Cherry a hit at the Idyllwild Authors Series
http://idyllwildtowncrier.com, June 4 2015
Cherry featured in the Idyllwild Town Crier, Idyllwild California
idyllwildtowncrier.com, Teresa Garcia-Lande, May 20 2015
Justin St. Vincent, Managing Editor of Xtrememusic.org posts Cherry's comments on music and spirituality, as published in his book, The Spiritual Significance of Music
xtrememusic.org, Justin St. Vincent, 2015
Cherry's Wild Years
... her sex, drugs and rock & roll years with Andy Warhol, David Bowie and Sting
Interview by Fabio Destefani, published in Made magazine, Issue #4 - 2011
Would you have liked to attend an Elvis Presley concert with a gorgeous partner like David Bowie? And what about doing a private performance for John Lennon and Yoko Ono in their New York apartment at The Dakota? Or performing live with Sting and Stewart Copeland, just before they started Police, during the punk invasion of the late '70s in London? And... would you say "No thanks" to a hot sex night with Kris Kristofferson? I could go on quoting episodes like these to make you envious, but I won't, 'cause you can discover them yourself reading Lick Me, a book written by Cherry Vanilla and recently published in Italy by Odoya. In this intriguing and well written autobiography, the performer / writer / press agent / groupie paints an interesting and rich portrait of the cultural and musical universe of the '60s and '70s. She does it remembering her own experiences: wild orgies on Fire Island, drug consumption and abuse, hanging out with Andy Warhol and his entourage in New York City, the Glam era and David Bowie (Cherry was his press agent in America), London during the punk revolution, her musical collaboration with Sting, her record debut, with an album whose title Bad Girl tells a lot about her unconventional lifestyle. And then the sex, a lot of sex, practiced as a celebration of the body or simply for pleasure itself, without any sense of guilt or fake morality. Lick Me deals with all of these topics and, despite what its title suggests, is not a book only about the spicy erotic adventures of the author. Ironic and scoffing, this is a work that discloses the splendors and miseries of a fascinating universe, including its dark side. But it's Vanilla's ability to experience this world from just the right distance that allows her to extricate herself from the multitudes of misadventures, difficult situations and relationships she found herself involved in during her life. A skill that allowed her to make choices, distinguish the good from the bad, and never lapse into a negative cynicism. But now, let the author herself tell us something more about her rich and fascinating world...
Despite its title, Lick me is not the classic book written by a groupie who tells her erotic experiences and magnifies the joy of free sex. It's true that sexuality is a big topic in the book, but surely it's not the only one. Instead, I would describe your book as a vivid portrait of two important decades, the 60s and 70s, a period of time that has marked the history or music and of culture... Do you agree?
I always loved stories that took me into another time, another world. I think when I took drugs in my youth it was probably for that same reason -- I liked the act of being transported. I mean, anyone can live in the here and now -- although that in itself is always a challenge. But when I took drugs, especially psychedelics, I experienced other worlds, ones outside of anything I could experience in my everyday life, places where time almost didn't exist. So if a book or a movie could transport me to another world, another time, another headspace, it was always the most enjoyable kind of entertainment experience for me. Young friends were always asking me about the 1960's and 70's, an era that seems now, in retrospect, to have been a kind of out of time period in itself. Technology has brought us cool new inventions, but as far as things like higher-consciousness, brotherhood, societal breakthroughs and even music and the arts, that particular era stands out as totally unique, an enormous, unexpected bleep or peak on the spectrogram of human existence. I honestly don't have a huge ego, and I never thought my personal story was all that important. But as a curious, rebellious young participant in that particular era, I felt I could be a worthy tour guide through it for those who weren't there or perhaps didn't immerse themselves as deeply into the highs and lows of it as I did. I used the events of my own life as a timeline, a marker as is were, but my main objective was always to transport the reader to that world, to that time.
The importance of Friendship and love, the strong will to live this life with a genuine spontaneity, breaking the barriers and strict rules of conformism... The world that you describe seems to be really far from the cynicism that dominates the world and show biz today... It really seems that the way you saw and approached this world is a lot different from the way many look at it today...
