Reviews & suggestions for punk rock fans.

All Dolled Up: A New York Dolls Story – Documentary to Watch

Take a Walk in the New York Dolls’ (Platform) Shoes

The documentary All Dolled Up: A New York Dolls Story is probably the best film available for fans of the band. Unlike most documentaries, it doesn’t bother with going back and forth with footage from the present and past. Rather, it is as if you have a backstage pass in the life of the New York Dolls. You take flights with them, hit the stage, go shopping, and walk with one of the most influential bands in punk rock.

The All Dolled Up: A New York Dolls Story is possible thanks to photographer Bob Gruen and his wife Badya, who recorded over 40 hours worth of footage in three years. It is amazing to see the New York Dolls act naturally in certain parts while gaining some of the band’s history. For instance, there is a moment where you have a one-on-one interview with David Johansen, who tells you why the Dolls dress the way you do. Then, there is an interview with the entire band explaining how they met. All of which is captured from back in the day at the height of their popularity.

As All Dolled Up: A New York Dolls Story progresses, you truly feel like you are part of the gang. There is footage from the backstage of Max’s Kansas City where David Johansen (singer) gives an introduction to his band Johnny Thunders (guitarist), Sylvain Sylvain (guitarist), Jerry Nolan (drums), and Arthur Kane (bass) as they drink and laugh together. You join them at the airport, including on the plane, as they head off for a west coast tour. Once in L.A., you shop knickknack stores with them where the group decide to buy slippers that look like breasts for Arthur Kane. And you even get a front-row seat to the band’s afterparties. It’s them raw, hanging out and being Dolls. Gotta L.U.V. that.

Speaking of Arthur Kane, I should note that he doesn’t play during the performances in All Dolled Up: A New York Dolls Story. He is suffering from a finger, or hand, injury (I am fairly certain due to his girlfriend) but you do see him behind the band when they are performing drinking and singing along.

You really get the sense of love the band has for each other throughout All Dolled Up: A New York Dolls Story, which is awesome. This band of misfits putting on makeup and showing love for each other behind the scenes. They kiss one another, laugh, share beer, all of it. A family of Dolls, playing music together and having a good a** time doing it.

Punk rock fans should also perk their ears for historic moments like when Iggy Pop cuts himself at CBGB’s. It is mentioned between two news anchors describing the new scene in an almost fearful, “how far is this going to go,” type of way. I certainly smiled.

All Dolled Up: A New York Dolls Story goes full circle towards the end, showing the band’s progression by flashing back to early performances where you see David Johansen and Johnny Thunders. David’s hair isn’t as long in the early performances, and he is sporting a blazer. Just goes to show you how far this band went in the short time they had together. They changed the game, with both music and looks, and the early punk rock scene in New York, and beyond, wouldn’t be the same without them.

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