Punk's Little Secret

Darby Crash, lead singer of the influential '70s punk band the Germs, was gay -- and with the release of the new film What We Do Is Secret, the gay community may finally discover him as an icon



Above: Shane West as Darby Crash

Picture an iconic
gay singer and Darby Crash of Los Angeles’s infamous
punk band the Germs does not come leaping to mind, but with
the advent of Rodger Grossman’s new biopic film
What We Do Is Secret, that may change.

The Germs
exploded onto the L.A. punk music scene in the late 1970s;
its mastermind was Paul Beahm (who took the name Darby
Crash), who along with fellow classmate Georg
Ruthenberg (Crash named him Pat Smear) enlisted
an assortment of young women who, like them, did not
know how to play instruments -- among them,
Belinda Carlisle (Crash called her Dottie Danger), who
would go on to find fame with the Go-Go’s).
They first called themselves Sophistifuck and the Revlon
Spam Queens, and later settled on the Germs.

Darby Crash began
aggressively promoting the band -- making T-shirts,
assigning stage names to band members, even coming up with
the group's philosophy -- before they had written
any songs or in fact rehearsed. Their first gigs
ended up being more of an exercise in stage dramatics
than music. During their stage debut at the Orpheum Theater
on the Sunset Strip (not to be confused with the
downtown L.A. Orpheum of today), Darby
covered himself in licorice, and the set ended when he
stuck his microphone in a jar of peanut butter,
causing the band to be kicked out of the venue. Crash's
antics later helped make a name for the band as he
tossed sugar at the audience or cut himself while

Tags: film