Mayor Of The Sunset Strip

Anyone lucky enough to have lived within broadcast range of Rodney Bingenheimer's radio show on L.A.'s KROQ during the late '70s had a privileged upbringing, whether or not they realized it at the time. While the rest of the country endured Top-40 pap from Air Supply and Loverboy, Bingenheimer's loyal listeners were introduced to the dangerous vibe of the...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Anyone lucky enough to have lived within broadcast range of Rodney Bingenheimer's radio show on L.A.'s KROQ during the late '70s had a privileged upbringing, whether or not they realized it at the time. While the rest of the country endured Top-40 pap from Air Supply and Loverboy, Bingenheimer's loyal listeners were introduced to the dangerous vibe of the Sex Pistols, X and the Ramones, as well as the soon-to-be-huge New Wave-pop sounds of Blondie and the Go-Gos. With an ear for the perfect pop hook and a taste for punk energy, Bingenheimer became a hugely influential DJ — even through the '90s, he was the first to spin disks from such bands as Oasis, Coldplay and No Doubt — but in this elfin mop-top with his trademark back-combed bouffant and Dutch-boy bangs, filmmaker George Hickenlooper senses the embodiment of something more: the Hollywood mirage of celebrity and endless self-reinvention. Constructed out of numerous interviews and Bingenheimer's own priceless memorabilia, Hickenlooper's unexpectedly touching biography tells how a shy, picked-on teenager from Mountain View, Calif., relocated to Los Angeles in the early 1960s to somehow become the semifamous focal point of a burgeoning youth scene. In a sense, Bingenheimer was a groupie, quietly achieving a certain level of stardom by positioning himself on the shoulders of rock's up-and-comers — and invariably having his photo snapped. He doubled for Davy Jones on the The Monkees; he was virtually adopted by Sonny and Cher; he befriended schlock-rock impresario Kim Fowley. In the early '70s, Bingenheimer brought the very English glam-rock phenomenon to America by opening the infamous Rodney's English Disco, and while the music never quite caught on, the club's trashy, jailbait aura — all hot pants and platform shoes — helped define the Strip's aesthetic for decades to come. But it wasn't until the club closed that Bingenheimer found his true niche as "Rodney on the ROQ," and once again, his timing was perfect: New Wave was about to explode. Throughout Bingenheimer's strange personal history, Hickenlooper keeps his eye on the lonely little boy from Mountain View — the kid whose mother, a divorced lounge waitress and inveterate autograph hound, once dropped him off in front of Connie Stevens' house and disappeared for five years. Hickenlooper never really fleshes out his thoughts on fame to any satisfying degree, but the film is filled with great songs from the many bands that inspired Bingenheimer and even a few that found inspiration in his unlikely demistardom.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Anyone lucky enough to have lived within broadcast range of Rodney Bingenheimer's radio show on L.A.'s KROQ during the late '70s had a privileged upbringing, whether or not they realized it at the time. While the rest of the country endured Top-40 pap from… (more)

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