Patti Smith would have been stoked to pose nude in Playboy
02:11 pm

Patti never made the Playboy scene, but she was a CREEM Dream at some point in the late 70s

Bebe Buell was one of the most famous rock and roll girlfriends of the 1970s (she doesn’t like the term groupie, calling Pamela Des Barres’ scene in L.A. “West Coast crap”). Her first relationship with a rock star came when she dated Paul Cowsill of the Cowsills; she was 16 at the time. During the 1970s she also had romantic involvements with Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, and Jimmy Page. Famously, she gave birth to Steven Tyler’s daughter but knowingly named her with the “wrong” name Liv Rundgren to shield her from Tyler’s addiction problems. Although Todd Rundgren and Buell were breaking up around around the time of Liv Tyler’s birth, Rundgren committed to the deception and for years did not divulge that he wasn’t Liv Tyler’s biological father. Liv Tyler herself didn’t know the truth until she was nine years old.

One of the major turning points in Buell’s life was becoming the Playboy Playmate of the Month in November 1974. She didn’t need Playboy to date Rundgren, whom she’d already been seeing for a couple of years. (In her Playmate Fact Sheet, she lists “My boyfriend, Todd Rundgren” under “Favorite Performer.”) While posing in Playboy probably didn’t help her recording career any, it did have the effect of elevating her status among the rock elite—as she said, after “I did Playboy ... the rock stars came-a-hunting.”

Another notable woman living in NYC at that time was Patti Smith, who had yet to record any music under her name. She also had some fairly serious dalliances with Rundgren, and was also friendly with Buell. According to Buell in the essential oral history of punk Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain, it was actually Smith who convinced Buell that she should say yes to Playboy.

More interestingly, Smith would have been totally down with posing for Playboy herself.

Here’s Buell on the subject:

The person that talked me in to posing for Playboy magazine was Patti Smith. At the time I was doing well as a cover-girl model for Revlon, Intimate, and Wella. I had four or five big accounts. But my role models weren’t models. I admired girls like Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull, those were the girls I looked up to and aspired to be like.

So when Playboy asked me to pose, Patti said, “I wish Playboy would ask me, I’d do it.” Patti had really big boobs, a lot of people don’t realize that. She was extremely well-endowed and she always thought that kind of stuff was really cool. She showed me pictures of Brigitte Bardot, Ursula Andress, Raquel Welch, and all these Playboy pictures. She’d say, “Being in Playboy is like Coca-Cola. It’s Andy Warhol. It’s American, you know, it’s part of America, this magazine.” She said, “Do it. It’ll be great. It’ll fuck up that fashion thing.”


Patty’s idea of feminism seemed to me to be about not being a victim–-that women should make choices in full control of their faculties and make a rebel stand.

Posing for Playboy was a rebel move. It almost ruined my career as far as legitimate Fashion work went. The only magazines that ould book me after that were like Cosmopolitan and stuff. I lost all my bread-and-butter clients. I lost Avon and Butterick. All the straight fashion magazines stopped booking me.

But how could I regret it?

So there you have it. Patti Smith, of course, did not end up ever posing for Playboy but instead released Horses in 1975 and eventually became an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Posted by Martin Schneider
02:11 pm
Her Little Red Books: Cult figure Bebe Buell plans ahead
11:36 am

Bebe Buell
Courtesy of Bebe Buell

Bebe Buell might have first been brought to your attention as a Playboy model or girlfriend to several major rockstars—Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Elvis Costello, Todd Rundgren, Jimmy Page, Stiv Bators and Steven Tyler—but don’t call her a groupie. (She prefers “muse” or “rock girlfriend,”) Anyway, that was then, and this is now. Buell doesn’t like to dwell on the past. In fact, this in coming year alone she has a lot planned. Having moved to Nashville after a trip in 2012 to sing on an Eddy Arnold tribute record, Bebe Buell uprooted her New York life and chose the southern comforts. “I fell into some kind of magical vortex that I think happens to some people when they come to Nashville. I don’t think you choose Nashville, I think Nashville chooses you,” says Buell.
Rebel Heart
Buell published her memoir, the New York Times bestseller, Rebel Heart, in 2002, co-written with Victor Bockis. “I can’t even read that book anymore. So much of life has changed since that book was written.” Now, Bebe Buell has three books in the works. “I’m compiling a coffee table photo book which will span my entire life from birth until now. It will have all never-before-seen photos. I’m actually doing the follow up to Rebel Heart which is Rebel Soul and I’ll pick up where Rebel Heart left off. I’ve been diligently working on that for almost three years now. And, I’m also doing a beauty book. People always ask me what my tips and my secrets are so I decided I’m going to do that. It’s going to be very spiritual, it’s going to talk about your inner state of mind and how where you’re at artistically and spiritually emanates in your physical being.”
lynn goldsmith
Photo by Lynn Goldsmith, courtesy Bebe Buell

