By: Amy Keyishian
May 20, 2023

One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of heartthrobs from our adolescences). Series edited by Heather Quinlan.



The book was handed to me in fifth period Freshman English with Mrs. Royer at Morristown High. Whoever handed it to me is lost to the shadows of memory, one of the burnouts of the back-stair smoking crew. The cover featured a red, orange, and yellow portrait of a pouting young man, his shoulder-length hair carefully tousled. Shirtless, nearly hairless, his nipples glared out at us with the same intensity as his smoky eyes. Who was he? Who was he?

He was, it turned out, Jim Morrison – lead singer of The Doors, poet and prophet, martyr to the fickle gods of rock n’ roll. By the time this well-worn, dog-eared copy made it into my sweaty hands, he’d been dead ten years. Had he lived, he’d have been as old as our dads, but corpses don’t age. He was frozen in time, and melted our teenage hearts. (Yes, I said hearts. I’m trying to keep this PG.)

For whatever reason, the early ’80s saw a resurgence of an ersatz-hippie aesthetic and revivals of the careers of a bevy of ’60s bands — the Kinks, the Stones, and the Who would put out ’80s albums that, at least in the Kinks’ case, rivaled their original hits. New Wave had yet to hit the fetid waters of the Jersey Shore. So here we were, hair flipped off our faces in perfect feathery waves, our jean-jackets adorned with band logos carefully etched into the denim with blue Bic pens. The boys were all trying to grow their hair out. We girls kept our giant combs sticking just-so out of our back pockets. Y’all, we were a sight to see.

Enter Jim. Teen heartthrobs are risk-free: Teenaged girl hormones running rampant could swirl around them safely, because they are at a remove, unreachable. Jim was even more so: Not just far, but gone. Free for us to fantasize about, pretend we were his wife Pam, imagine he didn’t really die in Paris but would reemerge triumphant and still somehow 27.

Also released in 1980 — surely to complement Danny Sugerman’s book — was a Doors compilation album called Greatest Hits. The cover showed Jim gazing at us from the side, as if we had just walked in and surprised him. He was in an askew red box, his jawbone enhanced by the contrast of its blackness against the flaming red, as red as the blood of “Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding” while “ghosts crowd the fragile, egg-shell mind.” Inside, the album’s envelope displayed another irresistible shot, also shirtless, always shirtless, but this time he had a wide-eyed gaze and hands outstretched toward us. As if we could grab his hands and jump into the patchouli-scented sixties.

I tacked this inside sleeve on my wall, put candlesticks on the right and left of it, and wrote an inspirational quote in careful calligraphy that sat just under the picture. It said “love your neighbor … love your fucking neighbor,” something he purportedly said in a desperate plea during a Doors show. Apparently that was instructive for fourteen-year-old me. Anyway, that was my shrine.

This resurgence didn’t go unnoticed. My sister Elizabeth bought me the copy of Rolling Stone that had him on the cover with the cover line: “He’s hot. He’s sexy. And he’s dead.” Pouty this time, in a shirt, glowering as if he did not appreciate any of this. Oh, that little freckle next to his nose. I would kiss it for good luck.

He was just out of our reach, elusive as James Dean yet present everywhere we looked. Scores of young men who vaguely looked like him, especially when young women were high on bush weed smoked through a cleverly carved apple, found themselves getting preternaturally lucky. Never mind that the music was awful and the poetry unbearable. I memorized it all. Because there’s no bad boy like a deceased bad boy. Mr. Mojo was risin’ for a full year … until Duran Duran shoved him off his pedestal. A new shrine, new quotes. But Jim will always be the first.


TEEN YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Heather Quinlan | Adam McGovern on ANDY GIBB | Crockett Doob on DREW BARRYMORE | Kathy Biehl on THE MONKEES | Josh Glenn on SHAUN CASSIDY | Catherine Christman on ELI WALLACH | Carlo Rotella on VALERIE BERTINELLI | Miranda Mellis on EDDIE VAN HALEN | Paul Finnegan on KIM WILDE | Heather Quinlan on MIKE PATTON | Mariane Cara on NKOTB | Mimi Lipson on ARLO GUTHRIE | Gabriela Pedranti on GUSTAVO CERATI | Michele Carlo on MICHAEL JACKSON | Ingrid Schorr on PAUL McCARTNEY | Carolyn Campbell on ROBERT REDFORD | Erin M. Routson on JOHNNY KNOXVILLE | Amy Keyishian on JIM MORRISON | Fran Pado on TONY DEFRANCO | Krista Margies Kunkle on LUKE PERRY | Lucy Sante on FRANÇOISE HARDY | Lynn Peril on DANNY BONADUCE | Jack Silbert on CHERYL TIEGS | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons on CHRISTIAN SLATER | Cynthia Scott on LEONARD WHITING | Elizabeth Foy Larsen on OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN.