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Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go's Tells All

abstract:Depending on your age and your taste in music, you may not recognize this author's name, but you will likely recognize her band, The Go-Go's. This 80's punk rock band came out of Los Angeles California and was the first all-girl band to write their own songs and play their own instruments. The members originally consisted of Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar, vocals), Margot Olaverra (bass), and Elissa Bello (drums). Their first album Beauty and the Beat went double platinum and since its release the Go-Go's have sold over 7 million records. I still remember the cover art of their 1982 album Vacation which featured 5 lovely ladies in white frilly hats, pink tops and white skorts waterskiing parallel in a single line. It was retro-bitching. In addition to their success, they had a reputation for hard partying on the A-list circuit. Belinda Carlisle has had the most successful solo career of the group. She's also just released her memoir titled, Lips Unsealed published by Crown, a division of Random House (June 1, 2010), which is getting great reviews from Kirkus and others for (in addition to the heady girl-power celebrity stuff) its unguarded honesty surrounding her drug and alcohol issues, her battle with weight loss, low self esteem and abusive relationships. Below is an excerpt from her book. Check it out along with the You Tube videos of the girls performing and some of their album cover art. It's the perfect summer read while you listen to their music on your iPod.


June 29, 2010


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.

Excerpted from Lips Unsealed: A Memoir by Belinda Carlisle Copyright © 2010 Belinda Carlisle. Excerpted by permission of Crown Publishing, a division of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved.

Random House Link
You Tube We Got The Beat video
You Tube Vacation video.



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