Brenda Perlin (Valley Girl)

Being different from my peers made me seem difficult and troubled. Family members talked about me when I wasn’t around, and I overheard them talking about me when I was around. It was obvious that I was evolving in a way they feared, but they didn’t understand it any more than I did. I just knew I wasn’t like everyone else. I say “everyone” because there weren’t that many punks around in the San Fernando Valley. It was a fairly conservative place to come from. In high school, I was drawing attention from the trendies in school, their parents, and the teachers in class. Every day was a battle zone with no particular war to fight. I had little interest in fitting in just to make friends. I preferred reading and escaping into an unknown world where people wouldn’t be so superficial. I dressed in vintage clothing or army surplus duds, “men’s attire” with cheeky makeup, spiky hair, and clunky shoes. The days of feeling like an outcast started much earlier than in my teens. I can remember feeling discouraged in Girl Scouts because I wasn’t like the other members and didn’t want to talk about dull things such as cheerleading or hanging out at the mall to meet boys on the football team. It wasn’t until I ran into a girl named Faith that I realized it was okay not to fit in. She was a year older, and our moms were friends from Chicago. I had been introduced to her much earlier, but I found her to be intimidating. By the time we met again, we were both into The Beatles and later into alternative music and sounds from the U.K. And that’s when everything started to make sense. A whole new world was opening up. Our first ‘punk’ gig was Talking Heads at Starlight Ballroom. The year was 1979. Not a bad place to start! Soon after we saw the Ramones at UCLA’s Royce Hall where we bumped into a girl that Faith knew from Grant (high school) named Susie who became my best friend. We did everything together, including Tuesday’s at The Starwood to see Rodney spin records, The Whisky, Roxy, Madam Wong’s, nights of hanging out at Oki Dog and the list goes on. We even hung out on skid row if something interesting was happening. At one point I worked the burger stand at Godzilla’s in the valley where I was able to attend sound checks and sneak in my friends through the side door. Punk was a beautiful escape from the mundane and the vapid teens we went to school with. Punk gave us a direction to explore our options and be whoever we pleased at any given time. Now (go fig) punk is considered “cool,” but it’s taken years and years for us to get this recognition and for bands to get any mainstream attention. And if you ask me, it’s well overdue. RIP to the punks that didn’t live long enough to witness this kind of acceptance. We were an inclusive bunch. Everyone was welcome.

In 2010 after I wrote a book based on my life, my friend Mark Barry suggested I write something about the old punk days. At first I didn’t want to go there but later decided I would give it a try and published an anthology, L.A. Punk Rocker. With the help of Facebook I became re-acquainted with so many old friends from the early eighties. Since then I’ve put out a couple other punk anthologies, Punk Rocker and Crime and PUNKishment, and a photo book, called L.A. Punk Snapshots. These books have become my passion projects and have added so much happiness to my life.

Rodney Bingenheimer invited me and my friend Susie to his apartment one night. He was only interested in sharing music! Thank goodness. We were relieved! Haha. Oh, I have a story in LA Punk Rocker about the time me and my girlfriends met Iggy at his hotel room)…nudge nudge. 😉

Find me on Instagram @LosAngelesPunkRocker or on LAPunkRocker on Facebook.

Watercolor, gouache, pen and ink on cold press paper, 5 3/4″x9″, June 2023

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