The Go-Go's: A Year of Living Dangerously - Rolling Stone
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The Go-Go’s: A Year of Living Dangerously

Despite broken hearts, bad health and business hassles, the world’s best female rock band won’t let the party die

Go-Go's, Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine, The PoliceGo-Go's, Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine, The Police

The Go-Go's: (L-R) Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock (on drums) and Kathy Valentine perform on stage at Brondyhallen supporting The Police in Copenhagen, Denmark on January 5th 1982.

Jorgen Angel/Redferns/Getty

I’m about 10 feet away from the room where the Go-Go’s are meeting when the whispering begins:

“God, what a jerk that guy is …”

“Yeah, can you believe we gotta talk to that clown …”

“I just hope he doesn’t hang around too long … oh, hi, Chris!”

Peals of laughter bounce off the walls. Welcome to the world of the Go-Go’s, where women are girls, men are boys, everyone is fair game and no one ever stops smiling. If you can’t have fun with the Go-Go’s, maybe you can’t have fun, period. “Being in this band is like being in high school all over again,” says Gina Schock, the group’s drummer. “We’re like a bunch of little maniacs.”

So why fight it, I figure, as the band tears out the door of their management company’s office on their way to a rehearsal for a video from Talk Show, their current hit album. But just as I accept the idea that the Go-Go’s are America’s most wholesome hedonists, Gina approaches me on a stair landing and pulls her shirt up.

The scar begins at her collarbone. Light brown, as wide as a man’s thumb, it runs down her chest, between her breasts and underneath her brassiere, stopping a few inches above her bellybutton. This is where the sternum of the Go-Go’s’ drummer was sawed open in an operation that tore the heart out of America’s best female rock band.

Gina’s open-heart surgery was merely the most visible of the problems the Go-Go’s had suffered over the last 18 months. There was another medical problem, management hassles, even a lawsuit with their record company. At one point, the group nearly broke up.

“I kept saying, ‘Something good’s got to come out of all this,'” says guitarist Charlotte Caffey. “‘This stuff doesn’t happen to us. This happens in real life. Not in the Go-Go’s little bubble.'”

For Jane Wiedlin, even the Go-Go’s triumphant Vacation tour in 1982 was troublesome at the end, coinciding as it did with an especially rough time with her boyfriend, singer-songwriter Tim Scott. Still, as the 26-year-old Wiedlin hastens to note, “The off times have been our most difficult periods more than anything,” and the hassles began almost as soon as the tour was over. For one, Ginger Canzoneri, the energetic but inexperienced manager who guided the band from its earliest incarnation to the top of the charts, left the band.

“She disappeared,” Wiedlin explains. “We didn’t want her to leave or quit or be fired or anything. But knowing Ginger as well as we do, her normal way of dealing with a situation that she’s unhappy with is just to disappear. It had been building up for a long time; I’m surprised we didn’t see it coming.”

At the beginning of 1983, the Go-Go’s got another shock, when they received their semiannual financial statement from I.R.S. Records. They discovered that they were owed more than a million dollars in royalties from the sales of Beauty and the Beat, their first LP, and the two hit singles it spawned — “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got the Beat.” But when the band demanded its money, I.R.S. reportedly said they didn’t have it. According to Emily Shenkin, a lawyer for the group, the Go-Go’s then declared their intention to leave the label, and I.R.S. filed suit to keep them. (The dispute was resolved out of court. Royalties were paid, and the Go-Go’s remained on I.R.S.)

Even before Canzoneri’s departure, the band had hired Front Line Management, which guided acts like the Eagles and Steely Dan. But that association was jeopardized when Front Line founder Irving Azoff suddenly left the company to head MCA Records. Stunned, the band began reevaluating managers all over again. After a month and a half, they decided to remain with Front Line after all.

According to Jane, the haggling played havoc with the band’s inner strength — and its unity. The central problem was “not being surrounded by business people that we could yell and scream at,” she says. “So, the anxieties of the band were all turned inward. In the beginning, we all had boyfriends to take things out on, and then later we had all these people who worked for us that we could take it out on. And then last year, we really didn’t have anybody but ourselves.”

