belinda was a girl scout
troop who got expelled after three days for placing cicadas in people's
she had a tendency to stretch
the truth and now cannot remember if some things really happened or not
it was not until belinda
turned 19, argued with duke and duke throwing all her clothes outside that
belinda left home, claiming that one day she would be a star
wranglings over what the go-go's stated were $1 million in unpaid
royalties led to a lengthy legal dispute that finally was settled out of
court, but not without leaving bitter feelings among the participants
they began to indulge a
strange sense of humour. they would meet some businessman, get him drunk,
take pictures of his and their private parts, and secretly place them in
his pocket. ’so much the better if he was married,' they would say
it was a case of too young
and too much too soon. throw in egos and issues with royalties for song
writing mixed with substance abuse and non-stop touring and you have a
recipe for disaster. we simply imploded
we were getting ready for a concert in rio and it just didn't feel right.
i remember it real clearly because i started to cry. it wasn't fun
anymore. we were just sort of going through the motions, pretending to
have all the fun on stage that we really did have in the beginning
i was so unhappy that i hated
seeing new artists because i knew i couldn't be one of them. i couldn't
share their freshness or excitement. i was sort of envious
it wasn't until complete strangers wanted to kill her that made her
worried. belinda had 32 stalkers, at once, after her and her husband that
were considered dangerous. she began to feel like her private life was
the birth almost killed both
mother and child
i'm really fed up with whole
media thing where you have to be 20 years old, a size 0, and blond with
Belinda Carlisle’s story is well known to
some. That is the story of the ex-punk rocker, ex-cocaine addict,
ex-lesbian lust icon and the ex-target of no fewer than 32 stalkers. For
others, Belinda’s story is much simpler, that being the story of the cute,
bubbly and effervescent Belinda.
Belinda Carlisle was born on the 17 August
1958 in Burbank, California, to Harold Carlisle, a contractor, and Joanne,
a housewife. She lived in a lower-middle-class neighbourhood and wore
hand-me-down clothes. Belinda, the eldest of seven children, was a total
tomboy with her Stingray bicycle and hung out with boys getting into
fistfights and beating them at Basketball games. Belinda was a Girl Scout
Troop who got expelled after three days for placing cicadas in people's
sleeping bags and was a onetime cheerleader at Newbury Park High School in
Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles.
Behind this childhood innocence were more
pressing issues. Belinda’s father was an alcoholic and her mother was a
struggling mother. Belinda blocked out many of her childhood memories,
creating her own secret private world and had a very vivid imagination to
help her cope. She had a tendency to stretch the truth and now cannot
remember if some things really happened or not. Harold and Joanne Carlisle
eventually divorced, with Joanne remarrying a man named Duke Kurczeski.
Belinda struggled to live under the rule of Duke. They both clashed heads
constantly, “his head being hard and Belinda’s head being harder”. On
weekends Belinda used to drive to Hollywood to watch punk-style bands at
the Starwood Club, dressed in clothes made out of trash bags and with
platinum blonde hair. Duke, embarrassed by his ‘crazy’ step daughter, used
to get Belinda’s younger siblings to hide in the car while driving so
people wouldn’t see them. It was not until Belinda turned 19, argued with
Duke and Duke throwing all her clothes outside that Belinda left home,
claiming that one day she would be a star.
It began in the streets of 1978, where Belinda and Jane Wiedlin were
sitting on a curb at a party getting drunk. Wiedlin, while going to Taft
High School in the San Fernando Valley community of Woodland Hills, became
interested in rock because of hearing the Beatles records played by older
siblings in her family.
Belinda and Jane lived at the Canterbury, a
punk dormitory that was right next to a porno theatre. Down in the
basement of that porno theatre was the Masque, a legendary hangout that
gave people the chance to play in a band and be as bad or pathetic as they
wanted to be. Here, Belinda and Jane began what was going to be the roller
coaster ride of their lifetime; The Misfits (now known as The Go-Go's). At
first, they were a joke. They couldn't play nor could they sing.
The original band, besides Carlisle and Wiedlin, included Margot Olaverra
on bass and Elisso Bello on drums. In 1978, Charlotte Caffey was asked to
join. Caffey, who attended Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles,
had played guitar with several groups starting with Manuel and the
Gardeners when she was 17. With replacement of Bello on drums in 1979 by
Gina Schock, the band was starting to develop its own unique sound,
attracting growing numbers of fans to local performances.
