Alix Dobkin

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Alix Dobkin
Birth nameAlix Cecil Dobkin
Born(1940-08-16)August 16, 1940
New York, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 19, 2021(2021-05-19) (aged 80)
Woodstock, New York, U.S.
GenresFolk, women's music
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1973–2021
LabelsWomen's Wax Works (Ladyslipper)

Alix Cecil Dobkin[1] (August 16, 1940 – May 19, 2021)[2] was an American folk singer-songwriter, memoirist, and lesbian feminist activist. In 1979, she was the first American lesbian feminist musician to do a European concert tour.[3]

Early life[edit]

Dobkin was born in New York City into a Jewish Communist family, named after her uncle Alix who died fighting against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. She was raised in Philadelphia and Kansas City.[4] Dobkin graduated from Germantown High School in 1958 and the Tyler School of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1962.

Career[edit]

Dobkin began her career by performing on the Greenwich Village coffeehouse scene in 1962.[5] She played with greats like Bob Dylan and Buffy Sainte-Marie.[5][6]

Starting in 1973, she released a number of albums as well as a songbook and toured throughout the U.S., Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand promoting lesbian culture and community through women's music.

Dobkin enjoyed a small and devoted audience, has been called a "women's music legend" by Spin Magazine, "pithy" by The Village Voice, "Biting...inventive... imaginative" by New Age Journal, "uncompromising" in the New York Times Magazine, and "a troublemaker" by the FBI. She gained some unexpected fame in the 1980s when comedians such as David Letterman and Howard Stern tracked down her Lavender Jane Loves Women album, and began playing phrases from the song "View From Gay Head" on the air. By the 21st century, Dobkin had ceased writing and recording new material, but continued to tour until her death, stating she had "lost interest" and that writing her memoir had "sucked up all the creativity.”[7]

In 1977, she became an associate of the American nonprofit publishing organization Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP).[8] Dobkin was a member of the OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change) Steering Committee.[9]

Her 2009 memoir, My Red Blood, was published by Alyson Books.[10]

Activism[edit]

Dobkin spoke about women-only spaces and protections[which?] for lesbian women. She was a vocal critic of the inclusion of trans women in women-only spaces. In one letter to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, she asserted, "For over twenty years men have declared themselves 'women,' manipulated their bodies and then demanded the feminist seal of approval from survivors of girlhood.... [My lyrics] are not 'oppressive' but refer to those of us who have a girlhood & a clitoris, & no one else."[11] Her criticisms of postmodernism,[12] sadomasochism,[13] the transgender rights movement,[14][15] and other movements appeared in several of her written columns, such as "Minstrel Blood."[16] Her article "The Emperor's New Gender" appeared in the feminist journal off our backs in 2000.[17]

Personal life[edit]

In 1965 she married Sam Hood, who ran the Gaslight Cafe in Greenwich Village.[5] They moved to Miami and opened The Gaslight South folk club,[5] but moved back to New York in 1968.[18] Their daughter Adrian was born two years later, and the following year the marriage broke up. A few months later, Dobkin came out as a lesbian, which was uncommon for a public personality to do at the time. She met partner Liza Cowan when performing on the latter's radio show in New York. The meeting was subsequently described as "love at first sight" and the two women came out as a couple and moved in together in 1971, residing with Dobkin's daughter Adrian.[2]

Dobkin suffered a brain aneurysm on April 29, 2021, and was subsequently admitted to Westchester Medical Center. She was taken off life support on May 11 and discharged on May 17.[19] She died at home surrounded by family on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. The cause of death was cited as a brain aneurysm and stroke.[20] At the time of her death, Dobkin lived in Woodstock, New York.[21] She is survived by her daughter Adrian, a brother and a sister, three grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. A memorial service was held for her in the summer of 2021.[22]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Lavender Jane Loves Women (1973)
  • Living with Lesbians (1975)
  • Xx Alix (1980)
  • These Women (1986)
  • Yahoo Australia! Live from Sydney (1990)
  • Love & Politics (compilation, 1992)
  • Living with Lavender Jane (CD re-release of first two albums, 1998)

