Can you give the readers some background on yourself, Jenine?
Jenine: I was born and grew up in San Francisco, leaving for the East
Coast not long after my graduation from San Francisco State University
in 1989, where I received degrees in Psychology and also American
Indian Studies. For that one, all of my classes were taught by Native
Americans and the dean of the ethnic studies program was former Black
Panther, Angela Davis! Somewhere in between, I remember attending
Carlmont High School in Belmont, California (shout out to all you
Scots!), and working at Tower Records in San Mateo, where I met some
of my best friends to this day. The bonding powers of Hate for The
Man, near-deadly staple gun fights on a nightly basis and selective
petty theft are truly amazing.
Punk Globe: We have known each other for so long. You sang with the
White Trash Debutantes doing shows and recording. But one of the most
memorable times in our friendship was the ride we took in Valerie's
brother’s van to see the Ramones in Los Angeles. What stuck out the
most about that wild road trip for you?
Jenine: Yes, I joined the band in 1987 or '88, doing a number of gigs at the
Covered Wagon in San Francisco, the most memorable to me, in addition
to your birthday party, was opening for GG Allin, and the stink thereafter.
Good times and hard drinking! I also enjoyed filling in for Tonya briefly in
2006 for a show at the Anarchy Library in Downey and recording "Judy is a Punk"
with y'all for the South American tribute collection, "Todos Somos Ramones."
As far as the road trip itself, I remember volunteering to drive
because, although I had just gotten off work at 2:00 a.m., when we
picked up Amy after her shift at the Pierce Street Annex (a popular
yuppie bar off of Union Street where I later worked and injured myself
waitressing), I had not been drinking. I was also amped up on speed,
possessed a brand-new cassette of “Ramones Mania” and, luckily, a Bic
lighter by which to read the blown-out dashboard to periodically
monitor my, er, velocity. All in all, a really great 5 1/2-hour ride!
Sadly, we were turned away from the Holiday Inn on Highland, as
promised to us by Greg the roadie, so ended up at the wonderful Bill
Dakota’s pad, where we cleaned up and got into our party clothes, then
off we went to explore L.A. and hang out later with Joey at their
hotel after the show at the Ford Theater. That night, we stayed in the
scary but classic Hollywood Center Motel on Sunset--this is where the
hottie who became "The Mentalist" met his end in "L.A. Confidential."
It was all five of us in a small roach-infested room in the back, where we
were able to sneak in three of us for free. Circumstances forced me to sleep
like a Bushman, leaning on my elbow so nothing unwanted would crawl into
my ears. You’ve said I took a lude earlier in the evening, but I have no memory
of it. Sounds like I did!
Punk Globe: When you went to see The Ramones in Santa Barbara. Val
Barkhodar, Roseann Kuberski, Amy Palasky and I went to see Frightwig
at The Coconut Teaszer. Courtney Love was there with Bob Dylan's
son--that was a pretty fun show.
Jenine: I recall that side trip well! I wanted to see every
performance The Ramones did in SoCal, so I ended up taking the bus on
my own to get there. It was a fantastic daytime show, except for some
idiot in the front row trying to untie Johnny’s shoelaces while he
played. I’m not sure that kid survived Johnny’s glare, one of the
harshest I’ve ever seen anyone give anyone. I hadn’t eaten all day
when we arrived back to the Holiday Inn in the early evening and
started drinking Chivas on the rocks, I think I poured down four. Joey said
it was his favorite drink at the time, and he was buying them for everyone,
everyone including me and some members of The Cramps, I believe.
I am cognizant of two things before passing out atop the bar in my own
drool: One, Joey throwing my half-full bowl of popcorn at the
bartender and, two, swearing off alcohol forever. The next thing I
knew, I was in the roadies’ room with you, Joey, Valerie, Roseann and
Amy. Some of you were pissed I didn’t hang with you that day, but we
made amends over my humiliating myself by vomiting that bit of popcorn
I ate at the bar onto the bed, in front of you all and my/our crush,
Later, I went even further with that theme by sleeping with him upstairs in
his room. I was terribly hung-over and he was really drunk. We’d slept
together another time before that night, when tour manager Monte
Melnick asked me to play chaperon for him after their show at The
Stone in San Francisco in 1986, that same night I first met you and
Roseann at the party Bobby Mack held at his club, The Oasis. It was
the routine for someone to remove Joey's valuables before letting him
retire with anyone, but Monte was worried about this well-known
groupie, Wendy, who had been serving up flamethrowers all night,
stealing his other stuff in the room or more. I got to watch Wendy
and Joey be really drunk together and pass out on his bed, fully
clothed, at the Kabuki Hotel. As fate would have it, I had not been
drinking much but had enjoyed some other party favors from Joey, so he
and I cuddled and kissed all night, fully clothed, until Monte and the
other Ramones interrupted our breakfast from room service to take a
tour of Japan town. So, I’ve spent both one of my best and worst
evenings with Joey Ramone and you, and the "worst" parts were all my
own doing. I left L.A. with you and the gang after the last Ramones
show, at The Roxy, the next night, and I will treasure those partial
memories for the rest of my life.
