|Some of the original 1978 cut 'n' paste layouts for the pages of Lobotomy Magazine; photo of Billy Idol by Theresa Kereakes, collage art with hand writing --and shitty typing-- by me|
The early 1970’s punk scene was significantly different than it is today. In New York, London and San Francisco, but especially in LA, unless you actually lived through it, there’s almost no way to describe how electrifying-or how small and totally underground- it truly was.
Punk wasn’t considered cool in those days, we were outsiders. Our look threatened “normal” people, and many of us actually got beaten up for our outlandish appearance. On the rare occasions that I actually attended school, I’d walk through the cafeteria while tablefuls of jocks with feathered haircuts would chant the lyrics to Kool and The Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging”, while throwing salads at me. Because they were football players, they had great aim, and I’d often wind up covered in Thousand Island dressing. At least it matched my bright orange hair!
It’s pretty funny when I study my old punk old photos, because in hindsight, we didn’t really look scary. Even though we thought we appeared dangerous and outré in our solid-black getups, most of us were so young we looked like little pubescent kids, but we were also dressed exactly the way everyone does now!
Back then, we were underage and therefore too young to be tattooed…unless we did it at home, jail-style (which we all did) by melting a sewing needle into the handle of a toothbrush, dipping it in India ink and poking the needle into our skin by hand. There was also no Krazy Kolor on the market yet, so when we dyed our hair, we had a choice of only three shades: black, Lucille Ball red, or bleached white. Nobody (in the States, anyway) was making punk accessories, so we made due by wearing dog collars from the pet store and bought $4.00 studded leather cock rings from The Pleasure Chest to wear as wristbands!
In the spring of 1978, I founded my punk rock fanzine Lobotomy with my best friend from high school, the late Randy Kaye. Randy and I –and an assortment of friends -went out every single night, and cut school all the time to feed our rock ‘n’ roll obsession, usually going to Hollywood Boulevard to visit Peaches Record Store. Chris Ashford- who later founded What? Records and released The Germs’ first single worked there, and would let us listen to the new British Import punk 45’s and give us posters and other swag that came with them. Often, we’d all convene at the house of someone whose parents weren’t home to listen to music and get wasted on whatever substances we could scare up.
|Randy Kaye and me in San Francisco, 1978. The entire Lobotomy staff went up to the Bay Area for a series of shows Blondie was doing in SF and Berkeley. Photo by Theresa Kereakes|
The main reason we wanted to start a fanzine was so we could get free records and get into shows. We took our title from The Ramones song “Teenage Lobotomy”. Because the LA scene was close-knit, there were also a few other fanzines running concurrently, including Flipside , which had started in East LA in 1977, Generation X, published by sisters Jade and Zandra, and Phast Phreddie’s Back Door Man, which had started in the South Bay. Though it wasn’t strictly punk, it was definitely underground, and had been publishing since 1975. There were many others, but none of them lasted as long as Lobotomy or the ones just mentioned.
Though everybody on the scene referred to our fanzine simply Lobotomy, the real title was Lobotomy: The Brainless Magazine. Later, we amended it to Lobotomy: Where Glamour Is A Way Of Life, ironically stealing the phrase that was printed on the shopping bags from Frederick’s Of Hollywood. Lobotomy was published usually-but not always- monthly from 1978 to early in 1982.
Looking back on it, Lobotomy was kind of patterned after those old school slam books from Junior High, and it also functioned like today’s Social Media sites.
Randy and I immediately enlisted our friend Theresa Kereakes to take photos, and then drafted our pals Anna Statman and the late Herb Wrede to also be our photographers, since we wanted to write about our local Hollywood scene and no one who was “legit” was covering it. We knew it was important to have photos from the shows we reviewed and the interviews we did… although I also combed Sounds, NME, Melody Maker and Creem Magazine to appropriate- photos and make collages.
|Kid Congo Powers and me in the Lobotomy "office", photo by Theresa Kereakes|
Around the same time, I’d met a kid named Brian Tristan and we became fast friends. He looked like Maynard G. Krebbs by way of the Sharks in Westside Story. At the time, he was the President of the Ramones Fan Club, and started writing a lot for Lobotomy. He also wound up being my roommate for years, at a variety of different places… before his name to Kid Congo Powers and joining the Gun Club and later, The Cramps.
Since punk was a totally underground subculture, when we were working on Lobotomy, we never had to deal with agents, managers or major record companies-we had access to everyone in the bands themselves. Our friends were in bands, or we’d meet bands who were friends of friends, or simply call a hotel where a band we liked was staying (usually the Tropicana Motel or The Continental Hyatt House on Sunset, which was known locally as “The Riot House”) We’d ask the band if they’d want to hang out, go record or thrift store shopping or take them to a gig, and interview them. Most of the time, we became fast friends.
