Sexist bollocks and Nancy Spungen

 

Nancy Spungen somehow manages to maintain a MySpace site from the grave.

The site, which was probably created by a person fixated on the romantic interpretation of Nancy’s relationship with Sid Vicious, is coloured black and poorly constructed (metaphors come so easily with MySpace templates).

Every time your mouse clicks on it a tiny photograph of Sid appears, which is a tad eerie and gives the impression the late bassist for the Sex Pistols is in charge. Such a reading conflicts with the idea that Nancy entrapped Sid, stuck a needle chockers with smack in his arm and drove them both to oblivion.

Malcolm Butt gives credence to the latter assessment in his book Sid Vicious: Rock ‘n’ Roll Star when he says the following:

She introduced him to his heroin habit, she contributed to the break-up of the band that was his passion and she took him back to New York, filling his head with ideas that were to be utterly destructive. She convinced him that to be a true rock ‘n’ roll star, he had to play the dangerous drugs game. Indirectly, once she had gone, her hold on his mind was so complete that Sid went into shock from which he never recovered, and her death was the immediate catalyst for his demise. She must bear a heavy burden of responsibility.

Never mind Butt’s sexist bollocks, the flawed 1986 Alex Cox film Sid and Nancy ends with a ludicrous scene in which Nancy, who manages to look fetching in a white lacy dress even though she’s deceased, turns up in a taxi to take Sid away with her.

Depending on which side of the “Sid and Nancy” debate you sit on, this is either a touching representation of a love too strong for this world or a neat summation of the dark influence one drug-fucked groupie from the United States of America had on a naive English lad.

Apparently, some folks would have us believe, Sid and the rest of the British punk fraternity wouldn’t have come into contact with heroin if it hadn’t been for Nancy and her American mates (e.g. Johnny Thunders from the New York Dolls).   

A website with a section about women in punk lets us know what various luminaries, including Malcolm McLaren and Nora (presumably John Lydon’s wife), thought of Nancy. The woman who died at the age of 20 is denounced as “vile”, “evil”, “a beast”, “whiny and not very good looking”, and “an opportunist”.

According to Marco Pirroni, who enjoyed fame as the guitarist for Adam and the Ants:

I don’t know that she deserved to be stabbed to death. I’m pleased that she was stabbed to death, we all had a good laugh about it. Looking back, you think “that fucking woman!” There was something wrong with her, she wasn’t all there. It wasn’t just that she was fantastically stupid.      

It’s possible to dismiss such comments as the rantings of (then) youngsters who believed a bad attitude and drug addiction were the main things “wrong with her”. Pirroni can’t use youth as an excuse, though, because he made his comments in 2006.

And I Don’t Want to Live this Life (first published by Random House in 1983) revealed that Nancy’s life had always been blighted by anger, paranoia, hallucinations, rollercoaster emotions, loneliness, frustration and social ineptitude.  

The book was written by Nancy’s mother, Deborah Spungen.

Butt’s volume came out two decades after Nancy’s death and fourteen years after Mrs. Spungen’s paperback was released, which makes one wonder if he’s being deliberately ignorant about what an horrendous condition schizophrenia is so he doesn’t upset the standard punk line about “Nauseating Nancy”.

Steve Jones, guitarist for the Pistols, did nothing to challenge the line in Julien Temple’s documentary The Filth and the Fury when he used the word “cunt” when discussing Nancy and claimed that:

Everyone knows when a bird starts poking her nose into a rock ‘n’ roll band it’s suicide.

Superficially, Jones’s view conflicts with John Lydon’s assertion in the same film that punk demonstrated to women that they’re equal to men, but the fact someone dismisses Mrs. Spungen’s work on Amazon as the “whiny” (that word again) words of a “housewife” suggests not all punks paid attention during Feminism 101.  

The lack of charity articulated by some of Sid’s friends, colleagues and fans about Nancy stands in contrast with the genuine sympathy Mrs. Spungen expresses for Sid by the end of her work.

Incidentally, Nancy also survived cyanotic birth trauma.

Alan Parker’s Sid Vicious: No One is Innocent (Orion Books 2007) does feature the compassionate observations of photographer Eileen Polk. Polk has nice things to say about the three women in Sid’s life who copped it from the tabloid press: Nancy, Sid’s mother, Anne Beverley, and his last girlfriend.  According to Polk:

(Nancy) was very jaded and cynical for someone so young. I didn’t think she was bitchy or tough. Instead she seemed to be really gullible and trying hard to make people like her. 

