The Power of Punk

i think the first time i experienced Bikini Kill was in the basement of St. Stephens church in Washington, D.C. (unfortunately many D.C. punk shows, often occurred in churches, but i will leave my atheist rants out of this). i’m pretty sure the first couple times i saw them i was so perplexed since i couldn’t decide if i loved or hated their music. This never happened to me before. So, i purchased their tape, listened to it over and over and couldn’t get them out of my head. They were playing so much slower than the other hardcore punk bands i was listening to but i couldn’t turn away. The general message was in alignment to other mediums i was absorbing but the music was different. At this point in my life i was 16 years old, playing in a band with my childhood friends, we were called Smooch (we were also an oddball band amongst our peers). Anyway, i got a couple of Kathleen’s Bikini Kill ‘zines and was reading them over and over while listening to their tape. i saw that there was an address provided in the ‘zine, so i decided i should to write a fan letter (a thing i had never even fathomed before) and sent a demo of my band (also something i never done before), just to share what i was doing. i completely forgot that i included my phone number, so you can imagine the shock it was for me when Kathleen called me up and offered my band a show at the Beta Punk Warehouse in north east D.C. with Bikini Kill and Royal Trux. This was Smooch’s first official show, which would lead to many more. Later when i did a band called Meta-matics, Bikini Kill would take us on tour. There are so many stories that conjure up in my cranium that is hard to focus on just one, but this particular memory spelunking reverberates with me strongly, since i hold Kathleen Hanna directly responsible for spearheading my musical career. Kathleen has since told me that i wrote the first ever fan letter to Bikini Kill. This to me has always been the power of punk, direct and open communication.
-chuck bettis
http://www.chuckbettis.com

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3 Responses to “The Power of Punk”

  1. same_vs_different Says:

    i love reading the d.c.-based bikini kill anecdotes — i saw b.k. at st. stephen’s, i remember attending several events at the beta punk warehouse. there was a place (around u st. i believe?) called the beehive that was sort of a riot grrrl group house/collective. i met so many amazing people. it was one of the most exhilarating periods of my life. riot grrrls were some of the first vegans i ever met (someone mentioned food for thought in another post — i miss that place). i remember a few of the grrrls worked as exotic dancers at this club called the royal palace — i think their reasoning was “if men are going to objectify me anyway, i may as well get paid for it”. anyway a buddy of mine developed a huge crush on kathleen, possibly because (i could be wrong about this — if so my apologies) she worked there??? (AGAIN I COULD BE WRONG). anyway i think she found him annoying because he kept turning up at all b.k.’s shows, but in a way i could relate to being so mesmerized by her, one couldn’t help oneself. i am pretty sure it was an admiring rock star crush, not smarming over some (albeit counterculture) sex symbol.

  2. Toby,
    Thanks for the kind words! It would be good to stay in contact. Will go through the email channels for future comm. i also hope you are doing really good and that we catch up soon. xo chuck

  3. hi Chuck I loved the Metamatics! I don’t remember who wrote the first letter to Bikini Kill, but the early ones (that I remember) came from girls who wrote fanzines in the Bay Area. I remember getting a few in early 91 when we were still living in Olympia. One from Rutabega and another from Tales of Blarg. I don’t think they were “fan letters”, but more like pen pals maybe. I hope you are doing great. best wishes xo tobi

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