We were semi-delinquent teenagers who hung out with and interviewed artists who later became known as the groundbreaking stars of the late 20th Century. Just some of the interviews that we did for Lobotomy were with The Clash, The Damned, The Cramps, Blondie, X, The Go-Go’s, Billy Idol, Lydia Lunch, 999, The Germs, The Mumps, Black Randy, The Jam, James Chance, The Screamers and director David Lynch. And since no one was on guard and absolutely nothing was being filtered through a publicist, those interviews were extremely candid and totally wild. For example, Brian Tristan aka Kid Congo and I interviewed Lydia Lunch while she and her new husband Johnny O’Kane were in bed having sex; Theresa and I interviewed Blondie while crammed into the tiny bathroom in Theresa’s apartment during a raging party, while all of us were high on Quaaludes and beer. I probably don’t need to tell you that shit like that just doesn’t happen any more, right?
Randy, Brian aka Kid Congo and I did most of the writing, and we also all used several pen names so it would look like Lobotomy had a big staff. Nick Garrard who managed the British psychobilly band The Meteors was our London correspondent and Joe Katz of The Student Teachers was our New York correspondent. They’d snail mail us accounts of the recent goings-on in their cities. We’d also rope our roommates, houseguests and friends to write things- even if they hadn’t ever written! We'd get them drunk and shove a piece of paper and a pen at them and literally force them to write a record review. Some of those contributors were Marcy Blaustein, Nancy Nitro aka Nancy Nagler, Dennis Crosby (grandson of Bing Crosby) and Ann McLean. Randy got our pal Joan Jett to dictate an account of a 1978 Runaways UK tour to him which became “Joan Jett’s Holiday In The Sun” in the second issue.
These magazine layout sessions were always done shit-faced drunk at “The Lobotomy Apartment”- as Theresa’s place off La Brea and my place on Palm Drive were both called… although in some issues of the issues, my place was referred to as “The Lobotomy Pig Stye”! We’d stay up all night typing and gluing stuff to the pages… which weren’t even the same paper! We’d use whatever was lying around: onion skin typing paper stolen from various office temp jobs, the backs of gig flyers, and once, even a bunch of corporate stationary I’d stolen from the Los Angeles department store Bullock’s Wilshire. Usually, I’d draw the various fonts (which weren’t even called that back then) freehand, reproducing logos for The Cramps or the Clash by copying whatever was on the cover of their latest single. Someone gave me a few sheets of Press Type rub-on letters and using it seemed so…professional. Insert the Crying With Laughter Emoji here.
Lobotomy finally quit publication in 1982, because miraculously, all of us on the staff were getting real jobs by doing what we did for the fanzine! Theresa was taking photos for all sorts of mainstream rock publications, I’d started writing for LA Weekly - and many other magazines and papers-in 1978, and founded the popular “LA Dee Dah” Hollywood scene gossip column, which ran for years. Randy and Anna both became A&R execs at various record companies, and Kid Congo became a bonafide rock star in his own right.
Never in our wildest dreams did any of us consider that the loopy Xeroxed fanzine we started as a lark nearly forty years ago would be a turning point in our lives, let alone a significant piece of Los Angeles punk rock history.
|A Lobotomy "staff meeting" at Joan Jett's apartment on San Vicente: Left to Right: artist Brad Dunning, who created the Lobotomy logo, Joan Jett, Billy Idol and the extremely underage Wendy Bowie. Photo by Theresa Kereakes|
March 5, 2016, in Los Angeles, Theresa Kereakes and I are having an opening for our art show (Teenage) Lobotomy: Fanzine Art And Photos From The 1970’s LA Punk Scene. It will feature Theresa’s amazing live and backstage photos from that time period, as well as the original paste up art I did for Lobotomy.
(Teenage) Lobotomy: Fanzine Art And Photos From The 1970’s LA Punk Scene
Lethal Amounts Gallery
1226 West 7th Street, LA
|Rhys Williams and John from LA band The Joneses hanging out with Belinda Carlisle backstage at The Whisky in 1978...photo by Theresa Kereakes, original Lobotomy logo by Brad Dunning|
And come say hi to me on the interwebs at these fine locations:
Link to the (Teenage) Lobotomy Facebook event:
To read more about my sordid punk rock past, or to order my memoir Showgirl Confidential visit my website:
And come say hi to me on the interwebs at these fine locations: