FROM Jennifer Swann
Photographer Matthew Rolston recalls Interview Magazine’s heyday Andy Warhol co-founded Interview magazine in late 1969 as a “clever way to receive invitations to screenings and meet celebrities in society and entertainment,” writes art director Charles Churchward in the book “Hollywood Royale.” It was also, for Warhol, a way “to express his ongoing obsession with the idea of fame.” Along with striking photography, the core of Interview was interviews, by celebrities of other celebrities, then a radical concept. Interview fast became the bible of cool, and every aspiring musician or actor craved being featured on its cover. In 1987 Warhol died, but Interview continued until it closed last week amidst dramas including staff being kicked out of their SoHo offices, lawsuits over unpaid bills, and accusations of misconduct against a stylist. Despite its problems, Interview’s closure was a suckerpunch to many, including DnA contributor Jenn Swann, who wrote her first article for Interview, in the issue that would be the magazine’s last. Born after Interview’s heyday, she explains why the magazine mattered, with its deceptively simple Q & A interview format, and the glamorized portraits that represented a “total reimagining” of the celebrity interviewees. One of the artists responsible for this “total reimagining” was Matthew Rolston, the Beverly Hills-based photographer and video-maker who has shot many famous people for all the top glossy magazines. But he got his start at Interview with an assignment to shoot Steven Spielberg, while still a student at ArtCenter. Now he’s published a new book, “Hollywood Royale: Out of the School of Los Angeles.”Edited and curated by David Fahey of Fahey/Klein Gallery, Hollywood Royale that is filled with his highly glamorized 1980s images, among them Madonna channeling Marlene Dietrich and Michael Jackson regal in crown against corinthian columns. The book includes several of his shots for Interview, such as a youthful Spielberg; Cyndi Lauper in a towering, jewelled headdress; Cybill Shepherd and Isabella Rossellini, both porcelain-skinned and luminescent; and Don Johnson with slicked back hair, dressed for polo. Matthew Rolston. Cyndi Lauper, Headdress, Los Angeles, 1986 © MRPI (Courtesy Fahey/Klein, Los Angeles). The images represent his interpretation of 20th century glamour, which he says was invented and reinvented by movie star photographer George Hurrell, high-fashion photographer Helmut Newton and the painter and curator of celebrities, Andy Warhol. Rolston talks with DnA about the “classic break” at Interview that launched his career; about his first visit to the Interview offices, where he witnessed Andy taking a lunch meeting with Nancy Reagan and the band Duran Duran, and about what made the magazine cool. “The magazine probably never made a dime,” he says, adding that relative to the towering New York publications like Vogue and Harper's Bazaar, “it was countercultural. It had an unspoken but very present gay aspect... and a true love for Hollywood glamour -- in an ironic sense, in a postmodern sense.” It was also “nowhere near the scale of what we have now in terms of photography, celebrities, social media, selfie culture -- none of that existed.” Matthew Rolston’s career as a celebrity photographer began at Interview magazine, which announced last week would close. Photo of Matthew Rolston by Davis Factor.
Bombay Beach Biennale shakes up town at toxic Salton Sea You’ve probably heard of the Venice Biennale. How about the Bombay Beach Biennale? This is offbeat art festival that just took place on the banks of the Salton Sea, the polluted artificial lake south of Palm Springs. It is in its third year and it brings a mix of established artists and art world dabblers and partiers for a long weekend of all-night parties in abandoned houses. The art consists mostly of installations in the spirit of Bombay Beach itself: lots of found materials, otherworldly creations that evoke the desert or even outer space, and what some might call "junk art." Some of the artists are also buying up property in Bombay Beach, sending up the prices. So is all this a blessing or a curse for the local residents, whose median household income is less than $15,000? Reporter Jennifer Swann visited the Biennale and talked with artists and Bombay Beach residents. She found that some, like Louise Jones, felt “we have enough freaks in this town. We don't need any more.” But Bombay Beach Biennale co-founder Stefan Ashkenazi says that “eight years ago you couldn't give a building away here.” He adds that the artists “are breathing life into a town that was was and still is literally dying.” Acrobats posing near the shore of the Salton Sea. Photo credit: Jennifer Swann.
A new freeway proposed for the High Desert With all the complaints about traffic jams and the push for multimodal transit alternatives, you might think we’ve gotten past the era of building new freeways in Southern California. But there’s a new freeway coming to the region. At least that’s the idea. An eight-lane stretch of asphalt has been proposed to connect the rural desert cities of Palmdale and Lancaster, in far northern LA County, with those of Victorville and Apple Valley, in the San Bernardino County. This is a 63-mile long freeway would run east to west in the High Desert. It would run parallel to -- and maybe even replace -- the 138 freeway. The 138’s official name is Pearblossom Highway, but it has a gruesome nickname: Blood Alley. The twisting two-lane highway has narrow shoulders and no divider between opposing lanes of traffic. It is one of the country’s deadliest roads. Metro characterizes the High Desert corridor project as “multimodal” because it would incorporate a train to Las Vegas and a bike lane. The environmental group Climate Resolve is suing, and the project has a hefty $8 billion price tag attached. Reporter Jennifer Swann went to the site of the proposed freeway to see what people there think of it. Deb Hill and Moldy Marvin and Littlerock Grill. Photo by Jennifer Swann.
A proposed design district for Historic Filipinotown Echo Park might be considered a case study in gentrification, from the renovation of its lake to third-wave coffee shops lining Sunset Boulevard. Now the City of Los Angeles is looking to radically transform the neighborhood directly southwest of Echo Park, bordered by the 101 and 110 freeways. An ordinance submitted to the Department of City Planning proposes creating a "North Westlake Design District," which means approving more mixed-use buildings, adding pedestrian bridges at the expense of parking spots, and imposing regulations on everything from signage and design to the paint color of the buildings. The only problem? The neighborhood already has a name – Historic Filipinotown – and a strong cultural identity. Activists who created the Coalition to Defend Westlake in an effort to defeat the ordinance argue that it would exacerbate gentrification and lead to the displacement of low-income tenants in the historically immigrant community. The Coalition to Defend Westlake recently hosted two community meetings to discuss how the plan will affect the neighborhood. Reporter Jennifer Swann talks to DnA about the mixed reaction in the community, how the ordinance might change the neighborhood and why some residents, like Arturo Garcia, are prepared to “fight” a design district “up to the end.” Historic Filipinotown
In 'Speechless,' Scott Silveri combines comedy, family & disability Scott Silveri has written and produced sitcoms for more than 20 years. In all that time, he never encountered a TV family that looked anything like the one he grew up in -- with a mom, a dad...and a brother with cerebral palsy. He changed that with his show Speechless on ABC. Silveri tells us about looking to his own past for stories, and why he was determined to make a family comedy and not just a "disability show."
Why is Trump so behind on filling staff jobs, establishing concrete policies? Yesterday Donald Trump signed a “decision memo” to revamp the air traffic control system. But there was little legislative detail in the plan. There’s not much to other splashy announcements from the White House, including tax cuts and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And hundreds of positions are unfilled in federal agencies.
Accusations of lying fly between James Comey and White House During his testimony Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey accused President Trump and other White House officials of lying when they said the FBI was in disarray and its staff had lost confidence in him. President Trump’s lawyer said Comey was wrong -- that the president never asked for his loyalty, and never asked him to back off the investigation into former NSA director Michael Flynn.