The Runaways' Jackie Fuchs Says Kesha's Lawsuit Motivated Her to Go Public With Kim Fowley Rape Allegation

Jackie Fuchs
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jackie Fuchs of The Runaways poses for a portrait in her bedroom at her house in Woodland Hills, California in Nov. of 1976.

The legacy of '70s all-female rock band The Runaways was complicated even further last week, when bassist Jackie Fuchs (who adopted the name Jackie Fox when she joined the band) publicly accused the band's late manager (and rock scene stalwart) Kim Fowley of raping her in 1975. Reported by the Huffington Post, the piece told Jackie's story in-depth, including the allegation that Fowley drugged and raped her at a party as bandmates Joan Jett and Cherie Curry stood by. 

Runaways' Jackie Fox Says She Was Raped By Manager Kim Fowley in 1975

Fuchs spoke with Billboard about the decision to tell her story, and what it means to be a woman in the music industry, from the '70s to today.

What would you tell people who are skeptical that being a woman is any different than being a man in the music industry?

I think it can be very tough for women in any industry in which men dominate, and women historically have not had a lot of power. Men have created the rules. Change comes slowly. I think it is changing. People like Taylor Swift are changing how women are perceived -- I really, really admire her. As women stand up and say, "No, you don't get to treat me this way, you don't get to treat artists this way," I think it will change, slowly.

It is interesting that there are issues with sexual assault in the industry, even in 2015, though -- I know you mentioned the issues with Kesha and Dr. Luke?

The thing was the final impetus for me to come forward and talk was how the media was treating her allegations, because she stayed friendly with Dr. Luke after this incident supposedly happened. People were saying, "Obviously her allegations can't be true, because she stayed friendly with him." That completely ignores the fact that people stay friendly with their abusers when they know the person, especially where there's a business relationship. 

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I stayed friendly with Kim over the years, and I think it was in large part because I wanted to convince myself that I hadn't been affected by what he had done to me. I wanted to let him know that he hadn't affected my life. It was a lie I was telling myself, but it was a way of proving to myself that I was OK with it. It's taken this long for me to realize, no, I really wasn't OK.

I think that's a pretty common reaction among victims of abuse.

No one knows what the truth is in any given situation, but I'm very disturbed that [Dr. Luke] chose to confront the allegations with a lawsuit. It sends a message to women that you don't dare speak out against someone who is rich and powerful. I really hope it doesn't have a chilling effect on women who are victims of sexual abuse. 

When you first started out in the music industry, even though you were obviously very young, did you get the sense that men were kind of the gatekeepers to success?

I don't think I really met very many women who were in the industry, and they were primarily artists and publicists. Those were the two jobs that it was OK for women to have. When I left the band, I became a record promotion person. In a lot of ways, that was worse. At least as an artist, I got some respect. Doing promotion -- I was an 18-year-old girl -- men just thought it was OK to say, "Well, I'll play your record if you sleep with me."

I remember going to industry conventions, and it was almost all men, and they were so badly behaved. They were just throwing drugs at you, and groping you, and trying to get you alone in a room. It was horrible. I'm sure I was suffering from some PTSD about what had happened to me, but I hated going to those things.

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Did your experience then encourage you to leave the industry?

I just got tired of not getting a lot of respect because I was young and female. I thought people would take me more seriously if I had a college degree. After I went back to college, I discovered that you could be around intelligent people who don't care if you're a woman. I decided to do something that women had already broken a lot of ground in, and that was law. 

When I started practicing law, I was less competent than I had been doing the business side of things, which I was really good at. 

It is getting better -- back in the 70's, a woman who was raped and talked about it found herself on trial. It can still be really horrible. Look at how Bill Cosby's attorney accused the women who came forward of lying. He didn't say, "I'm sorry that they feel they were damaged -- there was obviously some mistake on their part and I don't want to minimize anyone's suffering." No -- he just said, "They're lying." That's a horrible thing to hear when you're a victim of rape. 

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What was it like to see Kim Fowley, maybe not in the spotlight, but still getting respect from his peers, even late in his career? Even after it had been exposed that he had been pretty terrible to all of you.

It really didn't bother me, until he died and suddenly he got that whitewashing that happens so often with people who are recently deceased. It's like, he told people that he was a legend, and they started to repeat it. I kind of wonder, what did he really do that was so legendary? 

The thing that he is known for is The Runaways. We almost faded from history. The reason that we are more than a footnote to history is because there were people in the band who kept going in the face of horrible sexism and difficulties. The fact that they did so means that people are still talking about the band 40 years later. I give them a lot of credit, because I have an idea of what they went through. 

Do you have the impression that Fowley abused other women?

I really don't know. He sexually assaulted Kari Krome. There are other people who have emailed me privately with stories of other things Kim did -- I have no way of verifying those. I do not know of any other woman that he drugged and raped. It's not within my personal knowledge, so all I can do is speak for myself about my own experience. 

How Cancer Reunited The Runaways’ Cherie Currie and Producer Kim Fowley

What would you say to women in the industry today, who might feel intimidated by how masculine it still can be?

Try to find people you trust who are in your corner. Do your research -- it's so much easier these days, with the Internet. Talk to people. Find out who you're getting into business with. Know that you can say no.

I feel like the more people that speak out about things like this, the easier it gets for other women and men to speak out, and hopefully to change the idea that there's something shameful about having been raped or abused. The only shame that there is, is on the part of the people who did this. The rapists, the abusers, and the bullies.

Fox made a statement on Facebook regarding the response to the Huffington Post article, which you can read below:

I have been so incredibly moved over the last few days by the outpouring of love and support that has followed the story...

Posted by Jackie Fox on Sunday, July 12, 2015