Home is Where the Hurricane Is

by Coco Quinn

Artwork by Claire Binci. Claire currently is an engineer for Lamborghini.

The first thing I remember getting published was a poem I wrote in fifth grade for my elementary school’s anthology, “Tales from the Foot of the Volcano.” It was 1991 and I was living in Naples, Italy. I could see Mt. Vesuvius from my balcony, looking like two mountains next to each other as the crater into the active volcano was so wide and deep. When we hiked up to peer into that crater on a field trip our Italian teacher left the path dotted with holes from her high heels. I pictured her fashionable feet permanently arched like Barbie’s. I remember those tiny holes in the dirt along the path, but nothing of what we could see at its peak.

“Vesuvius is overdue to erupt,” I remember hearing. It had been dormant for many decades at that point. Any day now, and I could be frozen in ash like the people who’d been victim to it in Herculaneum, which had been another field trip destination.

It’s funny when you move a lot growing up. You’re subject to such a wide variety of impending natural disasters. Before Italy, I’d lived in Virginia Beach and Key West on the east coast. I had ten years under my belt of dealing with hurricanes. Fill the bathtubs with water, tape Xes over each window, and for a really big one, camp downstairs in the living room. In 1986, we got Hurricane Charley. I was seven with two little brothers and a baby sister. My dad was still out on a six-month cruise with the Navy. Charley knocked out the power. Mom set up a camping stove and battery powered black and white TV with a 5 inch screen. “The Peanut Butter Solution” aired during that time, and that movie was way more traumatic than the hurricane was. The day after the storm passed, we walked down the cul-de-sac, the sky fresh and blue, the air calm and lovely, just the pavement covered in leaves and branches, and the occasional car or rooftop dented in, to indicate how rough it had been out there.

Another thing about hurricanes, they give you a couple days warning. Not volcanoes, not tornados. I was home babysitting my sister in Mississippi (a truly culture-shock-inducing place to send a preteen girl after three years living in Italy), when I heard my first tornado. It sounds like a train. I hid us away in the tiny bathroom off of the kitchen, the only room in the house without windows, and felt like a sitting duck. The locals weren’t so bothered. My mom came home with my brothers from soccer practice, and even though the electric charge in the air had made my brother Jon’s hair stand on end, and the wind made accuracy in shooting impossible, their coach kept them on that field until practice time ended.

I spent twelve years in LA, and the earthquakes never made me panic. The wildfires though . . .

I’m in Virginia Beach now, and went into the ocean again for the first time in fifteen years. There were red flags up for “danger,” on the lifeguard stands. The water was frothy with riptides 50 feet out along the shore. The wind made it almost impossible to lay out a towel and I had to anchor mine with all my belongings, which were immediately covered in sand. Hurricane Ida hadn’t hit us directly, but I could feel her on the shore.

Even in the shallows, the waves crashed so hard I was soaked from head to toe right away. The usually even and sloping sand was impossible to see under the water and so pocked with holes that I sank under water from my knees up to my shoulders with a single step. I duck-dived under a wave. I floated and let the stormy waters push and pull me to and from the shore.

I laughed out loud as the tide bounced my butt into the sandy bottom as I tried to make my way back to the beach. I kept an eye on my coordinates by the lifeguard stand near where I’d left my towel. One of the very stands I’d worked from in summers during college. I didn’t know the guards who were working there today, nor they, me. But . . .

The Atlantic, she held me, rocked me, welcomed me home.

From The Valley to Silverlake: X Years of Making the Scene: Interview with Kim Lipot Ochoa

A person posing for the camera

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“Who’s been doing your hair?”—Shampoo

“Who’s been doing your hair?”—Blow

Gazing beneath Los Angeles glitz, the obvious and overt in ‘n’ out of favor flavors, one can encounter a creative arts underground.  The scene shifts, trends tire, still the beat goes on.  At the core are the anonymous denizens of the in-crowd who give these punk rock artists a name.  Fan the fame.  Kim Lipot Ochoa cues their look.

