Phases and Stages

Ladies and Gentlemen the Fabulous Stains


This 1981 film about a fictional punk rock band tanked in test showings and never got a proper theatrical release but took on a life of its own on late-night cable TV in the ensuing decade. Directed by music mogul Lou Adler (Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke) and starring newly minted 15-year-old Diane Lane as Corinne "Third Degree" Burns of the Skunks (yes, Austin had bands named the Skunks and the Stains), it also rang as a bellwether for the riot grrrl bands of the 1990s, who found role models in Lane's trio of distaff rebels and its unvarnished rise to fame. Written by Nancy Dowd and filmed amid conflict that included a tacked-on last scene filmed so long after the original shoot that 13-year-old Laura Dern had matured visibly, The Fabulous Stains created a raw, compelling portrait of low-level touring bands in the pre-indie rock days of first-wave punk. The film's low budget also gave it an authentic look, groomed by England's Caroline Coon. Ray "Sexy Beast" Winstone does a supremely Rotten job fronting the Clash's gorgeously sullen Paul Simonon and the Sex Pistols' Steve Jones and Paul Cook, while notable cast members include Peter Donat, Christine Lahti, David Clennon, E.G. Dailey, and the Tubes' Fee Waybill, who should have been a bigger star than "Sushi Girl" allowed him to be. Extras include a director's commentary by Adler and a more enjoyable one with chatty stars Diane Lane and Laura Dern. "Look at my original teeth!" giggles Diane Lane. "Listen to your little girl voice," sighs Laura Dern.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Ladies and Gentlementhe Fabulous Stains
The lasting power of 'Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains'

Cindy Widner, Dec. 5, 2008

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
The Cypher (Record Review)

Rachel Rascoe, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
The Beaumonts / Hickoids
This Is Austin, All the World's a Dressing Room (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Margaret Moser
Did I Know Bruce Springsteen Was Going to Play 2012?
Did I Know Bruce Springsteen Was Going to Play 2012?

March 3, 2017

Adult Audio Coloring Book Sampler
Adult Audio Coloring Book Sampler
A look back at illustrated album covers old and new

July 29, 2016


Ladies and Gentlementhe Fabulous Stains

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle