Raucus, sexy memoir by the sensation-seeking pioneer of punk rock.
Cherry Vanilla, born Kathleen Anne Dorritie in 1943, was the youngest of four children of a brutal sanitation worker and indulgent hotel-switchboard operator. After graduating from a Catholic school in Brooklyn, she went on the prowl in Manhattan for sex, drugs rock 'n' roll and a way to make a buck using her street smarts and creative spirit. She first found haven among the Mad Men in ad agencies—mostly of the gay male persuasion—but soon finagled her way into spinning records at a chic nightclub called Aux Puces. She fell into acting for the Ridiculous Theater Company, setting her up to win the lead part in the London production of Andy Warhol’s first theater piece, Pork, based on his lurid phone conversations with Factory “superstar” Brigid Berlin. There, she had a prescient appreciation for David Bowie, whom she would befriend, bed and help get known in America. Meanwhile, the author applied her insatiable appetite for sex—which inspired her to print come-on cards with her number on them to hand to handsome strangers wherever she found them—to a lifestyle she felt a calling for: groupie. The narrative occasionally devolves into a recitation of people that Cherry Vanilla has met (Don Ameche, Dean Martin, Abbie Hoffman, John Lennon, etc.) and had sex with (John Hammond, Kris Kristofferson, Bobby Keys, Cousin Brucie, etc.). Her observations on the ’60s (“the fabulous psychedelic decade that we already sensed would go down in history as the defining one of our generation”) are often clichéd and perfunctory, though this may be a factor of her having spent so many of those years stoned out of her gourd. The most affecting sections deal with her working-class childhood, but throughout, the author’s salty sweetness and lust for life exude from the pages.
Not for prudes.