Becoming a Rock Star Is Hard. How Did You Do It?

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Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. 
If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to askexene@ocweekly.com.

DEAR EXENE:
I am 16 years old and have been trying to start a band for three years. I'm not saying I'm gonna kill myself if I can't find a band, but it is something I have shed blood, sweat and tears over. I just wanna play real rock music, and no one else does. What would you do if you were in my shoes? I will never give up on this dream, but no one else is serious. I have put fliers up all over town--at music stores, music-supplies stores, etc. I am willing to work my fingers to the bone for this. Any advice from a legend such as yourself will be golden. Thanks.

Love, Dieter


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Ask Exene: What Kind of Punk Do I Stock In My Record Store So I Don't Look Like a Poseur?

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Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. 
If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to askexene@ocweekly.com.

DEAR EXENE: I'm about to open a record store in my area catering mostly to buyers of new/used vinyl, and of course there's plenty of punk from the '60s and '70s that I'm stocking on the shelves. It's not my biggest area of expertise as a buyer, but I know it's an element I want in the store. I go record shopping a couple of times a week. I'm a tiny shop, so I try to focus on getting the best stuff I can, with no room for junk. I was wondering, if you had one or two punk records--aside from X, of course--that it would be a crime to not have in my store, what would it/they be and why? I know that's broad, but I figure you have a few faves you couldn't live without.

Love, Jimmy More »

Ask Exene: Have I Officially (and Literally) Outgrown My Friends?

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Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice--on your love life, politics, your musical career--send an email to
askexene@ocweekly.com.


DEAR EXENE:
I've spent most of my teenage life, especially the high-school years, being picked on for being tall, scrawny and uncoordinated. Despite having a solid group of friends throughout my freshman and sophomore years, I've always felt like an outsider whom most kids only acknowledge when they need answers to a chemistry exam. For the past year and a half, though, I've been almost fanatically dedicated to improving my station in life by working out, getting involved with hobbies outdoors, and meeting girls. There's no way to say why the transition came so suddenly; I think something snapped in my brain, telling me I didn't want to be ignored the rest of my life.

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Ask Exene: What a Young Band Need to Know Before Hiring a Manager

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Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice--on your love life, politics, your musical career--send an email to
askexene@ocweekly.com.

DEAR EXENE
I'm in a local band specializing in a ballsy blend of psychedelic punk music that could be showing a lot of promise this year. In the space of about six months, we've recorded with a pretty big-name producer and have been getting a lot of offers to play shows in OC and LA, as well as gigs out of state. Things are on the brink of happening, but we're all--surprise!--pretty broke and lack any of the schmoozing and social skills needed to really get ahead and make the right connections. We want to hire a manager or something, but we definitely can't afford it. We have some friends in mind who could be good candidates, but none has ever managed a band before. You hear all the time about bands and managers who are able to find success despite being super-green, but I'm wondering if before we start saying yes to a lot of the opportunities coming our way, we should try to help one of our friends train to become a good manager.

Love, DevinMore »

Ask Exene: Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Rockstar? Probably Not

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Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. 
If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to askexene@ocweekly.com.

DEAR EXENE:

I'm 50 years old, and I have been playing guitar for a couple of years and going to rock school, where I play, sing and write a little bit. I totally love rock school; it's really fun, I've learned a lot, and the people are awesomely supportive. But it's expensive, we play mostly covers, and what I really want is to be in a real band doing originals. I'm not brimming with confidence. I'm an okay singer--better than most people I've met, but not stellar--and my guitar skills are still pretty beginner-ish, which makes me really hesitant to audition for established bands. Still, what I lack in skill I make up for in enthusiasm and creativity. How do I make this happen? 

 Love, Lisa

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Ask Exene: Another Tax Accountant Who Wants to Try Tranny Sex

Categories: Ask Exene
Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. 
If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to askexene@ocweekly.com.

Dear Exene,

I'm currently perusing the back of an adult magazine and contemplating hiring a transsexual escort. After doing about a year in Thailand (my former job took me overseas), I became quasi-fascinated with Lady Boy culture, despite being a straight man all my life. I even visited a strip club that featured tranny dancers a couple of times. However, something about being with even the most beautiful tranny goes against pretty much everything I've ever considered to be straight sexual behavior. Of course the other part of me is scared the tranny I call will end up being some weirdo who robs me at knifepoint.

 In a lot of ways, I think it's harder to explore my fantasy in the States because it's so much more taboo and a good tranny can be hard to find, but maybe that's just OC. I guess what I'm asking is: Does wanting to have sex with a tranny indicate that I'm gay? Bi, maybe? Even though I never really had problems with gays before, it makes me wonder why I'm so frustrated about the idea that I might be gay myself. Any advice for this mixed-up, middle-aged tax accountant?

Love,
Stu


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Ask Exene: Were the Actions of Pussy Riot Kind of a Dick Move?

