The Bags were around at the beginning of the L.A. punk scene. Notable for having strong female members, the band tore up the stage with their fast and aggressive sound. And front and center was Alice Bag.
Born in East L.A., Alice began singing at 8 dubbing cartoons and recording theme songs into Spanish. During junior high, Alice became fascinated with T. Rex, David Bowie, and the New York Dolls and decided to form an all-girl punk band.
The Bags quickly gained notoriety and were featured in Penelope Spheeris’ film, The Decline of Western Civilization in 1981. In the late 80’s she joined the pop-punk group Cholita! with Vaginal Davis, played in an acoustic group called Las Tres, and a spin-off project called Goddess 13.
In the 90’s Alice took a break and raised her daughter, but the draw to rock out was too strong to deny. Stay at Home Bomb, an all female punk rock outfit that calls attention to domestic roles and socially enforced images of femininity, allows Alice to continue to kick ass and take names.
Alice has just released her memoir, Violence Girl: A Chicana Punk Story, that reflects on her inspiring past and her experience with the history of west coast punk rock. Alice also continues to work to promote bilingual instruction in inner city schools.
1. What is your hometown?
Los Angeles, East L.A.
2. With what fictional character do you most identify?
It would have to be a mashup of Kara “Starbuck” Thrace from Battlestar Galactica and Jane Eyre. Kara Thrace was a badass but seriously fucked up. Jane Eyre grew up poor and disenfranchised but she was never humbled; adversity made her strong and resilient. I love and can closely identify with both characters.
3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.
That’s a tough one because ideally I’d want to have a Latina play me but when I saw Charlize Theron in Monster, I thought I could see a bit of myself on the screen – there was real rage in her performance. I haven’t seen many performances like that, so a Latina who can bring that kind of believable rage to the screen would be perfect.
4. What work of art speaks to your soul?
Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth. I know it’s a painting of a woman who had polio or something like that but I didn’t know that when I first saw it and to me, she just looked like a woman trying to crawl her way home. I sensed determination, longing and isolation in her and while I saw a long, labored path ahead of her, I could imagine her eventually making it home.
5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and Cunt by Inga Muscio.
6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?
I haven’t been playing my ipod lately. I have a bunch of records, tapes and CDs that I’ve acquired on my travels. Now that I’m home, I’m catching up on the music of some of the local bands from the cities I’ve toured. Lately, I’ve been listening to a band from Tucson called Clusterfuck.
7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?
It’s a little embarrassing but it’s an animated Pixar movie called Brave. My daughter asked me to see it with her. The movie deals with a young woman’s struggle for independence from her parents, especially her mother. It’s about the evolution of the mother/daughter relationship. My daughter and I are in the midst of that journey and we’ve hit some major potholes along the way but when my kid reached over in the darkened movie theater and squeezed my hand, I went all weepy.
8. Cat person or dog person?
Dog person. I have a rescue mutt named Cinnamon and she’s a loving, loyal companion. I’m allergic to cats.
9. What is more important, truth or kindness?
In serious matters, truth; in trivial ones, kindness. Even in trivial matters I’m uncomfortable lying but I sometimes redirect to avoid needlessly hurting someone. I don’t lie to avoid responsibility, I think it’s cowardly to do so.
10. How do you define sin?
Since I see myself as part of God, I would say that violating my own integrity would be a sin. A sin is when my actions and beliefs are out of sync.
11. How do you define virtue?
Virtue is subjective; I define it as acting in accordance with your values but only if your values align with mine. I’ll take integrity over virtue any day. People who simply follow the rules determined by culture or society can be defined as virtuous without ever having to do any deep soul-searching as to what is right or wrong, whereas integrity requires you to live your life based on your own set of beliefs and the knowledge that you have available to you. Integrity requires you to take the driver’s seat, making choices about your life, shaping who you become and shaping the world around you.
12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?
I don’t care about a headstone but when I was younger and enamored with with all things Egyptian I wanted to be mummified and placed in a sarcophagus. I imagine that a sarcophagus with a large piece of glass resting on top would make a lovely coffee table. Then I could be in my family’s living room in the middle of all the action.
Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Vaginal Davis – she can school you and make you laugh at the same time.