August 22, 2009
Last night an episode of Biography about Janis Joplin aired on the
Bio channel. Among the interviewees was Peggy Caserta, a woman who
had an affair with Janis over several years.
Peggy Casserta on her relationship with Janis Joplin:
It worked for what it was. We had a lot of fun. We made a lot of
love. It wasn't a relationship that people think of or look at today
as a 'lesbian relationship.' It was not like that at all. We were
compatible and young and wild and interested in each other.
What she probably means by not a "lesbian relationship" is that their
relationship was very open and they were both dating other girls and
guys. It was, after all, the height of the sexual revolution in Hippy
central, San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury.
Caserta, seen right as a bodacious bikini babe in the 60's, is now
middle-aged and somewhat wider, but still quite lovely. It was
fascinating to see her in the flesh, with shoulder-length auburn
hair, gorgeous cheekbones, a hint of cleavage, a dignified bearing
and obvious intelligence. To hear her actual voice, confident and
slightly nasal, was quite exciting, as she described Janis's
emotional vulnerability and told anecdotes about Janis freaking out
after getting stood up by boyfriend Country Joe MacDonald, how her
manager pushed her to break up with Brother and the Holding Company,
the band that made her career, because he felt their talent didn't
match hers, and how Janis got back onto heroin after getting clean.
Caserta did a tell-all book about their relationship called Going
Down with Janis (as told to Dan Knapp) published in 1973. It appears
to be out of print because copies are now going for up to $100 on
Amazon. I have a copy and it gives a very intimate picture of Janis's
personality, the slow path they took from friendship to lovers, their
open relationship, their sex life, their drug use, Janis's rise to
fame and the 60's in Haight-Ashbury. At the time she met Janice,
Peggy was a boutique owner whose store was on the corner of Haight &
Ashbury where Janis used to shop.
I checked the Bio website but couldn't determine when the Janis
Joplin episode would be aired again and didn't see it for sale on
their site. So you'll probably just have to look out for it on the
Bio channel or A&E. I'm guessing that Oct 4, the anniversary of her
death, or Jan 19, her birthday, would be likely dates to catch a rerun.
A long-awaited Janis Joplin bio pic, starring Zooey Deschanel,
entitled Gospel According to Janis, originally announced for 2007,
now has a projected release for 2010 according to IMDb, status updated in July.