Being a “rock chick” doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with being in a band, or writing about them, or even screwing guys who are in one. But doing so can give you special insight. L.A.-based entertainment journalist/rocker wife Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna knows all about it, and in her new book, Cherry Bomb: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Flirt, a Tougher Chick, and a Hotter Girlfriend, and to Living Life Like a Rock Star, she and her plucky pals and idols spill their secrets in shameless detail, with bits and tips about how to not only indulge in the sex, drugs and rock & roll fantasy, but how to turn it into a lifestyle.
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Advice from the author: Pinch a stranger’s butt and walk away.
This is a tome for women who fancy their boys scrawny rather than brawny, prefer black nails over French tips, and who, like moi, grew up wanting to be Pinky Tuscadero (or her li’l sister, Leather) from Happy Days. That pop-culture reference too ancient? Try these, then: Beth Ditto, not Miley Cyrus … The Donnas, not Danity Kane … Diablo Cody, not Paris Hilton … Emily the Strange, not Hello Kitty. Actually, scratch the last one, H.K. kinda rocks.
So what is a “Cherry Bomb”? “She’s the girl who doesn’t take shit … the girl that’s gonna walk into the room, and she might not be the tallest, thinnest, prettiest, or perfectly put together, but she looks the sexiest and most confident because she exudes that ‘Hey, I’m a badass’ attitude,” explains Vrenna over lunch at the rock-chick-owned (no coincidence!) Auntie Em’s in Eagle Rock. “She goes against the grain sometimes and she’s just a li’l bit edgy, a li’l bit tougher. But at the same time, she isn’t a bitch, and she isn’t a whore.”
Indeed, we’re not talking groupies here, though dating musicians and even how to get — and act — backstage at a concert is covered. Borzillo-Vrenna knows of what she writes too; her husband is Nine Inch Nails/Marilyn Manson drummer Chris Vrenna. Other fun contributions include Dita Von Teese on how to do a proper striptease, Kat Von D on tats and “tramp stamps,” Katy Perry’s vintage-fashion faves, Samantha Maloney drum lessons, Lisa Loeb on party hosting, and Vrenna’s alter ego, “Gotha Stewart,” on mixing absinthe cocktails and rolling the perfect joint. Vrenna, whose résumé includes writing for Spin, People and Billboard, and a stint at Gene Simmons’ short-lived Tongue magazine (as a sex-advice columnist), has taken the fluffy and tired genre known as “grrrl guides” (the girl-powery nonfiction sister to chick lit) and given it claws — black, of course. And while us, ahem, riper cherries already know most of this stuff — how to get into clubs, how to make a great entrance, the hierarchy that exists between lead singers, guitarists, bassists and drummers (it goes in that order, duh!) — for the barely legal Hot Topic generation, this li’l purple and black confection might just be life-changing.
Wanna get inspired? Put on some black fishnets and some Russian Red lipstick and spy these juicy anecdotes and smart tips (along with some of the book’s (t)arty illustrations, by Liz Adams):
Terri Nunn on “Doing It”
“I wrote a whole song about the power of role-playing. ‘Sex (I’m A …)’ came about because my boyfriend at the time and I fell into a bit of a rut sexually, so I tried to introduce some role-playing. After a couple of nights of this, he said, ‘Terri, I’m not a pirate. I’m not a burglar. I’m just a guy. I just like guy things.’ Great. If you notice in the song, all he says in the chorus is, ‘I’m a man, I’m a man, I’m a man.’ BOOOORRRRIINNNNGG! I’m all kinds of things, a bitch, geisha, blue movie, Goddess, virgin … Fuck you! I’m interesting. He laughed at the song, and we did eventually try some more fun scenes in bed.”
Tori Amos on Keeping a Creative Center
“When we wake up in the morning, we can either choose to ‘plug in’ to the creative source or to ‘plug in’ to a chaotic force. If you don’t consciously choose this, then you will be drawn into chaos before lunch and you’ll have no idea how you got there. Energy follows intention. I wake up, I take the 10 minutes it takes — in the shower, putting on makeup, before I go out — to set my intentions, what I will and won’t accept energy-wise. There is not one way that is the right way to do this. But if you are aligned with a creative source, then it’s very hard to seduce you into destructive conversations, arguments and reactions.
P.S. ‘A bonus one for the road: When you come up for air … come up laughing.’?”
Designer Christian Joy on John Waters as a Style Inspiration
“A photograph in a fashion magazine that he [Waters] took that really has kept me thinking over the years. It was a photo of a giant tiger shrimp in a shoe, and my first reaction was, ‘What? I don’t get it. That’s stupid.’ Things are always kind of stupid when you don’t understand them. I saw the photo before I was making Karen’s [O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs] costumes or even doing fashion design. Then I started to make Karen’s costumes and suddenly that image of the shrimp in the shoe popped into my head again and I realized how really great and funny it was and from there the shrimp sort of became this really hilarious prop-esque thing for me. I actually made Karen a dress with a giant stuffed shrimp that hung like a stole around her neck. It was really funny. Karen ripped it apart with her teeth at a show in London and spit it in the audience. That was the best thing that could have ever happened to that shrimp. The outfit just kept on giving. Later, the shrimp photo came full circle for me when I saw a documentary on John Water,s and in it he talks about “shrimping,” which is a type of foot fetish for people who like to suck toes. Eight years later, I finally figured that photo out!”
Vrenna on Being Daring
Dare to be sexy: Pole-dance! Go to amateur night at the strip club or just use a street-sign pole while you’re waiting outside a club.
Dare to be a rock star: Sing Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” or Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” (that’s the song that goes, “I want to f*&k you like an animal”) at the top of your lungs in a cute boy’s face at a karaoke bar.
Dare to be flirty: Pinch a stranger’s butt, and walk away.
Dare to be dangerous: Stage-dive at a punk-rock show.
Dare to be forward: Out of the blue, plant a kiss on the cute guy you’re talking to.
Dare to be racy: Don’t wear panties under your dress. But keep the legs closed when you exit the car. You want to be daring, not dumb. Blondie’s Debbie Harry used to go commando with class long before twits like Britney, Paris and Lindsay made it trashy.
Dare to be irresponsible: Spend your rent on an amazing new party dress by your favorite designer.
Dare to be different: When everyone else is wearing a cute little summery dress and flip-flops to the pool party, show up in short-shorts, stilettos, and a bikini top with glamour-puss hairdo and glamour-puss makeup — don’t forget the big black Jackie O sunglasses.
Dare to be silly: Childhood games rock. Suggest a game of Truth or Dare, Spin the Bottle, 7 Minutes in Heaven, or 20 Questions at the next house party you attend.
Art and text copyright © 2008 by Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna. Published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed with permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Book signing, celebration and art show with Carrie Borzillo-Vrenna and illustrator Liz Adams at La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd., Silver Lake; Sat., Aug. 9, 3-7 p.m. (323) 666-7667. Additional signing at Billy Shire Fine Arts, 5790 Washington Blvd., Culver City (during the Shawn Barber exhibit); Sat., Aug. 16, 3-7 p.m. (323) 297-0600.