We Were Weird Teens in the ’90s and This Was Our L.A. Life

Siouxsie and Budgie ephemera dating back to the 1990s.

Siouxsie and Budgie ephemera that I need to hang, dating back to the 1990s.

There’s this post on Buzzfeed called “35 Signs You Grew Up in Los Angeles in the ’90s.” I caught wind of it from my friends Jeaux and Roo. It’s funny. It’s true. It’s also likely written by someone who was a kid in the 1990s. I wanted to add some stuff for those of us who went through middle school, high school and college during this decade.

 1. You learned how to drive during El Niño. And then you braved the storm for every concert you couldn’t miss. 

There was this wave of lousy, rainy winters called El Niño. When you’re a little kid, rain is fun. Once you hit your teens, though, you realize that Los Angeles was not built for less than awesome weather. It doesn’t take much for the streets to flood, which is a bit of a nightmare when you’re learning how to drive. Fortunately, I was able to use this as an excuse to ditch school. “But, I can’t drive in this weather! It’s totally not safe.”  However, I did get over my fear of rain driving when it came time to hit up clubs and concerts.

2. You had to explain Retail Slut and Vinyl Fetish to your parents. 

“Mom, I really need to go to Vinyl Fetish and Retail Slut this weekend.”

She stares at me like I’m out of mind.

“Ugh, Vinyl Fetish is a record store. Retail Slut sells clothes.”

I got my ride. Got some music. Retail Slut was kind of pricey. I got some band stickers for my goth box.

 3. You saw Drew Barrymore at clubs more than once. 

If there were clubs that catered to celebrities back in the 1990s, I didn’t know about them. Every once in a while, we would spot a few at our own clubs, which maybe made us respect the actors/models/etc. more. I remember Drew Barrymore showing up at more than a few places I frequented. I think just about everyone who went to the clubs in the 1990s has an “I totally saw Drew Barrymore last night” story.

 4. You saw some band that was in Sassy Magazine at Jabberjaw.

Usually, this band involved either Ben Lee or Ian Svenonius. Bonus points if you saw a cast member of My So Called Life in the crowd that night.

5. You and your club kid crew split up on Wednesday nights. Half went to Helter Skelter. Half went to Magic Wednesdays. 

Who says that goths and ravers can’t be friends? We all went to Perversion and Velvet and sometimes even Kontrol Faktory together. On Wednesday nights, though, we had to part ways. For us goths, there was Helter Skelter. The PLUR kids went to Magic Wednesdays. Maybe after last call we would meet up at the (sadly, now defunct) Del Taco on Santa Monica and Highland.

 6. You were addicted to Request Video. And probably the Hot Seat too. 

Back in the early 1990s, us L.A. kids got our fix of music videos and lulz thanks to KDOC, which was actually based in Orange County. Thanks to Gia Desantis, we caught all the new clips from Skinny Puppy and Ride. We might also get a little local music gossip from Belissa Cohen.

Right before Request Video was the Hot Seat, where conservative talk show host Wally George would get into it with, well, pretty much everyone. It was hysterical, but you kind of had to be there.

7. You met Rodney Bingenheimer and totally freaked out.

Back in the day, Rodney on the Roq was essential radio for any teen who wanted to know about all the hot bands in the U.K. I used to sit next to my radio early Sunday evenings, tape the show, go through it and hit up Tempo Records armed with my babysitting income.

When I first met Rodney, I was 15. I stood in line for his autograph when Siouxsie and the Banshees played Universal. Then I was like, “Oh my God, that James song you played last week. I think it’s called ‘Hymn from a Village.’ It’s so awesome. But, I can’t find it anywhere. But, it’s like the best song ever. Thanks for playing all the awesome music. I wouldn’t know anything if it weren’t for your show. Blahblahblahblahblah”

Something like that.

He played “Hymn from a Village” the next night and gave me a shout-out. It was, like, the best moment of my life, like, ever.

 8. You stopped listening to Loveline when The Poorman left. 

Does Loveline even exist anymore? I wouldn’t know since I stopped listening the day The Poorman left the show.

9. You stopped listening to KROQ when they started playing more Metallica than Morrissey. 

I don’t even need to elaborate on this.

 10. You were kind of stuck in the ’80s.

Not that you really remember the ’80s as anything more than a time to play Voltron, but new wave was infinitely better than grunge.


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