Snapshots from the Opening Night of RIPPED: Expressions from the Underground

The first LA rain in months did not dampen the enthusiasm of the students, Art Walk goers, and music lovers that came out to celebrate the opening of RIPPED: Expressions from the Underground at the FIDM Museum on the evening of November 8th. They were treated to live musical performances by No-Wave legend Lydia Lunch with Retro Virus, Phantom Family Halo, and curator Cesar Padilla with the Ritchie White Orchestra.

MC Howie Pyro called artists and writers to the stage throughout the evening to tell stories and read their passages from Padilla’s RIPPED: T-Shirts from the Underground. Howie Pyro told the story of how he came to possess a trunk of clothing owned by Sid and Nancy, after their death. That was followed by readings from Roddy Bottum, Jack Waterson, Kari Krome, among others. Lita Ford, an original Runaway with Joan Jett, fashion designer Jeremy Scott, and other cultural icons mingled with an extraordinary group of people at this remarkable event.

We talked with performers and attendees at the event and after, to see what their take was on RIPPED, the concert, and the roll of rock n’ roll. Here are some of their responses.

Lydia Lunch

“I started performing when I was 17, so it is good to play to people that were not even born when I got started, especially since what I do is so aggressive. And I think we could use more aggressive women in music—and in all fields right now!

Music then was anti-fashion—especially No Wave. Punk was fashion-conscious, but No Wave, what I do, is more surreal and Dada-influenced. We were about personal insanity where Punk Rock was about political insanity. It was not about fashion, in fact the worst thing was to sell out or sell-up. It was about aggression, rage, and doing-it-yourself. We were raging against commercialism. My music is tight, aggressive and ugly. I am not afraid to be harsh because somebody has to.

DIY—Do-it-yourself. We have to show kids what things were like back in the day. RIPPED is great—it shows that.”

Allison Wolfe—Bratmobile

“I think that although punk rock is an audio experience, the visuals are also important to the aesthetic. It seemed like, back then in the late ’70s and into the ’80s, before punk clothing was manufactured, people wanted to show who they were through what they wore. It was a code. You would make your own clothes or alter something to show how you aligned yourself with the counterculture. What you wore showed you were part of the subculture and also helped you find like-minded people you could identify with. It was a visual cue that people relied on.

Back then most punk outfits were handmade, or self-altered, one at a time or in small batches. Later on in 1990–91, for the first Bratmobile show, we hand painted five shirts and threw them into the small audience of friends. When Cesar Padilla found one at a thrift store in Portland, I couldn’t believe it… well, maybe I could! And now it ended up in his book.”

Howie Pyro

“Why some people get to air their dirty laundry in a fashion museum?

The concept is truly bizarre. An oxymoron on many levels, but when we look deeper we find, under the stains, many things. Amateur outsider art meant to be (in most cases) either disposable teenage tributes, worn as badges of honor and invitations to fight, at a time when what band was on your shirt was almost as serious as a gang tattoo. Also, some are "merch", quick shirts printed up for sale at concerts and in head shops, record stores & later punk rock shops. Much of these did not survive as they were worn to battle & in the trenches, ripped, bloodied & cut to fit. The pure vibes alone that emanate from many of these wearable canvases are smack you in the face shocking, as are the designs.

The shirts that were mine on the walls here bring incredible memories back. And the others spark wonder & amazement & sometimes jealousy. So much of this stuff was manufactured that all of it can never be known or cataloged. Much of the screens used to make these pieces were hand cut in layers with an exacto knife & you only had one chance to get it right. Almost caveman-like compared to today’s screen printing methods.

This exhibit is like no other. There’s so much crammed in to go back & see over & over again (and, hey, it’s free!) This is art that was conceived as art, but to be worn, to advertise, to prove a point…and to be worn until it fell apart. These are priceless pieces of art that will, in most cases, never be seen again. See it now while you can! An amazing experience of blood, sweat & tees.”

FIDM Students Weigh in

“…instead of sitting home doing homework, I decided to go to FIDM to see the opening night concert for RIPPED. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around and seeing all the band t-shirts, photographs and listening to the indie bands. I even had a few celebrity sightings, like fashion designer Jeremy Scott and Lita Ford, an original band member with Joan Jett in the Runaways!” Angela W.

