seem a little twitchy and desperate for a drink in the corner there, but I truly can’t remember so those rumors will remain unsubstantiated. It could have also just been the gum-chewing and side-of-mouth talking, both of which I thought made me appear more of a bad-ass.

Then it moves to The Throbs live onstage–Ronnie Sweetheart in his thousands of bracelets, skinny leather pants and giant hair, then on to a brief moment with Joey Ramone, and then CSFH live, sounding pretty crappy, but enjoying ourselves nonetheless.

I wasn’t expecting to see Joey, so when he popped onscreen my heart cracked a little bit. It felt so good to hear him say “Cycle Sluts” one more time.

I have not said anything up until now about the book that recently came out about him because it didn’t feel to be my place. I wasn’t one of Joey’s closest friends and I certainly don’t know what his intimate family life was like beyond what we all know and have read. I also have no personal beef with authors Legs McNeil and Joey’s brother Mickey Leigh, both of whom I know personally. I have no wish to cause ill will and have shot my mouth off so many times in this life to invariably painful results, so in my dotage I strive for a modicum of diplomacy when posting my business for the world to see.

A few days before viewing this video I got a facebook message from a friend who had read the book and wanted my opinion. He was very upset with the way Joey was portrayed. And a day after viewing this video Joey was firmly on my mind so I asked another friend who was close to Joey for his opinion. This person told me that he felt misrepresented and maligned in the book, and said that he believed that the things written about other close friends of ours and Joey’s were either distortions or untruths. 

But I haven’t read it, and probably won’t after hearing all of the personal reviews from friends who knew Joey. So it’s not fair or responsible for me to give too much of an opinion without firsthand knowledge. But after seeing him again on film and thinking about it in a deeper way, I have come to the conclusion that I do have some right to a blogging opinion about Joey, as he was my friend and a special part of my life. He was the first rock star I met when I moved to New York, he was instrumental in my music career, and I could call him or email him any time I pleased.

Joey was, in my experience, a kind, generous, lovely, funny, person. When I see him laughing on film I want to hug him one last time and tell him that I love him. He went out of his way to help the musicians around him and he was a vital force in the New York rock scene. I had some of the funnest times of my life in his presence, and although I have seen him in a bad mood and unhappy, I never experienced the darkness I have heard is expressed in the book.

The Cycle Sluts used to make our friends do this thing with us when we were out partying: It was a very bad group arabesque, which involved locking arms over shoulders like Rockettes and then lifting on leg off the ground behind you and balancing. We made every rock star we knew do it at least once as we thought it was hilarious, and we made Joey do it all the time. Joey had bad balance and OCD issues, so he was not the best person to force into drunken ballet, but he gamely did it anyway. He would laugh and just lift his foot very low off of the ground. He always let us push him around and we loved him for it, and there was always love behind it.

Everyone has their dark places and bizarre foibles, and Joey was certainly human and had his. When I met him we were all partying quite a bit and that took a toll in his life and eventually he quit all drugs and alcohol. I gave some crying shoulder time to a couple of his girlfriends so I knew he could be obnoxious just like the rest of us. But the Joey that I knew was wonderful and gentle and that is how I choose to remember him.

I also believe that when famous people die, the lowest common denominator energy can sometimes take over in the ensuing feeding frenzy. Because that person is gone they cannot defend their own memory or property, intellectual or tangible, and history, as we all know, is written by those left standing. Sometimes there is an agenda that has nothing to do with the person in question, but much more to do with the ego or needs of the persons writing the history. I believe this to be the case this time.

And that is all I’ll say without having read the book. It is only my opinion, so take it as you will. And now, without further ado, let’s take a little trip back to summer of 1988:


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