Lou Adler on “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains”

Lou Adler on “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains” (photo)

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Most film fans have never seen 1981’s “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains,” the hard-charging, potent tale of an all-girl punk band’s meteoric rise and fall, which featured supporting performances by members of the Sex Pistols and The Clash (and a young Ray Winstone, who played the lead singer of the Stains’ tourmates The Looters). That’s because Paramount Pictures never saw fit — save for a couple of random screenings — to give the film any sort of theatrical release, or even put it out on VHS. Yet despite the studio’s attempts to forever shelve the film, it (like punk) wouldn’t die, finding renewed life through bootlegs and airing on USA Network’s “Up All Night,” where frequent broadcasts of the film during the midnight shift helped turn it into a cult classic that would later influence, among others, future riot grrrl pioneers Courtney Love, Bikini Kill and L7. That underground popularity will finally pay dividends now that Rhino’s released “The Fabulous Stains” on DVD, an event sure to be celebrated by the film’s ardent fans, as well as its director, record producer and music business manager (not to mention helmer of Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke”) Lou Adler, who I recently spoke to about, as he sarcastically put it, the film’s “immediate” release.

It’s been 26 years since you completed the film, how do you feel on the eve of its home video debut?

I just dropped a note, along with a copy of the film, to [former Sex Pistols guitarist] Steve Jones and wrote “Finally” on it. Because even the cast members who I would talk to from time to time, and especially Steve — the only thing he ever saw was a few lines off of cable.

How happy are you with the job Rhino has done with the DVD?

I think they did a really nice job. Rhino sort of took the lead on this, because we tried for a long time to get it out at Paramount, but it never had much — any — success. When Rhino came along and actually was able to get it — I think they did a really good job. And being able to get Diane Lane and Laura Dern to come in and do a commentary after all these years was great too.

Why now? Why were these efforts to get it released successful?

Paramount, for whatever reason, just didn’t see any reason to put it out. And Rhino, who deals with this sort of thing, understood that there was an audience, however small — that there is a so-called “cult” following and it’s worthwhile having it on the market. That’s the only reason. It would not have been released by Paramount.

09162008_fabulousstains4.jpgWhy exactly did Paramount bury it?

Well, I think the real question is, why was it even made? I think [Paramount] did it for two reasons. One, the writer [Nancy Dowd] was an Academy Award winner [for “Coming Home”], and I’d just come off the success of directing “Up in Smoke.” And those two elements — you can see the psyche of the studio, that says “let’s make it!” even if they don’t understand it or know how to market it. Once it was finished, they’d done their work, they didn’t have to do anything to protect the jobs that had to be protected. So the film just lay there. They didn’t do anything with it.

What are your most vivid and/or fondest memories of the shoot?

I think they’re probably the same, vivid and fond. They’re that I had 14 people in the cast who hadn’t done a film before — or had done one, in the case of Diane. And a lot of rock n’ rollers, because of Paul Simonon from The Clash and Cooky and Steve Jones [from the Sex Pistols]. Ray Winstone, who has turned out to be quite an actor, the fact that he wasn’t really a singer, but he had a real attitude and was able to take the position of the lead singer of this group, which was made up of guys who had been rock stars. There just was a camaraderie. We were on location, most of the time in Vancouver, and staying in the same apartment building. It was just a bonding with those kids, if not always the rest of the cast. We had a situation in which we had a group of people who had worked a lot, and then we had the ones that were doing their first film.

Did that situation cause any tension?

Well, it caused some tensions, which sometimes works for the film. There were definitely tensions on that set. John Lehne, Cynthia Sikes, David Clennon and Peter Donat — they had all worked quite a bit in film. But everyone playing the musical acts, down to Diane Lane, who had done “A Little Romance,” had at most done one picture before. I mean, Diane was just turning 15, and Laura Dern was 13.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.