This is Part One of the original interview that Legs did with Angela Bowie for Please Kill Me.
L – I wanted to start with Pork coming to London. Think they were fabulous and great?
A – Well, I’ll be honest I never cared much for Andy Warhol; I gotta be straight forward. You know, I liked the Fugs, I liked Ferlinghetti, I liked it because they were sticking it to the so-called adults, you know, the authority figures. So when, to talk about Pork– by the way I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make it sound like it was a huge scene setter– it was just that when Warhol came to London, that was different; then I could be proud of Andy Warhol because I knew that that was our little bit of Pop from the United States. He could stand up with the Stones and all that Liverpool stuff that was going on, and you know Sandy Shaw and all these weird people that were really…
L – So Warhol was as hip as what was going on.
A – Yes, whatever was going on in England, I then felt well, yes, I’m American and I can be proud. Here comes Warhol, nothing to do with his paintings, but here he comes with a piece of theater so from that point of view I was excited. Then I saw some of the artwork for Pork in London because it was performed at the Round House, I mean it was just interesting for me because I kept thinking, how are they gonna do that at that space? You know, being a theater major, I had been there with Jeff Dexter and all of the great DJs and I had been there with David doing his thing with that little band Feathers, when he was supporting The Who and a bunch of amazing acts and I kept thinking to myself how are they gonna do this? So that was exciting, too, when I actually walked into the Roundhouse and saw that what they had done was really a great stage, made all out of white PVC with a bed in the middle and everything was white and everything looked like it was outlined in black and it jumped out at you. The people didn’t even look real, they looked like cartoons and then Cherry Vanilla was all right, she was okay but the person who stole the show was Wayne County.
Cast of Pork. Photo by David Bailey.
L – He was?
A – Wayne, and by the way, I say that specifically, not Jayne because at that time he was known as Wayne. Wayne County to me just took that show and threw it in everyones face and walked away with ‘em under his arm.
L – Can you describe him onstage?
A – He was playing that New York tired drag queen which wasn’t fashionable ‘til twenty years later; I mean literally that’s how advanced it was, he did a thing where he took a mouthful of food and he looked like he was sitting there chewing, and somebody said something across the stage and what he’d actually taken was a mouthful of sweet corn and spat it out and it looked like teeth. I mean, it was, ha ha ha, you know what I’m saying? There was nothing that came close.
L – So he was really outrageous.
A – Yes, he was really outrageous and vibrant, terribly New York, terribly Warhol, I mean everything about the play was really epitomized in Wayne County’s performance.
L – Back to Warhol, were you aware of the Velvets and that he had this idea of cool surrounding him?
A – Well, yes, because when I was at college you have to understand that was in 1966 when I went to leave so the Velvet Underground was already happening, like just beginning.
L – Did you see them perform?
A – No, the only ones I went to see that I had any interest in was Tim Buckley and Ferlinghetti and Frank Zappa, who I adore. Those they, that was all too mainstream for me, I thought the Velvet Underground were like, kinda like a New York version of the Rolling Stones, can you believe that, ha ha ha.
L – And not a good one or…
A – Well, you know, New York. So I mean yes that meant it wasn’t real because it was a version. David was the one who was gaga over the Velvet Underground. He just thought the Velvet Underground was the greatest thing that ever happened and Lou Reed as a songwriter.
L – So what happens after Pork?
A – Well, I don’t know, you gotta drive me to where you’re pulling all your punk influences.
L – Ok, David’s gaga over both Lou and Iggy. Do you remember becoming aware of Iggy for the first time?
A – Absolutely. It was after David [Bowie’s] radio tour of the United States which we did with Mercury Records which was the original tour when we went to the States. I can even tell you when it was because I was pregnant with Zoe, it was 1970, we were married in 1970, Zoey was born in 1971, it was January or February of 1971 and that was the Mercury Radio tour. And he went all over the place and he ended up in Los Angeles, but while he was in New York and on the East Coast I believe he may, I don’t know this for a fact, but he may’ve even gone to Detroit …
L – There’s a story where Lisa Robinson calls Danny Fields and Iggy’s at Danny’s Fields’ house, “Oh, David’s here at Max’s and…”
A – Oh, so then maybe he got a chance to actually meet him in New York because I never knew if he had really met him until we went back to the States later, so great, I’m so glad you got all that nailed down. But when he came back from that radio tour there were two things he was crazy about, and people will be surprised by this, because it wasn’t only Iggy Pop, the other was the Legendary Stardust Cowboy.
L – Who’s that?