Curled up on a sofa in her Malibu digs — a sun-swept house that features a parade of Mexican tchotchkes; two diaphanous teddies, hung on the wall of her bedroom; and, outside, a miniature horse named Bunny Wailer — Jane seems the perfect essence of a Go-Go. From her unintimidating glamour and pixieish stage presence to her unforgettable voice (think of Georgette from The Mary Tyler Moore Show), she comes across as bonny and bright as Sunday’s child.

Wiedlin, however, is no niblet. She’s the Go-Go who checked out New York’s S&M club, Hellfire; who has read the searing bondage-and-discipline memoir Nine and a Half Weeks five times; who nearly sent her parents into apoplexy when she discovered David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust album as a teenager. “My family all said, ‘Oh, he’s a fag.’ And I said, ‘No, it’s cool to be bi.’ That’s when they really started thinking I was sick.”

Wiedlin — born in Wisconsin but raised in California — started out as a rock & roll fan and occasional backstage-sneaker, and didn’t think much about a musical career of her own until punk hit Los Angeles. In early 1978, Jane decided to chuck her fashion-design aspirations and founded the Go-Go’s with vocalist Belinda Carlisle, after the two began eyeing each other in clubs. “Everyone else was wearing miniskirts, and Belinda wore these old Forties dresses,” remembers Jane. “At the time, I thought it was just extraordinarily hip. Now I know it’s because she thought she was heavy.”

From their first charmingly inept Los Angeles shows through the band’s initial tour, Wiedlin’s spare, self-deprecating songs articulated the classic Go-Go’s dichotomy of fun and despair. “That always cracked me up in the beginning,” Jane says, chuckling, “because everyone would talk about the Go-Go’s being such a party band — but all the songs were so sad. Being sad or depressed is always a catalyst for writing with me.”

Her writing has continued to blossom, earning her comparisons not merely with other tunesmiths, but with the New York School of poets as well. Still, Jane has aspirations that go beyond her role as rhythm guitarist. When asked if it’s hard to hear someone else — Belinda, that is — singing such remarkably personal chronicles as “Forget That Day,” her answer is an unhesitating yes.

“The structure of the band is … some would say solid, some would say rigid,” says Jane. “Generally, we’re not encouraged to step out at all, I was real interested in singing on this album, but the other girls didn’t think it was a good idea. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do a solo album, maybe at the end of this year or sometime next year.”

Last year, she became the first band member to get involved in an outside musical project, touring and recording a tune with Sparks entitled “Cool Places.” “It was fun being in on the male escapades,” she chirps. “Watching them pick up floozies and stuff. It’s infinitely more interesting than watching the Go-Go’s do whatever we do.” But she also notes that “the Go-Go’s are a lot closer and more intuitive than the male bands I’ve been around. We’re real supportive of each other, and a lot more sensitive, too. The little things we do hurt each other a lot more than the little things anyone else could do.”

Wiedlin maintains that she is easily bruised emotionally, despite her apparent confidence. “I know that I can’t handle criticism at all, especially from people I don’t know. It’s one thing to have a good friend tell you, ‘Oh, I think you’d better lose some weight’ — well, I couldn’t handle that — or tell you something for your own good. But to have a total stranger slag you is hard. I’m always trying to get approval from people. That’s my problem. One of my few faults.”

Maybe so, but that doesn’t mean she’s a pushover. After our chat, we bound downstairs, past a framed photo of Tim Scott, and into her statue-cluttered backyard. She calls Bunny Wailer over — he’s decked out in Rastafarian finery — and chats with the pint-size pet. I reach out to stroke his mane, and he dashes away.

“Oh,” says Jane. “Bunny doesn’t like to be patted.” Like his owner.

