By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
By early summer 1978, the Circle One gang couldn't convene at Darby's mom's house anymore, for several reasons. From Faith's side, there were too many noisy visitors during the day, when she was trying to sleep; Darby was fed up because Faith went on "rampages" and was constantly busting his chops about everything. Early in 1979, Darby left home and moved in with the daughter of a pharmacist, now slumming "on the edge" in the new, ultracool boho-punk Hollywood. She gave him the keys to her apartment and a steady supply of free drugs.
Throughout this time, Darby kept up his compulsive manipulation and panhandling. The dreaded "Gimme two dollars…Gimme a ride to the Whisky…Gimme a ride home" was the Klaxon from hell around a scene that saw a series of suggestible, often overweight women openly competing for the attentions of an emotionally unavailable, alcohol-soaked LSD-guru-cum-glitter-rock-wraith while picking up his tab for booze, drugs, gas, food and shelter.
Gimme gimme your hands Gimme gimme your minds Gimme gimme this, gimme gimme that.
—The Germs, "Lexicon Devil"
As "the most volatile band in the universe" — so proclaimed Slash magazine's Claude Bessy — the Germs didn't have a snowball's chance from day one. It was still the dark ages of the great American underground-rock renaissance of the '80s. There were no corporate-financed "alternative," "cutting edge" national networks of desperately hip indie labels, agents, bookers and promoters, or career-minded college-music radio interns. No MTV. No Internet. No digital technology whatsoever. When Circle One was forming at Uni High, it was still a big deal if you had an answering machine.
After the release of Lexicon Devil, the Germs hooked up with Phoenix, Arizona, native Jimmy Giorsetti, who had renamed himself "Don Bolles" after a murdered journalist and who was the last piece of the Germs puzzle, pulling together the whole picture, the last in a succession of drummer wannabes and part-timers on loan from other bands (including X's Don Bonebrake and the Weirdos' Nicky Beat). Bolles‚ who engaged in hard drugs, compulsive sex and the darker end of occult dabblings, eventually helped render the Germs aura an even deeper shade of black.
In the fall of '79, the band followed Lexicon Devil with the critically acclaimed ("a musical strip-mine-of-the-soul that doesn't miss a beat," wrote Richard Meltzer in the L.A. Times. "The most staggering statement so far from the American branch of the New Wave"), Joan Jettproduced G.I. ("Germs Incognito") full-length album, released, again, on the Slash label. But with no agency or management behind them, to say nothing of any real legal representation, Darby — at least in terms of exercising mind control over the record industry — had run into a brick wall. According to Pat, Darby felt shunted to the side when Slash invested the profits from the sales of the album into signing X rather than developing the Germs. The band never once left California. No agent would represent them. No club would book them. Neither the London nor the oppressively provincial New York rock media would give any L.A. punk band the time of day, other than to trash it.
By early 1980, the band was plagued by problems related to its ever-expanding audience of snarling, speed-bugged, sexually frustrated superpunks from well-to-do O.C. beach communities who were emulating the sensationalized media versions of punk America. Female attendance fell off at Germs and other hardcore shows, which had degenerated into bizarre post-pubescent warrior-bonding rituals, with frequent interventions by SWAT teams and police choppers.
While Darby privately disapproved of the rise in violence, he never tried to dissuade the new kids from behaving badly at Germs gigs. By early in the summer of 1980, the Germs had been banned from every club in the L.A. CountyO.C.RiversideVentura basin. Their following had become notorious (in both punk and LAPD circles) for bum-rushing club guest lists in packs, breaking windows and chairs, stealing liquor, having sex and shooting up in bathroom stalls, looking conspicuously underage while swigging hard liquor from open containers in full view of the cops, smashing up bathroom mirrors and toilet bowls, torching dumpsters and graffiti-tagging, to say nothing of their "creepy crawling" (a term borrowed from Manson lore) at Hollywood Cemetery, or their defacing and theft of art at gallery openings…
THE END CAME SUDDENLY, WHEN DARBY BUMPED DON BOLLES as drummer to make room for a beginner, a new lover, before a trip to London paid for by his latest sugar mama. Darby accused Don of disloyalty for playing in one too many embarrassing side bands. ("My worst experience in the Germs was finding out how shocked and furious Darby was when he saw me playing in Vox Pop wearing a dress," Bolles said.) Male prostitute and punk scenester Tony the Hustler said Bolles' smart-aleck penchant for deliberately baiting, grating up against and generally annoying Darby didn't help his case, either.
Then, a month later, Darby returned to an L.A. punk scene still cast in his image, dressed up as an androgynous follower of Adam and the Ants — complete with Mohawk, blue feathers and bondage outfit — and pronouncing punk "dead" when it was still just coming out in the 'burbs.
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