Rockin Reels #1-

Ladies and Gentleman,The Fabulous Stains

with Jaime Pina

Welcome to the first installment of  ‘Rockin Reels‘, a new regular piece for Cinema Satori that’s going to focus on the films that bring the sounds.

Critics and film fiends alike are always crawling up the pant legs of Scorsese and Tarantino to find out what movies got them off, but what about musicians? What are the films that are seen as a legitimate knock out for those who rock out? There’s those films that blaze a path, and earn their rightful recognition (Spinal Tap, The last Waltz) and those that weakly ‘SUCK’ shit by the wayside (Hint: see previous entry). This column is going to strictly cover the ties between music and film (soundtracks,documentaries,bio pics, whatever) from the musician’s standpoint. If anybody is going to know who legitimately brings it to the screen, it’s those who make music themselves. From the Monkees ‘Head‘ to Alan Parker’s ‘The wall‘, we’re going to break it down and let you know why these films are musically relevant (or not).

First and foremost big thanks and respect go out to my compadre Jaime Pina for being the main brain and initiator behind Rockin Reels. Jaime has been tearing it up for years on the West Coast with pop punk band, ‘Chemical People‘, and has played in a string of legendary acts (Los Cremators, Down By Law, 45 Grave, Christian Death). The man not only brings the rock,but is also a hardwired musical historian. It was only appropriate that Jaime came up with the first rockin reel selection to cover, and he came out swinging. Leave it to the man to come up with that late night cable classic, ‘Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains‘. Take it away Jaime…..

‘Ladies and Gentleman, The Fabulous Stains’-1982

Director-Lou Adler

Starring: Diane Lane, Ray Winstone,Paul Cook,Steve Jones,Paul Simonon,Fee Waybill

The first thing that strikes you is the feeling of a city and its people rotting away. Corrine Burns is a teenager in Charlestown, PA (home of the Chiefs!), her mother has passed away and while being filmed for a news item on the town falling apart she is fired on camera for speaking her mind. The city backdrops are not much different than the ones depicted in other tales of the decay in the once mighty industrial areas of eastern America like SLAPSHOT and George A. Romero’s brilliant MARTIN.


Corrine is on her own and doesn’t get much help from her cynical aunt. Together with her sister and cousin she decides to form a rock band called the STAINS and gets motivated after seeing a punk band from Britain called the LOOTERS who are playing a local venue. And what a band this is! Steve “Jonesy” Jones and Paul “Cookie” Cook of THE SEX PISTOLS on guitar and drums, Paul Simonon of THE CLASH on bass and actor Ray Winstone doing a highly credible job on vocals and swagger. One of the most badass fictional bands that could actually play. Headlining the tour is a washed up one-hit-wonder called METAL CORPSES featuring Fee Waybill and Vince Welnick of THE TUBES. During the Corpses’ set Winstone heckles them mercilessly and after the set Corrine walks backstage right after Waybill tells road manager Lawnboy that he wants the LOOTERS off the tour or else. Corrine mentions her band to Winstone who is a complete dick to her. However, Lawnboy has seen her on TV and invites the STAINS to join the tour. The other two girls are highly skeptical but Corrine reminds them that it’s a way out of the dying town. And also Corrine has had her first taste of what media exposure can do. As SEX PISTOLS conspirator Caroline Coon was an advisor on the film, when the bus drives off to the sound of sweet reggae music, it is authentic since that’s exactly how the PISTOLS did it.

At the next gig the girls are backstage trying on the matching outfits given to them by Lawnboy but Corrine is having none of it. Waybill and Welnick score some “shitty coke” while the LOOTERS argue amongst themselves. They have come to America expecting the palm trees of sunny California but instead are getting black lung in the industrial wastelands of Pennsylvania. The STAINS take the stage and begin playing. The guitar Dee Pleated has borrowed from Jones is the same guitar given to Malcom McClaren by Syl Sylvain of the NEW YORK DOLLS after their ill-fated tour of Florida. What a legacy that Les Paul has. Siminon and Winstone are sitting at the bar watching and it becomes clear that the girls are novices at best.

