Saturday, March 31, 2012
Just when I thought John Stezaker had done the only, be-all-end-all manipulation of vintage Hollywood photos, I came across the dreamy cut-and-paste matrix of London-based artist Claire Pestaille.
Pestaille chops and remixes vintage photos to create surreal, fragmented portraits of serene beauties and powerful cinematic scenes that can give a foreboding, psychological dimension or a suspended magical power to each portrait.
Friday, March 30, 2012
(Balthasar Klossowski de Rola)
(Arms by Nancy Cunard)
I can't believe how amazing these portraits are and how ahead of his time Man Ray was.
These photographs feature friends, writers, and artists from Man Ray's circles in Paris and the US. There is so much great style archived in these photographs, i.e. wide cropped ties with loose suits, long drape-y flapper-style bead necklaces, silk scarves with suits, knee-length pleated skirts, greased back hair, round glasses frames, cupid's bow lips, exotic print frocks, and thick cake makeup. They were bound into the book "Man Ray Portraits: Paris Hollywood Paris"
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
They paid the dastardly price, that troupe of cock-and-bull story rebels. They turned themselves over to fate in the end, but not without a 12 pace showdown of the highest honor. They were awarded that honor in the mind of each and every moonfaced bystander that watched them die in the fastest paced ballet in the history of theatre.
A blood-red curtain closed around them and the smattering of applause signaled the waiter to collect the crystalware.
They weren't real crystal, but the way the heavy scuffed and chipped clear plastic refracted the light gave it the air of something exclusive and rare. Mom always promptly collected our empty aluminum trays as the credits rolled down the screen, while we were frozen to contemplate the implications of that finale scene that eternally altered the arc of the whole story. I had that to look forward to next week. Thursday nights were always Swanson pork chops and gun violence.
Though we were sitting on a nubby peach cotton couch, with the screen inches away and the flavor of fine reheated pork chops and processed applesauce lingering, it was the finest form of entertainment.
Photos via Life Magazine
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Ava was frequently touted as the most naturally beautiful woman ever in Hollywood by insiders and fellow actresses alike. While pin-ups like Marilyn had undergone plastic surgery, bleaching, removal of eyebrows, heavy cake make up, etc, to ready them for their pictures, leaving them ghostly before heading to the makeup trailer, Ava was naturally endowed with a bone structure to die for (credited to her distant mix of White, American Indian, and Black ancestry) and starred in her first picture The Killers (1946) with only Vaseline on her face to emphasize its contours against the light: The high cheek bone, the strong jawline to dimpled chin, the deeply arched brow, the dreamy cat eyes, the sculpted cheek, the carved lip bow, all sitting atop a lean, lounging hourglass.
But Grecian symmetry belied the turmoil beneath. Ava declared that "Love is nothing" after a series of failed relationships, leaving her jaded and lonely when the cameras weren't rolling.
"Thinking that they could use a change of scene and more breathing room, Mickey [Rooney] moved them to a large rented house on Stone Canyon Drive in Bel Air. It solved nothing. They simply no longer got along. They fought when they were alone, they fought in public. She had been drinking more and more. It had helped her nerves at the studio, relaxed her at parties. Now it briefly erased some of the pain of a crumbling marriage and gave her courage to complain. As drinking became an increasing component in her social life, it was also becoming clear that she was chemically ill-equipped for the amount that she might consume, one of those who with sufficient alcohol in her system could become startlingly transformed, prone to emotional imbalance, paranoia, even violent outbursts, a Jekyll-and-Hyde syndrome, as some would come to describe it.
Rooney had to wonder: Where was the bashful farm girl he had helped down off the hay wagon nine or ten months before? She would tear into him, obscenity-laced complaints; she once threw a heavy inkwell at his head during an argument' at a party-- "juiced on Martinis"-- she flirted and danced intimately with other men, intent on provoking or humiliating him. Where was the girl? he would wonder. He was still the same, fun-loving guy she had married.
One weekend that summer they had gone down across the Mexican border to Tijuana, to the races. They had had a good day, watching the horses, drinking chilled Tequila with lime. They drove back to California, a beautiful summer day with a flaming orange sunset at the end. They got back and wanted to go home after they ate, but Mickey was caught up in his usual whirlwind with a hundred admirers. Ava drank too much, brooded, became angry, stormed out of the restaurant, and had a taxi drive her home. Raging from liquor and mounting dissatisfactions, she took a carving knife from the kitchen and went around the living room stabbing and tearing at the sofa cushions and upholstered chairs, leaving clouds of cotton batting floating in the air. Then Ava went upstairs and got into bed, knowing her marriage was over.
Mickey returned, less than sober himself, finding everything shredded and overturned."
Text from "Love is Nothing", the amazing biography of Ava Gardner by Lee Server, p. 81.
Photo via HERE.
Monday, March 26, 2012
I stumbled across this kooky collection characters showing off their kitties photographed by Ralph Crane on assignment for Life Magazine in 1961, covering black cat auditions in Hollywood. The description didn't state which movie or TV show the black cat role was for, but the number of witchy 60s films that used black cats could be the culprit.
There are so many spectacularly niche jobs people fall into, that you never hear or think about, and I think movie set cat trainer is certainly one of them. I love seeing the line of cat owners and trainers, some clearly in the movie business, with as much star pizzazz as the cat they are auditioning, donning pipes, fur hats, and other ostentatious accoutrement. Others looked like innocent, down-to-earth, homemaking cat lovers that just can't believe their beloved house cat wouldn't be the most special kitty around town. Most of the cats, on the other hand, look annoyed, beleaguered, and bored... which I think is what makes cats appear so cooler-than-thou anyway.
