BEN IS DEAD #19 June/July 1992 page 12


Gerardo Velasquez, founder of Nervous Gender, died on March 28 from AIDS. He was 33. His band was part of the first generation of L.A. Punk bands in the 70s, and was one of the first to solely use synthesizers instead of guitars. A lot of the band's material dealth with sex, religion, guilt and alienation. Phranc got her start with the band.

Nervous Gender played only sporadically during the '80s, while Gerardo earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Cal State L.A. At one point, he was accepted to Cal Arts to complete his studies, but had to refuse for health and economic reasons. The '90s saw the band making a comeback, with original members Michael Ochoa and Joe Zinnato as programmers (they were no longer 'synthesizer players'). However, Gerardo's failing health prevented them from playing more than the occasional gig at places like Fuck! and the Detour.

Gerardo was active until the day of his death, and was at home with family and close friends when he passed away.


I didn't know him. I spoke probably six sentences to him in the twelve years I was aware of his existence. I first saw him in 1981 at Al's Bar. It was a Nervous Gender show with Don Bolles on drums, and the intensity of Gerardo's anger was frightening. He didn't seem like a person I'd want to know.

Still his extreme stance fascinated me, and I thought about inviting him over for a photo session to get to know him through the camera. For some reason though, I never got around to asking him. When I finally did last year he agreed to it, but still I dragged my feet, and finally as it became apparent he was dying, I decided not to because it felt ghoulish.

I always felt Gerardo had a lot more to offer than he showed, and that Nervous Gender could have gone a lot further, even though Kristine McKenna of the L.A. Times called them 'the thorn in the side of the L.A. music scene...', which I interpret as high praise. Who knows what other projects he had going that remain unfulfilled? It makes me sad and angry to see someone not reach their potential. It reminds me that we have so few years in which to accomplish anything.