Punk Globe: What year did you move from San Francisco to Hollywood?
Jenine: I moved here in 1992, after living in the Washington, D.C,.
area and working in media relations, and in costumes, for People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals (P.E.T.A.). After being fed up with
watching hundreds of animals put to death at the S.P.C.A. when I
worked there during my college years, I was attracted to P.E.T.A.’s
deeply anarchistic vibe, and I’ve got an F.B.I. record to prove it. You can
take the girl out of punk rock, but…I've been working primarily in television
production since, from footage and game show research to producing and
writing documentary programs, and even clearance on non-fiction and
reality shows.Those earlier chaotic times prepared me well for a life
and relative uncertainty.
When did you take an interest in photography?
Jenine: I’ve been drawing portraits since I was a kid, mainly of The
Beatles, but that was not something I felt I could do well in dark
bars or restaurants, bookstores or Laundromats, so when I saw what was
happening in the comedy world down here in the mid-1990s, I decided to
teach myself photography. I had trained my eye for some time, working
with a little point and shoot when hiking around Grand Canyon by
myself, but that kind of photography was not going to result in
anything interesting, so I picked up a Canon AE-1 and shot in the dark,
without a flash, about five shows a week, featuring about five comics
each show. It was an exciting time of daredevil comedy—Janeane
Garofalo, David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, Greg Behrendt and dozens of
others were getting their start, and I wanted to participate in some
meaningful way. I charged nothing, of course, and neither did they. I
was still learning and so were many of the comedians I watched, and
our lack of polish sometimes made for very good shows and photos. I
had witnessed much of the comedy scene during the '80s in San
Francisco, dating Alex Bennett for a couple of my formative, but
legal, years and I saw this new scene coming--and I wasn't going to
let it get away from me this time.
Punk Globe: I know that you plan on releasing a book of most every
comic who played at Largo during the mid-‘90s. Can you tell us about
Jenine: This is true! Now temporarily titled COMIC OUTLAWS: Images and
Stories of L.A.'s Famous (and Infamous) Alternative Comedians, it's
filled with interviews and photos featuring over 50 comics, the text
complementing the photographs, and telling a story, whether you read
one quote, one page or the entire book. It contains a wide range of
performers, from members of the Kids in the Hall to Julia Sweeney and
Kevin Nealon to Jack Black, Sarah Silverman, and Kathy Griffin. Naomi
Odenkirk, Bob's wife, and I began to flesh out this sucker in 2004,
when she said she wanted to publish the book. She had self-published
the companion book to her husband's series with David Cross, "Mr.
Show." Her distributor suggested we work with a good but small art
publisher and we did for a bit, but ultimately, he just wasn't
experienced in doing photography books, so we, and my literary agent,
decided to wait a bit and are now looking for a more established
publisher, like Steidl in Germany, for example, or any of the
publishers who've done photo books on the punk music scene. I am open
Punk Globe: During this time in your life you had become very close
friends with quite a few of the performers. Tell us some of the people
you were tight with?
Jenine: Well, Jeremy Kramer, whom I dated after Alex in 1985, moved
down from S.F. with Mary Lynn Rajskub in '94, I believe, along with
some of the folks I just mentioned. Jeremy and I have always been
close, then he and Laura Kightlinger became writing partners and best
friends while she and Jack were together. Laura became a good friend
to me, too, and we did some spiritual seeking together, so the four of
us would hang out. Laura and Jack actually helped me move once, which
should tell you what kind of quality people they are, in addition to
doing numerous fund raisers for animals and other great causes. I must
also say that Mary Lynn has a special place in my heart--we spent a
good deal of time together sitting with Gangaji, as Laura and I did,
and she makes me laugh in a way no one else can, entirely
unpredictable in her material and her delivery, and I recommend
everyone see her one-woman shows at the Steve Allen Theater. A lot of
the comics have parted ways from each other, and I'm no exception, but
I am happy that each one has been in my life, and grateful for the
many who still are.
