Sometimes there are movies that for whatever reason you never go out of your way to watch. This movie was always recommended by this person and or that and so late on a Saturday Night I searched Comcast’s free movies and New York Doll was staring me in the face. At two in the morning and only 78 minutes I thought this was the perfect time to enjoy this little nugget. However, the movie surprised me more than what I had expected.
New York Doll centers around the story of Arthur “Killer” Kane, the bassist of the previously defunct punk act the New York Dolls. We follow Arthur in dealing with his inner demons following the break-up of the Dolls recounting the depression of how his life never materialized to anything. Constantly, jealous of his former bandmates success, Kane became self-destructive only able to find solace in of all things the Mormon Church.
In a way, the punk in all of us might want to scoff at this and spit this out. How could Kane find any type of comfort in a religious entity and how does this supposed relationship work out as both being an uplifting story for the church, for Kane as well as the other Dolls?
The New York Dolls for me are one of those bands that I have learned to appreciate more and more as the years have gone on. I bought their initial album about 15 years ago on a hunch from reading a book about R.E.M., Berry, Buck, Mills and Stipe all spoke of their influences and during those early 90’s one of my intentions was to pick up old Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, Stooges, Television and Patti Smith albums to name a few. And for me the Dolls were always a bit of a joke reminding me more of a cheaper version of the Rocky Horror Picture show and also slightly not impressed with a full understanding of the music back in the 70s. Please understand, this is coming from a kid who grew up in Wheaton, Illinois and if you know where Wheaton, Illinois is, you will understand the religious presence that surrounded this town 15 years ago and even now.
Of those early albums that I purchased, it was the Velvets that kicked me in the ass and pissed all over my face. The Dolls album cover smeared a bit of lipstick onto my brain but it was one of those albums that aged like fine wine. I would pull the album out more and more every year, sometimes needing a moment to decompress from the serious side of rock and roll music.
The New York Dolls were needed to take the Anal Retentiveness out of rock and roll and I believe right now that they were probably one of the ten most important groups of that era and have important roots in the punk rock explosion that followed a couple years later.
There is not enough white page to fill the amount of groups that were influenced by them.
What I was not expecting to find in this story was a man like Arthur “Killer” Kane, a name that does not suit him. The sweetest, gentlest, humblest men you would ever meet. A man that had lived a full life with plenty of demons battling within himself, but with a huge heart, and always a desire to get the band back together. So when he received information that the New York Dolls would be reuniting again for London’s Meltdown Festival, he could not believe the opportunity of his life.
What I was also not expecting was how the Mormon Church dealt with all of this. The Church became his family, his comfort and his guide and encouraged him at all points to deal with all of these issues, especially his bad feelings with David Johanson. You might expect that the church would look down at an element like the Dolls which is really completely opposite to that which the Dolls were.
All rock fans, mormons and Stephen Patrick Morrissey fans should check it out.