I remember the first time I saw Janet Housden in Dave Markey’s modern day masterpiece “Desperate Teenage Lovedolls.” The scene where she kills Kitty Carryalls mom with her guitar is still one of my favorite movie scenes ever. I was inspired to become someone who could fend for myself. I stopped being a target and that character was definitely a source of inspiration. I think that character was an inspiration to lots of girls who were picked on and bullied. That movie also put drumsticks and instruments into the hands of a lot of girls who I don’t think had thought about it previously. It will also be shown at an event titled “American Punk” at the Harvard Film Archive this September. Yes that Harvard.
Janet Housden is not only a movie star, she was the drummer for Red Cross (which changed to Redd Kross after threat of law suit). Redd Kross was always in the top ten of me and most of my girlfriends bands we loved list throughout the eighties. She was and still is a great musician, a surfer, a Californian and as I said before… a BADASS!
PUNK GLOBE:Most people know you from playing with Redd Kross and the Lovedolls as well as you stunning performance as a tough teen broad in the Lovedoll movies. How old were you when you played in Redd Kross?
Janet Housden:I don't actually remember. Somewhere between 18 and 20? Those years are a bit of a blur, and I've never been that into keeping records. I don't even have any pictures, except maybe some rotting newspaper clippings somewhere.
PUNK GLOBE:How many bands have you played with, and what different instruments as well?
Janet Housden:Are you kidding? I have no fucking idea. I started as a drummer, then switched to bass in the early Nineties when I got sick of all the bullshit that goes along with being a drummer (people, you should really be nicer to your drummers). Also, I wanted to get drunk like the rest of the band and I could never play drums drunk. Bass, on the other hand . . . anyway, the bands I can sort of kind of remember are: Disposals, Omlits, Redd Kross, Raszebrae, Lovedolls, Superkools, Shitbirds, the Shakes, The Double Negatives/People Talk, and about a dozen others that were either really short-lived or too embarrassing to mention.
PUNK GLOBE:It seems like there was an abundance of women musicians from California. You are probably one of the first female drummers I can remember in a punk band. Was the climate in California more accepting of girls in bands or did you get a ration of shit from the "boys club."
Janet Housden:The Rock assholes were EXTREMELY unwelcoming to girls who wanted to play (I remember hearing guys throwing absolute tantrums at the mention of the Runaways) but the Punk scene was completely different. Actually, there were quite a few female drummers that inspired me: Mad Dog Carla from the Controllers was my idol, and I saw the Go-Go’s early on, before they got Gina Schock. There was never really any question that girls could do it. When we started playing clubs staffed by the old guard, though, there was a little bit of bullshit here and there, but nothing too memorable. Actually, the only time I ever remember being heckled for being female was at a fucking Replacements show in fucking Kansas City. Ugh, fuck those people . . . .
The one creepy thing about being a female musician was the Girl Band Geeks, who were these guys who fetishized girl bands and female musicians. It was/is pretty gross.
PUNK GLOBE:Do you still enjoy playing?
Janet Housden:Yes, more than ever, but what I don't enjoy anymore is nightclubs. They're just a total drag these days (expensive, full of douchebags, and they blast the music between bands so loud you can't talk, and when you try to go outside everyone's smoking). Plus, it's hard to find people that still want to play and have time, but don't want to go on tour because fuck that.
PUNK GLOBE:Punk Rock is almost a copyrighted designer label now; the Queen of England even gave it the thumbs up. Do you think that the meaning behind the music that is called punk today has lost that touch that used to scare mothers and Phil Donahue?
Janet Housden:The meaning hasn't lost anything, but people have forgotten that Punk ever meant anything besides fashion and a genre of music. Punk has always existed and will always exist in some form, and by other names, but what people think of as "Punk" doesn't mean a hell of a lot right now
PUNK GLOBE:Have you surfed your whole life? Has that changed a lot over the years or do you do it as often now as when you were younger?
Janet Housden:I surfed as a kid, but the horrible waves and worse people caused me to ditch it as soon as punk rock came along. I picked it up again when I got sober.
PUNK GLOBE:Have you seen a change in the coast with the ongoing climate warming? Is there ongoing work to try to correct any problems from that and pollution?
Janet Housden:Yes. Yes. I really have nothing to add to that except to say that if anyone reading this is the kind of person that litters or tosses their butts on the ground, eat shit and die. I get to see the end result ever day, and . . . never mind, just fuck off and die.
