Before Punk, as a pre-teen, I was all about making 8mm films that I shot with my dad’s hand wound Brownie. I began making films at the age of 11. This would be 1974, before I had any aspirations to play music. I first heard of Punk Rock from a friend who lived on Stewart Street, the first neighborhood I lived in in Santa Monica. The same neighborhood where I shot my early films. This would have been 1975 or ’76. This girl told me about Iggy Pop, informing me that he was the future of music. I was always into music. I grew up listening to 93 KHJ and bought 45s by bands like War, Jimmy Castor, The Sweet, David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Elton John, etc. But Iggy was way out there by comparison. It’s not like I “got it” right away as a 12 year old, it was something that fermented and bloomed later.
I used to tape Dr. Demento regularly, and that also sort of warmed me up for what was coming. Towards the latter part of the 1970’s I got into bands like Devo, Talking Heads, The Clash, The Ramones, Elvis Costello and the B-52’s mostly thanks to Saturday Night Live. These bands lead to other bands that I heard on KROQ, more specifically Rodney (Bingenheimer) on the Roq. This is where I first heard LA Punk like Black Randy & The Metro Squad, Red Cross, The Chiefs, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, The Minutemen, X, The Germs and countless others. This got me even more interested in music, not only as a listener, but as a participant. I wanted to form a band of my own.
Not long after I met a cute 16 year old punk girl who lived in Beverly Hills named Julie. We would form Sin 34 in June of 1981, which was a name I had been kicking around for a while. Julie, who was going to be the singer, had helped herself to a partial drum kit that she procured from a neighbors unlocked garage. I decided right then and there that I had to be the drummer. Julie already knew a bassist from her school (Beverly Hills HIgh), a guy named Phil Newman. We started playing in her basement, and before any of us knew how to play, and even before we had a permanent guitarist, Julie had got us a gig at a party. By the end of 1981 we had a permanent guitarist in Santa Monica High’s Michael F. Glass. Before long, we were booking gigs all over Southern California and putting out our own records. Around the same time I got involved with doing a fanzine with friends Jordan and Jennifer Schwartz and Alan Gilbert. Meanwhile, I had already graduated to making Super-8 sound films, and like drumming, I was completely self taught. I learned by doing, and doing again.
I always cite the X/ Blasters/ Gears Santa Monica Civic gig in October 1980 as my first gig. But actually I saw The Go-Go’s at the Whisky on New Year’s Day 1980 prior to that. I have been in bands that have been on Spinhead Records and then SST Records. As far as fanzines go I worked on We Got Power and then the short lived Sucks after that. But before punk I self published a Xerox ‘zine all about my Santa Monica neighborhood called the Neighborhood Journal. I started documenting the punk scene in Super-8 film and 35mm still photography as I was getting involved with it. I was in the movie Suburbia and in my own films (The Slog Movie, Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, Lovedolls Superstar, 1991 The Year Punk Broke and others). I appear in a bunch of documentaries related to the music scene like American Hardcore, We Jam Econo (Minutemen doc), Desolation Center, and a few others. These days I maintain my own film production company (We Got Power Films). I live in West Hollywood CA, where I’ve been for just about 30 years now, just a stone’s throw from The Starwood, which was one of the first clubs I started hanging out at as a teenager. The last thing I want people to know is that I ignored the kids around me when I was growing up who informed me that “Punk Sucks” and that I was a Devo “Whip It” fag.
You can read more about my work here:
(painting is acrylic gouache, gloss enamel, on wood panel, 6″x6″)