Chicago Review Press synopsis of Lick Me.
From the glamour of New York’s Copacabana in the fifties to the
excitement of London’s punk-rock scene in the seventies,
whether backstage or in the spotlight, Cherry Vanilla was there. And
though she confesses to being “stoned out” for much of
her life, she managed to capture -- in her memory and in her diaries
– many multihued moments both saucy and bittersweet.
But however revealing or scandalous her stories, she tells them with
candor and with the innocence of a child. A David Bowie love scene
is peppered with unexpected humor. A heavy S&M encounter is
served-up with the wonder of a birthday surprise.
Music is the glue that held Vanilla’s life together and took her on this joyous,
juicy journey from groupie to superstar to RCA recording artist. And
in Lick Me, she lays it out before you with the uncomplicated
authenticity of a rock and roll song – the kind that takes you
instantly to another time and place, the kind that you can’t
get out of your head once you hear it.
Released: November 2010
Chicago Review Press
hardcover: 288 pages
You can find "Lick Me" in any of the major book shops, or you can order it online on www.Amazon.com or on this site's shop.
What people are saying about LICK ME ...
"Reading Lick Me is much like hanging out with Cherry: a refreshing dose of honesty and humor. Considering this book is about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, Cherry has an amazing ability to remember it all."
- Tim Burton, artist/filmmaker
"A swinging romp with one swinging gal! This juicy page-turner will have rock gossip tongues wagging their tales!"
- Kate Pierson of The B-52's
"Pop art and glamour . . . an exciting and multiflavored story of the journey of a true icon! Cherry is rock and roll royalty."
- Countess Luann de Lesseps of The Real Housewives of New York City
"With matter-of-fact nonchalance the delightful Ms Vanilla tells an unrepentant tale of a joyously madcap life among rock royalty and the artistic elite. From a starstruck kid in the fifties to groupie goddess to high punk priestess, she smooches and tells with such good-natured grace and aplomb, you're given an all-access backstage pass to your wildest dreams."
- Pamela Des Barres, author of I'm With the Band
"I love this book. The writing is beautiful, sad, sweet, fun, and honest. Some people tell stories. Some live them. Every once in a rare while someone who lived an exceptional one takes the time to tell theirs."
- Dito Montiel, author/filmmaker
"You lucky bitch! Your New York was definitely not my New York!"
- Rufus Wainwright, musician/composer
Ashley Caputo in Zinc Magazine (Holiday 2010):
ABOUT A BOOK: Muse and legendary rock groupie Cherry Vanilla tells all.
If someone told you they were inside
the Copacabana long enough to rub
shoulders with Dean Martin, were a
part of the Warhol posse, occasionally
slept with David Bowie and toured with The
Police, you'd probably think it unbelievable
and preposterous. Unless that someone is
Cherry Vanilla. In her memoir Lick Me: How
I became Cherry Vanilla, we are taken on a
wild journey as she brazenly recalls her days
as a groupie rock goddess during the height
of rock 'n' roll and the punk rock sensation
in the UK. Although all of the musicians and
celebrities that she met along the way adds
to the notoriety of the book, it is Vanilla's
alluring persona, sheer honesty and sexual
freedom that keeps you enthralled from
beginning to end.
In the rock and roll heyday of the '60s
and '70s, singer/songwriter Vanilla was able
to garner attention and set herself apart even
amongst the most eccentric personalities of
the day, all due to her vivacious personality,
unstoppable energy and insatiable sexual
appetite. The book is as fast paced as her
life, consecutively jumping from one exiting
event to the next, creating little time for you
to become bored. Die heart music lovers
will absolutely love her memoir, along with
art buffs, culture connoisseurs and even
bored housewives looking for something
edgier than the usual paperback romance
novel -- Vanilla has the ability to keep us
Throughout the book, Vanilla gives
us a very raw account of the sex, drugs and
rock 'n' roll culture that dominated the day,
yet she tells her stories with the innocence
of a child. Her earliest encounter with
the world of entertainment when, at the
ripe old age of six, she was a spectator at
the most glitzy, theatrical and glamorous
place on the New York City scene: the
Copacabana. It was there that she met her
first celebrity, Dean Martin.
