Alice Bag

The official website of Alice Bag: musician, author, punk feminist, master troublemaker.


Interview with: Rover, conducted June 2005

Rover is one of those girls who added life and color to the early punk scene and made it so very interesting. She also received one of the first wounds (six stitches in the scalp) in the "us against them" skirmishes that seem to occur whenever people are afraid or intolerant of those who look different from them. It's hard to imagine a time and place when having short, crazy-colored hair could provoke a violent reaction from a stranger, but that was what it was like in the 1970's.

I had no idea that it was Rover who came up with the idea of selling "best friend" status for a quarter. I recall that the idea caught on quickly at the Canterbury and people would offer to be your friend for the price of a burger, or if you agreed to help them out with something.

Rover's interview captures the youthful innocence that was part of the early punk days but which is often overlooked for the more sensational aspects of the scene. She remembers the "in crowd" being an "impossible clique to penetrate" and says that it was "self-protective, justly so." I only recall that my friends in the scene - Rover being one - made up a sort of extended family of likeminded individuals who were similarly outcasts from "normal" society...the troublemakers.

Rover on the cover of the 1980 Warner Bros "new wave" compilation, Troublemakers.

Rover on the cover of the 1980 Warner Bros "new wave" compilation, Troublemakers.

1. What was/is your contribution to the punk community?

I would like to start by stating that if anyone disagrees with me, that's ok. I spent much of the time drunk and I have a hit or miss memory.

My contribution?...I believe I took the first hit in the social war we had waged against the norm. I was 16 at the time. I was outside of the Canterbury with my friend Brian (from Fullerton). The Simpletones had come to visit me. I was sitting on a parked car and I was facing the apartment building. Two guys drove past on a motorcycle and the passenger threw a wine bottle into our little crowd and it hit me in the head. I didn't know what had happened. I grabbed my head & knocked a hunk of glass out and it fell to the ground. I saw that it was green glass. Then, a rush of pain and a river of blood and I stumbled forward and leaned against the Canterbury for support. The guys were stunned and couldn't move.

Natalie looked out the window and assessed the situation instantaneously. She yelled for someone to help me. I'm sure she yelled for Gerber. The two of them ran down at least two flights of stairs and out of the building to help me before any of the guys even came to their senses. Girls... you have to love them.

I was dazed and in a state of confusion. They grabbed me and helped me walk. Gerber & Natalie took me to Lorna Doom & Belinda Carlisle's apartment. Darby was there. I remember he was pissed and confused and couldn't understand this violence. The girls called 911 and wrapped my head in a towel. The paramedics arrived and bandaged my head. They joked about my hair color, saying they couldn't tell what was hair color and what was blood. My friends were told that I needed stitches. Geza X, Rick & a girl (I can't remember which girl, but I'm sure she was a good friend, maybe Kira Roessler) took me to General Hospital. It was a long night, but I got 6 stitches and a battle story. Thanks to the wonderful people that came to my aid and made the hospital visit fun. It would have been a much longer wait if Geza hadn't pestered the lady at the desk into taking me quickly.  I was dazed for months after that.  If I wasn't the first hit, then I guess I was a shot of energy to all those around me.

I was the first roadie for the Go-Go's. I read Seal's interview and she claims that she was, so, I guess we'll have to let Janie, B & Margot settle that one. (editor's note: Seal stated that she was a roadie for the Go-Go's, not the first. See her archived interview for more.)

I would also like to lay claim to being everyone's best friend. There was a group going to SF from LA and I could go if I could help pay for gas. I was like 16 and didn't have a job or money. I came up with a fund-raising idea. I decided to sell the option to be my best friend. Being an extreme extrovert and a teenager, I didn't understand that most people didn't have 20 or 30 best friends. I told everyone that I would be their best friend for a quarter. I made $13. Spazz was my best customer. He got all of the details first. I would be available as a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, etc. He thought it was a good investment and gave me a dollar. I haven't seen Spazz in decades, but he is still my best friend. If you're out there Spazz, your best friend lives in Las Vegas.

2. Which artist, band concert and/or show had the most impact on your life?

It was without a doubt in my mind the Dickies @ the Whiskey, Dec ?, 1977.  I walked into my very first show and knew I had finally found my home planet!!!! Remember the Twilight Zone episode with Elly May Clampett? She was laying in a hospital bed with bandages covering her face, consumed with self hatred & confusion because she was born so ugly that she couldn't fit in with society. She was in the last ditch effort to reconstruct her face so that she could live a normal life. The bandages came off and all had failed. Then it's revealed that she is really beautiful in a world of ugly and has to go live in a community with others like herself.  That's exactly how I felt when I walked into the Whisky that night. Everyone was pale and it was ok. I had been teased so badly in school because I lived in So Cal and was as white as could be. Kids used to sing "Blinded by the White," a take off of the lame seventies hit Blinded By the Light (I'm not sure if that's the real title, but that's the song). It wasn't long before I met a guy named Jay who lived up Cherokee from the Canterbury and I moved in with him. I didn't know anyone but I didn't care, I was with my own kind. Mary Rat told me later that she remembered seeing me walking around and wondered who I was. Jay & I dared all and tried to go to a party at Lorna & Belinda's. We knocked and someone opened the door. Belinda told us we couldn't come in so we left. Later, I met Nicky Beat at a show or something. He was really nice to me. He introduced me to Alice Bag. It was the two of
them who welcomed me to the planet and made me one of their own. Nicky Beat's birthday is one day after mine. I think that's cool. Secret's out, I'm really a big geek.

