The GTOs in 1969.
Left to right: Miss Christine, Miss Cynderella, Miss Sandra, Miss Mercy, and Miss Pamela.
|Origin||Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Genres||Experimental rock, psychedelic rock, comedy rock|
(one off reunion: 1974)
The GTOs (Girls Together Outrageously) were an all-girl group from the Los Angeles area, specifically the Sunset Strip scene. Only active for two and a half years (1968-1970) with a single reunion in 1974, their only album, Permanent Damage, produced by Frank Zappa, was released in 1969.
- Miss Pamela, born Pamela Ann Miller (later Pamela Des Barres) on September 9, 1948 in Reseda, California is the most commercially successful of the GTOs.
- Miss Mercy, a.k.a. Mercy Fontenot, was born Judith Edra Peters in Burbank, California. After the breakup of the GTOs in 1971, Fontenot married the guitarist Shuggie Otis. They divorced, and their son Lucky Otis (also a musician) was raised by his grandparents, the R&B musician Johnny Otis and his wife Phyllis.
- Miss Cynderella (also spelled Miss Cinderella) was born Cynthia Sue Wells (later Cynthia Cale-Binion) on January 26, 1952 in Los Angeles, California. Wells married John Cale of The Velvet Underground in 1971, but the marriage was rocky, and they divorced in 1975. Cale's song "Guts" opens with the line, "The bugger in the short sleeves fucked my wife" (referring to Kevin Ayers' sleeping with Cindy in 1974).
- Miss Christine, born Christine Ann Frka on November 27, 1949 in San Pedro, California, and like Miss Pamela also babysat Moon Unit Zappa, Frank Zappa's first daughter. She is shown on the front cover of Frank Zappa's 1969 album Hot Rats emerging from an empty swimming pool on Errol Flynn's former estate in the Hollywood Hills. She dated rock musician Alice Cooper (she is credited with creating his stage persona). Frka also dated Todd Rundgren and Chris Hillman; the latter relationship inspired the Flying Burrito Brothers song “Christine’s Tune (Devil in Disguise)” (“She’s a devil in disguise, you can see it in her eyes.”) Frka died on November 5, 1972, of a heroin overdose in a house in Cohasset, Massachusetts, which at the time was being rented by Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers. She overdosed shortly before her 23rd birthday after spending nearly a full year in a body cast to correct a crooked spine.
- Miss Lucy was born Luz Selenia Offerrall in Puerto Rico. After moving to Los Angeles, she met two of her future bandmates, Miss Pamela Des Barres and Miss Sparky, at the house of a mutual friend (Vito Pauleukas). Miss Lucy was not an original member of The GTOs; she joined the group after the recording of Permanent Damage. She later left the group, claiming they were becoming too commercial. She was married to the late Gordon McLaren (bassist for a New York City band called The Groupies) from 1975 to 1981. As an actress, Miss Lucy appeared in 200 Motels (1971), Video from Hell (1985) and Uncle Meat (1987). She died in 1991 of complications from AIDS.
- Miss Sandra was born Sandra Lynn Rowe (later Sandra Leano, Sandra Lynn Harris) on January 18, 1949 in San Pedro, Los Angeles. She was in the group only a short while before becoming pregnant by Cal Schenkel, Frank Zappa's official artist-in-residence. In publicity photos for the band, she is shown late in her pregnancy, with a big star painted on her belly. She moved back to San Pedro with her infant daughter named Raven, and after The GTOs broke up, she married Bradley Harris. They had three children together. Sandra died of cancer in Albion, California on April 23, 1991 at age 42.
- Miss Sparky was born Linda Sue Parker in 1948 and was renowned for driving a Hudson Hornet in the late 1960s on the Sunset Strip. She recorded a vocal track (credited under the pseudonym Sharkie Barke) on the song "Disco Boy" on Frank Zappa's album Zoot Allures (1976), and was once employed by the Walt Disney Corporation. As of 2016, various sources have confirmed she has been active on Facebook.
Pamela Miller and Linda Parker met around 1966 while attending Cleveland High School in Los Angeles. Christine Frka traveled to Los Angeles from San Pedro with Sandra Rowe, and both lived in the basement of Frank Zappa's Log Cabin at 2401 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in the Hollywood Hills in 1968. Christine was the live-in nanny for Zappa's eldest child Moon Unit before Pamela took over the position the following year. Judith Peters had emigrated from the Haight Ashbury to LA due to "boredom", alleging she "couldn't be a hippie forever." Cynthia Wells was brought into the group by Judith after the nucleus of the group had been formed. This accounts for Miss Cynderella's presence in some, but not all of the GTOs' publicity shots. Lucy Offerall also was not an original member, but joined after the recording of Permanent Damage.
