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Interview With Pamela Des Barres, Cherry Banez

Aired August 5, 2003 - 20:34   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: To many Americans, it may not have come as any surprise when Kobe Bryant admitted to cheating on his wife. My next guest may be able to shed some insight into why men do this. I'm joined now from Atlanta by Cherry Banez. Banez is a sports and entertainment publicist. I'm also joined tonight from Los Angeles by Pamela Des Barres. She's the author of the book "I'm With The Band: Confessions of a Groupie." The book details her exploits with the likes of Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, and Jim Morrison.
Welcome to both of you.



ZAHN: Cherry, OK. I'll make sure I'll pronounce that a little more accurately.

Cherry, let's talk a little bit about the kind of work you do in the NFL. And I know you have some very strong feelings about the temptations that come these players' way. I want you to walk us through some of the more outrageous stunts that you've seen pulled on the road by groupies to get closer to these players, if it's clean enough to say on a family news program tonight.

BANEZ: Hey, groupies come in all shapes or form. I mean, they're in it to get to the bling-bling lifestyle, and they will do everything they can. I'm 5 feet tall, some of my football players are 6'5," 277 pounds, and they are very aggressive. They come straight for me. And to bypass me, to get to my client, they pass phone numbers to me, they touch my clients. I mean, I've seen, hey, women who look like Halle Berry, very pretty women who are professional, who have misrepresented themselves. I mean, I had one professional -- a producer who asked me to give my client her phone number because she wanted him to do community service. Well, I passed on the information. My client said, hey, yeah, I'm all for community work. Come to find out, she wanted a different kind of community service, if you know what I mean.

ZAHN: Yes, I guess you could see that one coming.

BANEZ: So those kinds of things. Women stake out hotels. Groupies are very smart, they're very strategic. They come up and think of different ways, how to get -- find out what hotels the NBA, NFL athletes are playing. When they're away, they stake out the hotel lobby. They go to the entrances of -- the back entrances, where the players come out. It's just been very amazing to me how smart they are, because they are on a mission. So it's by any means necessary to get and connect to these athletes and celebrities in general.

ZAHN: So, Cherry, you talk a little bit about how aggressive they are and how strategic they are in their planning, but you also make it clear that there are different levels of groupies. How do you separate them?

BANEZ: Yes, you have your groupies who look like Halle Berry, dress like Mariah Carey, have a body like Pam Greer, who are, again, very professional, or you think carry themselves with a lot of class, but they are very bold, and they touch the athletes, they touch them in places that they shouldn't be touching. I mean, my office gets phone calls asking me to relay messages.

It's just been incredible. Women -- and you also have your -- so we'll call those the high-class groupies. And you also have your -- your around the mill, around the way, what they call in vernacular terms chickenhead groupies. And those are the ones who wear very short miniskirts, the buttocks are hanging, a lot of cleavage. Hey, absolutely -- again, they're on a mission. Hence, in terms of self- respect, it's just not there, because they really want to do what they can to become a part of this bling-bling lifestyle that they see professional athletes and celebrities in general have.

ZAHN: And, Cherry, as you've been speaking, I see Pamela smiling. Does this all sound familiar with you? Is there sort of a universal quality to groupiedom here?

DES BARRES: Well, there's no reason why someone wouldn't want to be a groupie. It is, like she was saying, a wonderful lifestyle, and you know, it's all about what the person does, usually. For me it was all about...

BANEZ: I didn't say it was a wonderful lifestyle. I'm sorry.

DES BARRES: It was all about the music for me. So it was like -- you know, I just wanted to be near it. And I'm sure these girls just want to be near that amazing energy and these beautiful men doing such an amazing job at what they do. So it's all -- you just wanted to be connected, you want to be part of that scene.

ZAHN: And when were you at the losing end of all this, Pamela? All of those relationships could not have been perfect, as none in life are.

DES BARRES: I never considered myself at the losing end of anything, because I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. I put myself there exactly where I wanted to be. I spent a lot of wonderful time with these amazing musicians, and had such a great time. And I don't regret any of it.

ZAHN: And when you hear these descriptions of these women that, as Cherry described, who flout themselves at these sporting events, you don't have any... DES BARRES: With the buttocks hanging out?

ZAHN: That sounded familiar to you too. Do you sense any humiliation that they might feel, particularly ...

BANEZ: How about self...

ZAHN: Yes, go ahead.

BANEZ: I'm sorry, how about self-respect, Pamela? Self-respect?

DES BARRES: Oh, I always had great self-respect. In fact, most of these women do. I think most of them do. They're doing what they want to do. They're spending their -- trying to find out how they can spend time with someone who inspires them, uplifts them, and makes them feel good. And I don't think there's anything wrong with it. Unless someone's married. Unless someone's married.

ZAHN: Right. OK. So you drew the line there.

DES BARRES: Oh, yeah.

ZAHN: But what about the money trail here? I mean, the perception by some members of the American public is that these women are doing this because they see a gravy train down the road.

DES BARRES: Well, when I was doing it in my day, you know, in the '60s and early '70s, we never thought about money, really. I didn't think about what I could get from it. I just wanted to be near it. I wanted to be part of it.

It's probably different now, because, you know, obviously, there's a lot more money. These people are making humongous amounts of money. And I guess there's a part of that -- you know, I just never had much to do with that. I didn't think about the money.

ZAHN: Pamela Des Barres reflects on her life as a groupie. And once again, the book called "I'm With the Band: Confessions of a Groupie," and Cherry Banez, thank you for your time as well this evening.

BANEZ: Thank you, Paula.

ZAHN: Nice to have both of you with us.


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