Good read

Jackie Fuchs of the Runaways details rape by Kim Fowley*

jackie-fuchs-talia-herman-huffpo.jpgFuchs in 2015, photo by Talia Herman in HuffPost.

Jackie Fuchs, now a Harvard-trained lawyer and UCLA graduate, says she has kept quiet about her rape by the creator of the LA teenage girl band The Runaways for 40 years — but recently found there were witnesses who vividly remembered the assault in a crowded motel room in Orange County. These don't include Joan Jett, who was there but who has never spoken to Fuchs about it or, according to Fuchs, acknowledged what she saw. After last year's flurry of Bill Cosby accusations, Fuchs said, she began to seek contact with the various witnesses to fill in the details. Then Fowley died in January, to many accolades. She approached the Huffington Post with her story, told to staff writer Jason Cherkis, who tracked down and interviewed witnesses.

Fuchs was in high school in the Valley when she was recruited for the start-up band by Fowley. She didn't know how to play the bass, but that didn't really matter. She performed in the Runaways as Jackie Fox. She never really felt part of the band, a feeling that became terminal on New Year's Eve of 1975, after one of the roadies gave her a Quaalude. Fuchs was 16 that night; Fowley was 36 and creepy.

"Jackie has never before publicly discussed what happened next, once the drugs took hold," the HuffPost story says. "But it has changed the course of her life."

She was smarter and bolder than the other teenagers, constantly doing things girls were told they shouldn’t. She attended summer school just to take shop. She learned power chords on her Stratocaster and went to bed with the radio on, hoping to hear Fanny, the one all-female rock band in the universe, on KLOS. A middle school friend remembers driving to the grocery store with her mother one afternoon and spotting Jackie at the freeway on-ramp, her 6-foot-10-inch custom fiberglass swallowtail board under one arm and her thumb out.

Jackie just wanted to find her own group of misfits. And since this was Los Angeles in the mid-’70s, that search ultimately led her to the Sunset Strip, where she could dance and discover new bands and feel at home among all the free spirits and Ziggy Stardust wannabes. “Sunset felt like the center,” recalls Victoria Lasken, a high school friend of Jackie’s. “That’s where you got to meet your tribe.”


Multiple witnesses say that Fowley began to penetrate Jackie with the handle of a hairbrush....Fowley invited other guys to have sex with Jackie before removing his own pants and climbing on top of her. “Kim’s fucking someone!” a voice shouted from the door of the motel room to the partygoers outside, calling them in to watch. Arguelles returned to the room to see if this was all a big joke.

On the bed, Fowley played to the crowd, gnashing his teeth and growling like a dog as he raped Jackie. He got up at one point to strut around the room before returning to Jackie’s body.

“I remember opening my eyes, Kim Fowley was raping me, and there were people watching me,” Jackie says. She looked out from the bed and noticed Currie and Jett staring at her. She says this was her last memory of the night. Jett, through a representative, denied witnessing the event as it has been described here. Her representative referred all further questions to Jackie “as it’s a matter involving her and she can speak for herself.”

[Band member Cherie] Currie claims that she spoke up and stormed out of the room. All witnesses say they felt intimidated.

Then this: "Jackie showed up at the next band practice some days later, not ready to stop being a Runaway. Although she was nervous about how her bandmates would treat her, she at least expected them to acknowledge that something bad had happened. But the girls hardly registered her presence. They just plugged in and started running through their songs. That was the day, Jackie says, 'the elephant joined the band.'"

Fowley and the Runaways. Fuchs is second from the right.

Currie says in the piece that the band members, who were then all 16 and 17, never talked about how to handle the rape. "The unspoken rule was simply, 'you forget it and you move on,' Currie explains. 'I pushed it out of my mind the best I could.'"

Fowley always denied any sexual impropriety with members of the Runaways, including in a 2013 band biography: “They can talk about it until the cows come home but, in my mind, I didn't make love to anybody in the Runaways nor did they make love to me.”

Fuchs talks in the piece about how the rape has haunted her and affected her relationships since. She lives in the Hollywood Hills and posted on Facebook this week:

Many, many thanks to everyone for the love and support. It's been truly, wonderfully overwhelming….

Anyone who still thinks Kim Fowley was a good guy needs to read this. This was an incredibly hard story to tell. The writer and Huffington Post did a great job (which, FYI, was thoroughly researched and fact checked like crazy).

Thank you to all the bystanders who had the courage to come out and talk about how they were affected -- including Helena Alicia Roessler, Kari Lee Krome (the unsung hero of the Runaways) and Cherie Currie. Every rape has many victims. I was just one.

* Some updates:

  • Evelyn McDonnell, who wrote the 2013 book "Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways," posted a defensive rebuttal to the Huffington Post story.
  • Joan Jett posted a statement on Facebook: "Anyone who truly knows me understands that if I was aware of a friend or bandmate being violated, I would not stand by while it happened. For a group of young teenagers thrust into 70s rock stardom there were relationships that were bizarre, but I was not aware of this incident. Obviously Jackie’s story is extremely upsetting and although we haven’t spoken in decades, I wish her peace and healing."
  • Music writer Chris Morris knows several of the principals and wrote the Variety obit on Fowley. He posted his thoughts — not flattering to Fowley, McDonnell or Jett.
  • Cherkis discusses the backstory of his story. Pitchfork
  • Cherie Currie also posted a statement on Facebook:
  • I have been accused of a crime. Of looking into the dead yet pleading eyes of a girl, unable to move while she was brutally raped and doing nothing. I have never been one to deny my mistakes in life and I wouldn't start now. If I were guilty, I would admit it. There are so many excuses I could make being only one month into my sixteenth year at the time that people would understand but I am innocent. When I return from Sweden I will seek a qualified polygraph examiner to put to rest any and all allegations. I will make public the questions, answers and results of that test. I will prove I am telling the truth. I will not allow anyone to throw me under the bus and accuse me of such a foul act. I will fight for myself. It is the only thing I can do.

  • Finally, this quote from a blog post by Fuchs apparently in 2000: "Were our managers abusive and did they take advantage of us? Absolutely. I've written accounts in here of verbal and emotional abuse and financial mismanagement, all of which happened. Did they ever drug us or force anyone to have sex with them? Not that I ever saw."

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