“The spirit of DIY and rebellious rock n’ roll culture were in full force at the opening night of RIPPED! The grand opening was exceptional as well as the performances by Lydia Lunch, Phantom Family Halo, and the Ritchie White Orchestra. I loved the Ts in the pop-up vintage store in the FIDM Museum Shop.” Danielle F.

“The only downside to the night was that it was raining, but that did not take away from the phenomenal performances. It was a great night for punk!” Tess H.

“One of my favorite T-shirts was of Johnny Rotten. It reminded me of Andy Warhol. After I saw the exhibit I saw Lydia Lunch. I didn’t know who she was but she was really awesome. She performed a little concert in front of FIDM and it was amazing.” Daye S.

“It was an awesome event, which was inspiring for students that want to follow their own dreams. For anyone that loves oldies bands and punk rock, this is a must see exhibition.” Sue B.

“The event really brought out the punk rock in everybody… at the opening there was a sense of community, excitement, and the need to let loose. I didn’t know what to expect at an underground exhibit, so I explored and embraced my surroundings.” Emily J.

“Upon arriving at the opening of RIPPED, I was overjoyed and excited. Being welcomed by old, worn-out grunge T-shirts from the 80’s and 90’s, I just knew I was in the right place. I liked hearing Cesar’s story about the John Lennon T-shirt. He said the shirts were made by hand and sold on the streets in Times Square. I wish I had been there to see.” Samantha B.

Joe’s Jeans Vintage Reserve Denim Sponsorship

Joe’s Jeans staff, from left: Carly Smith (Denim Designer), Alejandra Dibos (VP of Marketing and Public Relations), Amelia Buffaloe (Marketing Coordinator), and Maria Rodriguez (Sample Development Coordinator)

A big thank you to Joe’s Jeans for their exclusive denim sponsorship of RIPPED: Expressions from the Underground. The custom distressed jeans from their new Vintage Reserve 1971 Collection provided a perfect match for the accompanying t-shirts.

Joe Dahan, Creative Director and Founder of Joe’s, had this to say. “We’re honored and excited to be a part of such an inspiring exhibition of art, music and design. Joe’s is built upon celebrating artistic expression, so partnering with Cesar Padilla and the FIDM Museum on the RIPPED exhibit seemed like a natural fit for us. Our Vintage Reserve Collection, a denim line inspired by the rock ’n roll fashion movement of the 70s, is the perfect pairing for the iconic rock tees Padilla has collected from two of the most influential decades of our time.”

A team from Joe’s Jeans was on hand for the grand opening concert event and to see how it all came together. After the exhibit closes, the jeans will be sold at the Joe’s Melrose Place Boutique.

  • RIPPED: Expressions from the Underground is sponsored by Cherry Vintage.
  • Joe’s Jeans is the Exclusive Denim Sponsor
  • Diablo was the beverage sponsor for the grand opening event

RIPPED runs through December 22, 2012.


FIDM Museum Shop

From classic to quirky, from extravagent to thrifty, from elegant to whimsical, the FIDM Museum Shop has delightful gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list.

For the women in your life, what could be better than handcrafted jewelry and beautiful handbags?

Decorating for the holidays or in search of a hostess gift? Unique ornaments, candles and more provide the right amount of sparkle.

Men can be hard to shop for, but there are plenty of options at the shop, including these very hip wallets.

Some children are just born with style—and with rocker socks and hipster bibs, they will be the talk of their play dates.

The classic gift that never disappoints? A beautiful book. So many books, so little time – enjoy our gorgeous assortment of titles.

Visit the FIDM Museum Shop for a fabulous selection of one-of-a-kind jewelry, amazing treasures, and exclusive gifts. See why the shop has been voted “Most Unique Store” for the past 3 years by Los Angeles Downtown News.


  • Retro Crafts for Hipster Kids
  • Saturday, December 8
  • 11am–1pm
  • In the museum foyer
  • In the spirit of RIPPED & doing it yourself, we will bring out the Popsicle sticks, glitter, paper bags and more to create fun holiday decorations from “back in the day.”
  • FREE

  • Vintage T-shirt Pop Up Store & Trunk Sale
  • December 6, 7, 8
  • 10am–5pm
  • Big discounts & holiday cheer
  • FIDM Museum Shop

  • Stress-Free Evening Shopping: Tuesdays
  • Tuesday, December 4, 11, & 18th
  • Open until 8pm
  • Free gift-wrapping by our specially trained elves
  • Come by for a snack, Holiday Cheer, and great last minute gifts

2012 Exhibitions

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