Tag Archives: Lost Girls

The Golden Rule of the Internet

I’ve been getting a lot of messages. And emails, and comments, and notifications, and Tweets, and smoke signals — okay, not smoke signals. Most of it has been supportive, or at least constructive, or thoughtful. Some of it has been slanderous and hateful. I’ve received the latter from what seem to be “both sides” of this story. This is unfortunate on so many levels. For one, there shouldn’t be “sides” to this story. This isn’t a competition. I’ve been asked by many people to be a judge, or referee. I will not. Many of the communications I’ve received are from people saying they are also being attacked. This needs to stop. Defend your point of view, but not at the expense of others. I apologize now if I have offended anyone in my own discussions. As I’ve said before, this needs to be a compassionate, honest examination of a deep, painful subject. It is very easy to sit at our keyboards, create a snappy judgment, and hit “send.”

Instead, think about the Golden Rule of the Internet: Do not say something about someone online that you wouldn’t say to their face.

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Jackie Fox’s Statement

Jackie Fox has made a remarkably calm and powerful statement about the response to the story of Kim Fowley’s sexual assault on her:

 

I have been so incredibly moved over the last few days by the outpouring of love and support that has followed the story of my rape on New Year’s Eve 1975.

When I contacted the Huffington Post at the beginning of the year, I never imagined my story would touch such a nerve. I wondered whether anyone would even read it, or if they did, whether they would care. The response took me completely by surprise.

This was not an easy story for me to tell. I had to go over the details of the worst night of my life, not once but repeatedly. The writer of the piece, Jason Cherkis, and the Huffington Post’s fact checker handled the questioning with great sensitivity; but in the wake of the Rolling Stone rape-reporting fiasco and the well-known past disagreements among members of the Runaways, they were leaving nothing to chance. They asked for my SAT scores, my school transcripts, contact info for the lawyer I spoke to last year. My family and I opened our homes and our files, without reservation. We gave Jason a glimpse into some of our most private moments, as well as some of our deepest – though thoroughly underserved — shame.

Jason spoke to people I hadn’t thought about in years — people who didn’t like me, as well as those who did. He spoke to every known living person who was there the night of my rape, save one. Jason contacted friends I’d lost touch with after I was raped, friends I’ve missed terribly. I had serious second thoughts about going public several months in. How would disclosure affect my family? How would it change how my friends saw me? Would I be known forever after as “that girl from that band, who got raped”?

I thought I had prepared myself for the haters — I was wrong. I was shocked by some of the vitriol; more so by the fact that nearly all of it came from other women. *But their voices were drowned by a chorus of support from women I respect and admire – women like Kathy Valentine, Maureen Herman and Jane Wiedlin. And then there are the private messages. The sheer number of people who have written to tell me their own stories of rape and abuse has been heartbreaking. Many have said they’ve never told anyone about their rape or abuse, or that the people they told didn’t believe them.

But they’ve also said that my story has given them hope that the dialogue about rape is changing. Some have reevaluated their own trauma in light of learning about the Bystander Effect. One person wrote that I had given her a gift: “the ability to see that the people in the room were victims too. Their behavior didn’t mean I deserved [the abuse]. It just meant they were afraid and didn’t know what to do.”

I know some people watching the online drama unfold have been discouraged by the lack of support I’ve received from my former bandmates. To which I can only say that I hope you never have to walk in their shoes. My rape was traumatic for everyone, not just me, and everyone deals with trauma in their own way and time. It took exceptional courage for many of the witnesses to talk frankly about how they felt. Most have apologized to me for their inaction that night — apologies that have been unnecessary, though welcome.

My rape also left scars on Victory and the other people who only experienced indirectly what happened that night. It can’t have been easy to listen to the way the band treated me after I left (treatment I was mercifully unaware of at the time). All I can say about what was said and done is that my bandmates were children who’d witnessed something criminal and tragic. I’ve no doubt they were dealing with it as best they were able. They had no responsible adults to guide them – only a rapist and his apologists.

