The GTO´s - Permanent Damage (1969)

Posted by Amelia Swhizzagers On 1:47 AM

The GTOs were a "groupie group" that consisted of Miss Pamela (Pamela Des Barres), Miss Sparky (Linda Sue Parker), Miss Lucy (Lucy McLaren), Miss Christine (Christine Frka), Miss Sandra (Sandra Leano), Miss Mercy (Mercy Fontentot) and Miss Cynderella (Cynthia Wells, later Cynthia Cale-Binion). The group hailed from the area around Los Angeles in the late 1960s, with most of the girls being denizens of the Sunset Strip scene. Their only album, Permanent Damage, was released in 1969.

Miss Pamela and Miss Sparky met while attending Cleveland High School. Miss Christine had travelled to LA from San Pedro with Miss Sandra, and both lived in the basement of Frank Zappa's log cabin in the mid 1960s. Miss Christine was the live-in nanny for Zappa's eldest two children, Dweezil and Moon Unit, before Miss Pamela took over the position during the late 1960s. Miss Mercy had emigrated from the Haight Ashbury hippie scene to LA due to "boredom", alleging she "couldn't be a hippie forever". Miss Cynderella was an addition to the group brought by Mercy after the nucleus of the group had been formed. This accounts for Cynderella's presence in some, but not all of the GTOs publicity shots. Miss Lucy was also not an original member and joined after the recording of Permanent Damage.

Originally known as "The Laurel Canyon Ballet Company", they changed their name to The GTOs on the advice of Frank Zappa, their financial supporter and producer. The new name is an acronym which, as Stanley Booth wrote, could mean "Girls Together Outrageously or Orally or anything else starting with O." The members were connected by their association with Zappa, who was a complex musician who encouraged their artistic endeavors, even though the GTOs were not singers of renown. Performances by the group were sparse, although they created a strong impression at their 1968 performance at the Shrine Auditorium. A mix of theatrics, singing and dance were staples of their act. Their only album, Permanent Damage (Straight Records), was produced in 1969 by Frank Zappa with the assistance of Lowell George (track 7 and 11). The songs are mixed in with conversations had between the members of the group, friends, and others, including Cynthia Plaster Caster and Rodney Bingenheimer. The album features songwriting contributions from Lowell George, Jeff Beck and Davy Jones. Permanent Damage was re-issued on CD in 1989 by Enigma Retro.

Miss Mercy and Miss Lucy were involved with a male version of a GTO - a "BTO" - named Mr. Bernardo, a half-Indian multi-sexual. Interestingly, Miss Christine and Miss Sandra were both of Serbian parentage, while Miss Lucy herself was Mexican-American.

Miss Pamela (born 1948) is the most famous and successful of the GTOs. Prior to joining the group she had been a member of Vito Paulekis' dancing troupe. Des Barres is the author of three memoirs with the first, I'm With The Band, based primarily on a diary she faithfully kept from high school through her eventual marriage, due, in part, to the encouragement she received from Zappa. All of the books describe life during the 1960s and the groupie scene, which Des Barres's book, Let's Spend the Night Together, a collection of interviews with fellow rock groupies, (2007) defends. Miss Pamela married and divorced musician Michael Des Barres. Together they have a son, musician Nicholas Des Barres, born in 1978.
Miss Mercy has been referred to as “a human facsimilie", by Miss Pamela. They still remain close friends. Miss Mercy's 'biography' in I’m With The Band was expanded at length within the chapter entitled, "Miss Mercy's Blues".
After the demise of the GTOs, Miss Cynderella briefly married John Cale of Velvet Underground, but the marriage ended in divorce. Cynderella died on February 19th, 1997 in Palm Desert, California but her death was not widely reported until 2007 when Pamela Des Barres mentioned it in her book Let's Spend the Night Together (inadvertently listing the wrong death year for some reason).
Miss Christine died on November 5, 1972, of an overdose in a house in Cohasset, Massachusetts which was being being rented out by Jonathan Richman and his original group, The Modern Lovers. Her death occurred shortly after she had spent close to a year in a full body cast to correct her crooked spine. She appears on the cover of Frank Zappa's album Hot Rats. Christine also dated Vincent Damon Furnier from labelmates Alice Cooper, as well as Todd Rundgren and members of the Flying Burrito Brothers.
Miss Lucy was married to the late Gordon McLaren (bassist for the NYC band called, ironically, The Groupies) from 1975 to 1981. She also appeared in Frank Zappa's "underground" film 200 Motels. Sadly, Lucy died in 1991 of complications from AIDS.
During her time as a GTO, Miss Sandra became pregnant by Zappa's resident artist, Calvin Schenkel, and had a daughter named Raven. Miss Sandra later moved back to San Pedro and eventually Italy after marrying and giving birth to three children. She died of ovarian cancer on April 23, 1991.
Miss Sparky performed on the song "Disco Boy" on Zappa's 1976 album, "Zoot Allures" (credited under the name "Sharkie Barker"), and has also worked at the Walt Disney Corporation.
Track Listing
01. The Eureka Springs Garbage Lady
02. Miss Pamela and Miss Sparky discuss STUFFED BRAS and some of their early gym class experiences
03. Who's Jim Sox?
04. Kansas and the BTO's
05. The Captain's Fat Theresa Shoes
06. Wouldn't It Be Sad If There Were No Cones?
07. Do Me In Once And I'll Be Sad, Do Me In Twice And I'll Know Better (Circular Circulation)
08. The Moche Monster Review
09. TV Lives
10. Rodney
11. I Have A Paintbrush In My Hand To Color A Triangle
12. Miss Christine's First Conversation With The Plaster Casters Of Chicago
13. The Original GTO's
14. The Ghost Chained To The Past, Present and Future (Shock Treatment)
15. Love On An Eleven Year Old Level
16. Miss Pamela's First Conversation With The Plaster Casters Of Chicago
17. I'm In Love With The Ooh-Ooh Man

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