Bustling with sisterly good cheer, Charlotte Caffey is taking me on a tour of her spacious home in the Los Feliz section of East Los Angeles. Here’s the dining room, with an oak table set for six; the living room, a baby grand in one corner; the rec room-cum-recording studio, soon to be fully soundproofed. Upstairs, there’s her two-closet bedroom (“That’s the men’s closet,” she calls out “It’s empty. That’s a joke.”) and three bathrooms, with original filigree murals.

The rooms are beautiful. They are also virtually empty, despite the fact that she has lived here for more than a year.

It was the 30-year-old Caffey, fourth eldest of 13 children, who unwillingly sent the Go-Go’s into their greatest crisis in the late spring of last year. The band had resolved its management squabbles and was ready to record some songs, but Charlotte started noticing that she couldn’t move the fingers of her left hand.

Her ailment was eventually diagnosed as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, an inflammation of the piece of cartilage that covers the inside of the wrist. The cartilage was pressing down on the nerves and muscles in her hand, making it hard for her to manipulate objects or fret guitar strings. The condition may have been caused by overexertion, tension or the gnarled-up way she plays guitar. Whatever the reason, “it was supposed to last two weeks,” she notes ruefully, “and it went on for four months.”

By disrupting their momentum at a crucial point, Caffey’s ailment threatened to tear the band apart. “I would fluctuate from extreme sympathy and compassion to pure frustration and resentment,” admits bassist Kathy Valentine. “It took her a while even to see a doctor about it. It got to the point where we were going, ‘Come on …'”

“It would get very frustrating for her,” says Gina Schock, “not to be able to do anything at rehearsals. So she got to the point where she just wouldn’t show up. And then we’d get pissed off, because we’d think, ‘At least she could have some input.'”

“It was very difficult to explain to the girls,” recalls Charlotte. “It’d be, ‘Okay, the doctor says it’s going to be two weeks.’ So when two weeks were up, they’d say, ‘Okay, Charlotte, start playing,’ and it just didn’t happen like that. It got to be a very tense situation — people trying to get you to work when you can’t. I think we came very close to breaking up.”

For Charlotte, some of the memories are still raw. “There was no feeling, there was no way I could work. I played shows I really shouldn’t have. They gave me cortisone shots; they were gonna operate. That’s when I started thinking I’d have to live with it the rest of my life. I went through an extreme depression. I started feeling guilty and horrible, like I had ruined everything.”

With vitamin treatments and physical therapy, the hand began to improve. Nevertheless, many of the lead-guitar parts on Talk Show — which are less poppy and more fiery than those on the previous LPs — were played by Kathy Valentine. “She was having a hard time coming up with guitar parts, because she couldn’t play,” Kathy remembers. “And we would just say, ‘Anything … sing what you want to play.’

“I think that made her worse. So I would go over to her house and we would come up with stuff, and I would play the parts on guitar.”

It wasn’t just her wrist problem that battered Caffey last year. She lost 20 pounds — she gained it back and insists she’s 15 over these days — and ended a three-year live-in relationship with Peter Case of the Plimsouls. All of which seems to have left her feeling rather lonely. “I was by myself for five, six months after I bought this house,” she says. “It’s a little scary.” So she got one of her sisters to move in with her. Her house — incomplete, rich with untapped possibility — is an intriguing metaphor for Caffey: the unfinished woman.

But there is Wolfgang, Caffey’s four-month-old Alaskan-husky mix, who is slightly smaller than, say, a kitchen range. Occasionally, she lets him in the house.

“Ooh, Wolfie,” coos Charlotte, rubbing her puppy’s tummy. “You’re soooo cute, I love you so much … oh, don’t get a boner, please … I cannot handle it.”

These days, there’s apparently no special person in her life, although not long ago, there was a definite possibility: Bob Welch, a pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers, whom Caffey dated toward the end of her relationship with Case. (“Pete and I would do that. We finally ‘fessed up.”) A copy of Welch’s autobiography — in which he describes his courageous struggle with an alcohol problem — sits on her bed.

