December 09, 2016

When I first heard the word groupie, I was standing with all of Led Zeppelin in front of the Hyatt ‘Riot’ House Hotel, ready to climb into one of their 4 limos on our way to the Forum. “Look…that girl must be a groupie!” I was 19 years old, smack dab in the middle of my heady rock & roll lifestyle, on the arm of Jimmy Page, most coveted rock god of the moment. “Hmmm,” I thought, “I have a title now – someone who hangs out with groups.” I didn't think much about it, really, until the term slowly became a negative finger-pointing slur against me and my music-loving sisters.  Why? We were just having a blast with the musicians that stirred our hearts, woke us up, and aroused us in every way. We wanted to share ourselves with those who sparked our own burgeoning self-awareness and creativity. They shook us up, inside and out. Living the life of a groupie was also a feminist statement, despite the avalanche of diatribes to the contrary.  I’ve always believed that a feminist is a woman who goes after what she wants, a free-spirited freemale, despite all odds. And most importantly, I was a groupie for myself and my daring, delightful cohorts.

Even though it was the most magical time for revolutionary music, back in the late sixties, there were no female rock groups, until Frank Zappa asked a wild, madcap dance troupe, The Laurel Canyon Ballet Company -- as we called ourselves -- to write a bunch of songs to record for his new label, Bizarre.  He soon helped us become The GTOs – Girls Together Outrageously. Suddenly we were musicians ourselves, in the recording studio with our hero, Frank, his merry band, The Mothers of Invention, with Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and a host of other radiant luminaries. Our songs were the stories of our lives. This new recognition and equality only furthered my desire to share my heart with the music men who made my soul sparkle and expand.

In those sweet Hollywood days and nights, the girls stuck together. There was very little competition, because for me, the GTOs were as important as the musicians we cavorted with. I had as much love and admiration for Gail Zappa as I had for her husband. I saw how she subtly encouraged and assured him, while remaining completely herself, amused and amusing, satisfied and secure -- and aspired to become just like her.

Despite plenty of criticism to the contrary, I consider myself to be a true-blue feminist: a woman doing exactly what she wants to do, and not letting anything stop her  -- pioneering the sexual, sensual, spiritual revolution, and fighting against the uptight status quo, and having a ball in the process!  I never understood the accusation that groupies were ‘submissive’ to musicians. Groupies were and are proud muses, inspiring and uplifting the people in our lives, and in turn receiving equal appreciation, adoration and understanding.

We expressed our fervor for life with the clothes we wore, the feather boas, vintage velvets, chiffon gowns, jangly bracelets from elbow to wrist, Pierrot make-up, glitter flailing from our hair as we joyously spun around at love-ins. We created outfits for each other, combining crocheted doilies and hand stitched antique quilts with glorious finds from granny’s trunks, thrift shops and mod Sunset Strip boutiques. These unique ensembles reflected our newfound freedom, self-discovery, power and unbridled passion for life. We wanted to turn heads, create controversy, stand up and stand out.

I was well into groupiedom long before the misunderstood term Groupie came into being; having fallen madly for Elvis Presley as a pre-teen and Dion as a young teenager in love with rock & roll -- and all that the startling, rebellious new music stood for.  I remember asking my mom why Elvis was cropped at the waist on the Ed Sullivan show, his swiveling hips much too wicked for 1958 America. “I suppose it’s too sexy, honey.” She replied. Even as a little girl, I knew something was up. Elvis was in the process of transforming what was acceptable behavior, breaking down invisible barriers, which allowed the young musicians that followed him to go further than previously imagined. Then an Elvis-loving boy from Minnesota came along and Bob Dylan added Shakespearean importance to rock & roll. Nothing would ever be the same again. I was hooked. I still am.

I have long wanted to alter the perception of the much maligned and misunderstood G-word, and in fact, I’m going to transform the word right here and now. I declare that a groupie is a brave, passionate, compassionate, creative, music-loving muse, unafraid and free to be totally herself in any and all situations. Her very presence enlightens and enhances the hearts of those around her. She is self-assured, determined and undaunted -- and she looks the part!

I have met so many kindred spirits out there, women who share the same burning penchant for self-reflection and fearless expression that I have tried to embody my entire life. I want my girls, my Groupie Dolls out there to be able to express who they really are by wrapping themselves in yummy, feminine frocks and feisty finery, to cloak themselves in the beauty that reflects their fearless, passionate souls.

My deepest wish is to connect with my Girls Together Outrageously all over the world. I believe that a woman who lives her life exactly the way she wants to is unstoppable.

Together there is nothing we cannot do. Be a Groupie for YOU.

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