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June 26, 2021

Tender Shots of East Los Angeles Gang El Hoyo Maravilla by Janette Beckman in 1983

In 1983, British photographer Janette Beckman was in Los Angeles documenting the burgeoning West Coast punk scene. Browsing through the LA Weekly, she became fascinated with an article about El Hoyo Maravilla (HM), a Mexican-American street gang based in East Los Angeles.

“There were no photos to illustrate the story,” Beckman recalls. “After reading the article in the LA Weekly I tracked the writer down and persuaded him to take me to the ‘Hoyo Maravilla Park’ and introduce me… I just wanted to document the East Los Angeles culture and style. It was a part of Los Angeles that no one seemed to acknowledge. Back in the day, before the internet, if you thought of Los Angeles it was Hollywood, the movies, Beverly Hills, and the music scene.”

“Everyone had their poses down; they reminded me of the punks and New York B-Boys. One day, I asked a kid, ‘What is that teardrop tattoo under your eye?’ and he told me, ‘That means I’ve been in jail.’ They were badass but I didn’t know. To me, they were just kids. I saw the beauty in them.”

These ten shots were taken by Janette Beckman that show portraits of members of the East Los Angeles gang El Hoyo Maravilla in 1983.

(Photo © Janette Beckman)


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