Categories: Ask Exene
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Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice--on your love life, politics, your musical career, filial relationships--send an email to askexene@ocweekly.com.

DEAR EXENE,

Like many people, I've been following the media blitz over the Russian band Pussy Riot, who've been arrested and charged with hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for their anti-Putin punk prayer in the middle of an Orthodox church service in Moscow in February. Three of the members were given two-year prison sentences, while two others successfully escaped the country. I also see that recently, the three women who were charged are appealing their sentences (who wouldn't?!). With all the attention the band have gotten this month, I wonder what someone such as yourself, who's part of what I believe to be punk's greatest generation, thinks about the amount of attention these girls have gotten, both from the press and celebrities such as Björk, Paul McCartney and Madonna. Though I don't think they should've gotten the sentence they did, I can't help feeling annoyed that people don't seem to care that these women went into a religious sanctuary to protest. Are you conflicted by that at all?

Love, Fiona

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Ask Exene: For women, music and matrimony don't mix

Categories: Ask Exene
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Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to askexene@ocweekly.com.

DEAR EXENE,

Let me start by saying I recently read an interview in which you gave your No. 1 piece of advice for female musicians: Don't get married! Having been in bands for most of my life as a guitarist, I know how valuable that advice can be. In the mid-'90s, I married a longtime friend of mine, and we started a band. We went over a lot of the typical turmoil of a married couple working together. We were in our 20s and very uncompromising in our world-views, which made for great music but a lousy relationship. When we fought about stuff, we really fought, and it ended up putting stress on the music, which in turn put stress on our livelihood as a working band.

About 18 years later, we were both in our 40s, both of us had other relationships that didn't work out on opposite sides of the country. We sort of reconnected again four months ago, mostly out of friendship and the desire to play music again, and we've been recording with each other. I think you know where this is going, but he and I both seem to think we'd like to try to give it a go with the music/band relationship again. Given that we've both mellowed out a lot, have new careers and aren't trying to really "make it" as a band anymore (though we still wanna do gigs), do you think it's still not a good idea to get involved with a musical partner?

Love, Lucy

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Ask Exene: Why Walking Away to Protect Your Woman is Not a Pussy Move

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Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to askexene@ocweekly.com.


DEAR EXENE, I was on a date with a guy recently, and something happened that forced me to question my shallowness when it comes to dating. We'd just left a restaurant in downtown Fullerton on a Saturday night, right as the whole place starts to turn into a drunk fest around all the bars. On our way out, my date--a guy I met through an online-dating site--accidentally bumped another guy on the shoulder. The other guy, who was a bit taller and burlier, made a big deal out of it by picking a fight with my date. As he apologized and walked away, the guy followed us down the street and threatened to kick my date's ass if he didn't turn around and face him. He sounded pretty belligerent. My date, however, started forcing me to walk faster to the point where we were almost running back to the car. "Don't look at him," he said. Eventually, the guy gave up and just yelled out, "Pussy!" so everyone around us in the parking lot could hear. My date just kept walking with me and didn't say anything back.

Afterward, I couldn't help feeling a little turned off by him and how he handled it, and I've been making up reasons to dodge him ever since, partly because I'm embarrassed at myself for feeling this way, but also because, frankly, whatever attraction I had for him kind of just went out the window because of the incident. Trust me: I know how wrong that sounds. Later on that night, I could've invited him to spend the night, but I didn't. As a woman, I'm sure it's encoded in my DNA that a man is supposed to protect me, which my date was obviously trying to do--but is it totally wrong for me to have judged this guy so harshly as a potential partner?

Love, Cheyenne

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[Ask Exene] Dressing your baby in band T-shirts doesn't alone make you a cool parent

Categories: Ask Exene
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Exene Cervenka
Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. If you want to ask the legendary vocalist for advice, send an email to askexene@ocweekly.com.

DEAR EXENE,

 As a relatively new parent in my mid-20s, I've become more and more aware of things other parents do that annoy the shit out of me. And it doesn't have to do so much with how other parents my age raise their kids, but more how they dress them. I go to a shopping center and see 1-year-olds sporting Dead Kennedys T-shirts or stuff with Wu-Tang or the Clash logos slapped on them. It's as if through their kids' clothing, parents are trying to let you know exactly how cool they are and what kind of records they buy.

Didn't a band shirt used to mean something when you put it on? What kind of baby listens to or really cares about punk? Why not let him get old enough to decide to put down the money for a band shirt? What are these parents trying to prove? I guess you could just write them off as childbearing hipsters and think nothing more of it, but I find intolerable the overcommercialization of music that was so radical for its time and is becoming just another ornament you can buy for your kid at Target. As a punk legend yourself, does it bother you how a lot of old-school music is being turned into nothing more than a cute logo?

 Love, JamieMore »

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