By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
Between the Runaways film and writing Neon Angel, do you feel at peace with some of the uglier parts of your past?
Oh, yeah! Well, you know what? The thing is, if you can't share the good and the bad with people, then really, what good are you? My book has helped so many people; I get letters every day from kids that have been in the same or similar situations, and I really opened up my heart. I thought, "If I'm going to do this book, I'm going to do it with everything that I've got, be as honest as I can, as embarrassing as a lot of it is." I just thought, "I just got to tell it all!" And I did!
Also, Tony O'Neill, who wrote the book with me, he's a brilliant writer. But he's British, and he was making the book sound like you're taking a valley girl and dropping her into a British prep school. I turned to him and I said, "You know what? I appreciate what you're doing, but I have to take it from here, and I have to do all of these final rewrites on my own, because it's got to be coming from me." The thing is, what I've learned is if something fails miserably, you can live with it if you did it. But if you let someone else do it and it fails miserably, you can never forgive yourself for that. The book has gotten great reviews. Obviously, it wasn't written by a literary scholar, but people actually feel like they're sitting in a living room with somebody on a one-on-one, reading about their life. And that's what I wanted it to be. And it's brutal. It is a brutally honest book. You laugh and you cry and all that, but it's helped a lot of people, and I'm very grateful for all of that.
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The Runaways film glossed over much of the grittier parts of the band's story, particularly the rape you endured at a young age and many of Kim Fowley's transgressions. I feel it did a disservice to the legend of the Runaways by leaving out a lot of the compelling parts of the story.
I agree. I had a few battles with them about it, because I really thought it could've been far more compelling if they had stuck more with my book, but they didn't want me to lose my innocence so early on in the film. The thing is that the movie was out of my hands; as much as I would argue with them about it, they were set in what they wanted to do. It's not like the movie was so wrong; they just didn't tackle the real hard-core stuff. Still, visually it was wonderful; I thought the acting was superb. I think if I didn't have my book, I would have been sorely disappointed, but I had the book coming out at the same time, and a lot of people did read that book, and they got really a good dose of what it was really like.
Do you have a status report on a Runaways reunion? I read just this month that Lita said she'd love to do it. Is it still Joan that everyone is waiting on?
I just read in LA Weekly that Joan doesn't seem to understand why people want it. She seems a little mystified as to why anyone would want to see us together again. She thinks that fans would be disappointed. I disagree, and so does Lita. But Lita [Ford] and I are working together right now on a few things, because the fans just mean everything to us. If it wasn't for the fans, we would be nothing. Sometimes, you can't have it the way you want it, so you work with what you have, and that's what we're doing right now. To work with Lita is just so much fun; she's just such a great person. Keep in mind that I really haven't known her since I left in '77. She's a mom like I'm a mom, and we have so much in common. It's great! She's kicking ass, and I'm coming back just for the fun of it!
Joan seems to feel very protective of the legacy of the Runaways. But the thing is that it was incomplete, because we were so young and so poorly managed, and we had no mediators that could help us. I mean, my God! We had barely just started our periods when we started in this band. We transitioned from children to being women in front of thousands of people and the pressure of it all. Now that we're grown, middle-aged, on to our golden years, it would be so great to show people that it mattered. That it mattered what we did, so I hope that Joan comes around too.
You have one life to live, and you just have to go at it with everything you've got. I really kind of felt that the Runaways had been forgotten. Maybe it was because I wanted to put it behind me so badly, because it didn't end well for me. It was what I was put on this planet to do at that time. I didn't even listen to the Runaways' music for about 20 years. And then when I started looking at the YouTube videos, I was just blown away. There really has not been a band like us, and I think that we really did make a mark.