“Desperate Teenage Lovedolls”: Janet Housden tells Night Flight about her life as a Lovedoll

By on July 9, 2018

David Markey’s campy 1984 cult hit Desperate Teenage Lovedolls follows the rise and fall of an all-female Hollywood punk band who fuck and kill their way to the top.

Watch this low-budget 50-minute feature on Night Flight Plus!

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Desperate Teenage Lovedolls stars Hilary Rubens, Jennifer Schwartz, and Janet Housden as the Lovedolls.

They seek revenge on those who’ve wronged them, battling it out with the She-Devils, led by “Tanya Hearst” (Tracy Lea).

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The film co-stars Redd Kross’s Steve McDonald (“Johnny Tremaine”) and Jeff McDonald (“Tears Brunell”), Jordan Schwartz, Kim Pilkington and Dez Cadena.

David Markey’s first Super-8 cult classic was The Slog Movie, a 1982 rockumentary inspired by The Decline of Western Civilization.

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David Markey with members of Redd Kross (1988)

Markey and Jordan Schwartz teamed up with Schwartz’s sister, Jennifer, to create the story for Desperate Teenage Lovedolls.

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Below, we asked our friend Janet Housden to tell us about her life as a Lovedoll.

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Janet Housden (photo by Steve Housden)

Janet:

“If you had told me back in 1983 that we would still be talking about Desperate Teenage Lovedolls in Twenty-Fucking Eighteen, I would have accused you of being high. Then I would have asked if I could have some of whatever you were high on.

I mean, who could imagine that a no-budget Super-8 movie made by a gang of juvenile delinquent weirdos, full of in-jokes and pop culture references that were dated before the thing was even finished, would still be confusing and amusing people three decades later?

To tell the truth, I wasn’t even convinced there was film in the camera when I showed up for my first scene, where my character, for no reason I can ascertain, murders Jennifer Schwartz’s character’s mom, played by her brother Jordan wearing a dress over his jeans and t-shirt (there is a surprising amount of murder for a movie about an all-girl band).”

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“To me, it felt like we were kids playing, only instead of playing Cowboys and Indians, we were playing John Waters. Or at least I was. I couldn’t really believe that we were making an actual movie, especially not a movie that anyone but us would ever see.

Not that I knew anything about making movies, but doing things like recruiting random passersby for speaking parts, taking drugs on camera (there were no stunt drugs on the set of Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, except maybe the Minertia Blue), and most of all HAVING NO SCRIPT seemed kind of, I don’t know, insane?

Not that I cared, because it was fun. So much fun. Dressing up like an extra from a cheesy hippie exploitation movie and pretending to murder my friends, whilst guzzling forty-ouncers of Olde English and smoking whatever was passed my way was pretty much my dream job.”

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“Unfortunately I had gotten the part of the hippie drummer with unexplained violent tendencies partly because I happened to be playing drums for Redd Kross at the time, so I was hanging around anyway, and partly because I had a TOTALLY undeserved reputation for harboring, well, violent tendencies.

So, when I was unceremoniously relieved of my drumming duties, I was also fired from the film and replaced, Plan 9-style, with a stand-in who was half a foot shorter than me. I still have no idea who that person was.

Apparently SOMEONE had spread a rumor that I was planning to take my revenge by wreaking havoc on the set of the Lovedolls big concert scene.

First of all, no I wasn’t, and second of all, it was filmed at the filthy basement punk dive the Cathay de Grande, so how would anyone even notice a little extra havoc?”

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“Fortunately, we all made up in time for the premiere, where a good time was had by all. Except, sadly, Dave Markey.

Dave, it seems, had used a few Runaways songs without permission (hell, the film includes incidental music recorded directly off of TV, I don’t think music clearances were really a concern here) which summoned a wrathful Kim Fowley to the poop the party.

Mr. Fowley showed up with two girls, one carrying a spear (!), who he said were the New Runaways, and a briefcase, which he claimed was full of explosives. He also accused Dave of stealing his life’s story, which is pretty alarming if you’ve seen the movie.

Dave ended up swapping the music and changing the title from Desperate Teenage Runaways to Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, which is a little bit sad because the climactic battle to the death between the Lovedolls and the She-Devils was originally set to “Born to be Bad,” which was all manner of badass.”

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I was pretty impressed with the damn thing, to tell the truth. It featured some great performances, what is possibly the greatest drug freakout scene in cinematic history, and an impressive amount of violence.

I have to admit I was a little bummed to find that they’d named my character after a one-eyed lesbian gang member from the Jack Hill classic Switchblade Sisters.

I mean, not that there’s anything wrong with one-eyed lesbian gang members, but let’s face it, Patch is a pretty weak street name, and I got stuck with it in the sequel, too.

Oh yeah, there’s a sequel. I have a much bigger part in that one. You should totally rent it.”

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Markey has also directed lots of music videos, and documentaries, including 1991: The Year Punk Broke, and My Career as a Jerk.

Watch Desperate Teenage Lovedolls on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.