She candidly admits to indulging in the
psychedelic drugs of the time, taking many
white-light acid trips with her friends on
the beaches of Fire Island. She describes her
trips in such depth, ones so pure, white and
all encompassing that they allowed her to
"free-fall into the abyss" and see nirvana. The
parties, the sexcapades with famous models
and party goers alike, and the music from Jimi
Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge, Van Morrison (her
innocent lyrical obsession), Iron Butterfly and
Paul Butterfield is enough make you wish that
you could have somehow been a part of that
Vanilla describes the term "groupie" as a
role she'd been dying to play. Of course, the
sex was an exciting part of it, but for Vanilla
it was a "way to extend the fun of my youth
a little longer while getting to the source" of
her major interest and greatest pleasure --
music. Through sex and intimacy Vanilla was
able to uncover those who were true to their
tender lyrics, like the romantic and gentle Kris
Kristofferson and Shawn Phillips, when it
wasn't just about the "fucking."
When Shawn wrote those two songs
between our bouts of lovemaking, or I should
say as part of our lovemaking, I knew there
couldn't help but be some essence of me in
them forever, even if nobody else ever knew
about it, even if Shawn himself never gave it
a thought. It was one of those moments when
a groupie knows she's more than a groupie;
she's a muse.
Her west coast notoriety gave her an
all access pass to the exploding art scene in
New York, and a role in Andy Warhol's play
"Pork." She moved from one scene to the next,
joining the management company Mailman,
where she represented David Bowie and even
shared a night in the bedroom, "a totally poetic
ending to a perfect rock 'n' roll night." And
finally by the '80s she earned a reputation as a
punk musician that eventually lead her to tour
the UK with The Police.
As Vanilla bears all (literally and
figuratively), readers are able to see her the
way Rufus Wainwright describes her in the
forward, as "a beacon of uncompromising
sensuality and freedom of expression." While
her life was filled with the type of glamorized
adventures many of us can only dream of, she
also faced difficulties and had to confront
personal demons, yet her thirst for life never
ceases. While her powerful memoir might
inspire a few, frighten others and shock many,
it will certainly earn well-deserved praise for its
honesty and perspective on our shared cultural
history. And though some of us will never
make the same choices she did, or go down
the same paths, Lick Me: How I Became Cherry
Vanilla almost makes us feel as though we had.
This Week In New York:
CHERRY VANILLA: LICK ME
Poet, actress, songwriter, publicist, Mad woman, and all-around good-time girl Cherry Vanilla holds nothing back in her free-wheeling memoir, LICK ME: HOW I BECAME CHERRY VANILLA (Chicago Review Press, November 2010, $24.95). Born Kathleen Anne Dorritie in 1943 and raised in Queens, Vanilla tells of a life filled with lots of sex, lots of drugs, and lots of rock & roll. A chronic bedwetter as a child, she later developed OCD, picking at cuts and blemishes all over her body. She dreamed of being in show business, first working at Madison Ave. advertising firms before getting involved in the burgeoning downtown arts scene, hanging out at the hottest clubs and enjoying a never-ending stream of lovers. She starred in Warhol's off-Broadway show PORK and went from groupie to music publicist to poet and performer; her stories about working with David Bowie just as he was trying to break through in the States are intimate and revealing - and might come as quite a surprise for longtime Bowie fans. She talks in-depth about her desire to bed such men as Kris Kristofferson, Warren Beatty, Leon Russell, and Bowie - but you'll have to read the book to find out which attempts were successful. Among the many celebrities she meets in her ever-evolving career, some who became close friends, others just passing through her wild life, are Mick Jagger, Patti Smith, Joel Schumacher, Debbie Harry, Helmut Newton, Joni Mitchell, Don Johnson, Melanie Griffith, Sting, Candy Darling, Ringo Starr, Angie Bowie, Rudolf Nureyev, May Pang, and Mick Ronson, and she shares some very interesting details about many of them. But Vanilla never comes off as needlessly gossipy or self-aggrandizing; instead, LICK ME is an honest portrait of a woman who knew what she wanted and went after it. The book also includes excerpts from her 1970s diaries and a sixteen-page black-and-white insert that features several shots of her in two of her favorite positions, either partially or fully unclothed. Cherry Vanilla will be at the Lincoln Triangle Barnes & Noble on November 22, discussing her outrageous life and signing copies of the book.
