We're proud to announce our Issue N°4 cover star Helena Christensen as photographed by multi Cannes Lion award winner, Ale Burset, who happens to also be our Photo Director!
This gorgeously epic edition also features Liv Freundlich, daughter of Julianne Moore as photographed by Helena Christensen, Sophie Elgort, Zac Posen, Maye Musk, Danny Christensen, Andrew Geller, Joseph LaPiana, Carolina Palmgren, Thomas Northcut, Sascha Phlaeging, Christopher Ardell, Alexander Thompson, Alexey Glebko, Ian Cole and more!...
Photographer // Gabriel de la Morena
Stylist // Eva Barrallo
Makeup // Pedro Cedeño with Chanel and Ghd
Stylist Assistant // Carolina Taviro
Photo Assistant // Juan José Martinez
Post production // Diego Speroni
Model // Jacolijn via Blow Models
Photography : Rebecca Naen
Stylist : Sophie Kenningham
Model : Karin Kimel @STORM
Makeup : Layla Mehmedagi
Hair : Aaron Carlo
photographer: Sophie Elgort
art director: Whitney Mercurio
fashion director: Jules Wood
hair & makeup: Jamie Hansen
model: Rhiannon McConnell @ Wilhelmina NYC
Photographer: Matthew Tischler
Model: Margaux Brazhnyx @MC2
Art Director: Liz Green
Stylist: Lauren Bailey
Hair & Makeup: Jamie Hanson
Digital Tech: Timothy Zwicky Assistant: Alan Bartlett
photographer: Alexey Glebko
art director: Whitney Mercurio
fashion editor: Jules Wood
hair and makeup: Jamie Hansen
model: Ewa Wladymiruk @ Elite
special thanks to Joseph LaPiana!
Call to Action! Please submit your public comment today urging the Army Corps to complete a full ‘Environmental Impact Statement’ for the DAPL. Deadline Feb 20th! See our latest film on Milk.xyz where you can also find the 'submit comment' link. Thanks @milk for raising awareness with us! Sign against other fossil fuel developments at movetorenewables.com #NODAPL #MoveToRenewables #StandingRock #ImWithEarth #WaterIsLife #ActOnClimate #ClimateChange #RenewableEnergy #Milk #MilkStudios
Camilla Vivian Mayer, Todd Muchow, Erin Wahed, Renee Peters, Philip Attar, Eglantina Zingg, Zach Pricer, Cecily Haubner, Henry Hargreaves, Joren Rivers, Ashley Owens, Roberi Parra, Tiffany Patton, Dane Brown, Alex Lopez, Noah Myers, Shannon MacArdhail, Hugo Arturi, Jessica Jones, Milk, Milk.xyz
photographer; Hugo Arturi //
creative director: Whitney Mercurio //
fashion director: Jules Wood //
model: Alexina Graham //
hair & makeup: Jamie Hansen //
location: Private home of Jim & Julianne Stirling, Fairfield, CT
Photography by Jeff Tse
Hair by Joshua Barrett for Bumble and Bumble @Creative Management Mc2
Makeup by Patrick Eichler for Makeup Forever
Model Anna Eberg @Wilhelmina Models
photographer: Conor Doherty
art director: Whitney Mercurio
fashion editor: Jules Wood
hair/makeup: Jamie Hanson
fashion assistant: Fantasia James
Photographer // Diane Vasil
Art Director // Vicki March
Fashion Editor // Jules Wood
Hair and Makeup // Jen Navarro
Model // Lary Muller c/o @Supreme Models
Digital Tech // Michael Prezioso
Fashion Assistant // Renee Huffman
PHOTOGRAPHER // Hugo Arturi
ART DIRECTOR // Whitney Mercurio
MODEL // Jada Joyce
STYLIST // David Gomez-Villamediana
MAKEUP // Laura Stiassni
HAIR // Owen Gould
PHOTO ASST //Spencer Wohlrab
photographer: Helena Christensen //
creative director: Whitney Mercurio //
fashion director: Jules Wood //
models: Brooke Shields. Brett Myers, USMC //
hair: Jamie Hanson //
makeup: Cheyenne Timperio //
photo assistants: Hector Perez, Donna Viering //
stylist assistant: Aiesha Hammond //
location: Teterboro Airport, Gamma Aviation //
Special thank you to Bob Pittman for his jet, the USMC and Fareed Ramjohn for accomodating us!
Photographer // Rebecca Naen
Stylist // Sophie Kenningham
Hair // Shukeel Murtaza
Make Up // Layla Mehmedagi using RMS Beauty
Model // Jasmine Lia @ Nevs
Photographer, Stylist & Hair stylist all represented by Frank Agency
PHOTOGRAPHER // ALEXANDER THOMPSON
FASHION EDITOR // JULES WOOD
MEN'S GROOMER // JAMIE HANSEN
MODEL // RILEY COLE @ MSA MODELS
photographer Spencer Ostrander //
creative director Whitney Mercurio //
fashion director Jules Wood //
model Rose Mcgowan //
hair & makeup Jamie Hanson //
photo assistant Alex Ryerson //
special thanks to Derek Andersen
Photographer: Matthew Tischler
Model: Katerina Vitova
Hair & Makeup: Jamie Hanson
Stylist: Lauren Bailey
Photo Assistant: Alan Bartlett
Clothes: Landeros New York - Andre Michel
photographer Richie Gleason //
Stylist Todd Kaelin //
model Bree Smith //
hair & makeup Cindy Andrews //
food stylist Frankie Chacon
Special thanks to OneKreate for making this shoot possible!
photographer: Hugo Arturi //
fashion editor: Jules Wood //
photographer: Heather McGrath //
model: Anna Boulais //
stylist: Joji Goto //
photography: Mick Rock //
creative director: Whitney Mercurio //
fashion editor: Jules Wood //
grooming by Damien Monzillo //
photography by Robert Bomgardner
My partner Jules and I showed up at 8:00 on a Thursday night. I had let Chef Bun Lai, infamous owner of Miya’s Sushi in New Haven, CT know we were coming and that we wanted to talk about a story for our magazine (the one you’re reading). The host said he wasn’t going to be able to make it - but there were plans in store for us… Every conceivable sake beverage proceeded to make its way to our tiny table, followed by a seemingly endless flow of what appeared to be everything on the menu including Pumpkin Miso-infused with locally foraged, invasive Codium, followed by Bun’s signature Tokyo Phro of crispy organic potatoes with homegrown roasted wax worms drizzled with a creamy tomato remoulade which our other partner, Mitja in Europe still has dreams about, then a Water Piglet sushi roll of applewoodsmoked Connecticut mackerel, goat cheese, and cranberries. This was all accompanied by that fuzzy feeling you get when “you know the owner” who we hadn’t even met yet, but were about to later that evening and who would sit with us until we walked out at nearly 2am.
Bun is a James Beard Nominated chef possessing all the social prowess, coolness, intellect and charm with a mega-passion for being ecologically responsible one might aspire to. His mother first opened Miya’s (named after his sister) in 1982 and he has since taken over the joint. He’s undoubtedly the coolest guy in the room as he walks through Miya’s, sitting down and introducing himself to couples and groups of Yale students, covertly having all sorts of interesting edible creations that are truly beautiful works of art delivered to their tables… and ours. This is part of the beauty of Miya’s Sushi. It’s an experience talking with Bun, listening to his sentiments and how he does things, but not in a contrived or pretentious way - because he means it.
Miya’s Sushi is a place where ecological responsibility rules alongside culinary innovation in a way that transcends the original culture from which it was spawned. While the restaurant (namely sushi) industry has had devastating effects on the environment and on our oceans, Bun’s response was to initiate a sushi evolution. He created and ever-evolving menu that embraces the idea of mindful eating, restoration and healing by utilizing locally invasive plants like Japanese knot weed and sea-finds like invasive Asian shore crab and wild seaweeds which can have devastating effects on the environment and indigenous life. He also includes protein-rich edible insects, and wild and responsibly-caught seafood which does not have a negative impact on the world’s oceans or the world itself for that matter.
Bun Lai’s incredibly innovative and ridiculously tasty cuisine is calculated and designed to prevent and counteract damage done to our ecosystem and protect the biodiversity of our planet. His, is an incredible concept with a passionate cult following (of which I am one) which has changed the entire concept of traditional sushi as we know it.
Well done Bun!
Being at the edge of an ocean is unlike anything else - it is a shared human experience that transcends culture and time. The rhythm of the tides, repetition of the waves, smell of the salt and the sound of the water; it all resonates deeply within us. In these images I worked to capture the primal allure of the ocean. The breaking of a wave is seminal. It creates the sounds, smell and rhythm that we are drawn to. It even crates the sand we walk toward the ocean on. Waves have been breaking for countless millennia, yet no two break the same way.”
Connor Doherty, photographer
model: Helena Christensen //
photographer: Wally Shaykhoun //
creative director: Whitney Mercurio //
fashion editor: Jules Wood //
interviewed by Victoria Galves //
Before there was reality TV as we know it, before the Kardashian’s, the Osbourne’s and the heinous Housewives from Hell Syndicate there was the Loud Family. It was 1971 and they had no idea what they were getting into because they were about to become the first family of Reality TV and create the genre that would begin the love/hate feeding frenzy of everyday American’s becoming celebrities. They made it up as they went along. It was not scripted. It was not bread and circus. It was the beginning of American’s living their lives as voyeuristic spectators in lieu of a real life. We became fascinated by The American Family.
On or off camera The Loud Family was known to be open, friendly and entertaining they simply allowed the cameras into their home and became famous for being themselves. Over the course of the documentary/television show we watched as Pat lived her life out loud in front of America. As Human nature would have it the family only became really interesting not for their spirited camaraderie and closeness but for the painful camera break-up of their marriage and its effect on the their children and the coming out of their eldest son, the notoriously cool Lance Loud. This took the family down many roads less taken. They became the darling’s of the media and the bullseye for criticism and judgement. In was the early 1970’s and Andy Warhol’s invitation took Pat and Lance on a walk on the wild side through a journey through the Factory. Naturally, they stayed at the legendary Chelsea hotel where they filmed with Warhol Superstar’s. Lance became a reluctant hero for the Gay movement. He was always honest but hated titles of any kind. Pat always Proud Mary disliked the histrionics surrounding Lance’s “bravery” she simply said, it was just Lance being Lance. Period.
Lance was my closest friend from the moment we met in 1977 until the day he died. When you were friends with any of the Louds you are friends with them entire family, especially Pat. Pat and Lance were joined at the heart and hip.
Victoria- I have noticed through the years how much you and Lance had in common. For example, I was always heartened by the range of characters that you would both effortlessly saunter through from English aristocrats, Hollywood royalty to outrageous misfits like Warhol superstars and obnoxious world class Punks all at the same dinner table. You not only held court but cooked the entire delicious homemade meal (at Lance’s hound dog howling request!)fueled with the specially prepared Loud trademark cocktails, killer Tom and Jerry’s (guaranteed to bring out the best and more frequently the worst in their dinner guests, who cared? It was all in good fun.)
Pat- (laughing) Always a good thing!
Victoria- Pat, You always knew the proper protocol yet also had street credibility, what do you owe this talent for socializing and accommodating the wide range of character’s always vying for your attention and wanting to be a part of your life?
Pat- I didn’t know I could do all that! My parents were very, very social people and maybe I picked up some of that from them. Lance just had a natural grace about him. As for me, I am not afraid of people. I have never been intimidated by them. I think I was always very curious about people and when you are curious about people I think they appreciate your interest. You ask questions about them and you listen and it’s easy after that. My kids were definitely products of their time and this allowed me to become interested in a variety of topics that I would have not otherwise been exposed to. I was interested in my kids and what they were interested in so it was natural for me to be able to speak on several subjects.
Victoria- Spending so much time around Lance I was always witness to his infamous charm. I saw many people try to compete with him, to outwit him, to outsmart him, to catch him not being Lance. I realized time and time again that his charm was not about impressing people with said wit or dazzle them with bravado, although he certainly did that! Lance’s particular brand of charm was his ability to make you feel good about who you are and people gravitated to that. He already knew who he was! Lance always went straight for the cool in people and focused on that. In that way he got the most out of life and the best out of people. Ok, Lance was no saint and maybe he did use smoke and mirrors at times but in my eyes that only made him a magician with a twist of snake oil thrown in. You both shared such a hearty lack of snobbery. I do think if you and Lance were ever intolerant of anything it was pretentious, pompous bores!
Pat- Oh no, that would never do! Lance and I had that in common.
Victoria- Another thing you and Lance had in common as I saw it was a love for family and truly romantic ideals. I know you both detested cheap sentiments and gushy sentimentalities. I am talking about the kind of ideals that made you a great mother and friend. It was Lance’s dying wish for you and Bill after all these years to get back together and share the rest of your life. He had the responsible where with all to be a good son and family member and he never missed a beat to muscle in and make that request. I believe he Know in his heart that it would be a good thing for you both and for the entire family for that matter. He had the ability to see what really mattered in life.
Pat- When Bill and I split up we went our own ways. I, as you know went to New York and had a fabulous life and Bill got married to a lovely woman. They divorced eventually. When Lance was in hospice he became concerned with my well-being after he was gone and also his father was in Houston and I think he wasn’t sure that Bill was happy there and he wanted the family to be united. He loved Bill and he loved me and he wanted to make sure that we would be ok. With him gone (This is hard to talk about) he wanted us to go on helping one another and with Bill and I together this would be possible. There was a friend of mine from New York, Edith La Shawn and she told me one that during her lifetime she had many marriages within the one marriage to the same man. I kind of feel like that about Bill and I. So Bill and I did get back together again. I was quite leery at first. However, it has worked out very well we are happy and we respect and love one another. We have been through a lot and remain a very strong family. The only reason we got divorced was due to his lack of monogamy and you know we are old now. That doesn’t matter anymore. The only thing you have to remember is not to talk about it. Do not bring it up and you do not live in the past, you live in the present.
Victoria- To live in the present by virtue of your mutual love and respect. It doesn’t get more romantic or relevant than that. That is my idea of true love because it is real.
Now enough of high ideals and meaningful conversation, let’s talk about what really matters in life-style and fashion.
Pat, you were always known for your identifiable Pat Loud look. You made your own personal statement without resorting to a lot of the silly confections many women still felt compelled to make. You were always in fashion, feminine and attractivewithout looking trendy. Do you think the Pat Loud look was well represented In the recent HBO movie CINEMA VERITE?
Pat- No, I don’t but I love Diane Lane and I think she did a great job in the film and I think she is a marvelous person.
For instance I did not wear a lot of patterned clothes. I like the monochromatic look. I was never a Fashonista. I was a person who kind of knew what looked good on me and what didn’t. I liked to feel comfortable in my clothes, Also, I had a limited budget for myself so it had to last, be comfortable and I had to be able to put it on and forget about it. I didn’t want to be bothered with all that.
Victoria- Your fab look never looked like you were on a budget. Pat, you are being humble, I can honestly say that many people on a budget will opt for a gold lame bow to ja things up. I think you cut a very clean silhouette, like early Prada meets Halston. Also, accessorized with big sunglasses, pulled back hair, cool medallions and impeccable grooming completed the Pat Loud look.
Pat-Another thing was that I never tried to dress younger than I am. In England they have a saying, “That is mutton dressed up as lamb.” You always want to avoid that look.
