Stories of debauchery have long circulated around the late Los Angeles rock impresario Kim Fowley. This past week, though, a violent new chapter was alleged when the former bass player for the Runaways, Jackie Fuchs, told the Huffington Post that Fowley raped her when she was 16 years old.
Fowley died in January and is obviously unable to address the allegation. But Fuchs’ recollection did prompt responses from former bandmates Joan Jett and Cherie Currie, who said they did not witness the alleged assault, as Fuchs claimed.
“Anyone who truly knows me understands that if I was aware of a friend or bandmate being violated, I would not stand by while it happened,” Jett said in a statement.
Currie issued an equally strong denial. “I have been accused of a crime,” she wrote. “Of looking into the dead yet pleading eyes of a girl, unable to move while she was brutally raped and doing nothing.” She added: “If I were guilty, I would admit it.”
Fuchs, who went by the stage name Jackie Fox in the Runaways, did not respond to a request for comment. But in a Facebook post she addressed the issue of differing memories.
“My rape was traumatic for everyone, not just me, and everyone deals with trauma in their own way and time,” wrote Fuchs, who left the Runaways before their first album was released in 1976. “It took exceptional courage for many of the witnesses to talk frankly about how they felt.”
The all-female teenage band, which Fowley managed, burst out of Los Angeles with underground successes including “Cherry Bomb.” The band eventually fired Fowley. After the Runaways broke up, Jett earned fame with her band the Blackhearts.
On the night in question, the group and Fowley’s entourage went to a hotel after a gig to party. While there in one of the rooms, Fuchs was reportedly given Quaaludes until she nearly passed out, according to the Huffington Post.
“I remember opening my eyes, Kim Fowley was raping me, and there were people watching me,” Fuchs told the Huffington Post.
Then, according to the story, "She looked out from the bed and noticed Currie and Jett staring at her. She says this was her last memory of the night.”
Jason Cherkis, who wrote the Huffington Post article, declined an interview request. The Huffington Post said it stood by its story.
Since the story was published, a vigorous debate on the allegations has consumed social media. Such claims against Fowley, a notorious figure throughout his decades spent as a Los Angeles music entrepreneur, have been rumored for years, said Runaways biographer Evelyn McDonnell, whose book “Queens of Noise: The Real Story of the Runaways” documented the life of the band.
“This didn’t shock me,” McDonnell told The Times on Saturday. “In some ways it matched Cherie’s public telling of the incident, and a couple of stories I had been told, one completely off the record. Another was different but had enough similarities."
McDonnell added that she has long believed that something occurred that night and that Fuchs may have been the victim. “However, she denied it to me, so of course I certainly couldn’t report it.” McDonnell stressed in a blog post that Fuchs’ initial denial was “her right as a victim of abuse. Fox needed to tell her story herself, and now she has.” (Disclosure: McDonnell has written for The Times.)
Cherkis told the music website Pitchfork that some witnesses have carried guilt for decades for not intervening. Others reacted differently, excusing Fowley’s behavior as typical rock ‘n’ roll antics of the era. Fowley’s actions went deeper, said Cherkis. “He was a predator. He went to a parochial school to hit on girls.”
Fuch’s post also addresses this weekend’s statements by her former band members while hinting at underlying frustrations at the media coverage.
“If I am disappointed in one thing, it is that the story has become about who knew what when and who did or didn’t do what. That isn’t the story at all. It would be nice if everyone who was there the night I was raped could talk about how it has affected them over the years. But if they don’t want to talk it about, I respect that. It’s taken me years to talk about it without shame. I can only imagine what it must have been like to have watched it happen.”
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit
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