Dave Thompson in "Goldmine" magazine:
Lick Me - How I Became Cherry Vanilla
First things first. In an age when celebrity tittle-tattle has become so commonplace that any entertainment value it might once have possessed has been utterly debased by its ubiquity; at a time when every single one of us knows more about the sex and drugs life of Name A Teenaged Idol than we do about our own partner's past; and in a world that is so obsessed with other people's cheap thrills that even government takes its lead from the tabloids... with all that in mind, can we really look back on any previous era and describe it as sweet and innocent?
That is the question that hangs over this book, an autobiography that almost inadvertently doubles as one of the most important studies yet published of the layer of darkness that lies between consumer and consumed, acolyte and idol, star and star-fucker. And the fact that Cherry Vanilla herself blurred that line more than most only adds to Lick Me's piquancy. Actress and artist, DJ and diva, Vanilla was a star of Andy Warhol's Pork as it sketched the blueprint for the Glam Rock 70s; she worked PR for David Bowie as he took that blueprint to completion; she made one of the best LPs of the entire Punk Rock era (1978's Bad Girl); and she raised the pursuit of groupiedom from the stuff of rumor to an artform in and of itself.
All of which should ensure Lick Me a lascivious welcome from anyone who wants to know the "who"'s, "how"'s and, most amusingly, "with what"'s of the era's most storied superstars. Where Vanilla deviates from what we could describe as the biographical norm, however, is in her eye for cause and effect; the repercussions not only of her actions, but other people's too. Not since Tony Zanetta and Henry Edwards' Stardust, for example, have we been privy to such a hands-on look inside Bowie's Ziggy-era MainMan empire, and if that were this book's heart, then Lick Me would already be the most valuable book on the Bowie bookshelf. But Warhol and the Police offer further extremes, and no matter how many books there may be out there on the New York arts scene of the early-mid 1970s, Vanilla adds something new to each of them.
But even as she lived the high life, she was painfully aware of the corollaries that surrounded it, and she is painstakingly methodical in detailing them too. She may not have tasted true fame in her own right, but she knows its flavors regardless, and if Lick Me doesn't become a staple of all future media studies courses in college, then education itself should butt out of show business.
Lucid and lewd, telling and torrid, hilarious and horrifying, you could bury this book in adjectives and still not do it justice. Quite simply it is brilliant; the finest musical memoir of the century so far, and for several decades before that as well. Including the one that it dissects so dramatically.
Madeline Bocaro on October 13, for Roctober Magazine Reviews:
Five Stars - With a Cherry on Top!
(Chicago Review Press) [Guest Review by Madeline Bocaro] Five Stars - With a Cherry on Top! Cherry Vanilla's new book is so delicious, that I devoured it in one day. This is a long awaited tome from someone who was in the midst of all the mayhem - a fearless, sweet and vivacious groupie who became a 'superstar' - the nicest 'bad girl' around. It is sprinkled with name-droppings which include Jimmy Durante, Dean Martin, Cousin Brucie, Eddie Munster, Kris Kristofferson, Joni Mitchell, Warren Beatty, Don Johnson, Patti Smith, Mick Jagger David Bowie and Andy Warhol, to name a few. The back-cover praises are sung by filmmaker Tim Burton, Kate Pierson (B-52's), groupie extraordinaire Pamela Des Barres and Countess Luann De Lesseps (Real Housewives of New York City)...from the sublime to the ridiculous! The intro is by Rufus Wainwright. Cherry's book is even more exciting than her Scoops For You column in Creem magazine!
Cherry's mission statement: '...the passion of the groupie is probably the purest, holiest thing in all of rock and roll.'
Born Kathy Dorritie in New York City (1943), she grew up in Woodside, Queens - just one train stop from Manhattan. The mystique, lights, grit and glamour of the city drew her in. Her mom worked in a hotel above the famous Copacabana nightclub, where young Kathy witnessed 1940s and 50s old school glamour first hand - velvet mink, dazzling diamonds, expensive perfume, famous singers and movie stars. These textures and people shaped her life, and all the kinky details are gleefully revealed in her book.
Cherry speaks innocently of learning to enjoy and appreciate the fervent Catholicism that was forced upon her. 'It was the first live dramatic theatre I knew...but my true religion was rock n' roll.' Amidst some touching and naive childhood stories are instances of brutality on behalf of her un-glamourous dad who worked at the Dept. of Sanitation. His savage abortion of her pet Dalmatian's puppies resulted in little Kathy's OCD, and later manifested as nymphomania, an illness that she enjoyed with flair and gusto!
With show biz in her heart, Kathy started DJ-ing in the 1960s at a New York nightclub, spinning soul, R&B, Motown, Janis and Jimi. Honing her social networking skills by working at Madison Avenue ad agencies gained her newer and gayer friends. Weekends on Fire Island brought new drugs and more VIPs. Cavorting backstage at the Fillmore East allowed many more rock star encounters and conquests. Kathy's passion for words, poetry and music fueled her zeal for Public Relations. She became lover and friend to the famous and infamous at Max's Kansas City, and everywhere she went. She joined the Dadaist performance troupe Theater of the Ridiculous (described in her diary as 'tragedy disguised as comedy.')
One of her clever ruses was ordering printed cards at Tiffany & Co. which read, "You are beautiful, so am I" with her name and phone number. This ensured liaisons with many beautiful strangers. But Cherry admits, 'good old- fashioned lovemaking, both in body and spirit...despite all of my experimentations and petty perversions, has really always been my favorite kind.' After narrowly escaping yet another dangerous predicament (her love of NYC is apparent here) she says, 'New York City cops are so great. Without treating me like the dumb slut I obviously was, they escorted me back up to my apartment...'
In the early 70s, Cherry Vanilla lived and worked in the best of both worlds. She was among Andy Warhol's factory superstars, and also was present at the beginning (and instrumental in the climax) of David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust fame. When worlds collide, fabulous things happen! The Warhol entourage was in London performing Andy's play Pork. The Bowies attended, and essentially hired the entire cast on the spot, as their publicity crew. Cherry was appointed as Bowie's spokesperson at his PR firm Mainman. She spun his decadent debacles into humorous headlines, and became lovers with David and his wife Angie.
Upon realizing that she was an artiste herself, a succession of performances ensued (starting with a poetry reading and book, Pop Tart Compositions). Mick Jagger & David Bowie attended one of her comedic cabaret shows at NYC's Reno Sweeny's. Her first UK touring band included Sting of the Police. She also released a few albums and was a part of London's early Punk scene.
My fondest memory of Cherry was walking past her buttocks and hand-prints in cement, hung outside the entrance of Trude Heller's nightclub Greenwich Village for many years.
Congratulations Cherry on this super sweet book. You are a Rock Star!
Carol J. Binkowski in the Sept. 15, 2010 print issue of Library Journal:
Lick Me: How I Became Cherry Vanilla.
