Recently, I was asked to comment upon some well-known punk's use of Nazi memorabilia. Of course, it begged the question, "were they racist?" Well, not that particular person, however, punks came from the general population and from everywhere. Of course, there were some people who were racist, just as there were others who were tolerant, conservative, liberal, down-right socialist, greedy, generous.... we were a normal sample of the general population - we just shared an aesthetic and a bond as some kind of "outsider."
Frank Secich and Stiv Bators goofing on the goose-step in the studio.
This image was brought up. Although Stiv and the Dead Boys grew up in the heavily Eastern European Catholic Northeastern Ohio, they were not anti-Semites or racists, but they did witness a lot of that sentiment amongst the immigrants. And they lampooned it in their actions and in their paraphernalia. Back in the 70s, it was shocking to see Nazi flags, Iron Crosses and other "Fatherland" icons. And Stiv did everything he could to shock an audience. If a gimmick didn't get a reaction, he never repeated it. That's why he was always dropping his pants. His enormous penis (which I've only heard about and never seen. I had to avert my eyes. I really didn't want to know.) always got a reaction. The Dead Boys were practitioners of bad taste only to get attention. You know - bad boys straight out of central casting. End of story. Johnny Blitz paid the price for wearing a leather jacket with swastikas, however. On the night of his stabbing outside CBGB, the first emergency room doctor who saw him refused treatment because the bloody drummer wore swastikas.
Memories of the Holocaust are long-lasting and painful to be sure. Alice Bag writes in her blog about racism in the LA Punk scene. She's a beautiful Chicana, if you didn't know. Please click on the link you just read over for more.... Here is a teaser excerpt: "Another infamous racist was Farrah Faucet Minor, the subject of X's "Los Angeles", who "had to leave" because she "had started to hate every nigger and jew, every mexican who gave her lotta shit..." My guess is that she had always hated us and I'd like to think that maybe I was the mexican who gave her a lot of shit." Again, that's from Alice Bag's Blog.
The world of punk was no different from the real world. We just had fresh music.