Brandi Howell

Episode 3: The Rise of the Mabuhay Gardens

Episode 3: The Rise of the Mabuhay Gardens

The story of a small Filipino nightclub that transformed into one of San Francisco's most influential punk venues.  "To play, you need a place – be it where you live, the street, a venue.  For unrestricted play, you need an unrestricted playground.  Dirk Dirksen envisioned The Fab Mab just as such a playground.  Without him and The Mab, there might not have been the great punk scene in the late 1970s in San Francisco.  The San Francisco punk scene was fun.  I miss it.  But as Iggy Pop said, 'Let's Sing.'"                                                                                                    -- Mindy BagdonSpecial thanks to Denise Demise Dunne, Liz Keim, Penelope Houston, Ron Greco, John Seabury, V Vale, Janet Clyde, and Kathy Peck.  The archival interview with Dirk Dirksen is from Vale's RE/Search Conversations 13.  Production support from Mary Franklin Harvin.  From Pinoy to Punk: The Rise of The Mabuhay Gardens An Oral History of San Francisco's Early Punk Scene Penelope Houston (PH):  The Mabuhay was not your average rock club.Denise Demise Dunne (DDD):  Here was this little club all of a sudden attracting the energy.Ron Greco (RG):  The Dills, Negative Trend, The Avengers...DDD:  So of course you are going to say, Oh, what is going on over there.PH:  More and more people started coming to town.  The Ramones played there.  Blondie played there.  It just became the punk mecca.RG: When I was real young, I would go by and see this place.  It was there for years.The music itself was nothing really developed yet in the very beginning.  It was just a supper club.  People would do the Mabuhay dance and stuff like that.   DDD:  Dirk was helping Ness with the Amapola show.  Amapola was this Filipino night club singer and she was popular within the Filipino community and had a TV show on Channel 26 and a number of characters from The Mab had performed there.  My name is Denise Demise Dunne.  I was Dirk’s assistant at the very beginning of The Mab. V Vale (VV):  Hi, welcome to The Counter Culture Hour.  I’m your host V Vale and I published starting in ‘77 Search and Destroy, the punk publication chronicling the rise of the punk rock cultural revolution.   My guest tonight is Dirk Dirksen, the impresario of The Mabuhay Gardens. LINK:  RE/Search Publications Dirk Dirksen:  We were open for ten years, did 3,600 plus concerts.   VV:  The thing was at the time things were so conservative that no club wanted anything to do with punk rock until Dirk Dirksen showed up and made The Mabuhay Gardens available. DD:  Ness downstairs at The Mabuhay was having a tough go of it, so I came in and said, Look – how about if you give us Monday nights because that is your dark night.  Let me try that and I will guarantee you $175 a night at the bar.  I didn't have $175 at the time, but I figured there are enough people I know that if I say hey, c'mon down and if they each drink two beers, we'll meet the guarantee.  And within a very short time we were grossing more on the Monday than he was grossing on the weekend with name Filipino acts.   Mindy Bagdon (MB):  My name is Mindy Bagdon.  My film's name is "Louder Faster Shorter".  At one point on Mondays, which was a dead period on the Broadway strip, Dirk convinced Ness Aquino who owned the club to let him put on different acts.  Little by little, it went from sort of vaudevillian variety acts to where The Nuns, who were one of the first groups to play there, apparently they went up to Dirk and they found out this venue was available and they said, Well can we put on a show?  And I remember I was walking up Grant Avenue and Vale's then girlfriend was coming down and proceeding me was the drummer for The Nuns and he was handing out flyers.   VV:  My girlfriend who looked like a rocker – I guess I looked like one too, you know with platform shoes and spiked hair and all that junk,

Duration: 33 min

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