Veronica Schanoes takes an original approach to tackling the ongoing vilification of Nancy via the use of interstitial fiction. Bookslut’s review of Interfictions, the 2007 anthology that contains Schanoes’s short story, states that:  

In many ways Schanoes rescues the legacy of Nancy Spungeon (sic) with “Rats,” something she acknowledges she felt compelled to do: “I wrote ‘Rats’ because I was angry with the recent coffee-table histories of punk that seem to have no problem with demonizing (sic) a dead, mentally ill, teenage girl.” Lily, like Spungeon (sic), is not a likeable character, but what if she was born with a burden that few of us can understand? What if so many of those tragic fairy tale girls were born with similar burdens, with voices that plagued them, thoughts that made them suffer, worries that made them hope for that long blissful sleep? But it took more than a kiss in this fairytale — which is always the way it is, you know.

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Posted in feminism, music, sexuality
43 comments on “Sexist bollocks and Nancy Spungen
  1. Birdie says:

    Ever thought of counselling, Darlene? Your posts are really sick.

  2. joe2 says:

    Good work there, Darlene.
    Women always stuff it up and the blokes have to pay.

    Think also of the demon women, Yoko.
    Women always destroy the boys’ band.

  3. Nabakov says:

    But if she’d died and Sid lived, I’m sure he’d be riffing on it in a quite different way now while appearing plump, balding and tastefully dressed on Rove to spruik “Vicious! The Musical”.

    “Nancy? Yeah she’s mentioned in the third song in act one, just before the big dance number with Trevor Horn.”

  4. Klaus K says:

    Excellent post Darlene. A good survey of the literature. I’m going to have to get a copy of Deborah Spungen’s book, I think.

    “Think also of the demon women, Yoko.
    Women always destroy the boys’ band.”

    This is such a persistent thing. Courteney Love would perhaps be another example.

    A little off topic, but relevant to broader issues around misogyny, I was appalled that on two separate TV programs this morning the male hosts scoffed at Germaine Greer being voted ‘Woman of the Year’ in some stupid FHM poll. A touch of hysteria in their reactions, I thought. It reminded me of the unique way in which ‘disagreement’ can become a venomous or judgemental free for all if it is a woman being ‘disagreed’ with.

  5. anthony says:

    Darlene, thank you for an exceptional post.

    “she contributed to the break-up of the band that was his passion”

    Which is, as they say, bollocks. Most of the time Sid was lucky to have his cable plugged in. But I can’t blame him for that as a person but it just makes a shitty legacy. The real split, as you point out, is between Lydon and Steve Jones. It was Lydon that went on to form PiL and Lydon, no doubt sympathetic how British could treat outsiders, that wrote No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs.

    Anyway, a Most Honourable Order of the Bath and an official apology to Yoko Ono and repeated listenings of Sandanista should fix things.

    (sorry if this I’m not lucid, I’ve just eaten my body weight in cheese)

  6. Liam Hogan says:

    Women always destroy the boys’ band.

    Damn straight. Let’s have a moment’s silence for the legendary women of musical mythical violence: especially for the boss of all the band-smashers, Frankie, who gunned down her man Johnny in front of Alice Fry, with that famous .45.
    He was her man, but he done her wrong.

  7. Nabakov says:

    “Women always destroy the boys’ band.”

    If only that power could be harnessed for good instead of evil. Say, starting with Travis, Powderfinger and all those other nice middle class boys homogenising rock ‘n’ roll into drivetime pablum.

  8. Darlene says:

    Since this is a post about a punk rock icon, I will take that as a compliment Birdie.

    The boys seem pretty capable of stuffing it up themselves really, Joe2. I am assume you are being ironic (please be being ironic).

    Thanks Klaus. Deborah Spungen’s book can be purchased via Amazon. I picked up a very used copy at a little store in Elizabeth Street called Inferno. A lovely sales assistant at one of the Dymocks told me about it while I purchased my copy of the Parker book. We got into a little conversation about the sexist nature of the treatment of Nancy. The book tells us a lot about how the medical profession had no idea how to respond to a mentally-ill young girl back in the 1960s/1970s. I’m not sure if things have really changed that much.

    Klaus, a lot of boys reveal their own insecurity when it comes to strong and intelligent women. Fortunately, a lot of men don’t as well.

