Shopping in Hollywood erupts into violence

The Poseur, a punk/new wave store, featured ska and new wave clothes in the late ‘‘70s and early ‘80s in Hollywood, Calif.

The Poseur, a punk/new wave store, featured ska and new wave clothes in the late ‘‘70s and early ‘80s in Hollywood, Calif.

Photo by Meredith Jacobson Marciano

Photo by Meredith Jacobson Marciano

The Poseur, a punk/new wave store, featured ska and new wave clothes in the late ‘‘70s and early ‘80s in Hollywood, Calif.

Sharlene Celeskey, Contemporary Culture

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By Sharlene Celeskey
Contemporary Culture Editor

Walking down Sunset Boulevard on a warm fall day in November 1980. I had almost reached my car when a 20 something man, dressed in stone washed jeans, a pink polo shirt and white athletic shoes said to me in a cocky voice, “Hey, can you take me to La Brea Boulevard?” I am in Hollywood shopping and thinking about seeing The Slits again tonight, and this guy’s annoying me. I snap back, “La Brea is the next street down, so you can walk,” as I look and point directly at the street sign. Suddenly without warning, something sparks his anger, and he aims it at me.

Yesterday, I arrived in Los Angeles to see my favorite band The Slits. They are the first notable punk girl band, have never toured America and are playing at the historical Whiskey a Go Go in Hollywood. None of my friends wanted to see them, so I came alone. I planned my trip carefully and so far, the only glitch was my inability to eject the ignition key in my rental car. Luckily, I have a separate door key, and I throw a jacket over the steering wheel to hide the key stuck in the ignition.

Last night when I saw the band, I went early to the Whiskey so I could park close to the club. The punk and new wave crowd dressed creatively, colorfully with cleverly constructed outfits. The counterculture elite of the LA music scene: The Go Gos, the Germs and X all turned up to see the Slits. When the band finally hit the stage, tears formed in my eyes as I watched them perform and felt the warmth of their musical energy. Viv Albertine, the beautiful blonde guitarist, had inspired me to save up for months to buy my black Gibson Les Paul guitar. The group played a mixture of punk rock, reggae and tribal world music. They dressed in dissimilar styles with a kaleidoscope of colors that was their trademark. Because they were booked for two nights, I had a ticket to return the following night to see them again.

Today, I go to my favorite store Poseur on Sunset Boulevard. This British owned punk store has the best imported band t-shirts and accessories. The shop’s interior is splattered with bright colors in orange, yellow and green paint with random patterns on the wall. Bright design prints, studded punk gear and black and white ska geometric print clothes hang all over the store. Glass cases house spiked and studded leather jewelry and accessories; band buttons and pins. Because there is no store in Phoenix that even resembles the Poseur, I buy a lot of British punk band stuff and walk happily out the store clutching my bag of treasures.

Walking down Sunset Boulevard with the bright sun overhead, I notice the area needs repainting and repairs and is unusually quiet. I carry my car keys in my hand, and walk briskly toward my orange rental car just around the corner. Since I only look at punks or new wave guys, I do not even notice a man my age walking toward me until he blatantly asks me for a ride. I wonder why this pink polo shirted jock is bothering me, and I want to say to him, “Back off dude.” I feel annoyed that this guy is boring me, so I walk quickly. I am surprised when he turns around and comes up beside me and yells in my ear, “Hey, you can take me there!” I shout, “No.” I sense danger; I turn around and I walk back toward the Poseur thinking, “If I go inside I can shake this jerk.” Then he blocks my way and suddenly grabs my arm, tightens his grip and twists it. Now I feel extremely frightened of this short muscular guy whose strength overpowers me and I struggle to get loose. My mind is racing because I know I am in immediate danger. I know my car is closer than the store, so I run to the car. But he moves so fast and he catches me. I feel his intensified rage as he grabs me again and knocks me down onto the sidewalk. I am paralyzed by fear when I feel his heavy body on top of mine as he sits on my chest and puts his large hands around my neck and squeezes hard.

He shouts, “Listen bitch, we are going to get in your car; you are going to take me over to La Brea, and you are going to go into a motel room with me. If you don’t do what I tell you to I am going to f*** you up really bad!”

As I sob out of fear and pain, he gets off me and leaves me to pull myself up from the concrete. Although I feel powerless, I still think of ways to escape. He seizes my arm again, jerks it behind my back, and walks me over to the car. My hands shake so furiously, I cannot open the car door which further angers him. He takes the door key, shoves me aside and says, “I’m going to drive, bitch.” Panic engulfs me as he swings open the car door. I look around and see a run-down apartment building behind the chain link fence on the other side of the car. I spy a dusty construction worker on the second floor talking to a young slender woman. Immediately, I harness all my fear into a thunderous scream as my assailant attempts to shove me into the car. I resist and keep yelling as loudly as I can. Then I hear a deep voice, “Hey, what’s going on there?” I see the tall worker now standing on the other side of the fence. My startled attacker snaps back, “Don’t pay any attention to her. She’s my girlfriend, and she’s crazy!” I muster up the courage to breakaway and run over to the fence and hang on to it. My pursuer follows and tries to pry me away from the fence. I curl my fingers more tightly around the chain links and shout, “This man is a stranger and he is attacking me!” The man in the hardhat and work jeans looks puzzled but his presence unnerves my aggressor who suddenly runs off with the car door key. I thank the guy who saved me and briefly tell him what happened. Still in shock and shaking, I quickly jump into my car and give thanks that the key is stuck in the ignition, lift my jacket off the steering wheel and quickly drive off.

Back at the hotel, although stunned, I realize I have a car but no key to lock the door and fear my attacker could find me. Most importantly, I still have a concert to go to tonight. Music trumps all in my world, and dammit, nothing will stop me from seeing The Slits. I phone the Hollywood Police Department and I am connected to a nice sounding detective, who after taking down my information, asks if I can come down to the station to make a statement.

I nervously wait for the detective, look around the Hollywood Police Station and see a very attractive young woman with big dark hair, spike high heels and long blood red fingernails telling her story to three policemen who were hanging on her every word. The men, more interested in hearing about the girl’s stalker, do not notice the short elderly woman waiting patiently behind her. I am grateful my detective seems sympathetic as he takes my statement. Unfortunately, he tells me it would be almost impossible to catch my attacker. I feel guilty that I do not disclose the details about the assailant threatening to rape me because I cannot handle the interrogation I would receive. The lieutenant graciously calls the rental car office, explains my dilemma and asks Avis to bring me another car. He then walks me out to the new rental, opens the car door and helps me inside. After I thank him, he leans in the window and plants a kiss on my lips. Then he says, “If you ever need a police escort, here is my card. Just call me, and I’ll make sure you are safe.” I am too shocked to reply.

I still make The Slits concert at the Whiskey. Apprehensively, I park on a well-lit side street, as it is the best parking available. As I wait for the band to come on, I still feel frightened about safely getting to my car afterward, so I look around for a friendly punk type escort. I strike up a conversation with the cute dark-haired guy standing next to me. Several years my junior, he wears a skinny black tie with his black suit jacket and tight jeans and looks like a new wave mod. I briefly tell of the day’s ordeal and ask him if he can walk me to my car after the show. When he agrees, most of my fears quickly vanish until I realize the Hollywood detective has my hotel address and room number.

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Shopping in Hollywood erupts into violence