“Easy operator come a knockin’ on my door” – Pour Some Sugar On Me, Def Leppard
Upon meeting Tom Cruise he wanted me to help him with ideas for movie and not just for himself, but his friends as well. I knew that several of the bands or artists such as Billy Squier and Oingo Boingo had contributed songs to movies, such as ’82 Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and INXS later talked about contributing to the movie Pretty in Pink released in ’86.
I started with what I knew and told him about spending part of my summers in singing school and then the other in a reading club at the local library from about 2nd grade. We would have contests to see who could read the most books at our grade level. When I was in about third or fourth grade, while searching for a new book to read, a garnet covered book with a large “A” stood out in a low stack. It was The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. While reading The Scarlet Letter I realized there were words I did not know or understand, so I approached the librarian who directed me to the nearest dictionary. There I sat for several afternoons in a row until I finished the book.
There is another Scarlet which has meaning to me and that is the iconic Southern female Scarlet O’Hara portrayed by Vivian Leigh in Gone With The Wind. Mom and I would curl up on the sofa together every time it would come on television. I’ve actually known a few Scarlets, figuratively speaking.
English actor Gary Oldman had been tapped to play the role of Sid Vicious in Kurt Cobain’s brain-child, the ’86 movie (Love Kills) Sid & Nancy. Actress Demi Moore had been tapped to star in ’85 St. Elmo’s Fire. While trying to draw connections to me they found a town in lower Alabama named St. Elmo. The town was named for an 1866 novel by Southern author Augusta Jane Evans of the same name. While doing more research they came across the electrical weather phenomenon called St. Elmo’s Fire.
Later both actors, Gary Oldman and Demi Moore, were then tapped to star in the ’95 movie The Scarlet Letter. The Executive Producer being none other than Dodi Fayed who died in the car crash with Diana, Princess of Wales in ’97. After seeing the movie I mentioned to Tom that I was a bit disappointed in the writer taking creative license with the script.
Another Scarlet influenced the ’92 movie Basic Instinct and the fact that one day I accidently stabbed Kurt Cobain with a microwave meat thermometer. Fortunately, it wasn’t a mortal wound. The movie I am referring to is Australian-American filmmaker Fritz Lang’s 1945 Scarlet Street.
The dance scene in Basic Instinct actually happened while I was dancing with Kurt Cobain and Michael Hutchence at a private party when the ’84 album Purple Rain was released and Prince & The Revolution performed.
Kurt Cobain made reference to the Scarlet Street movie in his journal under the page titled H.R. Puffnstuff, “Marlen Dietritch, Lilly Marlene sings”. He is referring to the German love song Lili Marlene. The poem was originally titled “Das Mädchen unter der Laterne” (German for “the girl under the lantern”), but it became famous as “Lili Marleen”.
Nirvana in 1993 on MTV Unplugged in New York, Kurt requested the stage be surrounded by “Madonna” lilies. Not to mention the “Anarchy A” on the cheerleader’s uniforms in the music video for Smells Like Teen Spirit.
While getting to know Michael Hutchence, of INXS, he told me about Australia, slang words, vegemite, and the ’79 movie Mad Max film starring Mel Gibson. One day I fell asleep on the sofa in a dressing room of the auditorium we were working in. I woke to Hutch starring me in the face smiling and for some strange reason I exclaimed, “Max!” As a side project in 1989 Hutch started a band by the name of Max Q.
If you haven’t seen the 2010 movie Easy A, I can highly recommend it.