    Anthony, your whole body weight in cheese? That’s a very Homer Simpson thing to do. Remember when he ate 64 slices of American cheese in one sitting. Sid couldn’t play, it’s true. Great presence, but he should never have been up on stage. Apparently Lydon’s mother said to him at the time something to the effect of what kind of evil reason have you got for having Sid in the band. Lydon should’ve listened to his mum.

    Liam, that was very funny.

    “If only that power could be harnessed for good instead of evil. Say, starting with Travis, Powderfinger and all those other nice middle class boys homogenising rock ‘n’ roll into drivetime pablum.”

    Tee hee, that’s true. Come on girls, get in there and break up all the crap bands.

  9. David Rubie says:

    anthony wrote:

    (sorry if this I’m not lucid, I’ve just eaten my body weight in cheese)

    You need The Evaporators

    Help me please
    I gotta disease
    I’m addicted to cheese.

    I had no idea there was a “position” to take on poor Nancy. By the time she had arrived on the scene, the Sex Pistols were irrelevent anyway. Not a nice way to die though. I’m sure somebody could research enough evidence that boys breaking up girl bands are far more insidious than girls breaking up boy bands – start with the Runaways and work your way through california girl groups…

  10. Darlene says:

    Alas, there is a position, and even in old age (well, middle-age) punks and writers about punk won’t let go of it.

    That’s interesting about the irrelevancy bit. I’d be interested to know how long the Pistols were relevant for, in that case.

    I think it’s the case that a lot of talented women have been ignored etc because of the male dominated nature of the music industry. That’s probably more important than individual bands breaking up.

  11. Paul Burns says:

    Camille Paglia (yeah, I know she’s a right winger) wrote a reasonable and darkly humourous essay in the beginning of Sexual Personae on the Vagina Dentita and its place in world literature and mythology. It seems Nancy Spungen fits into this world view.
    The above is very abrupt, but I don’t have any other useful observations to make on the topic.

  12. Darlene says:

    Camille can be interesting, provocative, funny, insightful, frustrating…all the things some people find so difficult in Ms Greer.

    Perhaps Nancy fits into that “world view” without actually being that.

    When punks diss Nancy, they are having a go at all people suffering from a mental illness. Or at least showing an unwillingness to learn about mental illness.

  13. Helen says:

    Darlene, I’m sure “Birdie” really meant “fully sick”. Great post.

  14. Sid was always a bit of an idiot without any musical saving graces.

    As mentioned by the Westralian Cooking Man half the time he was lucky to have his instrument plugged in.

    It is possible that Sid may not have got sucked into full time heroin without Nancy but it’s also more than possible that he may have destroyed himself some other way. He contributed fuck all to the Pistols except rock star leather jackets, headlines and cutting himself while stoned on stage in usa without his guitar plugged in – as even Rotten seems to acknowledge.

    Plenty of people get addicted to heroin with their girlfriends – but there is no inevitable trajectory to stabbing your girlfriend to death in NYC.

    Sure Nancy was a fairly obnoxious drug fucked american who would have been irritating to these very parochial english boys back then on first contact but if you read her mothers book you do get a much more rounded picture of a sad but not unhuman person. I think her mothers book is remarkable.

  15. David Rubie says:

    Darlene wrote:

    That’s interesting about the irrelevancy bit. I’d be interested to know how long the Pistols were relevant for, in that case.

    Like all Punk bands, they were relevent right up until more than 5 people showed up to watch them. After that, they’d sold out :). (It’s an old joke – the best punk band in the world is the one that broke up 5 minutes before their first gig).

    One view is that the Sex Pistols were just as manufactured as the Backstreet Boys anyway, so those seeking an authentic voice of disaffected yoof should have probably looked elsewhere, including Nancy herself. By the time Nancy had appeared, Punk was well and truly old news and everybody wanted to dress like an accountant with a skinny tie and make a video good enough for MTV.

  16. joe2 says:

    “(please be being ironic)”

    You got it, Darl.

  17. Darlene says:

    “Darlene, I’m sure “Birdie” really meant “fully sick”. Great post.”

    Thanks, Helen. Birdie meant fully sick as opposed to just sick. I was feeling quite cool for a moment there. Alas, not to be.

    Yes, I think famously at their last gig at Winterland he apparently didn’t have his bass plugged in at all. Or at least not for most of the show. Contrary to the usual line, the other Pistols did have some musical talent. Of course, it is Sid who has become emblematic of punk. Frankly, although I think Rotten possesses some old hat working-class views, I think his presence beat Sid’s hands down. I love the humour he used, which is something that Julien Temple delves into in The Filth and the Fury.

