Archived
Interviews

    This website exists today only because courageous, intelligent and daring women back in the 1970's
    decided to break the rules of society. They rallied together under the banner of the punk movement.
    Many of them are no longer with us.

    This page is dedicated to their memories.

    Because many people have written to me to suggest other people to interview and wondering how I
    choose the women I interview, I want to explain my criteria for inclusion in this section. They are:

    1) You must be a woman or have identified as one at the time.

    2) You must have been active in the L.A. punk scene before 1980. By active, I mean actively participating
    by frequently going to shows, taking photos, writing, being in a band, supporting the scene in some way.
    This section was never intended to be a "celebrities only" section. It's an oral history of the early scene
    from the female perspective.

    3) You must be able to send me your answers via email. I don't talk on the phone.  I have previously sent
    interviews via email to women who would seem to be obvious choices for inclusion but they have either
    not responded or have told me they are working on it and then they forget about it (you know who you
    are). So if you know someone who belongs in this interview series, remind them to finish up their
    interviews and send them in.

    Everyone gets the same eight questions. No space or time limitations. Since I think that women's voices
    have already been over-edited by others, I reserve the right to refuse to edit these women's responses.
    Instead, I intend to publish them in their entirety, raw and unexpurgated.

    LET THE WOMEN SPEAK!
    Interview with: Elissa Bello
    conducted June 2012

    1. What is your contribution to the punk community?

    Absolutely nothing. I just played drums in lots of bands associated with the punk community. I
    always wanted to put together or be a part of an "all-girl" rock band to prove it could be done.
    At the time, the only all-girl bands that were known were Fanny, The Runaways (which were
    put together by a man, a long legged mac daddy), the Lennon Sisters (put together by Karl
    Marx),  the Carrie Nations (not a real band - just one created by a man for the movie, Valley of
    the Dolls). That's all I knew about, anyway.

    I was in the Go-Go's, Sexsick, Castration Squad (actually nice girls, would NEVER violate a
    man), Alarma!, and The Boneheads (which technically did have 3 men, but they were girls.
    Craig Lee, Robert Lopez and Gabriel Quinto. I was also in some other bands that included all
    guys. Interpol, Suave Bolla, Passional for a couple days) and I forgot...

    2. Which artist, band concert and/or show had the most impact on your life?

    James Brown, first saw him on TV up in Canada as a little girl. I loved him.  Buddy Rich, I love
    watching him play. Nino Rota, the Beatles, Keith Moon, Jimmy Hendrix, Pink Floyd, I love John
    Phillip Sousa, Sex Pistols, Ella Fitzgerald, Chopin, Maria Callas, Cal Tjader, KC and The
    Sunshine Band, The Isley Brothers, Janice Joplin, Al Green.......


    3. What was the role of women in the early punk scene?

    I think women really came into their own in the punk scene. They were the punk scene. They
    weren't trying to kowtow to men, or shake a stupid tambourine in the background. They were
    participators, creators. They didn't have hair extensions and boob jobs, they were beautiful for
    real. Some purposely made themselves look "unattractive" so as not to follow that standard of
    how a woman was supposed to look.

    Lots of punk chicks cut their hair off as they wanted to be accepted for their music and ideas,
    not their looks.  By making themselves look ugly they actually created a new kind of beauty.
    They had challenged the beauty and fashion standards. Punk women took what they found out
    on the streets and in thrift stores and created their own look, and by doing that, they were
    saying “fuck you” to the fashionistas of the day! Fuck you to consumerism! Fuck you to the old
    beauty standards! Fuck you to the music business. Women were now in the driver's seat and
    no longer passengers, or groupies, or tambourine thwackers.

    Yeah, back in those days, girls couldn't walk into Guitar Center and get helped. The male
    clerks would not take them seriously. Not chicks trying to play rock n’ roll, or this punk shit????
    No way. They treated us like we didn't have a clue. Well, sometimes we didn't; we were learning
    as we went along. But the customer service sure has changed since then, since punk girls had
    the balls to walk into Guitar Center and demand to be taken seriously.  It's hard to believe that
    was once an issue. Things have sure changed.

    In fact, when I was 14, I bought a used set of drums, and I had to hide them in the rec room
    down in the basement. Back then, girls were just not supposed to play drums. Drums were
    considered a man's instrument. So, when everyone was out of the house I'd go to town. I would
    just wail on those red sparkle Kents. It was such freedom, but in secret.  I didn't really play
    again until years later when I came to LA, and we were putting The Go-Go's together.  I had
    been playing guitar since 13, but we couldn't find any female drummers so I remembered my
    rec room jams, and decided to take on the task. We went out looking for a kit. Nickey Beat
    helped me out a great deal in fixing up the kit and making it pink sparkle.

