Bonding over records, beer, and chain laced Doc Martens
I met Larry "Beno" Bennett one night when he gave a ride to my friend Anne McMillan and I, we were probably heading from Chicos to The Wave on Atlantic Ave. in Virginia Beach. We had a blast that night, probably watching the X-Raves. Not too long after that, he invited Anne and me to hang out in Norfolk and meet Mother Punk. Anne had plans but I was in. I had seen Mother Punk at the Naro theater when The Decline of Western Civilization showed. It was a huge night for the local scene, kids from all over the area. I really saw for the first time just how many punks there were in the area. It always seemed like we were outnumbered but that night we ruled, at least we ruled the Naro for the two hours or so that the movie played.
Mother Punk reminded me of a character out of a John Waters movie, had he felt the need to cast a more heavy set, Nancy Spungun type. She and Beno were tight so she invited us over to her house. When we pulled up in an old section of Norfolk I was amazed at how huge it was. It had a sort of 1313 Mockingbird Lane Victorian vibe and it turned out that Mother Punk lived with her elderly parents. As we entered the ground floor of the house it was cavernous and dark with a depression era 1930's feeling. The second floor was even darker and older with a turn of the century feel; her dad was parked in a big old chair that he seemed fused to, the evening paper covering his face, he grunted hello as Beno and I tromped past wearing our heavy chain laced Doc Martens following Mother Punk up the stairs to the third and finally the fourth floor where her lair was. Each passing floor was more and more in a state of decay, in a sort of Grey Gardens style, minus the mountains of empty cat food tins. We sat high up in that beautiful, tragic home listening to records and drinking beer and talking about music and art until the wee hours of the morning. I never got the chance to hang out with Mother Punk again after that. I was sad to hear at the 2009 Trolling Bones Alternative Music reunion that she had passed.
Local historian, photographer
I have been photo documenting the local punk scene since the early 1980's when I began shooting my friends’ bands and the scene around them when they played around the area. Decades later it's comforting to see many of the same faces still rocking out and inspiring new generations of artists to express themselves in a world that seems to have less tolerance for freedom of expression with each passing day. Check out my Facebook page Vintage North End Virginia Beach Illustrated History Archive if you are into local history!