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And Now…Cherie Currie: Former Runaways Lead Singer Returns To The Spotlight with Tell-All Memoir ‘Neon Angel’
Posted by lesliedj on March 8, 2010 ·

These days it seems that everywhere you turn there’s some sort of mention of the all-girl teenage 70’s rock band The Runaways, largely because a film adaptation of former Runaways lead singer Cherie Currie’s tell-all memoir will hit movie theatres on March 19th to coincide with the March 16th release of “Neon Angel: A Memoir Of A Runaway.” got the chance to talk to the Cherry Bomb herself, Cherie Currie a week prior to the book’s official release.

What made you decide to revisit this book and name some of the unnamed characters this time around?

“With the first book I was really in a vulnerable place. I really hadn’t come to grips with a lot of the things that had happened to me. In 2000 I read the book and I just felt that I needed to rewrite it. Neal Schusterman did a fantastic job [on the 1989 version “Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story”] but I wanted it to come from me. I wanted to tell these stories that I at first wasn’t comfortable telling…I guess because I had forgiven myself and had realized as well that it wasn’t all me. I just needed to be brutally honest. So I rewrote the book and Kenny Laguna read it and really liked it and thought it should be published. So he started shopping the book and meeting up with some producers and the rest it history.”

You’ve been through some pretty heavy stuff, was it hard or painful to recount these experiences?

“Of course. My family suffered a lot, I was writing from about 3 a.m. until 9 p.m. [the next day]. I was very much engulfed in the past and it wasn’t easy for anybody. But I had to relive these things in vivid 3-D but in a way it was great because I thought it was very healing.”

About two years ago I interviewed Joan Jett at the time she was promoting her album, “Sinner” and I remember her mentioning working on a Runaways movie and I remember her sounding almost nostalgic and definitely excited about it. Then with reading your book and your description of her during her teenage years I can see that Joan clearly, did she ever object to your portrayal of her in this books? Or of any of the accounts?

“No she’s very supportive and in fact she wrote the forward. She actually really liked the first book as well. It’s been great. I wanted to make sure that she was happy with everything that was in the book. I’m happy that she was.”

Were any of the other girls upset with your book?

“Nobody’s read it yet, it’s just coming out. I don’t think that they can be upset. The truth is the truth. We were different back then, we were kids. Everybody regrets some things here and there but I really don’t think that anything was that heavy that they would object to. If they’d come to grips with things like I have…that was another life time ago.”

I take it you’ve seen the film, “The Runaways”

“Yes I have, a few times.”

What did you think of your portrayal? Were you concerned about Dakota Fanning portraying you?

“I couldn’t have been happier. She’s my favorite actress of all time. I’ve been a huge fan of her work for years. It was probably the most exciting moment for me besides the birth of my son, when I heard she was in negotiation for the part.”

Lita Ford has made it clear that she wants nothing to do with the film so much so that when I spoke with her back in December I was instructed not to mention the film throughout the course of the interview. Do you think that it will ever be feasible to have a Runaways reunion show with the surviving members?

“Well originally it was Lita’s idea to have a reunion 12 years ago and she got me and Sandy [West] on board to [do it], she talked to Joan [Jett] and Joan was very interested in it and then at the last minute she pulled the plug on it. So there’s a lot of reasons for Lita [to do something like that] maybe it’s a painful time, maybe she can’t get past what happened when we were kids but I have. I think there’s still a lot of hurt there with Lita. I would imagine that being the only reason why she can’t embrace this but I don’t know. I can’t speak for her. I do know Joan wanted her very much involved in the film and they had had long discussions about it. It seemed like Lita was onboard but then at the last minute she pulled out as well. So I don’t know.”

Let’s get back to the book; one scene that stood out was the one where Kim Fowley is quoted in a cover piece done on The Runaways saying, “Handling Cherie Currie’s ego is like having a dog urinate in your face. The best thing that could happen to this band would be if Cherie hung herself from a shower rod and put herself in the tradition of Marilyn Monroe” (190) and then when you confront him about it he retorts with, “it’s just business…we’re just selling records here.” (194). Did you really buy into the whole controversy sells bit he was trying to have you believe or do you think he was really just being nasty and believed these things about you?

“I don’t know if that’s the way that Kim [liked] to keep us on edge at all times but when he said that in that article, it broke me into a million pieces because I really liked Kim, he was like a father figure in a very abusive way. It’s like that battered wife syndrome. When he said those things it destroyed me and I didn’t know whether it was [just to sell records]. I always believe that no one ever says anything without the truth behind it. Kim had one hell of a way of treating teenage girls. About a year ago he apologized to me and said that he just didn’t know how to deal with us and I can understand that now, thank God. But wow he was extremely abusive and the reason why The Runaways disbanded in the end. He just pit us against one another and it was pretty tragic.”

Would you say you’ve forgiven him?

“Of course I have. I did about a year ago. You can’t hang on to this stuff forever. I realized it was hurting me far more than hurting anybody else. We all do things that we regret and we grow from those things. We confront them and we grow from them and I didn’t want to carry that baggage anymore. So I forgave him for selfish reasons and I think most people need to do that and just move on. But would I ever let him manage my son? No.”

Good. After your stint with The Runaways you spiraled into heavy drug usage in the book you say, “I was not an addict, I’d tell myself, I just liked drugs a hell of a lot. They became a part of who I was—Cherie Currie, the neon blur in the fast lane, the Cherry Bomb” (233). Do you still blame your drug addiction on the fact that you were young and impressionable and being constantly surrounded by it?

“Well in the mid 70s that’s what was happening. Quaaludes and Cocaine [was readily available] it was management and our booking agent and everyone was shoving it up our noses, popping it in our mouths and if you didn’t do drugs there was something wrong with you. That was just that time. Now in my book, what you’re actually quoting was me in denial. I recognize now that this was a disease and yes I had it and my father had it as well. My father died of alcoholism but in the book what you’re [referring to] is me trying to make excuses for a disease I actually had. Yes The Runaways propelled me to hitting a bottom early on in life, of course, drugs were readily available and given to us without asking. I’m sure that sped up the process a bit.”

If you could rewrite your rock n roll history would you? What would you change? Or why wouldn’t you change it?

“I think [I would rewrite] me leaving the band I would have begged everyone to take a break for a couple months and then re-band but otherwise No. I wouldn’t change anything. I guess that’s why the story is so compelling, it’s so unbelievable that these things took place. We were on the road basically on our own at 16 years old. It’s unheard of these days but the fact that we made it and we survived and thrived I think is a true example that you can survive anything and come out the other end shinning. That’s what I want the book to say, for people to take away that you can survive and thrive.”

So what’s next for you? Will you return to music at some point or continue your chainsaw carving?

“I’m always gonna continue carving I love doing that. As far as the music scene I have absolutely no desire to go after that or even acting. If it comes my way I will think hard about it. I know I’m going to be doing some shows in the summer which will be great. I’m just open to anything. This new book and movie show me that miracles happen and anything is possible so I don’t say no to anything.”

Catch Cherie Currie on the road this summer and be sure to pick up a copy of her memoir “Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway” available March 16, 2010. For info, tour dates and all things Runaways log onto