Victoria- Painful scathing indictment! You escaped the horror and every fabulous queen can attest to that! I am sure today if the American Family had just recently made its appearance, there would be Pat loud sunglasses, Home shopping networks would have the Pat Loud medallions and you would see in Target and Wal-Mart versions of the Pat Loud monochromatic pantsuit. Today you can “brand” yourself. I hate the loathsome concept. Worse than that, it is glorified. Today’s successful women turns herself into a commodity and market’s herself as if it were a virtue. I hate hearing, “I know she is not really talented but she is a great business person.” What do you think of that?
Pat- I am in such a different place. I am off on a by way off the mainstream. But what I can see at my age is all those so called reality shows, The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Housewives of New York on and on, The Kardashians, Duck Dynasty! I look at those people (none of them I have watched but all of them I have seen bits and pieces of) and I think to myself, ”What are these women and what has happened to the heroes, where are the Gloria Steinem’s of today? Women are just as capable as men or more. I mean we are first, individuals; you just don’t mass people together and judge them. Women have been set up since the get go with Eve when she took the fruit from the tree of good and evil. We were set up to be perceived as evil or to be a seductress. These are the myths that the world has grown up with. Since the beginning of time women have been blamed for destroying men’s virtue.
Victoria- Yeah what about their own accountability for their own choices? The poor helpless men victimized by the women sirens luring men off course to crash into the rocks. What about their own free will and strength? If we are so powerful to cause all that and to be blamed for their downfall why don’t we get the credit for being powerful! Why are we held accountable for their lack of virtue and ability to resist the objects of their own fantasies and desires?
Victoria-. What do you think of the rise in plastic surgery in men as well as women? Are men finally having to deal with the issues that women have had to deal with all along like no longer feeling relevant, competent and or even attractive after a certain age? Do you see this as a sexist issue or do you think the whole world has just been consumed with the fear of aging?
Pat- Yes, to begin with I think it is particularly true in the United States. I don’t know how it got that way but aging is a very bad thing here, it is a real no-no. There is no respect for age, I can understand how an actor might need to do that for his work but not for mere vanity’s sake. You earn the wrinkles for a life doing whatever it is you did. You just have to own it. You know, it is sad that people can’t feel like they can enjoy every stage of their life. It is too bad that they have to feel diminished by it. They should feel more comfortable in their skin and take some comfort in being wiser. That is what you should feel. We are very hard on ourselves. I also feel that electronics have really changed the world and the way people inter-act with one another. Facebook and tweeting, you can’t even go to the supermarket without hearing a cacophony of people talking loudly about themselves on the phones while they are shopping. There’s very little self-reflection in that.
Victoria- Maybe that’s the point.
Well, it has certainly changed the petri-dish effect of New York. The interactive creative quality that comes with being exposed to millions of people’s lives through their actions and not their profiles. Everyone says how much New York has changed and let’s face it, New York is always changing. I mean it does not look like it did in the 70’s, for example. However, this time it is different, it is a fundamental change uncharacteristic to what it means to be a New Yorker. Everyone is down on New York, how do you feel?
Pat- People with millions and millions of dollars are flooding into that poor little island and they have taken away the diversity. There was such a great diversity when we were there in the art world, there was the punk rock, great book stores- all of that is gone now. There are no real differences in class, artists can’t afford to live there anymore, basically most of the people, except for the older ones are nouvelle riche and they have got tons of money to throw around. It is such a shame what has happened to New York.
Victoria- What is the most annoying misconception about you and what do you think fanned that flame?
Pat-I think it was that the family was destroyed by American Family. In the end our family photo would come up and they would have this lilting little tune and then they would have it crackle like a mirror shattered. They set the stage for people to think of us as a broken family. What I must say, to this very day, if America had families as close and tightly knit as my family is, it would be a better place. This family is very close and fond of one another and spends a great deal of time together.
Victoria- Yes, I always felt so lucky to share so much time with your family. You were always so welcoming and accommodating to so many of us orphans of the storm. You adopted many wayward children and always made so many of us feel great taking us into
the coveted inner circle.
Pat- I was always flattered to be surrounded by you all and felt very fortunate that all of you wanted to be around me.
Victoria- Actually the whole country wanted to spend time with the Loud’s.
Pat Loud has officially became part of American Pop Culture. Yale University has recently acquired her archives and the rest is History and Her Story.
photographer: Helena Christensen //
illustrations: Mitja Bokun //
creative director: Whitney Mercurio
fashion director: Jules Wood //
models Nora Vai @ Muse NYC
Svetlana Mukhina @ Silent Models
Gabriella Lopez @ IMG //
hair Jamie Hanson @Wilhelmina //
makeup Cheyenne Timperio @Artmix Creative //
fashion assistant Karolina Borchert //
photo assistant Hector Perez //
location Basilica Hudson
Special Thanks to Basilica Hudson - Melissa Auf der Maur
photographer: Michael Somoroff //
art direction/layout: Whitney Mercurio //
photographer: Jaka Vinsek //
“Once you become a stranger in the world, slowly it becomes like something sweet in that you don’t belong to anyone. Slowly, you feel like a character from the Steppenwolf—Hermann Hesse. Loneliness, but at the same time you feel power.”
interviewed by Mitja Bokun // photography by Aljosa Rebolj
I can tell you interesting stories about a man (me), who first leaves his homeland, the country of his birth, Croatia, and then flees to Serbia, where I was in the time of the war. Because of the war I left home, leaving behind my entire life, theater, film, and all because of political disagreements and my desire not to participate in this scourge. I came to Slovenia with the intention to act in the Slovenian language, but with no success. My wife told me that if I felt the need to work in a foreign language then we must go to London. And so we did. When I first arrived in London I was very fortunate. I was there for just a few days to visit my friend Anthony Andrews who invited me to be his guest together with my family. My intention was to find Vanessa Redgrave and make “Wake Up World” to help Sarajevo Milče Mančevski, the director, who had been looking for me all over Yugoslavia, since he did not have my contact information. Finally, he found the number of the house in which I lived in Slovenia and my mother-in-law gave him Anthony’s address. Milče organized a meeting with a young filmmaker from New York, who gave me the script to read and told me that it would soon be filmed in Macedonia. I read the script that night and then I read it again. I really liked it. This was the scenario for the film “Before the Rain”. The next day, when we met again, I let the young filmmaker know that I thought the script was wonderful and he told me that he had written this role specifically to me. Needless to say I was quite surprised. “What do you mean, you haven’t ever met me before,” I replied. He said that he was a big fan of the movies of Živojina Pavlović. I had appeared in five of “Žika’s” films playing the main roles, so I was in some way Žika’s actor. So, I agreed, and later I filmed “Before the Rain” with Pavlović.
I’ve been in London since that time and I was, infact, fortunate to work in the with theater Vanessa Redgrave as was my wife Alenka, who is a theater director. Ironically, although I was one of the most recognizable actors in Yugoslavia, I was unknown in London and without money, without anything. Even after “Before the Rain”, I still was broke because the movie not yet been released, which usually takes a year. I remember that I went to auditions for some minor roles, some for only a few words in the entire production. I remember one audition when a young director said, “I adore you. I saw you in “Manifesto“ (a film by Dusan Makavejev, which was filmed in Bled, and starred the actors Eric Stolz and Alfred Molina) I watched that movie and I love you as a film actor.” I looked at him and I was thinking, “Well good, now I’ve got this role”, but then he said to me, “Okay, can you read these few lines from the script?” I looked at him and said, “I can not.” He asked me why. I simply got up and left. I couldn’t do it, for this small role, to say these few words. I had had enough of these auditions. And then there was an audition for a role, which I did not want, but I went anyway. The director, Phillip Noyce, was looking for actors in London for the movie “The Saint” (which would star Val Kilmer and Elisabeth Shoel) and I got the small role of a Russian general. At one point Royce looks at me and says, “You know what, here take this script. Can you come back in two days and be prepared to play Tretiak? He is one of the main roles, an antagonistic, Russian billionaire”. I worked feverishly to prepare and conducted the audition. Then he told me Paramount (Pictures) wanted Anthony Hopkins or Maximilian Shell. “But I want you,” he said. About 10 days later he contacted me and said, “Paramount liked your Russian” and so I got the role and my career begin in earnest.
It has always been difficult in that no matter in how many roles I get and no matter the caliber of the directors I work with, including such icons as Stanley Kubrick, and regardless of the great critical responses and awards I receive, I have never
become a mainstream American actor. I’ve always been considered a foreigner. I know that I am a foreigner, in part because of my accent, and I will always speak with an accent. It’s just that you are a foreigner and that there is nothing to be changed. Although America is quite tolerant and open, nevertheless it is still quite a chauvinistic attitude. In the meantime, I lived in London and traveled to America, when I was filming movies. Once, when I arrived in America in 2001, I came as a Slovenian citizen with a Slovenian passport and therefore I did not need an entering visa. However, I could not get a work permit, actually I could get it, but to gain a work permit takes at least 16 days. I had an immediate casting for a big TV series “Las Vegas”. I got the role in the series. My agent popped opened champagne —problems solved! I accept the role, but attorneys found that I do not have a chance to get a work permit faster than the 16 days and therefore would not be able to start filming the series because of that, so I lost one of the biggest roles of my career.
When I went to London in 1993 I was 45 years old. Now I live in Rijeka and constantly travel. I came back home because of my children and I got a sense that they were losing touch with their heritage. Both were born in London and I saw that over time they were losing their ability to speak and understand Croatian. I very much want them to be connected to the their roots. We have been back here for 4 years and we will stay in Rijeka at least until the autumn, and then we’ll see — maybe we will move again! I’m happy that I’m home. I am addicted to the Adriatic Sea. Nature — this to me it is something very important in life. Now, my girls are speaking better Croatian, which is also important. My older daughter has just finished college and the other is studying in Vienna at the English College and the third is finishing high school. When the youngest one graduates, my wife and I are considering leaving once again. We may go to Slovenia or to Belgrade where my father, who is now 101 years old, is living. In that way I can see him more often.
photographer: Jaka Vinsek //
Romaine Brau, Paris 2013 //
I was born in Berlin, but my family moved to China when I was about eight or nine months old. My first 10 years were spent in Shanghai where my father had a quite successful retail business. Looking back, the experience of growing up in such an exotic location was amazing. The culture was just incredible. In the evenings my father sketched a little bit…and I sketched alongside him. My mother bought me some crayons. I remember that one of the walls in our home was a beautiful light each color and I was eager to put my mark on it. At first my mother told me not to draw on the wall until my father said it was okay. When, to my great surprise, he okayed it, my mother smiled and said, ‘it’s okay, sweetie, go ahead”. So, from the beginning they were both very encouraging of my freedom of expression.
While living in Shanghai we took a vacation to Tibet for the summer. We stayed at a beautiful British hotel that my parents had heard about and were eager to visit. Very near the hotel was a Buddhist monastery and every time I passed by they were sitting quietly in meditation. I had no idea what meditation was and one day I asked my mother just why the monks were sitting so still. She did her best to explain it to me and finally the light went on and I understood.
I was out of art school a short time when a friend of mine introduced me to someone from the Van Heusen Company. The guy asked if he could take some of my designs and put them on shirts. I couldn’t conceive of that because I’m a painter who works on canvas and the idea of putting my art on a piece of clothing was foreign to me. But, I agreed and we did it, and before long a licensing agent came to see me. Within a year I had the 72 licensing deals. And they made $2.6 billion dollars! As for me, I made about $200 million from the retail sales.
Many years later in Paris, I met an Indian yogi named Swami Satchidananda, and I brought him to America. I was blown away by his wisdom and his charm and how well he articulated inner peace. I had never heard those words before—inner peace—and the experience of quiet and meditation just felt nice to me. In time I opened 52 yoga centers in his name all around the country. I was maybe 20 years old at the time and I invited friends up and friends brought friends, people like The Rascals and Carole King…a whole bunch of people came. I had a gigantic living room and I set up a chair for the swami and about 60 folding chairs for the guests. He gave many, many lectures and the room always filled up. I eventually rented a place for him to live on West End Avenue. It also had a very big living room. He gave classes and I hired someone to watch the doors and check people in and within three or four weeks it was standing room only, so we found a bigger place on 78th Street.
I bought that for him, because I was making a lot of money with the licensing deals I had at the time. After that I bought an even bigger building on 13th Street. The swami lived there and gave classes. Over the years I opened a total of 52 centers for the swami. For me, this was my greatest accomplishment; more so than my art career and my success as an artist with works in museums around the world. It brought spirituality to me and it was unbelievable. To know that inner peace…how to
tune out all the craziness. Sadly, he died a few years ago. He was 91 years old. Yoga became as big a career as my art. And that was the biggest thing in my life: To bring yoga into America and bring America into yoga. A few years later I got a call from George Harrison, who was an acquaintance of mine at the time and he told me that they (the Beatles) had also met a swami and his name was Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
I knew the Beach Boys and the Beatles very well. John Lennon and I were best friends. We used to hang out a lot. I knew Yoko as well. But I knew them separately at first. I knew Yoko before John knew her. Later, I would visit them every second or third day at the Dakota and many times the three of us would go across the street to Central Park and we would walk and talk together.
I hung with Jimmy Hendrix for two years before he got well known. I met him in a café that Albert Grossman owned north of Woodstock. Grossman was a business guy who became Bob Dylan’s and Carole King’s manager. He offered music in his café. One day, I’m sitting in the café drawing and a guy sitting next to me leans over and says ‘Hey man, this is really cool, are you an artist?” We start talking and I ask him what he does. He says, ‘I sing and play guitar’. I got to know him pretty well. He was the first black kid I had ever met…tall...and we walked around and he took me to his place, which was in Woodstock. He picked up his guitar and started to play and I was blown away. Jimmy Hendrix, can you imagine? Jimmy Hendrix. And he sang for me. Two years before he put out his first album. I met Carole King in the same way—and the Rolling Stones.
P.S. 6 is located between 81st and 82nd Streets on the east side of Madison Avenue directly across from the Frank E. Campbell funeral home, mortuary to New York’s blue money crowd. I may have started at the school in fifth grade, or maybe it was sixth, I don’t know. I can’t remember years at a time of my early childhood.
The school sits square, brick, and bunker like, cupping a central yard, which I do remember as the exact spot Artie Cano knocked the wind out of me with one punch to the stomach after I said something he didn’t like. This, right in front of the willowy Michelle Jones, who from that moment on saw through me like I was a soap bubble.
Some days after school let out, I’d hustle to get invited to someone’s house close by so I could burn up some daylight before I had to head back to the tiny studio apartment I lived in with my nanny, Betsy. These little sojourns were made all the more fun if the friend’s Mom was home!
By that age, out of necessity, I had honed my people pleasing skills to a fine point and rare was the Mom I couldn’t beguile with some cute jokes or flattering banter. I was usually perceived as being charming and mature beyond my tender years.
Every once in a while, I’d hit the tri-fecta. This would comprise an invitation to a pretty girl’s house with a good Mom who would leave us alone for a while so I could try for a kiss or a feel, and then, on my way out the door, give me a big mushy hug and tell me what a nice boy I was. Rare, but when all the components lined up, the ultimate.
This afternoon had been spent at the beautiful Robin White’s house just up the block from school. No mom, in fact, a rather vigilant housekeeper on duty. But there were cookies, a little kissy face, a slapped away hand, then home. On the short walk, I mentally ticked off a wish list for the evening. Betsy would be in a good mood, dinner would actually happen, maybe there’d be a visit from my mother with a gift or a book, then a little reading, then bed.
But when I opened the front door into a dark, still room, I knew the evening wasn’t going to play out as hoped for. Right away that old familiar dread welled up in my stomach and I could feel my heart beating. No lights on in the afternoon almost always meant that Betsy was drunk and that meant the next few hours would require careful attention on my part to avoid calamity.