Schock, a Led Zeppelin aficionado, had worked with some groups in her
hometown of Baltimore before moving to L.A. for greater recording
opportunities. She told the Los Angeles Times, "When I first saw the band
I didn't think they could play very well, but I thought they had a lot of
potential." So did Ginger Canzoneri, an album cover graphics designer at
CBS Records, who became their manager.
She lined up bookings that started to win
plaudits from rock reviewers as well as fans. In 1979, this helped bring
an invitation from British ska groups Madness and the Specials for the
Go-Go's to join them on a U.K. tour. While there, the group made a single,
"We Got the Beat," on a one-disc deal with England's Stiff Records.
Back in Los Angeles, the group was spotlighted in a promotional concert at
the Starwood set up by Canzoneri for U.S. record executives. No contract
offers resulted, however, and, despite growing evidence that the band was
a major local concert attraction, none were made that year or during 1980.
In early 1981, while Margot Olaverra was out ill, her place was taken by
bass guitarist Kathy Valentine. Born in Texas, Valentine had worked with
many bands at home and in Los Angeles. Her previous alignment before the
Go-Go's was with the Textones. The group members soon decided Valentine
fitted in better with Go-Go's style than Olaverra, and Kathy became a
Not long after, the reorganized quintet was signed by I.R.S. Records, a
label associated with A&M Records. Their label debut LP, Beauty and the
Beat, came out in the summer of 1981 and soon was high on Billboard
charts, where it stayed into 1982, passing platinum award levels. A series
of chart singles were culled from it, including the title song, "Our Lips
Are Sealed," and "We Got the Beat." The LP was in the Billboard top 10 in
early 1982, a position attained by their second album later in the year,
Vacation (I.R.S.). The Go-Go’s were the first self-contained female unit
to ever score a number one album on the charts.
Outwardly everything looked wonderful for the band, but storm clouds were
gathering. In early 1982, manager Canzoneri said she was getting tired of
business matters and eventually quit. Later Irving Azoff, who had joined
her as co-manager shortly before she departed, left his management firm to
become president of MCA Records. Then emotional and health problems began
to affect band members. In late 1982, Caffey found her left hand had
developed a numbness she couldn't shake. After months of aggravation, it
finally was diagnosed as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and a regimen of Vitamin
B-6 tablets was prescribed as a cure.
Meanwhile, financial disagreements had surfaced with I.R.S. Wranglings
over what the Go-Go's stated were $1 million in unpaid royalties led to a
lengthy legal dispute that finally was settled out of court, but not
without leaving bitter feelings among the participants.
In mid-1983 the band assembled in London,
England, to begin plans for a new album, Talk Show. While there, Schock
found her health deteriorating. She felt worse after completing work on
Talk Show in London during the winter of 1983-84. Back in Los Angeles, she
went to her doctor for a check-up. While rehearsing for an upcoming tour
in support of the new LP, she was informed the doctor urgently wanted to
see her. She told Robert Hilburn "I started crying right away because I
knew there was something wrong. We all went over to his office together.
He told me and I almost passed out. I couldn't even think. The rest of the
girls got hysterical. It was a horrifying thing. I had a hole about the
size of a golf ball in the vertical wall of the two top chambers of my
heart." By the following Monday she was in the hospital awaiting surgery.
Fortunately, it was successful and the Go-Go's were back together and
touring by mid-1984.
What seemed to be the pinnacle of success for
five young girls was actually becoming a collision course between the
Go-Go’s public image and their private lives. Unable to cope with the
success, they began to indulge a strange sense of humour. They would meet
some businessman, get him drunk, take pictures of his and their private
parts, and secretly place them in his pocket, ’So much the better if he
was married,' they would say. Other silly pranks and jokes took place, but
it was not until the band experimented with drugs that the band started to
fall apart. Belinda Carlisle, plus other band members started to take
cocaine. They had become totally addicted to the extent that they would
steal to get their hands on some. In late 1984, Jane Wiedlin decided to
leave for a solo career. Belinda Carlisle shortly after, had also
resigned, leading to the official disbandment of the Go-Go's in May 1985.
As Kathy puts it, “It was a case of too young and too much too soon. Throw
in egos and issues with royalties for song writing mixed with substance
abuse and non-stop touring and you have a recipe for disaster. We simply
imploded. I don’t think people realise how much the music business takes
out of you. It is so much more than being up there on stage. It is
constant promotions, appearances and signings. When we broke-up, I was
devastated, profoundly lost. My identity was wrapped up in being a Go-Go.”
Carlisle told Hilburn she also had thought about departing during 1984.
"We were getting ready for a concert in Rio and it just didn't feel right.
I remember it real clearly because I started to cry. It wasn't fun
anymore. We were just sort of going through the motions, pretending to
have all the fun on stage that we really did have in the beginning. I was
so unhappy that I hated seeing new artists because I knew I couldn't be
one of them. I couldn't share their freshness or excitement. I was sort of
Belinda went her own way with her future husband-to-be, Morgan Mason.
Belinda and Morgan met at a party in 1984. He was a renowned and respected
son of James and Pamela Mason. He was also the presidential aid to Ronald
Reagan and worked at the White House. After their first date, Belinda
moved into his home. Morgan eventually became aware of Belinda's drug
problem. It wasn't until Belinda opened her eyes and saw the life that she
would miss out on if she didn't change. Belinda decided to make important
life-style changes, including going to a nutritionist for a healthier
diet, joining Alcoholics Anonymous and ending her drug abuse. She was
encouraged to do that by Caffey's earlier success in overcoming a
substance abuse problem. A few months down the track, Belinda was 'sober'
and married to Morgan Mason. She started a new life with Morgan, lost all
the excess pounds that polluted her body and began a new successful solo
career with her first single, Mad About You and another that placed her up
for a Grammy nomination with her number one hit, Heaven Is A Place On
Earth. Belinda seemed back on track, but her marriage renewed media
interest that brought a whole new stack of problems. Belinda was blamed
for the Go-Go's break up and was constantly speculated about the state of
her marriage and her previous weight problems. Carlisle was able to cope
with the constant criticism. It wasn't until complete strangers wanted to
kill her that made her fear for her life. Belinda had 32 stalkers, at
once, after her and her husband that were considered dangerous. She began
to feel like her private life was being invaded.
Belinda continued with a successful career
with hits such as 'Summer Rain', "Leave A Light On' and 'Live Your Life Be
Free.' In 1992, Belinda gave birth to her first child, James Duke Mason
during the LA riots. James Duke was named after Morgan's father and after
Belinda's step father. The birth almost killed both mother and child.
James was born two weeks early and was severely under weight. He was
placed in intensive care and Belinda remembers being unable to go near her
new baby born. She was only able to watch him through a glass box. The
riots outside the hospital did not help Belinda and Morgan feel at ease.
After weeks in intensive care, baby Duke was allowed to come home.
California seemed not to be the place Belinda wanted her son to grow up
in. California was falling victim to numerous earthquakes and Belinda
feared for the life of her son and herself. The longer she stayed in her
hometown, the more depressed she got. At times she felt she was going to
go insane. Morgan began to believe that his wife was going crazy when she
chopped off all her hair and began locking herself up in the house. After
numerous earthquakes, Morgan and Belinda decided it was time to leave
California. The California Belinda remembered was no longer the California
that existed. So they decided to move to Europe.
They moved to France and every now and then
live in London. It was much safer than California. The people were good
and the children grew up in a safe environment. Belinda was still
depressed though. Her career had gone down in America and her albums
decreased in sales. Then her three-story mansion was burned to bits. They
were able to save the important things like photos.
Previously, while staying at a hotel, Belinda
bumped into one of her old band members. It was the first time they had
seen each other since the break-up. They began to cry and they put their
differences aside. Then suddenly the Go-Go's reformed, released an album
and then broke up again. At least this time they remained friends.
Belinda's involvement with the Go-Go's has been a roller coaster ride.
"Divorced and re-married" so to speak. 1999 saw the Go-Go's back together
with sold out tours. It seems so natural for them when they are
The Go-Go's redefined themselves and returned
to the music scene after a 15 year break. Their album, "God Bless the
Go-Go's", continued on where the Go-Go's left off and was a cool mix of
all their best bits. The first single, Unforgiven, saw Greenday lead
singer as a special guest and contributor. The album, although a
critically acclaimed success, failed to mimic the success The Go-Go's had
in the 1980's, mainly to do with a lack of radio airplay.
Belinda Carlisle, now more accepting of her
body image posed for Playboy in 2001. She was paid a large sum of money
for posing in the magazine that exposed all her best bits. Why did she do
it? As she says, "I'm really fed up with whole media thing where you have
to be 20 years old, a size 0, and blond with plastic tits."
