VEXING, MORE WAYS THEN ONE
Alice Bag, Lysa Flores LIVE; Penelope Spheeris “The Decline of Western Civilization” 1981
In Los Angeles Times Article written by Agustin Gurza, May 10, 2008, Alice Bag (Armendariz) of the Bags with Teresa Covarrubias of the Brat “unveiled an brand-new genre called “Punkcheras”, or punked-out mariachi” at the Claremont Museum of Art (May-August 2008) entitled, the “Vexing: Female Voices From East L.A. Punk“. What Gurza does not address is Bag’s underlying political contribution highlighting the Mexican “cancion ranchera” revolutionary influence which came out of Club Vex, in the 1970’s. Habell-Pallen essay “Death to Racism and Punk Revisionism” addresses this issue by setting up a compelling argument that suggests that the exhibit not only opens up both the influence of Chicanas but in particular, Alice Bag’s performance which “yields a more nuanced picture of the scene, and indicates a more sophisticated racialized discourse in narratives of Hollywood punk…”(Habell-Pallan, p. 250)
Habell-Pallan places Bags post-revolutionary “dialogic confrontation with cancion ranchera’s, as a “wild and rough vocal aesthetic with aggressive, fearless, and bold expression, appropriating a so-called masculine” performance. She further argues that Spheeris 1981 documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization marks Bag’s as the primary Chicana “inventor of the West Coast hard-core punk sound”. Through documentation Bag’s receives long overdue credit for creating a proto punk style that draws from her Mexican past, as well as, redefining a positive space to mark her own racialized body’s historical entrenchment into our cultural and political psyche.
In an essay “Work that Hoe: Tilling the Soil of Punk Feminism” (Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory Vol. 22, Nos. 2-3, July-November 2012, 233-238) Bags speaks to the influence she welded in the LA Punk scene and the importance of archiving her revolutionary contributions, by stating
“As an author, archivist, and the former lead singer of the Bags, one of Los Angeles’s earliest punk bands, I am in a unique position to describe punk as I lived it (and still do) as well as provide a forum for others who were there to share their stories and perspectives. I firmly believe that the artists should document their own scenes and movements because history has a curious way of focusing itself through the biased lens of the dominant culture. “
BAGS Decline of Western Civilization
Alice Bag will be attending Both the 2014 Women Who Rock and EMP POP Conferences