Roxx, Rita Rae
Once Upon A Rock Star (Book Review)
Released: 2012, Arbour Oak Books
There has been a trend developing lately in Metal related literature, specifically the autobiographical tale using a Heavy Metal theme. I believe one of the first was Chuck Klostermans, horrible, horrible book FARGO ROCK CITY, in which he spent most of the book making fun of Heavy Metal. Another few books followed by Hunter, (CONFESSIONS OF A HEAVY METAL ADDICT, 2004) Keck (METAL GENERATION, 2007) and Long (A SHOT OF POISON, 2010). Recently, there have been a whole bunch of books published in this style. These books are not written by musicians, not written about bands, nor are they academic works, they are just stories of peoples lives, the fans lives, in a Heavy Metal context. My theory is that the people who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s now have the capability to write their life story to some degree and there is a strong market demand for Metal-related literature. Accordingly this year alone there have already been four books in this style published. Listed alphabetically by authors last name they are...
-Brent Jensen-No Sleep Til Sudbury
-Thomas McKenzie-Power Chord
-Rita Rae Roxx-Once Upon A Rock Star
I’ve reviewed them all this month and encourage you to enjoy all the book reviews in this four-book feature.
There has been a double standard that has existed in Western Society for many many years. If a male sleeps with a lot of women, he is a stud. A good thing. If a woman sleeps with a lot of men she is labeled a slut. A bad thing. I’ve never personally succumbed to this labeling, if a girl wants to sleep around, more power to her. So here we have a book written by Rita Rae Roxx called ONCE UPON A ROCK STAR that details one woman’s lifestyle and related sexual history spanning about nine years from 1981-1988 or so. Why would a book, written by a groupie, interest readers of Metal-Rules.com? Well, for one there have been very few books from a female perspective about the hedonistic lifestyle of the 80’s Hard Rock/Heavy Metal scene in North America in the 80’s. There have been countless book detailing the exploits of the male stars of this era, but very few from a female perspective. There are the quartet of Pamela De Barres book including I’M WITH THE BAND (first published in 1987 and THE LAST LIVING SLUT by Roxana Shirazi, published a few years back. ONCE UPON A ROCKSTAR follows in that tradition. In that sense this book is very pioneering.
Running about 208 pages, this nice looking, squarish, soft-cover (with a very clever title) is a fun easy read loaded with black and white photos. There are QR Codes/links to full-colour versions of the photos, which is a clever idea that I have never seen before in a book. I’m sure it will happen more often. Rita also includes her play-list, and hints at a Part Two when she moved to LA and started moving in the circle of ‘Movie Stars’ rather than just ‘Rock Stars’.
The book is broken into 36 chapters which really aren’t all that logical, just anecdote after anecdote, story after story and that makes the book more like a series of vignettes, a collection of semi-unrelated stories rather than a cohesive whole. Roxx, our hero and protagonist, describes her evolution as a groupie from her deflowering on a Billy Squier tour bus at age 15 (yikes!) to working her way up the scale and hanging out with Sylvester Stallone at a mansion in LA, almost 10 years later. The whole book is a collection of stories from her life in Nebraska as she went to almost every concert on the immediate North American Northwest (Iowa, Nebraska, the Dakotas etc). All those bands toured heavily through that area, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Kiss, David Lee Roth, Poison, Whitesnake, Ozzy, Dokken, Van Halen etc, etc, etc and Ms. Roxx seemed to hook up with one or more members with all those bands over the course of her book. Her stories are interesting and really give the reader a little slice of the hedonistic road-show from a female perspective. The stories would boogle your mind. She never gets pornographic or too explicit, but reveals intimate details with a sense of modesty and tells the tale in a balanced manner. Sure the material is raw but drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are raw!
In the bigger picture, I have to admit there were times when I really had to shake my head. When I started to write this review I knew essentially this book was going to pretty thin on content and promised myself to be open-minded and progressive, accepting the life-style choices of the author. However, there were a couple of times I put the book down in disgust as this under-age (15 year-old) promiscuous groupie was constantly breaking the law, sneaking into places, lying and trafficking drugs and having unprotected sex with strangers, just so she could get to meet someone else in a band. She constantly lies to her parents, ditches her friends, and she constantly got caught up in stupid and dangerous situations. She even implies that she stole from work (a leather boutique) to feed her obsession with clothes, fashion and jackets, claiming to own 23 leather jackets at one point! She comes across as quite dumb, as well as cold and calculating, using men (by providing drugs or sex) to get what she wanted. In one sense I suppose she was very clever by working her way up the food-chain of people who lived the lifestyle, getting phone numbers, befriending roadies, flirting with mangers, scoring coke for the people who held the magical key (backstage passes) to the musical men behind the curtain.
She says she was a fan of the music but as a reader you can tell she was into the image, the glamour and it is rare she actually mentions music. She talks about many concerts but not about the music, performance or songs but how ‘hot’ or ‘cute’ a performer looked. She makes a few mistakes of band names and performers but if I did the amount of cocaine she claims to have done, my memory might be shot too. In fact there was so much detail at times I was a bit skeptical as to the validity of her claims, but there it is an enormous amount of photographic evidence of her lifestyle. She was pretty shallow and exactly the kind of person that gave many true fans of Hard Rock and Heavy a bad name by playing the role of the dumb, bimbo-groupie. I don’t want to seem to hard on her but she comes across as the worst kind of person a sneaky, manipulative liar. I’m really surprised she didn’t catch a disease, get impregnated (or worse, raped), arrested or jailed for her decade long crime-spree. She doesn’t seem very apologetic, remorseful or repentant in her book and it is certainly not a cautionary tale for young impressionable readers!
Having said those negative things about Ms. Roxx, ONCE UPON A ROCKSTAR is a very sincere and intimate book. She wears her heart on her sleeve, tells the truth, bravely, unflinchingly and this is her story. I can’t dispute that or fault her for her choices. Everyone makes bad choices in life, that is how you learn and for a 15 year old girl addicted to the MTV in the early 80’s, she was a prime receptacle for the heavily commercialized, glamourized images of the savvy marketers of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal (labels, magazines, radio) in it’s most commercialized phase. She bought into ‘the dream’ (falling on love with a rich, famous Rock Star) hook, line and sinker and had a hell of a good time, a time that most of us only dream about. I fully enjoyed reading ONCE UPON A ROCK STAR. It was a titillating look inside the Hard Rock circus of the 80’s and I’d recommend it to all fans of that era, especially for her unique insider perspective. Plus Rita looks pretty hot now that she is all grown up. OK, maybe that wasn’t professional of me, but she has aged well and is smart enough to parlay her life experiences into a cool book. You go girl!