A – He was a guy who was like Florence Foster Jenkins who sang country and western totally off-key and I guess David figured that was an interesting sort of art form.
L – So he comes back and he’s raving about… is that how you became aware of Iggy?
A – Yes…
L – David says, “I met this guy and he’s the greatest.”
A – No, I don’t think he said that he met him.
L – What did he say?
A – No, I think he came back and he was… David’s very secretive, he likes to make out that…
L – …he’s in on a big secret?
A – …that it’s like an intuitive thing, he’s very Madison Avenue, very advertising agency about stuff like that. Me, I always wear my everything on my heart, you know, I just like tell everyone everything that happened and how it happened, and how incredible it was. David’s not like that, he really holds stuff like that close so at no time did he mention to me that he met him. He made out that this was a thing that he heard on the radio in the states.
L – What did you think of Iggy?
A – Well, I hadn’t seen footage up ‘til that time, but I heard him, David brought the album, I liked, “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Also whatever David was into I immediately took interest, as that was therefore what was going to happen. I was that naive and that much of a youngster at that time, I believed that if I echoed what he said, and trumpeted it louder, people would believe that what David said was important. And I did it very well. And I don’t mean that like in a self-aggrandizing way; I mean that’s why it never even occurred to me to see it or listen to it, and to pass judgment on it myself, you know what I mean? Like, when David started talking about Andy Warhol I never told him I thought he was an idiot. I’d shut up on that part, and said, like, tried to talk up things that I felt good about him like, music and supporting the theater, and getting involved in that kind of stuff and making films, but I never talked about seeing the exhibit at the Whitney and thinking this is the worst load of trash I’d ever seen. I just kind of effaced my own opinions about stuff we agreed upon so that they weren’t conflicting.
L – When did you meet Iggy for the first time?
A – You know something, you’ve got me there.
L – He went to London to do Raw Power.
A – Yeah. He came to London to do Raw Power. I think, if I remember correctly, I don’t think I ever got a chance to meet him in the States before he came.
L – Do you remember him showing up in London?
A – Oh, yeah, very well, because I looked after him.
L – Oh you did? So did you pick him up at the airport?
A – No. I believe Willie, one of our roadies picked him up at the airport and I had arranged a place for him to stay which was right in town. It was a real pretty, furnished house in a Mews in London. Really pretty. And I hired a cook for them, a macrobiotic cook.
L – Were you excited about them coming? It was Iggy and James Williamson that showed up first, right?
A – Right.
L – And then Scotty and Ronny came over, afterward.
A – Yes. Well, I was excited but I was also a little, sort of…
L – Worried?
A – I have a real problem with people who I don’t understand what motivates them and I understood that they liked heroin and that’s was what made me nervous. Because I had never been able to understand the motivation for doing heroin.
L – Had you ever been around serious junkies before?
A – No, never, no, no, no. Please bear in mind that I was 21 years old so you know what I mean, it just sounds all, real like, airy-fairy, but I don’t mean it to. It’s just that I was really very young.
L – No, a lot of people say the same thing.
A – And it’s not that I wasn’t sophisticated. I was probably more sophisticated but I must confess I wasn’t sophisticated about drinking or drugging or smoking cigarettes. I didn’t do any of those things. So it was just that that was like a bit difficult for me to deal with.
L – Was it obvious that they were junkies from right off?
A – No, it wasn’t that. It was just that I was trying to be the person that…
L – The perfect hostess?
A – Yes. And I think also to try to put those other alternatives that might make them able to be more, for me to understand them better, and that was why I got the macrobiotic cook. I was such a jerk, I thought it would help, ha ha ha. I was really just trying to be all things for all men. I thought, “Well, maybe they think they’re being poisoned, maybe they think life isn’t worth living, maybe they need hippyfying,” something, I didn’t know, man I was just…
L – Did they seem a little dangerous, coming from Detroit?
A – Yes, but they were awfully nice to me. And I mean, being really honest about it, I can’t think why. They were very, very nice to me and I don’t know if somebody had like told them that I was well-intentioned or basically nice underneath it all… And James Williamson was very, very, very sweet and Scott [Asheton] and Ronnie [Asheton] were, too. I suppose the only person who I was really very nervous of was Iggy but I mean he was a sweetheart. It wasn’t that there was anything… you know, he was fine.L – Was David in love with Iggy, or would you say that it was just a fascination?
A – I don’t think he was in love with Iggy. Iggy didn’t really exude the qualities that David fell in love with. If you were a boy you had to be damn pretty for David to fall in love with you, know what I mean? David’s interest in men–if they’re heterosexual, they had to look like women. So his fascination with Iggy was… I think, he could sell it to Iggy and get Iggy to get behind doing an album with him, which was David’s way of buying into America.
