The Ramones, Bad Brains, The Exploited, The Sex Pistols; what do these bands have in common? Despite being part of the mid-70s’ rising wave of punk music, they are all men. However, the “guys” weren’t the only ones stirring up punk’s unadulterated musical revolution. In fact, a ton of women were at the center of the punk scene and were equally, if not more, influential in propagating the in-your-face culture. Hailing from the streets of East Los Angeles, Chicana feminist, musician and artist, Alice Bag, emerged at the forefront of the LA punk rock scene in the late 1970s.
Bag was not only part of the first wave of punk bands to form in the mid-1970s in LA with her rightfully named band The Bags, but she also created a space for women within the punk scene. Through her songwriting and lyrics, Bag continuously exposed and created recognition for the Chicana community, promoting activism, feminism, and education.
From her electrifying performances at punk shows to her candid and edifying memoirs, Bag has always had a way of first shocking crowds – with her multi-colored hair and bright, killer eye shadow, and almost unintelligible singing – but more importantly conveying words of purpose and truth that her deeply mystical and authentic voice provides. Not to mention surges anyone with a sense of empowerment and confidence. She isn’t just one of the punk dudes. Bag established ground for all women, especially those who wanted to start their very own hardcore, revolutionary band.
Even after The Bags were no longer, Bag went on to receive a philosophy degree, raise a family, and share here childhood struggles and the pressure she received to assimilate within a confined culture with the world via her deeply impactful memoir, Violence Girl: From East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage. The widely acclaimed telling has helped in sparking conversation and community amongst Chicanas and women in general and is now even a required reading material at universities across the country. Bag’s musical contribution didn’t stop with The Bags, as she even formed a band of “rockers-turned-parents” in order to keep pursuing her love for music. Bag’s influence goes beyond jus the title of punk idol. Her musical, visual, and written art has been the impetus for creating safe spaces for women in all realms, and has paved the way for women to be defined not by gender, but by strength. Bag is art, she is culture, she is anger, and everything else in between; that is what you hear, see, and feel when it comes to Alice Bag’s work.
Four decades later, she continues her journey to promote self-empowerment and education for anyone and everyone. Between a solo album and second book, nothing has or will stop Alice Bag from being the original punk as fuck chick.