My musical revelations and cultural epiphanies coincided with punk rock; I cut my heart on it and just kept going. And as an Angeleno, I am proud of our SoCal music tradition from the early days of Central Avenue jazz combos through now, which is why we feature a lot of punk rock movies with lots of local heroes and history on movie night.
So tonight, we’re delving into the history of punk rock on film to celebrate the publication of Destroy All Movies!!!: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film. TO celebrate the book’s release, there is a series of punk film screenings across the country in combo with book signings and discussion. Here in Los Angeles, the screening next Sunday, November 21, at Cinefamily (following a book signing at La Luz de Jesus) will feature tonight’s subject, Desperate Teenage Lovedolls, made in 1984 for $250 by Jordan Schwartz and Dave Markey along with The Slog Movie. Also joining us is Jordan’s sister Jennifer Schwartz one of the stars of DTL; the trio were co-editors, writers and publishers of the fanzine We Got Power which morphed into We Got Power Films. And we may have some unexpected guests as well.
Desperate Teenage Lovedolls combines teen exploitation flicks and women’s revenge grindhouse fare, an homage to Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, (co-written by Roger Ebert!) with rock ‘n roll reality: The film had a thick satirical frosting of the Runaways’ story, and their manager Kim Fowley threatened to sue Markey and Schwartz, amongst other things–ask them about it!). DTL also features one of the best bits of dialogue ever as Jennifer Schwartz’s Kitty Carryall has a quick word with Patch Christ, played with commanding hilarity by Janet Housden:
Kitty: Thanks for killing my mom
Patch: Hey, no problem!
According to Markey, Desperate Teenage Lovedolls sold
a couple thousand copies, with the help of continuing positive press and word of mouth. In fact, one of the biggest buyers of the film was the notoriously straight and fundamentally Christian, Blockbuster Video, who reported back an incredibly high rental of the title.
Punk rock birthed the idea we were in charge of our fates, we could create and recreate ourselves as we followed our dreams. Some succeeded, some failed. Epically or quietly.
It’s wonderful that history can be preserved through film and recordings , and that our past can be explored to see how it shapes our present and future. And it is glorious to celebrate the exuberance of youth with the wisdom of being kinda older. The music and images from punk rock have moved two generations forward as graduates of a large cool fraternity, created cultural linchpins. Punk is a foundation stone of modern America in terms of music, politics and culture.
So gear up and get get ready to talk punk rock, music movies, and the first time you saw someone dressed like a “punker” in film or on the teevee (remember the punk rock Quincy episode?)!