Saturday, February 23, 2008

Women In L.A. Punk - Part XXV - Connie Clarksville

Some of the women who lived in the Canterbury Apartments in Hollywood back in the late 1970's identified themselves as (or through association, became known as) either Pyranas or Poodles. My roommate Shannon and I both belonged to the Pyranas, a group of young women who tended to be a bit more sexually aggressive and confrontational than the norm. Whatever the Pyranas had in tough, man-eating mystique, the Poodles had in style. The Poodles included Connie Clarksville in their ranks and I believe that Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go's must have been operating as a double-agent between the Pyranas and Poodles.

The Masque Presents Black Randy and the Metrosquad with Arthur J and the Goldcups at the Whisky. Sheila Edwards, Trudie, Trixie, Connie, Spaz Attack, Alice Bag, Nickey Beat, Exene sitting on KK’s (Screamers) lap. Whisky, March 5, 1978.
Courtesy of Jenny Lens.

I remember Connie Clarksville as one of the first punks to marry the hard-edged punk look with fifties' pin-up glamour. Her rockabilly hairdos and fashion easily set her apart from the crowd. She had a place on the first floor of the Canterbury where, on any given day, she might just as easily be hosting a raucous party as cropping a punk 'do or styling a DA. Compared to the rest of us, Connie seemed to have her shit together. She served food and wine at her parties while the rest of us were sharing half pints of rum and Dr Pepper and a bag of chips. As a fellow Blackette with Black Randy & The Metro Squad, Connie showed us all that she was a multi- talented Glamazon. She danced and sang along with me, Trudie Arguelles, Exene Cervenka, Sheila Edwards and Belinda Carlisle.

Looking at her current pictures, it's hard to say whether she isn't even cooler now than she was in the late 70's. She's still ahead of the curve, still stylish and still looks like she can kick your ass if you don't mind your manners! Click on the thumbnail to read her interview.


Jenny Lens said...

OMG I told Horrible Heather that her mother, you Connie, must have some stories. I haven't laughed that hard in ages! Thanks for sharing so many stories. You really recaptured who we were and what we did. More stories!

How FAB that the photos I've found of you (so far), match your stories! The Masque, being a Randette, hanging with Rock Bottom.

I have a few black and white shots of you onstage at the Starwood, being the Go-Go's roadie. You are sitting stage right, audience left, on a stool. I shot from the upstairs balcony.

The Starwood show was literally the night before you all went to England in Spring 1980.

DO YOU RECALL the month or date you left for England?? March?

Remember the party at Villa Elaine's at Margo's place after the show? Were you there? I don't recall you in my photos. But hey, I know I have more photos of you in my files!

I have a color shot of Lydia (Seal) onstage at the Whisky, in color, but cropped out (the photo works better cropped), but neither of either of you in England. Maybe you weren't at the party I shot in England?

Steve Jones and Paul Cook showed up, but I only recall shooting Belinda, Ginger Canzoneri (the Go-Go's first manager and does anyone have contact info on her??), Margot (where is Margot, I want to show her so many pix I have of her!), all of X, Claude and Philomena, Darby and good ol Farrah Faucet-Minor (I wish she'd write something. I have tons of fun pix of her!).

I included several shots from that party in my book, but my fave is with Margot/Margo, Ginger and Exene, with great big smiles.

I never saw the Go-Go's perform over there. I only saw/shot the Clash and X on their separate tours in England.

The one about you and Belinda, dumping her onto the street -- I can just visualize that!

Reading the entries on Alice's site gives me one regret: that I didn't shoot the Canterbury and hang out there. I couldn't possibly live there because my photos and equipment would have disappeared immediately. I visited at least once or twice, and recall wishing I could be part of that lifestyle, but it was far too risky and I was far too busy.

People often hung out at my place on their way to a show, because I lived so close to the Whisky and the Roxy. They stole jewelry and other things once they were inside. I was robbed with a gun right before the Go-Go's went to England.

I will never forget Ginger's face when I told her I had been saving for months and just took the money out of the bank to buy a videocamera to shoot the Go-Go's last live shows before their first Brit tour. I was literally getting ready to buy it, I was robbed, in my apartment, with a gun pointed at me.

