By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“Nozz is a very popular thing,” says one crew organizer who didn’t want to be identified. “It makes the party fun for the people who like it. Most people in the underground like nozz, and if you don’t have it then your party is not happening.” Usually it’s those new to the scene, between the ages of 14 and 16, who go for the nozz. Most crews provide alcohol. But it is usually no frills. A can of beer will cost $2. Proceeds go toward funding the next party: A deejay can cost $250, house rentals up to $150, and fliers anywhere between $200 and $300.
Some crews advertise wet-T-shirt and G-string contests or hot women and half-price drinks on their fliers. Vicious Ladies fliers use cartoon characters to advertise. Their “Vicious in Wonderland” party flier depicts a large-breasted Alice alongside a lusty White Rabbit dressed in a waistcoat and standing next to a field of magic mushrooms. It is also considered an honor to be mentioned on the flier of another party crew.
Although most fliers are written to discourage trouble — No haters, tanks[nozz]?, granny panties, in and outs[multiple entries] and drama are allowed — crews are still competing with each other for supremacy, and it’s common for a rival party crew to call the cops. Too many parties busted up by the cops can drag down your rep.
“Parties have been going on for years,” says Cherry. “No one is going to stop it. Even if the cops raid it, they [crews] will keep throwing parties till one won’t get raided early. They will keep having parties till they are back on top.”
Gang protocol can further complicate things. Crews acknow-?ledge that the scene can be dangerous if gangsters ?show up.
“Gangsters just want to party, too, but they snap because they want free entrance, free nozz, because it is their territory,” says Cherry. “None of the guys from El Sereno [gang] trip, because they know me.”
Most experienced crews actively seek out the local gangs where the party is being held and ask their permission beforehand.
“If you are true to the scene you just want to go out there and have fun,” says a crew organizer. “There is a fear that gangs will show up. You try to control it as much as you can. You try to know the area where you are going to throw the party, and you clear it with the gang before you throw it. It is better that way. They know it is there, and they know not to come and start shooting. As long as you show respect, they are cool with it. They are usually hooked up, and generally get in the party for free.”
In December 2005, rival tagging crews got into a fight and one of them passed a rifle over the wall and shot in the air at the Vicious Ladies’ “How Vicious Stole Christmas” party.
“I got on the floor,” says Peaches, a former Vicious Lady. “That is what everybody does. We had security, but a gangster was able to have a rifle passed over a wall. Vicious Ladies know a lot of crews, but we don’t usually have drama with gangs because they like our parties. It is easy to tell when something is going to happen. It is a small world. It is the same group of people that go to the same party.”
Despite whatever nominal precautions a crew may take, violence is a reality at flier parties. Shootings have occurred from La Puente to Ladera Heights to Highland Park, in abandoned buildings, in homes with parents in attendance and in halls. Two of the victims last year were close friends of Cherry's. In addition to Munoz, 20-year-old Russell Connine, an alleged gang member, was killed on December 24 outside a party in Highland Park held by members of the Avenues gang.
“He was doing good,” says Cherry as she points to his memorial photo on her bedroom wall. “He was changing. He was more committed to school.”
Over the years, police have made attempts to crack down on parties by enforcing local municipal and penal codes. Teens have been cited for curfew violations, disturbing the peace, public intoxication and possession of nitrous oxide with intent to inhale for the purpose of intoxication. Heads of households can also be cited for loud music, serving alcohol to minors and charging an entrance fee. DJs can get their equipment impounded.
However, penalties are rarely enforced. “The police department has a difficult time getting into the party. We aren’t walking down the street busting down every door because three people are associating. Something has to bring the police there,” says LAPD spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vernon. “Where we would get involved is a recurring event. They are smart because they move around. When someone dies, it is a serious thing, but outside of that, people think it is a bunch of kids having a party, so don’t bug them. But people don’t recognize the potential danger. The big onus of this is on the parents because when we do make arrests of juveniles, we take them to the parents. I always turn first to the parents and say, ‘Where are you?’ and ‘What are you doing?’ ”