"One two three four! My band rips into our opening song. The music is loud, tight, fast and intense. A wave of bodies surges at the front of the stage as the audience explodes into frenetic dancing. The music blaring at my back, I’m going to ride this wave. I grab the microphone from the stand and belt out the words.
She’s taken too much of the domesticated world, she’s tearing it to pieces, she’s a violence girl!
I’m bouncing on stilettos like a fighter in the ring, I charge out onto the edge of the stage, full of adrenaline and fire. I sing into the faces in the front rows. They are my current, my source of energy. I urge them to engage. I know there’s something in them, some inner carbonation lying still, waiting to be shaken. It’s fizzing in them as I shake them up. Shake, motherfucker, shake! I want you to explode with me. I’m stomping, jogging and dancing all over the stage, teetering precariously on my high heels. I spot an area of spectators in front of Patricia, my bassist. Fuck that! No spectators, we’re all participants here! I get up in their faces as I continue to spew out the words. Now they’re dancing, that’s right, keep it going.
She’s a violence girl, she thrives on pain, she’s a violence girl, you can’t restrain!
I am in my element, en mi mero mole. There is so much energy coursing through my body that surely I am dangerous to touch." - Violence Girl
The proximity of the East L.A. barrio to Hollywood is as close as a short drive on the 101 freeway, but the cultural divide is enormous. Born to Mexican-born and American-naturalized parents, Alicia Armendariz migrated a few miles west to participate in the free-range birth of the 1970s punk movement. Alicia adopted the punk name Alice Bag, and became lead singer for The Bags, early punk visionaries who starred in Penelope Spheeris' documentary The Decline of Western Civilization.
Here is a life of many crossed boundaries, from East L.A.'s musica ranchera to Hollywood's punk rock; from a violent male-dominated family to female-dominated transgressive rock bands. Alice's feminist sympathies can be understood by the name of her satiric all-girl early Goth band Castration Squad.
Violence Girl takes us from a violent upbringing to an aggressive punk sensibility; this time a difficult coming-of-age memoir culminates with a satisfying conclusion, complete with a happy marriage and children. Nearly a hundred excellent photographs energize the text in remarkable ways.
Alice Bag's Violence Girl can be purchased online at Amazon and is carried in many public libraries throughout the US.
Alice Bag's work and influence can be seen this year in the traveling Smithsonian exhibition "American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music."