When I was filming Sonic Youth or Nirvana or Dinosaur or whoever, they weren’t censoring themselves. People were just enjoying this brief two-week tour. There was a lot of drinking going on. A lot of hash smoking. Everyone was having fun backstage.
At the time, Madonna’s Truth or Dare was in theaters — this big cultural moment. So we decided to reenact scenes and we had the idea where Kurt, pretending to be Kevin Costner, meets Madonna backstage and he says, “You guys were really neat.” But he had this champagne bottle and decided to fling it around the room. That was an add-on. It wasn’t rehearsed. He didn’t break it but everyone thought he was going to smash it through a window. Dave and Kim ran out of the room as if it was going to be set on fire. It was hilarious.
Kurt wasn’t with Courtney [Love] at the time but she showed up at Rotterdam. I think she hitched a ride with the Smashing Pumpkins. She was sort of seeing Billy Corgan. You can see it in the bluescale version of the movie I’ve been working on. Krist [Novoselic], Dave, and Kim are all gossiping: “Courtney’s here!” And — boom! — she comes in backstage arm-in-arm with Corgan, who was introduced to Sonic Youth. Kurt and Billy had never really met and, you know, maybe were even competitors. Kind of like Dylan in Don’t Look Back where you see him tapping on Donovan.
When Courtney and Billy left the room, you see Kurt graffitis on the wall “Courtney Plus Gish,” the name of the Pumpkins record. And everyone proceeded to lightly make fun of Billy. Krist said, “I can’t go on living! I thought Courtney was in love with me!” Maybe Kurt had a crush on her at the time and didn’t know how to approach her, I don’t know.
I didn’t have a personal rapport with Kurt. He was just another guy in the band, quiet. We chatted a bit and I could detect this really dark sense of humor, but he was very nice. You look at the 1991: The Year Punk Broke, and Kurt is just smiling through the whole thing. Those are some of the last smiles you’d see from him before Nirvana became this huge success.