Like oakbox I had very little BASIC experience and started learning Perl as my first programming language - just for the fun of it. I've read danger's "Elements of Programming with Perl" and it was a very useful introduction to both, programming and Perl.
in reply to Learning Perl as a First (programming) language
After reading the first perl-related usenet-groups I realized a very friendly community and a fascinating spirit of the perl programming language. Meanwhile we have the Monastery - what else there is to say? Beginners get superb support, not to mention the great online documentation of Perl and it's modules and really good books for all levels.
As an amateur I still have problems switching from structural to object orientated programming though. But that's a matter of practise, I guess.
I would encourage anyone to learn Perl. It's easy to begin and yet impossible to end.