Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Adventures in Iggyland--

My sister and I got into the Stooges after we learned of David Bowie's interest in them. I bought Raw Power, then the first Stooges album, then Funhouse. When it was announced that the Stooges would play 5 nights at the Whiskey in June '73, I sold some records and other possessions so that we could go every night. Needless to say the shows were insane--Iggy ran onstage half naked in knee high black leather boots, and glittery blue briefs with a fringed scarf tied around his narrow hips, whether the band slammed into the opening cords of "Raw Power" straight away or not I don't recall--but whoosh, we were off! Iggy was the first stage diver, he leapt into the audience nightly and let the fans man-handle him; male/female it didn't matter, inevitably someone would stick their tongue down his throat, or cop a lusty feel. The gig was electrifying, and it changed my life--I dived wholeheartedly into freakdom and didn't look back.

Anyway, unbeknownst to me, the group was disintegrating, and Iggy moved into a small dingy apartment in the Hollywood flats, and started hanging out at Rodney's which is where my sister and I met him in 1974. I remember running up to him and asserting that "Not Right" was written about ME (LOL), to which Iggy replied with a bit of a smirk, "I thought that I wrote it about myself."

The first thing I noticed about Iggy was that he wasn't kidding when he wrote 5'1, the second thing was that he wasn't an asshole--he was nice to his fans--even giggly 17 and 18 year olds. At any rate, Iggy did not have a car, so I drove him home when he needed a ride, in turn, he used to buy booze for us, since he was in his mid-20's and I and my gang were all minors. At the time I drove a mid-60's American made station wagon, and Iggy would invariably claim that he would ride "shot-gun," so off we went--my gang, and the Ig. Sometimes Iggy had an, er, "friend" go home with him, frequently of the "she-male" variety, however, as we had already been hanging around with a drag-queen, a Rodney's habituĂ© named Michael Doll, and had met some of his friends, Miss BJ, Leilani, to name 2, we were like, whatever. I also met James Williamson at the time, and he was a nice guy--I once bought him dinner at Ben Franklin's on Sunset since The Stooges had no money, and he was hungry--I wish that I could remember our conversation, but alas, I can not (we did however, have a lively conversation about Keith Richard's relative merits as a guitar player in the bar of The Rainbow a little later...).

Around this time I rented an apartment in Hollywood--a one room bachelor pad with a stained Murphy bed in a rundown part of town--East of Highland above Hollywood Blvd, that cost $105.a month. I was 18, my sister 17, and we were ready to party. Iggy showed up one day; at the time he was completely, and seemingly, hopelessly addicted to heroin. The following was written about 3 years after the fact, and published in the June '77 SLASH magazine as a letter (sadly I wish that I had kept a copy of the original manuscript since Slash cut stuff out.):

"There has been a lot of criticism recently of Iggy's performance at the Civic (note: Iggy played The Santa Monica Civic as a solo artist in '77, and he had been working with David Bowie rather intensely at this time which did change the sort of music he wrote--it became slicker as it veered away from the raw power of The Stooges)...The critics are probably right. No band, no performer can ever live up to the spectacle--the sheer energy, the guttural violence of the Stooges '73/'74 tours...I'd never been close to such anger expressed in raw musical terms before, or since...It was like something black and rotten had exploded inside Pop's brain, and we, the audience, just happened to see the explosion.

...I finally met Iggy in the summer of '74. My roommates brought him home one morning...he looked awful...his formerly silver hair had been cropped short, and was haphazardly dyed red. He was fucked up (I later learned that he had made a stop at his dealer's before coming over). I turned on my tape recorder and let him start talking. It was sad. He sang "Crystal Ship" and cried on the part, "the days are bright and filled with pain..." He tried to piss in one of our ashtrays, but the piss wouldn't come...he passed out before he could make it to the front door. Later he was busted on Hollywood Blvd, he was on his way to a recording session (note: he was walking down the street with Pearl, my sister, and a friend of ours from Rodney's, a prostitute named Kat. He was obviously intoxicated and drew the attention of the cops--he did instruct the girls to call Danny Sugerman before the cops drove him away--which they did, and Sugerman bailed him out.)..later he was beaten up at one of Bowie's concerts at The Amphitheater..."

I kept that tape for years until my sister's asshole husband stole it apparently--pity that. I do remember that he kept pointing at our friend James, then known as Jamie, and telling him emphatically to "look at me!", heard in the back-ground was Pearl whimpering "please look at him Jamie!") Iggy also kept telling us to call his dad, James Osterberg Sr. in Michigan.

Soon Iggy's situation improved, and he moved to a better part of town to a nicer place on Sunset Blvd across the street from the Mondrian (then an apartment building where my friend Meredith lived.) One of the last times I saw him, he invited me and Joan up to this apartment to hear some tunes he had been working on--alas, as I noted in my journal, he couldn't find the lyrics, and we never knew which songs they were which provided a bittersweet finish to my dealings with Iggy Pop as he spiraled up toward commercial success, and away from hanging out with Hollywood Club kids


  1. OMG! I remember now....You DID tape that morning of teenage debauchery!! I also remember the feeling of shock when Iggy chased down an entire bottle of aspirin with half a jug of red wine in front of the Liquor Store on Hollywood & Bronson @ around 11:00 am (those bygone allnighters) where we were all sitting on the pavement. (@@@@?)

  2. This is terrific reportage and memoiring. I hope you don't mind that I'm going to forward this link to some Stoogean historians and who knows? I'm always amused at intelligent people's recollections, even as we all did less than intelligent things back in the day...

  3. this is great Sue, I wanted to read more, terrific writing, great story.

  4. And this "...a bittersweet finish to my dealings with Iggy Pop as he spiraled up toward commercial success, and away from hanging out with Hollywood Club kids" is one of the greatest observations in all music journalism, simple, declarative, poignant. You rock.