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Drawing by Mark Vallen
Drawing by Mark Vallen
Drawing by Mark Vallen
Drawing by Mark Vallen
BACK TO VALLEN'S PUNK PORTRAITS

Bird Girl
Vallen 1979
Pen on paper

I drew this marker pen sketch of a young Los Angeles punk woman named Dorothy sometime around 1979. I used to see her and her twin sister at all the shows, and I affectionately called them the "bird girls" because they were so thin and frail. Dorothy was the girlfriend of Jeff Atta, lead singer for the punk band, Middle Class. It took quite a bit of courage to adopt such a look during those years - especially for girls. Stares, catcalls, and sometimes physical abuse was the price paid for looking so radically different.

On March 17, 1979, I attended a concert held at the famous Elks Lodge Hall that came to be known as the Elks Hall Massacre. Hundreds of punks showed up to see some of the best LA bands of the day - Plugz, Alley Kats, Go-Gos, For reasons none of us could figure out, the heavily armed LAPD riot squad showed up, and without the slightest warning they attacked and closed the concert.

The brutal tactics of the police resulted in many unnecessary injuries. Dorothy and Jeff both received head wounds from baton swinging police that required stitches. The little bird girl suffered a black eye, facial cuts, and an ugly gash above her left eye, courtesy of the LAPD. The next day dozens of angry punks held a press conference at the Masque (L.A.'s premiere punk club), denouncing the unprovoked police violence. It had been the first large scale use of police force in Los Angeles against a crowd since the Vietnam era - and it was but a harbinger of things to come.

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