[Editor's note: Llana Lloyd's life could fill a movie. Oh wait a minute. It already has. After nearly 20 years as a vhs cult video favorite, her movie Glitter Goddess: Queen of the Sunset Strip has just been released on DVD. So to honor the occasion, I sat down with Lloyd and got her to dish a little dirt. To get all the dirt, you'll need to see her movie. But until then, here's a few tidbits.]
Decades before The Real Housewives of L.A. and the current crop of Reality TV stars, an enterprising California girl could earn her fifteen minutes of fame on the Sunset Strip. Her options?
A. billboard celebrity
C. rock & roll groupie
Llana Lloyd chose groupie. And in 1974, that meant Glam Rock groupie. And partying with people like David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, and members of The New York Dolls.
"I had a fame addiction," says Lloyd.
"And to be attractive enough, to have them choose you over all these other women…it’s a crown on your head. And all these people who were just fans…they’ll never know what it feels like."
Lloyd shared her groupie experiences in the docu-drama Glitter Goddess: Queen of the Sunset Strip. And not only played herself and her mother, but incorporated home movie footage, and clips from talk shows (including an interview by a young Oprah Winfrey.) And despite it's low budget, this cult classic might come closer to portraying this era than anything Hollywood has yet to offer.
"I saw The Banger Sisters a few years back. Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon were supposed to be ex-groupies. But I thought it was a poor portrayal of groupie-ism. I didn’t see any true escapades. No competitiveness. It was like two groupies who talked like groupies, but never were groupies."
One part of the movie that Lloyd can relate to, though, is how they depicted the gentrification of the Sunset Strip. In the movie, Hawn's character works at the Whisky A Go-Go, and gets fired for drinking on the job. Which wouldn't have been a deal breaker forty years ago.
Sleaze & Disease on the Sunset Strip
"All these places, Whiskey A Go-Go, The Roxy, The Rainbow Room... they're totally corporate now. Like the Hard Rock Cafe. But back then, the owners of the clubs allowed us to take drugs inside. I mean, the parking lots...a bunch of druggies waiting to get laid after closing time, or looking for the next party. We called it Sleaze & Disease on the Sunset Strip."
And back then, the music meant something too.
"Whiskey A Go-Go...a lot of the great bands got their start there. It was Iggy Pop slicing himself with broken glass. Everyone trying to create a new gimmick. That's also where I met the keyboardist from The Doors, Ray Manzarek."
According to Lloyd, one person who did get it right is Pamela Des Barres, author of I'm With The Band.
"Of course, I'm several years younger, but yeah, I have a lot of respect for her. She was a groupie addict. She was hardcore. And she puts the dirt in her books. She kept her diaries."
Lloyd kept diaries too. And still has all but one of them.
"I was making a call. In a phone booth. And got robbed. Some guys came in and took my purse. It contained the diary covering my time with John Lennon. Fortunately, it's all still in my mind. I remember everything."
One night in the '70s, Lloyd went home with John Lennon, expecting a night of bliss. And while she did end up sleeping with his friend, Lennon himself watched from the sidelines.
"He took my goddamn picture. Actually, he orchestrated the entire event. Told us what positions to get into. Posed us. But never laid a hand on me. The man turned out to be a real voyeur. Not that I was complaining. After all, I was still in a room with a Beatles superstar. But you'd think that the man who wrote and performed Jealous Guy would have wanted a bigger part of the bedroom action."
That's not to say Lloyd never got to enjoy some hands-on action with the stars.
"Killer Kane of the New York Dolls. In my opinion, they are the best glam rock band of all-time. But Killer Kane was a quiet man. An Aquarius. A passionate lover. One of my best memories of that time."
After years of drug abuse, Killer Kane eventually became a Mormon.
"Shit like that happens," says Lloyd.
And a few years before his death, he ran into Lloyd.
"I showed him my movie. There's a scene where I'm really excited because I just met 'Killer Kane of the New York Dolls!' He got a kick out of that."
Kane was eventually the subject of his own documentary, and even participated in a New York Dolls reunion.
"He never wrote a song about me. But his music was my coming-of-age soundtrack."
Getting On Down on The Real Don Steele Show
Lloyd's mother was concerned that her daughter was with a maniac.
"My whole family still doesn’t like to talk about it. Jealousy maybe? My mother was a bull dyke, and hated just about all men. And maybe she didn't want to compete with a rock star. You know, my mom had her own band. And they played in Los Angeles lesbian bars in the '50s and '60s. And they could bust your balls as well as any men. So maybe Alice, despite all the makeup...I don't know. Maybe it was his codpiece. Maybe my mom had penis envy."
Lloyd especially remembers how Cooper helped her out of her victim mode.
"My mother trained me that men weren’t worthy. I wanted to be feminine. But not a Stepford Wife. I liked mental men. And Alice Cooper was intensely mental. I love head-heavy people. That’s very attractive to me. Alice and I would talk for hours. And he really listened. I mean, I grew up in the '50s and '60s with a lesbian mother and a schizophrenic father. We didn't have Facebook. People didn't talk about these things. So I grew up with a lot of shame. But that changed when I met Alice. He cast a spell over me. He understood me. You know, the actual physical sex is worthless to me. I’d rather have the mental. To have someone get into my head and understand me. And Alice did."
Angie...Angie...where will it lead us from here?
"I truly had a girl crush on Angela Bowie. She was known as The Bisexual Butterfly and The Queen of Glam Rock. She was David Bowie's first wife. And in the '70s, I idolized her from afar."
