Old punks never die. They just look that way.

AT THE ANARCHY Hotel, a junk-filled, ramshackle house in the Lower Greenville area of Dallas, the old punk movement is alive and well. One of the most ferocious-looking punks in Dallas, a muscled, Mo-hawked, black-leathered young man named Arli Ray, is having dinner. He takes the pickles and tomatoes off a Sonic hamburger and throws them on the floor. An old World War II bomb hangs from the ceiling, as does a model of the space shuttle and a geometric neon sculpture that bathes the home with a grim light, The chandelier that fell from the ceiling a while back lies exactly on the floor where it landed.

“Like everyone else from the old days,” Arli says, “I thought my punk days were going to be just a phase. But then I realized I liked the punk way better.”

The house Arli shares with two others is testimony to a lifestyle that snarls in the face of anything that society considers “normal.”

A Harley-Davidson motorcycle is in the living room, along with old shoes, pizza boxes, two sets of barbells, broken-down couches, a mannequin, old phone bills, heaps of paper, and some dirt swept into a pile. On the walls are flyers advertising old punk bands. On the mantel of the unused fireplace is a family Bible, its pages open-with a knife stuck through the middle of it. One of his roommates, known as Crazy George, is a brilliant electronics expert who once was a NASA engineer. Now unemployed, he lives the punk life. His bedroom is filled with electronic equipment that he uses for his own projects.

They are some of the remaining punks left from the fierce, nihilistic music movement that hit Dallas in the late Seventies and set the stage for this newest generation of hard-core kids. Most of the first punks, now in their late twenties or early thirties, have moved on to another kind of lifestyle. “The old punk movement was the kind of thing that ate its young,” says Mark Ridlen, who played in a well-known punk band called Lithium Christmas, “It was planned obsolescence. It seemed you either self-destructed or you got a job and a BMW.”

But while it lasted, it was a wild joy ride. In 1977, a little bar called DJ’s opened, which became the punk hangout until it closed and a place called the Hot Klub opened. The couple of hundred regulars in the early punk movement would pack into these places and listen to screeching, savage local bands like the Vomit Pigs, Teenage Queers, and Snakes on Everything.

“The excitement back then was in creating something yourself,” recalls K.Y. Boyce, one of the first punk queens of Dallas who formed an all-female band called The Dirty Undies. “All you had to do was get a guitar, hit it a few times, and scream whatever you wanted to, and in seconds you were a punk band.”

Some of those musicians were legendary, like Bobby Soxx, the lead singer of Stick-men with Rayguns, who regularly threw up on stage, or a small eighteen-year-old kid named Platinum Paul, the lead singer of The Skuds. People thought because of his shaved head that he was a skinhead. Only a few knew that his hair had fallen out from chemotherapy and that he was dying from leukemia. In his last performances before he died, he was simply breathtaking, screaming and throwing himself around the stage. Barry Kooda. the singer in an early Dallas punk band called the Nervebreak-ers. was pictured in Rolling Stone magazine biting a dead fish. A half-crazed young singer named Mohawk Mike Cates, who believed with equal fervor in flying saucers and Jesus Christ, once jumped off the stage during a performance and ran through a plate-glass window.

Many have moved on. Former punk queen Boyce has now become a gourmet cook and has invented a salad dressing. Charlie Gilder, who owned the Twilite Room, the last true punk hangout in Dallas, now owns Bar of Soap, a quiet little tavern across from the state fairgrounds with washers and dryers in the back. But some still hang around. Mohawk Mike, twenty-eight, is trying to make a comeback of sorts with a new band called the Juxtaposers. A quiet, intense young man until he gets on a stage, Mohawk has been blackballed from performing at most of the new music nightclubs because of his antics-in his last big performance at a Dallas nightclub a couple of years ago, he got into a fight with three guys, one of whom climbed onto the stage and cracked a bottle of champagne over his head. A few weeks ago, he got a rare gig at the 500 Cafe. With all of ten people looking on, Mohawk Mike went into his trademark spasmodic dance style that made him such a sensation years ago (“It’s like Elvis Presley with rabies,” he says seriously).

Says Mohawk: “I know people are ready to spread the word again about the old punk days, and it will come back. And when it does. I’ll be sitting here waiting for it with my arms open.”


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