Bebe Buell first moved to New York after high school, where she worked as a model. She posed for Playboy as “Miss November” of 1974. “If people knew what it was like to do a Playboy shoot it’s very professional. It’s like doing a modelling job except there’s no clothes. You’re there to make a nice photo. I had no idea the backlash I was going to get. But that changed—look what happened in the 90s. Everyone did Playboy including Cindy Crawford. And now fashion magazines have more nudity in them than Playboy.”

She was always drawn to music and quickly found her way to Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. Buell is still close friends with Patti Smith and Debbie Harry whom she met early on, “They’re my girlfriends, these are people I’ve known since I was a young, young girl. I knew Patti when she was a poet, I knew her before she ever started singing. As far as Debbie, she was always a singer. I probably should have gotten started sooner than I did. But I had that modelling thing that Patti and Debbie didn’t have which gave me a lot of security financially. It gave me the ability to be independent. But as soon as I felt that I could, I was in it. By ’78, ’79, I was tinkering. By ’80 I had formed my first band the B-Sides. And by ’81 my first record was out. I got to work pretty quick.”
Covers Girl
After the B-Sides, Buell formed the Gargoyles and then the Bebe Buell band. Now, she’s working on a brand new band and show called Bebe Buell and the Rebel Souls which includes Bebe’s husband, Jim Walters (Das Damen) on guitar and Mindy Wright on drums. Their debut show, called “Baring It All” will take place October 27th at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. “It’s a two hour show, you will travel through my entire life. We’ll start from the very first record I put out, Covers Girl, and we will play songs and travel through my entire catalog in the first hour. The last hour of the show will be all of my new songs, all the stuff I’ve written since I’ve been in Nashville.”

If having three books in the works and a new band isn’t enough, Buell also has a movie in the works as well as hosting a TV show. The movie is set in and will be created in Nashville. She has written it, cast it and will star in it as well as co-direct. “It’s my love letter to Nashville.” The TV show she’s hosting is called Routes of Rock in which Buell will guide viewers through legendary locations where famous bands were created, albums were made and rock n’ roll history was born. How she has time for all of it, I do not know. “I’m not afraid of hard work, never have been.”

Buell with Elvis Costello
In Rebel Heart, Buell speaks of her relationship with Elvis Costello and how in love she was with him. Their relationship did not end well. After reading the book, I had to know if they two of them had ever made up.

“You know, I thought we had. Around 2012, when Linda (Ramone) threw the Commando book release party for Johnny Ramone at CBGB, he came to that party and we hugged and he told me everything was okay. I thought we had sort of made amends. But then his book came out and I read his paragraph that he [added] in there and I thought, good lord, what’s wrong with him? There’s two sides to every story. I don’t feel defined by him. There was a time when I did, and I loved him so much it was embarrassing. I was also in my twenties, I’ve grown up a lot. As far as I was concerned, I thought we had made amends. I hope that he has found the happiness that he deserves. I want him to be happy. When I look at the relationship I have with my daughter’s father, I don’t care if Elvis Costello likes me or not. Nick Lowe said the best thing, ‘I don’t what he’s so upset about, all she ever did was talk about how wonderful he was and what a great lover he was.’ You live and you learn and you grow up. And I have such a beautiful relationship with Steven (Tyler), that’s the man I created a child with. Steven’s been in my life for 43 years. I figure that’s what’s important, family.”

To read an extended interview with Bebe Buell, visit Women in Rock.

After the jump, Bebe Buell on ‘The Joe Franklin Show’ in 1981…

Posted by Izzi Krombholz
11:36 am