I think that somewhere along the way, the idea of fame became the end-all important goal for young people. You can see it in the way they worship reality TV stars, who are paid enormous amounts of money for doing nothing more than living to excess and having enormous asses. Kids grow up thinking that these brands, as they've become known, should be admired for spending millions of dollars on facelifts and fashion and hawking everything from perfume to underwear. And so, now you have hoards of youngsters wanting to elevate and emulate these so-called stars. I was called a groupie, but it was never really fame or money that I was attracted to, it was talent and artistry. Most of the artists I was drawn to had not yet even achieved fame or fortune at that time -- and some never did. I yearned to be part of a community of artists, not merchants. And I wanted to develop and expand my own artistic talents. There came a time when I too sought fame, but luckily the amount of it I got was enough to demystify the whole idea of it for me. And demystifying things, I think, is what I'm essentially all about. With the way I broke the rules of social and sexual behavior in those days ... well, if it was like it is now, I could have easily wound up like a Kardashian or one of those kids on Jersey Shore. Being young and vulnerable, I might have gone for it -- and then what? It might have given me a temporarily big bank account or a set of bionic boobs, but what would have happened to my values? Would I have ever developed the deep and lasting relationships I have with true artists like Vangelis, Tim Burton and Rufus Wainwright, the writing and management skills that have carried me through this life and given me such fulfillment, or the humility that allows me to both embrace and serve these earthly gods as well as the gods of my own creativity? I helped break taboos that needed to be broken when I was young. Now a new generation must break today's taboos by refusing to go along with the shallow reality show values that are presented to them as something to be aspired to. All I know is that at the ripe old age of 68, the things I still value most are the things that have no monetary value at all.
Looking back to those years, is there anything that you would do in a different way?
You know, so many times I've been asked this question, and I always flippantly answer only that I would have "bought a house and slept with Jimi Hendrix." But in truth, I would have taken up the guitar or piano at a very early age and persisted in learning to play it in front of anyone, despite my shyness and lack of confidence about exposing my most secret desire to be a singer/song-writer/performer. Of course, there was no way my parents could have afforded a piano. And, God knows, we didn't even have room for one in our crowded railroad apartment. And in those days, they didn't have the tiny, cheap electric ones. But there were friends and neighbors with pianos, and I probably could have scored a cheap guitar as a Christmas or birthday present if I'd have asked for one. I just wish I'd had the guts very early on to come-out about what I really wanted be when I grew up. Now, when anyone I know has a child, a grandchild or whatever, the first thing I always say is "Buy the kid a piano, and if not a piano, a guitar."
You hung around with many important musicians and celebrities... Is there anyone that you remember not for his or her celebrity status but for the way he or she behaved to you as human being, I mean in terms or friendship etc.
Oh, for sure. Vangelis is supreme in this regard. The man saved my life, my dignity, showed me the kind of love, support and belief no one else could ever match. And while speaking of the famous ones, Tim Burton and Rufus Wainwright have also proved their love and friendship in ways the public will never know. But then there are the many unsung heroes of my life ... Jon Rick, who took me in when I was made homeless by my own family ../ Tony Zanetta, who shaped and directed many of my performances, and continues to encourage me in every creative endeavor ... Daisy Dowleh, who has stood by me through thick and thin ... Betsy Parker, Michael Maloney, Mae Mougin -- names nobody will recognize, but dear dear friends, who will always be sacred to me, because of their kindness, loyalty and love ... and so many who have since passed on, especially Franklyn Welsh, my make-up artist/best friend, who made me believe I was physically beautiful, even when my face and body showed the ravages of time and abuse. I have had and am lucky to still have in my life some of the most incredible people on this planet, whether famous or not. And for this, I am eternally grateful. In the end, it's the number one most important thing in anybody's life.
During your life you had the chance to be part of many interesting cultural and musical movements... You've been part of the Warhol milieu, you saw the birth of glam with David Bowie and also the one of punk. Which one among these artistic movements do you feel is closest to your sensibility?
You know, that actually changes as the years go by. At this point in my life, I feel kind of removed from any one musical or artistic movement. The music I like tends to be either ethereal -- The Enid, Kronos Quartet, Explosions In The Sky, ... folky -- John Fahey, The McGarrigles, Teddy Thompson ... stripped-down rock -- Lissie, Be Good Tanyas, Brandi Carlile ... poetic -- Antony Hegerty, Leonard Cohen ... oh, I could go on and on. My musical tastes are so eclectic. Depending on my mood on any given day, I listen to reggae, jazz, classical, gospel, Afro-Cuban, just about everything except rap, disco, hip-hop or Broadway - though my friends Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have just written some fabulous Broadway tunes for the TV show Smash. Mostly I tune-in to my local listener-supported radio station, KCSN-FM, which tends to satisfy most of my eclectic tastes, and I like being plugged-in to the local DJs. As for the current art movement, I really don't understand it. I like art that is pretty, funny, primitive and accessible. No matter how much money I had, I would never spend it on a crucifix floating in a tank of piss or a plain white square painted inside of a plain black square -- stuff I see in the galleries these days. I tend to buy local folk art during my travels and lots of the plein-air style California desert paintings I can pick up for pittance out here. Back in the Warhol days, of course, I loved the type of pop art that was so new and shocking, but I am long over that now.
