Or was it coming home for photographing of lovely opening to find all hell broke loose in my apartment building? Moved into paradise until a despot took over. Lady MacBeth and Professor Moriarty (think meaner and vicious). Without detailing it, let’s say past four years in this otherwise lovely apartment has been hell on earth. Time to get serious about this situation. That will require also legal work, research and compiling tons of info from neighbors. I could write books about both these situations. That’s how much paperwork I’m generating. Oy.
Feeling like a tiger in a cage, pacing back and forth and deeply growling, I kept asking myself why do I feel like this? Was it the fact that my photo archive is being held hostage? Despite a strongly worded demand letter from my attorney. Sadly looks like litigation. Which costs a lot of time and money. That would put someone in a bad mood.
Sometimes sitting on my butt, in front of screen, for 10 hours a day every day of the week really gets to me. I just walk and walk. Around the neighborhood. Or inside the courtyard. Tonight, as I looked out my kitchen window, studying the clouds and their cool damp air, in true June gloom, I flashed onto strong feelings and one powerful image.
I’m in front of my dressing table mirror, with my lotions and potions and paints. I’m coloring my face, to complement my mood and dress, before going out. Life begins at 8:45. (An Al Jolson hit from the early 1930s. Delightful.). 8:45 is when Al picks up his lady friend. They can wrap their arms around each other dancing. Then later in the evening … well, although he doesn’t say “let’s spend the night together” like the Rolling Stones later. But Al Jolson was the Jazz Singer. He was the first male singing superstar of the 20th Century.
Anyway, I see and feel myself getting ready to go out. About 8:45 or so. Clubs opened at 9. Bigger shows, like Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Forum, etc usually started at 8. I was usually early at those clubs, to suss it out and get ready for action! The Masque got going after hours, due to lack of licensing. Being literally underground. But no matter where I went, I was living theatre. This lifestyle WAS living theatre. We all lived Life (as if on) the Wicked Stage,. Not always for others, but for ourselves, at least. I most always painted my face. Not in the beginning, but very soon.
My life as a punk rock photographer had its many ups and downs. The downs are mostly due to my own insecurity and naïveté. Jenny in Wonderland. Jenny Through the Looking Glass. If you think Alice met all kinds of fascinating, strange and wonderful creatures, I can one up that!
One element of punk I absolutely adored was the fantasy, drama and theater. The ART! The rituals! Most of my friends, when not in school or at work, spent their days at thrift stores, yard sales or charity events. They found the most amazing clothes, shoes and accessories. My pals had access to a treasure trove of fashionable discarded Golden Age of Hollywood to the recent 1960s youth quake culture fashion. Plus many created their own clothes and accessories.
Then they made up each other’s faces, hairs and ensembles. Sharing and changing, daily. Few wore the same thing twice. Except I, because all my money went into film, processing, prints, postage, batteries, mags. The stuff I needed to do to be published, but rarely paid. We got our makeup at Woolworth’s on Hollywood Blvd, Bullocks or Broadway and later Fiorucci’s. Some punks worked in makeup counters to get discounts. Punks used the 5 finger discount or changed price labels. Not I, lacked that kind of nerve. Although breaking the law was something many did now and then. But this is NOT that kind of tell-all!
WE created art from discards. Changed fashion forever. Not just England. Los Angeles had a MAJOR impact on makeup, hair, but especially clothes, accessories, plus graphics, publishing. Basically, world culture. But that’s for a book I shall not write cos it will take the rest of my life. So just believe me. I have the photos. You’ve seen a few examples
We also crazy colored our hair. Turquoise, eggplant, lavender, magenta, hot pink, yellow, blue, green and red, ever-changing colors and styles. My pals and I dedicated time on all this.
I quite often see an image of myself getting ready for shows. I lived around the corner from Tower Records, the Whiskey, the Roxy and near famous Old World restaurant. After I left, sometime in the 1980’s Wolfgang Puck’s Spago became THE hotspot across up the hill from Tower.
