AGES BEFORE COURTNEY LOVE COPPED RHINESTONE TIARAS AND Depression-era dresses (at least in her pre-Versace days), Exene Cervenka of the seminal Los Angeles band X offered young punk rock girls an alternative to the prevailing disco glam, preppie conformism and, in the case of their own music, the testosterone-dominated slam scene.

With bassist, now-former husband John Doe, the pair howled about love lost and found, and social issues, against a thrusting, yet melodic melding of punk rock, rockabilly, country and even metal. Cervenka continues to write music and tour with X, as well as her other band Original Sinners. She also works the spoken word circuit with her outspoken poetry. And she raises the teenage son she had with her second ex, actor Viggo Mortensen, and lives with her third husband, Jason Edge, in the oceanside community of Palos Verdes.

WWD: You escaped Florida for L.A. in 1976 and started X a year after. Did you arrive with your style already developed?

Exene Cervenka: I did come out here like that. From the time I was 14, I was really into thrift stores and flea markets. I was always kind of poor so I couldn’t go to Saks and buy a pair of boots that were exquisite. So I’d go looking for old things that were exquisitely beautiful and well made. My whole thing is the Twenties, Thirties, Forties and Fifties. I wanted to be living in the past with an old house, old car, old clothes. I’d mix up newer stuff —the studded bracelets. But when I came here I had the polkadot and the beaded dresses from the Thirties and Forties.

WWD: There are several memorable images out there of you in the polkadot dresses.

EC: I had 12 or more of them because I kept finding them.

WWD: What is it about vintage you love?

EC: I love the evidence of something old. I never really cared it was distressed. I love rust. I love holes. I’d much rather have a car that’s primer. Of course, everything I have disintegrated. I’m very sentimental and attached to my clothes. There like tattoos. Oh, it’s not my fault about the tattoos either. When I got mine there weren’t any women, or even a lot of men, with them. Now? It’s the decline of western civilization.WWD: What do you think of the trend among young pop stars and rap video extras to look like porn stars?

EC:They are porn stars. We’re not having sex with them, but we’re not actually having sex with porn stars either. It’s odd there are so many pop stars we know by a single name who resemble the single-name stars of the porn world.

WWD: So is there any new generation star out there you think has great style?

EC: Gwen [Stefani] is good. I like her a lot. I think it’s great she’s building her empire, too. Her fashion sense is not the same as mine at all, but it’s true to her and that’s the best thing you can have going on.

WWD: Have you ever gotten used to looking down from the stage and seeing fans dressed like you?

EC: That isn’t weird. What’s weird is seeing girls who look like me who don’t know who I am.

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