Gina Gershon’s made quite a name for herself as a B-movie actress. I’ll pause for a moment to let any of her fans throw a conniption fit over my opening comment, yet if you really plan to argue that she’s anything but, then perhaps you should pop over to the Internet Movie Database and do your homework like I did. This isn’t a statement made lightly, because, believe me, if someone asks, “Who thinks Gina Gershon’s hot?”, I’m the first one with my hand in the air. But I checked and double-checked to be absolutely sure, and, when you get right down to it, the predominance of her career has consisted of roles in films that either did fair to middling box office or, in many cases, barely got out of the starting gate before heading quickly to your friendly neighborhood video store. Sorry, Gina.
As it happens, Gershon’s recent collaboration with the Independent Film Channel, Rocked, is a tale about one of those films, Prey for Rock and Roll, written by Cheri Lovedog and Robin Whitehouse, and directed by Alex Steyermark. The film was based on Lovedog’s real-life experiences as an aging punk rocker in Los Angeles, and it found Gershon performing her own vocals and, with a little tutoring from Joan Jett, playing guitar as well. When the time came for the film to be released, the distributors apparently put Gershon over a barrel and said, “If you don’t go out on tour to promote the flick, then we’ll only put it in three theaters.”
Rocked With Gina Gershon
(New Video Group)
US DVD: 27 Jul 2004
Okay, so that’s a quote from Gershon’s voiceover during the opening credits of Rocked rather than from the distributors themselves, so it’s hard to know if that’s precisely what they said, but, whatever the case, Gershon clearly decided that her options were limited. So she found herself a backing band in the form of Girls Against Boys and took to the road.
Rocked is an interesting story of what an actor will do to promote a film that she truly believes in, but it also shows the lifestyle of a band on tour. Gershon, a diehard music fan, is aware of how the general public perceives the concept of an actor turned musician, and she does her best to demonstrate that she stands out from the pack. She’s pretty successful at it, too. Her vocal range is somewhat limited, but, when she’s really on, there’s an undeniable similarity to Chrissie Hynde; when she’s not on, her stage presence is still undeniable, with the phrase “smoldering sexuality” not even beginning to cover it. The shows may not sell out, but they’re consistently filled with a combination of diehard fans, (her lesbian fanbase seems to be right up there with Melissa Etheridge’s, if the interviews with the attendees are any indication), and curious people who just think she’s hot and are willing to buy a ticket to see her up close.
Gershon’s frustration at the film’s distributors, who seem never to have promoted a movie in their lives, is understandable; viewers will be left just as seething mad as Gershon at the way they bungle chances to publicize the film at every turn. Despite that, she gives it her all at every concert, even when she’s battling illness or sheer exhaustion.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the show is the opportunity to see various celebrities when they’re being “just plain folks.” Chris Rock, for instance, shows up backstage at one of Gershon’s shows, and it’s amazing how low-key and (relatively) soft-spoken he comes across. At the same time, though, Drea de Matteo, Gershon’s co-star in Prey for Rock and Roll, shows that her roles as Adriana La Cerva (The Sopranos) and Gina Tribbiani (Joey) are really just opportunities for her to play herself.
Gershon’s voiceovers are the only part of the show that gets tiring. She seems to be searching for a breezy, nudge-nudge kind of style, where she’s talking to the viewer as if they’re her buddies, but it generally comes off sounding forced. She’d have been better served to fill in the narrative gaps by interspersing footage of the tour with interview segments done after the fact. Also, in that she’s an executive producer of the show, one can’t help but suspect that this isn’t entirely the no-holds-barred story of life on the road with Gina Gershon. Surely, any truly embarrassing bits were left on the cutting room floor.
Rocked with Gina Gershon will, if nothing else, make you think about indie films in a completely different light. The next time you walk into a video store and see a movie on the shelf that you never even knew was in theaters, your instinct won’t be to think that it’s awful; instead, you’ll think, “Geez, this movie’s promoters must’ve really sucked!”