Jello Biafra at Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1978
Jim Jocoy and his family left their home in South Korea and arrived in the town of Sunnyvale, California, when Jocoy was only 17. He enrolled at UC Santa Cruz, but later dropped out once he discovered the burgeoning punk scene that was exploding all around him. Jocoy got a gig at a Xerox store, hung out at punk clubs by night and started up a punk zine with his friends called Widows and Orphans. That’s when Jocoy decided to pick up a camera and started shooting photos of his friends and bands whenever he happened to find himself someplace interesting. Jocoy found himself in lots of interesting places.
Olga de Volga of the San Francisco band VS., Geary Street Theatre, SF 1980
Jocoy’s remarkable photos ended up in a book in 2002 called We’re Desperate. I reached out to Jocoy in an email, and the photographer graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions about his days growing up as a young punk in California.
Sid Vicious, San Francisco, January 14th, 1978
Tell me about your now infamous photo of Sid Vicious.
Jim Jocoy: The photo of Sid was taken after the last Sex Pistols show in SF. They performed at Winterland on Jan. 14, 1978. He took a cab to my friend Lamar St John’s apartment in the Haight-Ashbury district. I was outside as the cab pulled up. He was alone and got out and pissed in the middle of the street before going into the apartment. I ran into him in the hallway and asked if I could take a Polaroid photo. He nodded yes and that was it. He spent most of the evening in the bathroom with a couple of “fans”.
William Burroughs at his 70th birthday party in San Francisco, 1984
I understand that you presented a slide show of your photos to William Burroughs in honor of his 70th birthday. How did that go?
Jim Jocoy: The party was held at a warehouse in the Mission district belonging to the artist Mark McCloud. He was known for his (real) LSD postage stamp art. Burroughs allowed me to take a photo of him that evening. He wore an nice blue suit and had his briefcase in hand.
What’s your favorite memory of a show you saw back in the day that really blew your mind?
Jim Jocoy: I would have to say it was the first Ramones’ show in SF at the Savoy Tivoli on August 19th, 1976. It lasted about 30 minutes without a break, only “one, two, three, four!” between songs by Dee Dee. It was such a sonic boom of pure rock energy as I had never heard before. It was in the tiny back room of the bar/restaurant. It was like ground zero for launching the punk rock scene in San Francisco. A few weeks later, many of the seminal SF punk bands started performing regularly at the Mabuhay Gardens, the first main punk rock venue in the city.
Punk girl in leather skirt, SF 1978
Jocoy’s photos were only shown in public twice (one of those times was at Burroughs’ birthday party), and then were stored away for almost two-decades before seeing the light of day once again between the covers of We’re Desperate. So here’s a glimpse of what punk rock looked like back in the late 70s and early 80s, through the lens of a simple 35mm camera with an oversized flash taken by a guy who happened to be in the right place at the right time. Many thanks to Jim Jocoy for the use of his photos and captions (written by Jim) in this post.
John Waters at the Deaf Club in SF, 1980
Johnny Genocide, Geary Street Theatre in SF, 1980
Poison Ivy of the Cramps in the dressing room of Mabuhay Gardens, SF 1979
Lux interior of the Cramps in the dressing room of the Mabuhay Gardens, SF, 1979
Lydia Lunch in SF, 1979
Exene Cervenka of X, LA, 1980
Muriel Cervenka (Exene’s sister), SF, 1980
John Doe of X, LA, 1980
Billy Zoom of X, LA, 1980
Johnny Thunders at Mabuhay Gardens in SF, 1979
Judy Gitt of SF band Pink Section, SF, 1981