“We just went out a couple of times,” she says. “He gave me his Number 35 baseball shirt — I’ve got it upstairs, it’s really cool — and I gave him a Go-Go’s tour jacket, which is not as cool. But he would wear it around. He would show me all these ways to pitch. He wanted to be a rock & roll singer. He was so cute. He used to sit and sing ‘Start Me Up’ or ‘We Got the Beat,’ Silly guy.

“He got married to the girl he went with in high school. He changed his phone number. I’ve been meaning to write and send him an album, but …”

She pauses for a moment. “I really enjoyed his company,” she says. “Actually, well, one of the songs on the album was written about him, ‘Turn to You.’ It’s really close to my heart: we were on tour with Vacation, and I wrote that about him because he really touched me, and I thought he was a great guy.

“I don’t want his wife to get upset,” she says. “I just wanted to let him know.”

Turning 30, she says, also took its emotional toll and may be why she seems more ruminative than her bandmates. “I’ve lived kind of a sad-happy life,” she muses. “It’s like, every time you take a breath, it’s heavy, but on the outside you’re like a clown family traveling along the universe. There’s definitely sadness happening in this band. I get melancholy every day about things. I daydream about romance and stuff.”

We head for her car to check out a local band at a nearby club. On the way, teenagers in ruffled shirts and tuxes are whizzing by, so I ask Charlotte about her own high-school prom. “Everyone was planning to wear these Sixties dresses, so I bought this beautiful Forties dress. Red velvet. I still have it, what’s left of it. And I got stood up. The guy’s sister called 10 minutes before he was supposed to pick me up and said he was stuck up north and couldn’t make it. So I went hiking in some man-made caves until dawn, still wearing my dress.

“Was I sad? Yes — but I knew it would be a great story.”

No wonder Gina Schock is grinning when I come to the door of her North Hollywood home; just the day before our meeting, she had her first vigorous workout on the drums since her operation. “I felt wetness in my hands, looked down, and there was blood,” she says. “It was so good.”

Only a few months ago, 26-year-old Gina would have taken that pleasure for granted. Talk Show had turned out well; producer Martin Rushent had wanted only synthesized drums on the record, but Gina’s playing convinced him otherwise. A tour was imminent After months of delays, the Go-Go’s were back on track. “Everything’s looking great,” she had told me then over the phone. “I’m kinda scared. I can’t imagine everything going so smoothly for a change. I’m thinking something’s got to go wrong.”

A few weeks later, after a routine checkup, Schock walked into a band rehearsal with a tape recorder strapped to her belt buckle. “We laughed,” recalls Charlotte. “Then she ripped off her blouse and there were all these electrodes strapped to her chest.” Even so, hilarity reigned: Gina, the Go-Go’s preeminent hypochondriac, had outdone herself this time. A tape deck listening to her heartbeat! What a card.

The news came two days later. “We were sitting at rehearsal on Friday, and I got a call from my doctor. He said, ‘I’d like you to come in. I’d like to talk about the results of your test.’ And I said, ‘Well, look, can’t you talk to me over the phone? I’m rehearsing; I can’t possibly come in today.’ He said, ‘I really want to talk to you in person.’ I started crying and shaking. Everybody dropped everything, and we all got in Belinda’s car and drove up to Cedars-Sinai.”

Doctors had determined that Schock had a hole in her heart the size of a marble. A congenital birth defect, the condition was not immediately life-threatening. But uncorrected, it would render simple physical exertion highly difficult by the time she was 40.

“So he said, ‘Now look, I’m going to talk to you,’ and I just started … ” Schock’s snappy exterior starts to fail her; her eyes are watery. “I said, ‘No, no, no, no, this can’t be happening.’ And he said, ‘You’re starting to hyperventilate, you’re turning very white, would you like to lie down?’ He gave me Valiums and everything, and I just cried. I just couldn’t believe that it would happen to me. I thought, my God, I’ve been a good person all my life. I’ve never done anything that bad to anyone to deserve this.”

