”What I feel about that iconic status is it takes a lot longer to achieve if you keep your clothes on than off,” 54-year-old punk pioneer Exene Cervenka says. “I just worked hard and quietly did my art.”
Thanks to my friend Eric Dinwiddie for posting the article on Exene Cervenka. I don’t know how long it has been since I played any “X” and I never knew that she was born Christine and took on Exene- I can testify that she was and now that I am ‘caught-up’, continues to be a major influence.
Background: during the early 90′s I missed most of the pop music and opted for anything that was never gonna make mainstream radio waves. At home we were pretty religious about our music and movies all opening with a scratch and a hiss (vinyl spinning) or a crank and a crackle (film projecting). Jim Nabors, Nancy Sinatra, the Butthole Surfers, The Young Gods, The Didgits and yes, X. Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson had all abandoned the gifts that introduced us and were fully and obviously compensating for some long ago love lost- I’ve never been a fan of the LOOK AT ME! campaign, still can’t stomach the pain driven pathos that leads folks to seek (spot)light.
I digress! The article on Exene hit home with me– her art for art’s sake, hard work and rocking to rally and really reach her fan base and move people meanwhile not that far away in her conscious intention she is pushing women and people to think think think- think about the clothes you’re wearing and question- why do you want to look like a whore? why is this okay?
Why do we want the spotlight so badly? One of my favorite people in the whole wide world, someone I consider family had celebrity status imposed on her. She has enjoyed it, benefited by it and suffered for it, as have those closest to her. Regardless of the numbers or hungry fan-base, like Exene, she works hard and remains committed, refusing to compromise her art.
This resonates with me not only as an artist, a writer and a filmmaker, but I rely on my voice to make a living in marketing and publicity. The lines can get blurred and I must maintain a direct connection to my gut lest I fall prey to the irresistible glory of fame- success’s ugly and infernal twin. Recently I dodged a bullet and my strategy of implanting in the belly of the film business beast was derailed- I was doing it for all the right reasons, but in the end my GUT and circumstance acted as an invisible electrified fence- scorching me before I could call Hollywood home. As a result I am regaining my ground, have FINALLY found love and feel like I am getting my sea legs with the writing. Right now I am working my ass off to “try not to resist to change…you’re still becoming.” (thanks Jan! You rock!)
To wrap it all up in a tidy package- I can’t run if I’m trying to wear somebody else’s shoes and you can’t hear my stories if I’m speaking to some elusive spotlight. Like Exene’s enthusiasm for touring from record store to record store and playing during the day where people bring their kids because they understand her value as an artist and a voice; where girls are excited because they can actually go to a show– and HEAR her words. That’s what moves people
to move the world in a different and better direction- and that’s why I do what I do- all of it- the work and the art- to make sure the media and the message make it intact.