Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Punk rocker caught in soap opera

The drummer is jailed in O.C. because his bottle of cleanser allegedly contained a drug. The manufacturer joins the fight.

The GermsTHE GERMS: Members of the pioneering punk rock group appear in an undated photo — Lorna Doom, left, Pat Smear, Darby Crash and Don Bolles (aka the suspect, Jimmy Michael Giorsetti).
By Roy Rivenburg
Times Staff Writer

April 11, 2007

Was a legendary punk rocker arrested for possession of … soap?

That's the question surrounding last week's jailing of Germs drummer Don Bolles after a traffic stop in Newport Beach.

Bolles, 50, whose real name is Jimmy Michael Giorsetti, said in an interview that he and his girlfriend were driving to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting Wednesday evening when police pulled over his 1968 Dodge van for a broken taillight.

Inside the vehicle, police found a toiletry kit containing denture glue, razors and a bottle of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap.

When a field test of the alleged liquid peppermint soap indicated it was GHB, a date-rape drug, Bolles was arrested on suspicion of felony narcotics possession, said Sgt. Evan Sailor of the Newport Beach Police Department.

Bolles insisted the soap was only soap. "I've been using Dr. Bronner's for 35 years," he said Tuesday, adding that the organic ingredients help give him the complexion of a 15-year-old girl.

Executives at Dr. Bronner's rushed to Bolles' defense, hiring attorney Bruce Margolin, who specializes in marijuana cases, to represent the musician.

The alliance between Germs and the soap manufacturer followed an Internet plea to help bail Bolles out of jail. A musician from one of his other bands, Fancy Space People, set up a PayPal account to raise the $2,500 bond.

Bolles, who lives in Huntington Park, was released Sunday. "The Newport Beach jail was the nicest one I've ever been in," he said. But Bolles spent just one night there before being moved to two county jails he described as "terrifying."

The Germs, a trailblazing punk ban formed in Los Angeles in the late 1970s, are credited with influencing generations of musicians and popularizing mohawks. Bolles took his name from Arizona Republic journalist Don Bolles, who was killed in 1976 by a car bomb while investigating corruption.

The band broke up in 1980 after their 24-year-old singer, Darby Crash, committed suicide. The Germs reunited in 2005.

As word of the punk rocker's arrest spread online, Dr. Bronner's switchboard lighted up with calls. After speaking with Bolles on Monday, company President David Bronner decided to intervene.

The Escondido-based soap maker is used to run-ins with the law. Because the ingredient list for Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap includes hemp oil, police field tests of the soap occasionally indicate THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, Bronner said.

But the idea of finding GHB in a Dr. Bronner's product is "beyond belief," Bronner said. "The field test must have been flawed or tampered with."

Is it possible Bolles was using the soap bottle to carry the drug?

No way, Bronner said. With a definitive test of the bottle's contents coming soon from the Orange County Crime Lab, "it would be ridiculous for Bolles to be lying," Bronner said.

Bolles, a onetime heroin addict who is scheduled to play a London concert with the Germs in August, likewise dismissed the idea that he would carry GHB. "A date-rape drug is the last thing I need," he said. "If anything, I need a way to keep the girls off of me. They make my girlfriend mad."