Though often ridiculed as prefabricated poster girls for male sexual fantasies, the Runaways blazed a trail for women in rock by launching a guitar-driven assault on pop music. Now, thanks to "Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways," a new generation of female rockers can acknowledge the debt owed to these underground sirens.
Produced and directed by former Runaways bassist Vicki Blue (now credited as Victory Tischler-Blue), the documentary features performance footage as well as new and old interviews with onetime bandmembers Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Cherie Currie and Sandy West, among others. The clips, many of which were shot by fans on Super 8 film and later sent to Blue, are bolstered by cutting-edge visual effects and an innovative approach to filmmaking that makes it "more like a dark ride than a documentary film," Blue said.
The film will be finished in September and entered into next year's Sundance Film Festival, which takes place in January. The response received from the festival will determine the release date and whether or not the film will make it into theaters.
Singer Currie, drummer West (Sandy Pesavento), bassist Jackie Fox (Jacqueline Fuchs) and guitarists Jett (Joan Larkin) and Ford were assembled in 1975 by manager Kim Fowley and released their self-titled debut the following year. The teenage lineup underwent several renovations, and the band eventually called it quits in 1979, but not before gaining a reputation for wearing trashy lingerie onstage. The lingerie, which was Fowley's idea, proved to be a double-edged sword: it won the band attention at the cost of credibility.
"Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways" is the culmination of three years of work. Blue, who has worked as a television producer/director for nearly 15 years, originally intended to compile the footage for personal posterity and send the tapes out as gifts to her former bandmates. While she was editing the film, several people nearby, who turned out to be Runaways fans, heard the music coming from Blue's edit bay. It then became clear that more than those involved would be interested in the band's story.
"Edgeplay" refers to the S&M term for pushing oneself to the limits of reality and fantasy, a definition that Blue said suits the experience of being in the Runaways.
"It's basically defining your own limits and how far you are willing to go within the confines of your own being," Blue said of the title. "The story of the Runaways is quite a dark tale, where things are never really as they seemed, ... along with the fact that we were only 16 and 17 years old and traveling around the world completely unchaperoned."