Chose an adjective to describe these artists you have known:
Andy Warhol: Strange, David Bowie: Focused, Patti Smith: Gutsy, Jane County: Kooky, Sting: Self-confident, Isabella Rossellini: Earthy, John Lennon: Pure, Yoko Ono: Fearless.
In the contemporary music and cultural universe do you see someone who makes you think... Oh a new Cherry Vanilla is born...
No, and I never want to either, ha ha! I like to think of myself as a total one-of-a-kind! Of course I know I'm really not. Hell, I'm just a tiny speck of cosmic dust in the grand design of this endless universe. But I have to have an ego about something, and I hold onto the idea that no matter how I may succeed or fail in this life, there is and never will be anyone as uniquely me as me! Of course, I can see little reminders of myself in some aspiring artists I know. There's a lovely young woman in New York named Laura Desiree, whose approach to life and career is a lot like mine was in the early days, and whom I've counseled on it. There are probably many more out there, but she's the only one I've actually come to know and love.
Are there any new bands or musicians that you like?
Dare I mention Rufus again? I know it's shameless promotion, but he's always at the top of my list, 'cause he's like family. I was just at his daughter Viva's first birthday party at the Chateau Marmont, and I'm going to his wedding in Montauk in August. His new CD, Not In The Game comes out this May, and it's wonderful. His sister Martha Wainwright has just written one of her most beautiful songs ever, I Do Most Things Wrong. I heard her do it recently at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneer Town. It's on her new CD, coming out in September. Gregory Alan Isakov, Jon Lindsay, Krystle Warren, Chief, KEM, Duffy, Kitten and my favorite band of late, The Dunwells, have all caught my ear, but I have not bought a CD or even downloaded a track in ages. I just wrote some lyrics for Hilly Michael's new song, Billy Balloon, so that's been going through my head of late.
Is it true that Lick me could become a TV serial? And if yes who would you like to play Cherry Vanilla role?
Well, there's a darling Hollywood producer named Kevin McCormick, who's trying to convince HBO to do it, as a kind of continuation of the Mad Men series. You know, pick up on the Madison Avenue theme where Mad Men leaves off, which is right about where I came in. Lick Me could take the story into the height of the rock era in the 60's and 70's, follow a character like me, who shakes up the male domination aspect of the ad world and gets everybody tripping on acid on Fire Island and participating in after-work orgies in downtown lofts. There could be a whole new colorful, pop art, psychedelic look to it too, and characters like Warhol, Bowie and the like could be introduced within it. I've always thought Lindsay Lohan could play me in a movie. I've met her and I found her to be lovely. But there's something about Emma Stone that makes me think she would be excellent as well, and maybe even better for the long haul of a TV series than Lindsay would be. Anyway, for now it still remains a dream.
The book ends at beginning of the '80... so there is much more you have to tell... Are you thinking about writing a Lick me sequel?
Basically, I'm lazy, until someone asks me to come through for them on something. I need a deadline to put things to bed. Otherwise I go on writing and doodling around forever. There's certainly more to the story, the Chet Baker and Tim Burton years especially. But until someone lights a fire under my ass, as we say over here, I will probably continue to procrastinate on writing book two. But being a title queen, of course, I've already got a name for it - Last Licks.
Is there anything I've not asked you that you would like to point out?
Well, since I've just posted this on my website today, it might be a nice thought to leave with your readers.
2-19-12 ... 'always read my rising sign horoscope, as well as my sun sign. Today's LA Times for Capricorn said this:
"You'll enjoy a bit of cosmic mathematical justice, which doesn't always follow a logical path."
Wow. My wish for all.
Sunday Book Review #30 - Lick Me by Cherry Vanilla
By: Mike Kueber, Mike Kueber's Blog, May 1, 2011
My friend Robert from Austin recently suggested that a book might lose credibility because of its title. He was referring to Dinesh D'Souza's The Roots of Obama's Rage. Because of that title, Robert was reluctant to think D'Souza had anything legitimate to say.
I felt the same way about Cherry Vanilla's autobiography, Lick Me. But, when I noticed her tome on my library's New Book shelf, I was also picking up The Roots of Obama's Rage and Dreams from My Father, and I thought a little light reading might provide me with some balance.
Lick Me is undeniably light reading, but it is also interesting and well-written. My interest with the book is due in large part to its setting - the author grew up in Queens in the 50s and then worked in Manhattan in the 60s and 70s. I love reading about those places.
