In 1987 I was 12 and finding my way as a young, alternative outsider. I already found The Smiths, Siouxsie, and Echo and the Bunnymen, and my new-new wave look was giving me early-onset bitterness and angst, lashing out at the trendy bow heads and jocks who made fun of me at school. Seems like a common story now, but in the late 80s, growing up in San Antonio, Texas, I felt alone. Sure I had a few punk friends, but in some ways, they were just as bad as the jocks picking on my more feminine new wave boy friends.
I don’t remember the first time I saw “Some Kind of Wonderful”, but I remember taping it when it finally started showing on cable TV. Having the tape gave me power to watch it everyday over and over. The story of an outsider love. The boyish, drum-playing, Watts and the gentle artist, Keith. Trying to be a tough girl with my combat boots, yet also painting in my room, I was a bit of Watts and Keith combined, but who did I want to be more like? Watts was outspoken and knew who she was. She didn’t have any desire to dabble in the rich kids’ club like Keith. And through all that, she knew he belonged with her in the end. And he did. Sigh…
Watts was the first female drummer I ever noticed. The opening scene, her on drums, playing that driving rhythm, setting the mood for the whole movie. Her vs. Them. Her and Keith vs. Them. Who else would a 12 year old weird girl root for?
Her passion for drumming was an underlying theme that overplayed the plot the more I watched the movie. Red, tasseled, fingerless gloves, tattoo on her neck, junky punk car, black drum heads with red hearts in them. I remember thinking every time i watched it how cool it would be to hang drumsticks through my belt like she did. Her gun holster. Her weapons. Watts made me see the strength in drumming and the strength drumming gave her. She didn’t have a band. She didn’t have parents. It was just her, her drums, and Keith.
Watts planted some kind of drum seed because through the years my love of drums was apparent (most of the time in all the drummers I dated). Drummers were always the musicians I watched most at shows and drums are the instrument I listened to most in songs. I would try to figure out drum patterns and how drummers did them, even though I had no drums of my own.
I don’t know why it took me so long to start taking lessons, but I’m now 35, and coming into my second year. In some ways I regret not starting earlier, but this is how it has panned out, and maybe it’s for the better because I’m learning fast and I’m dedicated. Something I might have lacked in my younger years. No black drum heads or red fingerless gloves, but I’d like to believe I’m essentially the same bitter, angsty person I was at 12 who is now appreciative of the influence Watts had on me but with more gray hair.
- Emiko Badillo
Emiko Badillo lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two
little dogs where they run Food Fight Vegan Grocery. Her dream is to
live in a house with a basement, so she won’t have to practice
drumming at work anymore.