Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ich liebe dich so, Anita Pallenberg

I love Anita Pallenberg, extra much today. I've always loved the Nordic blonde goddess types, not the bland automaton types (the Americans- no offense, mom) but the ferociously alive yet cold-at-the-core Teutons. As I listen to Rolling Stones' "Angie," I think about what the Stones would have been without Anita and Marianne Faithful to guide them, the twin muses of the twins Glimmer. They were a great pair, these girls, but different: the allure of Faithfull lay in her archetypal depth, her timeless beauty, dating back to Camelot and the Celts ("The kind of girl men fought dragons for"), coupled to fearless moxy. Pallenberg's appeal was/is more elusive --you can't even really remember what she looks like because her face is so liquid, so alive from second to second with crazy emotions. She seems to morph like a mirror, vis-a-vis capturing the soul of Brian Jones during their time together like some ferocious carnal vampire, capable of limitless sensory exultation. We remember her long teeth, her vibration level, her knack for knowing just what kind of drugs and how much any situation called for, and her innate fashion sense. She's a chaotic-neutral djinn poured into a German model's body, with the face of a tripping 18 year-old in the first stage of transformation into a werewolf. All I can do is offer screen captures culled from PERFORMANCE to try and hang some random adjectives on her clotheshorse from Valhalla appeal:


With the arrival of James Fox's gangster into their psychedelic love den, Anita Pallenberg and Mick Jagger launch a series of wigs to conceal the hooliganism of Chaz (Fox) so he isn't found by his old gang. Anita initiates the red wig and against the red decor she seems like a whole new character, but it's just a mirror of Fox's original disguise, a hideous red shoe polish hairdo, and he will eventually wear the red wig himself... and lipstick. As with Brian Jones, she seems to be an effortless chameleon, getting to the core of a person with just a few brush strokes and a wig change. 


Drugs play a huge part in this transformation. Though many contemporary shamen and Buddhists don't think drugs are needed, those shamen are dumb. Shaman Anita swears by them, and without those shrooms, Fox's transformation would be incomplete -- like trying to reach Nevada on foot instead of in an air-conditioned limo. To choose to walk instead may add 'authenticity' but smacks of puritanism and dogma. It's the kind of thing someone who'd walked almost the whole way would say when you stopped 10 yards from the gate to Nirvana to offer them a lift. 

Films of the late 1960s and early 1970s were full of political incorrectness and sexist drug orgies but PERFORMANCE was directed and written by Donald Cammell, a man who lived and breathed drug orgies, the real kind. The difference is like night and so much later that night that it's the breaka dawn.

Speaking of which, why am I letting yet another nice day go by writing blog entries? I'm  scared of all the tourists outside, and would rather be up in my own bescarved den of creativity, hiding from the world til it's dusk and the tourists are gone, the year of the Cat. I'll leave you with a link to my earlier PERFORMANCE piece and the beautiful ode to the song, "Wild Horses" by a writer with many of Pallenberg's alluring qualities, Sunset Gun's Kim Morgan. Lastly, this post is dedicated to my band's own beloved Marianna and Anita, Kristen and Beth! They may both have kids now, but man were they cool, so beloved by us all I'd still fight dragons for them!

PS - check out Anita's black and purple wigs in BARBARELLA (1968)!


  1. Good on you, then. Of course, anyone involved in Barberella is okay with me.

  2. Psychodelli lovey dovey

  3. Dear Erich:
    This is a beautiful piece, and it rather doubles as a memorial piece written before the fact (since Anita died in 2017). But it does raise the question of why - oh why - oh WHIOHWHIOHWHIOHWHY? - you haven't written a real full-length article about BARBARELLA. Do you not think it's not genuinely psychedelic enough, or what? I really would love to read a full-length article about BARBARELLA, since (even though I know it's an awfully silly film) it does set off some mythic resonances for me. When critic Pauline Kael reviewed the film, back in 1968, she wrote that, "According to Vadim, in BARBARELLA [Jane Fonda] is supposed to be “a kind of sexual Alice in Wonderland of the future,” but she’s more like a saucy Dorothy in an Oz gone bad..."; that is to say, Barbarella can be read as a sort of sexed-up science-fiction version of those two ultimate psychedelic-voyager girls, Alice and Dorothy. Surely that interpretation must pique your interest, eh?

  4. More and more...I believe we may be brothers.


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