Des Barres – who had encounters with Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Jim Morrison and others – also told how Crowe had “dismissed” her claim that the character Penny Lane had been based on her, although he later apologized.
“I’m not saying it wasn’t a good movie,” she told Vulture in a recent interview. “It was a positive look at the groupie-muse. And I’ve been trying to redeem the word ‘groupie’ for most of my life.” When she attended the premiere, however, she was upset by the similarities between Kate Hudson’s portrayal of Penny and her own real life. “I was actually dumbstruck,” she recalled. “Because that character was basically more me than [fellow groupies] Bebe Buell or Pennie Trumbull. She looked way more like me.”
She continued: “It made it impossible for me to sell my film. … I confronted [Crowe] after this film came out, and he basically dismissed me. But then I saw him a few years ago, and he sort of apologized. He actually said, ‘What can I do to to make it up to you?’ I said, ‘I should have been a consultant.’”
Des Barres argued that the role of groupie in the rock world had been distorted by the “uptight sexual nature of America,” but also said that their portrayal in Almost Famous was lacking the sharp edge of reality. She cited the moment where Penny nearly kills herself after being rejected by a musician, calling it a “horribly misogynistic look at what a groupie-muse is.
Kate Hudson as Penny Lane in ‘Almost `Famous’
“That made me so angry,” she said. “This character, the groupie like she’s portrayed, is pathetic. I knew all the main groupies in the heyday of groupiedom. None of them would have done that. There was always someone else coming to town. That really turned me off. No actual music-loving goddess-groupie would do such a thing.”
She said of her own experiences: “I was always of age. I was always taken care of. I was always treated well … Everyone I was with was wonderful to me … I was a woman doing what I wanted to do, period. And that was feminism to me.”