Journalist-author-DJ-broadcaster Lina Lecaro epitomizes the Los Angeles rock 'n' roll lifestyle. Lecaro's combination of frolicsome glamour, sagacious freethinking attitude and a formidable underworld institutional memory proffers a unique, hard-earned qualification which allows entrée to the deepest corners of Hollywood nightclub society. As a radio host, Lecaro, who launches a new weekly Internet show at Glendale's Luxuria music on Sunday, displays a smooth, good-natured on-air style, entertaining sense of pacing and structure, with plenty of great music and a reliably engaging roster of special guest visitors.
"I fell in love with rock 'n' roll thanks to my dad. He played drums and was constantly playing records in the house and 8-tracks in the car when I was growing up," Lecaro said. "I was particularly fond of his Rolling Stones 'Hot Rocks' comp and have been a hardcore Stones fan ever since. Over the years, I've had moments where I heavily immersed myself in other genres like new wave, goth, rave, metal, electro, soul, blues, etc., but classic rock 'n' roll has always had a huge chunk of my heart."
As a veteran journalist with innumerable bylines everywhere from the L.A. Times and LA Weekly to Rolling Stone and Playboy, she is equal parts steely professional reporter and enthusiastic, wide-eyed fan. Her zesty, fast-moving prose eschews puff and exploitation in favor of thoughtful analysis and accurate, warts-and-all portrayals of her subjects, along with oft whimsical, high-gloss pieces on nightlife, film, books, pop culture and fashion.
"I always loved writing and telling stories," Lecaro said. "English was easy in school so I decided to mesh my two loves pretty early on, writing about music and entertainment in my junior high and high school papers, both here in LA. Fresh out of high school I started interning at the LA Weekly and gravitated towards covering nightlife and music pretty naturally."
She didn't skimp, fast becoming a fixture at rock clubs from downtown L.A. to West Hollywood in the early '90s. "I started going to the Scream as a teen in high school and was rarely carded," she recalled. "When I did start getting carded, I used the expired ID of an older friend. It was a different time and pretty easy to sneak into where ever I wanted."
With her trademark mane of exquisitely coiffed crimson tresses, charmingly outgoing nature and natural journalistic talent, Lecaro found soon herself not just an insider, but a working component of the rock 'n' roll pleasure machine, controlling turntables at a variety of high-profile clubs and bars.
"I never aspired to be a DJ mainly because in the early 2000s, you know, everybody fancied themselves as one," she said. "But the Knitting Factory in Hollywood had various music figures spinning in their front room, and my friend, fellow scribe Jim Freek, invited me to tag team with him. From there, I got more gigs, my main one [was] a weekly slot at the Key Club on the Strip, usually downstairs in their VIP room, the Plush Lounge."
Her transition to broadcasting was inevitable.
"I've always loved radio. It shaped a lot of my tastes as a kid, especially KROQ jocks like Rodney on the Roq, Dusty Street and Richard Blade," Lecaro said. "I also listened to Dr. Demento and Art Laboe growing up. But then I stopped listening to it altogether, until indie 103.1 came on the air. I loved how 'L.A.' that station was, and when Indie's TK [a.k.a. Todd Killiam] put together a Web station called Moheak and asked me to do a show, I figured it'd be fun. I did a Saturday night show, interviewing artists, club promoters and local personalities and playing music that inspired them. Things just got too hectic for me, and I was forced to stop doing it, but I've missed curating music in this format and excited to be doing it again at Luxuria."
"I enjoy the medium and doing different things with it. For example, I loved doing themes for my shows, like my favorite falsettos, a show featuring cover songs, and for Valentine's Day I did a show based on a risqué piece I had in LA Weekly, with songs about female private parts — it is called 'V-day' after all. For my new Luxuria show, 'Hot Licks With Lina,' I hope to have fun with my playlist in this way again, and though I'll focus on old music, not new, I hope to be inspired by what I'm writing as I have in the past."
Lecaro's motivations are admirably simple. "I just love music. I love people," she said. "And I love sharing music I love with people who have the same passion. Radio and writing allow me to do that, and I know I'm lucky to do so."
What: "Hot Licks With Lina"
When: Sundays starting Jan. 17, 2 to 4 p.m.
JONNY WHITESIDE is a veteran music journalist based in Burbank and author of "Ramblin' Rose: the Life & Career of Rose Maddox" and "Cry: the Johnnie Ray Story."