1021 Palm A#7, LA, CA 90069. Two floors, 4 apartments in each floor, an eight plex, four on the floor, and four on the top. I had the southwest window. Hotter than hell during summer. West Hollywood can be DRY. I had no breezes nor trees to shield me. So I wasn’t home much. My neighbor across the all faced faced Sunset. We were around the corner, going west to Book Soup, some wonderful little antique stores and Tower Records Classical division. Across the street from THE classic Tower Records store on north side of Sunset Boulevard.
I often parked in the alley (Neles) or the street. One time a neighbor illegally towed my car from the alley. I had a pay $170 to get back when my rent was only $150! An early sign it was time to leave.
I will never forget one episode after parking in front. I saw Alan Price at the Santa Monica Civic. He was the organ player and co-write songs for Eric Burden and the Animals. He also wrote the songs and music for a fabulous Lindsay Anderson film. “O Lucky Man” starring very young Malcolm McDowell and Helen Mirren. A lovely wonderful strange prophetic film. I photographed the press party at a forgotten restaurant. Somewhere in my files is a photo of Alan Price and myself. I was not usually photographed. Especially not with performers.
GREAT Polaroids of each of The Clash and I. I just wanted my photo with Alan Price. I also took fruit home, cos I love and live on fruit and veggies. Bringing home food was unusual. I was offered it. I took it. I was standing in front of my apartment, at my trunk, putting on my camera bag on one shoulder. I was reaching for the bags of food to carry upstairs. The police came by and gave me a hard time cos it was around 3:00 AM. Most people are not rummaging through trunks, but in bed. I set the food bags down, pulled out my drivers license, pointed to the address on it and the building. I said I just came back from an event, just gathering food and going home.
Late 1979 or early 1980 they built an sad ugly office building. I wonder if any of our essences, the wild times we residents knew, are exorcised. Or do our spirits haunt the halls?
I moved into the Montecito. Which is a whole another story. Black Randy lived at the Montecito. Its history goes back to early movie times. Many budding Hollywood performers and crew lived there. Then rockers. It was a strangely elegant seedy but private building. I rented a suite at the Montecito. I recall one area was rather dark. To quote the Who, ‘I can’t explain it’. A dressing table area with a large mirror, ledge for makeup, and a chair. And I would put on make-up there. I remember sitting in front of the mirror and applying makeup. Such a vivid image!
I used Rachel Parry cleansers and moisturizers. There were only two health food stores around. I bought face products at the health food store on the ground floor of the Blue Whale aka The Pacific Design Center. Although probably within a 2 mile walk (something I do all the time), I probably drove. Palm is a rather steep hill going south. You’d cross Santa Monica Blvd, then Melrose. The Blue Whale is a bit west at San Vicente and Melrose. San Vicente is the south side of Sunset, with Clark being the north side. The Whisky is at that northeast corner.
After a show, party, event, if at the Whisky or Roxy or a few blocks away, I’d walk home and get my car. Or if I were driving, I’d hit Hollywood photo labs. Everyone dropped off black and white films at Richard’s, on Sunset, across from Hollywood High. Tom’s Chroma Lab, Kodak or other labs for color. Next day I’d drive back into town to pick up my now-processed slides or negatives. That’s when I’d stop at the health food store. The Blue Whale or another.
I frequented the health food store on the corner of Franklin and Western. It is immediately south of the AFI (the American Film Institute). It is also a tad east from the ‘Wilton Hilton.’ I went to a lot of parties and hung out at the ‘Wilton Hilton.’ Screamers Tomato du Plenty and Tommy Gear lived there. They threw the MOST fab parties I shall ever attend! KC Powers aka Kid Congo (former Cramps, amongst other bands) and other creatives lived there. Such parties, oh my gawd!
I think I got my Rachel Perry moisturizers at the Blue Whale health store. Really fun place. Decorated as if ready for a barn dance. Very pioneer. Reminded me of an upscale Knott’s Berry store. It was a trip. Although 99% was way out of my price range. I’ve always eaten some healthy foods, plus vitamins and minerals. When I was shooting speed, I made sure to take my Emergen-C, vit E, B-Complex.
