photo by Eileen Polk


This is part two of the interview that Legs did with Gail Higgins for Please Kill Me.  For a short bio of Gail, who is the former road manager of the Heartbreakers, please scroll down to the end.


L – So the Dolls were playing at the Mercer with Billy [Murcia], and then he dies…

G – Yeah, right, and then that was when I remember Jerry [Nolan] came up to me, at the Mercer and he went, “Oh, I’m so excited, the Dolls just ask me to join.” So it was at The Mercer Arts Center that they asked him.

L – Did you like Jerry?

G – I used to go out with Jerry…

L – Before he became a Doll?

G – Right from that night… ha ha ha.

L – Oh really, as soon as he got…

G – Right, as soon as he became a Doll, ha ha ha …

L – Were you in love with him?

G – Naa, no.

L – Just a fun young thing?

G – Right. I was in the process of breaking up with another guy who wouldn’t go away and Jerry got sick of it after a while, so that was the end of that… but yeah, I liked Jerry… but that was when he was starting to take downs actually…

L – Do you remember Connie [Gripp] coming on the scene?

Connie in L.A., during her GTOs phase, 1969.

G – Um hmm. Yes, I remember her  suddenly being there and then ALWAYS being there.

L – What did you think?

G – Bug dumb blond! Ha ha ha…

L – Was she hooking at the time?

G – Yeah.  And she was crazy, she was really crazy… there were always some kind of scenes with her and Arthur. You know, screaming, and throwing and fighting and flinging …

L – Do you remember when Arthur got together with her or did she just appear with Arthur one night?

G – You know, I just remember her just being there, and then just hanging on, and then never leaving, you know like, HE’S MINE.

L – Do you remember when she tries to cut off his thumb?

G – Ha ha ha… I was on 14th Street… I wasn’t there when it happened, but I remember them telling me the story the next day.

L – Who told you the story?

G – Janis [Cafasso, Gail’s cousin].

L – The Dolls were playing a week at Max’s before that… It was I think the second to last night, when she does it, then they play another show at Max’s and Peter Jordan fills in.

G – Right, yeah, yeah..

L – And then they fly to LA the next day… Do you remember hearing about Sable appearing?

tumblr_nga5uoamQ51s23pgao1_500from left: Sable Starr, Arthur Kane, Caroline (last name unknown)

G – Yes. Erm… When Sable appeared Janis was still sort of in the picture; it was a back and forth sort of thing. So Sable appeared in California I think, then she came back… I’m almost positive that John and Janis were still getting back together, and Sable was going back and forth and so it was always a bit… tension…

L – Did you think of Sable as this homewrecker?

G – Not at all.

L – Did you like Sable?

G – I didn’t like her or dislike her, she wasn’t… no more than I would be friends with Connie would I be friends with Sable. I mean, she was just a little groupie. So no, I didn’t think she was a homewrecker… John always had to have a girl around so if it wasn’t Sable, then it would be Cindy [Lang], then it would be Janis and then it would be… John ALWAYS had to have a girl around… ALWAYS.

L – Did Cindy…?

G – He liked Cindy, but that was a matter of… I don’t think Janis liked me too much for liking Cindy..

L – So that caused some problems.

G – Hmm.

L – Did you get angry at Johnny because of his temper?

G – Of course. I mean, I actually wrote him a Dear John letter ha ha ha. I thought, “Oh my God, it’s a real Dear John letter” because at the time then, when him and Janis were moving back and forth, in and out we were all living on First Avenue and I just said, “Ok,” at one point when she was gone, I just said, “Enough, I can’t do this anymore” and I wrote him this Dear John letter thing… “I love you, you’re one of my best friends in the world, I’ll always love you but I don’t wanna live with you anymore…” and that was when he moved around the corner to Avenue A with the dog and the snake and the puppies and the… and Janis was still going back and forth, but then they were right around the corner from me so… they could do what they wanted..

