Arts & Culture » Blister




I don't give a damn about my bad reputation. For some four-and-a-half years, I've broken not just a few press-on nails in my humble attempts to make everybody despise me, and I'd be a yellow-haired ninny to give up now. So arriving at the Hard Rock Hotel Velvet Sessions – Orlando's best rock-star has-been affair, and regular backdrop for a number of events that involve my back literally dropping – there is nothing that can shake the distaste from my sunken mug. Nothing impresses me. I hate everything.

Everything except Joan Jett.

Once the most perfect snarl of banged-girl antipathy this side of Pinky Tuscadero, Jett tickled the underside of the angular lesbian movement in the early '80s with toothy aplomb, churning Pat Benatar and Jo Polniaczek in her fishy wake. It's a fact not lost on my pretty-girl friends and I, who were talking about Joan over sushi the other day.

"Oh, I love her!" My friend Roy twirled her long blond hair before launching into a version of "Love Is a Battlefield" suitable for a sushi restaurant.

"That's not Joan Jett!" Taylor and I bang.

"Oh. Oh! I mean I HATE her!"

So she wasn't all that effective. Still, as a former member of the seminal girl-rock, proto-Donnas group The Runaways, there does at least exist a slightly bitter aftertaste, one that might imply sleeping with the hair that is Lita Ford. And, despite the fact that most of her hits were throwaway cover versions or pan-drips from Diane Warren, I bet if you rubbed her legs together hard enough, you might hear one original song. I have to meet her. I have to rub her legs together, if only to create an original column.

"Do you think she still loves rock & roll?" quizzes my adjacent friend Tony, along for another bout with metaphoric flatulence.

"She probably just sleeps with it, passes out and hopes it leaves before she wakes up," I demur. Don't we all.

Girl power in check, we swish up to the front door only to be greeted by my favorite Hard Rock cruise director, a British bit of Aniston who we both agree is named Christina. The conversation co-dependently drips into a discussion about material possessions and the men who don't purchase them for you, as Tony and I futilely attempt cocktail-party banter.

"I can't find a man," Christinas Christina. "But I just got a new black BMW Z with a red leather interior."

"Like a wound?" I think to myself, but dare not speak, before muttering the standard "You're gorgeous, a man would just get in the way" kind of thing scripted for gay men who talk to pretty single women. I figure that if she's the one standing in between Joan and me, a little bit of soft tongue might be just the lick to get me to the gooey, chewy center. By now I'm at that peculiar point of delusion that allows me to think that speaking to Joan Jett will answer all of my problems, that maybe Joan has some supernatural lipstick powers that will tell me that drinking too much is OK. That's what refried rock stars are for, right?

"I need to speak with Joan," I slur to desired effect.

"Who doesn't?" cats Christina right back.

Turns out that standing between me and my imagined Wiz isn't the cleverly-coiffed bureaucracy of Hard Rock employees, but a mulleted Spinal Tap of a tour manager. Sporting a slinky faux-reptilian tank top and some spandex pants, this rock & roll tragedy is by all accounts an "asshole," and therefore the perfect defense from anybody who actually speaks in sentences. I consider approaching him, but I've never spoken to anybody kicked out of Krokus, so I quietly recoil. I'm not going to meet Joan Jett. I'm going to die. This is all that I know.

This and that I have to write about something.

"Let's go eavesdrop on other people's interesting lives," I tongue my wounds.

As usual, the converted Hard Rock lobby is suffering from a case of amplified retro-drone, blaring the tattered anthems of The Romantics and Naked Eyes over masses of drunken parents with nothing to say. I try to listen in, I do. But all I hear and see are the open mouths of the privileged elite squawking like underfed baby chickens. Somewhere in the dissonance exists a child on drugs or a missed mortgage payment, but all I hear now is an absence of worms.

Outside on the deck, decibels drop enough for me to pick up on one redneck being cruised by a woman with Lycra stretched across her gut.

"At first I was a skinny smoker, then I was a fat nonsmoker, then I was a fat smoker," he autographs his own pine box. "I used to live in the country and I hated it. I'm used to there being a Super Wal-Mart three miles away."

Lady Lycra pats his belly in search of a pelvic bone.

"Tonight, I'm on the alcohol," he adds.

By the time Joan Jett hits the stage for a surprisingly brilliant performance, sporting a new-old black shag and chrome-green eye shadow, I'm wishing there was more alcohol in me and less on me. A mass of salt-'n-pepper wife-traders and the saggy wives who adorn them are assembled on the floor, dancing – probably for the first time since their 20th high school reunion – like chickens and splashing tequila. It's all a mess, especially when Joan's sneezing through her classic "Do You Wanna Touch Me." Then one of the drunk ex-sailors stands on my foot and doesn't move, except in a leaning fashion, his back into my face. All obvious lean-backs are made, but to no avail. He apparently doesn't see me, feel me or know me. For the first time in my life, I want to start a bar fight. I want to shove his belly across the room and into the faces of his wife, his girlfriend and her girlfriend, then spit and cackle. I want to get rowdy like a lesbian. It's what I need to do.

Instead, I walk away, smearing my face with whipped cream from an appetizer tray and grinding against anything near me while "Crimson and Clover" crescendos into its "Yeah! I'm not such a sweet thing!"

No, I'm a pussy with a bad reputation.

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