Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A review of Rock Monster: My Life With Joe Walsh, by Kristin Casey...

A couple of weeks ago, I was enjoying a lazy afternoon and happened to read an article on the Daily News about rock star Joe Walsh's proclivities toward BDSM.  I probably shouldn't have been too shocked about Walsh's love for kink.  He's always been drawn to life in the fast lane.  Walsh is also a notorious recovering addict and alcoholic and has been so for as long as I've known about him.

I grew up listening to Joe Walsh's music, both as an Eagles' fan and as a Walsh fan.  The man can play guitar like no other.  He also has a wry, offbeat sense of humor that has always been appealing to me.  However, it's not a secret that he used to party really hard.  Now, at age 70, Walsh is on his fifth marriage, having married Marjorie Bach in 2008 (sister of Barbara Bach, who is married to Ringo Starr).

In the late 1980s, Walsh was in his early 40s and freshly divorced from his third wife, Juanita Boyer (Jody).  He met Kristin Casey, former stripper turned author, at the Radisson Hotel in Austin, Texas.  At the time, Casey was about 20 years old and a college dropout.  Walsh had just done the "moonwalk" and snorted some cocaine.  Casey, in her infinite wisdom and tender years, determined that Walsh was the man she was gonna marry someday.

Casey is not among the five women who have married Joe Walsh.  However, she did spend several years as his girlfriend, snorting cocaine, smoking crack, traipsing around the country and occasionally abroad, following Walsh in his rock star life.  She chronicles her life with him in her new book, Rock Monster: My Life With Joe Walsh.

Ordinarily, I might have put this review on my music blog.  I felt that my review of Casey's book should go on this blog, though, because her book is not just about the life of a rock star's girlfriend.  Rock Monster actually made me think and feel some things.  I think this review of the book deserves the negligibly larger audience it will get on my main blog.

First off, Kristin Casey is a good writer.  She's only a little bit older than I am, so I can relate to how things were in the late 80s and early 90s.  She was in her early 20s then, but I was a teenager.  All three of my sisters are older than Casey is; she could have been my sister had the stars aligned differently.  On some level, I feel a slight kinship to Kristin Casey.  We have a few things in common.  Of course, I was not blessed with a body that any man would want to see stripped in public.

Casey, apparently, was a great exotic dancer back in the day and, based on her pictures, I can see that she was also very pretty.  It's also plain to me that Casey is intelligent.  Her writing is mostly very solid, although I did notice that she misspelled Taylor Dayne's name.  I hesitate to judge her too harshly for that.  I haven't thought of Dayne myself in many years, although she was quite popular in the late 80s.

Casey explains that she grew up with a very strict and disapproving Catholic mother, who went to church all the time and never seemed satisfied with her daughter's achievements.  From a young age, Casey rebelled against her mother's strict religious beliefs.  I don't know why, but it seems like a lot of young Catholic women do this.  I can think of a couple of other memoirs I read of beautiful young women who were raised in strict Catholic households and turned to stripping.  Here's just one review I wrote about a book written by former Catholic girl gone wild.  I know there have been others, although I'm not going to take the time to look for them right now.

Growing up, Kristin Casey was smart and liked to write.  As a youngster, she dreamt of writing books, and even tried her hand at a writing contest.  Unfortunately, she was terrified of failure and needed a lot of reassurance.  Her parents, particularly her mother, reportedly didn't supply her with the attention or regard she needed.  She also failed to find any mentors in other places.  Consequently, by the time she was about to finish high school, she had become an alcoholic.  It would be easy for me to criticize Casey for "blaming her parents", but actually, she seems to own her part of why she turned to stripping and drugs instead of exploring her dreams of being a writer.  She flat out admits that she's not a resilient person; or, at least she wasn't when she was much younger than she is now.

So there she was, 20 years old, living in Austin, a college dropout who was a knockout.  She and Joe Walsh started dating and very quickly, she became aware of Walsh's exotic tastes, both in drugs and sex.  Although Casey was no stranger to exotic sex herself, Walsh's love for BDSM was a new experience for her and something she apparently didn't enjoy very much.  She doesn't write too much about her bondage sessions with Walsh.  I get the sense that she was bored by BDSM and basically tolerated it for Walsh's sake.

What Casey did enjoy was snorting cocaine, and she and Joe Walsh snorted a whole lot of cocaine.  In fact, one time they snorted some bad stuff that pretty much destroyed Casey's nasal septum.  A doctor told her that if she wasn't careful, her nose would be destroyed.  Casey's solution was to attempt to use the substance in new ways, including rectally (which evidently didn't go well).  She also started using crack.  At one point, she was so desperate for the stuff that she pawned a $1000 bracelet Walsh gave her for $15 so she could get a rock.

Meanwhile, Walsh, whose career had slowed somewhat since the Eagles first broke up in 1980, was still touring with other bands.  Sometimes Casey tagged along with Walsh, hanging out with the likes of Dr. John, Clarence Clemons, Billy Preston, Dave Edmunds and Ringo Starr.  Sometimes, she stayed home and waited for him.  One time, Walsh judged a Miss USA pageant and Casey later saw him on TV, getting out of a limo with one of the contestants.  He cheated on her and, though he had invited her to live with him, never really allowed her to make their house feel like her home.  She basically always knew that he could ditch her without a second thought if he wanted to, so she was caught in a situation where she had to look the other way when he stepped out.

Casey also includes some fun snippets about the rock stars and actors she met via Joe Walsh.  I particularly enjoyed her take on Stevie Nicks, who also dated Walsh back in the day.  I was a little shocked and saddened by a comment Casey made about Bonnie Raitt, whose music thrills me.  Apparently, Bonnie can be catty when she wants to be... but then, can't we all?  As a music lover, I enjoyed reading about some of the people I can only dream of encountering.  On the other hand, I also think it's sad that Casey was basically fucked up the whole time she was living that lifestyle.

Seriously...  Casey had so much going for her.  I think it's a shame that she fell into serious drug abuse to the point at which she almost destroyed her nose.  I give Casey credit, though, because she isn't defensive about her drug abuse.  She even writes about how Joe Walsh even tried to help her launch a writing career.  She was having trouble coming up with an idea of what to write about, so Joe offered to let her write a book about him.  The plan was for her to record him telling his stories and answering questions about his life.  Sadly, cocaine ruined that opportunity for her.  She was too blitzed to interview him coherently.

Walsh did ask Casey to marry her.  In fact, Lionel Richie even offered to perform the ceremony.  However, as a condition of their marriage, Walsh wanted Casey to go to rehab.  She was unable to get clean.  You know your drug addiction is super bad when Joe Walsh wants you to get rehab!

Fortunately, Casey's story has a relatively happy ending.  Although she and Joe Walsh did not get married and live happily ever after, Casey did finally manage to get cleaned up.  She and Walsh briefly got back together after they both got sober, though they realized their relationship couldn't work.  Casey makes it sound like they parted amicably.  And Casey did finally manage to write her book.  She now works as an "intimacy coach" and drug counselor.

Overall, I liked Rock Monster.  I think I'd give it at least four out of five stars.  I commend Casey for surviving her time with a rock star and being able to share her story with curious Walsh fans like me.  I also appreciated that Casey didn't leave me thinking Walsh is a total asshole, even though he sometimes acted like one (but in fairness, so did she-- cocaine does that to a person).  Her account seems very fair minded to me, especially given how crazy things were when she and Walsh were together.  It would be easy for her to be bitter and blaming everything on other people.  I'm happy to report that Casey doesn't do that.  It sounds like she's finally become resilient after all.  




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