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A New Blogger and Our New Punk of the Month Feature

May 12, 2011

Girl Germs might be an all-female show, but we have plenty of supportive gentleman friends – and even some honorary ladies – who number among our compatriots (see: DJ Phizzy, King Cole and Marinos of On the Corner; Evan and co. over at Fancy Pants Gangsters; and Chris and Qualler of Blogulator Radio, among others).

You might remember our friend Nate from his days on Radio K’s Out of Step; he guest DJ’d on Girl Germs back when we were all the same station. Nate is our go-to expert on all things punk and he’s kindly agreed to write a monthly feature for you all called Punk of the Month! Watch the blog every month for a profile of a female artist who has broken ground on the punk scene. This month’s PotM is Alice Bag, and…we’ll just let Nate tell you more about her.

For the very first installment of Punk of the Month, we’re going to focus our attention on Alicia Armendariz, known to most of us as Alice Bag.  Arguably one of the most influential female figures of the vibrant late ‘70s/early ‘80s LA punk scene, Alice’s profile tends to be overshadowed by some of her more visible contemporaries.
Raised in East LA, Alice is probably best known for her position as frontwoman for key early punk outfit The Bags, a group noteworthy for boasting two strong female members.  The Bags released just one proper single, 1978’s Survive /Babylonian Gorgon, for the Dangerhouse label.  A casual listen to The Bags’ only official 45 reveals an anxiously energetic band backing a venomous vocalist.
Live, Alice’s playful sense of menace took a ferocious form, with the physically imposing band leader strutting and snarling and prowling the stage in an alarming display of self-assurance.  Her volatile and confident presence dared to challenge the notion that a woman couldn’t front a band as well as -or even better than- her male peers. Actress/musician Bibbe Hansen, for one, was impressed enough to describe Alice as an “avenging goddess.”
Raised in a loving, but tumultuous, household, Alice seemed predestined to thrive as an explosive leading figure in the refuge of the tight-knit Hollywood punk family.  Never one to shy away from a confrontation, Alice often found herself on the winning side of the occasional fistfight with legendary Germs frontman Darby Crash.
Following the demise of The Bags, Alice continued with other outlets, such as the caustic Castration Squad and the synth-based Cambridge Apostles.  In the 1990s, she found herself fronting such groups as Cholita!, the acoustic trio Las Tres, Goddess 13, and most recently performing with Stay At Home Bomb, a poppy punk group tackling issues of femininity and domesticity. But there was life beyond music.  In the mid-1990s, Alice excused herself from writing and performing in order to focus on motherhood.   She also began teaching bilingually in order to help students who, like herself, had been raised speaking Spanish.
Alice continues to conquer new territory.  Currently hosting her Diary of a Bad Housewife blog and Violence Girl Facebook page, she explores topics like immigration, domestic abuse and women in punk rock.  Her memoir, Violence Girl:  East LA Rage to Hollywood Stage, a Chicana Punk Story, published by Feral House, has a tentative release date of October 2011.
-Nate Rastetter
Nate is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and a former co-host of Out of Step on KUOM Radio K. He has volunteered at Extreme Noise Records in Minneapolis since June 2000 and presently serves on its Board of Directors.  He seriously, fanatically loves record shopping.  Music is his mistress and vinyl is his vice.  He is also a moderately talented bass player.
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