Published works[edit]

  • (Not Just A Songbook) (1978)
  • Alix Dobkin's Adventures in Women's Music (1979)[23]
  • My Red Blood: A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Onto the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement (2009)[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Smith, Harrison (May 21, 2021). "Alix Dobkin, who celebrated lesbian life in music, dies at 80". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 21, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Maxwell, Carrie (May 19, 2021). "Passages: Lesbian-feminist musician, activist Alix Dobkin dies". Windy City Times. Chicago, Illinois. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  3. ^ Clark, Jil (March 29, 1980). "Alix Dobkin: Still a Separatist". Gay Community News. Vol. 7, no. 35. p. 8.
  4. ^ Gianoulis, Tina. "Dobkin, Alix (b. 1940)". GLBTQ Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  5. ^ a b c d van Laarhoven, Kasper (December 28, 2016). "The Story of the Gaslight Café, Where Dylan Premiered 'A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall'". BedfordandBowery.com. Bedford & Bowery. Retrieved December 28, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Rosechild, Rene (June 2010). "Women's Music Icon Alix Dobkin on the Rise of Lesbian Feminism and Her Road to Fame". Curve. 20 (5): 44+ – via Academic OneFile.
  7. ^ Zonkel, Phillip (May 19, 2021). "Alix Dobkin, pioneering lesbian musician, dies at 80". Q Voice News. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  8. ^ "Associates | The Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press". www.wifp.org. Retrieved June 21, 2017.
  9. ^ "The Reporter" (PDF). Old Lesbians Organizing for Change. June 2015.
  10. ^ Baim, Tracy (January 6, 2010). "My Red Blood: A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Into the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement". Windy City Times.
  11. ^ Dobkin, Alix (September 1, 2014). "Alix Dobkin's letter to Kate Kendell of the National Council of Lesbian Women". DYKE, A Quarterly. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
  12. ^ Dobkin, Alix (October 21, 1998). "Deconstruct This!". Feminist Reprise. Retrieved October 13, 2012. (Originally published in Outlines.)
  13. ^ Dobkin, Alix (June 2000). "Sadomasochism: It's a Republican Thing". off our backs. 30 (6): 16. JSTOR 20836638.
  14. ^ "Can Lesbian Identity Survive The Gender Revolution?". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  15. ^ Dobkin, Alix (June 21, 2000). "MINSTREL BLOOD: (In)famous Last Words (For Now)". Windy City Times. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  16. ^ "Alix Dobkin Columns" (PDF). You Are A Splendid Butterfly.com.
  17. ^ Dobkin, Alix (April 2000). "The Emperor's New Gender". off our backs. 30 (4): 14. JSTOR 20836592.
  18. ^ Armstrong, Toni (May 1989). "A Mother-Daughter Conversation: Alix Dobkin & Adrian Hood". Hot Wire: The Journal of Women's Music and Culture. 5 (2): 36 – via ProQuest GenderWatch.
  19. ^ Dobkin, Loren (May 1, 2021). "Alix's Story". CaringBridge. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  20. ^ Dobkin, Loren. "With Grace And Strength She's Shining Through". CaringBridge. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  21. ^ Beaty, Thalia (May 21, 2021). "'Head lesbian,' singer and feminist, Alix Dobkin, dies at 80". Associated Press. Retrieved May 22, 2021.
  22. ^ Ring, Trudy (May 19, 2021). "Lesbian Music Legend Alix Dobkin Dies at 80". The Advocate. Los Angeles, California. Retrieved May 23, 2021.
  23. ^ Dobkin, Alix (1979). Alix Dobkin's Adventures in Women's Music. New York: Tomato Publications. ISBN 9780934166003. OCLC 5958887.
  24. ^ Dobkin, Alix (2009). My Red Blood: A Memoir of Growing Up Communist, Coming Onto the Greenwich Village Folk Scene, and Coming Out in the Feminist Movement (1st Alyson Books ed.). New York: Alyson Books. ISBN 9781593501075. OCLC 423597901.

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