I remember when I thought it was uncool to like Courtney Love. I kept my obsession with her secret, frantically ordering every record, book, or magazine she was involved with and hoarding the information in my head like a squirrel saving nuts in his cheeks. I studied Courtney. She was the first woman with a guitar who made me excited. Courtney was unforgiving, challenging, smart, and totally insane. When I read her essay "Bad Like Me" in a 1996 issue of BUST Magazine, I suddenly knew how to approach sexuality. It became my manifesto for feminism and blow jobs.
I used to be ashamed of idolizing Courtney, but I'm not anymore. In fact, all my friends know she's my unicorn. I met her once during her self-deemed "fat stage." Her hair was in big, prom date curls that shaped her irregularly large head. Her glasses were propped on her nose as she signed copies of her latest book, Dirty Blonde. I didn't say a word. Unlike the gaggle of Olympia-born Courtney fans behind me clutching their sticker-studded love letters, I just mouthed "Thank you" to my teenage idol and walked away. She was too surreal. I couldn't handle her presence. Courtney is very big in more ways than one. She's a force.
Girls and gays love Courtney. Smart, fearless men love Courtney. Alpha beasts call her "crazy" and claim she killed Kurt. They are just jealous that she got to hear him practicing songs under their staircase and they didn't even get close enough to touch Cobain in concert.
Courtney has gone through many phases. I argue that she was her most incredible between 1991 and 1994. Have you ever seen the Nardwuar with Courtney in the basement of a small club in Vancouver? She's brilliant. The way she calls out the record industry, denies any piece of Nirvana memorabilia Nardwuar gives her, and then takes a coveted cheap shot at her frenemy and front woman of Babes in Toyland, Kat Bjelland. (Only a serious Courtney-obsessed fan could detect this, but I am one of those people.)
The late 90's were entertaining. Courtney was fucked up. She had lost the only person in the world she truly loved and the whole world blamed her for it. How could she grieve properly? She couldn't. So, instead, she went on tour, made out with Evan Dando while wearing a teddy bear backpack filled with Cobain's ashes, punched Kathleen Hanna in the face, and put on some of the best rock shows of the 90's.
Then, the "Fairy Stage" happened. Maybe she was trying to channel her hero Stevie Nicks, but she ended up wearing plastic pink wings on stage. She flashed a lot of people in Australia. Courtney is a boob-flasher. The last time she really gave a good flash was during "The Letterman Years," when she was high, up on the Late Night host's desk, pulling up her top. She refused to get off the stage, taking up the entire hour and bumping other guests. Who does that? Courtney love on crack does that, and even then, it's kind of awesome.
Courtney is a feminist rock n' roll icon and a dominating performer. She is the Queen of Noise. Of course, like any interesting rock star, she is surrounded by a cloud of controversy. The rock widow stuff, the drugs, the break-ins, the "fraud," the Dave Grohl stuff, the detachment from her only daughter, the surgery, the near death experiences. People scold her for all this, but it just makes her more surreal. Courtney is a true performer. Her performance doesn't start and stop with the stage. I like my rock stars to go big or go die, and—let's be realistic—if she's lasted this long, Courtney is not going anywhere. I want to call her the Keith Morris of grunge, but she's not. She's Courtney Love.
I could talk about Love all day. I know too much about her, or maybe not enough at all. I'm just a fan. What I know for sure is that without Courtney, I never would have picked up a guitar, and that's important. I probably wouldn't swallow either. (Bad girls always swallow, we never spit, which is a lesson I learned early from "Bad Like Me.") So, Happy Birthday, Courtney, wherever you are. Pull a benzo out that big Birkin bag of yours and eat a cupcake or something. You deserve it.
If R. Kelly Makes Us So Uncomfortable, Why Do We Keep Listening?
This is art we're talking about, and it's as real as you allow it to be.
Britney Spears: Capitalism's Last Stand
At last, the Queen has found her domain.
The Real Rick Ross Stands Up
We met with the ex-crack kingpin, who told us stories from his drug dealing days and gave us an exclusive excerpt from his upcoming autobiography.
Sorry, Dudes. The Ladies Won Punk This Year.
These are the women who kicked a particularly large amount of ass in 2013.
2013: The Most OK Year Ever
Kitty Pryde reflects on her sort of shitty, sort of amazing 2013.
Cam'ron is Still Harlem's Diplomat
We met with the Golden Boy and spoke wi
YG: Krazy, Sexy, Kool
As he readies his debut studio album, the Cali rapper talks about just how krazy his life is.
When Kellz Freezes Over
We flew down to Atlanta to interview R. Kelly. Like everything in the world of Kellz, nothing went as planned, but it still felt right.
Frank Turner Dragged Me to the Weirdest Show I've Ever Been to
Sometimes you end up at interactive dance parties in Brooklyn basements with cat people.
Kevin Morby's Midwest Heart
The former Woods player and Babies member opens up about his love-hate relationship with New York, and how the internet is eating our souls.