Jackie Fox Of The Runaways: It was the only time she could be on the water and not have to deal with the catcalls and the teasing, the good-natured gibes that gradually shaded into something harder and meaner.
Before sunrise, she was just another surfer, her back to the sand, waiting for the right wave. She liked being the only girl out there. You should see what some girls are sending in!
In a letter to the editor published in June , Jackie admonished one magazine for its skin-deep coverage of female surfers: Some of us chicks have more than just hot bods!
She cold-called directors to cajole them into donating reels of their documentaries for her events, and phoned local officials to arrange for fire permits, security and space. She passed out hundreds of homemade flyers up and down the Pacific Coast Highway. No one seemed to care how young she was. She attended summer school just to take shop. She learned power chords on her Stratocaster and went to bed with the radio on, hoping to hear Fanny, the one all-female rock band in the universe, on KLOS.
A middle school friend remembers driving to the grocery store with her mother one afternoon and spotting Jackie at the freeway on-ramp, her 6-footinch custom fiberglass swallowtail board under one arm and her thumb out. Jackie just wanted to find her own group of misfits.
It was like living inside the pages of Creem magazine. One night in the spring of , Rodney Bingenheimer, a notorious hanger-on and the unofficial mayor of the Sunset Strip, caught sight of Jackie and her friends on the dance floor at the Starwood. She was just next. Jackie told him she played guitar, but when he wanted to know how old she was, she hesitated.
Jackie had no idea what to say. She took along two friends as a precaution. It was around 9 p. Immediately, Jackie saw that this was not some gilded pad of a record mogul. Spare change and scraps of paper scrawled with song lyrics carpeted the floor. Pill bottles covered a chest of drawers. But Fowley was unashamed. He took one look at Jackie and went straight into a stream-of-consciousness pitch about his vision for her in the band.
He spoke rapid-fire, his arms a blur, his fingers poking the air. All Jackie knew on her first night at the Dog Palace was that she wanted in. Within several months, she would have to decide whether to quit school to join the band.
Jackie was a straight-A student who took the SAT following her freshman year and scored in the 98th percentile. She hoped to attend UCLA full-time during her senior year. But like a lot of overachievers, Jackie found high school dull and confining. She never had, but told him she would give it a try. The audition was the next day. There was old carpet on the floor and a shoddy P.
Jackie plugged in and awkwardly started to pluck at her borrowed bass. It would cost him money. One by one, the other band members—singer Cherie Currie, lead guitarist Lita Ford, rhythm guitarist and singer Joan Jett, and drummer Sandy West—voted her in. Jackie Fuchs became Jackie Fox—and Fowley became her boss, her mentor, her provider. Jackie called her mom, Ronnie, with the good news. Their skepticism faded after Fowley met with Ronnie at her home and explained his plans for Jackie and the band—how they would always have a bodyguard, a social worker and tutors with them.
He stayed up with her until two in the morning, wheedling, counter-arguing, soothing. When he finally left, Ronnie had been worn down.
Kim Fowley enjoying a limo ride in If you wanted to get your band signed, a man had to approve the deal. If you wanted to cut a record, a man had to agree to produce it. After a stint in a gang and then in the military, he discovered the music industry and studied it obsessively, longing to break in. He prided himself on working harder than everyone else. On his runs through record label offices in Los Angeles, Fowley would lug a briefcase stuffed with song lyrics for every imaginable tune, more door-to-door salesman than Brill Building scribe.
He was sex-obsessed; it was a subject never far from his mind, a constant part of his patter. The Real Story of the Runaways. The ad, which received zero responses, was an aberration. Fowley was rarely so passive in his pursuits. Steve Tetsch, a guitarist who worked with him on numerous projects and considered him a close friend, says they used to drive to high schools looking for teenage girls to hit on. But some of his behavior was simply too violent to dismiss.
In September , Audrey Pavia, who had just turned 18, ended up backstage at an early Runaways show, when the band was just a trio. Without warning, Fowley ran at her from across the room. He bit and sucked on her ear. She says she struggled to get away, but he pinned her to the wall for five minutes, telling her all the things he was going to do to her.
Fowley could also come on slow, courting and grooming unsuspecting girls. She was his type: She sought refuge in the glam-rock scene, where her bisexuality was welcomed, and filled notebooks with songs that chronicled her experiences.
He told her she had good taste. He insisted that they meet without her mother knowing. At a park near her home in Long Beach, Fowley brought Krome presents, including an Art Deco copper choker and a stack of the hippest 45s, magazines and T-shirts.
It seemed to Krome that he had done this before. She more than earned the money. In a way, Fowley was the most responsible adult in her world.
She needed him to believe in her, and he kept taking advantage of that. Months before Jackie joined the band, Krome and all the Runaways at the time crashed at the Dog Palace. Once everyone went to sleep, Krome says, Fowley walked into the living room and shook her awake. Before she could make a sound, he put a finger to his lips, shushing her. Then he grabbed her by her ankle and pulled her into the bedroom.
Krome thought about leaving, calling someone for a ride. She had nowhere to go. That night, Fowley masturbated on her. He could be really scary. It was too risky to cross him. Krome remembers waking up after the first incident and trying to talk to Jett and West. Watch your ass, because you might be next.
An early publicity shot of the Runaways as rock and roll jailbait. From left to right: Photo courtesy of Jackie Fuchs. Cherie Currie in her bedroom, with posters of David Bowie and the Runaways on the wall. Joan Jett and Kim Fowley remained close until his death earlier this year. The other Runaways were initially skeptical of Jackie's skills on bass.
She joined the Runaways, turned 16 and set out to learn the bass, all while attending class and preparing for her high school equivalency test.
She also felt as if she had to win over the other band members, a bookworm among rockers in glitter shorts and leather.
They yelled at each other to play slower; they needed to stretch out the time. In a photo taken during the final set, Jett is in full rock-star swagger mode: Photo courtesy of Jim Caron. Are you going to take them home?
Do they sleep in the studio? Do you keep them in a cage? Jackie had thought of herself at the time as only a provisional member of the Runaways. Getting through the marathon show felt like a triumph. Soon after Jackie arrived at the motel, a grown man she thinks was a roadie approached her with a Quaalude in his hand. He told her she needed to take it, no questions asked.
Jackie has never before publicly discussed what happened next, once the drugs took hold, but it has changed the course of her life.