Cherry Vanilla was born Kathleen Dorritie into a working-class Irish family. She doesn't spend a lot of words describing her parents or her siblings. Rather, she seems to assume that her life resulted solely from her choices, not from family influences. That's refreshing.
Kathleen started making those choices immediately after graduating from an all-girls Catholic high school by getting a job in Manhattan with an ad agency. She loved the glamour of show business, especially music, and was happy that this job placed her on the edge of that glamour.
Life with an ad agency in the 60s included the possibility of incessant partying, and Kathleen chose to participate. She called the men "Mad men" because most of them worked on Madison Avenue. Although Kathleen's work environment seems strikingly similar to that depicted on the TV show called, "Mad Men," she never draws any comparison, and since I have seen the TV show only rarely, I am unable to make a comparison either.
Shortly after starting work in the ad agency, Kathleen lost her virginity during a week-end visit to a Long Island party house. The guy was a one-night stand, and Kathleen described her post-coital feelings as:
"The incredible release I felt from letting him lead me further and further into complete sexual rapture was miraculous, a major awakening for me. I was eighteen and I had finally gone all the way, without any thought of the taboos and with what I recognized right away to be an insatiable hunger for more."
From that point on, Kathleen went on "an all-out sexual spree," and she eventually incorporated a plethora of drugs into her lifestyle, all while being a productive and successful employee. Her career went from the ad agency to disc jockey to publicist. She took on the name Cherry Vanilla, and her biggest act was David Bowie. Eventually, she tried singing, but enjoyed only a modicum of success before settling into a more sedate lifestyle in her 40s. She had a three abortions and only a brief marriage later in life.
The abortions were traumatic experiences for Cherry. About the second one, she wrote:
"For a woman who's in no position to bring a child into the world, having one in your womb has got to be the worst, most soul-wrenching thing that can ever, ever happen. The whole bottom falls out of your life, and every thought, plan, hope, and dream you have is suddenly eclipsed by the heaviness and the urgency of the situation at hand. And there's no getting away from it, not even for a second. It's there inside you, with a heart that's already beating. And in its primordial struggle to survive, the tiny entity is changing your hormones and manipulating all of your emotions. Your will and your reasoning helplessly fall prey to your inescapable, natural maternal instincts. You want the child. But you know there's just no way in hell that you can have it. And that was, once again, the situation I was in.... At any rate, it was my responsibility and I had fucked up. I was exhausted from crying and vomiting and going over and over in my mind what options I might have. There were moments when I was ready to just plunge ahead and have the baby, come hell or high water. But I needed Louie (young boyfriend) to want the baby too - and he didn't. He pleaded with me not to have it, saying he was just too young and that it would ruin his life. He said he would hate me forever and he would leave me."
Louie sounds like a louse, but Cherry said, "I didn't hate Louie for not wanting the baby; I understood. It wasn't inside of his body, so he could never know the depth of what I was feeling. I forgave him. And I tried to forgive myself. I reasoned that another soul destined to manifest in that baby would find another being through which to come into the world, and that, as my mother would say, everything happens for the best."
The abortion seems to reflect Cherry's philosophy of life - her focus is to enjoy life, and she takes personal responsibility for achieving that happiness. When her lifestyle leads to difficult situations, she uses reason to determine her course of action. It almost reminds me on Ayn Rand's dictate that she would never live her life for the sake of someone else and she would never ask someone else to live their life for the sake of her.
I think Ayn Rand would admire Cherry Vanilla.
Unfortunately, the book doesn't examine the 80s, 90s, or 2000s for Cherry Vanilla. Although her lifestyle is now relatively sedate (no sex or drugs), I would be interested in knowing whether the Ayn Rand philosophy is still working for her.
THE FABULOUS MS. CHERRY VANILLA
By: Ginger Coyote, Punk Globe, May 2011
I have wanted to interview Cherry Vanilla for quite sometime now.. She recently released her autobiography called LICK ME.. The book is getting rave reviews... I found out that she was going to my dear friend Randy Jones party so I jumped at the chance to ask her a few questions. We chatted about Lick Me, Bebe Buell, Jayne County, David Bowie and Shawn Phillips. However I did forget to ask her about having Sting and The Police as her back up band for a tour in Europe.. I love Cherry we are both Libra's and we both love Glitter and Glamor... We also both recorded a cover of "Boys" with Jayne County, Holly Woodlawn and Constance Cooper a couple years back as Four On The Floor... I hope you enjoy the interview..
Punk Globe: Thanks so much for the interview Cherry. I know you recently released an autobiography tell us about it?
CV: It's called LICK ME and it's a first-hand account of my feelings, experiences, love affairs, accomplishments and failures, in the pursuit of my show business/music business dreams. But aside from my personal story, it's a trip through the history of an incredible era, from the birth of rock & roll to the height of punk rock. Young people are always asking me what it was like back then, and LICK ME is my attempt at answering that query in the most honest and accurate way possible.
Punk Globe: I have heard it is a delightful read and that you are so honest in the book. How long did it take you to write?
CV: Honesty is the quality I strove for more than anything else. My life has been such an incredible journey, there was no need to fictionalize even a minute of it, or to gloss-over any embarrassing and ego-crushing admissions. And even when it came to describing the atmosphere of a certain hotel room or the intimidation of a backstage scene, I really scoured my diaries and wracked my brain to convey the details as truthfully as words would allow. It took me two years to write it. And a lot of that process was in deciding what stories to leave out of the final version.
Punk Globe: Who was your publisher?
CV: Chicago Review Press / A Cappella Books. They're based in Chicago and are not huge. But they have published a lot of great show business books, and they respected my vision and my ability to write the book myself.
Punk Globe: Did you have co writer work with you on the book?
CV: No way. It was something I always wanted to accomplish for myself, and I just had to prove to myself and to the world, I guess, that I could do it. It wasn't easy, believe me. Though the greatest compliment people give me about it is that it flows so easily, like it took me no effort at all to write it. That's what I was hoping for, aiming for all along, for it to sound just like I was talking to a friend, not editing myself and not trying too hard. But it took a lot of work to accomplish that, ha ha.
Punk Globe: Bebe Buell asked me to let you know she really enjoyed your book. How have the reviews been?
CV: Well that makes me feel really great. Bebe was around for much of the history I describe in the book, especially for the David Bowie parts, and it's really nice to hear that from another woman who was right there at the time. Please tell Bebe "thank you" from me for that. The reviews have all been extremely positive, beyond my wildest expectations. I even garnered praise from the likes of sociology professors and columnists like Liz Smith and Michael Musto. I couldn't be happier with the reviews. I feel very very blessed in that regard.
Punk Globe: You also did a tour reading at different Book Stores . How many dates did you do?
CV: I did a couple o' dozen, mostly on the east and west coasts. I didn't make it much to the middle of the country, for financial and demographic reasons. My fans tend to come from the edges -- in more ways than one - and neither my publisher nor I could afford further travel. I did more than book stores though; I had the extreme honor to perform not only at the Warhol Museum and the Watermill Center (Robert's Wilson's art's lab in the Hamptons), but also at the fabulous Coco de Mer lingerie/sex toys shops in both LA and New York City!
Punk Globe: Did a lot of people come out of the wood work to cheer you on?
CV: Happily they did. I saw friends I hadn't run into in years, including my X-boyfriend, Louie Lepore and many of my X-band mates. One couple I know drove for eight hours to hear me read at the Barnes & Noble book store in Manhattan. I was floored by that. And both Angie Bowie and Nancy Lee Andrews flew into LA for my book launch party that Rufus Wainwright hosted at the Chateau Marmont. And Tim Burton flew in from the UK to host my NY launch party at the Royalton Hotel. I must say my friends really came through for me in that regard. But then, I have incredible friends.
Punk Globe: Tell us which city you felt you got the best reception?
CV: Well, the very first launch party was given in LA by my friend Betsy Parker, on my sixty-seventh birthday. So, in some ways, that was the best night of all. But I would have to say that both LA and New York were kind of equally great. But then Pittsburgh, San Jose, Montecito and Lenox, Mass all were as well, in their way. I did a lot of radio in New York City, and I love love love love radio. So, I guess New York would win on that account.
Punk Globe: I know that my pal Chelsea Rose went to hear you read and bought a book in Bay Area. How did you enjoy it there?
CV: I think she must have come to San Jose, just outside of San Francisco. That was incredible. These people from Apple threw me a delightfully ruckus house party, with decorations made of LICK-able, edible sweets and a special kind of pork dish, in honor of my role in PORK, the Warhol play ... and the girls all wore tutus, in honor of my author photo and Rufus's line in the forward about me still being "a nice little girl in a tutu." Both Betsy and this San Jose couple spent their own money throwing ME a party. I mean, how sweet and how generous is that!
Punk Globe: Did you get down to Atlanta to read from the book and see Jayne County?
CV: Unfortunately, I didn't. And I really would have liked to visit with Jayne in her environment. In all of the years that I've known her, I've never once been to her home. Though we did live together, of course, while in London doing PORK. If I ever do a reading down there, I will certainly ask Jayne to do a guest spot with me. She is one of the most entertaining people I know, and even with all of her nuttiness, I love her dearly and always will.