If Charlotte’s ailment had torn the band apart, Gina’s brought them together. The rest of the Go-Go’s took the news like they would the death of a parent. “They were all just crying, Charlotte was in shock — she didn’t cry, she just stood there with her mouth hanging open. It hit her a couple of days later. She called me up and said, ‘I’m looking at your picture,’ and she was sobbing. Jane and Belinda and Kathy were hysterical.” She decided to have the operation right away, and to hasten her recovery, she spurned the usual postoperative painkillers.

“I didn’t pray or anything before I had the operation — I thought, why start now? But afterward, I did. I said, ‘Thanks for keeping me alive.'”

Those who saw Schock in the weeks after her operation describe her as pale and wan-looking; today, clad in a simple housedress and wearing no makeup, Gina is gorgeous, the Go-Go’s most effortlessly lovely member. Her home is equally stunning, an art-deco pad with black-onyx display cases and neatly arranged stacks of records and videocassettes (heavy on John Waters and David Bowie). A vintage ’59 Corvette occupies the backyard. Very cool.

She makes us a little lunch of Los Angeles’ best bologna, from a German deli she frequents. My offer of assistance is swifty fended off. “Siddown,” she snaps, then flashes a Jack Nicholson smile. “I’ll take care of you, buster.”

Schock is happy to be taking care of people, instead of being taken care of. It’s not wholly foreign to her, though. The daughter of a Baltimore stevedore, Schock spent her summers slinging burgers for longshoremen in her mother’s carry-out joint. She took up drums as a teen in parochial school, idolizing John Bonham and his “incredible foot.” She played in some local bands, including one with Edie Massey (“Oh, Mister Eggman”) of Pink Flamingos fame, before heading for California in a truck. She gigged regularly before meeting up with the Go-Go’s. When confronted with a sheaf of critical raves for her drumming, she points out that she’s been playing her instrument a lot longer than any of the other Go-Go’s have been playing theirs.

Gina is a self-professed hardhead, and while Belinda and Charlotte have people living with them, Gina has just kicked her platonic roommate out. His farewell note — dignified, but emotional — is still pinned to the door of her rehearsal room. “It was time for me to live alone,” she says. “After everything that’s happened, I really needed time to be by myself.”

That seems to go for romantic attachments, too. “I don’t want someone taking up half my time,” she avers as we finish our sandwiches. “I don’t need to get my heart broken. Jodie Foster came down for a few days, and we talked about it. She said, ‘For every time I’ve had my heart broken, I’d do it all over again.'” Not Gina. “Forget it, man,” she says. “I don’t want to be in love.”

Kathy Valentine has just about had it with her high-rise apartment. It does have the security she wanted after her house was robbed while she was in England, and the terrace provides a nifty perch for her telescope, through which she watches everything from penthouse goings-on to in-store appearances at a local record shop. (“You should have seen it when Menudo was here,” she says.) But as she swivels around in her living-room chair, it’s clear that Kathy Valentine is dying to get back on tour.

“I don’t get homesick at all,” says Kathy, the 25-year-old whose deft one-liners and saucy wit might make her the sexiest Go-Go. “Everyone else in the band goes, ‘I miss L.A.,'” she says, laughing. “But I don’t enjoy coming back.”

Not being out on tour, in her view, was the toughest part of the Go-Go’s’ year of living dangerously. “It didn’t feel like a band anymore. We weren’t playing, and playing is what it’s really all about.”

It’s been that way for more than a decade for the Texas-bred Valentine, who formed her first band, Childhood’s End, while she was still an Austin adolescent. Her British-born mother had moved there when she married Kathy’s Air Force father. “I guess she realized that she’d made a pretty big mistake,” Kathy notes, “because they got divorced when I was three. It’s just been me and my mom for a long time.”

