Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feminista! (A deleted scene from Violence Girl)

Another deleted scene from Violence Girl. Enjoy!


It seems like the whole time I was growing up, the world was trying to teach me the role of women. From the first time I saw my mother cowering at my father’s feet, to the current state of insidious inequality, I’ve been confronted with the message that females are somehow weaker, less capable than men. I began questioning the validity of these messages early on, inspired by the women around me. My mother, my sisters, my friends, aunts and cousins - each one constantly refined the definitions of femininity, androgyny and the true nature of equality in small ways through their daily routines. Sometimes these women discarded antiquated cliches of lady-like behavior in favor of an assertive, can-do attitude. At other times, they tried to squeeze themselves into someone else’s idea of womanhood. Either way, they helped me figure out that the tidy stereotype labeled “femininity” had to some stretching to do to catch up with my evolving female consciousness.

In the 1970's, my mother found herself by stepping up to help my father in the male-dominated construction business; my girlfriends were pushing the boundaries, too. The L.A. punk scene was densely populated by female musicians, artists, writers, photographers, roadies and more. These were the modern suffragettes in my life who, without banners or demonstrations, quietly led by example. Not that I oppose banners and demonstrations; I’ve participated in my share of marches, but it was the tiny changes that the women around me made in their personal lives
that spoke the loudest.

Patricia and I learned early on from auditioning male musicians that every one of them thought they were the next Jimi Hendrix or another Keith Moon. While most of the women we auditioned apologized in advance for not being very good, all the males wielded their axes with a bravado that seemed like second nature to them. Even the lamest male guitarist would talk up his skills, acting cocky and confident while the women underplayed their experience. After a bit of this, Patricia and I learned to adapt. We figured that when people wrote reviews about the band, they mentioned the two of us more often than they mentioned the guys. This gave us confidence and after awhile, we learned to do away with the modesty. It felt great to be able to say, “I’m a musician” without feeling the need to tack on an apology.

Changing the way we spoke about ourselves as musicians and artists was like tossing tiny pebbles into a sea of conformity, making ripples, making waves, bringing about change that starts from within and spills out into the lives of those around us. The words were so powerful that the more often we said them, the truer they became. Now, when we stepped on the stage we weren’t asking for approval, we were flaunting our talent.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Violence Girl, From East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage - Review

Five Star Amazon review of Violence Girl!

"Read this book, it will open your eyes."
"This is an autobiography unlike any other..not selectively choosing only the flattering memories to tell the reader, but rather openly, willingly, painfully at times & with great humility Alice's recollections are conveyed. As a woman who was part of the same music scene a few years already into her genesis as a frontwoman for the Bags, I am humbled to have shared the intimate details of just how this woman put HERSELF up front. There is a constant thread throughout this book...it is one of hopefulness & truth. The lessons in futility become the fuel for this formidable female who realized her value emanated from within not from the external view..there is great beauty in this book, even within the violent times painful as they must have been. This is a story for everyone..about growing up, rising up, surviving, finding your voice & healing your heart through your own actions. Inspiring, interesting, funny & powerful define this book....these same traits describe the Author. Get this, share it with your daughters. Empowering." - Nancy Sheets, 10/2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Violence Girl Trailer

Music video trailer for Violence Girl, From East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage - A Chicana Punk Story by Alice Bag. Published by Feral House. This video features elements, themes and images from Alice Bag's memoir

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fruits of the Recycler and Cart Before The Horse

Geza X joins the Bags and Joe Nanini parades down Hollywood Blvd wearing nothing but a jockstrap and a shopping bag. Read excerpts from my soon to be released book, Violence Girl here.


Order your advance copy at a great discounted price here:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Bags - Live and Raw - 1978

"Musically in keeping with the fundamentalist pick-up-guitar-and-go punk aesthetic, the Bags frequently trumped "melody" with raw, enraged emotion, speed and overall sound, more hallmarks of hardcore speed thrash; hence they anticipated and set the tone for hardcore extremis to follow." - Brendan Mullen, an excerpt from On Surviving the Manimal and the Origins of US Hardcore.
Here we have a bootleg recording of the Bags playing live in 1978, circulated for years by tape traders despite the nearly unlistenable sound quality. Intro, instrumental and Violence Girl. We've tried to clean it up as much as we could and present it here for your enjoyment.