There was still a little light coming in from the street windows. Just enough to silhouette Betsy’s figure on the bed. I needed a little time to figure out what to do, so I quietly padded by her, pulled the dividing curtain closed behind me and sat down on the edge of my bed to think.
There were options. I could do absolutely nothing, stay quiet behind the curtain and read until I was tired enough to go to sleep. Most likely, Betsy would wake up some hours later, look in on me and just go back to bed. That was the simplest plan, but it would mean I wouldn’t get any supper. A second scenario was to try and wake her up gently. This entailed some risk because there were critical variables involved. The main problem was that I didn’t know how much she had drunk or how long she had been asleep. If she’d drunk a lot and had only been asleep for an hour or two, waking her up could be all kinds of dangerous. The third option was to try to heat up a can of something for myself without waking her up at all. I had tried this once and she arose almost immediately with unpleasant results.
I decided to take my chances on a gentle nudge to test the waters. I stood over her. In the dim light I could see her smudged lipstick and a flaccid exposed breast. This disturbing image, along with her intensely fetid smell nearly made me gag. I turned my head for a clear breath, turned back then gave her arm a firm push as I said, “Betsy.”
Again, a harder push this time, “Betsy.”
I leaned close over her ear. “Betsy, wake up, it’s me!”
Without any forewarning, her left arm swung up in an arc and caught me between my shoulder and neck startling me upright and reeling backwards.
That was when the phone rang.
Though still in shock from Betsy’s sudden wallop, my first thought was to pick up the phone as fast as I could so she wouldn’t come to.
“Hello?” I whispered quickly.
“Jimmy, It’s your mother.”
Trying now to control my breath. “Oh, hi.”
“Come over here when you finish your dinner, OK?”
“OK,” I wheezed.
“Are you all right?” she asked, using the interrogatory tone she used when she was suspicious, or beginning to be.
“Put Betsy on.”
“She’s in the bathroom.” I lied, “She said she had a tummy ache, so she’s in the bathroom.”
Oh oh, that didn’t sound right. But it got by her.
“All right, I’ll see you in a few.” She was onto another thought and hung up.
Betsy was still down as I hustled past her to the door. I said loudly, ”I’m going to Mom’s!” A groan from her as the door closed, a few quick steps and I was out and walking briskly towards 5th Avenue. My shoulder smarted a bit, but not badly. I had escaped relatively unscathed. This could have gone another way.
On the short walk, I tucked in my shirt and smoothed my hair in the window reflection of a parked car. Ready for presentation now, I buzzed the intercom at their building.
“Who is it?” inquired my mother in her extra special high-pitched singsong voice designed to sound capricious and whimsical.
“James who?” teasingly.
Come on, I thought.
“It’s James, your son,” I said, I didn’t want to play.
“I don’t know anyone named James.”
There might be some drinking going on here. She usually didn’t play more than one round of this game.
My next gambit was silence. She wouldn’t know what to do with that.
Wait a beat, then...“I’m here,” in a bored monotone.
The buzzer buzzed.
The elevator was tiny and slow. It opened directly in front of their door. A red lacquer half moon table against the wall presented silk roses in a sterling bowl underneath a big mirror in an ornate gold-leaf frame. A quick check of my hair and shirt, followed by the slightly harrowing thought that my pants had no hint of a crease, and I rapped the brass knocker twice, careful not to rap too loudly.
A moment and the door opened.
She wore a white terry robe with navy piping. Her makeup had been applied. Signature bright red lipstick on that famous mouth, matte porcelain skin, foot long eyelashes and hair smoothed back. At once casual and absolutely perfect. She was, after all, a professional.
“What’s with that shirt?” she said, turning away and walking toward the back of the apartment. Here we go, I thought. I let her take a few steps ahead so I wouldn’t have to respond, then followed her down the hall to their bedroom where she disappeared into her dressing room.
I was trying to figure out where to sit when the bathroom door opened and my stepfather emerged and strode past me and uttered, ”James.” in a somber baritone. “Hi,” I said, while mentally casting about for a spot in which to stay out of his way. He was a handsome man in a slim, close-cropped Perry Como sort of way. But his currency was his athletic build. Six feet tall with a thirty-inch waist, taut and wiry from near daily tennis, a can of Metrical for lunch and a sparrow-sized dinner, he had the perfect body for clothes. And he was well aware of it.
“What’s new James?” he asked the mirror while micro-coaxing a pewter colored, Meledandri silk tie into a perfectly sculpted Windsor knot centered between the collar points of a cream south sea island cotton shirt made just for him by Sulka.
“Yes sir.” Crap. I couldn’t ever get the “sir” thing.
The TV was on in the corner of the room. Davy Crockett with Fess Parker. No sound. I could turn my attention in that direction and maybe he would leave me alone. But a problem arose immediately. On the show, Indians were attacking. There were close-ups of howling war-painted savages, and tomahawks and carnage on horseback. For some reason, and out of nowhere, this scared the shit out of me. I didn’t know what was happening. I’d seen westerns before, but now I was almost in tears. I turned away from the TV and tried to breathe.
My stepfather, now dressed and looking far more fashionable than any Esquire magazine cover, called out to my mother, “Beau, are we ready? The car will be here in a minute.” He shot the cuffs of his shirt while looking critically at his three quarter reflection in the mirror. His bespoke suit, custom-stitched by a semi-retired Savile Row tailor using the absolute finest Super 120 worsted wool from Holland & Sherry in Scotland, purveyors to the Crown, was so perfectly cut that although it followed his form to the millimeter, it appeared as though the only place it actually touched his body was the top of his shoulders. Of course, the navy blue color of the fabric, so often misinterpreted, was spot on. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to presume that the Duke of Windsor wore a garment cut from the very same bolt of cloth.
My mother stepped out of her dressing room, all five foot ten of her, in a slinky, multi-colored Emilio Pucci dress that had the same effect as a cherry bomb going off in the room. She didn’t look to him – at least this time – for approval. She knew she had it right. A quick dip into her jewelry case to accessorize and she was set.
I was still trying to avoid looking at the Indians on TV when my stepfather said. “All right, were off, let’s go James.”
The charged closeness of the three of us in that tiny elevator was, for me, and I imagine for them, almost unbearable. I scrambled out on the first floor and held the door open. As they passed me by, I misspoke tragically saying, “You look dignant.”
“That’s not a word,” he said, walking by me. But I knew it. Embarrassing.
A gleaming black Rolls-Royce Ghost idled quietly in front. Their chauffeur, Rosie, band box sharp in uniform, held the door.
“Good night James, be good,” said my mother as she ducked her head into the Connolly leather and Wilton wool interior of the limousine. He said nothing.
I said nothing.
I stood there as the car motored away, listening to the deep muffled thrum of its powerful engine and watching the twin jewels of its taillights as it rounded the corner and turned down 5th Avenue.
Then I walked back up the block hoping Betsy was still asleep.
photographer Andrea Massari
@ L&A Artist/L Group Productions //
fashion director Jules Wood //
model Mischa Barton //
hair & makeup Claudia Andreatta @ L&A Artist/L Group Productions //
PLEASURES OF ABSTRACTION
‘Etiam capillus unus habet umbram suam’
The smallest hair casts a shadow
— Francis Bacon
Perhaps more than most, I am familiar with the concrete pleasures of physical space. Making a building involves immersing oneself in the sensuous but also legible conditions of proportion, geometry, mass, surface and light. At the beginning of a project, when the design is still a series of ideas, this immersive experience necessarily happens in the head, but it has concrete, tactile qualities nonetheless: I would never describe the imagined reality of architecture as abstract.
The pleasures of abstraction are different. Things can become interesting when the nature of what you are looking at is uncertain.
What is the subject? What is the perspective? Without a readable context and a means to work out scale, the collateral information necessary for even the loosest interpretation is lacking. Is this something small and close or vast and distant? Are these marks made by man or by nature?
We are used to decoding being the natural consequence of seeing, but in these circumstances, understanding in a literal sense stops being the point. The instinct to characterise falls away. The simple act of looking becomes a form of meditation. In the absence of any conventional resting point for the gaze, the sensitised eye is free to register the smallest details and variations of tone, texture, shadow and pattern.
One might assume that this condition of unknow ability keeps the viewer on the surface of things, but the reality is that it opens up the possibility of going deeper. One realises how much there is to see in an apparently calm visual field, at the same time as one appreciates that simplicity and richness are not inevitably contradictory states.
— John Pawson
photographer: Conor Doherty
creative director: Whitney Mercurio
stylist: Liz Teich
hair: Stacey Kuehn
makeup: Mariolga Pantazopolous
model: Charo c/o Ford
photographed by Helena Christensen //
PHOTOGRAPHER // ALEXEY GLEBKO
Model // Irina Esterlis
Wardrobe provided by // TheNewWorldOrderNYC.com
Image 1: dress Yohji yamamoto; coat Romeo Gigli; boots OAK
Image 2: dress Yohji yamamoto; coat Romeo Gigli; skirt Comme des Garcons; boots OAK
Image 3: coat Romeo Gigli
Image 4: dress Yohji yamamoto; coat Romeo Gigli; boots OAK
Image 5: dress Yohji Yamamoto
photographer - thomas feehly
creative director - whitney mercurio
styling - jennifer malatesta
hair / makeup - dawn collins
model - olivia frischer / vny model management
wardrobe - giles deacon & vintage
special thanks to swarovski, missy papageorge and colton amster at redline restorations
THE NEW YORK FILM WORLD’S DAPPER GENTLEMEN
by Susan M. Kirschbaum // photography Helena Christensen
Reserved asks Andrew Saffir — founder of Cinema Society — who would play him and Daniel Benedict, his life partner, in the movie version of their lives. “Robert Downey Jr. for me and Alexander Skarsgard for Daniel. “RDJ is one of my all time favorite actors, whip smart and brilliant. So major wishful thinking on my part.” Says the curly haired bespectacled Saffir. Regarding Skarsgard: “So many people mistake Daniel for him; they think he’s Swedish, it seems like the perfect casting!”
For Saffir — a born and bred Upper East Sider — choosing his own thespian doppelgangers, is a daunting consideration. He pulls off (he estimates) seventy premieres a year, juggling appearances by myriad actors and directors in the Big Apple, a place still keener on cults of personalities then Hollywood studio schmaltz. His answer reflects the perfect hybrid of both, which might also be said of his relationship with Benedict, an executive specializing in luxury hotel branding.
Saffir, who had studied both acting and film in college — and who reaches the big 50 in October — met Benedict, 43, when they both worked at Ralph Lauren almost two decades ago. Benedict quips. “He had this female assistant who would follow him around with a clip board. She was very protective of him.” But not so much that the two didn’t set up a date. “When I came to New York in my twenties, I wanted a relationship with a solid person.”
Benedict says. “Andrew’s a very secure person.” Since Benedict found what he’d been seeking in their (then) budding relationship, he never ended up moving to LA, a consideration at that time. So, to reprise, given the film business still starts in LA before trickling to the East Coast, the question pops up again: New York or LA?
Ironically, Benedict, a Massachusetts native, hates the cold season here. Still, it’s not enough to switch coasts. “I’d get bored in LA I don’t think there’s enough for us to do. As for spending the winter there, come April, I’d be ready to roll.” “The longest we last in LA is three weeks.” Saffir says. “I miss New York too much. I’m Woody Allen. I love St. Ambroeus, any outdoor cafe. Shakespeare in the Park. Theatre. I don’t do premieres in LA What I do wouldn’t work there. LA really is a one industry town.”
Cinema Society marks its tenth anniversary this Fall with relatively intimate screenings and parties, curated by Saffir to reflect the diversity of NYC. They include not just actors and directors but musicians, socialites, artists, and executives from various genres. It all started with the movie Proof, when Saffir recalled Dior liked its star, Gwyneth Paltrow. So, he approached the label to sponsor an event in the Richard Meier building on Charles Street in the West Village. He assembled some
comfy couches and invited Beyonce, Jay Z, Iman, David Bowie, and Vogue editors Anna Wintour and Hamish Bowles.
Other brand matches have included Sarah Jessica Parker and Oscar de La Renta for the film the Family Stone; and more recently Audi cars for the movie Ant-Man starting Paul Rudd; and Yves St. Laurent for Paper Towns, starring Cara Delavingne, YSL spokes-model.
Saffir still ‘fans out’ about some of his favorite directors, Spielberg, Scorsese, and the quintessential neurotic Manhattanite, Allen. Like Allen in his narrator roles, Saffir plays `en scene’ psychologist when planning premieres. When he first worked with Allen for the film Whatever Works, starring Larry David, he wanted to do a party at the Standard’s ‘Boom Boom Room’ — where the towering 18th floor to ceiling windows overlook the Hudson River and the West Side Highway. But, he was told. “You won’t get Woody there. He’s afraid of heights!” So instead he opted for a screening downtown and ferries to take guests to the River Cafe in Brooklyn.
Saffir sighs audibly when recalling that magical night, which he shared with Benedict, who attends all the premieres. “The New Yorker in me loves sitting there, the view...”
photographer Caroline Knopf
@ Sarah Laird, carolineknopf.com //
fashion director Jules Wood //
art director Steve Whittier //
model Carly Moore @ The Society Model Management //
hair Jerome Cultrera using Oribe Hair Care
@ See Management //
makeup Regina Harris, reginaharrismakeup.com //
digital tech Stowe Richards //
1st photo assistant John Fitzgerald //
location Moonstone Beach, Rhode Island //
Special Thanks to Tim Bontecou and to all the team!
“Drawing across a surface is a mysterious adventure, full of complex possibility and poetry. While the works represented on these pages date from the 1970’s to the present and incorporate diverse processes and mediums, they all share my life’s preoccupation with the power of the drawn line. Marks are made with pencil, brush, charcoal or strips of cloth. Through a network of drawn lines I construct a hypothetical and quixotic architecture that is both mystical and imaginary as well as intwined in the material tactile surface of the actual work.
Line delineates space. I ask the viewer to shift between layers of spacial information being presented, to embrace the nuanced conundrums that are suggested through line, space and the fields they inhabit. It is in this realm of experiencing shifts of reality that I beckon a new experience of sight and perception, and simultaneously share a lyrical presentation of my own being.”
photographer Vikram Pathak //
fashion director Jules Wood //
art director Vicki March //
model Jayne @ IMG Agent //
hair & makeup Jamie Hanson @ Wilhelmina Artists NY //
Special thanks to Missy Papageorge!
LESLIE RODGER X VICTORIA GRANT
Leslie Williamson Rodger
Photography and Fashion Direction
Hats by Victoria Grant
Isabel Aranguren Messuti
Hair Stylist Jessie Verroca
Make up Artist Heather Raeh
Shot in Los Angeles, California 2016
Thanks to The Residency Experience
by Michael Donnelly //
Syd Barrett //
Kate Moss //
photographed by Mick Rock
photographer: Filippo DelVita
art director: Whitney Mercurio
fashion editor: Jules Wood
photographer: Stuart McConaghy and
Cal Lane personal archive //
by Whitney Mercurio //
Sometimes things strike a visceral chord in me. It’s my own personal litmus test of whether or not I really like something. I feel it with people, art, things I read, objects, conversations, music, scents, nature, concepts, moments in time, you name it. If I’m lucky it’s a combination of a few of these things at once.
I met Cal Lane when she invited me to her studio / home in Putnam Valley, New York last May. I was so excited to meet this woman and artist as I had fallen in love with her work. “Found” industrial objects made of steel that were once utilitarian... shovels, car doors, oil drums and I-beams... she transforms into visually delicate filigree and lace with an industrial-grade plasma cutter. This is a complete and beautiful paradox. In a world where it is generaly expected of women to be delicate and to work with and create equally as delicate objects, it makes me happy to see Cal working against these gender stereotypes using high powered electrical arcs and inert gas to create plasma which bites through steel like a hot knife through butter and in complete contrast to the process, creating these seemingly delicate but strong pieces of art.
