‘Groupies’ – A 1970 Film Documentary

A proper day of extremes. Jason Silva reminding me of the positives of psychadelics making me outraged at the laws surrounding them, followed by a rewatch of a documentary which disturbingly which makes me want to advocate against anything illicit.

Groupies dropped into cinemas in 1970. The documentary from Ron Dorfman and Peter Nevard exists as a constant stream of interviews and fly-on-the wall observation from the golden-age of groupies, and some would say rock music in general. Shot over nine months, it’s mostly backstage footage from some of the best known venues in American music history, occasional phone conversations and hotel room interviews interspersed with live shots of the bands themselves. The overall topic is fascinating, the candidness (after all we’re dealing with issues that stems from an insecurity based around attention) and unbiased angle that it’s shot from are a perfect marriage. The (mostly) women are desperate to talk about their lives, backgrounds and the groupie experiences, giving unbridled access to how they see their world.

Here’s the thing though, the interviewees and their lives are almost too painful to watch. Forget Almost Famous or anything that may have glorified groupie lifestyle, the subjects are tragic, and in most cases strung out beyond belief. It’s scary to think about where they might be now, especially the one’s who’ve been at for a few years with no sign of stopping.

There are a few humor moments, especially when you’re looking at the well-known Plaster Casters and your dark side can’t help but to laugh at some of the rock icons mistreatment of these overly-dedicated characters; the element of rejection that they throw in their faces, something which the groupies somehow manage to block out of their delusional mental states.

While the drag queen element can be comical, it’s the male groupies who are especially disturbing. The worst of all is a young gay man named Chaz, off his head on some form of downer, backstage, begging for attention from Terry Reid. Like a champ, Keith Webb manages it without insulting a fan, but the normalcy of watching a destroyed guy crawl around hating himself is a sad sight.

Also upsetting is the somewhat intelligent teenage girl named Iris, calling home for the first time since hitting the road with 10 Years After, wanting to face her family and do the right thing but scared that her dad will kill her. Tragically, 10 Years After ditch her and head to another state, while other artists try and force her to stay on the road with them. The same guys then proceed to slag her off right before she talks about how sad they were to see her go and how upset the farewells were. At least she gets away from it for a little while.

It was a different time then, and this is how amazing life experience is born. We’ve followed bands around a country myself, slept on the street to see gigs and tripped out at various venues thinking it was some form of enlightenment. We’re all for this. But like the artists once the fans start believing their own hype, thinking they’re an important part of it all, things can go seriously wrong. This is what Groupies shows us.

Oddly part 4 seems to have been removed off the internet, you have to think due to some legal reasons of the celebrities involved or grown up groupies who may’ve been young teenagers at the time.

A quality documentary, check it below, big ups all involved in making it.

GROUPIES, directed by Ron Dorfman and Peter Nevard; photographed by Mr. Dorfman; produced by Robert Welner; a Maron Films Limited release. At the Fifth Avenue Cinema at 12th Street. Running time: 92 minutes. (Not submitted at this time to the Motion Picture Association of America’s Production Code and Rating Administration for rating as to audience suitability.)
With: Ten Years After featuring Alvin Lee and Company, Joe Cocker and the Grease Band, Terry Reid with Kelth Webb and Peter Shelly, Spooky Tooth featuring Luther Grosvenor, Dry Creek Road; Miss Harlow, Miss Cynthia P. Caster, Goldie Glitter, Chaz, Iris, Brenda, Diane, Lixie and Andrea Whips Warhu