 Bags Intro and Violence Girl Live by alicebag

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Downward Spiral

An excerpt from Violence Girl - scheduled to be released in Fall 2011 on Feral House. Enjoy...

The Dilaudid tablets simmered and dissolved into a couple drops of water in the spoon. The flame had to be moved around under it to distribute the heat evenly. Sheila and Shannon watched hungrily, like ravenous vampires waiting to feed. I had never seen the process so I was curious, but I wasn’t a fan of needles and wondered why anyone would want to stick something in a syringe and poke themselves when they could just as easily swallow a little tablet. The girls tied off their arms, filled the syringe and, pausing only to wipe the needle with another ball of cotton, shared the mixture.
“Do you want some, Alice?” asked Shannon in her deep Garbo voice. She seemed to be having an orgasm; her head rolled back, eyes semi-closed. She reclined on the toilet seat and let the wall hold her up. Sheila sat on the edge of the bathtub. She smiled like a satisfied cat, her head tilted downward, looking up at me with seductive eyes:
“Try it Alice. It’s sooooo gooood.”
“No thanks,” I said, offering a pained smile. “More for you, right?”
Sheila finished off the contents of the syringe. Riiiight,” she purred.

I have to admit that I was afraid of intravenous drugs. It was a time before we knew about HIV/AIDS, but images of Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues came to mind. I remembered the feeling of disgust when I’d seen the part of the movie where she’s fixing heroin, and I thought, So much talent… what a waste.I guess I imagined that because my choice of drug was legal, it must be less destructive. I took a sip from the can of Dr Pepper that I had spiked with rum and walked out of the bathroom, leaving my two friends together with their new lover.
Dilaudid and Percodan were the new heartthrobs in town, seducing many of my friends. The stray Quaalude still found its way into the Canterbury from time to time, but, like last month’s boyfriend, nobody else was that interested so I sometimes got them. I didn’t mind taking an occasional pill or tablet. I never paid for drugs — booze, sometimes; drugs, never. I was in a band, after all, and we were playing again. Fans offered me drugs as gifts, but I was never a big fan of drugs. I had been a sickly kid and had hated swallowing medicine or getting shots at the doctor’s office. It was also easier to drink than to go through the whole circus of buying drugs. The clubs gave band members drink tickets or drink tabs, and the Whisky had a punk soft-drink menu designed for the teens who usually made up the bulk of our audiences. The punk menu included a drink named after me. The bartenders there always comped me the pineapple juice and lime concoction whether I was playing or not, adding a splash of rum to create what they called the Real Alice Bag cocktail. And if my favorite bartenders (who served up the Real Alice Bag) weren’t working, I could usually convince someone to buy me a pint of rum at the liquor store across the street.
I was underage, so I still had to talk someone into actually buying the stuff. I had once tried to buy a pint of Bacardi Light at the liquor store nearest the Whisky, a place next door to a club called Filthy McNasty’s. When I asked for the bottle, a young man working at the register looked me over before grabbing the bottle and putting it on the counter. He was about to ring me up when an older man walked up behind him. “She’s not 21.” His eyes bore into me, and as he denounced me I felt myself getting jittery. “What year were you born?”
No mister, please don’t make me do math! I thought to myself. I wanted to add two years to my age, so I quickly added two years to my real birth year. “1960,” I replied. The man laughed.
“Go back to high school, kid,” he said, picking up the bottle and putting it back on the shelf. I stared at him, feeling stupid. “Go take some math classes!” he cackled. I don’t think I ever lied about my age again after that, not because I was opposed to being dishonest, it was just too difficult to keep the numbers straight.
An excerpt from Violence Girl – a book by Alice Bag, to be published Fall 2011 on Feral House. Copyright 2010, Alice Bag. All rights reserved – excerpt provided for promotional/editorial purposes only and may not be reproduced in print without the express written consent of the author