Outlasting those who overdosed, and the poseurs who “did it for the fashion,” for more than four decades Kim has maintained her personal impact by creating a unique image for others.  In the salon or social swirl, the Kim constellation embodies the two or three degrees of separation that edge the brazen and beautiful of Hollywood’s underworld.

What follows are fragments of cocktail-fueled conversations about what it means to be undeniably cool and almost famous in the land of La Di Da.

Valley Girl

“Fuck you.  Fuck off for sure, like totally.”—Valley Girl

What’s the difference between punk rock life in hip Hollywood and a prefab existence in my so-called vacuous Valley?

This is the real world.  It’s not fresh and clean like a television show . . . We’re ourselves . . . you’re all fucking programmed.

So, what does it take to be so free?

That’s a good question.

For one Valley girl, the answer equaled X.

Kim Lipot graduated from Kennedy High School class of 1980—smart, shy, and sixteen years old.  Nixing the “Oh, I’ll just hang out plans,” Kim’s suburbanite mother arranged for her daughter’s entrance into the material world of 9 to 5.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: A friend of mine has a bit part in Valley Girl.  He says that’s what you do growing up in L.A.  Leave the long boulevards in the dry hot summers and go to the beach.  Get cast as an extra in movies.

Kim:  My friends and I went to Zeroes beach, up the coast from Zuma.  I had a white Volkswagen campervan and a license a 22 year old had left at my drive-thru bank teller window.  She never came back for it.  On the weekend, we would buy liquor at Alpha Beta and drive around to house parties.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: So how did you get into punk rock?

Kim:  My prom date lent me his X album.

The Starwood

“Days change to night/Change in an instant.”—Los Angeles

Kim:  I found out X was playing at The Starwood.  My girlfriend and I put black roux rinse in our blond surfer girl hair so we wouldn’t stand out.  It turned steel metal gray.  We went anyway.  The scene was great.  The Odyssey, The Seven Seas, Club Lingerie . . . crowded hardcore shows with twenty-five guys to every girl.  New Wave Music, The Go-Go’s, B52’s .

Boogie Nights

“All the drugs are at The Starwood.”—Wonderland

Spinning around in Kim’s hair chair.  With equal concentration, she expertly mixes colors and listens to the salon buzz as we discuss P.T. Anderson’s Boogie Nights.

Kim:  I used to go dancing at the movie’s club, “Hot Traxx.”  It was an all ages club on Sherman Way—called The Reseda Country Club.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: The scene between Amber Waves and Rollergirl is cocaine classic.  Making plans, yet never leaving the room.

Kim:  We’ve all had that conversation.

Decline and Fall of Western Civilization

“Punk rock.  That’s stupid.  I just think of it as rock and roll ‘cause that’s what it is. . . . It’s for real . . .There’s no rock stars.”—Eugene, Decline and Fall of Western Civilization

Penelope Spheeris documentary explores anarchic behavior in the context of L.A. punk rock.  The attraction to rebellion, the insightful music—intoxicating to the tightly wound and aimless ramblers alike.  Black Flag lyrics express why the fury needs its sound.  With no outlet, the consequences of unreleased tension and boredom may be fatal.  “Depression—it’s gonna kill me.  It’s gonna kill you too.”

Spheeris casts a grim shadow over this scene—point of fact John Doe tells her:  “Reality is dark.”  Twenty-five years later, Brendan Mullen and Mark Spitz proclaim in Spin, “SoCal punk has always been about anger.”

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: What about the angst?

Kim:  Punk rock has always had its dark side.  Everyone felt like an outsider, yet we knew we were involved in something unique.  I found my place.  Where I fit in.

At nineteen Kim enrolled in beauty school.  Classes were from 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  Quite conducive to the clubbing lifestyle.  Glam-o-rama.

Colleen:  I was fourteen and in high school.  Kim would cut my hair at the beauty school.  I became her hair model for salon interviews.  Growing up, Kim and I lived catty corner to me and my two older sisters, Kathleen and Eileen.  Kathleen was a “girlfriend” of The Bay City Rollers and John Waite—among others.  She claimed “Missing You” was written about her.  She and John Waite had the same color auburn hair.  That was their connection.  Kathleen ran away at sixteen.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Rock and roll fantasyland.