Cal Lane is as brilliant and welcoming as she is talented. It was a pleasure.
Extremes, though contrary,
have the like effects. Extreme heat kills,
and so extreme cold: extreme love
breeds satiety, and so extreme hatred;
and too violent rigor tempts chastity,
as does too much license.
photographer: Stephanie Dinkel //
I create artifacts from a world where humans have long since disappeared and new forms of life have gained foothold upon the discarded architecture of our present civilization. Materials for these works begin as present day discards, leftovers, and forgotten flotsam. I gather at salvage yards, roadside waste piles, garages and other crevices where today’s material culture quietly collects. In this discordant utopia only traces of the human race remain, and the detritus merges into new life forms. Transistor tubes create a bustling hive within an ancient bureau.
A turntable is brought back to life nestled into a woven nest. The humble umbrella, the modest stapler, the iconic vinyl record, and the crushed carcass of a Chevy Impala are engraved into rusting fossils that lovingly display the crumpled inventiveness of human ingenuity. As a whole, my sculptures and flat work generate glimpses of a future where the boundary between man-made and nature-made has dissolved into a family of hybrid organisms and abandoned relics.
Michiel Sanders arrived in New York in 1985 after spending two years in Paris working as a hair and makeup artist. While pursuing his career in fashion and collaborating with the great Richard Avedon, Scavullo and Mary-Ellen Mark, Michiel discovered his passion for painting and drawing. He is a Ramapo Scholarship recipient and also a graduate of the prestigious New York Studio School. While still currently working as a hair and make-up artist, Michiel lives and paints in his studio in Williamsburg. He works with various mediums and as a true colorist, his ultimate quest is to make his colors sing...
“Why do I paint? I paint because in many ways words are so limited to me, and while my paintings reflect my daily life experiences, thoughts and observations, the content of my paintings are open to the interpretations of each individual’s looking at them with his/her own eyes and emotions”.
“Color is a key element in my personal quest; colors are playfully fluid in coming together in harmony. They evoke a memory, a feeling, like a great music composition or poetry can do”.
Mr. Brainwash for Burger King //
special thanks to Dara Schopp
photography Michael Somoroff //
by Whitney Mercurio //
Magazines want to know where things are going and those things are always unpredictable. Magazines anticipate. They are always about what is current to the degree that they can foresee where the culture is at the particular moment they appeal to their readership. But the truth is you can never tell where anything is going because life is contradictory and destructive and you can never tell the consequence of any single act because things are so contradictory. As the Buddha said, ’bad yields good, good yields bad’. I’m a very poor forecaster, and I have no interest in forecasting or where things are going. It is hard enough to understand where you are and the idea of knowing where you’ll be is absurd. And who would have guessed the consequence of technology might, in fact, drive more people back to drawing or into returning to using their hand. Also, I think the cause and effect, the relationship between things, is so contradictory and unpredictable that every time I read something that is supposed to be a forecast of the consequence of any single act I laugh, because if you live long enough you realize how absurd those forecasts are. I stopped doing that. But what is of interest is the fact there are effects of technology that cannot be anticipated. What I have discovered since I have started taking advantage of technology, which I have done over the last few years, is that I have gotten very intrigued by the use of technology. But the way I use a computer is totally dependent on my understanding of print making. The fact that I started out as a print maker and used photography and etching and the world of prints as my fundamental training, makes the computer merely an extension of that universe. If somebody didn’t start in that world they would have a totally different view of what a computer is. Everything is shaped by my previous experience, so that my present experience is an application of what I had learned previously. There is no universal meaning to technology except in its application and subjective use by an individual. I started doing prints that were based on pattern making that came out of my interests in work that I did in the Rubin Museum and then I used those patterns to make rugs that were made in Tibet in an old fashioned way based on work that I had done on the computer. Those kinds of inter-relationships are not predictable and are not linear. They are just incomprehensible and they are intuitive and they don’t make sense. I am interested in work that doesn’t make sense, that isn’t rational, that isn’t logical, because you know that work comes out of the irrational. It’s not predictable and one of the things about forecasting or anticipating consequences is that it is rational and the interesting work that you do doesn’t come out of rationality or objective conditions. It comes out of intuition, metaphor, contradiction and the irrational.”
photography Jaka Vinsek //
I WAS INSPIRED BY THE BIRTH
OF MY DAUGHTER.
I used watercolors, which is a delicate medium, a basic shape, and sub-tle use of color to show fragility. I wanted to show a complete body, while at the time, showing the individual parts that create it.
My process was initiated by my own daily organizing and setting values to life tasks, events, situations and other “emotional data.” I then trans-late these values into different colors and sizes of circles. The arrange-ment of these individual shapes, which build a unified piece, represent the process of balancing elements in my life.
Animation: Catherine by Kevin Weir //
photographer: Hugo Arturi //
fashion editor: Jules Wood //
Photographer // Kevin Trinh
Hair // Dakota Hunter
Stylist // Levi Sawyer
photography by ALE BURSET
Model: Melina Gesto for Pink Models Management
Styling: Angie Ugarte
Makeup: Mechi Peralta
Hair: Marco Bustamante for Supernova
Retouch: Diego Speroni
Silk wide legged pant, Silk blouse, Neoprene jacket with belt, Platted chiffon collar all by NOUS ETUDIONS
Long sleeved crop top - VANDA
Oversized black satin dress - NOUS ETUDIONS
White studded leather collar - MARGOT
Wrist band – SINESTESIA
Bicolor patent leather shoes - CHWALA
Pleated chiffon crop top - NOUS ETUDIONS
Mermaid skirt with metal ring detail - CHER
White pleated chiffon dress with neoprene details - NOUS ETUDIONS
White boo tie with silver heel - CHWALA
photographer - stephanie dinkel //
hair - dennis devoy //
make up - mariko arai //
photographer’s assistant - anna ritsch //
model - solomiya zgoda / ford models ny //
written by richard dupont //
introduction and edit by quynh dang //
photography by Anton Perich and Andy Warhol //
illustration Mitja Bokun //
Former Factory Boys and identical twins, Richard and Robert DuPont, were just a pair of 17 year-old Connecticut prepsters when they found themselves at the center of the drug, booze, and sex-induced intoxica-tion that was Andy Warhol’s New York City in 1977.
More than 35 years later, one-half of the DuPont twins and Reserved Magazine’s West Coast Editor, Richard DuPont, shares some of his most treasured memories with us. To our delight, his experiences were indeed laced with all the glamour, seduction, and power that one would expect of the era. In taking a closer look, however, we discovered vulnerability, heartbreak, and fragility of spirit at the core.
When unraveled, Richard’s stories of friendships, fashion, and fetes all reveal one common thread—the pursuit of love and magic. Today, Rich-ard has a new tale, a memoir that celebrates this quest, entitled I Found Somebody to Love Me.
These are the stories he reserved for us, shared via text message conver-sations.
ON HIS EARLY DAYS:
My twin brother, Robert and I, like my dear friend Whitney Mercurio, grew up in Fairfield, Connecticut. We were adopted and our parents divorced when we were very young. After the divorce, Mother was al-ways looking for the next husband, and we were constantly moving from home to home. There were maybe 20 homes until Robert and I left at 17. We basically took care of ourselves and never had parents at home. I knew I was gay when I was 15 when I went to my first gay bar, The Brook Café in Westport. I met a Yale graduate student there named Bill. After one night with him, he began to blackmail and threaten me, saying he would tell my parents, the whole town of Fairfield, and everyone in my school that I was gay. It lasted for several months.
I was scared to death of being “found out”. I couldn’t sleep. My grades were horrible along with my attendance, so I started drinking and do-ing drugs. I had to get a job to support my cocaine and heroin habit, so I started working for Martha Stewart, who had just started a catering company.
Robert and I both worked for Martha. We also worked at her gourmet shop in Westport called The Market Basket. There I met Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, who were on the board of The Westport Country Playhouse. They got me a telemarketing job there; I was raising money for the playhouse’s renovation. I was also an usher; I worked all the time. I just wanted to run away from my life in Connecticut, move to NYC, and become an actor.
Anyway, back to Bill (the Yalie); I just wanted all of his tormenting to end. It did, one weekend in P’town, in the summer of ‘76. We were at The Crown & Anchor and I was crying at the bar when Bill went to the bath-room. A gentleman beside me asked with a thick Southern accent, what was the matter. I told him what Bill was doing to me, and boy, oh boy, was he angry! He said to me, “you won’t have to worry about Bill again. Go home, do your best in school and get a good education.” I never saw Bill again, but I did see that fine Southern gentleman again. It was Tennessee Williams, who became a dear friend.
Back in Fairfield, I took Tennessee Williams’ advice, and started to do better in school. I took an interest in art and photography (David LaChappelle was in my photography class.). At this time, I also discov-ered Alcoholics Anonymous and started going to meetings. They say, “You’re only as sick as your secrets,” so I shared my homosexuality there, and I made some friends.
I discovered my love for theatre and dance. With the money I was mak-ing with Martha Stewart, I started taking dance lessons, and going to New York to see every Broadway show I could—this was sure better than buying drugs. But I eventually lost that drive when my disease caught up with me and I was drinking and drugging every night at Studio 54. It was after working a party in NYC with Martha that we went to Studio. Two waiters working the party asked us to go with them. It had been open for, maybe, a week.
ON HIS FIRST LOVE:
At seventeen I took my first trip to Paris with my first true love, Rudolph Nureyev. I met Rudolph in ‘77 after an evening of dancing at Studio 54 at Doris Duke’s apartment. We danced for hours together in Doris’ Disco Den. And had fantastic sex there for hours. The next day we were flying to Paris together where I stayed with him for five months.
Life was so grand in Paris with Rudolph. He introduced me to caviar and dressed me in fur coats and Saint Laurent. His Paris apartment was like a Czar’s dream palace. The apartment occupied an 18th-century building overlooking the Louvre. He adored objects—paintings, fabrics and carpets. We went shopping almost every day. He would take me to his dear friend Yves Saint Laurent’s salon and dressed me in the most marvelous suits: lots of velvets.
I knew it wasn’t going to last with Rudolph. I had the best five months with him and the greatest memories. We had a great friendship. He taught me to enjoy life and really appreciate the arts.
There were always guys around more handsome than me, though, with better bodies. Most were dancers. I feel, now, that my jealousy ruined the relationship.
The relationship ended after a trip to Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge’s home in Marrakech. We were there for three nights, or so. Ru-dolph invited two other guys to join us that I didn’t know about. It was ‘The End.’ I remember crying into the arms of Loulou de la Falaise who was there, in Marrakech. She said to me, “You’re young, my love. One day you will find the true love of your life and it will be magical.”
I used to joke that Rudolph broke up with me because of my long dis-tance phone calls to Andy and Truman (Capote) in New York. Andy and Truman always gave me great advice, especially when it came to relationships. Rudolph would say, “You talk for hours and have these marathon calls. What do you talk about for this long?”
I was not thinking about continuing my education at all. I was still work-ing for Martha, who was constantly saying, “Where will you be going to school? Where are you applying?” I did not tell her about Robert and my new life in NyC. But I did confide in Dorian Leigh, who worked with Martha. Dorian was the original ‘Fire and Ice’ girl for Revlon. She was Suzy Parker’s sister; (Richard) Avedon’s favorite model. They say Audrey Hepburn’s character in Funny Face was based on Dorian; and apparent-ly, so was Holly Golightly.
Dorian Leigh became my best girlfriend and closest confidant. She taught me about fashion; she worked with the best designers. We talked about fashion photography and she showed me all of her Avedon and Dahl-Wolfe photographs. We also chatted about men, “Take ‘em and leave ‘em,” she said, “there will be lots, my darling.” I told her about all the fabulous people I was meeting, like Egon von Furstenberg who gave me a job producing his and Nikki Haskell’s cable TV show, The Nikki Haskell show. Dorian said, “Sweetie Pie, you will, like me, meet lots of fabulous and interesting people in your life. I certainly have. They all are your friends. But you know, Sugar, at the end you can only count on one hand who your ‘true friends’ are. Take that from me.” I learned this. She said, “You don’t need college. You’re getting the best education you can get from me and all the people you are meeting.”
ON ANDY WARHOL:
Andy worked hard; he painted every day, Saturdays and Sundays, too. It was all about work for him. He was always working on getting ads for Interview, or trying to get portrait commissions. He was so generous with his time with me. He taught me how to be a good listener. He would say, “If you’re not having fun with the work you’re doing, then don’t do it.” Maybe that’s why I’ve had so many careers.
When I met Andy, l felt really drawn to him. He said, “you’re so hand-some. You should be in Interview.” I used to walk sometimes from his home on 66th Street to 860 Broadway. We’d be carrying copies of In-terview and these kids, who were my age, would want his autograph. He’d say, “Get Richard’s, too, he’s famous.” He always made you feel so special. If the kids were cute, Andy would say, “Come on up for lunch at The Factory. We’ll put you on the cover.” I don’t remember any of these kids getting in, though. You had to be buzzed in by Brigid (Berlin), who was Andy’s closest friend and confidant. When I lived with Brigid a few years ago, I used to call her Mrs. Warhol.
Andy liked youth. And I think he would still be with the kids if he were with us today. He appreciated anybody who was creative and young, and helped them.
Andy would say to me, “Hard work will never kill anyone. Idle time will.” He had a great work ethic.
I think the biggest misconception about Andy is that he was shy. He was incredibly talkative and hilarious. I would laugh so hard around him, or when I was on the phone with him. I’d cry; he was so very funny.
We’d chat about what went on at Studio 54 after he went home, and what went on at Halston’s house later. He wanted to know everything about what was going on. Andy was very curious.
ON FREDDIE MERCURY:
Andy was a great matchmaker. He fixed Freddie Mercury and me up. I met Freddie at Trader Vic’s one evening. I was there with Salvador Dali and Gala. Freddie came up to me and asked me for a cigarette. We smoked our cigarettes and I told him I had to go to a dinner at Regine’s; that a friend had invited me to. I asked if he would like to join me. We walked over to Regine’s to join Andy, Diana Vreeland, Fred Hughes and Catherine Guinness.
Andy said to me, “You don’t know who your friend is, do you? That’s Freddie Mercury from Queen,” he said. “you must make him your boy-friend. He’s famous.” I didn’t know Queen. I knew Barbara Streisand and Diana Ross and my favorite, The Carpenters. Also any Broadway show album. Andy was saying to Freddie, “Richard is so fabulous and fun to have around, He will keep you laughing all of the time, and really is so charming.” I turned beet red. Freddie was laughing, as was the rest of the table. Freddie looked at me and said, “Do you want to keep me laughing for a while, and come back to my hotel?” I did, and that was the beginning of a relationship that lasted over a year.
I was young and impressionable. I remember being at Halston’s house one evening, and Bianca Jagger was there. She was staying there when she and Mick split up. I remember saying to her how in love I was with Freddie and that I hardly saw much of him because he was working all of the time. I remember Halston saying, “you’re a rock star wife, get used to lots of lonely nights in bed. And, sweetie pie, he must be seeing other people don’t you think?” Bianca was sympathetic, I remember.
I was now becoming more insecure about our relationship. Freddie would fly to New york and stay with me at the St. Regis hotel. My brother and I were living there as guests of our friends, Salvador Dali and Gala. I would fly to London and stay at The Dorchester. I couldn’t stay with him because of his cats. I’m so allergic.