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Women Who Rock

I had the opportunity to attend the Women Who Rock conference this weekend in Seattle, hosted by both the University of Washington and Seattle University. My old friend, Quetzal Flores invited me to be part of a panel who would attend the workshops and then lead a discussion in a general session. Although I had never done anything like this before, I was excited to be included and I looked forward to being in the company of so many dynamic women. I met archivists, writers, artists, musicians, dancers, scholars, community activists, students and filmmakers, all interested in voicing and listening to what women and especially women of color, had to say about a wide variety of topics. These topics ranged from how to build community through music to ways in which we can assert our reproductive rights, concerns about stereotypes, how to empower young girls, gender and transgender inequality, gaining and disseminating historical perspective.

From keynote speaker to closing, the participants were embraced by a palpable feminist energy that felt assertive, determined and mature. Ideas were like ripe fruit harvested from the trees that our sisters before us had planted many years ago. I had the feeling that the seeds had been lying dormant, but on fertile ground. The soil had thawed. We had endured the cold negation of the term "feminist" over the years and now here it was again, bearing fruit to nourish our souls.

For me, the conference was exciting, emotional and above all, inspiring. It reminded me of all the work that is yet to be done and it made me feel that I, along with the other people in the room, had the power to do that work.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Valentine to My Fave Bad-Ass Girls - Starbuck

The next stem in my Valentine's bouquet of bad-ass women is dedicated to a character so fucking tough that not even death could beat her. Yes, I'm talking about the intensely physical, dangerous, but still sexy Viper pilot Kara Thrace, aka Starbuck (played by Katee Sackhoff) from the Syfy series Battlestar Galactica (a show which had several amazing roles for women, I might add.)

In the original 1970's Battlestar Galactica television show, the rough and ready Starfighter pilot role of Starbuck was played by a male actor. The Syfy show producers took a chance and re-wrote the character for a female lead and in so doing, they created a bad-ass icon for the next millenium.

Check out Starbuck frakkin' shit up in this video compilation with music by Peaches.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Valentine to My Favorite Bad-Ass Girls

The recent passing of Tura Satana got me thinking about my celluloid heroines, those bad-ass women who take no prisoners. A woman with a good left hook will always find a place in my heart.

Too often, we allow ourselves to believe that the world is a civilized place. It is not. I have always been inspired by heroines who defy the stereotype of frail femininity. At a subconscious level, they tell us that it is OK to hit back, to defend ourselves.

There is an ancient proverb that says “every rose has its thorns.” Generally, this is interpreted to mean that even things (or people) which appear to be perfect also have flaws, only I don’t agree that the thorn is a flaw. The thorn performs the vital function of protecting the rose. We women need to find our thorns.

When my stepdaughters were little, we showed them the martial arts film The Heroic Trio starring three kick-ass women. When my daughter was 12, we watched Tura Satana in Faster Pussycat Kill, Kill. When my elderly aunt came to visit me from Mexico, we watched The Long Kiss Goodnight with Geena Davis in the role of a lethal assassin named Charlie Baltimore. These experiences are memorable for me because I had the feeling that we had shared in an unspoken conspiracy sparked by the guilty pleasure of watching the girl beat the guys, for once. The women in those movies are bad-ass, physically strong and unapologetically aggressive. They are roses who have found their thorns.

This month, I’d like to share my unabashed love for these heroines, fictional and real. Here’s the first stem in a Valentine's bouquet of my favorite roses.

Rest in peace, Tura Satana.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

R.I.P. Tura Satana

I wanted to acknowledge the passing of the legendary Tura Satana with a blog posting. There is nothing I can add to her own story as told by Eric Kohn on his blog, Screen Rush, which I am reposting here. 