L – But did his abusiveness…

G – Scared me. Yeah, it was definitely scary, because it was pure adrenaline– because a lot of this was when he wasn’t even taking drugs and it was literally–  one time, we had like a steel door, on our front door and he wanted to get in to see Janis, or something and literally the door was moving that much, like two feet, from him just BANGING up against this door… I saw his brother-in-law BANG [Johnny’s] head against the wall, and it did not even phase him…

L – Was he abused as a child?

G – No.

L – Do you know where it came from?

G- We always used to have a saying, that you’re either ON the bus or you’re OFF the bus, and some people cope and some people don’t… and John was never one who could. And no, we could never figure out why. Believe me, many a thousand nights of talking about it…

L -Did you ever talk to Cindy about Alice [Cooper]? Because it seemed like Cindy was fucking everybody.


G – Ha ha ha… Cindy was very smart and tough and very much an independent woman. She wasn’t gonna be anybody’s girlfriend without running the show and that’s what she was like. She was in charge.  It seemed like with any of the guys she was with, she was the one in charge.

L – Who else was she with besides Johnny?

G – Those are the only two I remember.

L – Do you remember Roxy Music going off on a tour with her credit cards?

G – No.

L – So where’s Sable live when she gets back here, and does she appear on the scene, like the new girl? Does Johnny move in with her?


G – I can’t remember where they were living, again, that was then again the times when I would be hanging out with Janis and then there would be spaces when I wouldn’t see John for a while. I mean, you have to remember that Johnny and my friendship went from when he was 16 up until the moment he died and no matter how much space was in between, whenever we were in the same place, we still friends, and we still saw each other but then there’d be gaps of you, know… when he’d be doing something different from what I was doing… so I remember Johnny being with Sable and all that but I don’t even remember where they were living, that was a lot of the touring time… and stuff.

L – Do you remember Malcolm [McLaren] showing up?

G – Yes. We HATED him… because he was putting them in those red commie-inspired suits and doing the whole political thing, and the Dolls had nothing to do with politics.  We just thought it was ridiculous.

L – Did you go to the show at The Hippodrome?

G – Yeah, the first time they did that, and we went to the show I think it was Malcolm at the door, and Janis weren’t on the guest list. I yelled at him, “I think you better find out who The Doll’s real friends are! Then he let us in.. and Julie was with John then and she had on a piece of Janis’s clothes… so there was a big scene in the dressing room.. ha ha ha..

L – Did Johnny go right from Sable to Julie?


G – Like I say, he could not be without a girlfriend ever.

L – So… Janis, Cindy, Sable, Julie… is the progression..

L – Was Janis crushed by all this, all these other girls?

G – I don’t really wanna talk a lot about Janis and John, because if she doesn’t wanna to talk about it that’s up to her… but they were really in love, she really LOVED John and it was a matter of that, you know, when you keep going back and if only he could change, if only he could stop doing this, and and then the “if only” never comes, until finally you just say, ok, it’s never gonna change, so of course, yeah, she still loved him and still all the other girls affected her…

L – What did Malcolm look like… do you remember him at the door, was he wearing red patent leather, too?


G – He looked like this weird little guy, was what he looked like, erm with the curly hair, yknow, looked basically the same, I don’t remember what he had on though.. probably cause we were so mad .. yknow, probably because he had loads of jerks on the guest list who had never met The Dolls before in their life, so me and Janice were pissed off that yknow.. ha ha.. having known them for ever, yknow, that we weren’t on the guest list.


L – Do you remember him throwing Arthur into the detox and … and Jerry and Johnny?


Gail’s Bio: In New York I worked in fashion and retail for major department stores like Gimbels and Barneys. I then went to London and became Leee Black Childers assistant and The Heartbreakers road manager.  After running my own mid century vintage store in London for over 25 years, I now live with my husband Jasja Boelhouwer in San Diego and together we own The Girl Can’t Help It – mid century quality vintage clothing for men and women. 3806 Grim ave, San Diego,ca 92104.