    Rotten has copped crap for admitting Sid lacked talent. There’s a definite sense that he was being the bad guy back in 1996 when admitted Sid had no talent. It was during a press conference for one of the seemingly many Pistols’ reunions. Sid’s mother (who was a heroin addict, by the way) was devastated for one.

    Deborah Spungen’s book is very honest and very sad. It’s odd to read the nongs on forums like Amazon claiming that she was just trying to absolve herself of guilt. It’s quite clear she and her family suffered lots of guilt during Nancy’s life.

  18. Darlene says:

    I have an irony deficiency, and I’m not even American. Thanks Joe2.

    It pisses poor old Rotten off when the old manufactured by Malcolm thing comes up. However, David, it’s pretty much true. Although, I don’t think Malcolm managed to keep control as much as he’d like to think.

    Well, perhaps punk ceased to matter to the in-crowd. When Nancy got there it was becoming, arrghh, popular.

    I purchased a Pistols best of and a CD of The Carpenters yesterday. Funny look from the cashier.

  19. David Rubie says:

    Darlene wrote:

    I purchased a Pistols best of and a CD of The Carpenters yesterday. Funny look from the cashier.

    Buying CD’s eh, physical media, takes me back to my own yoof 🙂

    (I have Never Mind the Bollocks and that Carpenters best of in a box somewhere, probably nestled together).

  20. j_p_z says:

    “I’d be interested to know how long the Pistols were relevant for, in that case.”

    There are several ways of determining this question, all equally valid.

    When did the Pistols become irrelevant?

    a) as soon as you heard side one of the first Clash record;
    b) on your fifteenth birthday, or, the first time you listened to “Anarchy in the UK” and actually started to laugh, insteading of banging along in angry-yoof moodiness. (If this occasion happened more than a few months after your fifteenth birthday, please report to the “Group W” bench.) Just because you start to laugh, it doesn’t mean you have to *stop* liking the Pistols; it’s just that, well, I mean, y’know.
    c) on November 4, 1977 — the release date of “Rocket to Russia,” by the Ramones.
    d) once you discovered to your fury that the cool kids kind of liked the Pistols, too. (see under, “Remain in Light”)

  21. FDB says:

    You’re not suggesting Remain In Light can be jettisoned for that reason are you JPZ? Or for any?

  22. gummotrotsky says:

    e) When some correct-line middle-class student pollie with lumpenproletarian aspirations told you off for preferring the music of a bourgeois reactionary like J S Bach over the authentic voices of the working class.

    Did it for me – the Pistols never achieved relevance.

  23. Darlene says:

    I will say that I do have a pod as well, but I am still trying to download stuff onto it.

    “b) on your fifteenth birthday, or, the first time you listened to “Anarchy in the UK” and actually started to laugh, insteading of banging along in angry-yoof moodiness. (If this occasion happened more than a few months after your fifteenth birthday, please report to the “Group W” bench.) Just because you start to laugh, it doesn’t mean you have to *stop* liking the Pistols; it’s just that, well, I mean, y’know.”

    Yep, makes a lot of sense.

    I reckon Rotten would suggest that the Pistols were always supposed to be funny. He does on some sleeve notes I was reading the other day. Think he hates the earnestness of some fans.

    It’s possible to like the Pistols and Bach….

  24. j_p_z says:

    “You’re not suggesting Remain In Light can be jettisoned for that reason are you?”

    Oh, heavens no, I’m a huge Remain in Light fan. Though I have to say I’ve always kinda preferred the live performances to the studio version.*

    as a correction to a) in my earlier comment, I have to admit that, as far as I can remember, most teens in my set at the time (certainly me and my brother) heard “London Calling” on the radio first, and were blown away by it, and then, a few weeks later, we all secretly crept out and got the first Clash record, and then pretended we’d been cool enough to know about it all along.

    “I reckon Rotten would suggest that the Pistols were always supposed to be funny.”