Punk Globe: In the book you talk about your days working with David Bowie. Has he responded to the book?
CV: Not a word, and I don't expect one. David decided to move on from all of us Mainmaners years ago, for whatever reasons I do not know. But a few years back, when the French and Italians published THE MIRABELLE MAGAZINE COLUMNS that I'd ghost-written for him in the seventies, he did, through his management, give permission to use what he'd written about them on his website for the book's intro. So, that was sweet of him. I think, for somebody who had sex with him, I kind of respected his privacy somewhat in LICK ME. He was actually a great guy to work for and a really fun friend for a while. I hope that came across in the book, and I hope he had a good laugh revisiting the "carbuncle" night at the Howard Johnson's in Boston. I did. It's one of my most cherished memories. Such a perfect rock & roll night, when you end it in bed with the star!
Punk Globe: You also talk about your fondness for Shawn Phillips.. That is a name I have not heard about for years. Are you still in contact with him?
CV: No, and for years I thought he had retired to his beloved Positano in Italy, never to tour the world again. But just a year or two ago, I heard he'd played a few gigs in the States. Man, he was unique and such a darling darling man. I hope I can catch his show next time around and get to give him a hug and kiss backstage. Please let me know if you hear of any upcoming Shawn Phillips gigs.
Punk Globe: Is your book also being sold electronically?
CV: Yes it is. Even though I am not the most hi-tech person on the planet and I don't own a Kindle, an iPod or even a fancy cell phone, I 'm so happy that those who are into that stuff can get my book in that form. Me, personally, I still like holding an actual book. But hey, I've been here for sixty-seven years already, so I'm more used to old-fashioned things like paper and land-lines. But, I swear, once they put everything - radio, TV, telephone, computer, internet, camera, kindle, make-up mirror, microwave and wine-chiller -- into one simple gadget that I can put in my purse, I will be sure to get one.
Punk Globe: Besides the book release. What have you been doing?
CV: I am trying to get a quite serious reality TV show I wrote produced. Though I'm not sure that anyone really wants to see a quite serious reality show. Anyway, it's only half-serious. It's actually quite schizophrenic, a kind of "Hell & Hollywood" type of thing, with lots of love and laughs, along with the tears. And I am working on the first draft of a LICK ME movie script. I'm not sure I'm capable of writing a really great movie script, but I am giving it a try. I have a really bright development guy pushing me and helping me. And in time he or some other experienced script writer might jump in to be a co-writer or whatever. But for now, I am giving it the old college try. I love challenges and learning how to do new things. And I'm still working for Vangelis, so, luckily, I still have a way to pay the rent while pursuing further dreams and living in the beauty of Southern California. Vangelis contains the word "angel," and so does Los Angeles, so I take that as proof of how blessed I am ... and how I have angels watching over me.
Punk Globe: I know it is really hard finding a copy of your vinyl release. Have you heard if there is any plans to release it on CD or DVD format?
CV: Some record company released both RCA albums combined as one CD around ten years ago, without my permission and against my RCA contractual provisions. When they went out of business, I bought up their surplus CDs, and you can buy them now from my website. Don't buy them from anywhere else. They're available all over the web, and I never see a penny from those other sales. And you can get them signed if you like from my site. RCA in Japan did do those specially-packaged, incredibly re-mastered CDs of each album a couple of years ago, but in a very limited number. I actually had to buy them myself from a Japanese website for like $44 each ... and I haven't seen a penny from the sale of those releases either. But don't get me started on that frustrating subject. There are so many artists out there who are getting ripped-off just like me. Unless and until you sell enough to afford lawyers and accountants to go after them, people will just do what they will and know that they can get away with it. I just try not to get too upset and to think of it all as free PR. If your readers want to buy my books, CDs or T-shirts, they can get them all at cherry-vanilla.com. I sell the books signed on my site. You can get them cheaper from Amazon, but they are unsigned there.
Punk Globe: Any bands or solo artists that you are listening to now?
CV: Well you know that I am in love with Rufus Wainwright. He's almost like a godchild to me, so he's the number one artist in my book. I also love Teddy Thompson, Antony Hegarty, Leonard Cohen, Chika Ueda, A Fine Frenzy, Gossip, Henri Salvador, Brad Mehldau and Nightmare & The Cat. And I love Lauren on this season's AMERICAN IDOL. But mostly of late I keep going back to that Bob Dylan album TELL TALE SIGNS, and playing the SERIES OF DREAMS track over and over. And I've also been listening a lot to the live version of DRIVE-IN SATURDAY on the Bowie Vh1 STORYTELLERS CD. But, as you know from LICK ME, Van Morrison is still my number one medicine man when I need the big healing that only music can bring. Mostly though, I listen to the radio, KCSN-FM 88.5, from Northridge, CA.