The group initially called themselves “The Cherry Sisters” but soon changed to "The Laurel Canyon Ballet Company.” Frank Zappa later changed their name to The GTOs, which he described as "an acronym which, as Stanley Booth wrote, could mean Girls Together Outrageously, Orally, or anything else starting with O." On their album's inner sleeve, the acronym is also defined as "Girls Together Occasionally", "Girls Together Often" and "Girls Together Only". Miss Lucy stated in an interview that the latter name is what it stood for, though it is understood by most that the name on the album, Girls Together Outrageously, is the name of the group. The name has no relation to the Pontiac GTO, even though the vehicle was popular in the United States during the same period.
The members were connected by their association with Zappa, who encouraged their artistic endeavors despite their limited vocal skills. The group performed live “only 4 or 5 times”, although they created a strong impression at their December 1968 performance at the Shrine Auditorium opening for The Mothers of Invention, Alice Cooper and Wild Man Fischer. A mix of theatrics, singing, dancing, wild costumes, and unusual lyrical content were staples of their act. Their only album, Permanent Damage (Straight Records) was produced in 1969 by Zappa with the assistance of Lowell George and Russ Titelman (tracks 7 and 11). The latter track also features Titelman's brother-in-law, guitarist Ry Cooder, both of whom appear on Captain Beefheart's Safe as Milk album. Track 5 "The Captain's Fat Theresa Shoes" is a GTO comment on Beefheart's taste in footwear (his cousin Victor Hayden had introduced him to Pamela Des Barres). The songs are mixed with conversations among the members of the group, friends, and others, including Cynthia Plaster Caster and Rodney Bingenheimer. The album features songwriting contributions from Lowell George, Jeff Beck and Davy Jones. A young Rod Stewart is featured on track 14. Permanent Damage was re-issued on CD in 1989 by Enigma Retro.
|Studio album by The GTOs|
|Genre||Experimental rock, spoken word|
|Producer||Frank Zappa, Russ Titelman, Lowell George|
|Permanent Damage (1969)|
|1.||"The Eureka Springs Garbage Lady" (lead vocal: Miss Christine)||Miss Cinderella||Miss Cinderella, Craig Doerge and Nicky St. Nicholas||3:47|
|2.||"Miss Pamela and Miss Sparky discuss stuffed bras and some of their early gym class experiences"||2:10|
|3.||"Who's Jim Sox?" (Spoken: A B.T.O. is the opposite of a G.T.O. only they get in there more - sexually, than we do. It means, Boys Together Often, Only, Occasionally, Organically, Outrageously. All those O’s.)||Miss Christine, Miss Sandra, and Miss Cinderella||0:18|
|4.||"Kansas and the BTO's"||1:12|
|5.||"The Captain's Fat Theresa Shoes" (This is a song about a pair of crazed shoes Captain Beefheart wears.)||Miss Pamela, Miss Sparky, Miss Christine, Miss Sandra, and Miss Cinderella||Davy Jones||1:56|
|6.||"Wouldn'tIit Be Sad if There Were No Cones?" (Miss Pamela and Miss Sparky discuss the manner in which local Hollywood soul brothers make sexual advances in front of the Whisky a Go Go.)||Miss Pamela and Miss Sparky||1:11|
|7.||"Do Me in Once and I'll Be Sad, Do Me in Twice and I'll Know Better (Circular Circulation)" (This is a reasonably abstruse love song with a gentle bum in it.)||Miss Sandra||Lowell George||2:19|
|8.||"The Moche Monster Review" (Miss Pamela gives us an insight into the behavior of “the other breed” who drive “soft cars”… the sexual advances they make toward girls while they’re hitchhiking.)||Miss Pamela and Miss Sparky||1:46|
|9.||"TV Lives" (A brief word about television. This song is nearly as absurd as the medium it describes.)||Miss Christine||Don Preston||1:03|
|10.||"Rodney" (Rodney Bingenheimer is one of the more unique figures of contemporary social history. The GTOs have put together an unusual piece which includes the voice of Mr. Bingenheimer as he comments on the lyrics which have been written about his peculiar exploits. This “song” might give you a broad view of the scene in Hollywood as it relates to the Sunset Strip’s foremost male groupie.)||Miss Christine, Miss Sandra, Miss Sparky, Miss Pamela, Miss Cinderella, and Miss Lucy||3:42|