Friday, March 23, 2012
Hollywood sign from 1924.
An excerpt from Pamela Miller Des-Barres' I'm with the Band follow-up book, Another Little Piece of my Heart :
"I was beginning my thirty-eighth year of life, and with my book ["I'm With The Band"] completed and soon to be published began a much-needed cycle of renewal. Michael [Des Barres, her husband at the time] and I had an unspoken love-truce and started having a little more fun. For my birthday he and Patti (D'arbanville) threw me a feast-fete at Helena's downtown in a gone-to-seedy area behind Silverlake. The barely opened pleasure sanctum had been discovered by that chic chick, the divine Melanie G. Former unique bohemian-freak a tress, Greek belly-dancer Helena Kadianiotes ran the joint, with the financial aid of her two next-door neighbors, Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando. "Mother Teresa feeds the poor," Helena said to me, "the rich and famous need it more." She was the patron saint of the super-elite. Helen's was an over-the-rainbow, beyond-belief, hipper-than-thou experience to be relished by the too, too few. My girlfriends dolled up to chomp on the goat cheese, sun-dried tomato special, and the double-heart carrot cake Melanie (Griffith) had so kindly provided. Michael toasted me, praising my efforts even though I had spared no mushy, horny detail about any of my amores. Bruce Willis was there with my friend, Sheri, and almost unknown cute actor, Robert Downey Jr, came with his trendified manager, Loree Rodkin, and Patti snapped at least sixty Polaroids white the place clogged up with actors, musicians, producers, directors, tall, willowy model-types, and all the truly ravishing people.
Helena's soon became our new hang-spot. That twinkly magic man Jack Nicholson was there every Friday night, lighting up the dive. He held court in the corner, allowing only certain babes to grace the seat next to him for no more than five minutes at a time. Lou Adler was usually with him, and sometimes the old charmer, Warren Beatty came by for a glass of Evian, scanning for beauty. We got to be fairly friendly, flirting like fools, and I graced Jack's table for several five-minute slots of fun, wondering what it might be like to find myself trapped in his naughty lair for several five-hour slots of sin. Can you tell I was slowly turning into a horny beast? I guess writing about all my lovers woke up my sadly neglected libido. It's all the more sad because even the smell of Michael, the touch of his silky skin still thrilled me. But it seemed he believed the grass was always more emerald, chartreuse, sea green, jade green, lime green moss green, avocado, and leaf green way over on the other side.
One night when the peel-back ceiling was peeled back to reveal the splendor of the smogged-out stars, Marlon Brando made a brief appearance at Helen's, and eve the high-stepping cream of the swank set started buzzing. I was tempted to sashay over to Brando's table to ask what he did with all those half-naked shots I sent hi back in '72 but decided to keep my cool intact. One night somebody claimed they saw Jack Nicholson and Sean Penn peeing against a wall outside , and it became a spirited topic of conversation-- just to show you hw really silly Hollywood-types can be. I was an observer the night Sean boped a guy called "Hawk" over the head with a chair for cozying up to closely to Madonna. Even Prince showed up on a fairly regular basis, sitting near the dance floor with his dad and two giants who constantly kept their eyes peeled like neon grapes, peering in tot he dim, creamy night light. Helen must have paid a pile of loot to make the beautiful people look and feel even more beautiful with in her precious pinkened walls. I was feeling pretty delicious one Friday night, dancing maniacally to Prince's "Kiss" in a skintight getup, when his majesty arrived wearing that very daring, belly-button-baring black Kiss ensemble and a pair of pitiless black sunglasses that screamed "I VANT to be alone," even though he was at the world's hippest nightspot. While I reamed the dance floor, the funniest thing happened: Just at the part in the song that goes, "You don't have to watch Dynasty to turn me on," Michaelf Nader, who played the sensitive yet studly hunk on Dynasty, walked through the door and stood grandly, in plain view of the entire place. Even Nader didn't get the hysterical significance. I laughed so hard all by myself, hoping that at least Prince caught the retarded magnitude of the ludicrous moment. I took a peek but couldn't tell because his shades were as dark as night and twice as impenetrable.
After just about having sex with myself on the dance floor two feet from where Prince sat, I dared to approach his table, tossing my cool and all caution out the star-roof. "I love you, I love you, I love you," I declared, forgetting I wasn't Pam Miller in Reseda, circa 1962. I stood there after the brazen preteen act, frozen to the spot, and all he did in response was to lower his shades a smidge so I could gaze at those rich brown beauties for a brief instant. I fell across the floor like hot-rod lightning and took a few swigs of my white wine spritzer. "What made me do that?" I wondered out lord. I told Patti about it and she spit her cappuccino across the table, getting a splotch on Rob Camelletti, Cher's boyfriend--the poor, innocent guy the rags called "the bagel boy"-- but he didn't seem to feel a drop.
One packed Friday eve, as the star of stage, screen and CD bopped to the beat, a rancid odor filled the dance floor, engulfing the hipsters with skunk-stench. Scattering, they all headed for the door. Who dared to let off a stink bomb at Helen's on a Friday night? Helen's eyes spit fire as she blazed around, scanning for the perpetrator. I saw that unruly, outspoken diva-donna, Sandra Bernhard slyly sneak out of everyone's way, like she knew they just might be getting ready to leave. What a daring, villainous deed.
It would be a Helen's that December, amid tons of joviality and Christmas cheer, that Michael would finally meet the girl of his--- and my --nightmares. Where else? "