Colleen:  Eileen and another friend of Kim’s, Nora Edison, all hung out and I tagged along.  Nora dated Louie, a drummer for DC3, and I lived in Venice Beach.  Punk rockers and poets.  Skateboarders like Tony Alva.  That’s where I met Eugene.  His claim to fame was the Penelope Spheeris documentary.  He took me out to dinner dressed in a 1960s retro suit.  He asked me to be his girlfriend.  When I said, “No,” he accused me of slumming it.  I wasn’t slumming it—I just thought it was too much for a freshman.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Fast times at Kennedy High.

Kim:  I went up to Oakland with Louie and the band.  DC3 had a gig at The Covered Wagon in San Francisco.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: I saw my brother-in-law’s cousin, Nate Kato of Urge Overkill, at The Covered Wagon.  Before they covered Neil Diamond for Pulp Fiction.  Before Blackie’s heroin addiction.  Whatever became of Louie?

Kim:  Overdose.

Sex.  Drugs.  Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Make the Music Go Bang!

“The strong bond between bands and audiences was helped by the fact that the majority of these groups were not on the ego-tripping “We’re rock stars” excursion.  The members were fairly accessible and friendly—they would hang out and drink with the people who came to see them, and this helped break down the barriers created by all the “mega-stars.”—Keith Morris

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: How did you go from fanland to “I’m with the band?”

Kim:  A girlfriend I hadn’t seen for awhile came into the beauty school.  She invited me to a Judas Priest concert at the Long Beach Arena.  Greg Hetson, guitarist for the Circle Jerks, came with us.  We started dating almost right away and were together for the next seven years.  Keith Clark, the Circle Jerk’s drummer, and I would count the money after every show.  Count it, divide it, pay it out.  Now Keith’s my accountant, and Greg and I are Facebook friends.  He recently reminded me about feeding the baby giraffe at the zoo. 

It’s hands off nowadays for L.A. Zoo’s Giraffa camelopardalis subspecies tippelskirchii.

Repo Man

Repo Man featured the Circle Jerks, heightening the fantasy/reality aesthetic of the film.  Humor stops the theme of alienation short of annihilation.

I blame society.  Society made me what I am.

That’s bullshit.  You’re a white suburban punk just like me.

Kim:  The coolest people in the scene lived in nice suburban houses with their parents.  Yeah, there were some that lived on the streets—but they really didn’t want to be there.  Who would?

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: A mutual acquaintance was just telling me about her racing down Lankershim w/Corey Haim in the wee morning hours, Bret Easton Ellis scene style.

X Man

“I head for the Roxy, where X is playing. . . . they’re going to be singing “Sex and Dying in High Society” any minute now . . .”—Less Than Zero

Kim:  Greg, Keith Morris, John Doe, and I drove down to San Diego for a spoken-word performance.  Greg played acoustic guitar—which he never liked to do.  We drank beer and were bored for five hours.  When it came time to go, Keith was too drunk and Greg too tired to drive.  I hate driving.  John Doe stepped into the driver’s seat, looked at me, and said, “Baby, that’s what I’m here for.”  I sat up front and listened to Joh Doe the entire ride home.  Transfixed.  From then on, whenever we would see each other at a show, he would always say, “Hello.”

Reality Bites

And then it was Nirvana and the 90s.  Punk became pop flavor.  Kim and Greg parted ways.  New decade.  New boyfriends.  Always new hairstyles.

Kurt and Courtney

“Fame is a process of isolation.”—Kurt and Courtney

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: I loved the Kurt and Courtney documentary.  Ridiculous and enormously entertaining.  Nick Broomfield with his British accent—never veering from his serious “journalist” façade makes it almost believable.

Kim:  Anyone who’s been in L.A. for a length of time knows Courtney Love.  Before Kurt, she was a stripper married to a friend of mine.  A writer for the L.A. Weekly.  A transvestite who . . .

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Lest we forget what happened to El Duce, keep the rest of your story L.A. confidential.  Just in case Courtney is a killer.