Punk Globe: At the time you were taking these photos did you have any
thoughts on releasing a book?
Jenine: In a way, yes. I knew I wanted to present them to others in a
collection of sorts and began exhibiting them at some galleries,
including Disney's Feature Animation gallery, which was cool but a
little weird. I am most proud of the fact that G. Ray Hawkins himself
showed some of my images privately. He opened the first photography
gallery in L.A. and his encouragement meant and still means quite a bit.
Initially, the book was to be just photos, and there was some
interest, but a year or so later, when Naomi approached me about
putting it out, I decided that the text would take it to a different
and better place. Bob Odenkirk confirmed that by telling me that
people will justify the cost of and buy a photo book because of the
text, even if they never read it. But, God, I hope they do! I
personally wrote all the questions and did all the interviews
myself--in person but for two of them--and spent three months anally
transcribing 80 hours of recorded conversations. It's a great read,
100 times or so and counting, if I do say so myself.
Punk Globe: Do you have any stand-alone shots that you are most proud of?
Jenine: Well, I love this one of you in sparkly glasses that I shot back in
2001, when the White Trash Debutantes opened for Mike Dirnt (of Green
Day) and his side-band, The Frustrators. Of the comics, this one of
Jack Black in the spotlight always makes me smile. I shot it during
his and Kyle Gass's first big gig as Tenacious D at the Key Club in
1998. There is also one of Mary Lynn performing her one-woman show,
"The Littlest Angel," that gets me every time. I also dig the stills I
shot on the set of "Politically Incorrect," when I worked there as a
writers' assistant in 1997. My favorites rotate, but these are
always high on the list. These, and any of William Shatner singing.
Punk Globe: I remember going to a photo exhibit at a location that was
the actual bar from Cheers. That was a fun show. Tell us how you got
involved with that show.
Jenine: I met a woman named Jennifer Howell who runs a great
organization called the Art of Elysium and she brought me into that
show, along with legendary rock photographer, Henry Diltz, held at
the Hollywood Entertainment Museum. That was a fun night, and I was
particularly happy with the party and the arrangement of my photos. I
think I got an even better exhibition area than Henry, but his work is
so well-known that it could have been shown in the broom closet and
been a success!
That same night I met two women who were doing stand-up
that you were working with named Laura Kightlinger and Mary Lynn
Rajskub. Tell the readers more about that.
Jenine: Yeah, Patton Oswalt, along with Mary Lynn and Laura, were
generous enough to perform that night to open the evening’s
festivities, along with Henry's guest, Jennifer Stills, Stephen's
daughter. I will always be grateful to them, and you, for coming out
to support me that night. Henry was also very encouraging, which I
Punk Globe: It must have been very exciting getting to know these
comics before they broke. Tell us about some of whom you are most
Jenine: Jack, of course--there is no surprise at his success. He is successful
not only because of his awesome talent, but his kindness and sense of
fairness. He and Laura are two of the few who paid me for my work from
the start--very classy. It was fascinating and a little terrifying to
watch him catapult to the top. He said to me once, at Largo
one night while watching another show, that he was only able to relax
while he was performing! Only then was he free to focus on the
task at hand instead of all the other to-dos in his increasingly busy
life. I haven't talked with him much in the last couple of years, but
I still feel like I can.
Laura has also done greatl with her talents, writing and starring in her
own series, "The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman," in addition
to her writing on "Will & Grace" and many other shows and films. She has
a new series out now called "Le Chats" about male cat ladies, Frank Conniff
("Mystery Science Theater 3000") and Eddie Pepitone ("The Sarah Silverman
Program"), and has promised I can be in one of the upcoming episodes--
and I will hold her to it! Greg Behrendt has managed to be honest,
creative and successful, including but not limited to his book, HE'S
JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, and his cool new comedy series, which I'll
talk about momentarily. I love Andy Dick and am always in his corner,
he has such a good heart. I'm proud that so many of these really
funny, smart people have been able to do work they are proud of, that
they were able to be successful being themselves.
Punk Globe: At present you are looking for a publishing company to
release your book. Now you have had several offers but none seemed
like the deal you want. In case anyone may be reading this interview
what kind of deal are you looking for?