Tura Satana, born Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi, July 10, 1935, in Hokkaido, Japan, grew up in an Italian, Jewish, Polish neighborhood on the west side of Chicago, IL after her family were released from the Manzanar relocation camp for Japanese-Americans after the war. Asians didn’t mix well in the neighborhood and Tura found herself constantly fighting with the African-American girls on her way to and from school, skills that would serve her throughout her life. At age nine an a half Tura was brutalized and raped by five boys from the neighborhood. She then formed a girl gang with her Italian, Jewish, and Polish girlfriends called the Angels. After her parents placed her with an abusive uncle, Tura walked away to start her own life, becoming a cigarette girl at the Moulin Rouge on Hollywood Boulevard.
By age 15 she was a burlesque dancer with a fake ID. She was discovered by Turk Prujan who hired Tura for his Trocadero nightclub, also on Sunset. She also earned money modeling, becoming a favorite of famed actor Harold Lloyd, with results printed in Harold Lloyd’s Hollywood Nudes in 3-D. During her tour in New Orleans, Tura performed down the street from Lili St. Cyr before working for Harold Minsky, who was married to Lily’s sister. While performing in Chicago at the Follies Theater, Elvis Presley became infatuated and the two started an affair resulting in a marriage proposal. She declined, but kept the ring.
While working the Follies Theater in Los Angeles, a Warner Brothers scout approached Tura and she earned her Guild card on Hawaiian Eye. Subsequent television roles including The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., and Burke’s Law. While working at the Pink Pussycat in West Hollywood, Billy Wilder and his wife came in one night and enraptured with Tura’s performance realized they had finally found the girl to play Suzette Wong in the Shirley Maclaine-starring Irma La Douce. Tura’s performance earned her additional roles as the nightclub dancer in Dean Martin’s Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed? and the job of Carol Burnett’s choreographer for the film.
Tura earned her most visible role while performing in Irma La Douce. She got a call from her agent to come read for Russ Meyeer. She didn’t have time to change so she showed up in the wedding dress she was wearing for Irma La Douce. Russ handed her the script for “Leather Girls,” the original title of Faster, Pussycat! Kill Kill! and asked how she would play her. Tura replied, “I’d make her kind of feminine, but also a bitch on wheels.” After her cold reading Russ told her, “You are definitely Varla.”
Ted V. Mikels gave Tura two more classic roles in Astro-Zombies, and Charlie’s Angels precursor The Doll Squad, where she starred alongside Francine York and Michael Ansara.
Deciding to spend her time raising her two daughters, Tura left show biz and returned to her nursing career which she first studied while in high school, and continued to go to nursing school while dancing. One nigh, a druggie who had been turned in to the police by one of the doctors came looking for him and shot Tura twice but only hit her once, in the stomach. In 1981 she was hit by a driver without a license, heading at her at 60 miles per hour in a 25 mph zone. She spent two years in the hospital. They told her she would never walk again but she told the doctor, “Not only will I walk again, doc, but I’m going to do everything else I used to do.” She made that promise shy of her martial arts moves.
When I interviewed her, I asked her if she had any words to live by. “One of the things that I always said, and it was one of my father’s favorite sayings, ‘Always be good to the people on the way up, because you’re going to meet them on the way down.’ I have always lived by that philosophy.
“The one thing you’ve got to remember is that you just never accept defeat. Remember to never let life get you down, because there is always something new to learn tomorrow. Life is to be lived, and lived well.”
Tura Satana passed away February 4, 2011, in Reno, NV.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Violence Girl on Facebook

Just a quick update to let you know that I'll be doing most of my updates and interaction for Violence Girl on the official Facebook page for the book, which you can reach by clicking the link below. We've already posted a few videos there. It is a great venue for discussion and sharing and I encourage you to join the Violence Girl community by "liking" the Violence Girl Facebook page.

Thank you!

Click Here for the Official Violence Girl Page on Facebook

Monday, January 31, 2011

Who Is Violence Girl?

I'm very excited to announce that Feral House is in the final editing and layout stages of my book, which is tentatively entitled "Violence Girl - From East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage, a Chicana Punk Story." Stay tuned to this page and the official Violence Girl Facebook page  for personal appearances and other projects leading up to the release date.

I am also kicking off a web campaign to encourage females to share their stories, music and art - I encourage you to unleash your inner Violence Girl. More details to follow on this project.

In the meantime, here is a small sampling of photos from the book to whet your appetite.

Thanks for your support and spread the word!