‘Legendary groupie’ turns writing coach: Pamela Des Barres on writing from your soul

March 23, 2017

 Had she gone to law school instead of on tour, tended to  the needs of the underserved rather than the overexposed,  well, Pamela Des Barres might be running for president.

 “I don’t believe in regret, of course, so I don’t wish I had  followed another path,” the self-described “legendary  groupie” said the other day.

 “But if I had put the same focus and determination and  dedication into politics that I had for getting next to those  people, I could be Hillary Clinton right now. Instead, I was with the band.”

Was she ever. Des Barres, now 67, has made a career of her adventures, romps and relationships with rock icons like Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger and Keith Moon.

She’s written three tell-alls: “I’m with the Band,” first published in 1987; a follow-up called “Take Another Little Piece of My Heart” in 1992; and “Let’s Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies” in 2007.

The books capture the time a teenage Des Barres knocked on Mick Jagger’s hotel-room door and he answered it — naked. The time she spent “endless” hours with Jim Morrison of The Doors. Her travels with Keith Moon of The Who. And how longtime love Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin told her to wait for his limo outside of the Whisky-a-Go-Go — and then drove past with another girl in the car.

For the last 16 years, Des Barres has been teaching women-only writing classes — “Groupie Therapy,” she calls it — where participants gather over two nights to write and bond. She will teach in Seattle on the evenings of Aug. 22-23. The class costs $130 for both nights and can be booked at pameladesbarres.net.

“The girls connect in a way that doesn’t happen in a normal writing class,” Des Barres said, on the phone from her home in Marina del Rey, Calif. “Most of them have read my books or know who I am and they all have a love of music, a free-spiritedness. And the comfort level is just so peaceful. It’s rowdy and outrageous and they write about things that they never have before.”

Most are writing from their own lives, she said. Des Barres gives prompts — write about when you were picked on in school, for example, or your first kiss — and gives the group 12 minutes to write.

“No thinking, no crossing out or erasing,” she said. “You just have the faith to put pen to paper, like your musical heroes did. If you don’t think, you allow your soul to do the writing. They come out with the most amazing stuff.”

It worked for Des Barres, who not only pulled from her soul to write her books — she pulled from a diary she kept during her wild days.

Kate Hudson pored over Des Barres’ memoirs in preparation for her role as the young Penny Lane in “Almost Famous,” but Des Barres resents that she replaced the term “groupie” with “band aide.”

(“We are not groupies,” Hudson’s character says. “Groupies sleep with rock stars because they want to be near someone famous. We’re here because of the music. We are band aides.”)

“I hate that term because it is a made-up, bulls— term,” Des Barres said. “Groupies are girls who love music and want to be around it. A ‘band aide’ is a movie term. Cameron (Crowe, the film’s director) was putting groupies down by using that term.

“I’ve been wanting to redeem the word ‘groupie,’ ” she continued. “Anyone who doesn’t like that word is just jealous or sexist or afraid of sex.”

And while it may seem Des Barres and her Sunset Strip sisters were all about sex, and never took a single step of a Walk of Shame, their emotions still got stomped from time to time.

“Your heart hurts a lot when you don’t get what you want,” she said. “But you expect the situation. You get involved with Jimmy Page or Mick Jagger or Keith Moon, and there is always a hope that he will take you everywhere.

“But you know down deep it is not going to happen,” she continued. “You have to have a certain strength to be a groupie. You had to accept that your guy was going to go to a different city and be with someone else.”

She never seriously considered being in love with Jagger or Moon. It was just friendly, having a ball and not thinking about the future.

“But that free-love, ’60s mentality doesn’t exist anymore,” she said. “That’s why it’s been mythologized. The music has been, too.”

Des Barres is still a backstage regular. The other night, she visited “Weird Al” Yankovic after his show in Santa Barbara.

“He cheers you up, you know?” Des Barres said. “It’s a really happy-making experience, and it’s so important at this time, the way the world is.”

Not quite Led Zeppelin. But still.





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