When we were dating, Freddie wanted to see where I grew up. So, we drove to my home on Spruce Street in Southport, CT, the pretty, upper-class little section of the already upperclass town of Fairfield. We stayed for two nights. Freddie said to me, “I want to dress like my Prepster,” so I took him shopping at the Fairfield Department Store, where he bought several Lacoste shirts. We had a great time in Connecticut. We even danced at the legendary Brook Café in Westport, where someone said, “Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Freddie Mercury?” Freddie said, “All the time.” Freddie wanted to have fun with this guy, so he sang a few lines from a Queen song. The silly guy then said, “you wish you could sing like Freddie Mercury, he is the greatest there is.” This guy didn’t believe it was Freddie Mercury sitting there at the Brook Café in Westport. We had a great time there. We laughed so much.
Back in those days, in the Disco Era, the men I was falling in love with all wanted ‘open relationships.’ I remember the evening Freddie said to me, at Mr. Chow in London, that he wanted to see other guys and that he already was. I got so upset. “Why can’t we have a Doris Day/Rock Hud-son relationship?” I asked (Omg, was I pathetic.) He responded, “I heard Rock Hudson is gay. you should go out with him and also other people.” I got into my drama queen mode and threw a drink in Freddie’s face. He and I started arguing and my dear friend the late Tina Chow came rush-ing over to our table. “Will you two stop it? Behave yourselves. You two are like George and Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virgina Woolf’,” the divine Tina Chow said. We began calling ourselves George and Martha after that. But it became so unhealthy that we ended it.
I was talking to a friend the other day about Andy. He asked me if I think Andy would be on Facebook, or the computer. Andy would say, “Isn’t this so great? It’s so Joe Modern.” But I think he’d have people around who were able to use the computer, and do Facebook for him.
When I was living with Brigid Berlin, in NYC a few years ago, she didn’t understand texting. She would get annoyed with me when I was texting. I don’t think Andy would be texting on a cell phone. Like Brigid, he would pick up the phone. Texting would be too modern. He loved chat-ting on the phone.
Brigid and I were producers on the film Factory Girl. We spent a lot of time with the film’s stars Guy Pearce and Sienna Miller. I remember being out to dinner with Brigid, Guy, and Sienna. Sienna had a few phones and was texting. Brigid was amazed at how she could be texting on several phones and Sienna offered to teach Brigid how to text. Brigid wasn’t interested. “It’s too modern. I prefer to go out on the phone,” she said. Like Andy, Brigid likes talking on the phone.
Dali did a wonderful, large drawing of Robert and me. It’s gone now. When I found out I was positive in ‘94, my addiction really got the worse of me. I was drinking heavily and doing every drug available: heroin, co-caine, crystal . My life was unmanageable. I was really sick and weighed 155 pounds. I had the lowest element of people in my life then living in my apartment. Streemetht urchins. One of the guys went running down Sunset Blvd. with it under his arm. This jerk knew what he had under his arm and sold it for a quick fix of drugs. Anyway, it’s just a thing.
A possession. I remember having lunch with two good friends in L.A. at Spago, Truman Capote and Lester Persky. It was just before Truman passed away. Truman said, “Possessions are obligations. What’s import-ant is wonderful friends and great loves.” I have to agree with my friend Truman.
Robert and I were living in Beverly Hills and we decided to find our natural mother who had put us up for adoption. We ended up moving east to Connecticut, where she lives, to get to know her. It didn’t work out too well. After giving birth to us, she became a nun for several years. She’s no longer a nun, but couldn’t accept that Robert and I were gay, so Cornelia and C.Z. Guest (who we met through Truman) said, “Get out of that unhealthy situation, and come and live with us for a while.”
As Dorian Leigh said, you only have a handful of people you can call true friends. I hold my friendship with C.Z. and Cornelia close to my heart.
ON SAYING GOODBYE:
A memory I will always cherish is one from 1989. I moved to LA that year and decided one day to drive the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francis-co. I checked into the Mark Hopkins Hotel there. I hadn’t seen Halston for several years. I was in the elevator going up to my room, the elevator stops, the doors open, and there is Halston in front of me.
He was living at the Mark Hopkins and was sick, It was a year before he died. He smiled, and in Halston manner said, “Darling twin, Richard or Robert.”
He said, “Honey, want to go for a ride with me?” Of course I said yes, after giving him a hug and big kiss.
We drove around San Francisco in a black Rolls Royce for about an hour or so, just driving and reminiscing of the great times at 54, his home, and friends that were gone. He told his driver to put in the Studio 54 tape. Halston said Stevie (Rubell) gave it to him years before and he still played it. The two of us sang along to some of the songs. I remember singing to Donna Summer’s “Last Dance.” I guess you could say that was my last dance with my friend Halston.
“I’m getting back on my floatie. Two hot guys in the pool, and I
want to meet them. At this moment, I’d be up for a three-way.”
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photography Jaka Vinsek //
interview Whitney Mercurio //
IN JUNE, 2013, I RENTED A PHOTO STUDIO ON 26TH STREET IN NEW YORK FOR A FASHION EDITORIAL SHOOT . IT WAS OWNED AND RUN BY A MAN WHO, MONTHS LATER , I DISCOVERED TO BE CELEBRITY PHOTOGRAPHER PETER STRONGWATER , WHO HAD SHOT THOSE ICONIC INTERVIEW MAGAZINE COVERS IN THE 80’S. ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL POP-ICON PHOTOGRAPHERS OF ALL-TIME.
Reserved: How were you able to catch the shiny ‘Crystal Ball of Pop,’ that is, Interview Magazine, or did it catch you? How did it happen?
Peter: It was years ago. I had a connection to Fred Hughes who was Andy’s manager at that time. I just mentioned casu-ally, “Gee, I like Interview. It would be fun to work for them.” I was a good friend of Linda Hutton.
He said, “Go do a picture,” they like society names and stuff. Linda Hutton came from a pretty substantial family. He said, “Go take a picture of Linda Hutton.” I took a picture and they said okay, we love it. Then they called me up about a week later and said, “How would you like to do a cover?”
I was speechless. I said that’s great, yeah, fabulous. I remem-ber, they said, “Well, we’re going to send you Isabella Ross-ellini.” That was my first cover in ‘80, ‘82, somewhere around there. I became very friendly with the managing editor, Rob-ert Hayes. It was very nice. I mean, I knew Andy, and at The Factory, most of the time when I was working, I would just come up, it was all very informal. Marc Balet was the creative director. Of course you never got paid. That was a minor problem. They wanted 16x20’s. Each shooting cost me like a thousand or fifteen hundred dollars, but it was great fun, and I got to shoot everyone.
I became pretty good friends with Bridget Berlin up there, who lives around the corner from me here, and it just worked.
I mean, for I don’t know, three, four years, I must have done sixteen covers, or something like that.
Reserved: Wow! Visually, who were your favorites--your fa-vorite subjects?
Peter: Who was my favorite?
Peter: I think Mick Jagger was great. I loved doing Mick. He was incredible. He just came here, and there was no entou-rage at that point. He just arrived. There weren’t a million PR people. He just rang the doorbell, said, “Hi, I’m Mick.” You know, literally. It was that cool!
He was really great. We had a really good time, and the pic-tures were amazing. I really liked him. Diana Ross was very interesting. She came with a huge entourage of people. That was fun. Then sometimes we would prepare a lunch outside on the terrace, and Andy would come over sometimes. He would do the Polaroids of them, and then get them suckered into do a portrait. That was one of the purposes of the inter-view. It was a marketing tool because he would say, “Well, I’ll get you on the cover of Interview. Oh, by the way, you can do a triptych, it’s really reasonable,” it’s only $30,000 a print at that time or something.
Just about everyone that I ever photographed, John McEn-roe or Diane von Furstenberg, they wound up eventually buying prints from Andy. Andy would come with his little camera and take photographs of them while I was shooting, or while they were getting dressed.
He never said much, but he would hang around for lunch and stuff. Sometimes we’d also have lunch down at The Fac-tory. That was another way to sucker them in. He would have sponsors—try to get a liquor company or a camera company to buy some pages.
The magazine—it was pretty primitive then as to what it is now. I mean, when it was being run by Peter Brant’s wife, the paper quality was not there. I mean, it had graduated a great deal from being a movie review magazine, which was how it started. Andy was too cheap to buy tickets to go to the film festival but he wanted to go, so he said, “I’ll start a film review magazine.”
Reserved: I love it. Wasn’t it Fran Lebowitz, one of the re-viewers?
Peter: yeah, that’s how Interview started: it was a film review magazine, so he could get into film festivals for free. I re-member seeing him walking up and down Madison Avenue, handing out copies of the magazine at different stores as a way to advertise.
Reserved: Paul Morrissey involved, wasn’t he?
Peter: Yes, he was. I mean, most of the people that were in the ‘painting’ department— art department— really didn’t have much to do with the way Interview was run. When I say a shoestring, it was really basically Mark and Robert, maybe two or three interns.
We had André Leon Talley who was the fashion writing con-sultant. We had all of these kinds of people that would come and go. Basically, the magazine was put out maybe by three people.
Richard Bernstein did the covers. Everyone thinks Andy did the covers. Andy did not do the covers. I would present a picture, and Richard Bernstein would paint over them, and it looked like they could be done by Andy, but it was real-ly all done by Richard. I don’t think he ever really got the credit he deserved for doing this, because everyone just as-sumed that it was Andy. It looked like something that Andy would do.
Reserved: Did you just hand over the photograph, and he would …
Peter: I would just hand over the black and white print and that was the last I’d see of it! The next time I would see it would be one the newsstand and it would be in color. I was shooting everything—we did no color at that time—I was shooting everything in black and white. We never did it in color, because that probably would’ve blown the budget to pieces!
Peter: Richard painted them all. I don’t even think Andy re-ally gave much advice. I think he let Richard do whatever he wanted to do. Mark would come to the shooting, and he did a really did a great job. I mean, he was a great art director at that, you know, photo magazine because they really let you do what you wanted to do.
I mean, once in a while we would come up with a theme or an idea or something like that. When we did Mick, Mark got the idea to hang records from the ceiling, and that became the background. We would use a striped wallpaper or some-thing like that.
Again, we were somewhat limited in what we could do be-cause we had no money almost.
Reserved: Did you find that liberating or constraining? Was it frustrating?
Peter: No, I felt it fun, because most of the stuff was done on white. Once in a while we would do some kind of set, but it was very, very, basic. It was unfortunate. We did one picture of Diana Ross on the street, where she was in a Jeep being driven.
Other than that, I really can’t remember that we ever did anything outside of the … no, no, excuse me ...We did a real-ly a great, great story of Phoebe Cates out in Southampton. The only reason we could do that is I was very good friends with Marty Raynes who had a large estate out there.
I asked Marty if we could use his house to do these pictures of Phoebe Cates, who was then very hot. She had just come off, what was her first...
Reserved: Fast Times at Ridgemont High?
Peter: yes! He said yeah “as long as I can meet her.” I said, “Don’t worry about it.” At the very worst, we’ll put a Polaroid under your pillow. He did like that!
Reserved: That’s great.
Peter: Yeah, that was a location shoot. I think John McEn-roe—we shot him in his in his apartment, because he was too lazy to get out of his studio.
I could kill myself, because I had stacks, you know, you start dealing with the only payment you could get is you could get as many copies of the magazine as you wanted. There’s a store now on 57th Street and Park Avenue that sells these vintage covers for over $100 a piece.
Reserved: Yeah. You’re being auctioned now, I see.
Peter: They are being auctioned now, at the Phillips du Pury in London and also here in New York. Of course it never got past official approvals. It was kind of complicated.
I also worked on a project for the USIA during that period, where I photographed a lot of… it was called Monuments, and it was basically a collection of photographs of people who have fundamentally changed your life. Whether good, or bad, or something.
It was everything from Oppenheimer, who made the hydro-gen bomb, to Hugh Hefner who revolutionized magazine publishing, to Mohammed Ali. It was just a weird collection of people. The man who designed the interstate highway system, people who really made major contributions to your life, but you really weren’t aware of what they did. Who did it? How did this highway system, you know, how did it come to pass?
Or Dr. Johnson from Masters and Johnson. It was an inter-esting collection of people. That was scheduled to tour the communist states. Of course they never got past the cycle; it was kind of complicated but I got to do the photographs.
Reserved: Did they ever see the light of day?
Peter: They’re in the Smithsonian Museum in Washing-ton, D.C. They did get to see the light of day. They didn’t go on tour. They were all gifted over to the Smithsonian.
Reserved: That’s fantastic. You have a wide breadth of ex-perience in your career.
Peter: It is. I mean, Interview opened up a lot of doors.
Reserved: What do you do now to nurture your creative spirit? Do you shoot still?
Peter: No, I actually got to want to live a life, and eat, and do things like that. I have a production company, and what we do is we organize difficult shoots for large com-panies, basically. Such as, one of our clients is the Ford Motor Company; Zip Cars; large pharmaceutical compa-nies; Budweiser, Anheuser Busch, Pepsi.
Reserved: So you’re full service production?
Peter: Yea, what we do is we organize these shoots, and we cast them. We have location scouting, we organize every-thing: we produce a book and just guide them through the shoot. Then, of course, we have a rental studio next door …
Having the knowledge of photography, it’s great. A lot of photographers trust me because I’ve been through. It’s not like I’m coming from an office experience. I have a pretty deep background in photography.
So that keeps us pretty busy. Also, managing the collec-tion of prints that I have from Interview. There’s an ex-hibit now that’s going to be done in Colette in Paris. I just got an email from them about it. They’re going to add more pictures up. Again, it’s a labor of love more than a labor of cash, by the time I get them framed and by the time I ship them and stuff like that. But it’s nice to know that people like them: they’re iconic and they really stand out.
Just managing that takes some time. Between all of the things, I’m relatively busy.
Reserved: Is there any one or anything that inspired you creatively?
Peter: Creatively? I don’t like to complain about what’s going on now.
Reserved: Oh, I do!
Peter: I just think, I don’t want to sound ancient but dig-ital has taken the soul, I think, out of photography. It has become almost a mechanical wall before, I was inspired by so many great photographers that I would see. I mean, Bill Solano was a great friend of mine, also Hans Fuhrer, all of these photographers. There was motion, they were great… you looked at Vogue, or even you looked at the New York Times, and they were great fucking pictures.
You look at the stuff today and it all looks like Glamour. Some kind of version of Glamour. There are specialized publications that try to do a nice job that are really bark-ing after advertising and willing to take new photogra-phers: new choices and stuff like that. The mainstream publications that everyone sees, they’re for the most part uninspiring. I mean, Conde Nast has cut their budgets back. There’s no longer a month trip to Tokyo. I remember working for Seventeen when we used to fly on a plane that was Walter Annenberg’s plane to fly to the locations. We used to call his pilot Mr. Lucky. That stuff isn’t done today. Today, it has unfortunately become more of a business than anything… even in the successful ‘art photographers,’ there’s just sighs, huge, gigantic sighs. We’ll sell it for a couple of hundred thou-sand dollars. It just changed a lot. Like everything else new, it’s be-come unfortunately money driven, where before people did it because they loved it.
Reserved: Yeah, and it’s had such a different aesthetic. My father shot for Playboy in the 70’s.
Peter: It was, it was inspiring, because they really, really, loved everything about it. At Playboy was Marilyn Gowansky, it was a great publication at that time, I used to work with her and also Joe Brooks at Penthouse. At that time Penthouse put out a “high class” women’s mag-azine called VIVA with none other than Anna Wintour as its fashion editor, today every time I see her around she tries not to remember that we worked together it is really very funny, it is a strange back story and I am not sure if many people know it.