    Judging from remarks of his I’ve read over the years, I think that has to be at least partly true. While I have to admit that the existential shock wave of “Bollocks” was pretty overwhelming when I first heard it, the funniness of it came through fairly quickly (although in the US, punk was often viewed more as an aesthetic or amusing or eccentric style, often quite funny, with a lot less of the ‘angry youth’ thing bound up in it. The Pistols just sounded crazy, you couldn’t understand what Joe Strummer was saying, and only REALLY cool kids knew about the Jam back then. Now Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, THEY sounded genuinely angry to us! When “Radio Ethiopia” came out, everybody could do a comedic impression of Patti.) It’s sort of telling that my parents weren’t very much scandalized by the Pistols, they thought they were almost cute, in a ridiculous teenage way. (“The guy’s name is Johnny *Rotten*! And his friend is named Sid *Vicious*!” They referred to Sid as Johnny Rotten’s “friend” like they were Gilligan and the Skipper. How’s that for toothlessness?)

    I’m sorry, what were we talking about again? Gee whiz, look at the time, better go, sorry for running on so long!

  25. FDB says:

    Wait! What about the intriguing asterisk after the live Remain in Light show reference?

    Although come to think of it, I suspect I’d be consumed with jealousy.

  26. David Rubie says:

    I’m not sure about all this talk of cool kids knowing what to listen to, but I thought just about everybody had trouble taking Punk seriously after seeing this episode of the Goodies in 1977.

    However, I can’t remember when it first aired in Australia. It must have been before 1980 though.

  27. jo says:

    David, don’t forget Norman Gunston in a nappy and safety pins singing “I might be a punk (but I still love you baby)” in 1977. Probably the biggest ‘punk’ hit in the Oz charts.

  28. Darlene says:

    Gosh, Jo, that brings back memories, vague memories, but memories nonetheless. Gunston was great.

    “It’s sort of telling that my parents weren’t very much scandalized by the Pistols, they thought they were almost cute, in a ridiculous teenage way. (”The guy’s name is Johnny *Rotten*! And his friend is named Sid *Vicious*!” They referred to Sid as Johnny Rotten’s “friend” like they were Gilligan and the Skipper. How’s that for toothlessness?)”

    That’s funny and telling. Thanks for that, JPZ.

  29. John Greenfield says:

    OK Darlene

    I’ve caught up. Here goes.

    1. Props for writing a culture review without once needing antiseptic Cultistudi garbage! Good on you for concentrating on the ‘human’ motivations, lusts, fuck-ups of REAL people, not pomo catoons of ‘Others’ and such

    2. The only interest any person should have in Nancy (Can’t Dance if the Beat Ain’t Disco) is her relationship to Sid Vicious, the Pistols, and er, Punk Rock.

    3. Kill the feminist advocacy. This is Nancy Spungen dude, not Betty Freidan or Jesse Street! It’s Rock and Roll! It’s Punk Rock FFS, it’s ALL about the Bollocks, there is No Law in the Arena, and Nobody Gets/Got Out Alive.

    4. suggests not all punks paid attention during Feminism 101. Hmmmmm….me thinks dem sheilahs would have been better off playing hookey during those lectures. I went, what a way to turn your brain to mush. Poor old Sid Vicious should actually have gone to a few more Rugby League matches and prawn breakfast’s with Kevin Bloody Wilson at the Rooty Hill RSL. I would have played ‘Flaming Assholes” with him. You know, where you stick paper up ya bum, light it, and then race around the gym before your dags go up in smoke?

    5. To Steve Jones

    Everyone knows when a bird starts poking her nose into a rock ‘n’ roll band it’s suicide.

    I have three words: Debbie Harry; Chrissy Hynde; Joan Kirner.

    6. My studies in Psychology and general life experience convince me that women irredeemably sap artistic genius from men. If civilisation had been left in the hands of them, we’d all still be living in grass huts!

    7. After I saw The Great Rock and Roll Swindle I have never had anything but cynicism for any “bad boy/slutty girl” image cultivated by rockers; except Britney Spears who clearly IS a scrag

    8. Has Ricky Martin come out the closet yet?

  30. Darlene says:

    Thanks for providing numbers John. Here I go:

    1. The ‘other’ is an important concept in discussions of gender, race etc However, I’d have to follow jinmaro/birdie’s advice and read Simone before I could feel equipped to use it.

    2. Nancy’s relationship with Sid tells a lot about other things, or at least the representations of it.

    3. But John, I am a feminist, and Nancy was and continues to be a marginalised woman. A woman criticised for her looks and sexual behaviour. A woman criticised even though she suffered from a terrible mental illness. To me feminism is at its most important when it’s speaking about women who are on the fringes, and women who are difficult. Women like Hillary Clinton don’t need anyone to speak on their behalf. If feminism doesn’t speak to me (as a woman from a working-class background), it can go get stuffed.

