I’m talking 1992-1994 era Courtney. Before all the plastic surgery, suicides and murder conspiracy theories. The Courtney Love who co-hosted MTV’s “120 Minutes” with Kim Gordon in a semi-coherent state, rambling endlessly about each video before it played while Kim sat smiling.
The Courtney Love who sat in on Kurt Cobain’s interview with “The Advocate” and bitched out gay men in general because she wasn’t seen as a gay icon.
“I don’t get it!” she ranted. “I’m tragic! I had a drug problem! Gay guys should LOVE me!”
That Courtney was hilarious, witty, outrageous…the ‘90s Tallulah Bankhead – no filter, pure id.
So, when I got the chance to meet her years later in 1998, I was pumped. Sure, it was a more Hollywood Courtney…cut up, restructured, Golden Globe awarded…but it was still the woman who, along with her husband, made me feel okay to be gay and not into Madonna or Cher.
A good friend worked for a record store and scored us passes for a hurried meet and greet backstage at the Imperial Teen/Hole concert that summer at Nautica Stage in Cleveland’s Flats. The show was a hoot, with Courtney bitching out Trent (“More like THREE INCH NAILS!”) Reznor, Cleveland’s alternative God, from the stage and occasionally playing a song or two. After the show, we waited in line with a group of about 40 other people to go backstage and get an autograph.
I rehearsed what I was going to say to her over and over in my head. This was my one shot. My one opportunity to tell her what she meant to a young, confused man stuck in a redneck town. My only chance to show her that not everyone saw her as a negative, screeching, drug-addicted shrew.
Time raced in a blur as the line moved closer and closer. Finally, I was face to face, or rather, since I was standing and she was seated, crotch to face with
“Hi, Courtney,” I began. “I just wanted to tell you how much that interview you and Kurt did with the Advocate back in 1993 meant to me. I was really struggling with coming out then and I was afraid there was no one who would accept me for being a punk rock fan and gay at the same time. You two gave me hope and strength to just be myself and say ‘fuck everyone else’. And I just wanted you to know you made a difference in my life.”
She stopped signing my “Celebrity Skin” album flat and slowly looked up into my face, then my eyes. She took a second to take all I said in and then her lips slowly parted as she finally responded: