Synopsis by Josh Ralske
When Rodney Bingenheimer was just a teenager -- a diminutive, long-haired kid who was picked on a lot -- his mother, a divorced autograph hound, dropped him off in front of the home of actress Connie Stevens and essentially said, "Good luck." Stevens was on location shooting a movie and Bingenheimer says he didn't see his mother again for five or six years after that. The Mayor of the Sunset Strip, a documentary by George Hickenlooper (Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse), tracks Bingenheimer's rise from the 1960s, when he was a groupie -- eventually landing his first show-business job as a double for Davy Jones on The Monkees -- through stints as a successful club owner and influential DJ to his current status as a fading musical icon. The film takes us from the innocent pop of Brian Wilson and Sonny & Cher through the raucous heyday of L.A.'s punk scene and beyond. Hickenlooper also delves into Bingenheimer's relationships, showing him mourning his neglectful and unbalanced, but beloved, mother and visiting with his father, who never attempted to make contact with Bingenheimer after his mother abandoned him. He also pines for a close friend, Camille Chancery, and helps out a seemingly hopeless middle-aged wannabe rock star, Ronald Vaughan. While Bingenheimer used his skills as a consummate hanger-on and his genuine enthusiasm for rock & roll to become a central figure in the L.A. music scene for a couple of decades and is lauded in the film for his good taste and good nature by celebrities from Cher to David Bowie to Gwen Stefani, his current life is shown to be somewhat sad and lonely. The Mayor of the Sunset Strip is chock full of cameos and features a star-studded soundtrack. It was shown at the 2003 New York Film Festival.
DJ, Hollywood, music-promoter, music-scene, pop-culture