Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Joey Ramone Interview

article and illustration by Mrs Tami Thirlwell-Nicol

In honor of the upcoming 10th anniversary of Joey Ramone’s death, April 15th, 2001, I decided to channel Mr. Ramone (nee Jeff Hyman) from the Rock ‘n’ Roll crypt the other night. I wanted to get his take on what inspired his look and how he feels about what the kids are wearing today. He was good enough to spend some time chatting with me. (At least, I think it was the Joey Ramone). What follows is a portion of the interview.

Beauty Skool: Hi Joey, it’s great to have you show up, even if in an
amorphous state, and take the time out from your busy after-life.

Joey Ramone: Yeah, sure.

BSK: I’m a huge fan and I know I’m not out of line when I say that the
Skoolers are just as thrilled to have you spend some time with us today. First, how are you keeping and what’s that whole dead business really like?

JR: I’m okay-- it’s a lot quieter, not as many gigs, and I guess I’m a tad more relaxed.

BSK: Well that is good to hear. I understand there was a little band conflict as the years went by.

JR: Yeah, but now with most of us settled in for a long dirt nap things have mellowed. Jury’s still out on Dee Dee though.

BSK: No doubt. So, nine inch nails aside, let’s get down to brass tacks. The Ramones: style icons! Your whole look, as a group, was definitive. You were the fashion vanguard for a generation of kids and then some. In fact, jeans ripped at the knees originated from you guys in the 1970s and really exploded on to the scene. By the mid 1980s every Guns N’ Roses maniac was slashing furiously at their Levis. What was the brain-child behind that
rough and tumble feature?

JR: I was born with razor blades for kneecaps and nature took its course.

BSK: Wow! You were a pioneer in the whole distressed denim devolution.

Mr. Joey Ramone, Esq.

JR: I never really thought about it that much.

[Garbled sounds surface from the background and another voice makes its way through]

JM: Hey, Joey, you wanna hear my new poem? I just finished it.

BSK: Who is that?

JR: It’s Jim Morrison.

Jim Morrison: Hey, Joey, who’re ya talkin’ to?

JR: Not now, Jim, I’m being interviewed by Beauty Skool Girls.

JM: Girls?

JR: Just ignore him. You were saying?

BSK: Well... is that really...? Okay, right, and I think the skinny pant really elongates the leg nicely, rendering an enviable and elegantly lean look.

JR: Pant? I wore a whole pair.

BSK: Was there ever a time that you, Joey Ramone, wore a wide-legged jean?

JR: Are you looking for a fight?

JM: I wore flares all the time-- the chicks dug ‘em. Hey, can I read you my new poem?

JR: Yeah, not now, King Snake.

JM: “Incense brewed darkly...”

JR: You already wrote that, man. That guy is always trying to read me his poetry.

JM: You wanna talk pants? How about my black leather trousers?

BSK: True.

JR: I think Elvis beat you on that one. Look, Lizard King, why don’t you go find a nice rock to sun yourself on, okay? I’m being interviewed.

BSK: Let’s move on. Let’s talk about your penchant for stripy tee shirts.

JR: Yeah I like ‘em-- they’re cool.

BSK: But the striped shirt isn’t for everyone.

JR: Depends on the width of the stripe.

BSK: Too true. The striped shirt has a rich history of being worn through quite a few decades. Great artists like Picasso were fond of this bold look.

JR: And mimes.

JM: Don’t forget pirates, man.

BSK: Would you agree that the horizontal striped tee is a statement against the traditional vertical striped shirt favored by the majority of the business establishment? For example,the beatnik versus the banker?

[More muffled voices surface and interrupt our interview]

“Hello, hello, hello-- how low...”

BSK: That sounds it?

JR: Yeah, it’s that guy from Seattle.

Kurt Cobain: Hello, I have to weigh in here and agree on the striped tee shirt. One of my favorite shirts, thin or wide striped, it doesn’t matter.

JR: Aw, come on, what’s going on here? This is my interview!

KC: Okay, alright, nevermind.

BSK: Hey! Wait! Kurt, did Courtney...?

JR: He’s gone.

BSK: Oh, well. Now let’s talk about something that is very close to my heart. Footwear. What’s the story behind all the Converse sneakers?

JR: Just a classic runner. Comfortable, unassuming, we aren’t into flash. They’re just cool.

BSK: I’ll say. They are just as popular today. So let’s move way up north to talk about the hair. Aside from your own locks, it seems the other Ramones favored bangs and some had a sort of overgrown bowl cut that worked remarkably well when you guys played on stage.

JR: Yah, mine was a bit too thick and unruly to get that same movement. The main objective is to keep a lot of hair in and around your face. Long bangs can be your best friend. They conveniently shield you from offensive everyday occurrences, like invasive people.

BSK: I hear you.

JR: Good hair and a pair of shades will take you far-- or at least get you out the door to get some errands run...What?

[A soft voice wafts through]

BSK: Is that Kurt? Is he back?

JR: No, it’s that mopey Ian Curtis, he’s been hanging around here for quite a while.

Ian Curtis: Sorry to interrupt, I just wanted to say that I agree with Mr. Ramone about the sunglasses. Whether one’s wearing informal clobber or a smart suit-- the addition of a cool pair of shades completes the look.

BSK: Well, Mr. Curtis, you always were a snappy dresser-- no casual Fridays for you. It was all nicely pressed shirts and slacks.

IC: It’s just what I feel comfortable wearing.

JR: Shirts and slacks? Really? Were they wash ‘n’ wear?

IC: Are you taking the piss?

BSK: Well, Joey, they weren’t a pretentious shirt and slack combo. More of a relaxed everyday post-mod look, wouldn’t you say, Mr. Curtis?

IC: Laid-back, I suppose. I’m going for a nap.

BSK: Fair enough, thanks for weighing in. Joey, are you still there?

JR: Yeah, but it’s hard to get a word in with all these other guys lingering around.

BSK: I had no idea-- let’s get one more question in before Bon Scott shows up. What do you think of some of the trends happening these days, particularly with men’s fashion?

JR: Well, I find the whole baggy pants/ass crack thing quite amusing, although I suppose the volume of denim comes in handy for shoplifting. The whole oversized clothing trend is a little unclear. And I’m not really sure why guys wear baseball caps so often. I guess things will eventually cycle back to our look in another ten years or so.

BSK: Well, I sure hope so. Joey, it was great speaking with you. If kids today had even half of the style that you and the rest of the Ramones exhibited the world would be a much cooler place. Thanks so much for your contribution.

JR: No sweat.

BSK: Thanks very much for chatting with us today. Oh and if you happen to see an old friend of ours, Dimwit, would you do us a favor and say ‘hi’ to him from the girls at Beauty Skool?

JR: Yeah, sure thing.


  1. Hooray! I was HOPING for Kurt Cobain to make an appearance! Imagine my surprise.

    Are you taking the piss? Heh. I'm so up to date on my UK terms.

    Also, 10 years ago? Wow. RIP Joey Ramone. Which reminds me, I saw the actress that played Rip Randal a few months ago in something...Rock and Roll High School forevah!

  2. Geez am I ever out of it. Way out. I didn't know Joey had packed it either. My consort obtained a copy of a Ramones album whilst we were holed up in Toronto in the long ago. That album has disappeared, alas, but I might head over to Neptoon Records on Main here in VCR where they sell a lot of vinyl, new and used, and see what's what after this inspirational post, T.T.N. I hope it's part of a series.