Relive the Punk-Rock Scene of 1970s Los Angeles

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The Go-Go’s, 1978. Photo: Melanie Nissen

Punk style might be most closely associated with New York and the Ramones, or London and Vivienne Westwood, but there was a flourishing scene in Los Angeles in the ‘70s as well, and Slash magazine faithfully documented every moment.

The book Slash: A Punk Magazine From Los Angeles, 1977–80, out in July from Hat & Beard Press, is a tribute to the fanzine. Co-founded in 1977 by then-couple Steve Samiof and Melanie Nissen, Slash ran band interviews, raw portraits, and live-concert photographs over 29 issues. Nissen, then a single working mother in her 30s, was the magazine’s main photographer for the first few years.

Of her many memories from the era (shoving through mosh pits with her camera; backup-dancing with Belinda Carlisle, lead singer of the Go-Go’s), she remembers the era’s fashion most. “It was sort of ‘everything goes,’” Nissen told the Cut. “Nobody spent any money on clothes. Everybody made their own and everything was hand-done: torn, put together, scissored, pasted.” Men and women wore heavy makeup and DayGlo with black leather jackets. There were Mohawks and big jewelry, two-tone hair, buttons, glitter, and bondage pants. And there were the Kipper Kids, artists who performed completely naked.

At concerts, “You had to fight through mosh pits and get pushed and shoved and punched, and your camera kind of wrecked,” she said. “You had to learn to do that or not be afraid of it.” Click through the slideshow to see her photographs from the pages of Slash magazine.