If I am disappointed in one thing, it is that the story has become about who knew what when and who did or didn’t do what. That isn’t the story at all. It would be nice if everyone who was there the night I was raped could talk about how it has affected them over the years. But if they don’t want to talk it about, I respect that. It’s taken me years to talk about it without shame. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have watched it happen.

I only wish that if my bandmates can’t remember what happened that night – or if they just remember it differently –they would stick simply to saying that. By asserting that if they’d witnessed my rape, they’d have done something about it, they perpetuate the very myth I was trying to dispel when I decided to tell my story. Being a passive bystander is not a “crime.” All of us have been passive bystanders at some point in our lives.

If we have any hope at all of putting an end to incidents like these, we need to stop doubting the accusers and start holding rapists, abusers and bullies accountable. What we don’t need to do is point fingers at those who weren’t to blame for their actions.

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Jezebel Publishes My Statements

Thanks to Jezebel for combining and republishing my statements.

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Vicki Blue’s Statement on “The Lost Girls”

Victory Tischler-Blue — who replaced Jackie Fox when the bassist left the Runaways, and who made the documentary Edgeplay — has released a statement via Facebook. It’s eloquent, compassionate, and moving. Interestingly, Vicki also wrote a lovely and loving obituary when Kim died, even though the statement below makes clear that she has known for years that something had happened that night to Jackie. I am not saying this to condemn Vicki in any way. I bring it up to point out the complexities of this situation, and the danger of rushing to judgment. I highly recommend watching Edgeplay if you haven’t already. Vicki is also a gifted photographer.

 

After reading much of the fallout the past few days over Jason Cherkis’s Huffington Post piece “The Lost Girls” (http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articl…/…/the-lost-girls/) – I’m first and foremost struck by Jackie’s courage in telling this gut-wrenching story with such graphic detail. I’ve watched her grapple with this so much over the past 15 years and it has just broken my heart to see such a beautiful, intelligent, creative, compassionate soul held hostage by this event.

But Jackie wasn’t the only victim here…Not by a long shot.

The takeaway for me is this –

Stripped down and raw – a 16 year old girl was raped in front of her peers by a 36 year old man who held the perceived key to all their future hopes and dreams. It’s not about the Runaways or Joan Jett or “Dog Stink”, “Failure Cock” or “Dirty Pussy” (all Kim Fowley idioms.) It’s about a 16 year old girl being drugged and sexually assaulted against her will, and the other kids who happened to have been there and witnessed it. This is just so incredibly sad and wrong.

Jason’s well-researched story was written with such dignity, sensitivity and care – focusing on the long-term effects that those witnessing such a scene must have experienced. No blame placed here. Everybody was affected. Deeply affected. How could they not be?

For the record, I was not a member of the band when this happened, but I do speak from the experience of having been privy to many conversations between band members well after Jackie had left the band and I joined. Yes, there was teenage banter and laughter about it – but was it was more than that and listening to it made me deeply uncomfortable.

To be clear, all of us in the Runaways have always been aware of this ugly event. I don’t see this as a “witch hunt”, or a “criminal accusation” or a “blame game” – this is one rape victim’s personal story of how she is beginning to come to terms with what happened to her so many years ago, while also trying to let the others, who were innocent bystanders, know that she has never held them responsible in any way.

I encourage my former band mates to exercise compassion and understanding here and to not shift the paradigm and spin this any other way.

This is my take on what’s going on and I call it how I see it.

Jackie, I’m proud to call you my friend in the truest sense of the word. I support you wholeheartedly.

Kari, Joan, Cherie and everyone else who was there and affected – my heart goes out to the teenage girl that lives inside all of you.

with love, me xo

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Kari Krome on Kim Fowley

Original Runaways lyricist Kari Krome has released her own statement about the Huffington Post story. I admire and respect Kari greatly. She was an immense help with Queens of Noise, riding around LA with me, showing me the Runaways’ old haunts. She told me then, as I wrote in the book, that Kim was a predator. She did not tell me that he had sexually assaulted her, as she says in the Huffington Post. Below is her statement.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Los Angeles July 11, 2015

