Twinkle Van Winkle is perched atop a chair at the Melody Inn, a video camera in her hands and another standing tall beside her on a tripod. Both camera lenses gaze at Mandy Marie and the Cool Hand Lukes as they perform a blistering set of rockabilly classics and originals.
Van Winkle is a filmmaker from Mississippi working on her first documentary about women in rock. Filming officially began with Mandy Marie in Indianapolis this summer.
Directed to Marie via a mutual friend, Van Winkle e-mailed her and began the process of setting up an interview for the documentary. She was impressed upon meeting her. “She has a great personality,” Van Winkle says. “She exudes confidence on stage, and that was really exciting to me when I saw her perform. So many musicians look angry when they are playing, but she is just so happy, and it’s wonderful to see. It makes you feel good.”
Marie says of Van Winkle: “A lot of her questions were geared toward what it’s like being a female musician in the rockabilly/country scene. She asked if I felt it was difficult to get respect as a female guitarist or if being a woman made it easier. In a way it’s easier, because no one expects much out of you. But on the other hand, it’s harder because no one expects anything out of you. We laughed a lot about the ‘you play really good for a girl’ comment. It doesn’t get to me, because I know people mean well. They don’t mean it to come out the way it sounds. I just grin it off and appreciate the fact they said anything about me as a player.”
Along with Marie, Van Winkle hopes to interview Peggy O’Neal of the Detroit garage band the Gories and Alicja Trout, who runs Contaminated Records in Memphis and plays in several bands. Trout was slated to be in the revived lineup of the ’60s psychedelic act Love before Arthur Lee took ill and lost his life to leukemia. “A lot of these women I’m going to talk to are pillars of the garage scene,” Van Winkle says. “Peggy O’Neal and the Gories really started a lot of that scene in 1986. And Trout has been in some really good, critically acclaimed bands such as River City Tan Lines and Mouserocket.”
Van Winkle has a long way to go to complete the film. “I’m really not going to know how it will end up until I get enough footage and can go back through and start editing,” she says. “That’s very exciting to think about doing.”
Marie finds excitement in being asked to participate and being the first filmed. “I'm totally blown away,” she says. “Twink is such a talented artist, and that alone makes me even more honored to be a part of this project. This is going to be a fantastic documentary and I’m tickled pink to be included.”