“They can’t play,’ observes Simonon.

“Girls can’t play rock n’ roll,” replies Winstone.

The crowd is indifferent and a little intrigued but not hostile. They almost seem willing to let the girls have a go and as they progress it becomes clear that Corrine might actually have something but then the girls become frustrated with themselves and abandon their instruments leaving Corrine alone in the spotlight. As the audience has an awkward giggle at the drama Corrine turns her back, takes off her hat and reveals a blonde and black hairdo that is striking. She then turns the show into a spoken word performance where she verbally attacks a young woman in the crowd only to have the woman’s date throw his drink at her. She turns once again taking off her coat to reveal a revealing see-through out fit and exclaims, “I’m perfect. But no one in this shit hole gets me because I don’t put out!”

It was a bold statement then and it’s a bold statement now. As the film progresses we see Corrine become a master manipulator who is not afraid to use sex to get what she wants. The media falls in love with her and Corrine plays the media and those who worship it like foolish lovers to work her way up the ladder of fame. Each band suffers a typical fate. The LOOTERS suffer from division, the METAL CORPSES are old drug addicts and with the STAINS it is too much, too soon.  Corrine’s “skunk” hairstyle sets off a national phenomenon and soon everyone wants to look like the girl who didn’t want to look like everyone else. And while Corrine’s feminist views are admirable what she becomes is no better than Waybill who was trying to kick the LOOTERS off the tour in the beginning. As Lawnboy warns her when fame is creeping up and she has tough choices to make, “Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to die…”

This quirky film about feminism, punk rock versus the old guard, how the media influences popular opinion and the end of the American Dream was financed by profits from CHEECH AND CHONG’S UP IN SMOKE by a guy that was known for producing comedy and folk records. It is savvy on several levels as the band scenes ring true and it has an understanding of how people like McClaren had one use for punk rock (filthy lucre and media manipulation) while someone like a Johnny Rotten had other uses (pushing the boundaries of music, turning people on to reggae music, pro-feminist views) and basically how punk started as a noble cause but ended up as just another product to be marketed to the consumer. The performances are all highly credible and Christine Lahti’s admission that after being critical of the girl’s behavior she could look at them now and be proud is one of the most heartfelt scenes in the film. They have the guts she and her high school friends did not.

This once hard-to-find film was first viewed by most on a cable show broadcast by the early USA network called Night Flight in its unedited form. Smart folks who taped it ended up with a holy grail of punk since subsequent broadcasts bleeped the foul language and cut out Diane Lane’s nude scene. Bootleg videos were sold on the black market and when the DVD players became available bootleg burns started showing up on eBay. Now the film has been beautifully restored and officially released by Rhino. A lesson in what happens when your dreams come true with a hard hitting sound track and one of the best rock n’ roll films ever made.

Jaime Pina can be found at www.myspace.com/jaimepina, and www.myspace.com/punkrockvatos, www.reverbnation.com/jaimepina


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One Response to “Rockin Reels #1-”

  1. Charity Recla Says:

    Jaime,
    I was googling info about this movie and saw you reviewed it. I think you really hit the nail on the head with your socio-cultural view of this movie. I think it would be easy for someone outside of the punk “counterculture” to dismiss, but it really rings true to what punk was, is, and how it has evolved throughout time. It was almost prophetic to some extent. It is interesting that this was so far before anything like HOT Topic or the internet. I really appreciated the film for this, and not just the fact that there were some amazing punk legends that graced this film. Ray Winstone does rip it up on vocals. The first time I saw this, I thought he was from a punk band, but realized he was the rocker kid in Quadrophenia. I also think the girls did a great job portraying adolescent and innocent punk rock girls. I too loved the feminist energy of this film. Good review! See you on FB.

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