That situation led to problems with her peers. “Other friends’ moms wouldn’t let me in their house because my mom was divorced. It just got to be too much stress on me.” Over time, Kathy developed a stomach condition severe enough to land her in the hospital. “It’s something that recurs every now and then,” she says. “It’s a stress thing. It goes all the way through my stomach — and it’s incredibly painful. It’s so painful that I immediately start dreading it and making it worse in my mind, you know? I’m just like sitting there going, ‘Oh, God, this hurts.'”

On a trip to England with her mother, a 17-year-old Kathy answered a Melody Maker advertisement for a fledgling heavy-metal outfit called Painted Lady, which would later be known as Girlschool. “I said, ‘Meet me at Waterloo Station. I’ll have my Stratocaster inside a Hefty bag; you can’t miss me.'” She rehearsed with them for three months — and then, just a few days before a crucial London show, her stomach problem returned with a vengeance. She went into a hospital and missed the dates. When the rest of the group called to tell her she’d been replaced, she cried for an hour — and decided to move to Los Angeles.

Back in the States, her involvement in two bands — the Violators in Austin, the Textones in Los Angeles — was brief and unsatisfying. She was at a dead end. “That’s just about when Charlotte approached me in the bathroom at the Whiskey. She asked if I could play bass.” She learned how in four days.

Along the way, she learned how to handle her ailment. “The doctor said I would be best off learning how to relax,” she says. “‘Cause I’m a real fidgety, nervous person. I mean, I don’t seem nervous, but I guess I am, or something. I can cope with most things. It’s just when I’m bombarded from a lot of different sides — emotional and financial — that I get it. Anyway, I’ve figured out my own little routine of how to get rid of it: I take a hot bath and play guitar.”

For Valentine, the problems of the past year and a half have only underscored some essential truths, namely “how dependent this band is on everyone keeping the right frame of mind and the right attitude. Just like when we started, it’s so important to me now that everyone in the group remembers where the money comes from, why we started doing it, why we’re still doing it.” In keeping with those ideals, the band has turned down tour-sponsorship offers from Honda motorcycles and Candie’s clothes, and also nixed an HBO suggestion that they perform a concert at a military base.

Along the way, Kathy’s been able to pay back some emotional debts. She’s back in touch with her dad, and she’s giving her mom a hand. “When we first got successful, I invested my money in this hairdressing shop my mother owned. She decided she didn’t want to do that anymore; she wanted to write instead. So right around Christmastime, I told her, ‘I’ll send you this much money a month, and you can go buy a typewriter and quit procrastinating.’

“Since then, she’s told me that it’s the best thing she could have done. She just got paid for her first writing assignment. It makes me really happy. She said that she feels weird and guilty about relying on me so much at this point, because I also bought her a condominium in Austin. But I don’t have any brothers or sisters and …

“I don’t know,” she sighs. “It makes me embarrassed, but I think that out of everything that’s happened to me in the Go-Go’s, that’s the best thing. Being able to do that for her.”

It was just one of those weekends, Belinda Carlisle is telling me as we head for a Sunset Strip cafe. It started Saturday at an Orange County beach. First, some intensive volleyball games, with Madonna blasting on the radio. Then, back to her condo for pitchers of margaritas and more good times. Round about 10 o’clock, she and and the gang lit out for this Top 40-type bar — and, wouldn’t you know it, the house band recognized her. The next thing she knew, her friends had tossed her onstage and there she was, belting out “Head Over Heels.”

This, I think, is Belinda Carlisle, reluctant star? Only in a band as gregarious as the Go-Go’s could Carlisle have earned that tag. All right, maybe she doesn’t want to talk about her family — like Charlotte, she’s got brothers and sisters by the ton — and is more hesitant to discuss her personal life than her cohorts. For those weaned on loudmouthed rock & roll frontwomen, the 25-year-old Carlisle may seem reticent.

But with the rest of the band — be it a photo session, a rehearsal or just hanging out — she is a holy terror. She cracks blow-job jokes, winks at goggle-eyed observers and clearly thrives on the band’s camaraderie. Her favorite memories of her stint in Grease at a California regional playhouse last summer are of the night the rest of the band came to the show. “I remember being offstage, getting ready for the bedroom scene, lying on the bed, and they were sitting way in the comer. They moved to the very front and started screaming ‘Babe’ — that’s my nickname — and waving and laughing.”