Al’s Bar + Spaceland

“There are people possessive of the early punk scene.  They try to hold on to it, but years go by all by themselves.  There’s still a scene.  It’s a bit modified, but any night of the week you can hear the music.”—Craig Ochoa

In 1996 Kim married musician Craig Ochoa.  His band, Gasoline, often played at Al’s Bar.  Instant electricity.  Impromptu drive-thru wedding.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Reception venue?

Kim:  Spaceland.  I’ve known the owner, Mitchell, and all the bartenders for years.  We had the place from two ‘til eight.

Craig:  It was like watching a train full of people zoom by.  Zillion miles per hour.  Tippling.  Celebrating.  We had a western swing revival band—The Lucky Stars.  Tex Williams’ style.

Spaceland transformed into Weddingland.

The week before Kim and Craig’s fifth wedding anniversary, they attend a Circle Jerks reunion concert at Spaceland as VIPs.  Play catch-up with their crowd.  Afterwards, Greg Hetson (now of Bad Religion) gives them a lift home.

Garden Party

“I’m a loser baby.  So why don’t you kill me?”—Beck

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: I read an article about Gus Hudson in the music issue of Glue, and a little piece of my heart breaks.  I have no clue who he is, but I find it distressing that former protégé Beck has blown this unassuming Flipside Records producer off:  “It’s hard for us in the punk rock crowd to deal with bands that make it big. . . . We want the same relationship that we had before.  And somehow that ends.”

The next day, I go to a party at Kim and Craig’s.  Gus Hudson is there, wearing the same red shirt as his photo in the article.  As if he just stepped off the page into the backyard barbeque.  I have officially entered Kim’s own twilight zone.

Greek Theater

“We would talk every day for hours/We belong to the deadbeat club.”—B52’s

It’s a hot August night at the Greek Theater.  On the bill are the Go-Go’s, b52’s, and The Psychedelic Furs.  The Go-Go’s Behind the Music is in VH1 rotation.  Talk of who’s who and old school.  Kim and Craig meet and greet acquaintances.  Artists and critics.  We chat about Allison Anders and Kurt Voss’ Sugar Town.

Kim:  I’ll see anything with John Doe in it.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: And that’s how I learned about John Doe, Exene, and the scene.

Almost Famous

“Every picture tells a story,”—Faces

Kim and Craig see Almost Famous.  Coming out of the theater, a kid points to Craig’s bleached blond hair and shouts, “Eminem.”

Kim:  Kate Hudson’s dad played at my sixth-grade graduation.  The Hudson Brothers headlined Busch Gardens in The Valley.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Do you think Cameron Crowe’s film glams the rock ‘n’ roll film genre?

Kim:  Definitely.  The “Band-Aids” were too clean.  Penny Lane had too many cute outfits.  But what went on backstage—the bus ramming the fence, band on the run—that kind of thing did happen.  Happened all the time.

Behind the Music

“The whole thing was about being yourself.”—Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten, The Filth and the Fury

Everything old is new again.  Kim styles longtime client Billy Idol’s hair for his VH1 Behind the Music episode.  Her eighteen-year-old assistant is in awe.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Well, you are a part of L.A. punk rock history.

Kim:  Yes, that’s probably true.

(Billy Idol update:  TBD)

Kim’s newest clients are not always punk, but they do rock.  She creates hairstyles for band members Beautiful Creatures before they rejoin the Ozzfest tour.  Rock and Roll never forgets.

Silver Lake

“Stake her claim in Silverlake . . . chalking it all up to fate.”—Michael Penn

From atop costume stylist Houston Sam’s deck on Micheltorena—the same street that boasts silent screen star Antonion Moreno’s restored mansion The Paramour—Kim co-hosts a wedding shindig for close friends.  It looks like the opening scene of Austin Powers.  Eclectic collection of guests.  Hair by Kim.  Kim’s raucous laughter belies a cool reserve.  A contradiction in terms, much like the music that changed her days to nights so many odd years ago.  She holds her son, Aristotle.  His mini tee forewarns:  “Future Punk Rocker.”  Shifting the baby from one hip to another, Kim casts a glance over the celluloid skyline.  Balancing the dynamics of static and change in her ruby red go-go boots.