My mother, a registered nurse, asked: “Do you want some crystal?” I did a double take. Crystal = speed, and everyone wanted crystal. I said, “What?” She said: “Vitamin C crystals.” Or course. My mother gave me crystal Vitamin C powder. Now you can buy Vitamin C like that, but only medical pros could back then. I put the Vitamin C in little plastic drug baggies and give to my friends. What we ate, drank, and ingested up our noses or arms or swallowed meant we could use some healthy items.
Preparing to go out: took a shower, towel dried my curly hair a bit (has to dry naturally or it gets all tangles). Put on my dress. I didn’t put on a makeup cape or a towel. I’m really good with makeup. I don’t make a mess of it. I studied and applied theatrical makeup at the Cal State Northridge Teenage Drama Workshop. I was a very skilled theatrical makeup artist as a very young teen.
Starting in high school, I always applied minimal makeup. or college. Enough to bring the features out. Always got compliments about my blush. I knew WHERE and how much to apply.
I’m an artist. I just know how to paint a face. So I painted my face. During punk. Like a Matisse. I was very aware, very conscious of and with strong intentions invoking Matisse. I did not go as far as his paintings with green covering one cheek and purple on other with an orange-blue nose. I did not want to look like a clown. I wanted to look like an exotic glamorous creature.
Matisse is the most famous of all the ‘Fauve’ artists. “Wild beasts.” What a great name for an art genre. For my personality. Not Impressionism, not Cubism, not Post Modern (what is Post Modern? Aren’t we living in a modern age, how can we be past our present?). Wild Beasts. My other favorite names and genres are Symbolism and the German Expressionism, plus some Nihilism, Dadaism, Surreaism. I love Impressionism. Gimme a Renoir any day. Monet. Vincent himself.
Wild Beast characterizes and summarizes my personality to a large degree. I’m always having to tame the wild beast. We all have the wild beast inside of us. Good we don’t all run freely with it all the time. Most hold it back in certain areas. Which allows others, those wild beasts with fewer boundaries or a conscience, to take advantage of others.
Sadly, we hold ourselves back assertively, don’t defend ourselves, or even in areas like creatively. We think we are not good enough. The Fauves didn’t hold themselves back. Matisse embraced life and painted luscious, lively, colorful images.
Dee Dee Ramone. It was based upon a really Rudi Gernich pop 1960’s design and pattern. I greatly changed it because Rudi designed it for skinny little girls. I lengthened it, with longer sleeves too. I also made beautiful dresses, using my pattern, from Nigerian fabric. The fabric literally wore out around the elastic collar. I’m wearing that in one of Brad Elterman’s photos. Brad thinks he photographed me at Fiorucci’s, so maybe 1978 or 1979. I made that either in college or early punk.
I sewed the black version while in college. I served guests at an art opening at the Brand Library in Glendale. We were mimes, serving guests. I keep thinking while on roller skates (more than likely an image from “American Graffiti”). Not sure if we wore white makeup. We had to wear black. I updated the pattern and sewed the dress.
I didn’t get paid. It was Performance Art. I said YES to any fun thing like that during college (or most any time). In 1977, I sewed my little black dress I made with all my patches. Someone posted a photo on Facebook. I used it for my timeline. The punks are looking at iron-on images of MY photos, on the white patches I sewed onto my dress. Which I designed.
Sex Pistols, January 14, 1978, Winterland, San Francisco. It was freezing. I’m wearing practically nothing. A high school and college pal often volunteered for Bill Graham’s First Aid stations at shows. I stayed with her. I bet my coat was there. We don’t have coat rooms at clubs. So many of us were walking around wearing minimal clothes. It was HOT in there. Of course that’s not the only reason my friends and punks were dressed minimally.