In bearing as well as physique (“I was always a short, squat tomboy”), Belinda seems more like an athlete than a rock star. She may have been a cheerleader and a member of the local Monkees fan club, but she was a track star as well. “I ran the 440,” she says, sipping her iced tea through a straw. “I was very, very good. But I was warped by creativity and art people.”

Their influence led her to move to Los Angeles after graduation. “I don’t know what made me take all those chances,” she says today, recalling the lean times that followed. “I was eating oatmeal with butter on it.”

Her luck started to change when she met Wiedlin one night at a party. “You know when you see somebody who you immediately like and want to get to know? I was in awe of things she did to her room, the way she thought, the way she dressed.”

Belinda — a major John Cougar and ZZ Top fan — was insistent that the band’s third record be irrefutable rock & roll. “I was just praying to God that my voice wouldn’t sound like a chipmunk again. It’s so irritating going into a disco, hearing yourself and cringing: ‘I don’t really sound like that, I swear.’ I always knew I could sound more powerful.”

Still, she admits to having been “disoriented, sort of lazy” at the outset of Talk Show. “I became more neurotic and frightened. … There’s not really any security in this job. And I’ve always been the sort of person who would like to know what’s going to happen and how I’m going to survive. But I know I put more into this project than any of the other projects. This album is really personal.”

Indeed, the heartache that dominates the record is no stranger to her. Her highly publicized relationship with Los Angeles Dodger Mike Marshall broke up last year, and while Belinda says that the pair remain friends, the breakup was a difficult one. (“I keep up with the USFL now,” she quips.) She has a new boyfriend, and her attitude is a chipper one. She’s started running four miles a day and plans an extensive weight-training program once the band hits the road.

So, is she a reluctant star? “It’s weird,” she says. “I guess I am more reluctant. I like to keep my private life private.” She and her roommate live behind a fortress of security in her condominium. Get her talking about those Top 40 bars, though, and her excitement is palpable. “Buffalo Chips!” she cries. “Have you been there? It’s wild; the Stones will be on and you’ll walk in, and there are guys with their shirts off, dancing on the tables. Anything from pimps to gutter people.” “It’s a great place.”

The band has assembled with their instruments on a soundstage, but they won’t be playing. They’re here to lip-sync for the director of their next video, “Turn to You,” in which the Go-Go’s, disguised as a male prom band circa 1962, play a debutante ball. From behind her drum kit, Gina is griping loudly.

“I can’t lift anything,” she hollers.

“Except a bottle of wine,” ripostes Charlotte.

“Gallon jugs,” Schock cackles in response. The track begins, and they start their pantomime. Suddenly, absurdly, they look like a rock & roll band: Valentine thrumming away on bass; Wiedlin, chic as you please in her canary sweat pants, emerald sweat shirt and Yankees baseball cap; Carlisle trying out her mock macho moves. Midway through the take, Schock can’t hold back anymore. “It’s so sickening,” she screams. “I love it.”

The Go-Go’s may not be able to duplicate their across-the-board success of 1982, when they were a genuine pop-cult musical phenomenon — the last of the pre-MTV era. But the scene unfolding in front of me suggests that there are sunny days to come.

“I don’t think that this band’s longevity is going to be decided by how many records we sell,” says Jane. “I think it’s going to be decided by how well people get along with each other, and how much people are willing to adjust to changing times and moods.”

If so, the Go-Go’s’ prognosis looks very good indeed. But wait a minute: Gina is turning borsch-belt comedienne — one who’s able to supply her own rim shots.

“Hey, I used to be in the Go-Go’s!”


“They broke up when I was 25!”


“Now I do this for a living!”


Charlotte collapses in laughter. Kathy and Jane try out some more guitar-hero moves. Belinda crushes Gina in an embrace. This party ain’t over yet.


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