Postscript:  After Kim, Craig, and Aristotle and their guardian angel, Felix, resided in one of Walt Disney’s former homes in Los Feliz, they purchased their current home in Eagle Rock, the day the city appeared on the cover of the Los Angeles Times as the latest in L.A. trendy real estate.

It’s a small world after all.

The author in the 80s.

Plump up the Volume: Interview with Princess Lili Kathleen Hardy

Mrs. Cooper (aka Shelly Johnson):  “Scarlett” doesn’t suit you dear.

Becky (aka Lili Reinhardt):  Well, I like it.  It makes me feel powerful.–Riverdale

Jessica: What color lipstick are you wearing?

Helen: Well it’s three different kinds. I blend. I start with MAC Viva Glam 3.

Jessica: Uh-huh.

Helen: Which is a great base, and then I add Prescriptives Poodle on top.

Jessica: Oh my God I love Prescriptives, it’s the best.

Helen: I know, isn’t it?

Jessica: The moisture and the . . . It’s great.

Helen:  Then I finish with Philosophy Super Natural Nude, which is more of a . . .

Jessica: Of a glossy, kinda?

Helen: Exactly, a little bit of shine.—Kissing Jessica Stein

Lili Kathleen Hardy is cute and a beaut who walks with aplomb and spunk to spare.  What’s not to love about this Miss Ooh La, Montana girl, who once marched midway into a Taco Tuesday party with a loaf of ready-made garlic bread under her arm.

“This is just for me,” as she deftly heats the oven to 350 degrees.

Lil Lil’s tagline: “Garlic, I’m interested.”

Write Between the Lines is interested in Lil Lil’s beauty routine.

Through the looking glass, she graciously takes time to teach good face.  Apply the maquillage to the visage.

Lili:  So, what I do first thing, if I know I’m going to put my makeup on within the next hour, is moisturize.  Prep my face so it’s hydrated and sticky.  I won’t moisturize after I wash my face, if I have more time.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: What’s the rationale?

Lili:  Moisturizing serum.  I always start with my eyebrows, always

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Side note:  We both go to Chandler Husband at the Beauty Strip for waxing.

Lili:  Omg, luv Chandler.  Shape the brows with concealer.  Eyebrow pencil and a pomade.  If I don’t really care, I’ll just use a pencil.  I’ll always start back to front: fill in the eyebrow up to the front fourth.  Blend it out with the spoolly brush using super simple hair strokes.  Blend it out again so it’s not so harsh.  More natural, not so blocky.

Then, I will set them with clear brow gel I like twice instead of once, so I know they’ll stay if I go out all day.  Next, I’ll shape the brow with Anastasia “soft glam” palette, Jouer Cosmetics Essential High Coverage Liquid Concealer, so I know the shape they’ll take.  I always start on the top part of below my brow.  After the bottom I’ll do the top, same thing: create shape that stands out in sharp relief to the skin.  If I make it too thin on accident, or I don’t shape it well enough, I’ll go back in with a brush.

Lili checks her look in the mirror and kicks up her heel.

Lili: Next eyes.  I like to prime with concealer, then blend it out.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Why not foundation first?

Lili: Tons of fallout and it messes up your face.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: How do you choose your color?

Lili: I just look at the palette.  I set my eyelids with translucent powder so it doesn’t crease.  Tap, not swipe.  Hmmm. Transition shade.  Matte or shimmery?

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Matte.

Lili:  Burnt orange.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Is that the same palette I use?

Lili:  It’s Anastasia’s Soft Glam Eyeshadow Palette.  You have Modern Renaissance.  I do beat it into a pulp, using this Morphe M167.  Blend with a big fluffy brush.  Build up the transition color.  Darker, Darker, Darker.  Don’t go too fast.  The transition color can be lighter or darker; neutral blends everything together.  Deepen the crease brush fluffy more tapered Lexi 249.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: When did you start playing with makeup?

Lili:  Twelve?  I started doing it in 7th grade.  I got serious when I was fifteen.   I didn’t get good at it until I was sixteen, seventeen.  That’s when I could actually pull off full glam looks and not feel stupid.

