The Hags

This hardcore all-female skate crew was launched in 1983 / 84, and was the inspiration of Sevie Bates, and her punk friends living in West L.A. The rule was that everyone had to skate to be worthy of a custom-made patch for their denim vests. Members included: Gardia Fox, “Little Kim,” Amanda Brix Toland, Elizabeth Devries, Michel Miller, Keren Sacks, Mimi Claire, Sara Johnson, and Nancy Sefton.

Emily Savage wrote a fantastic article about the Hags for Bust magazine in 2017, although they did receive local media attention back in the day, for example the photo below, which featured the Hags and the Jaks in the LA Times on August 10, 1984.

The Hags were also even given props by Director Alan Sacks for inspiring the cult classic movie, Thrashin’ (1986). Sacks was in his 40s but interested in the L.A. punk scene. His profile happened to be published in the L.A. Weekly right next to another feature about the Hags. It triggered an idea to film a “Romeo and Juliet” meets “West Side Story” romance between skateboarders, which resulted in Thrashin’. Unfortunately, the film failed to include any strong acknowledgment of female skateboarders.

A recent review of the movie on YouTube called “Thrashin’ Revisited: the Daggers unlikely origins” by Bread and Cinemas, calls out the inequity. After acknowledging the Hags’ influence on Sacks it’s noted that, “Their visibility can be counted in fractions of seconds. According to Hags member, Gardia Fox from a 2017 article in Bust magazine, ‘It was a feminist statement. We wanted to encourage girls to skate, and show we weren’t just girlfriends of skaters.’ Though Thrashin’ betrayed that ethos perhaps the time is ripe to film a reinvention from the women’s point of view.”

The Hags were included as extras in a hang out scene on the beach. Mimi Claire just remembers that her board was stolen during the chaos. And a tiny reference was made to the crew via graffiti on wall that said, “Flow or Go Home.” This was the Hags’ motto hung above the door of their headquarters.

Bates explained that “we were like a gang—and we’d skate around Hollywood Boulevard. Mostly, it was about going to clubs, partying, and drinking… Everything is more fun in groups, and it was good to have the girl power thing.” Bates had received her first skateboard in the early 1970s at age 9. A wooden board with clay wheels called, “The Black Knight.”

Savage writes that, “By her late teens, Bates was an aggressive and talented street skater who frequently got into scuffles in then-crime-ridden Venice Beach, and says she was always pushing back against what was expected of her as a girl. She had a motorcycle, a skateboard, and short hair… She was often looked at curiously because of the large, light-red birthmark that sits on one side of her face. As a reaction to all this and more, she gathered up a crew of women she’d become friendly with and started the Hags. ‘I had a lot of rage and a lot of aggression, so I didn’t take shit from anyone. That’s what lead me to the Hags,’ says Bates.”

Many of the Hags were already part of the local skate scene at Venice. Keren Sacks (aka “Raggy”) even lived down the street from Tony Alva, who called her “Rag Girl” for tying pieces of fabric into her dreadlocked mohawk. She incorporated the nickname into her vest patch.

Bates even proposed to Tony that she should be in the Jaks because she could skate better than most of the guys, but it was considered a “dude thing.” Bates was denied entry, hence, The Hags! Bates briefly considered “the Jills,” in response to the Jaks, but decided to distinguish herself.

According to Bust: Circa 1984 outside Hags HQ (left to right) top: Gardia Fox, Little Kim, Amanda Brix Toland, Elizabeth Devries. Bottom: Sevie Bates, Michel Miller, Keren Sacks

The back patches were key to the Hags, and the imagery came from Iron Maiden’s “Eddie the Head” mascot. Gardia Fox was especially pleased when her patch was christened with blood from a skateboarding bail. The members weren’t necessarily good at skateboarding, but they had to be able to do it to receive their “colors” according to Mimi Claire, and skateboards were mainly used for transportation.

Gardia Fox recalls their first appearance as a gang, skating to a Grandmaster Flash show and lining up in the front row, holding their boards. “It was a feminist statement.” Michel Miller has released a memoir called Punk and in Love : a memoir about men, music and hair in the 80s (2022) including reflections on her time with the Hags. At one point, they had to run from the cops and hide out in a gas station bathroom after a riot broke out in response to an oversold show for the Exploited.

Some nights it was just about ripping around parking garages or hanging at their clubhouse – a rental property owned by Nancy Sefton’s dad, which became a safe house for their friends. Sefton remembers seeing Bates skate and was starstruck when they met.

Besides the L.A. Weekly, there were articles in the Los Angeles Times, and even a brief feature in Pat Benatar’s video for “Ooh Ooh Song.” You can just glimpse their denim patches on the bottom left, as part of the audience.

The Hags were official for just a year. Savage mentions struggles with addiction, as well as new paths towards sobriety and interesting career opportunities. Even in such a brief time the Hags celebrated resistance, along the lines of feminist scholar Lauraine Leblanc who wrote, Pretty in Punk : girls’ gender resistance in a boys’ subculture (1999). “This resistance against gender roles must be considered when we examine girls’ deviance. While it may be true that males use subcultures to explore masculinity, it is also the case that some females use subcultures to repudiate or reconstruct femininity.”


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