Every time I see her she pretends—I see her weird-ly in certain situations. Obviously she knows me, I mean I worked with her, and it’s like she can’t really process the point that she worked with Elliott Erwitt. VIVA was a beautiful publication. It had a great art director, Roland Johnson, and it was really way ahead of its time.
Reserved: Photography has really changed. Thanks to computers, photos are too perfect… extremely over-re-touched.
Peter: Yeah, and Photoshopped to death. We worked with several photographers that will remain nameless, and the pictures don’t even look like a picture. Then a client stands over the monitor during a shoot.
One of the beautiful things about film is that you never really knew exactly what you were going to get, so there was always the surprise at the end. Sometimes disaster, but a lot of times, great. I’m a pretty good friend of Elliott Erwitt, and, you know, the unexpected result of photo-graphs at that point was so much better.
Today, they see it and it’s done—and if they don’t like it they’re redoing. You do it again until it looks exact. They beat the life out of it until there’s nothing left, and then that becomes the picture.
It’s unfortunate, because it has changed the direction and if they don’t like it they can Photoshop it, do whatever they feel like with it. They look almost cartoonish.
Reserved: Shots done with film, compared to the digital shots of today, what a difference! There’s something to really be said for the element of surprise, when you don’t know what you’re going to get and you can’t see what the photographer is seeing.
Peter: It really is true. I mean, you look at some of the old books of any of the photographers in the beginning, and they’re just very, very, different.
Reserved: Do you think that the shots were more thought out? you had to, when you were shooting with film, right?
Peter: yeah, because A. you didn’t have the flexibility of shooting these shots… It would’ve cost a fortune. You had maybe, at Interview, you were to get it in ten rolls. If you didn’t get it in ten rolls…you really had to get it pret-ty instantly. Generally, what I would do is I’d try to get as much information about the subject as I could before I shot. Especially the government shots, because there you’re on their time.
What they would do is they would clear out the office and set everything up. You’ve got ten minutes, and that was the deal. You’re interviewing you have a very good idea of what you wanted to do, and how the person would react to certain things. Because there wasn’t time, you didn’t have unlimited film to waste.
It was much more focused and much more direct, basi-cally.
Reserved: How do you feel about magazine covers now? How do you feel about what kind of thought is put into them, or the creativity?
Peter: For fashion they’ve changed. They got rid of the models, and they just put Kim Kardashian on the cover or something like that. I guess they sell more, because, really, I look at a fashion magazine as a better produced People.
Reserved: Do you think the pendulum will swing back, in your view?
Peter: That’s a difficult question. Everything eventual-ly changes, but you don’t really hear that much about, there are some ‘supermodels’ out there today, but they’re not like the Christy Turlingtons, they’re not like even the Giseles …
Peter: I couldn’t name any models. They’re younger, too. A lot of them are from the Slavic countries, Eastern Europe. They’re fifteen to sixteen, they’re giants. They hardly speak any English, and they really don’t have any personalities where before, you had the great Christie Brinkley, Cheryl Tiegs, Lisa Taylor, Patti Hansen, Iman, Janice Dickinson, etc. Great personalities those models had. Today they’re almost bred for the times, because they can just dress them up in whatever they want, take a kind of stand in… I mean, you look at the cover of Vogue, look at the cover of Bazaar, look at the cover of W: except for a different face, they’re basically the same concept.
They’ve picked some movie star, and they just put her on the cover. Because I guess people are celebrity-oriented today. They love gossip and they love celebrities, and any-thing in that category.
It sells more. They’d rather read more about some celeb-rity than some model that no one knows anything about. Then you know all these kids now who want to be de-signers. The designer is the new rock and roll star. These designers. I mean, when you think, years and years ago. I mean Fashion Week; no one knew about Fashion Week. Reserved: It was for the buyers.
Peter: Right. Buyers would come into the show room on Seventh Avenue, 1411 or one of those buildings, and they’d look at the line. That was that. There wasn’t any big extravaganza. Then you look at it today with the Mer-cedes-Benz things and the tents and the parties and the events. The fashion doesn’t even matter.
Reserved: That’s for the celebs in the front row, right?
Peter: Fashion in these fashion shows is totally obsolete, because they never produce the stuff. It’s now, like every-thing else. It’s become a huge media event; a media cir-cus. That’s what they say when the circus comes to town.
Reserved: Yeah, it’s arrived.
Peter: And it gets bigger and bigger, not smaller and smaller. The tents, the ones in Lincoln Center, they’re bigger. Then there are all the outside ones, like Marc Ja-cobs is always across the street with the armory. I go—I have a few friends still in the industry—I go see and stuff like that. Yeah, it’s a very, very different.
Reserved: Yeah, there doesn’t seem to be as much soul. It’s all very surface and abstract and commercial. People are so worried about the money. They don’t want to take a risk.
Peter: All the clothing they put out there on these shows is just for show, just to be photographed to be in the mag-azines. I know, it’s a fact, that half the stuff never hits production or it’s too expensive. They can’t really knock it off. Besides, no one really gets dressed anymore.
Who wears Versace? You really see all the wildness and stuff. I mean, it’s like a mystery. How many people are buying Valentino ball gowns? Most of them are given away to actresses for publicity.
Reserved: In the old days, when we would go out, people made an effort when they went out, because you were to be seen.
Peter: Right, yeah. But as I said you’ve got people today—even at formal events—they wear a suit. It’s less and less dressy which is fine with me, but I mean for the high end of fashion… there are how many people? I think in couture, if there are 100 buyers worldwide, that’s count-ing China, Russia, all those areas, buying couture at $30-$40,000 a pop or whatever it would cost, I think that’s about it. I wouldn’t say it’s more than one hundred. Ev-erything else is mass marketing.
Reserved: You have really shown us some amazing per-spective today!
Peter: Thank you so much. I hope you’ve got what you need.
Reserved: I think we’re set. Thank you so much Peter!
photography Michael Donnelly //
By Monique Erickson // Photo by Yi-Chun Wu. Emily Stone, left, and Cori Kresge of the Stephen Petronio Company in the Trisha Brown work “Glacial Decoy” at the Joyce Theater.
This week at the Joyce Theater, Stephen Petronio Company presents the second season of Bloodlines, which celebrates the pioneers of modern dance. The 2016 roster features Trisha Brown’s Glacial Decoy (1979), Stephen Petronio’s MiddleSexGorge (1990), and the premiere of Petronio’s new work Big Daddy (Deluxe), now through March 13th. This year commemorates the company’s 22nd season at the Joyce Theater, and 32 years in dance.
With the very first movement of the Stephen Petronio Company’s riveting performance of Trisha Brown’s Glacial Decoy, I am immediately transported to an ethereal otherworld, anotherworld, some last feminine hideaway, perhaps, of a bygone America. Set to silence, a rotation of black and white images by Robert Rauschenberg, and wearing only his nearly nude pleated shifts, two sensual and sure-footed nymphs take to the stage not with Mr. Petronio’s usual force and friction, but with a delicacy of movement and a quietude that seem to transcend space.
As the dancers move, we see behind them the faded backdrop of America: a husky, an old house, a garden hose; dilapidated furniture, a doorway, a dance. This is the poetry of images and movement. A third dancer appears from the wings, a fourth seemingly from midair. Behind them the clock from a funeral home lies on its side; there is a motorcycle, an oil-slick swan, 3 trucks and a ladder. Are we there yet? Have we arrived? Glacial Decoy is as ephemeral as dance itself. Will we be remembered, after? The dance seems to ask. With Bloodlines, Stephen Petronio tells us how.
BIG DADDY (DELUXE)
After a brief intermission best used to re-center oneself on this physical plane, the curtain rises for Big Daddy (Deluxe). As Mr. Petronio takes center stage, flanked by 2 male dancers, we realize two things very quickly: he’s miked, and we are embarking on a soul-searching, grief-stricken elegy-memoir-dance-poem. It’s private, it’s personal, and it hurts. At times his voice is shaky. He stumbles slightly in the difficult patches. Mr. Petronio’s command of the audience is so powerful that sometimes I forget to watch the dancers, but I get the feeling that’s the point. Mr. Petronio is asking us to participate in his grief. It is close and uncomfortable. The piece ends with Mr. Petronio sitting on the edge of the stage, inches from the front row. He is low lit and somber and alone. Here he is not polished or perfect or sanitized. He is painfully real.
In the late 80s and early 90s, as the AIDS epidemic ripped through the gay community, and lawmakers and politicians attempted to turn a blind eye, activist artists turned to their respective crafts to compel New York City to pay attention. First performed in 1990, MiddleSexGorge is Stephen Petronio’s anthem, not only to the AIDS crisis, but also to the body in peril, out of control, under the hands of others, impacted by touch. Today, the work is as resonant as ever: fluid, genderqueer, in touch, alive. It is set to the electro-punk music of Wire. The women wear black leotards; the men, corsets. Gino Grenek and Joshua Tuason sport wild floor-length bloomers festooned with orange rosettes. The company comes together electrically, in signature Petronio break-neck style. The sex is palpable but so is the sadness. As the piece closes Mr. Grenek is borne aloft, as though poised for flight, or dead.
IN CONVERSATION WITH STEPHEN PETRONIO
MONIQUE: So first, talk to me about Glacial Decoy (by Trisha Brown).
STEPHEN: When I joined Trisha Brown’s Company as the first male dancer in 1979, she had just finished Glacial Decoy. It was her last all women’s work, and her first piece for the proscenium stage. So I watched it, as the odd person in the room, like, a million times. When we went on tour I would sit in the wings because I loved it so much, and I would just watch it and watch it and watch it. I began to help rehearse it and lay it down in the space. It totally impressed me as a young wannabe creator: the formality, the slippery-ness, the feline, feminist, elusive power of it left a very deep impression on my still forming mind.
MONIQUE: I guess we should talk a little bit about how to preserve dance, and keep dance relevant? Isn’t that’s what Bloodlines is all about?
STEPHEN: There are many ways to approach preservation (there are written codes, and video codes) but Bloodlines is a way of honoring the people who opened the door for me, as a creator. It was Merce Cunningham, and Trisha [Brown], and the people who came from the Judson Movement that really broke all the rules of Modern Dance, and said that you could make it anything that you want. They said that dance doesn’t have to be some dramatic narrative, that it could be an abstract form, that it could be a mixture of forms, or that it could be pedestrian movement as well as virtuosic movement. I come from that tradition. I started dance as an adult with no training so they really opened the door for me. Part of the thing about bloodlines is that I’m only working with choreographers who directly preceded me, with whom I had contact and were learning the dances from - either from the original creator or from people who were in those original creations. It’s really mouth to mouth, hand to hand, body to body transmission.
For Trisha Brown, I was in the room when Glacial Decoy was finished, and it was set by people who were there when it was made, and who danced it for many years, and so it’s a tradition, like storytelling. This is the physical form of storytelling: I really believe that it has to go from someone’s body in the original, to our bodies. The urgency, for me, in bringing Bloodlines out into the world now is that I want to do it while the creators, or those who had that first hand experience with the creators, are still very much alive and breathing. That’s why it’s Bloodlines.
MONIQUE: How do you propose to keep dance at the forefront of the conversation about the performing arts, when it could be viewed as more marginal. How do you keep dance relevant?
STEPHEN: What’s interesting is that, in the dance world especially, there are so many people who have read about works like Glacial Decoy, or Merce Cunningham’s Rainforest (Stephen Petronio Company premiered Rainforest last year for the debut season of Bloodlines), but hadn’t seen it, because they missed it. Bloodlines is a great opportunity to introduce the next generation of audiences to these seminal works that really changed the course of history. For me, it’s a very emotional service to provide, and I hope it has an impact on new audiences, and I think it will.
MONIQUE: Within the Bloodlines concept, is it important to present the work as it was originally, or do you put your own stamp on it, or is it somewhere in the middle?
STEPHEN: From every creator’s company that I work with, I have to take their lead. With the Cunningham work Rainforest, they had a very specific version in mind, but of course we can’t do it like the Cunningham Company because we are not the Cunningham Company. We can do it like the Petronio Company.
Part of the reason that I want it by my company is that I’m an original, modern voice. The ballet companies are the most likely to acquire these works because they have the structure and the money to afford them, but I really believe that as the son of these creators, I feel like only I can give [the work] what a modern choreographer can give. I don’t want just the ballet companies to have [the Bloodlines works]. I want the modern world to have these works too.
With Trisha Brown, I saw Trisha and loved Trisha so much in that period, that I feel like I’m getting as close to her spirit as I can. She was an amazing choreographer and she definitely influenced me. This is my version of what she did to me.
I want people to support Bloodlines because it is an opportunity to see these works, but, basically, I love these works. They’re masterpieces. I am going to take as good care of them as I can.
MONIQUE: For Big Daddy (Deluxe), tell me about the decision to merge your memoir with dance, and to perform the memoir in that way.
STEPHEN: I wrote a memoir a couple years ago. My father was dying when I wrote it. I wanted to wait until he passed away to publish it because there are certain things I just didn’t want him to read. When I finished it, I realized that because I was grieving his death, that particular moment was really present in my body. I’ve always resisted working with language, but he was so in my body and on my mind and in my heart when I finished the memoir that I thought ‘What if I tried to physicalize this?’ Originally, I made it a solo, where I was talking and dancing, as only a son could do with the imagery of my father. I felt like it was a great way to meditate on him. I sprained my ankle last year and I asked some of the guys [in the company] to come in and do some of the earlier stories when he was younger. I really began to like the whole idea, so I decided to expand it to the whole company. I removed my body as a dancing body, more just as the voice. I think there is a big danger in writing with dance, because everybody wants to make a story out of everything, anyway. Sometimes it undercuts the subconscious potency of the movement, but since I wrote the language and the language was visceral, I felt compelled to really try.
MONIQUE: Especially at the end when you’re just sitting on the stage reading, it’s so raw, so real, so personal, and so private. It’s true that while watching Big Daddy (Deluxe) from the audience there is the quandary: do we look at you? Do we look at the stage? Does the dance become secondary to your presence and your words?
STEPHEN: Look, I’m not a professional reader but I am an honest reader. I thought it was a pretty big risk and I knew I might get crucified but for me, vulnerable and earnest is the new orange.
MONIQUE: We participate in your grief with you.
STEPHEN: I question whether it was a valid thing to do on the stage but I feel like I’m 60 years old and too fucking bad. I’m going to do exactly what I want. It feels like dangerous territory, and that’s what I have been doing for 30 years. There’s no way I was going to shy away from it. It’s taken me over 30 years as a choreographer to get to that place and I’m really happy that I did.
MONIQUE: Tell me about Middlesex Gorge.
STEPHEN: I made MiddleSexGorge when I was in ACTUP, the Aids Coalition to Unleash Power, in the middle of the AIDS crisis when the mayor and the health officials were ignoring the fact that there was an epidemic going on. I joined ACTUP and we used our bodies to intercede in public places, to try to get the city to pay attention to us. We did a lot of civil disobedience. I began to realize that getting carried into police vans, and getting arrested during demonstrations was the most potent thing I was doing with my body. I felt like, if I can’t make a dance that somehow touches on that, I should just give up. I began to make MiddleSexGorge. I focused on how people handled each other, and how people gave up control to each other’s touch, how people controlled each other with touch. I wanted it to be a really violent and aggressive. It was the 80s. The lack of subtlety, and I don’t mean lack of skill, but the lack of subtlety was like banging a drum for me. I tried to put that into the dance. 25 years later, it’s relevant. Oppression never goes out of style.
