Courtney Love Talks About Her L.A. Stripper Days, and Her Brawl With a Weekly Writer
Long before Courtney Love was a household name, a famous rocker, actress, drug addict, widow of an icon, estranged mother or social media rabble-rouser, she was Courtney Michelle Harrison, a girl from Northern California obsessed with music and consumed by dreams of Hollywood stardom. When she moved to L.A. in 1989, she took steps to make her dreams a reality.
We were a bit apprehensive to talk to her, considering her past issues with the Weekly. (See below.) But Love practically volunteered most of the answers to questions before we even asked them, and she was in giddy spirits -- our conversation was peppered with beeps, which sounded like her face accidentally tapping the phone. Though there were lots of non-sequiturs and we got off track at times, she was clearly excited about the new material she's been creating, not to mention reconciling with her daughter Frances Bean Cobain and her "billionaire boyfriend," whom she would not identify.
Love plays the Troubadour tonight, on the heels of a recent rough show in the area. Now living in New York, she says she'll be moving back to L.A. soon, mainly to return to acting. In the meantime, she promises a new book, as well as a full album by spring.
Let's talk about your early L.A. life. Can you reflect on spots like Jumbo's Clown Room that always get mentioned?
Yeah, Jumbo's...It's like in the Zagat guide, "Courtney worked at Jumbo's..." I didn't just work at Jumbo's, I worked at Nude, Nude, Nude! Century Lounge near the airport. I worked at Seventh Veil. But Jumbo's did give me more consistency. I got to work in the day. To me back then, 300 bucks in a day was fine. I was able to do the kind of stripper economy which is ... for every $5 I made, I would give Eric Erlandson three of them and that's how we bought our van and we bought our backline.
So stripping funded your band?
Absolutely, and you have to be really savvy to do it. There was a lot of temptation in terms of drugs back then. I was like, OK, when I make a million dollars, then I'll do all the drugs I want. Which I did, by the way.
It's a world-class secret and no one knows it, and it would absolutely ruin my image if you told anybody but, you know, I did drugs.
Tell me about music spaces you played, like Jabberjaw. A book about the music space is coming out soon. Nirvana played there also. What were some of your favorite venues in L.A.?
There was Cheetahs, which is now a strip joint. It was called Shamrock. And then, where we got our biggest break, it was called the "No-Bozo Jam." I had gone down to Robert Hilburn's mailbox at the L.A. Times and.... the thing with Hilburn was, I knew he was a lyrics guy. At that point he was really into Mary's Danish and Thelonious Monster. Anyway, I put all my lyrics in his box. He came out to No Bozo Jam and we played a 25-minute set. That Thursday, the Calendar section had a huge article about us. That was the big break.
And what about the Weekly?