Lili’s hip shifts to one side, her feet Battement tendu into second position.

Lili:  Once I’m done with the eyelids: eyeliner.

Lili locates the Kat Von D Tattoo Liner.

Lili:  Yep, it’s a banger.  My holy grail.

Wing flipping back and forth swoop with precision light brush strokes.  Stops to admire the thick wing line that frames the matte shadow.

Peaches and cream complexion.  Button nose, nary a blink.

Lili:  Then I’ll check if the length to see if one is thicker or longer than the other.  If so, I’ll make adjustments.  False eyelashes:  Black lash glue if I have liner, clear glue if I don’t.  Glue on first until it’s tacky then I’ll put on mascara.  I won’t curl them at all.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Which mascara do you use?

Lili:  It literally changes every day.  I pick at random.  Loreal Telescopic Volumizer is a really good drugstore mascara dup for Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara.

“I do my hair toss, check my nails
Baby, how you feelin’? (Feelin’ good as hell.)” Lizzo

Prep and prime.

Lili:  Eye cream if I just washed my face.  Put on the moisturizer with little dabs.  While this setting in the skin, I get out my beloved beauty blender.  I change it every three months.  Always get your bb damp so it expands.  I wring it out with a towel, and let it sit while I prime my face using a lil Bye Bye Pores primer t-zone.  Also, sometimes if you take too much pore filler, it balls up in your hand that’s how you know.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Where do you buy your products?

Lili:  Sephora and Ulta.

🆆[🅱🆃]🅻: Nigel’s gives us the NoHo neighborhood discount.

Lili:  Foundation literally depends on what is the right shade of face.  At home I use a tray.  While traveling, I put it on my hand, then dot it all over my face.  Polka dots. I like to use a brush to blend it.  It’s just not attractive to see a line between foundation and the real face.  Concealer under eyes, dab with beauty blender.

Big fluffy brush with translucent powder.


🆆[🅱🆃]🅻:  Blush changes every day. 

She plumps up a half smile for the apple of the cheek, and brushes the blush swiftly away towards the hairline.

Lili:  Melt everything into your face so it’s not so cakey.  Fan everything with the highlight’s brush.  Put some on my nose and cupid’s bow.  If it’s too intense, blend it out a little.

Highlight brow bone matte on my eyes’ inner corner is my fave thing to do.  Eyeliner outer corner of my lash line blend out with brush.  Urban Decay setting spray 30 sprays drench my face doesn’t move for the rest of the day.

Touch ups.  Brush teeth.  Do lips.  Outline with Kylie Cosmetic Candy K.  It is my basically my lip color, but better.  Fenty lip gloss, and that’s it.

Write Between the Lines takeaway?  Blend always.  Lili blending in? Hard(l)y.


Gel Polish

by LB Nye

Claudia said she couldn’t take me, but here she was moving other people around so she could take me right away.  A manicure emergency.

An emergency ‘cause the funeral is in a couple of hours and I’m not gonna bury my mother with chipped nails.  Gel polish ‘cause death gets the good nails. 

Claudia tore in with the cuticle clippers and the files. Nobody ever said Claudia was gentle.  Nails come out good, though.  She says, “Don’t flinch, I got sharp implements here.”  I say, “You’re gonna draw blood.”

Acetone smells like my first manicure, hanging with Mom and my aunts.  Makes you feel like a grown up, walking around with those perfect nails.  Base coat and top coat.  Perfect, Claudia got the skills.  Then the color.  Red, red, red, the color of Chianti.  And rub ‘em down.  Mom likes the pale colors, pinks and such.  But she doesn’t have an opinion, anymore. 

So, the thing you do is, after Claudia is all done, is you set your fingers under UV light, a minute, maybe two.  Two if you want it to really last.  There’s some chemistry in there, free radicals set off by the UV wavelengths, bonding up, hard as crystal.  So, I sit still; the radicals get to be free.    

I tip Claudia good and she taps the back of my hand, “hang in there.”

Nicest she’s ever been to me.