Monday, November 18, 2013

The Inspiration of Miss Pamela Des Barres



Hello Dolls!!

I know that a lot of you out there who read this blog may already know about this gorgeous woman's true legend. She has written several books about her experiences as a Groupie/music lover/Muse.  I was lucky enough to attend 4 of her writing workshop sessions over the past weekend and wanted to share the experience.

First of all, she's a brilliant and honest writer.  Secondly, she's led an incredible life and has been close to many musicians from the rock music scene, so the content of her books helps place the reader in the middle of their best rock & roll fantasies.  If you haven't already, take a look at her books:

I'm With The Band (her NYTimes Bestseller, where she shares her honest stories about what it is like to know and love some of the most beloved rock stars in our galaxies)
Take Another Little Piece of My Heart (where she continues to reveal what her life evolves into, a groupie grows up)
Rock Bottom (where she explores the dark side of fame and the sex, drugs & rock n' roll lifestyle)
Let's Spend the Night Together (where she interviews 24 other Groupies and lets them tell their stories)

Another fabulous connection to those times include Cynthia Plaster Caster, who has made many molds of famous people.  She even got Peter Tork to agree to it, but the results have been lost.  Much like the missing arms of the Venus de Milo, the missing makes us wonder even more . . . (Pamela even contacted Cynthia for me.  The full story about Peter's plaster will be in Cynthia's upcoming autobiography.  We can hardly wait!!!)

Note here the difference in approach she (and her confederates have) about telling their stories.  It is the opposite of jealousy or shock-value or "confessional".  This is what it looks like when women decide not to give into the idea of "slut-shaming" language.  Society/media demands that women all be physically beautiful/sexy but then demeans them for being sexual at all.  She is in league with Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues, who interviewed hundreds of women about their experiences of being female (and so much more).  If you haven't seen them live, watch some of the monologues.

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Back to Miss Pamela's Writing Workshops; she comes to the East Coast twice a year to run the events. Each class has 2 sessions of roughly 4 hours each; she ran them Thurs/Fri 7:30 to 10:30 (which turned out closer to 11:30) and Sat/Sun 1-5.  I went to 4 sessions in all, and so did others, but there were some who could only show up for one. I'm pretty sure everyone got something out of the time they had there.  They were held inside people's apartments, which adds to the atmosphere of it being a relaxed party.  People are invited to bring snacks & wine.  I did best the night I brought my own coffee (as wine can slow me down).  She sets a great vibe from the beginning.

I'll tell you why these workshops are important:  she is passing on the FREEDOM and POWER to explore your experiences and get them down on paper. If you think that you will be overwhelmed to meet her or intimidated by other people's elegant writing, relax.  She is accepting of all levels of writing, all personalities, all moods.

There is an incredible vibe to her meetings and kind of a creation of a "Safe Space" (where you can talk about ANYTHING and secrets are kept).  She asks women to bring in a quote or paragraph of inspirational writing and that's how the sessions start.  Then she gives a series of prompts (e.g. "Put yourself into a moment in Music History", "Facebook's 11 Things Most People Don't Know About Me", etc) and we are given 12 minutes to write.  Pen/paper or laptop, whatever you are most comfortable with.  JUST WRITE.

Then we all go around and read what we've written; everyone has equal time on the floor.  Nobody is interrupted.  And you are NOT allowed to qualify or preface your writing with any kind of excuse.  This bit is more important than one might think, as women, we are often conditioned to be perfect or modest or we come up with excuses out of our own insecurities.  ("I started one with one idea and then switched", "I'm not feeling very creative right now", "I couldn't really think of anything".  For those of you at home who have heard yourself doing this: STOP IT RIGHT NOW!!)

Nobody can come up with a perfect essay in 12 minutes, but EVERYONE comes up with something unique and distinct.  The writing muscle improves with practice, but also from HEARING your words spoken in front of others. Some stories or details resonate with the immediate audience and some phrases stick out like diamonds for their unique and beautiful qualities.

This is NOT a therapy session, nor a writing technique intensive, nor is it entirely a women's empowerment class.  It's up to you, how deep you go or how much you reveal.  Participants cry, even surprising themselves, hearing their words spoken out loud. People reveal things that haven't been spoken of in years, or maybe they've NEVER talked about them.

And that's the most impressive power of Miss Pamela's class.  She has made a career for herself, being utterly who she is and sharing her stories with the world.  The music business seems to glorify our rock gods, encouraging us to dwell on even the most mundane questions.  But what about the listeners?  We, the fans, also have stories to tell. Knowing David Cassidy's favorite color is brown is less interesting than the story about you wearing brown since you were a teenager in case you might meet him someday.  (From the novel "I Think I Love You" by Allison Pearson)  Maybe we don't do it in song, and maybe it's not going to make us rich or famous.  But stories of love, hate, experience-those are the stories of OUR lives and they matter.

Do yourself a favor, keep your eyes peeled for her books and events.  GO.  MEET HER.  "Groupie", "Muse", "Writing Teacher" aren't enough to describe her.  There has to be a new term or word coined for "a person who carries a beautiful energy from those she has loved, those who love her and those yet to come".

For right now, the words we have are Pamela Des Barres.

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