Gina Gershon rocks. That’s right, Gina Gershon, the actress, rocks. Why? Well, the 50-year-old actress, best known for her role as Jennifer Tilly’s lesbian lover and partner-in-crime in the badass neo-noir thriller Bound (1996), starred in an awesome film about an all-girl punk band called Prey For Rock & Roll (2003). But, so what, actresses act. They don’t rock, right? Wrong. Gina Gershon recorded 14 original songs for the movie, all of which were released on a pretty amazing CD. Then, to support the release of the movie, Gershon went on a 10-city tour, with members of post-hardcore band Boys Against Girls, performing those songs and more! Her tour was documented in a 6-episode realty series for IFC called Rocked With Gina Gershon in 2004. Told you, Gina Gershon rocks!
So, Prey For Rock & Roll, the movie, is set in L.A. in the late 80’s (or is it?) and involves aging singer/guitarist Jacki (Gershon) and her all-female punk rock band, Clam Dandy (great name for an all-girl band!). Her band is filled out by drug-addicted, alcoholic, trust fund baby Tracy (Drea de Matteo of The Sopranos who is awesome, too!) on bass, and lesbian lovers Faith (Lori Petty of Point Break and A League of Their Own) and Sally (Shelly Cole) on lead guitar and drums, respectively. Jacki, a tattoo artist by day, is turning 40 and considering finally giving up on her failed dream, after 20 years, if her band doesn’t hit it big with one last chance at a recording contract. The tragedies that befall the band are the typical rocker girl clichés (addiction, rape, empowerment, etc) and some of the situations push the move toward melodrama, but Jacki’s dilemma of facing 40 is sadly beautiful. And, the role of Jacki was made for Gershon. She looks amazing, all tatted up (with fake tattoos) at 41 (which is how old she was when she made this movie). Just look at that awesome DVD cover art! Bonus: Jacki makes sweet lesbian love to a groupie as The Stooges‘ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” plays on her radio.
Prey For Rock & Roll is based on a play by failed punk rocker Cheri Lovedog, who wrote all of Clam Dandy‘s songs and played guitar on all the tracks. Her play, and the movie, is set in the late 80’s, even though the period is never established on film. It certainly looks like it takes place in the late 80’s. I mean Jacki’s look is, obviously, modeled after 80’s-era Joan Jett. However, in one scene, Faith wears a 7 Year Bitch t-shirt, and, she and Jacki joke about missing the “riot grrrl” movement by ten years. What? The “riot grrl” movement started in the early 90’s in the wake of Nirvana‘s success, and 7 Year Bitch didn’t even release their first record until 1992, so that would set this movie in the year it was made, 2002!
Anyway, the album, like I said, is pretty amazing. So, can Gershon sing? Well, her voice is perfect for punk. She sounds a little like Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. In fact, Clam Dandy sounds like Hynde, with a touch of Patti Smith, fronting The Runaways. The album opens with the badass “Ms Tweak” which is the first song Clam Dandy plays, at their rehearsal space. The song is about Tracy.
With a mouth full of lies and a heart full of sighs
“Why me, oh Lord, why me?” she cries
‘Cause everyone else is so fxxx-ed up
And everything else is so fxxx-ed up
The film, however, opens with the band playing “My Favorite Sin,” live on stage, and it’s a cool track, too, in which Jacki snarls about “not getting any younger” over a backing track that sounds like punked-up cover of the surf classic “Pipeline” by Agent Orange. “Pretty Pretty” is an excellent Sex Pistols-ish rocker which offers this great line, also about Tracy: “At best you’re just a gorgeous mess that’s gone too far.” And, “Stupidstar,” the only song not in the movie or written by Lovedog, was actually written by Gershon with songwriter Linda Perry, and it’s good. But, the real gem is the slow burning “Every 6 Minutes.” Jacki writes this amazingly powerful song as a reaction to Sally’s rape at the hands of Tracy’s drunken boyfriend, Nick. This track is the best anti-rape song since Nirvana‘s “Rape Me,” and it’s cool that the entire song is played in the movie, uninterrupted, by the band at their rehearsal space. The song caresses your shoulders with Tracy’s opening bass line and Jacki’s emotional verses, and then grabs you by throat with her raging chorus over crunchy power chords:
I’ve got .38 special / Reasons at my side
Face the ultimate “no,” big boy
This time, I’ll decide!
The entire clip of the performance used to be on YouTube, but, it’s gone. Sorry.
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
So, at the end of the movie, Clam Dandy doesn’t get the contract they want, but, Tracy and Sally convince Jacki to keep on playing because they know she loves the life. And, as the band plays to a small crowd in a dive bar, Jacki says, in voiceover:
“All my life, all I’ve wanted to be is a rock & roll star. Instead, I’m a musician, just some chick in a band. And, you know what …”
Then, her final words, sum up my feelings for this movie and its music:
“… it’s fxxx-ing cool!!”
Buy Prey For Rock & Roll, or rent it, whatever. Just watch this movie!