What resonated with me was that it did seem very relevant right now, because of our modern concept of gender and sexual fluidity. Maybe we are all queer. I thought it was very powerful. When the Republican candidates are talking about retracting marriage rights, I think that MiddleSexGorge is relevant again. It’s about the female empowerment as well. Queer or not, every woman knows what it’s like to feel invisible and discounted. For women to be empowered in that way is really important. It’s not just for the queer boys; it’s for the women as well, straight women, and gay women and everyone in between.
Stephen Petronio’s memoir, Confessions of a Motion Addict is available to purchase here from Amazon.com.
interview by Mark Sanders
Rebecca Reid is a London-born actress and performer. Perhaps most recognizable from her recurring role as Nadia on the hit FOX comedy "New Girl" she is currently starring in the Comedy Central sitcom I Live With Models.
Rebecca performs stand up all over Los Angeles and can often be seen at the Hollywood Improv and the Comedy Store, sometimes in the guise of her character Audrey Mouse who also appears regularly on social media.
A fashion model since her teens, she has appeared in the pages of Italian Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, I-D magazines, and worked with photographers such as Phil Poyter and Terry Richardson.
Hollywood has become your adopted home. Can you describe a little how you got here and what is it that you love about life in the city of Angels?
I was originally based in New York and then LA started calling...
If you truly want to be isolated then LA is the place to be, it's generally the consensus about the city, but I think I have found the alternative. I live on a beautiful street with friends living in houses opposite and I CAN walk to the grocery store...if I want to. I'm a part of the Franklin Village community and I just think it's the best place. You wouldn't catch me being a Beverly Hills resident, not for all the tea in China! And I love that I can go for hikes in Griffith Park right next to where I live with the knowledge that there are mountain lions somewhere up in those hills. That I can drive to stunning places like the Grand Canyon, or Big Sur without having to get on planes, which are full of germs. I'm a big fan of road trips!
In addition to your recurring role as Nadia in New Girl you are also a successful model and stand up comedienne. What, would you say, exemplifies your very special brand of humour and how does it reflect the way you look at the world around you?
I don't think of myself as a stand up. Rather as a performer. There's sometimes things I want to do, rather than say, I get a feeling of what I want to do and follow that. Sometimes I just want to be in the audience doing aura readings, or singing whilst someone plays the piano, or shredding on my electric ukulele. I don't really want to talk about dating, or sex, or politics… other people can do that and some of them do it really well.
Your stand up routine has a certain existentialist edge to it which I find very appealing. It's as if Jean-Paul Sartre has teamed up with Steve Martin to create something entirely off the wall and unique. Where do you get your ideas for your material from? Did an oligarch ex-boyfriend really buy you a ukulele and have you ever eaten a hundred sandwiches?
When I was a kid I would eat cheese ploughman sandwiches, for those of you who don't know, that's a cheese and pickle sandwich. I'd eat so many of them, maybe that number could have been very close to 100, I just couldn't say for sure. Sometimes the sandwich was toasted cheese. Once my Mom was bringing me this toasted grilled cheese sandwich to my room, it was an open grilled cheese set up. She dropped it on the stairs on the way up, but decided she would give it to me anyway. When she gave it to me I noticed all these little hairs stuck on the grilled cheese. It was undeniably now a hairy carpeted sandwich. I said Mom did you drop this on the carpet?! She hesitated, whether to tell me the truth or not, and then said yes. So I haven't eaten a whole sandwich, since the age of 13. I will bite a tiny corner off. That experience gave me a weird cheese sandwich disorder.
Oh yes, and I was given the uke by an X, maybe he felt guilty because of an infidelity, maybe he really felt the need to give me a uke, either way the experience set me free!
Name one visual artist whose work you love and why?
Wolfe Von Lenkenwicz. My favorite piece is of Snow White sitting on a stool in the kitchen with a cat drinking milk from a saucer, under her suspender clad legs. I own one of his drawings. One day I aspire to have all the walls of my house filled with art!
Name one film which has been an inspiration to you and why?
The film by Martin Scorsese called After Hours with Griffin Dunne and Rosanna Arquette. The story telling really appeals to me, the sound track, the script and the acting. There's a real spaciousness to the film. It's like a real time fairy tale in which the central character Paul gets is trapped in, and you just don't know what will happen to him next. I never tire of watching it!
Actor // Rebecca Reid
Photographer // Marc & Paula Kayne photography
Fashion Editor // Jules Wood
Make-up/Hair // Homa Safar
image 1 & 2: Vintage dress // stylist's own
image 3: One Love Fringe Moto Jacket in Mocha by designer AS by DF
Prudence Maxi Dress w/Cactus Print in Black/Gold by St. Roche
image 4: Ann Dress in black by St. Roche
image 5: Nico tank dress in Black/White by NOM*d
Dita Buckle Skirt in White by Manokhi
PHOTOGRAPHER: ALE BURSET
MODEL/TALENT: LUCHO JACOB
STYLING: ANGIE UGARTE
HAIR & MAKEUP: CAMI SOSA
RETOUCHING: DIEGO SPERONI
PHOTOGRAPHER ALE BURSET
FASHION EDITOR JULES WOOD
Fashion credit - Miguelina Gambaccini
The rest stylist own
RM Your career has taken you from modeling to films and now, to something which you consider your true calling. Singing! Can you tell us a bit about your journey and how you got here? You have a beautiful voice!
KN Thank you so much! I grew up singing in church, at weddings and just about every school function I could. Choir, the national anthem at games, talent shows and so on. I remember when I was about 9 or 10 my parents bought me a karaoke machine. This changed my life. I would Dj my own radio show and play cassette tapes of various artists while singing along. My parents still have cassette tape recordings of me belting away to Whitney, Tiffany and Mariah. Years later, after being discovered with my brothers and sisters at a summer concert, I moved to NYC to model but for me it was an opportunity to find my way into the music business. It's always been about music for me - no matter where my life has taken me. And believe me, it's been a fight and taken a whole lot of sacrifice to follow my heart. Shortly after moving to NYC, I landed my first gig after auditioning for a girl band called The Skinny. I started to write my own songs and truly fell in love with music. This became my life. I was incredibly lucky to have modeling as a financial cushion at the time. Had it not been for the opportunity in the fashion industry, I wouldn't be where I am today.
RM I had read that you struggled with eating disorders as unfortunately, so many young girls and women do. How does this influence your music and does it enable you to make a certain connection with your audience?
KN I always try and share the deepest sometimes darkest parts of my heart. Whether it be about addiction or self esteem or abuse or perhaps love, I want to be as transparent as I can. I feel like people are more likely to connect the more vulnerable I allow myself to be. I did struggle with an eating disorder for many years. It was crippling. Music is a way for me to not only express myself but more importantly for you to feel something. At least that is my hope. This has always been my prayer when I sit down to write. If just one person feels something, then I know I've done what I'm called to do.
RM What is your message for those who connect with your music on a personal level?
KN My hope is that you feel as though I'm telling a part of your story. I don't write for me. I mean I do, but what gives me the most joy is when someone comes up to me after a show and says that they felt like I was singing directly to them. I want to take you on a journey with me - but a journey not always filled with rainbows and butterflies. Let's face it, life is not like always like this. We go through the motions, the ups and downs. Heartbreak. Joy and pain. Love and loss. It's through the struggle when we grow the most. I want to grow with my audience. I want them to know, they aren't alone. My brother has cancer. He is 35 years old. He has a wife and 3 beautiful children. He is not supposed to be with us very long. That's what the doctors say. So I wrote a song. About him, for him. It's about healing. Whether or not he is with us forever - this song helped me. I know it helped him too. That's what I want to capture with my audience with every song I write.
RM We’d love to hear about your up-coming collaboration with Lenny Kravitz!
KN Years ago, after covering a Roberta Flack tune, The First Time Ever I saw Your Face, the recording happened to fall into the lap of Lenny. There began our 14 year journey to where we are today. After we first met, we recorded 2 songs together at his Edison studios in NYC. Shortly after we started working together, I landed a lead role in a feature film as Lola in Transporter 2. I moved to LA and Lenny went on tour. We lost touch. During the years I was acting, I always tried to stay true to my heart which was to sing but it was very difficult trying to juggle it all. It wasn't until a few years ago that Lenny and I reconnected and we decided to pick up where we left off. I felt we had tapped into something special all those years ago and he felt it too. Next spring we are releasing albums back to back. His that he's worked on for 25 years - Negrophilia
Mine that we started 14 years ago - Love, Loss & Recovery. I am so excited to share it with the world. It's time!
RM What else is next for you? We’d love to hear!
KN I am currently in the studio working on new music. I am super excited about it! It's funny, the new music I am writing has a completely different tone. It's a lot lighter. Assuming it's where I'm at in my life - I'm extremely grateful. I recently moved back to NYC and got married. Pretty sure that has a lot to do with it. :) Next year my album comes out and if all goes as planned, will be on tour with Lenny. So much to look forward to!
photography by david sawyer //
Adam Green is renowned around the globe as one of music’s most unique and prolific songwriting talents - his songs have been performed by artists as diverse as The Libertines, Carla Bruni, Kelly Willis, and Will Oldham. A New York native, Green was only 17-years-old when he recorded and released his first album. As part of the downtown antifolk scene at the end of the nineties, he made up one-half of The Moldy Peaches, who enjoyed belated mainstream success via the Grammy-winning, #1 Billboard Chart ranking soundtrack of the 2007 Academy Award-winning movie Juno. As a solo artist, Green has recorded nine albums, many of which have become cult hits. His 2005 record Gemstones went Gold in Europe.
In 2015 Adam began a collaboration with Mich Dulce making a line of hats inspired by his artwork and the ALADDIN movie. The designs incorporate elements from his HOUSEFACE symbolic alphabet, a group of reduced cubist pictographs gleaned from the facial features of the popular cartoon characters Garfield, Big Bird, and Elmo. In January of 2016, he will exhibit the art from Adam Green's ALADDIN at the Fondation Beyeler Museum in Basel, Switzerland.
INTERVIEWED BY JULES WOOD CO-OWNER of RESERVED
ADAM, HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU KNEW YOU WANTED TO GO INTO MUSIC?
I don’t know. I was maybe nine years old when I started playing. My first instrument was a tuba. It takes a lot of air and my mum used to find me on the floor of my room passed out because I blew into [it] so hard. It just seemed like the most fun instrument that you could pick, and it had to have a little stand because I was too little to hold it. Then I switched to guitar. I think it appealed to me to play guitar because I heard that you can write songs on it. Also the opposite of when you learn the tuba, you have to learn how to read music, and then the guitar just came like a total break from that. I didn’t even think of it that way. I just learned it by ear and I just enjoyed it, so I don’t really know.
I probably didn’t really realize I was going to go into doing music in that way until I was in high school or something. My high school band was The Moldy Peaches. I got pretty far with my high school band, but it was...I really knew no other way. I wasn’t in a series of different bands. Basically, The Moldy Peaches was released by Rough Trade, which are home recordings. It was a lot of recordings from a span of seven years from when I was, maybe 12 to 19. It’s a really large span of recordings that me and Kimya did from all in my parents house.
WHEN DID ROUGH TRADE SIGN YOU?
Around then, when I was 19. They basically released the equivalent of our greatest hits. I think that they were going to call it that. I remember getting a copy of the test pressing and it was called Greatest Hits. I don’t know why that happened. I guess it’s kind of funny because I remember when we went to England for the first time, we had done some interviews with i-D and The Face, and some different stuff. I hadn’t even heard of these magazines because I’m from New York, so they came to my parents house and they took pictures of me and Kimya brushing our teeth in the bathroom and going to Central Park. When we finally got to England, we were walking around and people were like, “Oh my God. It’s The Moldy Peaches.” We had never ever had a fan before!
Rough Trade basically signed us and they whisked us off to England, and then we had a little following. Before then we only had played concerts for friends. Yeah, that’s very cool. Number two. I do know this already, but I’m just going to ask because I’m going to put it on recording. Where were you born?
WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM TO MAKE A FILM?
I had this idea to make a real life cartoon. I had asked a bunch of people if they would be in it if I did it...Basically, it was like I wanted a psychedelic version of Aladdin, as an animated cartoon. You know what I mean? That was difficult to resist offers from people, and so we filmed it in a warehouse in Brooklyn two summers ago, and it became a community project where a bunch of people were stuck in a sweaty warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
There was a show when I was growing up that was on Nickelodeon, where kids would be in a video game. I think they would do it with a green screen. I don’t know how they did it, but these kids would go into a video game, and I remember thinking that was really interesting. I guess ever since I got a cellphone I started feeling like I was part of a video game. For this movie I wanted to build a video game, sort of Second Life Universe for the movie to take place in it. That’s it. The movie takes place in it... inside of this video game.
HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE CAST FOR THE FILM? IT SOUNDS LIKE THEY’RE ALL FRIENDS, AREN’T THEY?
The cast? Well, you know, at some point, I had certain ideas for who should play the characters. Most of the cast is people that I know already or people who volunteered to do it. Let me think, with Jack Dishel, I was in the Moldy Peaches with him and he plays the sultan and Uncle Gary, two of the main characters. I worked with him on “The Wrong Ferrari” as well...my last movie. I definitely wanted to work with Jack, he’s a comedic genius. I have to work with him on everything.
Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black)...I showed her “The Wrong Ferrari” when I was done and she said she would do my next movie. I’ve know Natasha for a long time because I was her neighbor in Gramercy Park. Natasha is a world class actress that was just nominated for an Emmy. I really had to ask her to do it. I asked her five years ago to play my mom in a psychedelic version of Aladdin and she kept her word. She did it even though her career was going insane at the time she was getting nom- inated for the Emmy. She was having to go away to L.A. for the awards and stuff. She made this little time happen where she could be the mom. She’s great as the mom. She’s this crazy, pilled-out Valium mom. She plays it like a crazy sitcom mom. She’s one of the best actresses of her generation probably. She’s amazing. She didn’t love the hair, but she was really cool about it. It looked great but I think it was difficult to act with it. Anyway, she was very gracious about it.
Well, you know, like Bip Ling for example, she’s from England. I wanted someone to play the princess and I had this idea that the princess could be like a Kardashian. I was thinking Bip Ling was the obvious choice. Bip Ling is sort of like an Andy Warhol superstar of the internet. I just thought that she could add a subversive kind of edge. On one hand, she’s living this crazy decadent life, getting photographed all the time and partying. Her Instagram is just so surreal and insane, you know? It’s so subversive, I thought it would be an interesting combination.
Let me see. It’s also Alia Shawkat, who plays Emily, Aladdin’s twin sister. Alia is almost like a silent film actress in a certain way. Almost like a reincarnation of Giulietta Masina from the Fellini films. She’s also a multidisciplinary artist. She is a painter and a musician as well. She really had that access were we were coming from. There’s Macaulay Culkin, and Toby Goodshank, who’s a props master on the movie, and he was in the Moldy Peaches with me. We have an art collective called 3MB, which stands for Three Men and a Baby. Doing an interview with Macaualy Culkin is sort of an extension of just what we do our ventures and stuff.
Francesco Clemente, yeah, I didn’t know him. I just thought he would be a great genie. I just thought he looked like a genie and I learned how to draw pictures of Frances- co, looking at his painting and drawing. He’s an influence on me but I didn’t know him. Actually, it was Alia Shawkat and him. They sent me to the studio and I convinced him to be the genie.
Har Mar is the funniest character. He plays a British rugby guy who’s sort of loosely-based on a Libertines hang around. Some kind of character you might meet in the Libertines’ dressing room. That voice that Har Mar does is something he’s been doing for years. I remember driving around late at night and he would just do that character. I just really wanted that character to be in the movie.
