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RikkeBefore a barrage of cheesy soft-metal bands put on hot pink blusher in the mid-80s, The New York Dolls ratted their hair, donned platform boots, painted their lips and set for the stage in the early 1970s. They became the toast of New York, with more groupie magnetism than even the Rolling Stones in the backrooms of Max’ Kansas City, and seemed poised for stardom on the international level. But fame and fortune eluded the Dolls, who seemed cursed on a number of levels. Drug addition, death and dodgy contracts haunted the band throughout its brief career. Nina Antonia writes compellingly about the dashed dreams of the Dolls, balancing between sympathy for their bad luck and honesty about some of the members’ personal weaknesses which range from self-grandization to self-destruction.
The book takes some stabs at some well-known characters of the burgeoning NY punk scene: Doll singer David Johansen, later to be known as the one-hit-wonder and bit actor Buster Poindexter, is portrayed as ego-maniacal and occasionally downright cruel, Iggy Pop is essentially pinned as responsible for the ultimate demise of Johnny Thunders, and Malcolm McLaren comes off as sometimes goofy and sympathetic, sometimes calculating. The book is not flawless – Antonia pushes the hair and make-up puns a bit too hard, and her attempts at describing the musical feel of various songs seem strained, but her tale of the glamour Dolls will leave few rock‘n’roll fans unaffected