Back to my makeup routine when I was on Palm. The tiny bathroom came with a small dressing table opposite the sink and toilet, next to the shower. It was adorable. It was one of these cheap but sturdy 1950s concoctions. Thin round painted brass for the legs and arms. Table top made of some kind Formica, probably. Big oval mirror with elaborate frame. Round brass colored wires ending in many curlicues.
I hung my jewelry, necklaces, earrings, pins, ring on the frame. Sometimes people stole some things. I enjoyed making up my face in front of that vintage makeup table. I did not make money then. I don’t know if I used Rachel Perry skin products yet. I don’t know if the health store in the hood yet. They were still building the Blue Whale, with new stores coming and going. It’s one of those complexes like UCLA that are constantly being re-modeled, rebuilt and expanded.
Back to the Montecito, where I lined up my lotions and potions and makeup. The smell of those skin lotions haunt me to this day. I always put a light bit of foundation creme on my face and eyes so powders adhere. But not too much it looks greasy. I applied pink or rose powder blush with a soft, large brush. In those days, you couldn’t get a lot of makeup brushes.
Maybe I purchased makeup brushes at a beauty supply. I don’t recall them at the department stores where I bought Stagelight, Biba and other not yet popular yet makeup. Or the brushes were too expensive. I used tiny paintbrushes for my eyeliner. Flatter, softer, and slightly larger paint brushes for my eyes. Always.
I applied the tiniest bit of cream very lightly and delicately on my eyelids and all up to my brows. Allowed it to be absorbed for a moment. I applied black eyeshadow on the lid, for base color. I applied various wonderful glittery eye makeup with my finger, on top of the black powder. Stagelight. Pioneers in all the glittery makeup.
I most often put a wonderful dark blue on top of the black. The blue results in the most compliments. Green and gold and other colors. Usually darker colors on my lid, with lighter under the brow, to bring out the brow bone. I either used a light pink or iridescent white mixes. Quite often each eye had its own treatment. I’d extend the brow up like Spock, or paint bottom eyelashes like Twiggy.
Usually I’d get so hot and sweaty my makeup would be rubbed off or faded, but not totally gone. My best color image was after a party, September 17, 1977. We went to Denny’s after Farrah “She Had to Leave Los Angeles” Faucet-Minors’ going away party. THAT was an historic night. The biggest private turnout of LA punks. Brendan Mullen told me that’s when he realized LA had a punk scene. He just wanted to rent a rehearsal space for his drumming. He didn’t start the Masque as a punk community center, a literal underground home for many of us. But it quickly and shortly turned into that for us at its original space in a building formerly owned by one of the biggest Hollywood pioneers, Cecil B. DeMille, on Cherokee, behind then very seedy and decaying Hollywood Boulevard.
My eye makeup was often different for each eye and a bit pale. I initially applied for more definition and drama. To this day, if I bring makeup with me, I will either forget or be too busy taking photos, talking or watching to bother freshening up my makeup.
When I think about Friday or Saturday nights, I often have this vision of sitting in front of this dressing table. Sometimes the vision comes first, then I realize it’s Friday or Saturday night. I went out 24/7, but traditionally, Saturday night’s all right for partying. I remember the smell the lotions and potions. I see myself painting my face.Prior to making up my face and greeting dressed, I always set up my camera supplies. I made sure the flash and the camera had enough batteries. I counted out rolls of film. Black and white and/or color. My business cards, a small wirebound pad of paper and a pen.
Plus the most important item, with or without my camera: earplugs. From day one I wore earplugs. Early on I forgot and suffered for three days. Such headaches, pounding noise and ringing. Earplugs something I still use. My mother was an industrial health registered nurse. She gave me some professional earplugs, worn in industrial workplaces.
I’d either put my camera into my camera bag or I’d carry it. Usually put camera in my bag so people wouldn’t see my gear while outside. Then shower, dress, paint my face and put on jewelry. I wore a lot of jewelry during that time. My charm necklace, with the sterling silver horse cos of Patti’s Horses album cover pin, plus guitars picks from performers, a toy retractable switchblade, an ax cos Arturo Vega wore one and it was so cool. Earrings, pins and bracelets. Many I made or found in the discount and thrift stores.
