It takes a while to get into the groove of reading Whores [DaCapo Press] by Brendan Mullen. First off, it’s not told in story form. The book is a hodge-podge of excerpts and quotes of band members, friends and industry folk, taken from interviews from other sources, and loosely grouped to get various takes on subjects and eras of the band. However, real fans of Jane’s Addiction—and other late 80s, early 90s bands such as Mudhoney, Soundgarden, etc. will gobble it up, as all their heroes are quoted and, through their own voices and those of their peers, portrayed in a way that makes the reader feel they know them intimately.
It’s almost a shame that author Brendan Mullen stuck to his ‘oral biography’ idea so completely, letting the characters tell the story on their own. Whores is mostly lacking in a narrative framework, and the context of Mullen’s experience as a DJ, LA club booker and promoter and co-author of We Got The Neutron Bomb: The Untold Story of L.A. Punk and Lexicon Devil, a biography of the Germs’ Darby Crash would have served this book well.
In any case, Whores is an insider’s view on the LA/Hollywood heroin teen scene, the ever-changing music scene with its image wars (hair bands vs. alternative, industry vs. indie, etc.), and the long-time friendships that evolved and sometimes dissolved or died over drugs, egos and the direction of music. It’s also the behind the scenes stories of the family lives that shaped Jane’s Addiction’s lead singer, Perry Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, bassist Eric Avery and drummer Stephen Perkins. Sprinkled with lots of fun photos, rock and roll posters and flyers, and independent-released album covers, Whores is ultimately a nostalgic tour of the last decade. From the early experimental days of Perry’s first band as a surfer boy, Psi Com, through gender-bending and heroin, to founding Lollapalooza and the controversial reunion release for 2003’s Strays, Whores may not an edge-of-your-seat thriller, or even a poetic tribute, but it’s fun, interesting and worth picking up.