In 2007, Belinda released her seventh album
Voilà, which was her first full-length, solo studio album in more than ten
years. The album was produced by John Reynolds. Consisting of a mix of
French pop tunes and chanson standards, including covers of Françoise
Hardy and Édith Piaf classics. Carlisle was originally approached to make
another pop rock album, but she declined immediately, in favour of
recording this collection of songs, the style of which, she'd "absolutely
fallen in love with" since moving to France in the early 1990s.
Excerpt from Lips Unsealed: A
Available in Hardcover book, eBook and Audio book
from all good book and online stores.
Heaven Is a Place on Earth
For much of my life, I felt like my fate was determined before I stepped into a
recording studio, sang a song, or even thought about the Go-Go's -- long before
I joined Hollywood's punk scene in the mid-1970s.
When I was twelve years old, I was a mixed-up, restless little girl living in
Thousand Oaks, a working-class area in Los Angeles's West San Fernando Valley.
My stepdad had a drinking problem, my mom was on the verge of a nervous
breakdown, and I was teased as being fat and stupid. I was neither, but at that
age, the facts didn't matter. I hated my life and wanted something better.
I came home one day from a friend's house holding a book that seemed like it
might help me change my life. I hid it under my sweatshirt and went straight to
my bedroom. I felt a tingle of excitement as I slipped it out and looked at the
cover: "The Satanic Bible" by Anton LaVey. I read bits and pieces, and although
I understood very little of the author's rant against Christianity, I focused on
terms like "exorcism," "evil," and "black magic," thinking I could find out how
to cast spells and take control of my life.
This wasn't the first book I'd read on the subject, but it got me in the mood to
finally try to cast a spell. I slid a box out from under my bed and removed the
contents I had assembled earlier: brewed tea leaves, oak twigs, string, and a
candle. I arranged them in front of me as I'd seen in a different book. I
chanted some words and called on the invisible powers of the universe to give my
life the excitement I felt it lacked and everything else I wanted.
What did I want?
I asked myself that question for most of my life. As a kid, I wanted out of my
house, a place of much torment and trouble. The punk scene became my refuge, my
safe haven, the forgiving, understanding world where I could be anything I
wanted -- in my case, a rock star. After I became a rock star, I still didn't
know what I wanted. Finally, many years later, I began to realize I had been
asking the wrong question.
It was actually one night in 2005 when I finally came clean with myself, when I
asked what it was I needed, not what I wanted. I had gone to London for
business, but spent three straight days locked in my hotel room, doing cocaine.
I went on the biggest binge of my life, which is saying something considering I
had used, boozed, and abused for thirty years. When I looked at my eyes in the
mirror, I didn't see anyone looking back at me. The lights were out. I was gone.
It scared me -- yet I didn't stop until I had an extraordinarily frightening
out-of-body experience where I saw myself overdosing and being found dead in the
hotel room. I saw the whole thing happen, and I knew that if I kept doing coke,
I was going to die.
At that moment I shut my eyes, and when I opened them again I made the decision
I had put off for much too long. I opened myself up to life. I appreciated the
good, faced the bad, and began to find the things I needed.
Now, four and a half years later, the bad days are behind me but not forgotten.
They made me who I am today -- a far better, healthier, smarter, more open and
loving person than I ever thought was possible. I'm someone who lived her dream
against the odds of any of it happening, and yet I never doubted it.
Who knows, maybe it was the spells I cast back when I was a little girl.
Whatever it was, it's been a pretty remarkable ride. I'm writing this book at
age fifty, a milestone that seems like the right time to look back, hopefully
with some perspective, insight, and wisdom at my career, marriage, sobriety, and
efforts to connect with a higher power.
I don't know that people make complete albums anymore. But when I was growing
up, and early in my career with the Go-Go's, artists tried to put together a
collection of songs that made sense as a whole. You listened to a record cut by
cut, hoping every song was great but generally discovering that some songs were
better than others, some were great, and some were so bad they should have been
left in the studio. At the end, there was some sort of aha moment when you "got"
the work in its entirety.
If it was any good, it stayed with you, made you think, and in the best of all
worlds it offered inspiration and hope. I feel that way about my life thus far.
It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but most of the cuts have been pretty good,
and some even great. They worked for me -- a little girl who thought she cast a
spell that created the rest of her life, and then turned into a woman who
realized the real magic had been there the whole time.
© 2009 Charles Daaboul -