    4. John, were you trying to pick up chicks in Women’s Studies 101? What Sid needed was to grow up outside of the public eye. He wasn’t equipped for it.

    5. Joan Kirner?

    6. That’s very Camille Paglia, JG, and I think you’re being deliberately provocative. I don’t think Sid had any artistic genius to begin with and certainly many men have used women as muses, so one could suggest that women inspire artistic genius rather than sap it. More importantly, women and men should be free to express themselves artistically.

    7. The bad girl etc image is so done to death. Sexuality is an intrinsic part of rock, however.

    8. I don’t know. Do you want to ask him out? Boom tish.

  31. David Rubie says:

    Joan Kirner – never to be remembered for being Premier of Victoria, will always be remembered for donning a leather jacket and singing “I Love Rock’n’Roll” on the ABC (denton? NO, Google says “The Late Show” and I have the DVD with it somewhere).

    I dimly remember Sid largely being hired for his look and most of his bass guitar parts being overdubbed in the studio by somebody else. Still, that’s punk innit?

  32. Siobhan says:

    Darlene,

    What is you definition of feminist? Is it defending Nancy (an all women) regardless because she is woman? And accusing all men because they are men?

    You criticise others for being ignoranmt yet you state that Nancy was schizophrenic. I doubt this could have been diagnosed at 20 especially for someone who travelledso much as couldn’t have consitently seen they same doctors. Did you just diagnose this in order to justify all her behaviour becuase it’s the only way to make your ideas stick?

    People are flawed regardless of sex and there will never be equality if women think equality (feminism) means justifying, excusing and apologising for all femal behaviour because it’s female. I’d rather it be realised that women are possible of anything including being bad and dangerous than this view that she was a victim etc. etc. because you are actually doing precisely the opposite to what you think you are.

    It is interesting that feminism in popular language means ‘equality for women’ whiles chauvanist is seen as meaning men ‘thinking they are superior’ and abusing that position. I think your brand of feminism is, unfortunately, far closer to the latter.

    If nancy is marginalised it is because she WAS a groupie! She wasn’t a musician (and no matter how little talent Sid had he was a performer and was actually earning a living). She wasn’t managing them, she wan’t really a part of the scene in any other sense.

    It would have been much stronger and wiser to have written about the marginalisation of women of the era who actually did something, worked, achieved something and are now largely discredited and forgotten and many of whom were always ignored especially once they passed an age where men wanted to f*** them because they no longer meant profit to anyone.

    Now that’s sexist.

    As sad as nancy’s mental health problems are it doesn’t equal her deserving a place in history.

  33. Darlene says:

    Hi Siobhan and thanks for your comment. Apologies for the delay in responding.

    I don’t diagnose Nancy’s condition. Read her mother’s book; the probable diagnose came from an expert many years ago. Alas, back then they weren’t sure what to do with a child with a mental illness. Nancy starting displaying signs of mental illness at a very young age (e.g. seeing things and paranoia). I doubt the mental health system has improved very much when it comes to young people and mental illness. Often people are diagnosed with schizophrena in their late teens and early 20s.

    I don’t defend every woman, but I do defend women against cheap shots of being a slut (double standard and all that). I also defend her against the representations of her as nothing but a junkie slut because it reflects broader views of mental illness.

    Nancy does have a place in punk history, like it or not.

    And attitudes to “extreme” woman often reveal what the person holding them thinks about women in general.

  34. amaugust says:

    Great insights- I read Deborah’s book years ago and was incredibly saddened by it.
    I know work in the mental health field and have found that there are still large gaps in “the system”, especially when it comes to young children and adolescents. I work on inpatient unit that deals with adults(which includes 18 and 19 year olds), and I have seen the devastating effects of undiagnosed/poorly treated mental illness in these young adults. Their behaviors are often self destructive and isolating, making treatment more difficult once they finally get it. Nancy’s behavior was clearly her way of trying to deal with her mental illness, she just did it in public view. I have dealt with patients who have shown similar behaviors and they are not demonized- they are offered help.

  35. Darlene says:

    Thank you kindly for your comment, amaugust.

    It’s sad to read that there are still gaps in “the system”, however, it sounds like there are young people who are getting help. I wonder why “the system” still has problems dealing with mental illness as it relates to young people?

    Huge topic.