Punk Globe: What is in the future for Cherry Vanilla?
CV: God only knows! Just hoping we make it beyond the Mayan calendar end date and that the earth can recover from the devastating effects of overpopulation, greed, right-wing politics and religion. Hope I stick around and stay in good health long enough to see Rufus's baby girl, Viva grow into a beautiful young woman, and Lindsay Lohan win an Oscar for playing Cherry Vanilla in the film version of LICK ME.
Punk Globe: Any parting words for Punk Globe readers?
CV: Be here now ... may the force be with you all ... thank you for your interest ... love. Guess that about covers it all.
Punk Globe would like to thank Cherry Vanilla for the wonderful interview...
Interview: A Taste of Cherry Vanilla
LAobserved.com, Adrienne Crew, December 23, 2010
If you are still looking for the perfect gift for a jaded pal who's done everything and been everywhere, give her a copy of Cherry Vanilla's rock and roll groupie bio, Lick Me- How I Became Cherry Vanilla (by way of the Copacabana, Madison Avenue, the Filmore East, Andy Warhol, David Bowie, and the Police)
Cherry Vanilla's tales of rock and roll hedonism offer the reader an opportunity to re-experience the madcap adventures of a young woman who enjoyed the decadent and glam lifestyle of New York in 70s as David Bowie's first US PR rep. She lived and loved hard on the rock and roll groupie circuit, acquiring an enviable list of lovers that included Bowie and Kris Kristofferson. Eventually, Cherry became an entertainer herself and launched a punk act that toured the UK backed by Sting and Stewart Copeland of the then-nascent band, the Police.
Cherry Vanilla gradually retired from the limelight and moved to Los Angeles. She runs the U.S. office for the composer Vangelis and resides in Hollywood. Just off a quick tour of New York to promote her book before the holidays, Cherry participated in the following email interview:
I really appreciated the candor of your book. Unlike most rock bios, you were not coy about the drugs and sex you enjoyed during your youth. Was there any part of your story during those years that you didn't feel comfortable sharing?
Oh sure, I mean I talked about such highly personal things, like my OCD and my earliest methods of sexual stimulation and masturbation. And I talked about being a murderess by having abortions, and about humiliation and rejection, and the fact that I really wasn't such a great singer. Those things are all so hard to just blurt out publicly in print the way I did. But my goal was to be one hundred percent honest, and to not hold anything back. That's what I always want from a biography, the absolute truth, cringe-making moments and all. So, that's what I strove to give. And I am happy I did, despite how difficult it was. You know, I'm a person who moves on quickly from devastating things. But bringing all of these past situations to mind in the writing, that brought back a lot of the pain that I had long ago buried in the little corners of my mind. It wasn't only uncomfortable, it was a kind of torture. But then it was also a kind of a catharsis as well. I feel much lighter now.
How long did it take you to write the book and what inspired you to do it?
It took about two years. Pamela Des Barres asked me to be in her book, Let's Spend the Night Together, and based upon my chapter in it, her agent negotiated a deal for me with the same publisher, Chicago Review Press, to write my own book. My whole life inspired me to write LICK ME. All the while I was living it, I felt like I was living in a movie. I realized that the things that were occurring in my life by sheer good luck and destiny and the things I was doing to further magnify and glorify those situations were the stuff of a fantasy life. I remember thinking to myself many a time, wow, this is something quite special, rare, exciting and high. So, I always knew I would write the book one day. It was just a question of having someone put the fire under me at just the right time in my life. I'm so glad it didn't happen earlier, because the years have given me perspective.
I liked your poems and songs. Do you know of any songs written about you? Were you someone's explicit muse?
There are two Shawn Phillips songs I write about in the book, though I can't even remember the names of them now. I didn't write the titles in my diary, even though they seemed to be so monumentally important to me back then ... well, you see what I mean by perspective. There are so many songs with the name Cherry in them, and a couple of 'em might be about me. But I've never bothered to find out for sure. I can hear little influences here and there in Bowie songs, certain expressions I might have used or glimpses of things I might have called his attention to. Stewart Copeland once told me that the Police's song, "Roxanne" was about me. But I got highly insulted (not really), because I had already heard it was about a French prostitute. In truth, I think it actually is about a prostitute. But with the way I used to slither around on the piano and act like such a whore on stage with them, I think there probably is some element of truth in what Stewart said. Off-stage I was such a wholesome young woman in a monogamous relationship with Louie Lepore, my guitarist, that it was sort of like I did have to "turn on the red light" each night and sell my songs. Explicit muse? The only one I could guarantee that about would be Louie. I pretty much dragged the songs out of him when we were together.
