Dave Markey:
We Got Power!

Interviewed by Carl Macki

dave markey photo

Dave Markey is a filmmaker, photographer, editor, writer and musician, whose name is synonymous
with southern California punk culture. In the two previous decades, he has made films or videos with the likes of Nirvana,
Mudhoney, Sonic Youth and Thurston Moore, The Ramones, The Muffs, Painted Willie, Fudge Tunnel, fIREHOSE,
Ciccone Youth, Black Flag, the Meat Puppets, Shonen Knife, The Posies, Abby Travis,
Redd Cross, Eyes Adrift, Gumball, Dinosaur Jr, Babes in Toyland, and many others.

Some of his most acclaimed movies include "The Reinactors (2008),"  1991: The Year Punk Broke" (1992) --
the follow-up to it -- "This Is Known As The Blues Scale" (2004)," "The Slog Movie" (1982),
"Desperate Teenage Lovedolls (film)" (1984), ;and "Lovedolls Superstar (film)" (1986).
  They are available from his archive and distribution company at"

Markey's films have been exhibited around the world and FIlm Festivals and screenings for many,
many years. He started filmmaking when he was just eleven.

PUNK GLOBE: Can you tell me whether these are all of the bands you were in are still playing and performing?

MARKEY: My very first band I helped form at the age of 17, Sin 34, reformed last year and has done a few shows in the LA area. It's pretty rare thing for punk rock (or any music really) to reform with all of your original members 24 years later, totally out of the blue. It felt great to bash the hell out of a drum kit again.  After Sin 34 broke up in 1984, Painted Willie happened with Phil Newman (also X-of Sin 34). He had a recording studio in North Hollywood called Spinhead. A lot of great recordings (and parties) came out of there. I did a series of not-so-serious bands after that like Anarchy 6, Tusk, Chop, Society’s Ill’s, and a few others.

PUNK GLOBE: Dave, You stated making films when you were rather young. Reportedly, one time at age eleven, you used your dad's Brownie film camera after your parents refused to let you see "The Exorcist, ;so you made "The Devil's Exorcist,"
your own version using kids in the neighborhood.

MARKEY: I was artistically motivated from a very early age. I published a neighborhood newspaper
I did a punk zine. I was drawn to filmmaking as a kid before punk rock.
I was fascinated by the process, and still am. And yes, I have my father to thank for that.
He was always shooting films and pictures, and I started to do the same around ten or eleven.

PUNK GLOBE:You grew up in Santa Monica. How were you introduced to punk?
MARKEY: I heard about punk long before I actually heard punk. Back then, AC/DC was considered punk, you know. But I was more attracted to bands like Devo and the B-52's. I liked Brian Eno as much as The Ramones. From there, I got into the more hardcore stuff that was happening in Southern California at the time like Red Cross, The Minutemen, Saccharine Trust, and Black Flag.

PUNK GLOBE: As a true independent filmmaker for over thirty years now. Do you feel you may have greater access
to your public now with distribution over the Internet?

MARKEY: My early Super-8 films have been out on DVD for a few years now and have done quite well considering that they have not been marketed in any fashion.  I suppose the Internet could be responsible as there wasn’t really any publicity outside of the web. "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls" has always been the big seller, just like how it was with VHS years ago.  A film that initially cost $250.00. “The Slog Movie” also has some hardcore fans out there.

While we are talking about the net; I had a million and a half video views on You Tube before they inexplicably deleted my account last week. All I had posted there was my own work. Much of it was music videos I shot for Sonic Youth, Firehose, Shonen Knife, Mudhoney, Meat Puppets, and the like. I am very happy that I got to produce clips for bands that I actually like, but it sucks that it was probably one of these band’s record labels (or whoever owns them now) that had me yanked. I maintain my own site, which streams all of this 24/7 absolutely free, with no ads (

PUNK GLOBE: Thoughts on working with Greg Ginn and artist Richard Pettibon (Greg Ginn's brother) ...

