From the outside, Janis Joplin looked like the quintessential 60’s party girl advocating that people “get stoned, stay happy, and have a good time.” Delve into her journals, however, and you start to see a woman that was haunted by self-doubt.
Famous for her peace and love attitude, Janis, internally, was incredibly damaged from constant bullying at school. Teased incessantly for her short skirts and dyed hair, the singer eventually began to suffer from body dysmorphia— an irrational and distorted view of one’s appearance.
In a new documentary from Amy Berg called Janis: Little Girl Blue, we see a girl desperate for the approval of her conservative parents in Texas, and a woman who never shook off the bullying of her youth.
Before becoming the superstar we all know, Janis had moved back to Texas to become a high school teacher. Janis chose this route after dropping out of university, and spending six months addicted to amphetamines whilst performing as a folk singer in New York and San Fransisco.
In a recurring theme, the bullying from an early age continued at Texas University and, in a cruel joke, Janis was even voted the ugliest man on campus by college fraternities.
The singer dabbled with numerous relationships, including women, but for her parent’s sake, Janis ultimately wanted to settle down with a boyfriend.
Over the years, these insecurities created the inner demons that eventually led to the star’s death from a heroin overdose.
Director Amy Berg told The Observer, “She was portrayed as this loud, Southern Comfort-drinking girl – and she definitely loved to have fun – but like so many women she was trying to find herself.”
Janis found fame in 1966 with the band Big Brother And The Holding Company, and rapidly became one of the most talked about singers of her time.
A member of the unfortunate 27 Club (stars who passed away at 27 years of age), Joplin openly talked about sex, drugs, and all that comes with rock ‘n’ roll. She was good friends with other superstars of the time, Jimmy Hendrix and Jim Morrison – who, strangely enough, like Janis, died aged 27.
Perhaps knowing she would have a short lifespan, and in typical Janis fashion, she was quoted as saying: ‘Man, I’d rather have 10 years of superhypermost than live to be 70 sitting in some goddamn chair watching television.’
Although she was a global and household name, her diaries show that the bigger the star’s fame grew, the less meaning it had for her. Janis wrote: “As it gets closer and more probable, being a star is really losing its meaning. But whatever it means I’m ready.”
Unfortunately, there are a number of similarities between Joplin and soul singer Amy Winehouse who also died at same age, and in so, joined the infamous 27 Club.
Both singers were at the top of their game when they died, and both had inner demons that drove them to substance abuse, and body image issues.
What make this story so sad, is that Janis looked as though she had her demons under control shortly before her overdose, having found a new way to sing that would be less taxing on her throat, and she was finally in a stable relationship.
“That’s why her ending was so tragic,”said Berg.
Janis Joplin died in 1970, and yet still to this day remains one of the most talked about female singers of all time.
Slated for release on November 27th, check out the trailer for Janis: Little Girl Blue below.
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