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Nightranger: California Paradise

Kim Fowley and Ruby Rubi from his latest project, Black Room Doom
PHOTO BY LINA LECARO

When The Runaways opens in theaters this Friday, the reviews will be mixed, depending on who you talk to. Pubescents and Twi-hards will likely be titillated — and inspired? — at seeing the beloved Bella Swan snorting coke, kissing girls and riffing out, while longtime punks and older Runaways fans will probably piss all over fresh-faced Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning's subdued — offstage anyway — portrayals of Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. Here in L.A., where the band was born, there'll be an obvious third perspective: scenesters who personally know the faces and places seen in the film.

Though we were in elementary school during the four years documented in the film, Nightranger is in the latter category, and we were pleased to see L.A. backdrops featured so prominently. We've also become friendly with two of the real-life scene-stealers depicted (spot-on) in the film, Kim Fowley and Rodney Bingenheimer, documenting both their individual projects over the last several years and their notoriously strained relationship in recent ones.

Hanging with these legendary characters — at the same time — as they were fawned over by attendees at the star-studded premiere at Cinerama Dome last Thursday was surreal to say the least. Fowley reminisced with old Uni High School chum Ryan O'Neal and daughter Tatum O'Neal (who makes a brief appearance as Currie's mom in the movie) and showed off his latest music muse, a dark-haired Jett lookalike he introduced as being from his latest project, Black Doom Room.

Jett herself entered the building amidst a sea of spazzy punkettes hoping to get their "Ladies of the '80s" dolls signed (the Mattel line also includes Cyndi Lauper and Debbie Harry) as the likes of Pat Smear (who's got a Smear Jr. on the way — he was with his preggo wife), Devo's Gerald Casale, Lemmy, Nancy Wilson and director Floria Sigismondi (with hubby The Living Things' Lillian Berlin) chatted with Rodney and snatched free popcorn before entering the theater.

Finally Cherie Currie arrived with her whole family: mom, son, ex (Airplane's Robert Hays) and sis Marie (played by Riley Keough, Lisa Marie Presley's daughter, in the flick). The movie is based on Currie's raw and riveting 1989 autobiography, Neon Angel (rereleased this week with a new tie-in cover showcasing Fanning and Stewart). Currie will sign the new version at Book Soup, this Sunday, March 21.

TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT
Nightranger's review of the film? Fanning is endearing but more deer-in-the-headlights than Currie ever came off in the band (or in her book), while Stewart is appealing in an androgynous, Shane-from-The L Word sort of way but lacks Jett's enigmatic allure. Still, the two have chemistry, and comparisons aside, it's a visually stunning rock & roll ode packing muscle and a message. Michael Shannon,as the movie's Fowley, pontificates, "It's not about women's lib, it's about women's libido," but we'll reply that it's not about sex (or even sexism) — it's about sisterhood.

At the after party at the Cabana Club, DJ Franki Chan spun amazing punk cuts for a crowd that included Presley, Taylor Lautner (wow, he's short!) and Dave Grohl. It was a fun party, but, like most premiere bashes, too segregated to enjoy if you weren't privy to the quarantined A-list area. We left pretty soon after arriving but not before getting some major scoop from our buddy Rodney B: Come summer, the glam-rock debauchery of the English Disco depicted in the film will be brought back, briefly, as "an art project" at the original location on Sunset Boulevard!

Bingenheimer is planning a disco installation, set for July, re-creating the club in all its glittery glory with artists Erick Pereira and Shirley Morales of ltd Gallery (which now takes up the old club site). Before that, those looking to conjure the band and the era can buy T-shirts emblazoned with the "Rodney's English Disco" logo from vintage-inspired tee line Worn Free. Fowley, currently making a splash all over South by Southwest as you read this, will be putting out new music with Black Doom Room soon, and is currently working on his own autobiography.

We hear the queens of noise themselves may be reuniting when JJ & the Blackhearts headline the O.C. Fair in August (rumor has it Currie will be the opening act). Before that, catch Jett at Hollywood Park, on Friday, April 23.

MIDNIGHT MUSIC
Bleach-blond singer/DJ/club maven Tuesdae has always had a Currie-esque thing going on, especially when fronting The Chelsea Girls. Unfortunately, that all-girl supergroup is on an extended hiatus due to busy schedules (guitarist Allison Robertson left to focus on writing a new album with The Donnas; bassist Corey Parks is working on her new leather clothing line, called White Widow; and Sam Maloneyis drumming up a storm all over town, as usual).

We chatted with Tuesdae at her club, Rock Mondays at Les Deux, a couple weeks ago, and she told us about a new acoustic project with Dave Navarro called Under the Covers, which played the club this past Monday. The busy multihyphenate will also debut a head-banging original band, Huntress, at Les Deux on Monday, April 5.

We rarely go out on Mondays, but they sure are manic when we do. There's loads to choose from: Mustache Mondays, Monday's Social, Blue Mondays and Rock Mondays. We highly recommended checking out the latter two back to back as we did recently — after all, they're across the street from each other.

Blue Mondays at Boardner's, helmed by Bruce Perdew (Perversion, Clockwork Orange) is a flashbacky shindig that'll have you sweatin' to the 8Ts (new-wave hit after new-wave hit!), while Rock Mondays celebrates heavier sounds from the decade and features DJs, live bands and drunken karaoke sung/slurred by Rock of Love–style vixens. Both crowds can be pretty young (the clubs are "over 18"), but the energy at each, on a Monday no less, is inspiring. And sometimes a spritely kick in the ass is just what we need to start off the week.

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