RUNAWAYS’ CO-FOUNDER AND SONG WRITER, KARI KROME, ON LIFE DURING AND AFTER PRODUCER/PREDATOR, THE LATE KIM FOWLEY

Krome Issues Statement Following Article in Huffington Post About Jackie Fuchs’ Breaking 40 Year Silence of Fowley’s Sexual Misconduct
In response to the recent media frenzy in regards to the Huffington Post article by Jason Cherkis entitled The Lost Girls, Kari Krome has been contacted by an array of people with an overwhelming amount of questions and comments. Runaways’ bassist Jackie Fuchs and Krome came forward to break the 40 year silence of Fuchs’ rape and Krome’s molestation at the hands of their Producer/Manager, Kim Fowley. She is now ready to answer any questions that have been stirred by the article.

Krome wants to take this opportunity to stand by her statements and her solidarity and support for Jackie Fuchs. For as much pain caused by Fowley, coming forward with the truth has also been freeing for Krome. She realizes that the damage of Fowley’s attempts to control her by degradation, which chipped away at her self-esteem, has been lifted. Her epiphanies and her ‘post-Fowley confidence’ motivated her to make public the work she has held back as Fowley destroyed most of her trust and confidence in her work with clichés such as, “You will be nothing without me.” “I recognized that until speaking with Cherkis, I had not yet even cried about what happened,” Krome said, “nor was I aware of just how much she had been effected by Fowley.

She walked away from her songwriting career and work with The Runaways as a result of Fowley’s abuse. Another of Fowley’s manipulations was taking credit for Krome’s brainchild, the formation of an all girl band, and not attributing her for songs she penned as he claimed them for himself.

Krome never stopped creating and has amassed a body of work of poetry, lyrics, art, photography and recordings. The working title for her memoirs and EP is Kari Krome is Teenage Frankenstein, also derived from her past when at 15 she survived an accident that necessitated her face and jaw be bolted back together. Krome who has been journaling since she was 10 years old wrote an account of this harrowing experience entitled All My Teeth, which Jason Cherkis labels as both “heartbreaking and funny.” He also called her work “genius.”

Kari Krome wants to thank Jackie Fuchs for her strength and trust in her and Jason Cherkis for his compassion and integrity as a reporter. Krome has said despite some people’s outrage over the story, she is grateful for the love and support sent to her and Fuchs and is already experiencing healing and looking forward to a new tomorrow.
Contact: threemonkeystalent@gmail.com

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Joan and Cherie’s Statements, Plus Comments

Ah, to be in the midst of an internet storm — and have no internet! Shortly after my last post, Joan Jett released her own statement, on Facebook:

“Anyone who truly knows me understands that if I was aware of a friend or bandmate being violated, I would not stand by while it happened.” Jett, who still performs with the Blackhearts, wrote on Facebook. “For a group of young teenagers thrust into ’70s rock stardom there were relationships that were bizarre, but I was not aware of this incident. Obviously Jackie’s story is extremely upsetting and although we haven’t spoken in decades, I wish her peace and healing.”

Cherie Currie has also spoken:

“I have been accused of a crime. Of looking into the dead yet pleading eyes of a girl, unable to move while she was brutally raped and doing nothing. I have never been one to deny my mistakes in life and I wouldn’t start now. If I were guilty, I would admit it. There are so many excuses I could make being only one month into my sixteenth year at the time that people would understand but I am innocent. When I return from Sweden I will seek a qualified polygraph examiner to put to rest any and all allegations. I will make public the questions, answers and results of that test. I am a proud person but for this, I may need to open a Fund Me account since I do not know how much this will cost. I am not a rich person but a carver. I wouldn’t ask for funding for my new album because I am proud. I will prove I am telling the truth. I will not allow anyone to throw me under the bus and accuse me of such a foul act. I will fight for myself. It is the only thing I can do and I’m glad to do it.”

I also want to clarify two things:

1. This is not about Jason Cherkis and myself.

2. I am not attacking Jackie or her story.

Finally, I know that all of this is very hard for the many of us for whom it triggers our own difficult memories. I hope we can all keep this in mind and make this a humane, human conversation.

