Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains (Lou Adler / U.S., 1981):

Diane Laneís face in close-up during the opening credits interview is the kind of beguiling teenage wasteland Godard would have killed for in Masculin Fťminin. (The sullen blankness flinches at only one question: "Do you think your views may change as you grow older?" "Grow older?") The dismal setting is industrial Pennsylvania, the pissed-off orphan infiltrates a marginal music scene of exiled punk-rock thrashers, decaying glam guitarists, Rastafarian drivers, overdoses and groupies. The Metal Corpses (led by Fee Waybill, in increasingly clownish Kiss face-paint) and The Looters (led by Ray Winstone, with backup by bruisers from The Clash and The Sex Pistols) are the squabbling bands on tour, Lane creates The Stains (with Marin Kanter and Laura Dern), wedges herself between them, and takes off. The lyrics tell the tale ("Iiiiiiiiím a waste of time, donít touch me..."), but the image sells the product: The anti-social heroineís skunkish two-toned tresses, eye-shadow slashes and diaphanous blouses quickly catch the eye of the local media, and legions of adolescents parrot her motto ("Donít put out"). The idol-worshippers are fickle, however, one word to the crowd of mallrat clones and the gigís up. The manager spells it out: "You were a concept, and youíve blown the concept." Nancy Dowdís blueprint has scrappy traces of The Girl Canít Help It (and the seeds of Madonna, Courtney, Britney...), Lou Adlerís direction has an exhausted band wranglerís acquaintance with waves and fads. The coda almost provides a moral, then settles for an MTV video. "Join the professionals, youíre gonna be one anyway." With Peter Donat, David Clennon, Paul Cook, Steve Jones, Paul Simonon, and Christine Lahti.

--- Fernando F. Croce

Back to Reviews
Back Home