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
“Some crews aren’t supervised,” says Bucky, Rose’s oldest daughter, as she stands next to the pool, which is now littered with a handful of broken beer bottles. “Ours is the most secure place. We have security checking people. There are no guns. There is no drama.”
Then, as if on cue, the music stops suddenly. Rose, the designated chaperone, winds her way through the crowd of 150-plus kids, rushing toward a teen who is frantically waving her over. Rose and the teen quickly run inside the house, which is off-limits to partygoers. Some in the crowd look anxiously toward the DJ, while others make their way to the upper deck. A couple of teens try to scale the backyard fence. Word spreads quickly that shots were fired. It is unclear at this point whether the shooter is among the crowd. The majority of the teens don’t seem bothered at all. The atmosphere is a strange mix of anxiety and resignation, like this was almost expected.
It turns out shots were indeed fired when a local gang got pissed it wasn’t invited to the party. In a show of power, gang members shot into the air and banged on the front window of the party house. Two teens in the crowd responded by firing back into the air. “They are haters,” one of the teenage partygoers says of the local gang.
In an attempt to restore order, Rose quickly gets on a microphone and tells everyone the party is over. It is midnight.
“Most of the time the shooting happens because of the neighborhood,” says 20-year-old DJ Walt, a student at IT Tech in Sylmar, as he begins to pack up his equipment. He also works for the LAPD, teaching martial arts to kids. “Some gang members don’t allow this. You have to get their permission. It [the shootings] scared me but I have been through worse. I have seen people shot in front of me.”
As the crowd slowly leaves the party, three police cruisers pull up. A helicopter hovers above, beaming its spotlight down on the party. Rose downplays the incident, telling the cops that the shooting had nothing to do with the party.
No one’s been shot, so the cops move on. The Vicious Ladies begin to clean up as the last of the party stragglers head on into the night.
“I’m not scared,” says 22-year-old Denise as she walks away with a friend. “If I die, I die.”
Seventeen-year-old Cherry sits on a mustard-colored couch in the living room of the two-bedroom Alhambra apartment she shares with her mother, stepfather and half-sister. As Cherry breaks down the flier-party scene, she engages in a time-honored teen tradition: devouring pizza.
“Some people’s parties get raided at 10 or 10:30 p.m.,” she says. “Really successful is 1 a.m.”
In the past year, the crew has thrown at least eight parties, including “Roll Call,” “Vicious Secret,” “Cuties Gone Deliciously Mean” and “Viciously Delicious.”
Their recipe for success?
“We try to find a good house where we know won’t get raided,” Cherry says matter-of-factly. “We ask them what the neighbors are about. It is hard. You don’t want to use the same house over and over again. If the cops know about it, they will raid it.”
Cherry started the all-girl party crew in November 2005 with the help of her boyfriend Wonka, co-founder of Vicious Entertainment, which operates out of Highland Park. Like other girl or boy crews, Vicious Ladies is structured like a gang, but without the guns and violence. Its goal is to throw the best party.
Most of the 17 Vicious Ladies crew members, who range in age from 15 to 19, were recruited by Cherry and go to local high schools like Alhambra High, Benjamin Franklin Senior High and Woodrow Wilson Senior High. Cherry, who will graduate in May, goes to Options for Youth, a charter school for at-risk teens.
“You have to be pretty and not trashy,” says the attractive teen. “I don’t like hos. You have to dance, go out and be around the 323 area. You also have to show that you are down with the crew.”
A skill or a certain look can be advantageous when your goal is to become a member. Paris was recruited because she is Caucasian. Most of the girls in the scene are Latina. Peaches became the first gay male member. China is the only Asian girl in the scene. Cherry spotted her at a flier party last summer. Bucky, who joined the crew a week before the December party, was recruited by Cherry because the teens are childhood friends, and because Bucky knows how to krump.
Cherry pauses between bites to explain how she got involved in the party-crew scene in 2004, when she was 15. At the time, she was a ninth-grader at Alhambra High School. She met Beauty, the main head of the Dough Girls, at a flier party and was asked to join. She quit after six months.
“No one ever goes to their parties,” says Cherry with a scowl that shows off her braces. “They are a bunch of hos. They are whacked. Nobody likes them because they are dumb. I said I will make a crew better. I wanted to start something that people will like.”
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