Throughout the history of rock and roll there have been countless female artists whom girls have adored. Whether it be soul icons such as Gladys Knight and Tina Turner or tough girl rockers like the Wilson sisters or Joan Jett, girls have flocked to them, admired them and listened to them. In recent years we have heard the term girl crush be applied to these legends and to other female artists in the current lexicon of pop culture.
However, there is one name that is often overlooked. It is one that not only should command the attention of Latinas but women of other races and ethnic backgrounds. Who am I talking about? I’m talking about Alice Bag. And for those of you who are reading this article, I’ll tell you just who she is.
Alice Bag was born Alicia Armendariz on November 7th, 1958 and is the legendary front woman for the L.A. punk rock band The Bags. By all accounts from the very start her life was a very chaotic, confusing and traumatic one to say the least. She grew up in East Los Angeles during a time when swimming pools were segregated. Alice was raised in a monolingual home as her father placed a strict edict on only speaking Spanish in his home and English outside of it. In addition, she also had to witness the horrific displays of domestic violence he unleashed on her mother.
In spite of the nasty things that surrounded her youth, Bag swore to herself that she would never be a victim. Throughout her adult life she would stick to her guns in regard to not being victimized. Evidence of this can be found in her autobiography Violence Girl.
In her book she also documents her time in the L.A. punk rock scene of the late 1970s. The riotous shows took place at such legendary venues like the Masque, the Orpheum and the Whisky a Go Go. She recounts the times she had to defend herself against male concert goers who went too far with her and got a fistful for their trouble. Alice also chronicles her time living amongst a veritable who’s who in the punk rock scene living in the famed Canterbury Apartments in Hollywood.
But the entire story as to who Alice Bag is goes far beyond the scope of her time in the L.A. punk scene. One can sum up the tale of her life as one of pure survival. She survived a chaotic music scene and the breakup of her band only to go on to more music projects and earn a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. In the midst of all of this, she managed to survive war-torn Nicaragua in the mid 1980s in order to teach children. To this very day she continues to survive as an educator, a musician and as a feminist. Alice still takes “big hungry bites out of life” and is not done.
Daniel Rivera is a screenwriter, television writer, blogger and journalist. He has covered musicians, filmmakers, actors and most recently a group of panelists for the upcoming Cesar Chavez biopic at the NALIP 2012 Conference.