Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Women In L.A. Punk Part XIX - Spock

Backstage Pass was one of the bands who helped to usher in the era of punk rock in L.A. back in the mid to late seventies. They were also one of the few rock bands up until that time to feature female musicians. They rehearsed at and were one of the first bands to play the Masque, which is probably where I saw Spock for the first time.

Backstage Pass live at the Masque, 1977. Photo credit: Donna Santisi

Backstage Pass, as I've mentioned before, was one of the more musically competent acts around at the time. They were also slightly more theatrical in their performances than some of their punk contemporaries. The band's sound was somewhere between power pop and punk and their presence at the Masque proved that the label of "punk rock" in the late 70's had more to do with attitude than musical style. The fact that these women were writing and performing their own songs proficiently in an unabashed, sexually assertive manner made them unique.

Click on the Women In L.A. Punk thumbnail to read her interview.


Jenny Lens said...

Bless you Alice and Spock, Genny and Marina. You all don't know what a lifeline you to me, more so than then. We are all so spread out now, me in Santa Monica (still a LA girl), Genny and Marina as well, but traffic so bad that email and phone are our links, as to Alice (how I want to call you!). We are still so linked.

I couldn't do my book without you, what we all did in the past and how everyone is supporting each other, no matter our endeavors. Marina wrote ne tonight about a spiritual link that unifies her, Genny and I: Jewish women. Totally undefined by what most people think of as Jewish women. Wild, independent, creative, brillant, loving, family oriented but so progressive -- us radical spiritual feminists!

Which leads me to our fearless leader, Alice (Alicia Armendaraz) Velasquez. I hope no spelling mistakes. Her righteous and right-on comments about immigration were needed: a voice of reason!

I argue that she is not a "reactionary" as she stated, because that word has been co-opted for the right-wing fanatics, those neo-con born-agains. She is a liberator, a PROGRESSIVE.

One unifying character trait among all the LA punk women (to my knowledge): we were and ARE POLITICALLY PROGRESSIVE i.e, LIBERAL in the best sense. I've posted this theme that PUNK IS POLITICAL over and over again, and spit it in people's faces all the time.

Right now I'm asserting myself to tell the VISUAL story of so many events and people as related not only by Alice's Women in LA Punk series, but her wonderful Canterbury and other photos. If you haven't checked those out, YOU MUST!

Her concise comments have me in stitches, but of course I know these people. I want my FIRST book to give life to them. I have twice as many photos as I can use, but one glaring ommission is Backstage Pass. I have a lovely color shot of Marina and Jenny at the second Slash Larchmont Hall Benefit, with Top Jimmy, Billy Zoom, and Pandor behind and I can't remember who else. It's absolutely smashing!

But it breaks my heart I have to be ruthless and cut out some photos. Of course I've got the Damned in LA. Oh Spock: check out my website, I posted a shot of you and Rat at Bomp Records. NO ONE shot the Damned during their first visit than I.

Backstage Pass were and are amazing women. If they ever get together and start talking, you'd hear a TOTALLY different side of what was going down. Like Stiff Records office was Genny and Marina's kitchen table! Oh the stories they've told me, especially Genny.

Genny told me stories about anti-Semitism amongst not only Farrah-Faucet Minor ("she had to leave Los Angeles" is about her and the Jew she hated and tormented the most was me). Some of the people Spock mentioned joined in the verbal abuse, but Genny didn't let it bother her.

I've learned alot from Genny. She inspired me to do the Jewish Punk page. Imagine getting an email from Marty Thau, the NY DOLLS MANAGER because he was flattered I included him?? A man I never met? Get this: if I knew this stuff years ago, I would have been so successful instead of shy and broke.

Marina is an amazing friend, mother, wife, business woman and artist. Always political, she raffled off my vintage Ramones shots to raise money for John Kerry. Those people don't know those $25 photos are worth at least $375 (someone willing to pay that), but I don't have more.

Marina gave me a sense of my self-worth by helping me during a potential project. She helped me realize I am the ONLY one who can tell this story and ONLY with people who KNOW this. SO many want me to do projects, but they don't know what we know or did. They don't "get" what's historical, what's significant. Marina saved me from my naivete and former lack of confidence.

Genny sent me a jpg of Sounds, a British newspaper. My group photo I took in my little apartment across from Tower Records. They stood on my bed.

I have lovely unpublished shots of them, gotta get that in to my book. My next book will really focus on women: my FASHION book. Yeah, Holly in gold lame undies under her minidress, go-go boots and gloves, in the Mabuhay bathroom.

Thanks for the tears of gratitude, community, solidarity, spirituality and creativity: to all the men and especially the women of LA punk! Viva la Alicia Velasquez!!

Jenny Lens said...

oops, I meant to say "no one shot the Damned MORE than I." I'm starting to realize who else saw the Beatles at the Bowl, all those screaming girls!

Spock's memory is not that bad. When I showed proofs to Genny and Marina, from the former Acquarius Theatre, across street from the Hllwd Palladium, they didn't remember. I kept saying Jake and Nick Lowe were in the foyer. I can see it clearly in my mind as if we were there now. Spock verified because she borrowed Nick's bass, or he borrowed hers that night.

NO ONE remembers everything, our lives were too full of shows and parties, work and play, every day and night.

phil from london said...

thanks alice, great choice. spock genny marina and holly were not just beautiful woman, but proper musicians who wrote their own songs and had a fantastic stage presence,its a pity that line up didnt stay together i think they would have had great success.the l.a. girl groups that followed owe them a great debt. when i first came to l.a. in the summer of'77 knowing spock meant knowing everyone worth knowing in the l.a. music scene.more importantly spock was a most generous person, not just with her friends but with her time her sofa and her wisdom.she is still a wonderful person, we met up in new york ,and even though it had been a good few years since we had seen each other she was still the same beautiful, funny ,wise ,sassy spock i first knew as a young guy from london in love with the rocknroll world!!!

alicelidel said...

Ah, you guys, thanks for everything you have said about me, and the wonderful comments and memories.... Jenny, fyi, I am another rock n' roll Jew.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for a really awsome site
We met a couple of times back
in the day, and it's wonderful
to see another old punk who's
aged gracefully. Back Stage
Pass? I knew a couple of those
girls-that's really going back.
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Spock,holy shit;30 years on,a different hairdo,and she still looks like Leonard Nimoy! What great character. I miss the L.A of the 70's!

Anonymous said...

you SO like A.Q.U.A -.-