Once in a while I do something so completely out of character that it even surprises me.
This time, I read a book.
To be sure, my reading something wasn’t very shocking. I wish I had even more time to read…and I will truly grab anything from political-based non-fiction (I just like reading things from a variety of points of view) to women’s fiction and romance. (And if it has the name “Karen Booth” on the cover I’m sold. Immediately.) However, this time, I actually read a book that at least in part, was centered on fashion. I can tell you the last time that happened. Never.
Anyone who knows me is well-aware that I am no fashion diva. I live in denim and t-shirts (along with sneakers or flip-flops). I make no apologies for that – it is who I am, and while I might not be the most edgiest dresser in the world, I’m comfortable, and that matters! I love art, I adore music, love books…but fashion just isn’t something I’ve ever cared much about. Don’t ask how I’ve stayed a fan of this band for so long…I think I’m more interested in the way they use their artwork and media to convey a message than I am about their clothes (which I realize is part of the story…so I’m not a complete loss), but don’t tell them that, OK? It’s our secret!!
So, back to that book. Believe it or not, I read The Glitter Plan, by Pam Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor. Truthfully, I heard about the book from one of John’s tweets (so social-marketing really does work, by the way…), but to be completely honest, I probably would have read the book had I found it on my own (and I would have – I am an avid Amazon shopper!), and here’s why: these are two women – best friends besides – who started a huge, successful company on just $200. I wanted to read their story. They took their passion and did something with it, and that seems to be a common theme here on the blog this week!
I had very little idea of what to expect when I started the book, aside from perhaps a few preconceived notions on my part. The truth is that many many years ago, there was an article in my local paper (OC Register) about Juicy. The interviewer spent an afternoon with Pam and Gela, and he made them sound as though they were the type of women who were brainless, spending their afternoons mindlessly shopping and speaking in baby-talk, trying to be cute. I remember reading in this same article that Gela specifically said that they’d never make their clothes larger than a size 8 because you can’t be glamorous if you’re bigger than that. I’m not going to argue whether or not that is factual at this point (either the quote from my paper or her feelings in general about size, because I don’t know the truth and it really doesn’t matter for this blog), but I’m a size 10 and have been since I was a teenager…and I feel good about my size. No fashion designer has the right to take that away from me, and so it was something I always kept in the back of my mind. Now, maybe some of that is a good description of them in some limited ways (shopping sounds like it might be a hobby, and I can’t/won’t fault them for that), but in others?? So, I’ll just say that going in, my expectations were low, but I had hope.
I’m going to get real here for a second. I don’t know Gela. (I also don’t know Pam, but since Gela is married to John Taylor…well, you get the point.) I’ve never met her, and while I’ve heard stories through the ever-present rumor mill – I would really like to give the benefit of the doubt to just about anyone before making my mind up rashly. Up until today I’d never even heard her voice before, believe it or not! I also know that there’s a certain faction in the Duranie community that is unhappy (I’m being as polite and PC about this as possible) with the use of fur in her clothing line. I don’t run their business, and I *do* support their choice to run their business however they so choose. Period. Additionally, I support MY choice, and YOUR choice as a consumer. But my blog isn’t the place for grandstanding and soapboxing – you all have your own Facebook and Twitter accounts to do that if you so choose. I respect your right to voice your opinions. I also appreciate your consideration and respect for how I choose to run this blog. On the other hand, I wholeheartedly welcome comments about the book. I encourage discussion on the topic at hand, always!
All of that aside, the one thing the book did do (aside from being entertaining!), was inspire. I watched an interview of Pam and Gela this morning – I think was called Good Day Book Club – that’s where I heard them speak for the first time. Gela made a point near the end of the interview to say that one of the reasons they wrote the book was to inspire. She felt that if they could do it, others could as well. It takes passion and drive, and there’s plenty of that on example in the book.
While it’s true that when they’d start really talking about fashion a lot of the names and things they were saying went over my head (who is brainless now?!?), I couldn’t help but be impressed with the mere fact that they were so impassioned by what they wanted to do that they just went with it. Once again it’s a case where some people are just dreamers, and some are doers…and the ones who take the risk are the ones who succeed. Pam and Gela didn’t really have safety nets; they didn’t have irons thrown in the fire in three different spots – they went after the one thing they wanted most. That makes sense to me. If you’re really that passionate about something you do, or if you really want something that badly, you do whatever you have to do in order to make it work. I think that a lot of my life has been spent thinking “What if” instead of “what can I do to make it happen?”…and maybe I’m finally getting to the point where I’m starting to think about what can really be done.
I was surprised when I came to the end of the book. These didn’t seem like women who were hell-bent on making “less-than-petite” women like me feel bad about themselves. They didn’t seem like they were brainless, either. (Uh, hardly.) There was one passage in the book when they talked about going to Taco Bell, and truthfully – I nearly fell over when I read that, and I did have a moment or several when I murmured “They’re just like us. Huh. Who knew?” In fact, there were a lot of times while reading that I thought they sounded very similar to Amanda and I (words I never really expected to type). I kept thinking how maverick they were about the whole thing – they had no idea what they were doing a lot of the time, and they basically just tried to break as many rules as possible. This sounds remarkably similar!