By the late '70s, Lloyd took advantage of her access to the glam set, and became a celebrity journalist. She interviewed everyone from Robert DeNiro to James Woods. But in 1983, a certain interview turned one of Lloyd's icons into a friend.
"Angela Bowie worked hard to help catapult her husband to success. They were Glam Rock royalty. So I was excited to finally interview her. I wanted to find out how she was holding up after her divorce from David in 1980. We hit it off and became friends. She remarried an Englishman. Andrew Lipka. A punk rocker. And they had a beautiful daughter named Stasha.
"I was also doing the talk show circuit as a child of a lesbian mother shortly after I organized a group called Children of Gays. I appeared on The Phil Donahue Show and was scared shitless. This new awareness was a mind blower at the time. And I received a call from a television researcher in Yorkshire. Michael Mitchell. He saw an article on me in the L.A. Times. And he invited me to England for New Year's. We fell in love. And when I returned to L.A., I gave birth to his child. But I didn't marry Michael because he was too young, too poor, too full of ambition. So I married my best friend from Germany. Andreas. And he was a wonderful daddy to my daughter Alana up until his early death.
"Angie and I were like a surrogate family. And Stasha and Alana often spent the night together, and enjoyed making cupcakes with live ladybugs on top of the icing.
"After her book came out in 1993, Backstage Passes, Alana and I stayed with Angie in her condo in Atlanta. She's a terrific chef, and a perfect hostess. She also appeared in my movie Glitter Goddess: Queen of the Sunset Strip playing herself. And although she's very flamboyant, she's also like a mother to me, and we always scratched each other's backs."
Lloyd especially remembers the time she had Bowie's back at a club in L.A.
"Angie would fuck anything. She is like a male rapist. Her sexuality is fierce. She will go for conquests with men and women.
"So we were having drinks on the patio at the Coconut Teaser. And this rough looking guy came in. And Angie said, 'Oh my god, I fucked that thing. It wasn’t good. Keep that thing away from me.' So we bodyguarded her."
Today, Lloyd recognizes a similarity between her mother and Bowie.
"My mom was a female prick. And Angela was a female prick. Angie is a beautiful woman. But she has a lot of testosterone in her. And she has a mothering part in her.
The Other Mrs. Bowie
"My best buddy Lanier called me on Halloween in 1994, and invited me to a gay bar in Santa Monica called The Pink Elephant. There were a lot of drag queens. And they were all saying that David Bowie's second wife, Iman, was going to be there. She was working with Rosie O'Donnell on that big budget S&M movie based on the Anne Rice novel Exit To Eden. And they said she was coming directly from the set. So who knew what she would be wearing? And I'm not one to be upstaged, even by someone as gorgeous as Iman. So I decided to go dressed as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
"But when Iman arrived, the dance floor parted like the Red Sea. And amid all the towering drag queens in rhinestones and glitter, here stands Iman in a flaming red leather corset. She was breathtaking. And the drag queens just worshiped her. I complimented her on her flawless beauty--she even threw a compliment back! But I never dared to bring up Mrs. Bowie #1. Instead, we talked about our daughters, PTA meetings, and our careers. Although by the end of the night, she did say, 'I am so jealous of these classy drag queens. They look so much prettier than we are.' And we both cracked up and toasted all the beautiful men."
Not that Lloyd wasn't used to seeing men in makeup. That was, after all, a defining part of a Glam Rocker's image. But by the late '70s, male rockers were keeping the longer hair, but not as much rouge and lipstick. And many Glam elements were absorbed by Disco.
"Disco put you into dance floor action. And unlike Glam Rock, you had to go to classes to dance like Saturday Night Fever. And it was so competitive. That was serious dancing. But I loved Donna Summer. And Alicia Bridges--who reminded me so much of Angie Bowie. But in the disco era, you had to have your dance moves down."
By then, something besides the dancing changed.
"In the early '70s we did Quaaludes and booze. It wasn't until the later '70s that we snorted cocaine. That was more of a disco drug. And it sure did help us to boogie oogie oogie till we just couldn't boogie no more. And I did love dancing. Remember, I was a dancer on The Real Don Steele Show. But I remember more pretty boys during the Glam Rock Era. We all loved the pretty boys."
These days, Lloyd is content to hang out in her home in Idaho.
"I don’t like small talk, or background noise. I would rather be myself, share my outlook on life. I’m in a small town now. I have sweet normal people here in town. I can be a nice neighbor. But my best friends are from L.A."
To keep the Glam spirit alive, Lloyd has turned a room in her rural Idaho home into her Hollywood Memorabilia Museum.
"It's not open to the public. Only special friends. It contains about forty years of press clippings, autographs, band posters, personal correspondence, photos, platform heels...it's like that show Hoarders. But much prettier. And without the dead cats."
Lloyd occasionally samples the local nightlife.
"I go to a little club in Pocatello sometimes. But now I dance like a black girl. And I don’t want to be a play toy anymore. It’s all confetti now. I’ve done everything I wanted to do in life. I’ve been able to stay healthy with exercise and nutrition.
"And I have a lot of friends from the Rainbow era. A lot of them have become art directors, designers, that sort of thing. There was something special that the era gave us. A spark. I only know about three people who were fucked up. Who couldn’t get over their self-destruction. Luckily, I grew out of my fame addiction. I realized Rock and Roll is a game. But back then, I knew just how to play it. And I was damn good."
Glitter Goddess: Queen of the Sunset Strip is finally available on DVD!
Watch Llana Lloyd's shocking story. Click the pic to order...
© 2012 Kelly Hughes
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