BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, 1978 – It was a party. While it can be said that most of the seventies was a party, this one was special. It was a party with more than 300 people crammed into a three bedroom house.
There were copious amounts of hallucinogens, booze, food, and sand. Lots and lots of sand.
It was Gurl Fours version of a beach party, during the winter, in Boston.
If you were lucky enough to be there you would have met anyone who was anyone who knew everyone and wasn’t afraid to talk to strangers about Camus, Camembert, the Clash or the virtues of catatonia.
Somehow, she had trucked-in a couple of yards of beach sand which completely filled the living room to a depth of about four inches and then set-up a wading pool. Scattered around where various inflatable and paper mache palm trees and so many infrared sun lamps it is a wonder that the entire block of homes surrounding didn’t go up in a conflagration matching Dresden during the Vonnegut daze.
Loudspeakers playing every imaginable type of music were situated in the basement, on staircases, under beds, over tables and even in the bathroom.
Having been picked-up by the manager of the Human Sexual Response the night before at the Rat (hey, it was the seventies and everyone did it at least once) he said that it might be a great event to attend.
He was right. Not having been schooled in the niceties of party etiquette an early arrival was made by your humble narrator. Jari Georgia opened the door.
She is Gurl Four. She had impossibly shiny, almost white hair that fell in ringlets like some pre-Rapahelite image of an amazon goddess. She was breathtaking and so very open with her greeting and hellos that you had to think you were dreaming.
She immediately put me to work putting little umbrellas in what seemed to be a thousand paper cups that were soon to be filled with a devilish punch that seemed equal parts Everclear, Tang and liquid doggy Valium that someone who worked in a Vet’s office dropped over in 500mg ampules.
One of the first arrivals was Pia Howard and Mark Anthony from the band Daily Bodies. They seemed so sophisticated. Pia was making her own clothing by inserting Japanese rape anime scenes between sheets of clear plastic and wearing them around town garnering bug-eyed stares and indecent propositions.
She later became a famous bon vivant and artist. Mark gave me my first taste of pate and four hits of acid and shortly afterward was never heard from again.
By the time the acid started to kick in there were hundreds of people there and the B-52’s were blaring. It was during the song “52 Girls” that I started roaming room to room.
The music followed me since there were speakers everywhere. To this day I will never forget meeting some of my best friends and melting at 100 miles per hour in a second. It is also where I got the name for this series.
Huddled in a stairway with members of La Peste waxing wildly on the future of punk. Making-out with who knows who in darkened rooms. Dancing with beserker frenzy to primal beats both real and imagined. It was everything I ever imagined the decadent party of my dreams would be.
As it wound down, I had no place to go. My home was miles away by train and I had given everything in my pockets away like some demented Assisi who had just been touched by the pinkie of God.
As more and more people left the remainder of us made our way into Jari’s bedroom. That room of hers was like something out of a silent movies harem scene. Soft, diaphanous fabrics draping everything and a huge poster of the lips from the Rocky Horror show on the wall.
Oh, yeah, and two-gallon bottles of Tanguary gin, one empty and one sliding easily down Jari’s throat. She said if I helped clean-up she would take me to brunch. Since it was about nine A.M. and I was coming down like Kris Kristopherson on a ketamine jag I greedily accepted.
At brunch, she told me about a project she was doing that afternoon and asked if I wanted to hang to help her. With nothing better to do it seemed a nice way to remain in the presence of this magnificent gift the gods laid on me.
The gig was taking all the various Boston punk fliers she had been collecting and using them to make a mural at a new club a friend of hers was opening. It was talismanic.
Touching those artifacts that resonated with past blasts of passion, pathos and artistic abandon filled my teenage mind with images of what could be when all bets are off.
That was the thing about punk. Hippies wanted to change the world by being nice. My generation might use a little violence because what else could we do.
We discovered that the best way to put fliers on a wall was using sweetened, condensed milk. Posters that were hung as an assault on the city and an assertion of our place in the world are still viable to this day. It took two days to finish our mural and the resulting work was truly magnificent.
In one fell swoop the sweep and majesty of Boston punk was represented. The Real Kids, Mission of Burma, The maps, The Girls, The Inflickters, La Peste, Bound and Gagged, Human Sexual Response, Thrills, Classic Ruins, Lyres and so many more were there for all to see.
It still exists except now it is the laundry room of a B.U. Dormitory.
I met Jari’s friend that day. His name was Jim Coffman.
He was so excited about his club. He basically conned the owners into letting him take over a failing wine bar.
I asked if he had a sound man. He said he didn’t. I had never done sound and with the huibris of an acid hangover I said I would do it.
All three of us eventually became roommates in a cool loft in Boston’s “Combat Zone” and the Underground did shows for New order, Bauhaus, Delta 5, Bush Tetras…..fuck, it was fucking fun as shit.
Ben Compton is the main character in John Dos Pasos’ “U.S.A. Trilogy” and known mostly for his revolutionary leanings and love of learning.
This is the Fourth of a 52 part series of Arturo Bienewski’s exclusive serialization of his upcoming history of punk rock, “52 Gurls”
To see all currently published installments of 52 Gurls visit 52 Gurls