PUNK GLOBE:When did you start writing? What kind of medium is your favorite? (fiction, essay, poetry etc...)
Janet Housden:I don't really consider myself a writer. A wannabe writer, maybe. I've written exactly one short story in my life, which my friend Al Guerrero illustrated. Then we made some copies and put them in a couple of stores. The end. P.S. I mostly hate poetry. Too easy for some pretentious hack to string two words together and call it a "poem" then make you listen to them read it when all you want to do is see the thing you actually came to see . . . I may have been recently traumatized by some shitty poets . . .
PUNK GLOBE:You published a short story, where can it be purchased?
Janet Housden:I've only ever written that one story, A Penny for the Parking Fairy (it's a fairy tale, but not a very nice one). It's available nowhere, unless you happen to run into me somewhere and I have one in my car. I had it in a couple of stores but let's just say there wasn't a lot of support for it from the local literary community. Especially that one rude guy at Stories. If you've ever been there, you know who I mean.
PUNK GLOBE:Do you think, as a writer, that stories for by adults for adults will eventually make a comeback? At Barnes and Noble the "Young Adult" section is almost as big as the literature section and is full of full grown, old adults.
Janet Housden:I have no opinion. Except I'm sure the publishing world is just as corrupt and full of bullshit as the music and art worlds, for whatever that's worth.
PUNK GLOBE:Why do you think that people are getting more or less complacent with the state of the world, do you think the recent shooting incidents will change anything?
Janet Housden:Complacent? Maybe some people. I think most people are angry and scared and feel powerless. The current fad of murdering a bunch of random people with high-powered weapons probably won't change a fucking thing, as long as the NRA is making enough money to buy off politicians. Maybe people will eventually get pissed off enough to do something. I don't know.
PUNK GLOBE:I ask that for a reason, how is it that Donald Trump is able to make the kind of statements that he has during the campaign and still has any supporters.
Janet Housden:Trump gets away with saying that shit because people are angry and want someone to blame. He makes it okay to blame other poor people instead of blaming people like him. None of this would be possible if we hadn't let our educational system go to shit . . .
PUNK GLOBE:During times like this there is usually a higher than usual spike in the arts such as more subversive art in almost all forms. There is not much that I can see and the younger generations don't seem to mind. Do you think that it is out there but just so underground that status quo is missing it?
Janet Housden:There's always something going on underground, but the corporate machine has gotten so good at co-opting underground culture, and selling a pre-packaged, neutered version of it back to people that no movement can gain much momentum. Or at least that's how it was for a while. Whatever is happening now, it's probably not music-related. Kids today don't seem to care all that much about music, compared to how it was when we were young. And the good stuff that is happening has pretty much zero chance of ever getting on the radio or reaching a mass audience.
PUNK GLOBE:Okay out of the political, what are some of the things about the world today that do make you happy? Can you see improvements since the 80's that aren't a complete waste of time?
Janet Housden:Things that make me happy? Well, as much as I hate some of the things that have come along with all the new technology, smart phones and social media and all that have made life so much easier in so many ways. I just wish people would stop with the fucking selfies. Seriously, what is that? The first time I ever saw someone take a selfie I almost threw up. I would never do that. Stop, just stop . . . . wait, what were we talking about? Oh yeah . . . anyway, Facebook and the like makes it way easier to find like-minded people and build some kind of community, even when we're all separated by geography and lack of free time. I like that. People that complain about Facebook being full of boring assholes just have shitty friends. And cell phones . . . oh my god, do you remember what a nightmare it was when you had to sit by the phone if you were waiting for a call? Horrible. Of course, prank calls are ruined forever, but there's always a price.
Also, I like how people don't usually try to kill you for looking different. When I was growing up in the festering conformist cesspool of 1970's Hermosa Beach, people would flip their shit if you so much as wore straight-leg jeans instead of flares. I'm talking about angry-mob levels of outrage. Nowadays you could probably tattoo your entire body plaid and graft on a third arm and no one would get too upset. At least in the cities. You might still get murdered in the more rural areas if you played your cards right.
Thank you Janet for taking the time out of you always busy day to answer my questions.
All pictures used with the permission of Janet Housden, Black and White Red Cross photo by Edward Colver, Desperate Teenage Lovedolls photos by Dave Markey, Desperate Teenage Lovedolls movie poster drawn by Janet E Hammer.