Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Belinda And The Brazilian Drug Lords, Part II AKA When Rod Stewart Doesn't Get His Beauty Sleep

And so, in January 1985, young Belinda Carlisle finally found herself in the Brazilian coke dealer's mansion. Would she make it out alive? Would she become further and further ensnared into the Rio de Janeiro criminal underworld? Most importantly, would she score that ever-elusive $5.00 per gram coke? From Lips Unsealed:
I couldn't tell who was in charge and didn't want to look around because I immediately saw a couple of guys holding guns and knew better than to see more than I had to. In fact, I had a very strong feeling that I shouldn't have ever gone into that place, and I would have excused myself and left if a guy hadn't stepped forward and in broken English asked what I wanted.

What I wanted was not to get shot. But I didn't say that.
Smart move.
Actually, I didn't say anything. I was too scared.

"How much do you want?" the guy asked again.

"A gram," I said.

He glared at me with disdain and disbelief.

"We don't sell grams," he said.
"A gram? A gram? What kind of a dog and pony show do you think we're running here, lady?"
I decided it was best not to explain that I had heard you could get grams for five dollars, and that's why I was there. I thought about how much I should buy. I didn't feel like asking what the minimum amount was they did sell. Apparently he didn't feel like waiting for me to figure out something to say. He asked if I wanted half an ounce.

I said okay and paid whatever he said it cost, which wasn't much given the amount I was taking with me.

I wanted to hug the cabdriver for waiting when I saw his car still out front. I was thrilled when we pulled in front of the hotel, and I gave the driver a generous tip. I stood in the lobby for a moment and took several deep breaths.
So, children, the moral of the story is, if you make an ill-advised trek to a Brazilian drug dealer's mansion, everything will work out just fine.
I went up to my room and took the coke out of my purse. I couldn't wait to look at this package that could have cost me my life. I opened it and saw more coke than I had ever seen. I set it on the coffee table. It was like a little white mountain. I couldn't believe it.

I did several lines and thought it was the purest, smoothest coke I'd ever put up my nose. Seconds later, I felt a strong, familiar jolt that erased the scare of men with guns and put me in a better frame of mind.
Mmmm, that's the stuff. Menacing drug dealers? What menacing drug dealers? That little white mountain can turn all your troubles into rainbows and leprechauns. So I guess the other lesson here is: You want the good stuff? You ain't gonna get it from your Santa Monica landlord.

Wait, weren't we in Rio from something else? Oh, that's right, the Rock In Rio Festival! How was Rod the Mod doing?:
As the sun came up, Rod was irritated that he had not gotten any sleep because he had a show that night. He said he had never stayed up all night, never, which I found hard to believe, considering his reputation ... That night, the thirteenth, we played the first of our two shows ... Afterward, we were sweaty and spent, and intending to go back to to hotel and clean up - that is, until Rod sent for me, along with Kathy, and insisted we sit on the side of the stage as he performed. He wanted to, he said, be able to look over at me and see that I felt as tired and miserable as him.
Lest you think she's making this up (as I did), check out the 38:22 mark of this clip, where, before launching into a supremely Rodified cover of "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay," Stewart declares, "And this is for the Go-Go's, my mates here! The Go-Go's, this is dedicated to them." The audience seems confused, indifferent, or both. (Note: don't worry, I did not watch all 76 minutes of this clip, but merely managed to magically slide to the relevant location).

In the meantime, Charlotte was partying so hard that she got kicked out of Ozzy Osbourne's dressing room. It was a story that became legendary among rockers, and years later Charlotte, who got sober, famously remarked, "How bad do you have to be to get kicked out of Ozzy's dressing room?"
The implied answer: pretty fucking bad!

Personal problems aside, we had another problem that was bigger than all of us. The Go-Go's just wasn't fun anymore. I had felt it when we had rehearsed in November and December for Rio, and I knew it when we finally went onstage that first night. I didn't feel any more spirit either on the eighteenth when we played our second show, which found us between two incredibly enthusiastic, inspired bands - the B-52's, whose set included guests Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz from the Talking Heads, and the closing act, Queen, who, with Freddie Mercury out front, dazzled the worldwide audience.

And to think: only a decade earlier, little Dottie Danger had been running around in an L.A. hotel hallway with Lorna Doom, Darby Crash, and Pat Smear, like an obsessed teenage fan, trying to catch a glimpse of the man with whom she would now share a stage. But if she was worried that she couldn't compete with her hero ... well, she was probably right:
By comparison, I felt like the Go-Go's played without a heartbeat. One thing about rock and roll - you can have the best songs in the world, but if you don't bring passion to the stage you might as well not show up. We came to that realization. It just took a little time.
Oh come on, they couldn't have been that bad. Ah, but thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can see for yourself just how bad the post-Jane Go-Go's were. I mean here they are, in front of the biggest worldwide audience the Go-Go's would ever have, an entire continent having heard for so many years about L.A.'s legendary all-female rock band, millions of listeners eager to discover for themselves what all the fuss is about, and ... they get this?:

Woof! This has got to be the most lethargic Go-Go's performance I have ever seen. First of all, is Belinda auditioning for the circus? Or maybe she just got back from painting her apartment? Then it took me a couple of seconds before I realized, hold on a minute, there is no Jane. It's like a Where's Waldo illustration where there really is no Waldo. The "hush my darling" bridge is sung by ... Paula? It's mixed so quietly, I can't even tell, but you know, when the rest of the band sounds this shitty, it doesn't even matter. Most stunningly of all, Gina can't even keep a steady tempo; she's dragging everything down when she usually propels everything forward. No, not ... not Gina too! Dear God. Just put the poor creature out of its misery already.

Truth be told, the audience doesn't even seem to care. I mean let's be honest, was the Go-Go's' performance any less lethargic than Rod Stewart's? Either way, I think this just goes to show that, when all is said and done, that little white mountain can only get you so far in life.

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