Editor’s Note: We received a flood of e-mails from readers asking if we could please publish a piece on the passing of Alix Dobkin. She clearly made such a difference in the lives of Ohioans—particularly in the lesbian community—with the incredible and powerful way that she used her voice on and off stage. The following obituary was penned by photographer, artist and feminist Liza Cowan for AP.
“There are only two responses to freedom. One is trying to control everything. The other is to be creative and take risks.”
Alix Dobkin, 1994
Alix Dobkin, singer, songwriter, and the face of the iconic “The Future is Female” t-shirt photo, died peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by family, on May 19th from a brain aneurysm and stroke. She was 80 years old.
Later that year Alix’s life pivoted when she became aware of the nascent Women’s Liberation Movement. As she lay in bed one night, listening to a radio interview with Germaine Greer on WBAI-FM, she realized that this would be the cause of her lifetime. She joined a Consciousness Raising Group, separated from her husband, and struck out on her own. She picked up the guitar once more, and wrote a letter to the producer who had done the interview which had so inspired her, asking if she could perform on her program. The night they did the live on-air broadcast, Alix and the producer, Liza Cowan, fell in love, and soon moved in together, along with 11 month old baby Adrian. Alix was now a capital L Lesbian.
Inspired by her decision to write for women, Alix wrote many dozens of songs, now known for their rousing and often humorous lyrics and engaging rhyme schemes. Calling on her roots in folk music, Broadway musicals, and the vocal traditions of Balkan songs, Alix’s compositions were based on storytelling, recalling moments not just in her own life, but accounts from stories told to her on her travels. One of her most famous, and most popular, is “Lesbian Code” in which she recites the code words that Lesbians use to name their own. She collected the many code words during her world travels, often in the middle of a concert, to the amusement of her audiences, who would call out their favorite words while Alix took notes in a small spiral notebook. She said she was doing Lesbian Anthropology.
Another famous song is her reworking of A– You’re Adorable (The Alphabet Song) to A –You’re An Amazon. When a fan told Alix at a concert that her uncle had written the original, and that he was gay, Alix was thrilled. She closed every show with Amazon ABC, and always told that story.
As the women’s movement changed, and as Alix aged, she continued to perform, but devoted much of her time as a steering committee member and co-director of Old Lesbians Organizing For Change (OLOC), an advocacy group. In 2009 Alyson Books published her memoir, My Red Blood, recounting her early years growing up as a Red Diaper Baby in a communist family, and the early days of her folk music career.
Alix spent the last half of her life living in Woodstock, New York, raising her daughter along with former husband Sam, leaving only to tour. In her later years, she spent her days working for OLOC, performing rarely, and helping care for her three beloved grandchildren.
While living in Woodstock Alix was well known as Grandma Alix. Her local Woodstock community cherished Grandma Alix and will miss seeing her walking through town listening to her walkman, singing, playing guitar and slinging pizza as the favorite Lunch Grandma at the Woodstock Day School. Some fortunate few were even lucky enough to see her perform Boogie Oogie Oogie at a recent school event.
She leaves behind her daughter, Adrian Hood, son-in law Chris Lofaro, grandchildren Lucca, Marly and Sammy, as well as her brother Carl Dobkin, sister-in -law Pat Dobkin, her sister Julie Dobkin, two nieces, as well as her former partners, and a host of friends and fans.
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