Whatever preconceived notions I may have had of Juicy, of Pam, and especially of Gela, went out the window after reading the book. These two women seem incredibly smart, business-savvy, and fearless. The book was a really fun read, I learned quite a bit, and maybe…just maybe…I’ll pay a little bit more attention to their clothing line as a result, even though at this point, it is way out of my price range unless I decide to never attend another DD show ever again in favor of buying clothing instead.
Let’s not go THAT far….
To buy The Glitter Plan, and I highly recommend that you do…click on the picture!
My history with Duranie friends is rather short. While I have been a die-hard fan of this band since the moment I first heard Planet Earth, I didn’t really get involved beyond my love affair with the music until much later in life. Sure, I went to a few shows and had a few schoolyard friends that, for a short time liked to talk about Duran Duran at lunch and break with me, but I didn’t get to know many of you until rather recently. I’m happy to say though, that for many others, their friendship truly goes back decades. Many of you likely met your best pals while standing in line for a show, or at a signing, or maybe even while waiting at the studio. For Lori Majewski and Patty Palazzo, that’s about where their friendship began, and it is the memory of seeing the two of them together, animatedly chatting over history with the band, their two very different yet very similar paths in life, and even the love they very clearly have for one another, that will likely bring smiles to my face for the foreseeable future.
Patty and Lori are people that I admire and look up to in this community. That’s not hard to envision: let’s face it (and I’m going to be blunt) Patty has worked for fucking John Taylor. Never mind that Patty is incredibly talented (she is), and that I can’t even scribble nicely with a crayon (I can’t) – I just stand in admiration that she took her talents and made a dream career out of it. Yes, I’m enamored. Lori’s story is equally inspiring. Unlike many of you, I was completely unaware of fanzines until recently. That’s right, I lived a shockingly shallow and sad life as a kid. I just didn’t know. So, hearing that Lori sat down at a relatively young age and asked herself, “What job can I do that will allow me to interview Duran Duran?”…and then not only meet that goal but basically smack it out of the ballpark by working for many of the magazines I once read as a kid (Sassy, Teen People, Entertainment Weekly to name a few)…well, I really wanted to talk with them and finally got brave enough to ask. We met at a coffee shop in Hollywood, I got out my iPad and started recording.
The one thing that came across in the interview was friendship. There is so much love, respect and friendship between Lori and Patty – I hope I always remember that about that day. In doing the research for our own manuscript and through writing for the blog each day, we recognized that the relationships we have between one another keep us coming back as fans…as much as the music does. I wondered if at this point, they’d even still call themselves fans of Duran Duran, much less Duranies. Quivering a bit from nerves, I asked if they still referred to themselves that way.
Then Lori said something that made me think twice about what I might really be asking.
“Why wouldn’t she, is more the point.”
To which Patty immediately replied, “Well yeah, of course I am.” Patty continues, “I mean, it’s more about being a fan of their music.”
I would have let Patty slide on that, but Lori is a seasoned journalist, and she pressed on. “Well, what do you mean? I mean, there’s one definition. Do you love them”, Lori questions.
Patty agrees. “I mean, it’s different when you’re closer to the band. There’s a difference, but the bottom line, being a fan of the music, I don’t think that changes. ”
So they’re both still fans. Both still Duranies at heart. Check! What about their favorites? Do they have favorite songs?
After giving it some thought Lori responds, “…I would have to say New Religion because it’s so funky and so different, you know what I mean? It’s unlike any song by anyone, and unlike any song they have too, which is pretty amazing. But I’d also have to say that like from modern day Duran, I’d have to say The (Man Who Stole A) Leopard, because it’s one of the best songs they’ve ever done…The Valley…and I’d also say Careless Memories.”
Patty chimes in with her own favorites, “New Religion…Skin Trade…I was obsessed with that song,” stretching out the word ‘obsessed’ for emphasis. She continues, “that whole album actually…and The Valley from modern day.”
I tepidly step on the path leading to Red Carpet Massacre, which is an album that seemed to resonate with Lori.
“They don’t repeat what they’ve done before, and I will be the first one to tell you that I love Red Carpet Massacre. I feel like the fans unfairly judged it, and I feel like there are some of my favorite songs on that record,” says Lori. “I love it back to front, and front to back. I’m glad they worked with Timbaland, and I’m glad they worked with Justin Timberlake because it brought out a completely different side of them. OK so they moved onto something else afterward…why would they want to repeat that? But…I don’t think it should be denied.”
Patty agrees, explaining, “…and it’s part of the story, and it’s evolved. They couldn’t have made All You Need is Now without Red Carpet Massacre.”
Lori continues, “But…the thing about this era, the New Wave artists, is that they evolved, and they made a different record each time. Whether you loved it, or disliked it, you have to respect the fact that they didn’t want to go where they’d been before. Look at a Katy Perry album, it’s the same one, one after another after another. You look at, you know, Rihanna. She does what someone else told her to do. The fact that these guys, especially at this age, with the money they have, they don’t have to do anything… (and they) challenge themselves each time? That’s admirable, and that’s why they’re still around…and that’s why I’m proud to be a fan.”
Their story is not yet finished, and it is true that while fans may not have felt quite as positively about Red Carpet Massacre as other albums, all of that work is part of their narrative, part of their story. It is difficult to imagine that one day, we will look back on their work as a collective, completed whole. Rather than citing one album as necessarily better or worse than others – it will sit as a finished epic novel, and a completed soundtrack for those of us along for the ride. Lori and Patty seem to have a much greater understanding of this than I.
Steering the conversation back into positive territory where I cannot get myself into trouble quite as easily, I ask about favorite videos.
This time, Patty is the first to answer, “Skin Trade, I love the video for…and White Lines.”
Lori is quick to follow, definitively saying, “I’d say Lonely In Your Nightmare. You know, every time I say that, and I see that video it reminds me of when Patty and I helped John do…when he donated his clothing for that exhibit in Venice. Patty and I went to his storage and got all of his stuff out and…”
Patty jumps in, explaining when this took place and what clothes were offered to the exhibit, “During his solo years…Like the red Rio suit, the Anthony Price…the leather jacket from the first album, the military…”, she trails off.
“…when he pulled out that red suit…”, Lori muses, remembering the day.
“The Save a Prayer peach …”, Patty trails off again.
I’m starting to realize that they take as much glee in their fan girl memories as I do with my own…which makes me smile as I attempt to keep myself calm enough to remember to ask questions!
Lori continues, “and John actually said, ‘I don’t even remember where I wore this’…and I said in a moment of… fan ridiculousness, ‘Hi. Lonely In Your Nightmare video, before it turns black and white when you sit down at the bench and the birds fly off. That’s where it’s from.” She grins at the memory. “He just smiled because you can’t deny who you are, the more famous you get…that’s where it all started. That video for me: the black and white and color, it’s one of my…you know…it’s such a romantic song. It really showed how special they were, I thought. It was on that compilation video when we were growing up, everyone…I mean, you knew all their videos and then that came out and it unearthed all these videos I had not seen and I mean, you know, one long scream…”
This is when I started to be more comfortable in the interview, because I realized that underneath all of the “published author-ness”, “famous magazine editor-in-chief-ness”, “friend to John Taylor-ness” and “famous graphic artist-ness”…they were truly Duranies. It’s our one common denominator, and that is comfortable ground for this blogger to walk on. So I smiled at the fan girl moment, and kept going.
How did all of this really start? How did Lori decide to become a journalist, and how on earth did Patty become brave enough to go after her dreams…and can they teach me how to stop letting the world pass me by? I started with Lori, by first admitting that I’d never heard of the Too Much Information fanzine until recently…and I mean really recently.
“When you said you were on a leash”, says Lori, referring to a comment I’d made about my parents being strict, “I ripped the leash off and my father threatened to give all the doormen at all the hotels pictures of me so that if they saw me, they would make sure to tell me to go home.”
“Seriously?” Patty asks exactly what I’m thinking. My father would have grounded me, plain and simple…and it was that fear that kept me in line. I didn’t want to disappoint my dad. Fear of getting in trouble kept me on the straight and narrow…and it still kind of does to this day.
Lori answers, “Yes. You know, I did live in fear of that, but it didn’t stop me. I was a good girl for a long time, I was an ‘A’ student until Duran came to New York to record Big Thing. I was a junior in high school, starting going…you know cutting the afternoon or going right after school and not doing my homework…they were there for a good couple of months working on that record and so that’s when I dropped from #1 in the class to a still-respectable #4. Not bad.”
I personally could not even fathom cutting school to go see the band back when I was in high school, but I keep that thought to myself out of fear of looking completely lame.
Then Patty nearly says what was in my own head. “That was so beyond my realm at the time. Growing up in Akron, it was inconceivable.”
I agreed. Even though I lived in a suburb outside of Los Angeles, in my mind Covina may as well have been thousands of miles away.
Patty continues, “You know, kids were going to the studio and meeting them, and hanging out, and like I couldn’t even imagine. You know, it didn’t…when they came to town it didn’t even cross my mind to GO there. Not that I wouldn’t have had I thought about it, or had I been in a group of friends that suggested it.”
Lori adds, “Yeah, but if we knew each other we would have gone together.
Patty smiles wistfully, “Yeah, I probably would have gone had I known you.”
Thoughtfully, Lori surmises, “I was just going to say, I wouldn’t have thought to go sit outside of a recording studio or a hotel either, but…when I was waiting for Duran Duran tickets at the Beacon Theater in 1987, there was a girl there (turning to Patty) I introduced you to her at the signing the other night. I haven’t seen her now in about 15 years. She came to the signing, she lives in LA now but at the time she lived in New York. She and her friends were waiting in line and we waited in line two days to get tickets. We got to know each other and eventually after they decided that they could trust us and liked us, they told our group of friends where Duran Duran stays when they come to town. They took us to their hotel and to the studio, and so I wouldn’t have had any idea either, except for a very nice group of girls.
After agreeing that in our collective experience, not all Duranies are that nice…we move on. How did Lori go from wanting to be a teacher to writing a fanzine and becoming the editor of Teen People and later, a co-author of Mad World?
Turns out, Lori had a plan. “But, I have to say though, I had a fall-back. I always thought, ‘I’ll be a news reporter. I’ll work at The Daily News in New York as part of my goal.’ I wanted to either do crime or a local reporter that really championed the disenfranchised or things like that. I mean, in my heart I wanted to do music and entertainment writing but I just thought that’s too cool, I’d never achieve that. You know, ‘failing that, this is what I want to do’. Lori pauses to straighten in her chair and goes on, “So with Duran as a dangling carrot, I went into college and started the Plan B to teach myself Page Maker. I became a Journalism major at school, and you know my goal was to interview them. But, I interviewed them by the time I was a junior in college for my college paper, which was great for my paper. But even though I’d already achieved that, (interviewing DD) it I guess it was what helped me get my first internship, which was at Spin Magazine.”
Lori smiles at the memories and is kind enough to ignore my gushing, “That was where I met my co-author, Jonathan Bernstein. And then it actually became real. So before that, I worked at The Weehauken Reporter and the Jersey Journal and I covered fires, and I did a thing called Ms. Fix it. People would write me: ‘my welfare check hasn’t shown up, can you help me find it?’, and I had to go through the bureaucracy and track it down and stuff like that. But then, after the internship at Spin, I got my job at YM. And I was an entertainment editor. So that kind of led me to believe I can actually do this.”
Just as I’m thinking about how it might have been to work for a big magazine, Lori tells a story that I just love:
“In fact it was while I was at YM, and I’m not sure if we knew each other yet or we JUST knew each other (referring to Patty), it was while I was at YM that I had my first lunch with John, and I was like ‘Ok, I have actually kind of achieved it.’…like…and I remember, he went to pay for it, and I was like ‘Nope. I have an expense account.’ She says it again while chuckling, for emphasis, “John, I will pay for this. I have an expense account.” As we all laugh a bit, Lori explains, “I thought I was so fancy. He giggled actually. He knew me as the kid on the street. You know, the kid outside the studio, the kid outside the hotel… and now I was interviewing him. So you know, it was a cool transition.”
Patty indulges my curiosity about her beginning steps into this journey by answering, “I was living in Cleveland. It was like the summer of ’95. That was when the internet was sort of starting. AOL was happening, and I’d had a little studio set up with my friend in Cleveland and with the limited access that we had, I remember hearing that there was like a message board or something and I’d heard talk that John was starting up a label, and there was like a mailing address for fans to get involved. I’d put together a really nice package of a t-shirt, some samples of my work, and said, you know, if you’re looking for a logo for the label or any design work, this is what I can do. You know…and she (Bev Raff, John’s assistant at the time) fucking called me…she ended up responding. She loved it.”
Lori adds her thoughts to the memories of that time, “Also around that time, we were kind of, you know…I remember sitting with her somewhere…”
“He was approaching fanzines and the fan base…it was like a grass roots thing,” Patty says, and I immediately see how humble she really is about her success.
Lori continues, “He really approached that project really well. I remember us being in Philadelphia maybe…and talking to her or something?? First of all, Patty could have sent it from China and never met Bev, and Bev would have loved what she did. There was a sort of nice, I felt we got to know her a little bit at the right time. You know, that was just a very special time in John’s finding himself.”
Patty recalls, “I remember she approached me, I ended up doing the B-5 Records logo and then that started to coincide with Neurotic Outsiders. I think it was like December of ‘95, I went to LA to see the show at the Viper Room. After that show Bev sat me down with John and we talked about conceptualizing that logo (Referring to the B-5 Records logo), and then I remember he (John Taylor) turned to me and said, ‘Do you want to do a logo for my band?’ meaning Neurotic Outsiders.
(How many fans out there would give a body part to have this happen? Yes, yes I thought so.)
As I try to collect myself, Patty goes on, “Yeah, like the next day Bev took me to Hein’s house. Hein Hoven, who worked on Feelings are Good, which is the album he was working on at the time…”
As any good friend should, Lori interjects to make sure I see what’s what. “See, Patty can’t say this about herself, but I can say that John’s an artist – so he sees another artist and he knows. She could have hated Duran Duran, she could have loved Duran Duran, so that didn’t matter. It was truly that he liked her style.”
Granted, I may have been thinking about my own talents, or lack thereof…but her comment snaps me out of my reverie and back into the present.
Patty isn’t quite finished with her tale from that evening though, and she finishes with a flourish. “That was another thing too, even throughout his whole solo period, he really didn’t speak much of Duran, because it was still a little raw. I remember so much about that night at the Viper Room. The first thing I said to him, Bev brings me over, he’s sitting in a booth, she introduces me and he’s sitting over there with a cigarette.” Patty smiles at Lori.
Clearly we’ve reached a pinnacle here, because Lori excitedly interrupts, “Oh my God, remember that!?!”
Patty looks at me pointedly and continues, “The first fucking thing I say to him is, “You shouldn’t smoke that.”
I can’t help myself and I laugh, because really, that’s beautiful.
“And he said ‘I know, I know’, and he put it out. I mean come on!”, Patty grimaces and then laughs. It’s clear the memory still makes her cringe a bit and all I can think of is that nearly everyone I’ve ever met who has spoken to the band have had their cringe-worthy moments. They happen!
Lori recalls, “You hadn’t decided yet about moving, and I remember you were like ‘should I move to New York or LA?’ and of course I advocated for New York. But you know…when John Taylor wants to hire you I guess…”
Patty interrupts, “And that’s how that decision was made, that’s when things started to happen. It was New Years Eve, 1995, my brother-in-law and I drove out with my car and a U-Haul trailer.”
Once again I’m reminded that focusing on your passions, the things you love most, really can provide reward and success, and I say as much to Patty. She nods and responds, “I mean, when I was a teenager in high school, and it was the graphics that…a lot of musical artists, but you know, being a big Duran collector, the graphics…and Notorious was the first one again that really stuck with me. The whole campaign…on the tour, the t-shirts that they had…”
“Oh, those t-shirts were incredible. I think that’s why you identify with Skin Trade so much.”, Lori adds.
Patty agrees, “Perhaps so. It’s all one big package. My fantasy at the time was to work with Frank Olinsky from Manhattan Design. He did the MTV logo. My fantasy was working there with them. My other fantasy was heading the art department at Capitol Records. I used to sit at my dad’s office, at his desk and pretend like, (mocking herself and pretending to sit a desk barking orders) ‘Yeah, you know, get the artwork up!’ It was like you know…artwork and doing that which actually was a passion. I don’t remember wanting to do anything else.”
We continue chatting, discussing the reasons behind John’s solo career and the rewards in doing so.
Patty surmises, “…with John’s solo career, some people now are saying ‘I wish I knew about that then’…because the internet wasn’t how it is now then either. You know, with the internet – if it was the way it is now back then, the plethora of websites and message boards and such, you know then I think it would have been different. It was just meant to go the way it did.”
Patty concludes by saying something that I believe will strike a chord (so to speak) with every fan: (It was) “Something he needed to do so that he could go back to the band.”
All of this memory recall gets them thinking about their friendship.
Lori muses, “It’s funny to think that there was a time that we didn’t know each other.”
Patty agrees, “I know, I know because it feels like we’ve known each other forever. You know what I remember from that signing? (Referring to the album signing for Thank You) I had the Perfect Day single scratch and sniff, and they all signed it. I went down the line, and then I was talking to you, and actually, I also had t-shirts for the band because I had a t-shirt line.” Patty explains, “After I graduated college and I was still in Cleveland, a friend and I had a little t-shirt company…and I brought t-shirts for all the guys. I was giving them and getting different things signed, and I was talking to you (Lori), and I left, and completely forgot the single. The one that was signed by every one… remember I walked out on to the street and I saw you again and I was like,
‘Oh my God…I forgot the single!’ I have a feeling that you went up and got it.”
True friendship is all about the little things, like someone grabbing a forgotten CD when another is trying to keep the inner fangirl under control. It’s a finely tuned system, the friendship between Duranies. Patty and Lori’s friendship is nearly as long lived as the band’s career, which is the case for many Duranies out there. I’ve often wondered if the band really understands the friendships that have been made as a direct result of Duran Duran.
Lori seems to believe they do. She says, “Well, I always say, and I’ve talked to you about this (motioning to Patty), there was a time that I was waiting out somewhere for John. In London?…it was definitely in the early 90s, maybe I wasn’t even out of college yet, and John came out and we were talking, and he was like ‘Have you guys been here for a long time?’ he was concerned. I was with Eileen from Philadelphia and a couple of other girls and we’re like ‘No, we’re just hanging out talking…I haven’t seen this one in a year and that one in a few months, and so…’, and he was saying, ‘You know, Amanda (referring to his ex-wife Amanda DeCadenet) was worried that you guys had been out here a long time. I said to Amanda, don’t worry about it Amanda. It’s not all about me…they love hanging out with each other.’ And I thought that was the cutest thing, because that’s absolutely true. You know…there’s one side of it, which is them (Duran Duran), but then there’s the other side of it (that) the best friends I have in this whole world are because of Duran Duran. And my husband.”
The conversation then turns to the criticism the band (and others) receives from fans. I ask how Lori handled the fanzine criticism back in the day.
“Well, I had worked with Sassy as an intern, and Sassy had an ironic “Oh my God” voice, so I used that voice in the fanzine. So, most of the time it was very endearing toward the band. I remember a friend of mine wrote an article, a review of one of their shows and it wasn’t all that positive and we would get you know, mail about that. Lyndsay Parker, she’s a friend of mine, an editor at Yahoo! Music, wrote a book, a memoir about being a fan. She said the other night to me that she got a lot of flack from fans who, she said, you know, she’s a journalist and she said she was very honest about certain points in their career…she said…she was critical, but the point (is that) the book is called Careless Memories. You know, it’s called this because, she’s a fan. She wrote about them because she loves them. I don’t think she was overly critical. But then there are other people who are overly critical of the band, and to that I say, ‘Do you call yourself a fan?’ For instance, I was at SXSW a couple of months ago and we did an interview with Gary Numan. He said that you know, he finds it hard to go on Facebook and Twitter because there are (people that call themselves) fans that go on there and are like, ‘How come you didn’t play this?’ or, ‘I can’t believe you’re wearing that!’ or ‘Fix your hair like this.’ And he’s like ‘That’s not why I’m on here…if you guys want to engage with me, don’t criticize me to a point that it’s so picky.’ You know? So I think there’s a certain range. There are the people that will love them no matter what and never see the cracks in the pavement so to speak, and then there are those who are overly critical. I think I lie somewhere in the middle? But as I said, I don’t know where I was saying this or who I was talking to…here’s the thing about Duran Duran, there’s been things I loved, and there’s been things I didn’t love as much. But, I love that they take chances, and that they are major risk takers…”
Patty chimes in, “Well, and I think about all the critics in the past of the band. You can’t not acknowledge the fact that after thirty plus years, they’re still doing it. They’re still…and they’re doing it with grace, I think. Compared to certain other acts, I mean, you can’t deny that. They’re not just doing the hits. You can’t deny what they’ve done and what they’re still doing.”
Lori nods, adding “And remember, they’re very popular right now, they have kudos, the credibility and the gravitas, but they did not have that up until very recently and yet they still did what they wanted.”
And as for this next album, DD14?
Lori responds, “You know, after two years of working on this new record they’re finally jelling and you know what? Look at how amazing that is that they kept at it? Whereas like, they don’t HAVE to do this album. They could retire. They could come out every couple of years and do a hits tour, but the fact is that they’re still at it? That’s why they got into it in the first place. Because they love it.”
Patty is quick to give some insight, “…and again, I don’t think that it wasn’t that they weren’t happy with what they’d done, but as they keep evolving the project…they’re like they’re happy with this and then six months down the road they’ve done more and then like “This is so much better”. When they get something, they know it, and when Simon is really inspired the lyrics start popping.”
“Remember these aren’t guys”, Lori begins, “they’re not guys who are 19 or 20 that live in the same town now, John has to go over there for extended periods of time, they all have families, Roger has a young child…so…”
“They don’t have a label breathing down their neck, either”, reminds Patty.
So what is coming up next for these Duranies? I ask Lori about the possibility of doing a sequel to Mad World.
Lori chuckles, probably because she’s been asked about this a thousand times, and she begins, “I’m trying to relax and not think about that? You can’t help but not think about it, because everyone asks about that. But, I think it will organically evolve especially if we decide on which artists we want to do. I’m not sure if it will be exactly the same, but we hit upon a formula that’s pretty special. Fellow journalists have said to me that we weren’t very critical about it. You know, this is not like…Like Punk Never Happened, which happens to be one of my favorite books about the era. (In that book) They don’t let the artists speak at length, the journalists speak at length. We allowed the artists to do the bulk of each chapter, in their own voices, in their own words. And I think that is a formula that I’d like to stick with. Because look, it’s nice that people like our opinions but we keep them to a minimum. This is really about the artists. I’m not a critic. But I’m definitely a music journalist, an entertainment journalist, but I’m not a critic because I don’t really want to criticize. I found that a very uncomfortable part of the exercise whereas Jonathan, he’s definitely been a critic. He’s OK with that. Yeah, but me? I’m uncomfortable with that because I think as an editor and a journalist, we’re told to keep our opinions out of it. So when it came to writing this book, writing in first person, I was kind of, at points, actually really anxious. You remember this, Patty. I was really nervous about putting my opinions, thoughts and anecdotes in there because I was like, I’m not used to putting myself in the story. But it turns out, that’s what a lot of people are responding to because if you’re more of a critical type of person, you identify with Jonathan’s story. And I feel like, a lot of the American fans, the Duranies and the wide-eyed fans, they can see. You tweeted at me yesterday and said ‘I totally feel the same way’(when I said that looks are great but it’s about the music), and I said… ‘Yeah, and you know, when I say things, we have similar stories even if we grew up on different coasts.’ To that balance, if you just read the book and you only got Jonathan’s point of view, you would be turned off and if you read the book and only got my point of view, other, you know, it wouldn’t be a serious read.”
I ask about the dynamic between Jonathan and Lori, because in every great partnership, there is definitely a dynamic that evolves.
“Our dynamic is that”, Lori begins to chuckle as she answers, “is that he’s curmudgeonly and I’m wide-eyed, ‘Oh my God I love everything.’ I’m breathless, and he holds his breath. That’s completely how we are, and that’s how it works, but he’s even more excited about the next book than I am.”
During an interview I watched with Michael Des Barres, Jonathan characterized their dynamic as “She was backstage and I was out front”. I asked Lori how she felt about that.
Lori laughs, “He was sometimes not even out front. He doesn’t even like going to shows.” As we all laughed, Lori continued, “No, he freely admits that. He really loves the album cover, he loves the vinyl…well not always vinyl, just the music, the product. He is not about the live experience, he’s not about meeting the band. He doesn’t want any of that. Whereas me, I want it all. I want the 360 experience and you know, I really identify with…you know, wasn’t it John Taylor who said he didn’t ever want to buy a record by an ugly band? And he was of course joking but there’s something to be said about the fact that this era stimulated us. You know, by the sound of the music, by the looks, by the videos. It all came together and it was just like this chemical reaction. And look, Patty’s an artist for that reason. It wasn’t just, ‘Oh, he looks pretty.’ It’s the way they styled themselves, the way they took, they paid attention to every detail.”
Patty adds, “Down to the typeface.”
I comment that I really don’t know of a lot of bands that have ever paid such meticulous attention to the minute details.
Lori agrees, “Not a lot. Especially nowadays.”
“Particularly nowadays its so,” Patty tries to explain, “like a one-way street, like everything. Every female artist has the same picture close up face of theirs on the cover, with the same font, all beautifully airbrushed, gorgeous picture.”
Lori interjects, “Because you know, you worked on those records. Red Carpet Massacre, you know…you actually worked directly with the label and you know how little thought they would have put into the cover, and that’s why Duran had to work on it, because it really, you guys all brainstormed on it and you brought something beautiful to life rather than just ‘OK, here you go.’
“I remember because they had the label’s mock-ups and they were like “Oh my God, we need to do something”, Patty comments.
So I ask Patty about her future plans for Punkmaster and her freelance work. At the time, I didn’t know she still worked for Pam and Gela on a freelance basis, but she’s quick to bring me up to speed.
“They don’t do as many graphics as they did with Juicy – it’s two different companies – but they do some graphic tees. It’s more type-oriented, but I’ve been doing all of those for them, I’ve done some printing for them too, actually. I did some print runs of some of the shirts they’re selling in stores right now. No, in terms of work-wise, they’ve been very good to me. They’ve made a point to ask me if I wanted to work with them on this venture, you know it’s all free-lanced based, I’m not, you know, full time with them, they’re very small anyway. And even with their book I helped out. That was trickier, like, you know with John’s book I did the cover and that was again, that was one of those things where the publisher was going to do it and he was like, ‘No, I’m going to hire her’, it was good to pick whatever he wanted. With Pam and Gela the publishers had a little more control…I sent a bunch of ideas over and then the publisher just took that, and then the inside too, with the photo pages, I designed that. (As for Punkmasters) That has sort of been put on the backburner a little bit for the past two years. Yeah, because when I started with John’s book, that really took over a big portion of it, because it started as the cover and then it expanded to the whole inside. All the photos – you know I actually went through and pretty much picked the photos and then he came in and said, ‘Yeah, let’s do that’ and then we worked together on narrowing the photos down. That actually started as photos that were going throughout the chapters, not just one per chapter head, but then the publisher came back and cut that. So there was a little back and forth on that for a while, but then you know, it makes sense the way we were left with it. So that took a big chunk of the year and then we did the t-shirts, the nine shirts from that, so that was sort of like that year’s new t-shirt line because that was enough work in and of itself. Then I started getting more with Pam and Gela, and some freelance jobs here and there as well, some friends of some other musician friends, I did some album covers…So that just took up more of this last year. Then I got to the point this year where I’m like, OK, I think I’m going to…I need to put out a new line…so I feel like I’m kind of re-launching.
And what about Duran Duran? Is there more work ahead for Patty there too?
Patty smiles, “Oh yeah. And I have been…I still help them with that. Even since starting my t-shirt company I’ve still done…a lot of times Wendy will call me up and she’s like, ‘We need something for this’, or ‘We need the Magus logo redrawn’, …yeah I’ve done little things. Whatever comes up in the future, I’d be more than happy to help.”
Lori jumps in to remind Patty of the Mad World shirts she’s worked on.
“Yeah, so the one Mad World shirt that you saw that John (Lori’s husband John) in, we’ve got another one which is really fun actually”, mentions Patty.
