Rock and Roll Heaven

Whole Lotta Love

For a groupie back in the '70s, getting Robert Plant's attention was a high point — now if only I could remember how the night ended

Photograph by Getty Images
Robert Plant screamed and bolted out the door, zipping his fly.

Even though I don't watch TV, I watched the first season of "Girls" because Lena Dunham's parents had been my personal training clients when she was in a stroller. I felt an allegiance to them; that feeling you get when great things happen to people you really like. Their daughter was a star! And along with Lena, another star of "Girls" was Jemima Kirke. She's the daughter of Simon Kirke, the drummer for the rock band Bad Company.

In the end of the first season, Jemima Kirke's character Jessa is an opportunist who marries an obnoxious rich guy. That made me uneasy. I thought back to when I was an opportunist, a teenager in the '70s who, like Jessa, faked intimacy and checked out during sex because I wanted things.

It's not often that I encountered, face-to-face, any of the rock stars I had slept with until Simon Kirke bought a house in Bellport. Bellport is a bucolic village on Long Island's south shore full of famous people avoiding the weekend gawkers, paparazzi and the decadence of the Hamptons, which is just down the road. My then-husband and kids and I had a little beach house in Bellport, and I had a thriving personal training business of famous clientele who didn't want to stop exercising just because they weren't in the city.

One winter night, Patricia, the chic owner of the town's hip restaurant who was always looking for clients for me, told me, sotto voce, that Mick Jones of Foreigner and Simon Kirke from Bad Company had just bought two houses near the bay for their big families and were coming to the restaurant on New Year's Eve. She was turning it into a private party. Did my family and I want to join them?

On New Year's Eve, as midnight passed and all children had long been sent home with babysitters, I was just tipsy enough to sit at the bar next to Simon Kirke. We said cheers and happy New Year, and then I said with a smile, "I wonder if we slept together about 20 years ago."

I then told a story that went something like this: Bad Company opened for Led Zeppelin in Los Angeles and I was backstage with the concert promoter, Danny Kresky. Afterward, the party was in the Beverly Hills home of one of the guys from Swan Song records. The band showed up late; by that time, the groupies, record company execs, other musicians, Iranians in suits and Eurotrash hangabouts were having sex, in the pool, watching films or passed out.

When the bands limos pulled up, the vibe changed and everything came to life. I had my eye on Simon Kirke. I loved drummers; they were sexy. My first drummer was Sandy West of the Runaways. Drummers didn't have the ego of frontmen and they seemed to be more in their own heads — more cerebral, which was interesting to me. But a lot was at stake at this party. It was a competition among groupies and I had to aim big: Robert Plant or Paul Rodgers.

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Just before dawn, it was clear that Lori Maddox, one of the groupie stars, was with Jimmy Page, and Sable, the No. 1 groupie, was with … I don't remember … maybe it's when she was dating Johnny Thunders. So I got Robert Plant's attention by lighting his cigarette, one knee on the couch next to him, as if I were about to straddle his lap.

When he got up and nodded toward the back door, everyone saw — especially Lori and another groupie, Queenie. It was a stellar moment in my groupie career. I held my champagne glass high and strutted, bumping into people slightly to make sure that everyone would turn to see that Robert Plant had taken me by the hand and was leading me toward a guesthouse in the back of the property.

In the guesthouse, I leaned back on the bed, letting my spandex skirt hike up above my fishnet stockings. Plant unzipped his leather pants and then went to shut the door, reeling a little. We were both smashed.

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As he walked back, before anything else happened … an enormous flying insect buzzed us. I knew about bugs from my childhood lawn and loved them. I yelled out, "Stag-horn beetle!" I was about to tell him stag-horn beetle facts when he screamed a scream that rivaled his best in "Whole Lotta Love" and bolted out the door zipping his fly. He ran, cursing, past the pool, where lots of people were still hanging out, and back to the main house.

That looked really bad — Robert Plant being seen going into a room with me only to come out screaming a moment later. I watched the beetle for a second then followed him, yelling about the HUGE bug, trying to save face. No one really cared, and a moment later, Plant was surrounded by his entourage and assorted groupies. He gave me a nod and a wink.

I spotted Simon Kirke. I thought he was amazing on the song "All Right Now" when he was with Free, but I didn't tell him that. It was a delicate balance, talking music with musicians when you were a groupie. That was the purview of dudes and it could have a desexualizing effect if the guy had talked to 10 geeks before you about the same thing. Instead, I just said how much I liked the concert as we walked down a hall. And then I don't remember what happened.

Simon Kirke poured me another glass of champagne at the bar in Bellport. He loved the story, remembered the concert and laughed about Robert Plant and the bug.

"I don't remember if I slept with you," I said.

"That's OK, I don't remember either," he said. And we toasted to the unremembered groupie days, where anything was possible.

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