Inside Janis Joplin Purse: OMG Was She Secretly a Mom?

Lindsay Mannering

Janis JoplinThank goodness for rock stars. After reading too many banal "what's in your purse" blurbs (yeah, we get it, you can't live without your iPhone and Tom Ford lipstick), I was so psyched to find a list of purse contents from a bona fide rock and roll legend.

From The Hairpin comes a record of items Janis Joplin carried with her in her purse while on the Festival Express tour in the summer of 1970.

What's inside may or may not surprise you. Her purse is exactly like any random mom's purse! She's got her whole life in there, and it's a disorganized mess.

Rolling Stone writer David Dalton travelled with Joplin during that summer and wrote the book Piece of My Heart based on his experience. In it he describes a limo ride during which he got a glimpse into Joplin's bag. Dalton wrote:

Its contents are truly awesome. Janis has a bag lady's compulsion to carry her whole life with her. There are:

two movie stubs,

a pack of cigarettes,

an antique cigarette holder,

several motel and hotel room keys,

a box of Kleenex,

a compact and various make up cases (in addition to a bunch of eyebrow pencils held together with a rubber band),

an address book, dozens of bits of paper,

business cards,

match box covers with phone numbers written in near-legible barroom scrawls,

guitar picks,

a bottle of Southern Comfort (empty),

a hip flask,

an opened package of complementary macadamia nuts from American Airlines,

cassettes of Johnny Cash and Otis Redding,



credit cards,


assorted pens and writing pad,

a corkscrew,

an alarm clock,

a copy of Time,

and two hefty books -- Nancy Milford's biography of Zelda Fitzgerald and Thomas Wolfe's Look Homeward, Angel.

To me, the most rock-star item in her bag is the alarm clock. Makes me think she doesn't know where she's going to wake up but that she's definitely got somewhere to be. So cool. Oh and the corkscrew. So much hipper than a bottle opener. I'm gonna start carrying one. Oh and when I first read "business cards," I thought that meant hers. As in Janis Joplin, Rock Star, then her phone number -- but I guess it means other people's cards. Boo.

The hurricane that is Joplin's purse is so 'mom.' Maybe not the contents, but the concept.

Can you relate to Joplin's habit of carrying her life in her purse?

Photo via Tobyotter/Flickr

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