L – But Iggy wasn’t selling any records. And Iggy was pretty unknown. I mean, Iggy was not a success but he was authentic. Is that the right assessment or no?
A – Yes. I think your assessments are all right, it’s your book. You see what I’m saying?
L – But I don’t know. I wasn’t there!
A – I think you’re right. I just feel David always lined up with people that he felt he could sell, or were influential and movers. I think he felt that way about Andy Warhol, he wrote a song for Andy Warhol, recorded by Dana Gillespie, it was recorded on David’s album. He came back to England to promote Iggy Pop, and he came back to England talking about Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, then Pork came to London. Now, when you’ve already got a pretty good portfolio of what you’re promoting, he made an album with Iggy, he made an album with Lou Reed. I mean, if you look back and look at his M.O., it’s a fairly coherent, fluid way of operating. And I don’t say that in a bad way. I’m impressed; I think it’s incredible. He was very methodical about how he did this. Now, whether or not Iggy wasn’t… I don’t think you can say he wasn’t successful because you chose the next word, authentic, very deliberately.
L – Right.
A – And your choice of that word, it’s like the MC5. It’s like Scott Richardson. I mean, when I went back to Detroit, Ann Arbor, with the Stooges and brought Scott Richardson back to London, I didn’t bring him back because he was some guy that I met.
I brought him back because he was Iggy’s idol, and so it occurred to me that if SRC [Scot Richardson Case] ] had had that much influence on Iggy, then Scott Richardson who was SRC might have a tremendous amount of input and interest to David. It was like, everything, even though it sounds so clever in hindsight, I mean we were alive, we weren’t just like floating around like a bunch of numbskulls and all. So, I’m sorry, I’m totally lost. Tell me where you want me to go back to?
L – Does Lou show up at the same time Iggy does?
A – No. And I can’t remember who showed up first. Lets think a minute because I’m trying to figure out who shows up first because I looked after both of them. I looked after Iggy and the Stooges while they were there and then, I can’t remember who came first.
L – How was it looking after the Stooges? Was it fun?
A – Yeah, yeah, it was fun. I had a lot of fun with James Wiliamson and Scott Asheton. Uh, huh. And Scott Richardson and Ron Asheton, by the time we got sorted out. And then when they finally left, Iggy stayed in London but when the Stooges went back, I took them back to Detroit, Ann Arbor and stayed there for about a month, and then came back with Scott Richardson.
L – Was there some problem with them destroying a house in London? I heard some story about that.
A – I don’t know. I have no idea because if they did I didn’t hear anything about it and, it also doesn’t really fit in…
L – …with the mood of what was happening?
A – … with the mood of what was happening because Iggy was very– I mean, Iggy had made this request for the macrobiotic cook– so you know what I mean, this was not like, just me being a fool. I mean, he was obviously making a big effort to keep his shit together and to get out there and produce something. He really felt that Tony Defries was gonna save him.
L – And Iggy, from what I understand, felt like this was, maybe, his last… to get with the program.
A – Probably because I know that he came with a real mindset that he was going to accomplish things– that he was going to do it right. And if it was a fight, and if they destroyed the house, it was probably between him and the Stooges; they were being not bad, not difficult, just drug oriented. You know, they weren’t on Iggy’s star trip. They were the Stooges, as long as they were the Stooges they were the Stooges. And everyday that they were away from Detroit was another day that they were away from watching the Stooges at 4 o’clock. You know what I mean?
L – Yeah.
A – When I went to Detroit, to Ann Arbor, I really got a chance to see this; I didn’t know anything about that until I went. And I went there without Iggy, I just went with the boys and it was just like…
L – Sitting around the mom’s house, watching television, watching the Three Stooges or…
A – Well, I stayed in a hotel for like two nights I guess. And then [Ron] took me to meet Scott Richardson and I went to stay with Scott Richardson and he went, I guess, home or somewhere. And then I stayed at Scott Richardson’s apartment with his new sort of bass player or something and I went to Ron and Scott Asheton’s and we saw a lot of them; they were best friends with Scott. And that was when I really understood what that whole Ann Arbor-Detroit-Stooge-Iggy Pop-thing was all about.
L – Were Ronny and Scott living at home with their mother?
A – Yes.
L – So you’d go to the house––
A – No, I never went to the house.
L – Did it become apparent that they were, I mean how soon after Ronny and Scotty got there, when they were doing the album, does it become apparent that they’ve some serious problems with drugs?