Jenine: Thanks for asking about this, Ginger. Yes, a major publisher
with an imprint focusing on photography would be great. If there is an
indie publisher out there with the ability and financing to put out a
great quality photography art book, and has the distribution reach to
market it well, we've already got a plan, and a bunch of famous people
in the book who want to help sell it. We are also, as I mentioned,
very okay with a top-shelf photography publisher like Steidl making
this book idea a reality. I don't care as much about money-making as
in putting out a book I can be proud to have my name, and so many
other names, on.
You have also branched out photographing bands. Tell us
about some of the bands who you have shot?
Jenine: Lots and lots! I began with comedians, but there was and is
much crossover between alt comedy and alt music. Tenacious D was one
of the first bands and Eban Schetter composed and performed all the
music to accompany the comedians on stage and later went on to score
all of the "Mr. Show" episodes. Fionna Apple, Aimee Mann, Grant Lee
Phillips, Jill Sobule and, naturally, Jon Brion were all part of the
shows at Largo. Others include Ron Sexsmith, Joe Jackson, Henry
Rollins, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Stevie Nicks, Frank Black,
P.F. Sloan, The Like, M Ward, Victoria Williams, Adam Cohen, Nick
Lowe, Mike Dirnt, Lucinda Williams and of course, you and the White
Trash Debutantes, to name a few favorites. I'm not sure if I should
categorize Tammy Faye and William Shatner in this group, but I've shot
Punk Globe: Some of your photographs have been used on CDs. Am I right?
Jenine: Yes, comedian Dana Gould, The Frustrators, Eban Schletter, and
other musicians have all used my images on CDs. I love seeing them
used that way, with my permission, of course.
Punk Globe: Do you have any web site addresses that people can check
out your work and make direct contact with you at?
My site is currently being redesigned, but folks can find me
on Face Book at http://www.facebook.com/jenine.deshazer
or by emailing
me at email@example.com
and I am working on sharing more
of my photos of musicians there. Folks will need to wait for the release of
the book to see most of the photos of comedians, per advice from my agent,
but I hope that day will come soon!
Can you tell us what 2010 holds in store for you?
Jenine: Only good things, I believe. I worked earlier this year as
stills photographer on a new comedy series produced and hosted by
Greg Behrendt, currently called, "There Might Be Cake," and we could be
starting production this year. In addition to hiring me to shoot my
style of photography on set, the show will be featuring many of the
photos from my book, which truly thrills me. There has even been talk
of a film featuring these comics and the photos I shot of them, so
fingers crossed. I was also made a member of the Writers Guild of
America (WGA) this year, so I'm looking forward to writing more, if
more shows start playing by the rules and laws of the state.
Punk Globe: I have nothing but admiration for you and your work with
pets. Can you tell the readers how they can get involved?
Jenine: Spay or neuter your companion animals, adopt don't buy your
next one. Don't buy new fur products, go vegan or at least consider
not eating one kind of animal--every act counts. It's not all or
nothing, despite what some would say. Don't support circuses or other
animal-based "entertainment" like zoos or Sea World or rodeos. Spread
the word on sites like Face Book about animal issues or campaigns.
Create awareness about animal welfare with kindness wherever you go,
and call a rescue group first, not animal control, when you come
across abused, feral or lost animals. The government agencies can
follow up, but don't usually have the manpower to take swift action. I
could go on, but I think your readers get the drift. Get personally
Punk Globe: Do you have any web addresses for people to find out more
about animal rights and rescue?
We need more people like you in this world. Do you have
any words of advice for beginning photographers?
Jenine: Thanks for that, Ginger--you, too. My advice is to shoot lots
of FILM. You will develop your eye and instincts much better if you
can learn to "feel" when you've got the shot, instead of checking your
display each time. You also won't miss any of the action scrolling
through what you've already shot. Learn how to take apart and put back
together a manual camera and spend a minimum of one day learning in
the dark room--at the very least, you will be able to converse
intelligently with your chosen lab (I LOVE Schulman's on Sunset).
Also, I believe my best photos happen when I let myself fall at least
a little in love with my subject, even an object. I don't think the
best photos come from being a control freak--let some accidents happen
on purpose, too.
Punk Globe: Thank you so much for the interview. Any last words of
Jenine: Always want the truth more than anything else, and you won't
be disappointed. You are welcome, Ginger--it has been my pleasure!