MARKEY: That would be Raymond Pettibon. I did a series of video project with him shot on really crappy home VHS in the late 1980’s. One was on Manson, one was on Patty Hearst, another one was on the Weather Underground, and the best of the bunch was about a fictitious punk rock band called "Sir Drone." These videos were to mainly facilitate his dialog, as there was not much else to grasp on to. Just people in a room reading from hand written pages of Ray's dialog, line after line. It's quite apparent when you watch them. I have yet to meet anyone who has been able to sit through them, although they are now in museums the world over. Raymond is a brilliant writer in addition to his graphic illustration, I have always wondered what could be done with his scripts if the proper production was available. His brother Greg signed my second band,
Painted Willie, to SST in the mid-80's, just before that. It was a mind-blow to be a part of their roster. It's too bad everything went south
with SST a few years down the line.

PUNK GLOBE: Have you worked in Canada? You have many fans there.

MARKEY: I've been there (Toronto), but I've never worked there.

PUNK GLOBE: You started Sin 34 with Phil Newman,Julie Lanfeld, and Mike "Geek" Glass, too; and the We Got Power fanzine with
Jordan Schwartz. Here's a quote -- I think it was Wikipedia -- about your work:

"His films remained in his neighborhood until he discovered the burgeoning LA Punk Scene through bands like X, Black Flag, & Red Cross in 1980. Inspired by the music, Markey formed his own band, Sin 34, in 1981. He also started We Got Power fanzine that year along with Jordan Schwartz. Thus spawning Markey’s cinematic Super-8 cult punk scene documents. These films were distributed underground and critically well received, putting Markey on the Cinematic Punk map before he was of legal age.His recent DVD, "Cut Shorts," is a collection of short films and music videos he has directed, spanning 30 years from 1974 to 2004."

Markey's new movie, "The Reinactors" [2008]," a documentary about the Walk of Fame of Hollywood and the street celebrity impersonators and their lives has been wowing audiences across the globe. I just loved it!

Dave Markey on the set of "The Reinactors" with some of the characters in the film

PUNK GLOBE: Can you tell me a little bit about the name of the film.  It is unusual.

MARKEY: "The Reinactors" is an intentional mis-spelling of "Reenactors." These people reenact Hollywood Superstars and Motion Picture Icons. This is what they do for a living, one dollar at a time
PUNK GLOBE: Tell me how the idea for "The Reinactors" (2008) came about. How can people see it?

MARKEY: That film came out of me happening to catch a sensationalized media report on the arrest of a Holywood Blvd. street character who portrayed Freddy Kruger, for the alleged stabbing of a tourist. That's what first flagged me to the scene down in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater and Hollywood and Highland, in which about a hundred or so different people dressed as film characters hustle tourists for cash. What I found there was a story of the underbelly of Hollywood that I couldn't quite believe, as familiar as it was. I got in deep with a few of the characters, and grafted a narrative out of that. Might not sound that much, but trust me, you really have to see it to believe it. You couldn't write this stuff.
The DVD is comingout in June.

PUNK GLOBE: Ginger told me she met you in 1979, when Sin 34 and you stayed at her place in SF.

MARKEY: It's true, except it was probably more like 1982. Ginger put us up at her place, and I've never forgotten how nice she was. I remember she was singing the theme song to "Fame" repeatedly that night. She was hanging out with Bambi, ask her whatever happened to Bambi. I think she went on tour with the Stranglers as a dancer.

PUNK GLOBE: Then again when you were working with Thurston Moore and you brought him
to one of the White Trash Debutantes' shows.

MARKEY: Could have happened, but I don't remember it.

PUNK GLOBE: Do you know that Ginger lives about ten blocks from you in Hollywood?

MARKEY: Yes, I see her occasionally on her moped. I also saw her in the deleted scenes from "American Hardcore"
and wondered why she wasn't in the film. She stole the show.

PUNK GLOBE: What's next for you? What about DC-Jam and Painted Willie?

MARKEY: I am finishing up the DVD for "The Reinactors", I am very excited about the project. The extras are very solid. It's going to kick ass! DC-Jam is re-releasing Painted Willie's first album,"Mind Bowling," this spring. Also very stoked about that. Glad that I can keep producing work and playing music, there isn't much else for me to do here.

PUNK GLOBE: Thanks, Dave! Again, his website is at:

"The Reinactors" ; "1991--The Year Punk Broke" "Desperate Teenage Lovedolls" "Lovedolls Superstar"

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