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How To Look Punk: A Ridiculous 1977 Guide For Wannabe Anarchists

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“To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It’s freedom” – Patti Smith




Entry to the world of punk seemed pretty cheap: self-cut hair and heroin. If that was too expensive: glue and paint. But punk always had a hard commercial edge. Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood were no altruists. Punk sold. And that meant getting the punk look. You too could look rebellious, anarchic and stick two fingers up to everyone else by, er, looking like whatshisface off the telly.

And so to this remarkable 1977 handbook, which will teach anyone – yeah, even you – how to look like a punk.

That’s a young Belinda Carlisle on the cover. She married a scion of Hollywood royalty who worked for Ronald Reagan’s 1979 presidential campaign. How punk is that?

God Save the Queen!

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How To Look Punk: A 1977 Guide For Wannabes How To Look Punk: A 1977 Guide For Wannabes How To Look Punk: A 1977 Guide For Wannabes

  • John

    In the past few years I’ve gotten more and more into the old punk acts of the late 70s/early 80s. When I look back on the fashion and how ubiquitous it was at the time, it makes me feel like (even today) part of a kitschy trend. Today we look back on this style as terribly cheesy, but back then it was a serious as a heart attack.

  • Andy

    From someone old enough to remember that era I’ll give it to you straight: punk was shit, and ruining many a music education.

    It was just as trend-led, fashion-conscious, fascist, uptight and up its own arse as any other genre you care to mention.

    It was an all-men-no-girls non-music for uptight wankers that couldn’t get a woman, and hated any semblance of success.

    • lizzie

      You totally nailed it. As conformist as everything it railed against.

    • “It was an all-men-no-girls”
      hmmm…It’s not what I remember, It seems like a lot of bands in LA had girls as a bass player or other… Wall of Voodoo, the Germs, the Alley Cats, the Cramps, 45 Graves etc etc…

    • BarryJT

      Wow, someone running out the same tired tropes that were used forty years ago,

  • LA “punk” was very different: at one extreme, the Dickies; at the other, X. All posture, regardless, and the kids from the Valley needed a handbook like this.

  • os osment

    Um. It was new then. Kids wanted to know how to do it…

    … And no it wasn’t fascist. Far from it. Most kids into punk were just sticking two fingers up to their mum and dad, some were political but most just liked to shake off the post war expectations that were still rife.

    Initially except for a significant minority punk was just another obnoxious teenage trend with adolescent rebellious humour.

    Polemic from the likes of Crass, The Exploited and the DK’s was far outweighed by fatuous punk pop. Nothing wrong with that.

  • remember when this first came out ,everybody loved it but they saw it as more of a tongue in cheek pamphlet

  • Jenny Lens

    I took all but one photo (LA Knockers were NOT punk nor part of the LA punk scene.) Thanks for giving me credit. Not. ALSO, whomever wrote this has NO IDEA what LA punks were about. HEROIN? Whatta bunch of crock. Just cos Darby Crash got into heroin in what, 1979 or so, doesn’t mean most of us where shooting it up. SPEED was more our speed.

    Don’t bother talking to any of us who were there. I TOOK THESE PHOTOS and MY pals were NOTHING like the author wrote. We were not doing it for the money. But whatever, I was there and you weren’t. Do what you wanna do cos you will anyway.

  • Jenny Lens

    We punks thought this booklet was a joke. Written by an outsider, so take it lightly. ONLY pay attention to the pix. Cos they are real. NO ONE dressed up for the photos. This is how we looked, day and night. As for all the comments, whatever. You have no idea. Too bad, cos we had FUN. WILD FUN. The likes you can’t get away with now.

  • Andy

    The trouble with punks was that they were so anti-this anti-that they were pretty much anti-life and anti-everything else. Their lot was the politics of envy and a nihilistic road to nowhere. Punks never seemed to have sex. They all acted like they still went to school. They all dressed in costumes, preened their spikes in front of the mirror assumed know-it-all poses but at the end of the day would run a mile when confronted by a beautiful woman.

    None of them could really play or sing, which was never a handicap for a punk band, but their worst trait was that they were just horrible to be around.

    • Jenny Lens

      Never seemed to have sex? I never had so much sex as during punk. ALL my pals were having sex. WHO the hell are you? And we were not ANTI stuff only. Listen to the lyrcis. Oh, and no one was classically trained? Again, WHO the hell do you think you are?? You’re a loudmouth baby, better shut it up!

      • Andy

        Dear god punk girls were even more frightening. Punk girls would frequently take offence at the sight of a stunning-looking woman. They were all so ugly looking and aggressive in comparison. Worse than the guys I would say, who would just romp around like little kids trying to act tough.

        • Jenny Lens

          Andy, with your attitude, no wonder you have a totally outsider’s POV. You are saying Alice Bag, Belinda, Shannon, Mary Rat, so many others were NOT stunning looking women? If they were, the other punk girls would “take offence”? Waht does that means?

          (or are you in England? Talking about the women there? I don’t know, I can only talk about LA women. WHICH is what the How to Look Punk is ABOUT. LA.)

          Lots of stunners (both women and men) were MY pals. Beloved by many. So what is this shit you are saying about MY friends whom I shot and KNEW.

          You don’t sound like anyone who was actually around in 1977. Cos you’d know some stunners were in punk (the guys too, oh yeah! I said we had a lotta sex. HAWT sex. Oh the men!).

          Don’t be spreading YOUR reality as THE reality. I could pull out lots of photos of great looking punks who were beloved, admired, then and now. From NY and England. We in LA mostly took offense/offence at ppl NOT in punk. Or ppl who generalize, like you are.

          Really think you are convincing ppl? I was there, took photos, still in touch with many. And who are you??