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Statement on “The Lost Girls”

By Evelyn McDonnell

The story of Kim Fowley sexually abusing a young, intoxicated woman in a hotel room after a Runaways show is grim and horrifying. I would like to say it has knocked many readers into a stunned silence – but in these days, it instead seems to have ignited a firestorm. I personally need more time with the story to say all that I want to say. But I know that the Internet waits for no one (and is woefully unavailable where I am currently living!), so here are some of my current thoughts.

For one, the story is not entirely new. Cherie Currie spoke about it in Victory Tischler-Blue’s 2004 movie Edgeplay; the Runaways singer also wrote about it in detail in her 2011 memoir Neon Angel. I discuss it at length in my 2013 book Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways. What has been publicly reported for the first time is that the woman in question was Jackie Fuchs, aka Jackie Fox, the Runaways’ bassist at that time. For the first time in almost 40 years, Jackie spoke about the experience at length, to a Huffington Post reporter, in a long, brutal story that quotes several corroborating witnesses and reports other instances of Fowley abuse.

On New Year’s Eve 1975 Jackie Fox had an experience that damaged her psyche and changed her life. Her perception of what happened to her is hers and hers alone; it can not be taken from her, and she has now shared it with the world. I am glad she was able to speak out about this. I hope the revelations in “The Lost Girls” will help her heal and move on, and that it will inspire other women to come to terms with their own experiences. Jackie is a genius – literally – and a beautiful and talented woman. What happened to her is unconscionable.

However, I have issues with the story’s sometimes sensationalist tone, the reporter’s methods, and some of the response to it online – particularly the way other women tangential to this story (including Joan Jett and myself) are also being targeted and blamed, by men. Excuse my professorial tone (occupational hazard), but here are some takeaways for me:

Journalism lesson #1: The dead can not sue. You can say anything about someone if they are dead. The living, on the other hand: Be precise and have backup. These were the words said to me by the lawyer for Da Capo books, in fact, as he was vetting Queens of Noise. We were going through my chapter about Kim Fowley with a finetooth comb, as in 2013, Kim was very much alive. He died in January 2015, almost 40 years after the incident in question – six months before Jackie’s revelations.

Journalism lesson #2: Do not out rape victims. I knew that Jackie might have been the victim; I had been told that on deep background. I also suspected that Kim’s aggressive and vulgar behavior toward women might have crossed the line between offense and assault on other occasions. I repeatedly asked almost everyone I interviewed – including Runaways members Fox, Currie, lyricist Kari Krome, Joan Jett, and Blue — if they knew if Kim had ever crossed that line, with anyone. Almost everyone said no, perhaps because Lesson #1 applies to civilians too, and Kim was usually lawyered up. Currie and Krome both discussed with me what Cherie in her book calls “The Sex Education Class” (because, she writes, that’s what Kim said he was giving the onlookers). But to me, Jackie explicitly dismissed Cherie’s recounting of the incident, and told me that she was not at any event like it. I interviewed her a couple times for several hours, and tried in various gentle ways to get her to speak about this, but apparently she was not ready. That is fine. That is her right as a victim of abuse. Fox needed to tell her story herself, and now she has. However, with her denial – as well as Kim’s denial of the incident, and of having sex with any of the Runaways, ever – I could not report what was at that point hearsay and confidential. Lesson #3: Don’t betray promises of confidentiality.

With Kim dead and Jackie speaking, many people are now talking about what happened that New Year’s Eve. One key figure has not publicly spoken: Rock’n’roll Hall of Famer Joan Jett. In “The Lost Girls,” several people who witnessed the incident say Joan was there. Jackie says that in fact, Joan watched. Jett told me while writing Queens that she had absolutely no memory of the incident as described in Neon Angel; her spokesperson told the HP the same thing. Joan is taking some heat online for not speaking out about this. While I would certainly like to hear from her, attacking her as somehow complicit because she hasn’t released a statement is unfair. Jackie herself did not speak about this until now. Joan was also 16, perhaps stoned, possibly traumatized. She is not the villain here.