3. What was the role of women in the early punk scene?

I think we were the front line in a war to be ourselves. Not just the girls, but for the guys as well. People didn't know what to think when they saw us. People have an innate desire to know about their world and they couldn't label us and file us away. It made them angry.

I remember being on Hollywood Blvd, it was the summer of '78. I was with Linda & Gabby Gomez. Outside of Woolworths, we were stopped by two Marines. They were on a three day pass from Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA. They told us this. They peppered us with questions, trying to understand us. We were so far outside their reality that one of them became so angry he said he was going to beat the shit out of me. ME! Linda & Gabby were big girls with some meat and muscles on their bone. I was a walking pencil. Linda thought quickly and declared that she would contact Camp Pendleton and his identity would be revealed and everyone would know that he beat up a little girl. It worked, 'cause this idiot walked away yelling that I was glad I wasn't his sister. Fuckin' right I was glad I wasn't his sister.

I remember hating the label "Punk Rock".  I know now that it's hard to talk or write about something if it doesn't have a name. Remember the artist formerly known as Prince?

4. What is the legacy of punk in your life?

It pulses through my veins. It is my life's blood. The whole experience taught me that I can only be myself. I was born outside of the norm, found my comrades in a group that lived outside of the norm, and continue to choose a path outside of the norm.

5. What are you listening to now?

I'm sort of in a rut. I listen to Bowie, Pistols, Damned, Germs. I lost my singles so there's no more Avengers or Bags or... I'm happiest when I listen to Tom Waits.  I make my kids smile when I bop around to Devo. I still blare music when I drive by myself.

6. Do you have any funny or interesting stories to share?

I would if I could remember them. Only kidding. I would love to tell a story that includes Alice Bag and Nicky Beat. It might only be interesting to me, but here goes: I was standing on the black top in front of the Starwood. I was talking to Alice and Nicky. Behind my back, a VW Bug was trying to get out to Santa Monica Blvd from a little parking lot. The guy drove so close to me that the little running board rubbed against my bare leg. I jumped and yelled. Alice saw that this asshole had run his car into me. She yelled for him to stop. He didn't. He just kept going forward slowly. She got mad and kicked the shit out of the VW with her SPIKED HEELS. Nicky saw what she was doing and started kicking the car also. The driver got away, but not without some good sized dents to repair. THANKS ALICE & Nicky!!!!

Sheila Drusilla, photo by Alice Bag

Sheila Drusilla, photo by Alice Bag

Sheila!! I tell stories to my kids about Sheila. She talked me into going to that big Catholic church for the Pope's funeral. The guy had only been Pope for about a month before he died. I think there were four of us who went. We didn't get to even set foot into the church. The priest there cut us off before we even reached the steps and told us we had to leave. We were amazed at first, but found it quite amusing that we were so weird that we couldn't go to church.  I'd like to find out where Sheila lives.

7. Are there any punk women from the early scene that you feel have not been been adequately recognized?

I'm not in touch enough to know whose gotten some PR, but I would love to mention some girls that I adored. I may sound like a huge dyke but I don't care, I loved these girls.

Rover (Rose) and Gabby, 1978

Rover (Rose) and Gabby, 1978

Gabby Gomez, who lived at the Masque with me in the Summer of '78.

This may not go over well, but I don't give a shit: thanks a million, Brendan Mullen for giving me a place to live when I would have been homeless at sixteen.

Shawn Kerry, she probably doesn't even remember me.  Mary Rat, TRUDIE!!! Hellin (one "L" or two, sorry if it's misspelled), I never met Trixie, but Trudie called Trixie in NY and told Trixie that she and I should know each other and handed me the phone. So for our long distance friendship, Trixie, Dinky & Michelle (1 "L" or 2?), June & Wendy, Natalie & Gerber, Alice & Pat, Joni (thanksfor sharing your smuggled into the US  supply of crazy colour with me.) Vanilla Shake from Arthur J & the Gold Cups. Connie, 'cause she and I were Go-Go roadies even if I was the only one that worked, sorry Connie! Moral support & friendship are more valuable and you gave me that. Barbara & Dorothy James!!!!! Janie, Belinda, Lorna & Margot. Kira. Mary (aka Dinah), Mary's Mom & I think your grandma or aunt, but I think it was your grandma. They were so nice to us. Tracy, her mom makes the best Shepherd's Pie. Sandy, who was with me when we were kidnapped by those black guys in Long Beach (read about it FlipSide), Melissa (How's Joya?)The fabulous girls from SF: Jeri, Sally Mutant (thanks for letting me stay at your loft).

Gerber at the Masque, 1977. Photo by Dawn Wirth

Gerber at the Masque, 1977. Photo by Dawn Wirth

I have to take this time to say: Lauren, I am truly sorry that I trashed your apt at the Canterbury. You didn't deserve that. I was an asshole. I can only claim mob mentality, but I won't say who was there, because I am at fault. Shannon had every right to hate me for that.  

I would also like to thank all of the mom's of all of my friends, both guys & girls. Thank you for all that you went through to bring my friends into this world. Your children were family to me when I had nobody. I am sorry to anyone I forgot. You meant the world to me at the time and probably do now. I have shit for brains. All that alcohol killed many of my brain cells.

8. What is something we should know about you that we probably don't know?

My real name is Rose. I got my nickname from my best friend, Jackie. We were in junior high school. She said I couldn't stay in one place, but was happiest roving around.  

I resell clothes on eBay. Cozy_Rosy is my id.

I have a wonderful husband (the gods were good to me.)

Now, hold on to your seats.... I have ten kids.

Rover as Rose in the 1980's.

Rover as Rose in the 1980's.