"When I saw Madonna in a corset for the first time, I was like, 'Hey, I did that first.' "
--Cherie Currie, lead singer of The Runaways, to the New York Times
The much anticipated Runaways biopic opens in New York this week. And it's cool that people are talking about them so much because, all Madonna-Runaways career comparisons aside (theirs-- short and somewhat managed, hers--long and self-propelled) they really did start something. And not only that, they handed it on. Runaways rhythm guitarist and founding member Joan Jett is on (the almost entirely male) Rolling Stone list of the 100 greatest guitarists, and girl rockers from the Go-Gos to Courtney Love to the Donnas to Bikini Kill and Le Tigre claim the short-lived teen-girl glam-rock band as an important influence. As music blogger Rob Jones put it, the Runaways were founded on the idea that young girls playing guitars and drums would be a good gimmick, and then the Runaways ended up "putting guitars and drumsticks into the hands of other women" and the whole thing wasn't a gimmick anymore. This is not to take credit away from what the Runaways did for four years in the 1970s, while they still existed as a band. Much has been made of their "jailbait" sex appeal, and their possible/probable/maybe definite exploitation at the hands of their manager Kim Fowley (certainly J. Wren from Pittsburgh was wildly misinformed). But one of the things that I find most interesting about the Runaways as performers is that they were inspired by, and unafraid to emulate, the greatest (male) rockstars of their era--men like David Bowie and Keith Richards-- and at the same time, those men were walking and dancing and dressing a little bit like young women. If you take a look at the way Cherie Currie wears her corset, she doesn't look used. She doesn't even look entirely feminine. She looks like Mick Jagger.
So how could you not want to see the Runaways perform, right? If you're in New York this Friday, you have two chances: on-screen, and LIVE at Le Poisson Rouge on Bleecker St. Ok so it's technically not the real, actual, 15-years-old-in-the-1970s Runaways, but it's just as good: the "only East Coast Runaways tribute band" The Stay-at-Homes will be playing at Le Poisson Rouge with special guests Cheap Trick or Treat (you guessed it--the only East Coast Cheap Trick tribute show). The show starts at 7, "due to the Stay-at-Homes' enforced curfew," and tickets are 10 bucks.
This Friday, March 19th, The Stay-at-Homes and Cheap Trick or Treat
Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street
photo courtesy of Playlist