THE WOMEN OF L.A.'S SCANDALOUS PAST AS DOCUMENTED BY MOSHE BRAKHA IN "LA BABE: THE REAL WOMEN OF LOS ANGELES 1975-1988"
It was 1969 when Moshe Brakha and his camera first set foot in LA. For the next three decades, the Israeli-born photographer dedicated himself to capturing the city’s brash, hedonistic charm in all of its various forms. From movie stars to bartenders, musicians to groupies, Moshe gave himself to the entire spectrum of inhabitants. LA Babe: The Real Women of Los Angeles 1975-1988 – published by Rizzoli – sees a collection of the photographer’s previously unpublished works compiled together for the first time. The book is a riotous, multifaceted ode to the nebulous charisma of a city at its most wild and elegant, set against the punk scene of the era and the iconic women that helped prop it up. This hip collection of previously unpublished photographs includes the punk band the Runaways, Patricia Arquette, Lita Ford, candid photos of LaToya and Janet Jackson, and longtime Los Angeles staple Angelyne, among many others. From Beverly Hills High School cheerleaders to brash bartenders and groupies, L.A. BABE captures the essential Los Angeles at its sunniest, coolest, grittiest glam and punk peak. From Beverly Hills to Venice Beach to the Sunset Strip, L.A. BABE is an anthology of the photographer’s subjects from the 1970s and early 1980s.
“There’s always gonna be people with rebellion. Life doesn’t stop in the 70s, or the 80s” – Moshe Brakha
Many of the images feature girls who Brakha calls “groupies.” The term isn’t a pejorative in his understanding. “I have great respect for the groupie. They have a part in the life of the music.” Brakha explains. “And the groupies weren’t just there for a single band – they were there for the music as a whole. They were friends with each other, friends of the bands. People think of groupies in a negative way, but it’s an important role. They are part of the story of the music.” Brakha’s photographs highlight the familial aspect of the punk scene and especially of the strong and mutually supportive community of women within it. Here is a culture that is completely their own, a world of freedom and radical self-expression outside of the strictures imposed by the status quo. The women in these images aren’t trying to fit into a readymade role, and though they never set out to be arbiters of an idea as possibly reductive as that of the L.A. Babe, they have influenced it with their trailblazing originality. We need our Pamelas and our Monroes, but our Kim Gordons and Exene Cervenkas are equally important, and by celebrating them Brakha helps to extend the concept of the L.A. Babe to be as broad and diverse as the city in which she lives.