Jenny Valentish grew up in an unlovely satellite town of London where she learned the art of escapism through music. By the age of sixteen she was self-publishing her work. Calling her fanzine Slapper: The Groupie’s Guide to Gropable Bands was supposed to be an ingenious marketing gimmick, but got her splashed across national papers and led to her first column – for the brand new Dazed & Confused magazine in Soho – followed by a column in Tank Girl magazine and a raft of other work as the cheeky young upstart.
She had stints as a music publicist at the age of 21, spruiking Afghan Whigs and Swans, and the post-KLF projects of Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, and as an editor with a crime fiction publisher. Random points of her writing career include a weekly techie column for the NME (want to sound like Franz Ferdinand in ‘Take Me Out’? No problem); writing Jenna Jameson’s column while working at Paul Raymond’s Soho empire; and moonlighting with record companies to create album bios for pop stars who don’t seem to have heard their own albums. She’s interviewed everyone from Jack White to Joan Jett; not forgetting John Frusciante, in a pitch-black hotel room at the Chateau Marmot, and someone she won’t name who showed her gynaecological magazines on a tour bus while bidding her stroke his fur coat.
Upon defecting to Australia in 2006, she edited national music magazine Jmag for four years, before taking the helm of Time Out Melbourne, sister mag to Time Out London. She now freelances for titles including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Guardian, The Saturday Paper and Rolling Stone.
Together with Tamara Sheward, she co-edited the 2009 Allen and Unwin anthology Your Mother Would Be Proud, with contributions from Tim Rogers, Jimmy Barnes, Julia Zemiro, The Chaser, Nick Earls, Angus Sampson and more.
She has written two blogs – New Age Guinea Pig, in which she donated mind, body and spirit to pseudoscience; and Hey Man, Now You’re Really Living, in which she set herself the mission of doing something new every day for a year, from pro-wrestling, to jumping out a plane, to blowing shit up.
Her first novel, Cherry Bomb, is a teenage psychodrama set in the music industry and was published by Allen and Unwin in 2014. (Like fictional band The Dolls, Valentish has been in a couple of bands with two women in the line-up, but unlike The Dolls, blows were never exchanged.)
Jenny is one of the team that made Amphlett Lane – named after Chrissy Amphlett – a reality in September 2014 and managed the first concert in the lane in November 2015. She is a board member of The Push, a non-profit music organisation that empowers young people through workshops, mentorships and gigs.
In June 2017, Black Inc published Jenny’s Walkley-nominated research-memoir hybrid, Woman of Substances, which investigates the female experience of drugs and alcohol. It will be published in the UK and US in 2018.
Jenny is a consultant for Australia’s National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre, an ambassador for Monash University’s Brain & Mental Health Laboratory, and a board member of SMART Recovery Australia. She regularly updates her Facebook page with related stories.