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(Excerpt from Lick Me)

Chapter 10

Groupie (Superstar)

Two nights before I left for London, Paul McGregor cut my hair in a really severe shag.  It was quite short in the front, and it made me feel so vulnerable and naked, I just wanted to cry.  I was going off to face the biggest artistic challenge of my life and the loss of my long swingy hair around my face really made me feel insecure.  Of course, Herbert Berghof would have approved of the cut, because he used to say that I hid behind my hair as if it were curtains. 

Later that same night, I dropped the last tab in my acid stash and went with Priscilla to a press party for the Mark-Almond Band at the Café Au Go Go.  At first it was all a bit surreal, because Jon Mark, the group's bass player, unhappy with the sound system, had a bit of a freak-out -- cursing, swearing, and smashing his mike, amp and guitar, before walking off stage in disgust.  But as the night went on, things really got interesting.  John Hammond, Al Kooper, and Long John Baldry had an amazing jam session together, and the Mark-Almond Band returned to the stage and performed brilliantly.  And then, at a little after-show gathering around the backstage piano, John Baldry blew my mind by reading a couple of my poems aloud.  They’d been published in a local rock and roll newspaper called Zoot, which Mark-Almond’s PR people had included in their press kits.  It was the first time my poems had ever appeared in print and that was exciting in itself, but to hear Long John Baldry read them with that velvet voice of his and to such a select audience of musicians and industry insiders was absolutely thrilling for me. 

Shawn Phillips was there too, and after John Baldry's recitation, Shawn and I went to the Fillmore to catch the Byrds’ last set.  We hung out in their dressing room, along with Elton John, Eric Anderson, and a gospel singer from Georgia named Mylon.  Mylon drove me wild, and it was shameful how I came on to him, when it was already understood that I was Shawn's date for the night.  But he was so fucking sexy. I just couldn't help it.  Anyway, I later wound up with Shawn at the Gramercy Park Hotel, where I was rewarded not only with some great tantric sex (Shawn was a devoted practitioner of yoga and other spiritual disciplines), but also with witnessing the birth of two new Shawn Phillips songs. 

Nights like that were what I lived for -- nights that made me realize it was never just about the fucking.  It was always about creation -- inspiring it, rewarding it, being part of it, and mostly just rejoicing in the fruits of it.  When Shawn wrote those two songs between our bouts of lovemaking, or I should say as part of our lovemaking, I knew there couldn't help but be some essence of me in them forever, even if nobody else ever knew about it, even if Shawn himself never gave it a thought.  It was one of those moments when a groupie knows she's more than a groupie; she's a muse.

Cherry Vanilla
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