|11.||"I Have a Paintbrush in My Hand to Color a Triangle (Mercy’s Tune)" (This is a song about a lovers’ triangle which involves Brian Jones, Bernardo BTO and Mercy.)||Miss Mercy||Lowell George||2:11|
|12.||"Miss Christine's First Conversation With the Plaster Casters of Chicago" (In this episode we find our exotic Yugoslavian maiden explaining her moral viewpoint after reading a short segment of Cynthia Plaster Caster’s diary.)||0:57|
|13.||"The Original GTOs" (Miss Lucy and Miss Johna were the originators of GTOism two years ago. In this sequence, we find them inside a piano kissing each other and having a cosmic-level discussion.)||1:05|
|14.||"The Ghost Chained to the Past, Present, and Future (Shock Treatment)" (Miss Mercy explains her personal philosophy. Lead vocals: Miss Mercy and R.S. (Rod Stewart).)||Miss Mercy||Miss Mercy and Miss Cinderella||1:45|
|15.||"Love on an Eleven Year Old Level" (For some reason, the GTOs are preoccupied by the memory of Brian Jones. In this song, they discuss their mutual admiration for an 11-year-old boy who happens to look like Brian and also has a couple of other things going for him.)||Miss Sparky, Miss Pamela, Miss Christine, Miss Sandra, and Miss Cinderella||1:18|
|16.||"Miss Pamela's First Conversation With the Plaster Casters of Chicago" (Cynthia and Miss Pamela find that they have a “fave rave” in common, and proceed to compare notes on their relationship with him. Some semantic difficulties toward the end of the conversation provide a convenient transition to the next piece of material.)||1:31|
|17.||"I'm in Love with the Ooo-Ooo Man" (In real life, the OOO OOO Man is Nick St. Nicholas from Steppenwolf. Miss Pamela sings the lead vocal on this very special song of love. I have no idea what the rubber chicken suit with the beak is.)||Miss Pamela||Davy Jones||3:27|
The GTOs write all their own lyrics and no subject matter covered by these lyrics was suggested by any outside source. The choice of subjects is a reflection of the girls’ attitudes toward their environment. The GTOs hope you like their album. — Frank Zappa
Special thanks to: Jimmy Carl Black, Roy Estrada, Ian Underwood and Craig Doerge who also played on Eureka Springs Garbage Lady, Ooo Ooo Man, Shock Treatment, and Captain’s Fat Teresa Shoes. Also to: Jeff Beck who played guitar on Eureka Springs Garbage Lady, Shock Treatment, and Captain’s Fat Teresa Shoes; Nicky Hopkins who played piano on Shock Treatment; Frank Zappa who played tamborine on Ooo Ooo Man; Don Preston who played on Television Baby; [sic]
Four tracks from Permanent Damage also were released on Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders compilation albums:
- "Do Me in Once and I'll Be Sad, Do Me in Twice and I'll Know Better (Circular Circulation)" – on Zappéd (1969);
- "Kansas and the BTOs"; "The Captain's Fat Theresa Shoes"; and "The Original GTOs" – on The Big Ball (1970).
- Pamela Des Barres, “Take Another Little Piece of My Heart” (1992), pgs. 22-3
- What's Welsh for Zen by John Cale and Victor Bockris (1998)
- "SickthingsUK - THE Unofficial Alice Cooper Site". www.sickthingsuk.co.uk. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- "The Modern lovers Live Radcliffe 27-10-1972 – Tapecity Live Music Sharing". tapecity.org. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved February 6, 2010.
- "Girls Together Outrageously: Contract signed by the GTOs, Frank Zappa's all groupie group". 26 September 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- "They're With the Band". Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- "Perfect Sound Forever: The GTO's". www.furious.com. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- "The Rock and Roll Treehouse". www.jackboulware.com. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- Booth, Stanley (1984). The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones. New York: Vintage Books. p. 65. ISBN 0-394-74110-2.
- "SickthingsUK - THE Unofficial Alice Cooper Site". www.sickthingsuk.co.uk. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
- http://www.afka.net/articles/1969-02_Rolling_Stone.htm Archived 2014-08-08 at the Wayback Machine.
- Lindsay Planer. "Permanent Damage Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 21 May 2017.