Vanilla personified the sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll of the Sixties and Seventies, and she here reveals an astounding array of details about her life during those turbulent times. Onstage, she starred in the Andy Warhol production of Pork. She steeped herself in rock 'n' roll and toured with the Police. A poet, singer, DJ, songwriter, publicity
rep, groupie, and more, Vanilla was linked with David Bowie, Kris Kristofferson, and scores of others - the list reading like a who's who of the times with absorbing and titillating behind-the-scenes anecdotes. She survived untold highs and lows battling
drugs and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Yet the heart of this story is how and why a little girl from Queens, NY, evolved into a larger-than-life celebrity. Tales of an insensitive father, a compassionate mother whose night job as a telephone operator
provided Vanilla with a glimpse into the Copacabana, and youthful capers will engage readers from the beginning, offering a thought-provoking, bittersweet prelude to the mayhem that follows. VERDICT This brutally honest, engagingly written, and often
raw memoir of a pop-culture icon reflects a bygone generation.
Carol J. Binkowski, Bloomfield, NJ
Lick Me: How I Became Cherry Vanilla (By Way of the Copacabana, Madison Avenue, the Fillmore East, Andy Warhol, David Bowie, and the Police)
A fixture in the music and club scenes since the 1960s, musician, groupie, and PR woman extraordinaire Vanilla takes readers on a wild romp through her drug- and sex-filled life. Born Kathleen Dorritie in Queens in 1943, Vanilla loved music from an early age and would often accompany her parents to the Copacabana in Manhattan, where she once met Dean Martin. Raucous parties--often fueled by acid and pot--were a fixture of her life in the '60s, as she dabbled in DJing in clubs and built an advertising career on Madison Avenue. In 1970, Vanilla had "a rock and roll revelation": she wanted to become a groupie, even though she was "already a twenty-six-year-old businesswoman of sorts." This led to trysts with musicians like Kris Kristofferson and David Bowie, whom she helped introduce to American audiences. As punk music began to overtake glam rock, Vanilla launched her own music career and briefly toured in the U.K., with the Police as her backup band, and later in the U.S. Vanilla's voice is distinctively sassy, despite her conventional storytelling methods, and her memoir is an entertaining peek into music's backstage world. (Nov.)
Deena Canale on October 15, 2010, streetsyoucrossed.blogspot.com:
More Required Reading
Earlier this week I went to my local branch of Chapters (Canada's answer to Barnes and Noble) with every intention of picking up the new Max's book, but ended up being far more intrigued by the presence of Cherry Vanilla's new autobiography, Lick Me, which I wasn't expecting to be out until November. I took it home and promptly devoured it--and now I'm not sure whether to file it with the groupie memoirs or on the sacred streetsyoucrossed NYC research shelf, because it covers both of my favorite sub-categories of rock & roll literature equally well. Not only does she make all the joints whose ads I've been collecting over the last few months come to life, but she manages to infuse all her classic sexanddrugsandrockandroll tales with perfectly blended tones of salaciousness and sensitivity. Since I'm also a Mad Men fan (not quite a Basketcase, but close), an added bonus was her discussion of her pre-groupie, pre-Pork, pre-Bowie days in the advertising industry, in which she was something of a psychedelic Peggy Olson (according to her, LSD rather than liquor was the social lubricant of choice among her Mad. Ave. peers). Plus she hails from my home borough--how could I not root for her based on that alone ferchrissakes? You can see some press and excerpts at her website, but you may as well skip the preliminaries and go straight for the whole book--it's a godsend to the likes of us and you won't be sorry!
Other books by Cherry Vanilla
Pop Tart COMPOSITIONS
poems, drawings and photographs in a limited edition
PUBLISHER: Vanilla Paper, Inc., 1974
Les Papiers De Ziggy Stardust
Le vrai-faux journal de David Bowie
Ghost-written for Bowie by Cherry Vanilla, and originally published from 1973 to 1975 as weekly columns called "My World by David Bowie" in the UK magazine, Mirabelle.
PUBLISHER: Hachette Litteratures, December 2002 (French translation)
David Bowie: lettere ai fan 1973-1975
Italian language edition of Les Papiers De Ziggy Stardust
publisher: No Reply/Velvet, April 2007