    Once again, thanks. It’s great to read a view from someone dealing with this kind of stuff all the time.

  36. Ms Dayglo says:

    The quote from Marco Pirroni comes from my interview with him for Punk77, not a website called “women in punk”. On that same site I wrote a piece in defence of Nancy, who I met briefly. I’m surprised you seem to have missed it.

  37. darlenetaylor says:

    Cheers Ms Dayglo. Thanks for that. Punk77 is the site (apologies for that).

    I thought Marco Pirroni’s attitude was reflective of the general attitude towards Nancy among some old punks, even though we supposedly know so much more about mental illness these days.

  38. Ms Dayglo says:

    Here’s the link to what I wrote about her, after getting quite heated in a thread on our forum, where old punks were all being very nasty about her indeed.
    http://www.punk77.co.uk/wip/nancyspungenawomanwronged.htm

    As far as Marco is concerned, it’s not that he’s not compassionate, he’s a kind person and he worked with a bi-polar singer for many years. He just thinks she was a nasty piece of work, illness or not, and he was around her quite a bit, so he’d know. But yes, there is a bit of chauvinism in there, and that was the general attitude towards her.

  39. Darlene says:

    Thanks for that.

    Interesting site. Must take a longer look and read about some women who were in punk bands themselves. That would be totally worth writing about.

    Yes, Nancy was surely difficult to deal with (although so were a lot of other punks), and I appreciate that Marco knew her on a personal level. I always try to remember that she was only 20, and Sid was only 21 (and both she and Sid were troubled drug-addled human beings). Gosh knows, lots of us were pains in the butt at that age.

    “Do we believe that people are like this, that we are born with good or evil personalities and predispositions, and our environment or parenting have little effect?”

    Regarding this quote, I don’t think people are born with evil or good personalities, but I think all of us are born flawed and some of us are born with damaged minds due to genetics or birth trauma or whatever. Many of us have known families in which one member seems completely disturbed and self-destructive, while everybody else is just trying to get by the best they can. It’s a complicated subject.

    Thanks again.

  40. Ms Dayglo says:

    Thank YOU Darlene, I’ve bookmarked this site and will look at it in more depth!

    I am writing a book on women in the punk scene and the wider music scene and supposed to start my PhD in September (I have a Masters in Politics and Sociology). I was a punk from the early days. There’s an interview I did with Ari Up on the site as well that touches on some interesting points.

    Most of the “Women in Punk” section was NOT written by me, I hasten to add. I’ve meant to update/comment on it but haven’t found the time.

    I just got myself riled up again looking at a thread about Siouxsie and the Banshees, where there are several ridiculous sexist comments, several men complaining that she was “not all that” attractive. Grr!

  41. Ms Dayglo says:

    To give further credit where it is due, the Punk77 site is almost entirely the work of Paul Marko, author of “The Roxy London WC2”. The Women in Punk section is not bad (at least there is a Women in Punk section and he does give credit to the women and has carried out some interesting interviews), it just, for our purposes, lacks a feminist perspective, as does most work on the period.

  42. Darlene says:

    Well, I’d love to read your book when it comes out. And doing a Ph.D. on women and punk sounds very interesting. So many things to look at: the nature of punk, women’s place in the music industry, the influence of feminism, the place of working-class women in the punk movement, British politics in the late 1970s…..etc etc

    Mmmm, I feel inspired to write something longer myself.

  43. fractious Mess says:

    Ms Dayglo The Punk 77 site is hardly “almost entirely the work of Paul Marko”..sure Marko put the site together but its more the work of the contributors, surely?

    Marko’s book “The Roxy London WC2” is childlike at best, littered with typos and grammatical errors, and largely Factually incorrect. Coupled with marko’s homophobic attitude to one protagonist in particular, it is a deeply unpleasant read.

    re Nancy Spungen- I agree largely with the viewpoint that she was generally percieved to be a “nasty piece of work” but compared to some other notable luminaries of the time, she wasn’t unique, believe me.I am originally from the U.S. but relocated to the UK around the same time as Wayne County way back when!! I met Nancy on two occasions- Once she was completely out of it and was sitting next to Sid drooling on his houlder while Sid was fondling her breasts, the second time I met her she threatend to ” cut my F***ing faggot throat”!! The thing about her was that you could never take her seriously!!! It seemed she said things for effetct and it TOTALLY came across that way- I don’t think she’s particularly hated or reviled these days, at least not by people who were around at the time… C’est la vie!!

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