What piece of clothing from 1974 do you miss the most?
Forget about the clothing; I just miss the body I had then! The body I could squeeze into all of those great vintage pieces I used to find at a New York shop called Early Halloween. And to think I used to think I was fat then. You see what I mean about perspective. I guess I don't really miss clothes. I mean, clothes are made to pass through our lives and not necessarily be held onto. I do wish I had been photographed in more of them though. It would be nice to have captured some of those looks for posterity.
When and why did you settle down in Los Angeles? What's your favorite neighborhood?
I moved to LA fifteen years ago. I had always wanted to move to California. When the San Francisco flower child thing was happening in the 1960's, I wanted to be a part of that. But New York was so fabulous and so familiar to me at the time, I just couldn't tear myself away. I'd visited and worked in LA a few times over the years and I always kind of envied the people who got to live in such a sunny, beautiful place. But I tended to go in the other direction, to Europe and the UK. I found myself in Massachusetts at the age of fifty-two, with almost nothing to my name and therefore almost nothing to lose. So, I figured, OK, if I'm gonna be homeless, it might as well be in some place where at least I won't freeze to death. Thanks to some friends out here, I was able to get myself back on my feet and make the lovely life I've enjoyed for all of these years. I love the big city things all combined with the mountains, the flowers, the palm trees and the sea. I get a thrill every time I drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, with the top down on my car and my sunglasses on. That's all I have to do any time I wanna feel like a star. And with all of the lies we're feed by the governments of the world, including ours, I love the fact that the truths that reach the most people on the planet do so through the movies and TV shows that are made right here. In a way, it makes LA the center of the universe. And the city is broke! What a joke. My favorite neighborhood is my own neighborhood, Hollywood.
Patti Smith seems to have embraced the idea of being a Rock & Roll Crone. How do you feel about growing older and what do you enjoy about aging?
Mostly I enjoy feeling free to express myself fully. You know, you get to a certain age and you think, well, I won't be around too much longer anyway, so I might as well say whatever the hell I want to say. And I like that people start showing you more caring and respect, that they think about your comfort and your safety, offer to pick you up and take you to the party, instead of letting you drive yourself there. I like that I have wisdom and information to impart about things the younger generation seems to have a keen interest in, things like be-ins, peace marches, Theatre of the Ridiculous, easy backstage access, pre-AIDS sex and pre-911 air travel. I like the fact that the worst possible photos of me are already out there, along with the best ones. So, I don't have to keep up the glamour-girl pretense anymore. I love the way that I've come to accept my body, old and imperfect as it is. I was never as comfortable in it as I am right now. I love that I can entertain all of the sexual fantasies I want, without feeling the slightest compulsion to act upon them. I love that I can look back and be so content with the life I have made, while still having the burning desire to keep on creating something new. Let's face it, with all of the drugs and the chances I took, I just love that I'm still alive and kicking!
Model behavior from Cherry Vanilla's crowd
NYdailynews.com, Carson Griffith and Molly Fischer, November 23, 2010
It was a cozy party for a crazy book when onetime David Bowie publicist and legendary groupie Cherry Vanilla celebrated her new memoir, "Lick Me," with a dinner Saturday at the Royalton's Forty Four. Modern-day rock 'n' roll ladies were on hand to pay their respects, including crop-topped supermodel Agyness Deyn and DJ Leigh Lezark. Lezark's fellow Misshapes deejays, Geordon Nicol and Greg Krelenstein, spent the evening talking about Bowie with Vanilla, who regaled them with tales from her days as the Thin White Duke's publicist while they shared favorite songs.
Meanwhile, "Hairspray" composer Mark Shaiman mooched wagyu beef from the plate of the B-52s' Kate Pierson, a vegetarian. Also there were "Sex and the City" costume queen Patricia Field and director Tim Burton. Everyone was "on best behavior," said a surprised spy. How times have changed!
Warhol Superstar Cherry Vanilla Talks her Past, her new Autobio Lick Me and her Reading Tonight at Barnes & Noble Lincoln Triangle
www.ShortAndSweetNYC.com, Stephanie Nolasco, November 22
The complete lengthy interview can be read here:
Fete Accompli | Cherry Vanilla Dinner at the Royalton
NYTimes.com, November 22, 2010
See and read here:
Bryan Rabin for Tim Burton Celebrating Cherry Vanilla's NY Debut of 'Lick Me: How I Became Cherry Vanilla'
THEMAGNETAGENCY, November 22, 2010
Read and see at THEMAGNETAGENCY: