The missing link between punk and riot grrl wasn’t a band or even a fleeting subgenre, but an amazing 1982 Paramount music-biz satire that was never properly released, seen only on late-night cable, crappy bootlegs, and at art-house revivals. That mistake will finally be mended when Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains hits DVD on September 16, its borderline-obsessive cult following all but guaranteed to expand virally. Have we mentioned it costars two Sex Pistols, a founding member of the Clash, and an underage Diane Lane in a see-through top?
It was a production so chaotic that the ending was shot two years after it wrapped, and Oscar-winning screenwriter Nancy Dowd (Coming Home) not only feuded with director and music mogul Lou Adler (who produced the Mamas & the Papas, Carole King, and, in the more literal sense, rocker son Cisco Adler), but took her name off the project after being groped by a camera operator. Yet the film is richer than just a time capsule, holding up as a feminist yet seedy and often hilarious rise-and-fall chronicle of a Pennsylvanian girl-punk band called the Stains.
Composed of brashly cynical lead singer Corinne “Third Degree” Burns (Lane, barely 15 at the start of shooting), her sister Tracy (Marin Kanter), and cousin Jennifer (Laura Dern, at 13!), the Shaggs-like trio become an overnight sensation thanks to their in-your-face look and attitude. With skunk-striped hair and red lightning-bolt eye makeup that inspire a legion of copycat fans, Burns spits at her audience: “I’m perfect, but nobody in this shithole gets me because I don’t put out.” Teen rebellion is a fact of life, but just how comfortable was previously squeaky-clean Lane in such a provocative role?
“You mean, like, ‘Here are my tits?’ ” Lane says with a laugh, nearly three decades later. “I was freaking out! The most poignant irony is that my daughter is going to be exactly the age I was when the DVD comes out. It’s not shocking, just a little bit embarrassing that it happens to be your mom.” And while Lane may look tough on film, there’s a reason they call it acting. “At 15, you’re just an egg out of its shell walking around, trying desperately not to get maimed emotionally. I was just mortified that we were supposed to be as bad as we were as a band. That was my 15-year-old agenda: Do we really have to suck this bad? Couldn’t we be on key at least?” Read more >