Unlike my pals, I did not spend much time shopping. Being a photographer was a 24/7 thing with me. Mixed with the men, drugs, shows, parties. The photo and business part took time and/or money. Tracking down photo passes so I could shoot, buying film and camera supplies, paying for all that and more.
I didn’t earn much money. I turned down many paying gigs so my time available to shoot the people I believed in and enjoyed. I bought some little cotton short used kimonos from Aardvark or went to Chinatown.
I wore the kimonos over my little dresses cos they have pockets, one for film, another for business cards, pad of paper and pen. Plus sleeves beneath the elbow, which provided a bit of warmth walking home or to car. Sometimes a jacket in car but never took it into clubs. No place to stash them. We were running around out in the cold dark air the same as in a hot club. A wonder we all didn’t die of pneumonia.
When my camera gear and I were put together, I’d lock my door, walked down my stairs around the corner from Sunset to a club or to my car. Or later at the Montecito, the elevator down and walk to the parking lot.
“Life begins at 8:45.”
I have such vivid images haunting me so often. Yes I wish I had live my life differently. Was my heart’s desire to have these images scanned so you can see them. Plus seeing many more would bring back so many memories. To some of those who were truly there. Some drunk, drugged or imaginative and they make things up, despite my photographic evidence.
My photos have great stories in them. I spent my life trying to marry the images with the memories and stories (from others too). That was my dream for decades.
Now someone is holding major slides and negatives hostage. I did not start writing the story about that. Or maybe I did. I said I was in the strange sad restless mood. Initially the story came to me as I was telling it to myself in my head.
I do that all the time. Then I sit down to write it. It’s all gone. It’s been told. But not recorded. I am not usually cognizant of what is day, date, time it is. Every day is Monday here, the continuation of a working life, 24/7. But Friday or Saturdays sometimes affect me in ways other days do not.
I launched both Microsoft Word and Dragon Dictate. I forced myself to share what I already told myself and wanted to move on. I forced myself to edit (dictation is not flawless). I forced myself to read each line so it makes sense. I know I don’t tell stories in a straight line. That’s the way I walk.
Ending this memory of how some Friday and Saturday nights affect me. Brings me back to my profoundly deep sadness about what lies ahead. A business arrangement I entered into three years ago turned my life inside out ever since. Ever after. Costing me more than money, time, but energy and well … The upside is (cos I gotta end on a happy note, a positive note, otherwise life is too depressing to keep on):
Believe in yourself more. Depression and poverty absolutely can send you down a whirlpool. You spend your life just grasping on, dealing with raging waters and weeds. Instead of moving forward and sharing so much of what people want.
Writing and editing this took about 5 hours. Before the photos. All I have to share for now. Thank you because I love this memory. Sometimes I come across Rachel Perry’s lotions or something which reminds me of them. One whiff and I’m taken back.
Visually, I see these images and the stories come flooding back. So much more all the time. Right now typing all this. Sometimes I’m sitting, reading, researching, or doing the dishes, or just about any old time. Sometimes I’m feeling antsy cos my body wants to perform, play, paint my face, dress up, go out on the town. Take wonderful photos, laugh with others, hear great music, dance up a storm, flirt with cute guys and go home with one.
Or straight to the labs and drop off film, then home to read punk and entertainment mags (to find out where to send pix, whom to shoot next) til I fall into the arms of Morpheus. Next day, read and set up photo passes, drive to labs, work on photos, plus a bit of socializing often happened at my home, then evening sets.
As Bob Fosse’s character says so stylishly in “All That Jazz”: “Showtime!” Rinse and repeat for four marvelous magical memorable totally crazy but very entertaining years.
“I know a whoopee spot where the gin is cold and the piano’s hot and all… that… jazz.” Hot jazzy times during Chicago’s wild Roaring Twenties or LA, New York, British, San Francisco 1970s, first gen punk. Or right now. Wild Beasts just wanna have fun.