Get On Your Rocker
JILL KARGMAN GETS IN TOUCH WITH HER INNER AMPLIFIER
Black. Leather. Metal. Spikes. Eeeeevil . . .
You know when you and your friends spy someone who just exudes rock star? You crane your necks in a crowded restaurant or bar and think, who is that guy? Sometimes he’s an actual, aging, weather-worn bassist, but often he’s just . . . a civilian. A nobody who just looks like a somebody — a guy who may be regular but still somehow evokes throttling strings, pounding drums and grazing groupies. But why exactly? What are those magic telltale pieces that smack of, well, you know . . . but also the sexy power of a larger-than-life, grinding guitar god?
We all know the vibe — the postapocalyptic, hyper-stylized, Blade Runner replicants, who exude tough, dark, grit and, traditionally, testosterone. But thank goodness (or badness?) for Joan Jett, Melissa Auf der Maur, PJ Harvey and other bad girls. The aesthetic associated with throaty, Cookie Monster–growling vocals and blaring smoking face-melting riffs is about to go equal opportunity. After all, as Joan declared in “Bad Reputation,” “A girl can do what she wants to do,” and a fashion insurgence is at hand. What is rock ’n’ roll about but rebellion?
Echoing the overproduced girlie squeals of the cheery and cheesy “songs of summer,” Barbie’d-out pop tarts have recently packed the red carpets with spray-on Day-Glo outfits that have — to quote Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous — “hemlines so high, the world’s your gynecologist.” But luckily there’s a real ray of hope in the season’s blinding trends. Is that a revving motorcycle engine I hear? Is that feedback? Could there be a black leather, chrome-studded, razor-sharp edge emerging from the sea of fluffy cotton candy pink? Rick Owens, take me away! I’ll be your backseat Betty anytime.
As Nirvana-alum Dave Grohl explained at the Grammy’s, rock ’n’ roll is doing just fine, thank you very much, as evidenced by his award for a Foo Fighters album literally cut in his garage. (Granted, there probably are four Porsches parked in there, but still, a garage is a garage.) Better than the legions of cheesy femmebots dyeing their hair the colors of Easter eggs to get attention.
There are some of us, as much as we try to steep ourselves in pop culture and, therefore, pop fashion, who are simply fiends for the Trash and Vaudeville vibe of good ol’ cymbal-smashing, head-banging, go-home-with-the-waitress rock ’n’ roll. This look is so in our faces, I decided to write a book about it. In my new novel, the main character is a just-one-of-the-guys-type, potty mouth, heavy metal – blaring chick who works at a video game company. While I myself am decidedly more feminine, her scorching affair with a throaty-voiced rock idol plunges her into the world she (and I) always fantasized about.
It’s in the air. You can see it when blue lights hit the rising smoke as the fevered crowd roars. It’s held us spellbound since the first frontman cleared his throat at a mic. MTV disseminated the look when I came of age, and there is serious nostalgia for it now that we are hags, as it harkens back to our cranium-bashing days of yore. When The Big Four (Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and Metallica) sold out Yankee Stadium last fall, the handwriting was scrawled on the wall, but when Rock of Ages hits the big screen this month, after smash years on Broadway, people will rekindle their love for stadium rock with Bic lighters held high.
Get ready for some serious rock looks. The Los Angeles scene had the girls who put the strip in Sunset Strip, flaunting torn fishnets with cleavage and booty-baring skin-tight numbers, and no doubt that look will rear its rear. But the new rock ’n’ roll has a delicious androgyny to it. Now gals, too, can rock Slash’s leather jacket. It’s no longer about the male rockers and the women dressed as their clingy plus-ones. Now we can rock those ensembles ourselves, and in a chic though equally nasty way. There is a bubbling up of the black-and-silver combo, from super skinny suits to killer violent boots that scream “check check” at the mic.
Thanks to Chrome Hearts, women can now rack up wrists full of thick chains once relegated to the men’s section. Even fine jewelry has taken a vroom-vroom turn with Goth rhodium everywhere: charcoal metal that makes you want to “cum on feel the noise” just looking at it. And it appears that black diamonds may be hard rock’s answer to rap’s D-color bling, ironically, with scads of designers imparting subtle onyx bling to graphite metals usually found near a guitar pick. Bold belt buckles are back — in carved sterling—and zippers everywhere harken to countless flaunted flies of rock ’n’ roll’s glory years. But while healthier living has since been embraced and many people have purged their sins of that fast and loose era, we can still travel back style-wise, in a more refined and tailored way, but with the same violent-but-sexy spirit as before. So feel free to eschew those bubblegum hues and choose something that would make Ms. Joan Jett proud. Crank those amps to eleven. BG
Jill Kargman’s new novel is The Rock Star in Seat 3A (William Morrow).
JILL KARGMAN is a Manhattan-based trashy novelist whose books include Momzillas, The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund and her recent best-selling memoir, Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut. Her latest beach read is The Rock Star in Seat 3A, about an affair with a music icon. She promises she did not do any research.