Donna Santisi has a photo show opening at The Evil Rock n Roll Cat in Hollywood on December 5th. Juju Sorelli asked her some questions and shared a few images with us.
JUJU: What was your intention when you were taking these pictures?
DONNA: It was to document. Starting with Janis Joplin, in particular, it was just an incredible performance and I wanted to capture it. And like i told you before I put my camera away when Janis died because to me there was nothing interesting going on until I saw Patti. A light went off and I just got my camera out again and went back the next night to photograph it. It was my way of letting people know about this incredible music. The main thing was to document it, and with all these great bands, a burgeoning punk scene, I knew it was something really special. I was out having fun every night, it was a blast all the people that were on the scene, it was incredible, and a part of me knew that I wanted to be able to share it.
I knew it was a special time.
There was a group of us going out every night to the Whisky, to the Starwood and going back to the Whisky. That was my connection with the bands apart from listening to them.
J: What do you like the most about your pictures as a whole? Do you feel like there is something linking them all?
D:I feel proud that people can look at the photos and know what it was like. I feel very lucky I was there to capture it, and that I was able to preserve that period of time with these pictures. If it wasn't for all the pictures people took no one would know what it was like. It was like a big family, it was all the same people you saw all the time and they all started forming bands.
J: What is aesthetically your favorite picture in the show?
D: Debbie Harry ripping her dress, and that was also special because that was when I first saw them and I feel like I really captured the energy and the excitement of being there. It was their second show, she played with Tom Petty and there was like 3 of us in the audience. The song she was performing was Rip her to shreds, before she went on stage Tom Petty spray painted T.P on the wedding gown and then she ripped it off during the show.
It just was a remarkable time.
J :If you look at the photos is there any memories that comes out stronger? Which photo is it and can you tell us about it ?
D: The one of Patti with her leather jacket, that was the first time I photographed her. I had seen her play the night before and came back for the second show the night after to take the picture. It’s the most special picture to me as it was the first time I had the feeling that something was happening and I needed to document it since Janis Joplin died. I happened to have the photos of that night with me a few days later, I was having lunch with my cousin and Patti was in the restaurant so I gave her the pictures and she got them published in Back Door Man,
J: When you are driving around Los Angeles is there anywhere that still exist that reminds you of something that happened there?
D:The Whisky, brings back a lot of memories of so many different shows and great friends that I had. We would just congregate there, hang out and be backstage. And then of course Joan’s apartment right across the street, right behind that gas station on San Vicente, and Licorice Pizza was right on the other corner of that block. It was a really good record store, Patti played outside there, a lot of people had events there.
J: I just opened a clothing store, it would be really cool if girls like Debbie and Joan walked in to buy clothes, was there any specific stores that everybody would shop at? What was the coolest thing to wear?
D: All the bands made sure they stopped at the Pleasure Chest when they were in town. They sold leather jackets, belts and cockrings which they used for bracelets. That was a must for everyone to go there. The main thing was probably to buy a leather jacket. I think Joan bought hers there.
J: Brad Elterman always tells me that Joan used to love cheeseburgers, is that true?
D: We used to go to Oki Dog, I think now its on Fairfax it used to be on Santa Monica and Gardner across from AstroBurger. But she did eat a lot of cheeseburgers.
For more details on the show go HERE