They just plugged in and started running through their songs. I carried this sense of shame and of thinking it was somehow my fault for decades. Currie says the girls, who were then all 16 and 17, never talked about how to handle the rape. There was no decision or strategy. Jackie tried to do the same. She did tell her sister Carol, who was just 13 at the time.
That compartmentalization is painfully apparent in a photo of Jackie and Fowley taken in By her reckoning, the photo was work: She had a job to do and she was doing it. And the demands of the job were relentless. While the girls yearned to be taken seriously as musicians, Fowley insisted on selling them as hard-rock jailbait.
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He played up the youth angle every chance he got, recognizing that rebellious young women were craving self-expression and that male audiences found bad-girl fantasies appealing. He wanted us to have attitude and charisma. The mistrust between Jackie and everyone else associated with the Runaways made her quick-tempered and guarded.
On long car rides between tour dates, Jackie refused to sleep, fearing that their driver would pass out. She made sure to stay sober on tour and complained when their manager, Scott Anderson, spent food money on drugs for the band. Instead, Anderson got her pregnant and Currie had an abortion while the rest of the Runaways were recording their second album. When Fowley wanted the girls to wear identical Runaways T-shirts with their names on them, as if they were a sports team or the female Ramones, Jackie objected. She thought the band deserved better.
One time, she says she went so far as to try to depose Fowley.
The coup attempt elicited nothing more than a shrug from the other girls. But she says Jett got on her knees and begged her to stay—and a few weeks later, they set off on an extended tour through Japan, where they were legitimate stars. Hundreds of fans greeted the Runaways at the airport, and their days were filled with photo shoots and TV appearances.
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At their sold-out shows, Jackie was shocked to see as many women as men in the crowd, including a large number of teenage girls. After the tour, fans sent her letters saying how inspired they were. But dysfunction travels. She treasured the instrument—it felt like one of the few things from her music career that was hers alone.
When she rushed offstage after the main set, she found that the crew had blown off her request for a new stand. And when she went back out for the encore, a roadie handed her a different bass, saying that the Thunderbird had gone out of tune. The band and crew were acting weird around her, quiet and conspiratorial.
It was a familiar feeling. Later in the evening, Smythe came by her room and told her that her beloved Thunderbird had fallen off the stand. Its head had snapped off.
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When Smythe left, Jackie fell apart. She felt alone, like nobody gave a shit. She picked up a Coke bottle and whipped it against the wall, shattering it into pieces. She took one of the bigger shards and ran it down four inches of her forearm. If lawyers ever contacted him, he needed to deny being in the motel room that night. This was part of a pattern, Williams says. A day or two after the rape, Fowley made sure Williams attended a party of his in Hermosa Beach. There, Fowley warned him not to talk about what he'd seen. Fowley then asked Williams to pick up a guitar and gave him an on-the-spot songwriting lesson.
It was kind of a running joke. She was shrieking it. It shook me to my core—and everybody would laugh. A few months ago, I pulled up to a small, white house tucked away in the Hollywood Hills. Jackie greeted me from the shade of her doorway with a nervous smile and an apology about not having had time to put on makeup. She needed tea.
She led me through her house—which was spotless: the dining room had been partially converted to store cleaning supplies—toward the kitchen, where she grabbed a mug. Luke denies the allegation and filed a defamation suit in response. More than a dozen women had come forward against Bill Cosby. Kesha filed a lawsuit alleging that she had been drugged and assaulted by her producer, Dr. Jackie saw herself in those young women and knew all the hurt and shame that awaited them.
They can take vibrant young people and turn them into something else. She sold her Thunderbird bass and never played in another band again. It made her feel too vulnerable. On the Sunset Strip, she was dogged by gossip about her breakdown in Japan. And most of her friends from high school were getting ready to go off to college; their lives had changed. There were too many days when Jackie was alone in her house replaying it all. She did record promotion and later took odd jobs, working as a used car salesman and selling toner cartridges over the phone.
She auditioned for a role in This Is Spinal Tap as a confused groupie who puts both contact lenses in one eye. Not until she enrolled at UCLA, in her mids, did she start to seem more like her old, pre-Runaway self. In , Jackie graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a combined major in linguistics and Italian and began studying at Harvard Law School, where she took all but one of her first year classes with Barack Obama.
After earning her degree, she landed a series of well-paying jobs, mostly doing entertainment law for film studios and talent agencies. She vacationed in Italy and Morocco and took up photography. She bought a house. Jackie thought she had come to terms with her rape or at least figured out how to live with it. I stuck it in a box in the attic and walled it in. Except, she says now, the rape had warped her life in ways she failed to recognize.
Sleep, always an issue for her, became more of one. The last time she dozed off feeling truly safe was 30 years ago. Also, because of the way the other Runaways had treated her, she carried this nagging feeling that maybe the rape was her fault. How could they have not supported her otherwise?
Currie depicted the incident in lurid detail, but instead of Jackie, the victim was a fictionalized groupie who encouraged her rapist. Jackie was merely a bystander, and an indifferent one at that. Jackie threatened legal action over this account, at which point Currie collected affidavits from two witnesses. The publisher ultimately decided to pull the book, and Jackie continued to stay silent about what had happened to her. This was a revelation. Jackie no longer wanted to push the rape as far out of her mind as possible; she wanted to know everything about it: Who else was in the room?
Did they feel guilty about not intervening? Would she, in turn, feel guilty about that? Jackie knew what she needed to do. She set about trying to track down Fowley. In the few times that Jackie had spoken to him on the phone years earlier, he would begin the conversation by asking if she was taping the call. Now, sick with bladder cancer, he brushed off her emails, and the number she had for him was disconnected.
Inspired by a lawsuit filed against Cosby by one of his alleged victims, she met with an attorney.
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She craved an acknowledgement that what Fowley did was wrong, an apology. She never got that moment. The study of this phenomenon dates back to , when Kitty Genovese, a New York City bar manager, was stabbed to death while her neighbors allegedly ignored her cries. It only gets more confusing when other bystanders are nearby; the more witnesses there are, the less likely it is that one of them will act.
A study found that witnesses were less likely to intervene in cases of sexual assault than iPod theft. Jackie found herself becoming more understanding of the other people in the room. I think we have a lot to discuss. When Jackie finally called over a month later, it was only under the pretense of arranging a meeting.