L7’s Donita Sparks talks about ‘hot in Bakersfield’ moment, beauty pageant sashes

Posted at 1:17 PM, Sep 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 16:56:34-04

(KERO) — Sometimes a band's success can't be measured in album sales.

L.A.-based L7 is a case in point. Even though their albums never reached platinum certified status, L7's influence far outweighs that.

The influence extends to other genres too as Prodigy covered “Fuel My Fire” on their 1997 album “Fat Of the Land.”

“I think every band has their own recipe. I don’t think anyone has quite gotten our recipe,” explains L7 vocalist/guitarist Donita Sparks.

“We’re like the Colonel Sanders of grunge… Ours is a certain thing that I think has been influential but a lot of bands that are inspired by us, they go on to make their own recipes and we’re just part of the mix.

“It’s a really cool thing to be recognized… It’s nice to get props from our peers and from younger kids and even in some academic circles getting some props. That’s pretty mind-blowing and cool.”

It also speaks to the band’s longevity and large fanbase that L7’s 30 anniversary tour for “Bricks Are Heavy” is selling out quick.

They’ll be playing two shows in Los Angeles at The Regent: Oct. 27th and Oct. 28th. The Oct. 28th show is already sold out and tickets for the Oct. 27th are going quick.

VIP packages include a meet-and-greet, sound check access for one full song, a Q&A with L7, signed tour poster and more. Part of the proceeds go to a non-profit organization that helps women with abortion services.

And although L7 are based in L.A., there are a couple of interesting Bakersfield connections.

One of them involves Donita’s experience taking in a performance by Buck Owens at The Crystal Palace.

“The only place that I’ve ever been hot,” says Donita. “It was one night and I went to see Buck Owens with some friends at The Crystal Palace. This was 20 years ago and my hair was kind of bouffanted, like a messy bouffant in ponytails like a ‘Hee Haw’-girl look. And I do know how to two-step.

“So a gentleman asked me to dance, which like never happens. And he had on a cowboy hat and we’re two-stepping around on the dance floor.

“And I went out to have a cigarette and two gentleman callers followed me out. One of them started telling me how many heads of cattle he had. And the other one started telling me how many acres he had.

“I was like ‘oh, my god. I think I’m hot in Bakersfield! I could possibly move to Bakersfield and marry a rich guy. Are these guys, legit? Probably not. But whatever, for an evening I was hot in Bakersfield seeing the fabulous Buck Owens at The Crystal Palace.”

The other Bakersfield connection involves the firebombing of a Family Planning Associates building in 1993. It was a fire the L.A. Times said was “so fierce it twisted steel beams into molten pretzels.”

L7 founded Rock for Choice to put on concerts to promote abortion services as well as the importance to vote. They wore beauty pageant sashes with the names of the cities where the firebombing happened to raise awareness.

Rock For Choice (FILE)
In this 1993 file photo, L7 wears beauty pageant sashes with the names of the cities where abortion clinics were firebombed to raise awareness during a Rock For Choice benefit.

“We founded Rock For Choice and we played a lot of the benefits,” said Donita. “And this one particular one we were just going to host. We were going to out in between bands and announce the bands and inform people about voter registration and about the pro choice issues that were going on.

“So I wanted us to dress up as beauty contestants and wear sashes of clinics that had been under attack. We each came out in gowns, which of course we got at thrift stores. So we were these kind of low rent wannabe beauty queens.

"A friend of ours at the Feminist Majority Foundation, who we partnered up with to do the Rock For Choice shows, she chose the names of the cities and then distributed the sashes. She made those sashes which were awesome.”

Fans will want to stay tuned since L7 should have a new single out soon. They couldn’t provide more details, but it’s exciting to see the band continue to blaze the path they started on in the mid-’80s.


L7’s Donita Sparks discusses ‘hot in Bakersfield’ moment, beauty pageant sashes