Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Neon Angel: A Memoir of A Runaway
By Cherie Currie and Tony O'neill
It Books

It's pretty fucked up that the first female rock bio I read involves sexual abuse, rape and torture. Usually, it's the famous rockstar abusing the hot, young (and often willing) groupie - and then it's always with a humorous comc twist and non-threatening, laddish tone. But by the time she was 17, Cherie Currie, teenage vocalist for legendary all girl punk rockers The Runaways, had been raped twice, tortured and beaten to within an inch of her life. Just the world we live in, I guess.

Not a lot of people know the story of Cherie Currie. Her rock career seemed to happen in the blink of a neon, coke-crusted eye. One minute she's discovered by abusive manager Kim Fowley and Runaways guitarist Joan Jett at the Sugar Shack, North Hollywood in 1975 (aged 15). The next she's smoking crack cocaine, losing clumps of hair and trying to hold a failing acting career together.

Cherie Currie was only in The Runaways for two years. But man, she crammed a lot of living into those 730 days, reaching as far as Japan and as low as forced sex with an unnamed teen hearthrob (aged 16 and on her period).

I haven't seen the film yet but based on its tween cast (Dakota Fanning as Currie, Kristen Stewart as Jett) and low age restriction, I can't see it recreating scenes like manager Kim Fowley raping a drugged teenage hanger-on in a motel room and forcing the band to watch. Or as he put it, "teaching his dogs how to fuck." And I'll bet it doesn't really dwell on the "experimental" bi-curious relationship that developed between Jett and Currie.

Reading Currie's story, it's quite shocking how far we've come in terms of what's "PC" and acceptable. Can you imagine a 16 year old singer wearing fishnet stockings and a corset, drug binging and having sex with famous Hollywood celebrities? Remember the public fallout when Miley Cyrus uploaded photos of herself in her underwear on her MySpace profile? Even FHM had to wait 'til Hayden Panettiere was 18.

Neon Angel's a quick read but it's hard-hitting and difficult to put down. Currie was pushed and abused from all sides - family, friends, bandmates, manager - but she never gave up. She cast her demons aside and now, get this, she's one of the world's leading chainsaw artists. All hail the Cherry Bomb. Respect.


Order Neon Angel from Amazon.com

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