And there she was, singing “I love Rock N Roll” to me and my friend. It was 1982 and it was my first concert. I was writing my own musical history and the honor will always go to Joan Jett for corrupting my 10-year-old psyche. There was a guy dancing when the music didn't play. I recall nudging my friend asking “is that drugs?” – it was. She was dressed in a leather suit and it made us feel a wide range of feelings that our hormone-filled bodies were just starting to process. I recall knowing at the time that she was from some other band that was harder, darker, and more weird. And that’s how it all started, my first concert in a long life of music. I didn't even know enough to buy the T-shirt.
Us Gen-Xers had the gender doors partially knocked down for us when we started. Bowie was singing about Ziggy when I was born in 1972 and The Stooges' Raw Power came out the year after. 1973 also saw the debut hit “Can The Can” by Suzi Quatro and black leather was never be the same. From there rock & roll and gender would continue to be quarreling lovers to the extent that, that ten years later (back to 1982 again), Blondie was already on the decline and with it the drunken hopes and realistic fears of Punk rock was going with it.
All that is to say, Gen-Xers were born too late for the turmoil. I always fully understood that women could rock and never assumed the contrary. MTV told me so and I was only 10 years old at the time. What did I know different? We got Joan Jett when she was bouncing back. We got Boy George. We got Martina Navratilova. (1)
"I might not like it when a crowd shouts at me but I certainly thrive on it.” Debbie Harry
If you didn't know by now, I’m the Creative Director here at Network Awesome. I’m the lucky guy who gets to work with an ever-expanding cast of passionate media-obsessed folks who jump on ideas like 8-year olds on a wounded pinata. Like most of our ideas, doing a whole week on the Women Of Punk started with a random act of chance.
I was following some conceptual thread on You Tube, when, for consistency’s sake, I ran across the first video on today - Suzi Quatro’s “48 Crash”. There’s something more to that clip than just the combination of sex and guitar strings -- it really feels like something you want to get involved with. Suzi’s screamy voice merges with the video effects to lend urgency to the frantic song. It’s exciting! It also reminded me of other great women musicians and a half an hour later a rough version of this, the first show in our weeklong series, was done. I told some of our Video Curators about it, Markus and Cory, and they had ideas for shows that connected to it. I suggested we do a whole day on the subject. A few minutes equaled a few more emails, and I figured, fuck it – let’s do a whole week.
"I don't want to appear as some kind of women's libber 'cos I'm not, but neither am I someone who lets herself be pushed around and manipulated- I've got a mind of my own." Siouxsie
But why Punk and why the Women of Punk? Well, why not?
When we started off on this 3-week programming journey we might not have even known why we would make our first week-long programming special about the Women of Punk, but we knew it would be exciting. We knew there were plenty of stories to be found, artists to be shared, and great music to motivate us throughout. We found the breadth and diversity of media to be wider than we anticipated, the passion to be more burning and the relevancy to share it with our viewers feels "important". This collection of video isn't intended to be definitive -- in fact we know there's many great acts that didn't get enough coverage -- but it's a start and we're thrilled it's happening.
So here it is, 30 shows in 5 days that starts in the seventies and ends a few weeks ago. You’ll see a collection of interesting people doing the things they had to fight for the right to do. You’ll see the gamut of emotion and sophistication -- interesting documents of a familiar time, rare interviews filled with great haircuts, and sweaty concerts that you don't have to wait in line for the bathroom to see. It's gonna be a great week.
Maybe it’s just the beginning.
(1) – We also got Public Enemy, Bad Brains, and Michael Jordan
Jason Forrest is CEO and Creative Director of Network Awesome. He's been an electronic musician for over 11 years and has traveled almost everywhere in the world. He invented and developed the iOS app Star6 and aided in the development of both Buddha Machine apps. In addition to that he runs 2 record labels, Nightshifters and Cock Rock Disco - so he's a busy guy. His new album "The Everything" was released in April 2010 on Staatsakt. Grab it here and Follow him on Facebook here and contact him via the Network Awesome About page!