    I had lots of energy, and punk was fast and hard. I had a day job so I would get up early in the
    morning, run a few miles, go to work, and rehearse for 3 or so hours. The running increased
    my endurance, so I could play all night. Sometimes after rehearsals, I would play drums with DJ
    Bonebrake of X in the rehearsal room we shared at The Masque.  I just had lots of energy and
    playing the drums, especially in punk bands, was a great release. I would play for three hours
    with one band and then wanted to play for another three hours with someone else!

    4. What is the legacy of punk in your life?

    It taught me that there are a lot of people like me, who don't want to conform. I think of punk as
    an attitude, a “fuck you” attitude. It's rebellious; I was like that prior to punk so it fit me to a T.
    I guess I was punk at an early age and I'm still that way! It was more of an attitude for me than
    a look.

    5. What are you listening to now?

    I'm into Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) to relax and feel a nice head tingle.
    I'll listen to that when I am working.

    And for something musical, I'm into listening to Johann Strauss' The Blue Danube, Chopin's
    Nocturnes, love watching and listening to Cherry Wainer, Nino Rota, Organs in Orbit, Cal
    Tjader, and Nirvana. Also, anything meditative or trance.

    With punk, I mostly like it live, not so much at home or in the car. I only like punk as a live
    experience.

    I also like to listen to Carla Kihlstedt, and the many bands she is part of.  A great violinist who
    takes you to the unexpected.

    6. Do you have any funny or interesting stories?

    Well, one time, back in the stone ages, I was mad at all the Go-Gos (being an asshole) and I
    taped all their pictures to my drumheads.  I had one of their faces on each drumhead. I don't
    remember who was on which drum, but during the rehearsal they would turn around and
    comment that I was playing really powerful. Then, I showed them their beaten up pictures on
    my heads...I thought it was funny, and I didn't really mean any harm by it,  but they didn't  think
    it was that funny. They were serious, and had no time to fool around. That's why they made it
    and I didn't.

    There was another time, I was driving around Hollywood with Margot and my roommate Billy.
    Margot had her multi-colored hair going on, and we were all carefree and smoking pot.
    Somehow we ended up in the Santa Claus Lane parade! We just acted like we were part of the
    show. We were in an old Corvair convertible and Margot just sat up on the back end and
    waved to the crowd.

    7. Are there any punk women from the early scene whom you feel have not been adequately
    recognized?

    Charlotte Caffey, who is always in the background but is key in the success of the Go-Go's as
    well as Belinda and Jane. MadDog, the black girl drummer for The Controllers. She had to
    overcome many obstacles, yet there she was playing drums with 2 guys. She was wild and
    really funny in those days. I remember that she loved chocolate donuts, so sometimes after
    rehearsals I'd take her to the Ranch Market and buy her a couple of chocolate donuts, which
    made her very happy.  

    Also, one of the best female roadies I ever had was Lydia Ortiz. She could pick up two amps at
    once, putting one under each arm like it was nothing. I also remember if one of my cymbal
    stands started to fall over during a set, her hand would just show up and she'd have that thing
    upright in 4/4 time.

    Then, there's Connie Clarksville. She created those fab do's everyone was sporting. They
    were the frosting on the cake, and so very essential to bringing out one's inner rock star.
    Connie made that possible.  

    I also think that Margot Olaverra added lots of flavor and color to the Go-Go’s and the punk
    scene. She knew how to survive and how to thrive, and she made things happen.

    Then there is Gerber.  She had great lyrics and a great voice.

    8. What is something we should know about you that we probably don't know?

    I love to draw and paint naked men who are well endowed.

michelle gerber bell interview
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debbie schow interview


    Elissa Bello brings with her an air of good humor and lightheartedness that is
    contagious. There's a smile eager to creep onto her lips at the slightest
    provocation. I met Elissa many years ago when she was honing her rhythmic skills,
    getting ready to play drums in the Go-Go's.  Little did I know that just a year or two
    later, I would be in a couple of bands with her. Although better known for being a
    Go-Go, Elissa also provided a steady backbeat for the Castration Squad and The
    Boneheads as well as several other bands. A bad mama jamma, she can drop a beat
    into whatever's playing or improvise lyrics when given a chance. She's a pleasure
    to work with and a honey to hang with but above all, she's a talented musician who
    is long overdue for some recognition.
Hudley Flipside Interview
Heather
"Valiant"
Ferguson
Donna Santisi
The Go-Go's early days with Margot and Elissa
The Go-Go's, early days
Elissa Bello in High School
Castration Squad

    Punk in school, Elissa flips the bird.

    The Go-Go's in the early days.
    Rover with pink hair.

   Castration Squad, Elissa standing on the right.

   Margot Olaverra crashes the
 Santa Claus Lane Parade.

    Elissa Bello on drums with Alarma!