The fact is, almost no one said anything about what happened in that room for years – including most of the witnesses now coming forward. The witnesses who recalled the incident to me, in varying forms and details, admitted they never spoke about it with the victim afterwards, never offered her support, and were embarrassed for her – and perhaps ashamed of themselves. Perhaps, some of them thought she was having fun – Jackie admits she was “frozen” and neither fought nor spoke. At least one sworn witness account, from Rick Cole, says that Jackie seemed to be a “willing participant” but may have been intoxicated. After all, weird scenes inside hotel rooms were commonplace in 1970s rock’n’roll. Girls younger than Jackie regularly offered themselves to rock stars. Quaalude and Mandrax use was rampant; the drugs loosened libidos. There were a lot of drugs and alcohol in that room. There was not the same consciousness about date rape that there is in 2015. Fox says in “The Lost Girls” that the current discourse about rape culture and Bill Cosby helped her find her voice. But others may have interpreted her silence at the moment and during the 40 years since as complicity. We now know it wasn’t. She was not willing and was intoxicated. She was 16.

This is one of the important reveals of Jackie’s story: While numerous books and movies have celebrated groupies as free-spirited nymphs, Fox makes it clear that not all women in similar situations were enjoying themselves. And of course, she was a musician, not a courtesan. Stoned on Quaaludes she says she was fed, she was largely unconscious. In fact, much of the event is reconstructed from others’ memories by reporter Jason Cherkis. (Jackie herself has written in the past about how faulty and divergent memories of the night in question are.) Cherie seems to have been the only person who told Kim to stop. Then she left the room, as did others who were disgusted. Not everyone saw the same thing (Currie’s account in Neon Angel differs from the one in HP, for instance). No one knew how Jackie felt about it. They didn’t ask. She didn’t tell them.

What she felt was ashamed. “I carried this sense of shame and of thinking it was somehow my fault for decades,” she told the HP. “I stuck it in a box in the attic and walled it in.”

Lesson #4: Don’t lie to your sources. Cherkis deserves credit for getting Jackie and others to tell her story. However, I take serious issue with the way he has positioned himself as the oracle savior of the Runaways, and specifically attacked me as an apologist for Fowley. He repeatedly cites my book without ever naming me as the author. He never called me for a comment. He did call me a few months ago saying he wanted to write something about the Runaways in conjunction with Joan’s induction into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. I knew that Jackie sometimes blogged for the HP; I also knew that she was looking for a reporter to talk to about something, she wouldn’t tell me what, exactly. I asked Jason if he had talked with Jackie. He said no. I suggested he do so. Jason has now said online that he was already in contact with Jackie when he called me. Cherkis also asked me for a source’s phone number. Lesson #5: Don’t give out sources’ private information. I suggested he could find it himself, which he apparently did. Although I did not know him at all, I attempted to help him as a colleague. In return, he exploited my research in his article and has repeatedly attacked me online. The irony of this male bullying in the context of this story has not been lost on me, or on many other journalists who have rallied to support me. Cherkis’s unprofessionalism in my brief encounter with him casts a shadow over “The Lost Girls.” I wonder who else he misled.

Cherkis’s account also gives short shrift to Currie’s efforts to bring this story to the public. Cherie deserves better.

I wrote a book about the Runaways. It was not a book about any one member, or manager, or incident. It was a Rashomon story with multiple conflicting points of views. I interviewed more than 70 subjects, some multiple times. I perused numerous documents, recordings, and videos. I told many stories that had never been told before, and there were some stories that were not ready to be told. I did not apologize for Kim; I never have. I also did not give him the narrative power over the Runaways history that Cherkis has now reinscribed. I purposely wrote something more complex than a victim story; doing so involved trying to understand why many people – including Jett, Blue, and guitarist Lita Ford – praised Kim Fowley, while others savaged him. I told both points of view. Kim was not happy with what he called the feminist tone of my book. He certainly did not see me as his apologist.

Jackie Fox has now revealed just how much the Runaways had to overcome to try to achieve their rock’n’roll dream. The experience of listening to their music will never be the same, but now, when we hear them sing, “We’re the queens of noise,” we have a deeper understanding of the depths of that ironic moniker.

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