Thursday, October 02, 2008

White Hot Interview

A new online article by Sandra Vista about the Vexing exhibition just appeared at You can check out the article here.

Pink Viscera—A Permanent Triumph

Here are the original interview questions and my responses:

-While looking at your website I saw a current photograph of you in Phoenix. Your face appears soft and characteristic of a time of peace. (cara lisa) How do your experiences as being part of the East LA Punk movement contribute to what you are doing today-musically, with your family life and other creative aspects?

Yes, I'm cara lisa as opposed to that scary, angry gorgon that I used to be in my punk days but you don't have to scratch the surface too hard before the gorgon reappears! I don't know if I can honestly say that I'm at peace. I think I have figured out a way to negotiate a truce which allows me to express myself in positive ways, or at the very least, to be less impulsive than I once was. I still have the capacity to rant and rave when I'm angry and I still consider myself fairly uncivilized, but with age and experience, I learned how to channel my energy in different ways. Peace is a big word, I can't isolate a few events in my life and say that I'm at peace when all around me the world is getting fucked by corporate interests and our country is waging war.

-How is East LA, as a community, responsible for the Punk movement that you were associated with in the l970's and 80's? Does the community still have a reservoir of creative energy for the current generation of musicians and artists?

My part in the ELA punk movement is really as someone who helped set the stage for what would transpire later. I was part of the Hollywood Punk Scene which was a well integrated scene that preceded the scene at the Vex. As part of that earlier scene, I, along with other Latinos was performing alongside other punk musicians in integrated bands. My band, The Bags, was one of those bands. I know that some of the younger kids who shared my gender, ethnicity or economic level were inspired and motivated by seeing a woman from a poor, working class family from East L.A. play and sell out the most popular clubs of the day. I wasn't singing about being a woman or about being poor or about being Latina: I was simply being who I was and singing about a broad range of topics.

By 1980 when the East L.A. scene at the Vex was going strong, The Bags had broken up and I was going back to school for my B.A. in Philosophy. I still attended and played shows infrequently but I didn't consider myself part of a scene at that time because my focus was elsewhere and to be part of a scene, I think you really have to be immersed in it. I played the Vex with The Castration Squad, an all female proto-goth ensemble and I also played with other groups. Although I was not immersed in the East L.A. punk scene, I was immersed in East L.A. I moved back to my parents' house in East Los and worked my way through Cal State L.A. by working at a Franco Florist in Montebello. I worked all day and practiced and played gigs at night.

I am traditionally associated with the Hollywood Scene that centered around the Masque and predates the opening of the Vex in 1980 by at least 3 years. East L.A. is where I was born, grew up and spent most of my life. My experiences there have shaped every aspect of my life. I was in my late 40's when I moved to the Westside of L.A., then to Phoenix, and now San Diego. Every community has a reservoir of creative energy. There is no ethnicity, gender or socio-economic group that has a monopoly on talent. The problem is that not everyone has the opportunity to make his/her voice heard and that the dominant culture controls the means of production, distribution and promotion and they select artists based on corporate goals rather than artistic ones. Of course, that has all changed radically thanks to punk rock's DIY ethic and the internet. There is a more level playing field today but it is by no means an equal playing field.

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