I’ve recently been in touch with some of my girlfriends from the past: Jenny Lens, Dinah Cancer, Trudie. I got an email from Trudie yesterday telling me that she wants to put up her own website and it made me think about a conversation I’d had with another friend, the artist Diane Gamboa.
I’d noticed that Diane often carried a digital video camera with her to openings and events and recorded whatever happened to be going on. When I asked her about it, she told me that it was important for people who were involved in artistic movements to document themselves, otherwise someone else (who may or may not have been there at the time) would document it for them. She'd seen it happen too often over the years.
Many important contributions to scenes and movements have been marginalized after the fact by well-meaning (and not so well-meaning) social anthropologists. How many great bands have been unfairly relegated to second string status, simply because they were not around, nor fortunate enough, to have been cast in The Decline?
In thinking about the L.A. punk scene of the late seventies, I realized that much of what people know about that time has been shaped by a very small group of voices. The same stories about the same characters get repeated endlessly, without benefit of social and historical context and sometimes without the input of people who were there, many of whom are no longer living, some of whom have simply not been asked to contribute to the oral history of the time. Notably absent are the voices of the many creative and talented women who were part of the scene: Exene is sometimes quoted, yes, but what about Phranc? Charlotte Caffey? Dianne from the Alleycats? Where are the Poodles, Piranhas and Plungers?
Expressing myself through this website is - at least for now - the way in which I can share my perspective with the world. Other women may choose other forums. I encourage all the women who were there in the late seventies/early eighties to not allow themselves to be erased. And to all of those who are busy making art right now, don't let other people document YOUR scene for you. DO IT YOURSELF! Take control of your own history before someone else writes your epitaph.