Runway RunAway: A Backstage Pass to Fashion, Romance & Rock 'n Roll

>> Friday, September 4, 2009

I decided to get this book a few weeks ago. It's not the kind of book I normally read, seeing as I still have several political books on my shelf to read. I became interested in it after reading a bunch of things online about Def Leppard and the late Steve Clark. I decided to buy it because no way would my local library ever get it. It's published by a small publishing company. Also highly doubtful that I'd be able to get it on an inter-library loan too. Anyway, I figured that since it wasn't solely about Steve Clark that it would be worth reading.

And I was right. Because Lorelei Shellist, the author, covers a lot of ground in this book. Her teenage years to her early 30s were quite action packed. I'm inclined to say "adventuresome" except that the book ends in tragedy (Clark's demise and death), and it's clear she wasn't always searching for adventure.

I thought her ongoing saga of trying to make a modeling career was the most interesting topic in the book. Not wanting to fuck her way to great contracts, she had to work extra hard to still keep her head above water while living in Paris. Now, in the age of the internet and digital media, it's more common to hear about how fucked up the modeling world can be. And while it's never been a squeaky-clean industry, it seems easier to prey on models now since many young girls start out now when they're 14 or younger. Lorelei was 16 when she started in Los Angeles, which isn't a huge age difference, but she had much more maturity when she finally starts encountering photographer creeps and other forms of harassment at 19. Just one of the differences between the late 70s and the early 21st century.

A lot of people have heard about Karen Mulder going batshit crazy in the last few years. Some people have spun her story into proof of an ongoing Illuminati sex ring. Which is even crazier than some of the things Mulder said. Lorelei does make it pretty clear that even back in the early 80s, modeling agencies did try to pimp out their models to wealthy men, and male agency CEOs would try to fuck their models. However, it did not mean there weren't opportunities to say "no."

...Gerald [Marie] never picked up the telephone for me again. In fact, he just about blacklisted me from the boards. Pamela took over my bookings as I struggled along, pounding the pavements of Paris. When Pamela invited me to the model dinners that she arranged, I decided I'd better go along in hopes that I could repair the damage I had done with Gerald. However, Pamela's dinner parties turned out to be high-class pimping parties for Arab oil billionaires from the Middle East. The young girls who went to those dinners in the private houses near the Champs Elysees were offered rubies, emeralds, sapphires and even diamonds in trade for sex. Girls who accepted Pamela's bookings, located in the houses and on the yachts of Arabs in the French Riviera, or worse, somewhere in the Middle East, would be paid anywhere from one thousand dollars to fifty grand in cash, depending on the services they provided. Some of those girls were never seen again. It only took one dinner to teach me all that. (p. 128)
So, yes, high-class sex rings do exist, but that doesn't mean they're perpetuated by the Illuminati.

Still, one of the driving reasons I bought the book was to find out a bit about Steve Clark. I remember where I was when I heard about his death, sitting in a car at a gas station while on the way to a girl's basketball game in 8th grade. I can still remember my shock at hearing the announcement on NPR. Def Leppard was my favorite band in my junior high years.

It was nice to read that he had some happiness with Lorelei, but unfortunately, the man just couldn't be saved. It seemed everyone tried to help him. I remember reading an article where someone, possibly one of the band members, stated that Steve "really didn't want to be here." It's pretty much impossible to save someone in that situation.
Steve Clark had managers, lawyers, accountants, personal bankers, and roadies to pick up the slack. He could never hit his bottom: he had too many people like me enabling him. It wasn't until we had each let go, one by one, that Steve drowned in his own disease, never having learned to swim at all. The more you do for another, the less he learns to do for himself. (p. 275)
In short, Lorelei grew up the hard way; Steve never quite did. Which is still sad because Clark, by most accounts, was a pretty nice guy. He was never the notorious asshole Axl Rose was.

But still, the music will endure.


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