Excerpt: Teen Evangelism, by Briohny Doyle


Image by Rob Schofield. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

It’s the day after David Bowie’s death turned the whole internet into a shrine.

It’s the day after David Bowie’s death turned the whole internet into a shrine. I’m sad but I also can’t stop thinking about Sable Starr, the teenage rock groupie who once spent an evening hopped up on Quaaludes in a suite at the Beverly Hills Hilton screaming “I want to fuck David,” while her best friend lost her virginity to him in the next room. According to the best friend, Lori Mattix, Sable did fuck David that same night. She added him to the list that included Jimmy, Iggy, and most of the Johnnies. She is ubiquitous in pictures from late ‘70s glam rock in LA and from early '80s punk in NYC. She’s stick thin, tiny, her smile a little wonky, her blonde hair curled, teased or bandana’d in the style de jour.

Sable was a teenage scene-queen of 1970s rock and roll.

I was intrigued by Sable when I read about her in Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, a book that came out when I was in high school, and which I devoured, reading it again and again with the ardour that so defines the teenage fangirl. It was before the internet was a comprehensive map of the world, and the photo pages in the middle of my paperback are smeared with finger prints. Sable was a teenage scene-queen of 1970s rock and roll. She worked The Strip every night and made her way back to the sea to in the morning, to Palos Verdes High School, bragging to her girlfriends about who she spent last night with. She was glamorous and formidable, known for her temper tantrums and party zeal. She had escaped the adolescent world for the glitter and sleaze of the zeitgeist.

I didn’t want hard work.

It was this escape that I loved her for, I think. I definitely glossed over, or didn’t process the fact that Johnny Thunders beat the crap out of her because, in her words, ”he wanted me to stay at home all the time. He made me feel bad, 'cause I was a hot girl and suddenly I was the lady of the house.” Perhaps I saw myself in her because she was my age, 14, younger than Patti or Debbie, with more teenage concerns. Besides, those two female rockstars seemed isolated in the scene, they fought for the right to be there and for their reputations as artists. In the books and documentaries it’s obvious how hard they worked. I didn’t want hard work. I just wanted to have a piece of something cool. I wanted out of the dreary caesura that high school is. But there was something else too, something harder to talk about in adult company. At 14, I liked fucking older guys. I liked it for its own sake, and for how it felt like admittance to a cooler, freer world. I liked drugs too for similar reasons. I know now, and have known for quite a while, that this cool world does not exist. It’s something you make: a pact of imagination and denial, an act of teenage belief.

This piece appears in full in The Lifted Brow #29. Get your copy here.

Briohny Doyle loves and misses David Bowie too, truly. She’s also thrilled to announce that her debut novel will come out in mid 2016 courtesy of The Lifted Brow WHO PUBLISH BOOKS NOW!