Simi 3/21: Alice Bag Speaks + Performs
For Women’s History Month, meet a woman who makes history: Alice Bag, singer of the Bags and member of many other important LA punk bands in the 70s; she’s the author of a recent memoir, Violence Girl: East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage.
I feel fortunate to have been invited to several universities over the past two years where Violence Girl – East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage, A Chicana Punk Story is being used in courses with topics ranging from Literature to Music, to Chicano/a Studies, Gender Studies and beyond. One question I am frequently asked is how I see my Chicana identity. It’s a question that doesn’t lend itself to a short answer and I feel that it’s important enough for me to take time explaining.
For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in social justice but I got off to a rocky start on my road to forming a Chicana identity when I perceived negativity towards my odd, unpolished glam-rock style from members of the Chicano organization at my high school. All during my late teens and early twenties, I called myself a Mexican-American rather than a Chicana because I believed that term was reserved for people in Chicano organizations like MeCHa and I believed those organizations were biased against people who looked like weirdos. Punk empowered me in all kinds of ways: it gave me the confidence to claim my Chicana identity, to define it in my own terms and to refuse anyone the power to exclude me.
Alice Bag will speak and perform from 6-8pm March 21 in Simi Valley in a free performance in the Community Room of the Simi Valley Public Library. And hopefully she will travel again to Ventura County for Ventura College Earth Day! My students have even offered to hold a bake sale to make it happen but I am asking VC’s Associated Students to help foot the bill…)
In her page turner of a memoir, Alice Bag describes how she grew up in East LA, and developed her passionate voice, and learned how to use that passion in productive ways. From her website:
Born and raised in East L.A., Alice
grew up in a home where speaking
a language other than Spanish was
forbidden. As a result, Alicia did
not speak English when she started
school and recalls crying when a
frustrated teacher yelled at her.
This memory led her to pursue a
career as a bilingual teacher so
that she could help other Spanish
speaking children have a better
experience with school.
Alice began singing professionally
at the age of 8, dubbing cartoons
into Spanish and recording the
theme songs. She attended several
Eastside schools and by the time
she left junior high she had become
fascinated with the glitter rock
scene and music by T. Rex, Bowie
and the New York Dolls. In 1976,
she and a friend (Patricia Rainone)
decided to form an all-girl punk
band and began auditioning
musicians, which eventually led to
The Bags were one of the first and
most popular bands of the early
L.A. punk scene and were notable
for having two strong female
members. Their music was fast,
aggressive and confrontational.
Alice Bag didn’t so much perform
as explode on stage and The Bags
quickly gained notoriety. By the
time the remaining members of the
Bags were included in the Penelope
Spheeris film, The Decline of
Western Civilization in 1981, the
Hollywood punk scene was already
in its final days.
These days she’s busy with being a mom, a writer and active for awhile with:
Stay At Home Bomb, an all female punk
rock group that addresses domestic
roles, socially enforced images of
femininity and the burning desire of
women to kick ass in a rock band.
Once a community college student herself, on Earth Day April 22 we hope Alice Bag will return to community college but this time to speak at Ventura College. Keep tuned for more details!