Germs-01, 1977-1980 Jenny Lens MFA

Belinda Carlisle Go-Gos, Lorna Doom Germs, Hellin Killer, PleasaA few words about Darby Crash and the Germs. I don’t watch current TV (got rid of my TV) but borrow some DVDs from library. Sometimes in a recent film, or something online, I hear or read the name … Darby Crash. I am immediately transported to another time and place. Darby felt he would be famous after death. How true, but at what a price. Unlike some, I loathed the Germs onstage. Their stage presence, music and whatever Darby was screeching (and having read some lyrics), his “genius” escapes me. Ironic that MY photos of Darby, Pat and Lorna of the Germs have become iconic. Ya never know, ya know?

LA punk was a small scene. We all hung out together. I enjoyed photographing creative, intelligent, colorful, imaginatively dressed fun party people. Just happened to include the Germs. Darby Crash, Pat Smear and lovely, quiet Lorna Doom. I’ve many fond memories of the Germs off-stage. Always enjoyable good people. Well, until Darby started getting into heroin and his downward spiral.

Darby was a scared little boy. We were standing at the corner of the gas station, north of Joan Jett’s apartment, south of the Whisky, across from Licorice Pizza. He was so drunk that he was spitting thru his cracked front tooth as he spoke. I’d move a bit back, and he’d move closer to me. I didn’t have the heart to say: “Darby, you are drunk, stop spitting while you are talking. Why do you think I keep stepping back?” I just laughed it off.

A couple years later he told me he never performed sober. This was the Hope Street Hall, December 14, 1979 show. He was looking for drugs. I asked what he wanted. People usually have preferences. I was an uppers gal, don’t give me downers. I can’t hold a camera, let alone focus, on downers (that includes booze, although technically a stimulant, but I rarely drank then). Others are just the opposite. He said it didn’t matter which drug, but he had to be high to perform. I became so sad and worried, as I watched him walk away, in pursuit of drugs, any drugs.

IF a person doesn’t enjoy their art, they are doomed. I wasn’t THAT surprised he took his life about a year later. He became abusive and selfish. Hard drugs do that, you know.

Later, people asked me if he played mind games on me. I laughed at the thought. I was totally unaware of his mind games. I was older, educated, and so focused on my photography. He intuitively knew I wouldn’t fall for any of that from him. I also was shocked to realize many of our mutual friends dealt with survival guilt. What a horrible legacy to leave the people who loved and admired him. They were young and took growing up to realize they didn’t kill him, nor could they stop him. Many consoled him. Ultimately, he made his own decision himself. Tragically.

Enjoy these photos in the spirit of the fun I had when creating them. And wherever Darby is, we miss you. We loved and accepted you. Hope Darby found some peace and acceptance in his troubled soul.

5 comments

  1. Beautiful post , Jenny. Thank you.

    1. Jenny Lens

      Thank you Damie for your comment. Pls share my site w/yr pals or spread the word online. Thanks!

  2. This brought it all back to me…I agree, he became abusive if he didnt get what he wanted. It hurt to the core, having been a good friend of his. I met him thru Terri (Lorna Doom) and her bestie Belinda (to become Belinda Carlisle/Dottie Danger) way before Punk took off…i watched the changes in them and gradually drifted away for a happier crowd…Punk WAS a blast, having experienced it in London first (guest of the Ramones) in 77. The hardest drug i ever did was quaaludes and those went out of fashion before punk took over THANK GAWD!!! YOU, Jenny were such a bright light to me in those days, and you still shine!! These photographs are more than chronicles of a time gone by, but of the times themselves that bring the memories back. Also to the unborn at the time it shows them what we were really all about…having a great time in an independent way, away from the commercialism that screwed up music for awhile….Love you!!!!

  3. Jenny Lens

    Desi, thank you sooo much for your comment! The stories YOU could tell! One time Darby and Amber showed up at my apt, circa late 1979 or early 1980. NOT a good memory. He always used ppl, but towards the end, it was so bad. She brought out the worst in him. She was a real nasty piece of work! I’ve met some rough characters, but she stands out. Pure evil. How or why they hooked up. I have my guesses: she using him for his ‘fame’ and he for her money i.e. drugs.

    You have to be desperate to hang out with the likes of her! I sure wouldn’t want to be around that dark energy, no matter how broke I have been. But I wasn’t an addict. Ppl on heroin aren’t the ppl we knew before. It was shocking how quickly Darby changed. It’s so obvious in my photos. The light went out long before he took that overdose of heroin.

    Love you back, my friend. Pls add any stories or comments to any of my posts. If anything too personal, drop me a note and it’s between us.

  4. Wendy Abuelhawa

    This site is amazing and beautiful. I hope it reaches many people and that your work finds many new supporters, because it is lovely .

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