SLO Lady Fest is kicking off tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 6 at The Grange Hall in SLO featuring like, A ZILLION rad local and out-of-town luscious lady bands! In honor of the ruckus that will ensue tomorrow, here's an ode to an underrated performer, punk legend, queen, activist and strong Chicana bad ass.
She is fiery. She is strong. And she was as (if not more) combustable/unpredictable on stage than any other male punk rock singer of her day. See, there was Alice without the mic, then alice with the mic.
That's the part of this memoir that hit me hardest—her apt description of this immense, unquenchable energy that semmed to spiral from the black pit of her soul the moment she stepped on stage.
She didn't have anything to prove; it wasn't a "tough guy" front. She just allowed herself be INTIMATELY seen, heard, and, very oftentimes, hated. There was zero restraint. I know the book is called “Violence Girl,” and Bag's stage antics were, for all intents and purposes, “rowdy” if not all-out bloody...but that's not the way I look at her legacy. It was't so much violence as a vioelnt rejection.
She internalized all the BS she had to live with as a working class, Chicana woman with abnormal creative goals (that is to say ANY creative goals) and instead of swallowing the trash she was given from birth...she fed it, then let it explode, like a nuclear bomb.
Lady musicians are often characterized by how "warm" they come off, how approachable. If they're not gragarious and doe-eyed, they're often called “stoic” or “cold.” Alice was neither warm nor cold. She defied stereotypes. Instead, she was a living, walking mosh pit.
I got this book from the always helpful and well-stocked Boo Boo Records in SLO and loved it so much I had to send it to my good friend Lindsay, who actually helped me start my very first all-girl band, Ballroom Burlesque back when we were still in HS in the early 2000s. Like Bag, we played tons of scummy East and Central LA backyard shows...unlike Bag, we came of age in a time where two white teenage girls from a way more stable socio-economic background and better social standing could channel a raging feminist pioneer like Bag and not be instantly victimized or tormented.
Bag was the OG, and in many ways, she still is. She cleared so much groundwork for women not just to be seen and heard, but RECKONED with. Let me leave you with a few quotable gems from Bag herself, who is still kicking ass in her life, her creative work, and her activism.
“My sexuality is not an inferior trait that needs to be chaperoned by emotionalism or morality.”
“I took big, hungry bites out of life, and I'm still not full.”
“If you’re not smiling at yourself in the mirror, you probably need to check that the life you’re building is aligned to the life you dreamed for yourself. And if you’re not dreaming, you need to start dreaming.”
“Truthfully, if you want to remember me, do it now. I won’t give a shit when I’m dead.”