So I knew that a few years earlier, during the height of the Masque (1977-1978 in particular, some of 79), I couldn't possibly live at the Canterbury.

That is also the time I was really busy printing and sending out pix. The earlier photos were the ones that were published the most. So I had to do what I did. I just didn't have time to just hang out often.

Which makes me even more GRATEFUL to everyone who shares their Canterbury stories and photos!!!

I always wondered how you got your name. I figured it was a tribute to the Monkees' "Last Train to Clarksville." I always referred to you as Connie Clarksville.

I have contact info for Gail Zone (write me if you want it). I mention her in my book in the acknowledgments. I have some great shots of Gail at a party at X's Genesee house with director of Decline of Western Civilization's Penelope Spheeris and her then-husband, Slash's Bob Biggs. A cute one of Gail and John Doe and another with Bob and Gail.

Plus backstage shots of Rory and Blondie's publicist, Toby Mamis. And Rory and Malcolm McLaren, whom Rory worked for/with.

But no room in my book. Oh, the photos I had to leave out!

Of course you are in that color shot of the Randettes in my book. Which means you are in a lot of books, mags and documentaries. That photo has gotten around a bit. EVERYONE was so stylish that night!

[PS I have a color shot of you live behind Randy onstage that night, with Trudie, Alice, John Doe, Rand McNally, a Zero – I think Hector, and others]

I am sooo happy you are happy! So many of us who survived are doing well on so many levels.

I'm still barely, and I do mean barely, hanging on financially, but my book will help. So much more work ahead though!

So I need all the laughs I can get, esp when my photos match your stories. I love love love your stories.

I still get weird feedback at times when the subject of punk is brought up. People still think it's just loud, fast music and fucked up kids.

It's really gratifying and fun to run into or meet so many from back in the day. Still off the grid, doing things our way, but we've contributed a lot. Wonder what all those disco fans are up to? LOL!

I am putting this out to everyone I ever shot: if you want to collaborate on stories and my pix, I'm up for it!

As soon as I raise the money to pay my utility bills, so they don't shut off the electricity, internet and all that, I wanna do some eBooks. Yikes!

Thanks to Alice and Greg for posting that. That was fun!

Jenny Lens said...

Alice, I meant to say the Pyranas had style too, oh la la! Just different than the Poodles.

Tonight/last night (oy, it's Tuesday already!), I found cool shots of Connie wearing '50's "sunglasses after dark" with Michael Wilcox. It might have been Pleasant's birthday party. I think it was at the Tropicana, but I only quickly glimpsed at them. But I remember seeing them together at the Trop.

I ran across them while looking for some photos tonight of Big Ann McLean, whom I knew was in the audience at a Levi and Rockats show. I found Connie with Michael Wilcox (hey Connie, I'm still in touch with him, he's in Portland too!). Jane Weidlin in a pink cowgirl hat (the film is b/w, but I remember that hat), Billy Zoom, Top Jimmy, John Doe, and Levi was dancing in the crowd. I must have been on a chair, with my back to the stage, shooting the audience. I don't see Plez, but you know she was there!

There was "good rockin' that night!" Everyone is smiling!

I found Big Ann, but at a Rockats show at the Whisky, with Gaby Berlin, Chase Holiday, your Troub bubby, Tom Waits, Tomata, Top Jimmy and Billy Zoom, Toni Basil and her flame, Spaz Attack, Rick Wilder, and one of the Middle Class Atta Brothers.

Don't you wish I had enough funds so I could scan all these! Oh my gawd, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Ok, back to work, so I can go to sleep and do this again in a few hours. I found some incredible Robert Plant slides, one that is to die for! Now I wish I looked at them and used that one for my book.

I have pal who flew to England to see Led Zep in December. OMG. Maybe he'll buy a photo. I'm digging up/scanning pix cos I have a backlog of requests from peeps.

But first I have to finish a DVD of pix to mail to a MAJOR gallery interested in my work. Who needs sleep? I want to see these photos! I want to share them!

To all the stylin' chicks and their men and pals, thanks for the memories!