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

BY Job Brother

August 22 2008 12:00 AM ET

 What We Do is Secret director Rodger Grossman x395 (Kevin Estrada) | Advocate.com

Above: Rodger Grossman

Eventually the
group self-produced a single, “Forming,” which
is widely credited as being L.A.’s first punk
single. With dogged determination the group continued,
developing a sound and playing whenever they could find
a venue brave enough to showcase them. They acquired a fan
base. 

On December 7,
1980, just four days after a successful, final performance
at the (now gone) Starwood club, Darby Crash committed
suicide by intentional overdose of heroin. His death
was overshadowed by the murder of John Lennon the
following day, but for those in the punk scene,
Crash’s death was a terrific loss of his inspired,
intelligent lyrics and his whimsical yet tough
bravado. 

Now, twenty-eight
years later, the Germs are internationally celebrated
as an influential and important music group. Pat Smear went
on to join Nirvana in their final year, before Kurt
Cobain’s suicide, and afterward played with the
Foo Fighters and cohosted MTV’s House of Style
with Cindy Crawford.

What We Do Is Secret follows the rise and fall
of one of L.A.’s most notorious bands, focusing on
Darby Crash’s five-year plan to become famous
then commit suicide -- which no one took
seriously until it was too late.

We talked
with writer-director Rodger Grossman as he led a
caravan of cars of the surviving members of the Germs
from their induction at Hollywood's RockWalk to a
reunion gig downtown

What drew you to this project? To me, Darby was the beating heart of the L.A.
punk rock scene, and by telling his story,
you’re really telling a bigger story –- the
birth of punk rock. In Darby’s story
there’s a sad, lonely, sexually conflicted boy
who had dreams of being worshipped and loved, and that, to
me, was fascinating. 

You’ve been working on this film much longer
than the Germs were together. What saw you through so
many ups and downs?
It’s been 15 years of struggle.
Darby’s friends, Darby’s bandmates, sat
behind me, and I felt an obligation to see it through for
them. 

Tags: film

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