“Bad. Ass.”, Lori announces.
Patty continues, “I don’t know if you remember the Punkmasters shirt, the Bach and Roll Suicide with the Bowie? I’ve actually got a few more in the same vein, and the one in particular is Mozart, but with the Adam Ant white strip and the little braids? Amadeus Ant? And that’s got the Mad World at the bottom, and when I launch the Punkmaster line we’ve got those two Mad World shirts, so kind of like when I collaborated with John for his book, these two shirts are for Mad World…they’re like a capsule collection, so that’ll come out with the new Punkmasters line.”
I look forward to seeing what comes next, and I’m sure this won’t be the last we hear from Lori or Patty!
Part of the reason I love blogging so much is that I don’t really follow rules. I’ve never taken a single journalism class in my life, so I don’t know enough to keep my own head out of the story. When I interview, I’m constantly interrupting and trying to have a real conversation. When I write, I openly say what I think, sometimes getting myself into real trouble. I break all of the rules, happily, blissfully unaware. So, as I end this post – I just want to say thank you to Lori and Patty. They took a couple hours out of their day to spend time with me talking about fandom, friendship and Duran Duran. I will be forever grateful to them – and that’s not just me playing a “kiss ass” Duranie, it’s really me saying thank you. I feel like I made new friends that day, which is the very best part about doing this blog and being a Duranie.
On today’s date back in 1985, John and Andy (remember that guy?) were interviewed on KMEL radio in San Francisco, CA.
Ever curious about the back story, I did a search for KMEL radio, and it turns out that it’s “San Francisco’s home for Hip Hop and R&B these days. Somehow, I suspect the format may have changed a bit since John and Andy graced their doorstep. So I dig further to find that yes, when the station began in 1977 (prior to that it was known as KGO), it had an Album Oriented Rock format. It played cuts from about 30 known rock albums. (Only thirty? Huh…and we wonder why some bands get no airplay…) Then in 1984, they changed the format from AOR to modern rock (same basic idea as AOR, but the albums played were new as opposed to only playing rock from the 70s), and finally to contemporary hit radio. An example of a contemporary hit played? Well, the music coordinator at the time, Nick Bazoo, was credited with breaking the hit “One Night in Bangkok” in May of 1985. So it’s easy to see where Duran might have fit into their formatting at the time. And now KMEL plays Hip Hop. You just never know…
On today’s date in 1998, John Taylor appeared on KROQ’s Loveline. What is “Loveline”, you ask?? Well…let me enlighten you!
To give some background, KROQ is an LA-area radio station, known for (at least back in the 80s and 90s) playing Alternative music. In the 80s that meant New Wave. I’m very proud to say that KROQ introduced me to Duran Duran’s music. In the 90s, Alternative meant a lot of bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam…at least until mainstream radio got hold of ’em.
Back in 1983, Loveline was a Sunday night dating/relationship advice show on the station. It was hosted by DJs “Poorman” , Swedish Egil, and for a short time, Scott Mason (whom I barely remember). The show began seriously, but over time – a really short time – it became a show that taught me (keep in mind that in 1983 I would have been 12 or 13 years old), all about sexual transmitted diseases, some of the strangest sexual positions and fetishes I’d ever heard of…and a plethora of other delights that, had my father been aware I was listening…he would not have been pleased. (Thank you to my ever-trusty Walkman radio)
The show was wildly popular here in the LA area. I can remember going to school on Monday morning and exchanging chuckles and stories with my friends – who were also listening with contraband Walkman radios in bed at night. We sure learned a lot from that show, I must say! In 1984, the show began talking to Dr. Drew Pinsky – who was a 4th year medical student at USC at the time, and ended up with his own fan base from doing the show. Now he’s known as Dr. Drew and has his own show on HLN, I believe. (and what’s really funny, at least to me – is that back when I listened to the show, I thought he was a grown up even then…and the man honestly hasn’t aged a bit since those days. I, however, have aged 30 years. How does that happen?!?)
The show was syndicated nationally beginning in 1985. At one point, MTV picked it up as a television program, following the same general format but with different hosts and a live audience.
And…because my research skills are impeccable…I found the actual tape of John Taylor on Loveline. The link is below!
On today’s date in 1984, The Reflex hit the glorious spot of #1 in the UK.
Truth be told, this is one of those Mondays when I couldn’t decide if the historical waypoint should be about The Reflex hitting number one, or if we should celebrate that on this date in the year 2000, The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas with John Taylor was released.
Come on…who doesn’t want to start their Monday with that??
On this date in 2001, John Taylor released Techno for Two. Our comments have been VERY quiet lately…so if you have this (Amanda you do not count!) or know about it, please share with the rest of the class!! Whenever we post something about John’s solo efforts, or for that matter – anything that doesn’t have to do with Duran Duran directly, we receive comments that they didn’t even know such a thing existed. Here is your chance to learn. Look it up. Check it out.
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!