In between panicking about assignment deadlines, trying to be funny at comedy class, and drunk-dancing under the strobes on a Saturday night; I have been reading Cherie Currie’s biography Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway.
‘Cherie fucking Currie, the Queen of Hate.‘
Currie’s book documents the time she spent as the lead singer of the all-girl rock group, The Runaways. The group was fronted by Cherie, with Lita Ford on guitar, Jackie Fox on bass, Sandy West on drums, and the amazing Joan Jett on guitar and vocals. Cherie joined the band when she was fifteen and transformed in to the Cherry Bomb on stage, wearing raucous outfits and promising to ‘have ya, grab ya, ’till you’re sore!’ Together, they proved to the world that girls could rock.
‘There was a point when I realized that you could get away with just about anything so long as you do it with enough conviction.’
Neon Angel was adapted for the silver screen in 2010, appearing under the name of The Runaways. The film was directed and co-written by Floria Sigismondi, and starred Dakota Fanning as Cherie, and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett. After watching the film, I had two immediate desires:
- Join an all girl rock band and become a Cherry Bomb.
- Read Cherie Currie’s memoir to see if being a member of The Runaways,really was as wild as the film suggested.
Whilst Sigismondi’s film is faithful to the spirit of Currie’s book, it blends and overlooks some of the more personal aspects of Currie’s biography (which makes sense from a commercial, film-making perspective). Cherie was an identical twin, which is not addressed in the film, and the brutality of The Runaway’s manager, Kim Fowley, was also diluted on the screen. The severe trauma(s) that Cherie Currie experienced are also left on the pages of her biography.
Before she had reached the age of seventeen, Currie had been raped by her sister’s boyfriend, sexually assaulted by several men, and had to terminate a potentially wanted pregnancy. Add to this the pressures of cutting records with a successful rock band, and a heightened exposure to drugs and alcohol; and it’s hard to not regard Currie as a phoenix rising up out of some truly hellish ashes.
‘I realized that I had spent most of my life as a slave to something. I grew up as an emotional slave to the rotten kids in school, to my parent’s bitter fights. Then, after Derek came along, I became a slave to something else: I became a slave to my own hatred and rage. It was on the road with the Runaways that I came to the conclusion that all of that was finally behind me. I was free to do whatever I wanted. I would never be a slave to anything again.’
Below is a clip of Dakota Fanning performing Cherry Bomb in The Runaways film. Read Currie’s book and watch Sigismondi’s film, and prepare to feel the explosion of The Cherry Bomb.
**The edition I’m reading/quoting from: Currie, C. (2010), Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway, Tony O’Neill (ed.), New York: HarperCollins Publishers.