OKAY, NEXT QUESTION. THE TOUR, NEXT YOU’RE IN NOTTINGHAM. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE MIDLAND [UK]?
It’s crazy. I don’t know. I want some tour schedule, you know? My wife’s British, you know? That’s the beginning. I’m getting more access to my British cultural heritage. I pride myself on been to all the English towns, and I don’t want to lose all the credibility. You get into some of the deeper towns like Leicester and Norwich. I want to be an England expert. I like to look at art a lot in different towns, so it should be fun.
SHERWOOD FOREST KEPT POPPING UP.
Yeah, exactly. Well, you know, I dressed as Robin Hood in the Moldy Peaches, so that’s always been a special place for me. I remember when we first went to Nottingham. I was really starstruck by the site.
We’re playing Midlands. That’ll be fun. I painted a backdrop and I’m going to dress as Aladdin for the tour. It’s going to be an Aladdin-themed tour.
For more info on ALADDIN tour dates
click here: http://www.bandsintown.com/AdamGreen
fortyseven communications for Adam Green’s Aladdin
By M. Sheldon
Saida, Lebanon and Canfield, Ohio seem worlds apart but share more in common than you could imagine. Both are small towns, places where everyone knows everyone and where borrowing a cup of sugar from your neighbor isn’t a quaint throw-back to another era but something that happens with regularity. Saida typifies the heart of everyday Arab life in much the same way Canfield is the prototypical Mid-western community. Another thing that these two seemingly disparate places have in common is singer and songwriter Zaher Saleh. While Saleh rose to fame in the Middle East, he and his music are equal parts Arab and American.
Born and raised in Lebanon to Palestinian refugees, Saleh began to spend his summers as a teen with relatives in Ohio, eventually attending high school and college there. “I remember how I couldn’t wait for summer to come! I wanted to get back to Ohio to see my friends there and do exotic things like go to Target!” Saleh recalls with a laugh. “But seriously, I am so grateful to have grown up in both Lebanon and Ohio. I think it has given me a unique perspective. Mostly it gave me the gift at a young age of realizing that we are all essentially the same. Yes, I am an Arab. I am Palestinian. I am Lebanese. I am American. I am all of these things. But mostly I am human. We all have that in common.”
Saleh’s ascent into pop stardom began in Ohio. While attending Youngstown State University on a whim he sent an audition tape for the Arab language version of hugely popular pop music talent contest“Star Academy”. Saleh recalls, “I recorded the audition and sent it off. I actually forgot about it. I was shocked when I got the call.”
He packed his bags and was off to Beirut. He was instantly a fan favorite. He didn’t win the competition, but placed in the top five. Unlike many reality TV contestants, Saleh went on to even greater success releasing both English and Arab language hits in the Middle East and singing to crowds of thousands of adoring fans through the region.
But true to his multicultural roots Saleh is now poised to bring his talents to the American stage. He is currently at work on his first album for US and international release. Saleh’s sweet and soulful voice has caught the attention and respect of music industry legends. His collaborators on his freshman offering reads like a who’s who of music royalty. Grammy Award winning producer David Kahne, who has worked with the likes of Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, Stevie Nicks, Regina Specktor and Lana del Rey is collaborating with Saleh and producer Patrick Cannell on the first track from his new album “Habibi”. “Zaher is a major talent, both as a signer and a songwriter. I think he will be the first-ever crossover star. There are touches of Arabic to his music but it has an appeal that goes beyond boarders or cultures.”
“I don’t believe in boarders. This world is for everyone.” Says Saleh. While he does not consider himself political, he does hope that his work can break down boundaries and heal old wounds. He recalls “When I was young my grandmother used to tell me stories about growing up in Syria. Her neighbor and best friend was Jewish. When she grew up Arabs and Jews lived together in the same communities. They were friends and neighbors. I remember her crying as she said “What has happened. Why are we killing each other? We are cousins.” It broke my heart. I hope one day we can get back to that, to living together in peace as part of the same family, the human family. Nothing would make me happier if my music could contribute to that in some small way. But I am also happy if it makes people smile or touches them in some way.”
His new music is already beginning to touch people. He has a growing legion of influential supporters. Mary J. Blige says “If anyone can unite people with their music it is Zaher. The love and the sweetness you hear is real. It’s authentic.”
Saleh is both clearly grateful for and humbled by the interest and support his second home has shown. “To have people that I have been inspired by and that I deeply respect like my music is unbelievable. But I just try to stay focused on the music. And remember that they are people too. It keeps me grounded. And helps to keep me from getting too nervous!”
He looked anything but nervous when he sang “Habibi” accompanied by a grand piano and a quartet of violists to a room of Hollywood power-players gather to celebrate Jack Huston’s staring role in the upcoming remake of Ben Hur. As he sang the last note the room erupted into thunderous applause. A room of A-list stars where on their feet cheering Saleh on. Someone said aloud “He’s going to be a star.” Well they definitely know one of their own.
To be certain Saleh will use his star power to both entertain and inspire. He will also no doubt help to bring the world a little closer to harmony.
Photographer // Spencer Ostrander
Grooming // Niles Sterling
All Clothing // Tom Ford Spring/Summer 2016
THE BEING EXPERIENCE... AKA IN THE WOODS
By Jennifer Elster
The Being Experience is an upcoming multi-part film series featuring Terrence Howard, Famke Janssen, Alan Cumming, Questlove, Moby, Paz de la Huerta, Dave Matthews, Kent Cullers, and many others.
A daring walk into the unknown, the series delves deep inside its subjects and ends up in uncharted terrain.
Photographer: Carolina Palmgren
Fashion Editor: Jules Wood
Hair and Makeup: Victor Noble
Model / Neuroscientist: Nell Rebowe
interview by Whitney Mercurio //
photography by Michael Donnelly//
I met Chad Murawczyk, the owner of SoHo’s MiN New York, the luxury apothecary and atelier on Crosby St., at a friend’s loft party in July. After about a minute of talking with him about his niche business of exclusive rare and hard-to-find fragrances and cool comprehensive selection of “dear old things”, I realized he was someone who understood people like me who function from the emotional side of their brain, who cre-ate and register “moments” through smell, sound, touch and whose personal litmus tests are good-old visceral reactions when choosing a scent, or anything for that matter. His shop on Crosby St. is so beautiful to look at and exist in, let alone breathe in. He has managed to create an envi-ronment which embodies the MiN concept of “the art of living”. A genuine and uncontrived experience for those who appreciate luxury.
- Do you create scents based on your life’s expe-riences? How do you formulate them? I am inspired by so many things in this world... memories, places, people... The moments that are precious, once captured, remain with us forever. I may draw inspiration from a certain raw material that inspires me. I feel that fragrance should have a confident sig-nature.
- Do you feel that scents are chosen by process of involuntary and subtle emotional responses? Our memories, experiences and emotions are all triggered by the scents we are exposed to. Before we are even able to register the scent and categorize it, it has already activated the limbic system, triggering more deep-seated emotional responses. So, yes!
- We have all had times where a smell triggers the memory of a moment or time in our life. Can you speak to any of yours? I have many great memories that I share with my family and loved ones. One was from years back when I was in Sinai by the Red Sea. We did a lot of diving but one of the strongest memories I have from that trip was night diving. It was an absolutely lunatic idea and honestly, that’s what made it even more appealing to me! It was a hot dry night and even by the sea you can smell the dry desert air with a smoking fire lingering through it. Under a canopy of stars, it was one of those nights when you look up at the sky and you get al-most dizzy from the beauty of it, the feeling of being alive and possibilities ahead of you. The scent that is very vivid in my mind is the combination of that dry desert air with the sea saltiness that you can almost taste when you breathe in.
- What role does each person’s individual chem-istry play in an applied scent and does it fade into different notes after it is applied? Each person’s individual chemistry will react with the fragrance in slightly different ways, that is the beauty of it all. You are creating some-thing that will evolve into all these different directions, each one interesting in its own way. Perfumes are like potions! It is alchemy.
- How do you orchestrate the top, mid and base notes of a fragrance? The process of perfume creation depends on the inspiration behind it. A niche perfume tend to have a well-de-signed and orchestrated journey. Molecular chemistry kicks into gear utilizing ingredi-ents as instruments in a composed sympho-ny with the intention that the result is a mas-terpiece that magically captures a moment of time or emotion.
- Does the mass luxury fragrance market suffer because it must appeal to such a wide demo-graphic in order to survive? It is the mission of the mass market to please the public, cut cost, and round out all the edges. At the mass luxury level, a good portion of the pro-cess is risk reduction finding opportunities to increase shareholder value. That’s why most beauty products, including designer and celebrity perfumes, lead with money sunk into marketing campaigns, endorse-ments, packaging, and born essentially out of focus groups.
Once one acquires a more distinctive point of view in personal style and develops a more refined taste in consumption, you be-come curious about our world and the eyes open to a universe of wondrous indulgenc-es. Individuality is the key and exploration is endless. It’s no different than fashion, art, food, wine, and spirits. Timeless things, made with love by hand, born out of inspi-rations only inspire. It’s a bit like falling into a rabbit hole into wonderland... The world that I live in is a place of creativity. The im-possibility of things is where the air is most crisp. Breathe in, find the edge, take a small step back to capture it in my mind and then go to work and build it.
Photographer - Kevin Trinh
Hair - Dakota Hunter
Stylist: Levi Sawyer
photographer Spencer Ostrander //
art director // Whitney Mercurio
fashion director Jules Wood //
model Alex Pettyfer //
grooming by Damien Monzillo // products used: Ecru New York & Beauty Addicts makeup
makeup Angie Parker //
photo assistant Adhat Campos //
special thanks to Skye Peters and Derek Andersen
A CONVERSATION WITH SARAH LEMIEUX OF THE
SARAH LEMIEUX QUINTET
“Moments Musicaux” August 14, 2014
Interviewer: Anne C. LeMieux (disclosure – mom)
ACL: You wore a number of different hats to bring this project to fruition. You’ve written eight of the nine songs, music and the lyrics. You sing the lead vocals and the background vocals. You play guitar, piano, and harp on it – anything else?
SEL: Some percussion.
ACL: Some percussion. And you did all the arranging and a lot of the recording yourself, and co-produced it. The result is a very cohesive collection of songs, both musically and lyrically. What was your vision for this album at the beginning?
SEL: My vision for the album at the beginning was to try and make something that was really sort of sweeping and sensory and visual, like—almost like a movie that you would listen to. And very narrative, also, with characters, and stories that happen to the characters, so you would close your eyes when you were listening and picture a scene that was happening.
ACL: The songs on “Moments Musicaux” are arranged for a very specific group of instruments, and one of the “feels” that comes through is Klezmer. You have very expressive melodic lines that convey emotional content in and of themselves and melodic ornamentation, not just with the instruments but with your voice, and you bring it together in this jazzy way, with an interplay that’s so balanced. Can you talk about your approach to arranging?
SEL: My approach to arranging was to try to combine everything that I wanted, every influence, and element into each composition. For example, with “Just A Little Longer,” I had the clarinet and the viola adding little pieces of ornamentation supporting the vocal. And then I wanted them to behave like horns in the chorus. In my mind, I had a horn line and I wrote it for the clarinet and the viola to play together and then, it wasn’t quite enough. I needed more “horn-ness” so I added background vocals to be like more horns, but I wanted—we were all horns, you know? So I wrote those lines. When I’m composing a song, if I’m sitting at the piano or if I’m sitting with the guitar, I’ll get two completely different arrangements, because the instruments themselves intrinsically have arrangements that they imply and my mind also has arrangements that it favors, but it has a vast palette of instruments that are real or imaginary, Renaissance, for instance, or you know, from the seventies, synth things, or whatever. So my brain has all these instruments that I can pick from. And depending on the mood, or the feeling, or the picture that I’m trying to support, I’ll select an instrument to think of, and I’ll write a line that I think that instrument would like. And then, for the unity of all the songs on the record, I wrote for the instruments that I chose for these songs and for the particular musicians in the Quintet.
ACL: You’ve called the music on this album “Chamber Jazz.” Can you describe this hybrid genre?
SEL: I don’t think we actually coined the term. There are a few other artists out there playing music that they refer to as chamber jazz—but what I mean by it is the particular combination of elements involved: underlying jazz harmonies, with some chamber instrumentation, like the flute or the clarinet or the viola, and sort of treating the voice as a chamber instrument in the setting of the small ensemble. And then a mix of improvisation and composed contrapuntal lines that sound like they could be improvised, but aren’t. It’s also intended to be intimate in the way that chamber music is intimate.
ACL: You mentioned composing your background vocal parts to be like horns. Can you talk about your voice as an instrument? Do you think in terms of colors and timbres in your singing, and how you shape your voice?
SEL: Oh, absolutely. I think a lot about how to—this doesn’t sound romantic or beautiful, but—how to hold my face to make the vowel the way that I want the tone to be, which is, I mean, singers do that.
ACL: I’ve noticed that sometimes you really smile when you’re singing.
SEL: Yeah. (smiles) Smiling. Smiling when you’re singing is huge, if it’s a moment that needs a smile.
ACL: Your voice blends so beautifully with the clarinet—a clear but velvety tone. How did you approach the parts of the arrangements where your vocalizing is so intertwined with the clarinet that it’s hard to distinguish voice from instrument?
SEL: Since I recorded “Glow Rosy” (E.P. released in 2009) I’ve considered voice to be my primary instrument. Guitar and piano are tied for second. But voice is where I have the most capacity to do something that I would say—something that’s uniquely mine. And I wanted to take my voice and make it the instrument that I knew that it could be, and also to, really, to learn how to play it as an instrument, you know? And to learn how to compose for it as an instrument and arrange for it—treat it as an instrument. So with this album, when I was writing the viola part and the clarinet part, I wanted it to be a chamber trio. I wanted us to be three chamber instruments, the voice as a chamber instrument, and the clarinet and the viola, working together as an instrumental trio as far as tones, and timbres, and dynamics, and things like that. And then, obviously it’s a jazz record.
ACL: Your background includes musical theater and choral singing, back when you were in school. During your college days, you played with indie rockers down in Manhattan, then you really delved into the blues for a while—your first album, Superbleu, was deeply rooted in blues. “Moments Musicaux” is distinctly jazz. Can you talk a bit about women and jazz?
SEL: I think an area where women were always able to be accepted as legitimate musicians was in jazz and where they were able to pioneer, was as vocalists. Take Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughn, for example—everybody understood that they were working, and that they were doing something intentional, and that it was a skillful thing, that it wasn’t an accident of their having been born with a pretty voice. In developing my vocal style, I wanted to take my voice and be as intentional with it as I could, in every single way that I was using it. I made a real effort to take solos with my voice on this record , and to treat it like an instrumental solo break when I was doing it. You know, I have done a lot of, sort of, incidental scat texture on things that I’ve recorded in the past, but I wanted to give it a piece, its own section in the chart, like, this is the guitar solo, but it’s scat syllables.
ACL: Are you seeing more improvisation in your future?
SEL: Yes. Sure. I am finally at the point where I feel like a really competent improviser with my voice, and I love to do it, and it’s the same thing as composing, it’s just faster, you know? Everything I do starts with, mostly, some kind of a theme, and then variation, variation, and then phrasing.
ACL: Do you ever approach improvisation from a harmonic structure standpoint?
SEL: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And that also is a function of whatever mood I’m trying to serve. There are changes that feel like, Genesis! You know? Like the Planets and Space. And then there are changes that are, like, I’m in a country bar.
ACL: You’ve developed such a flexible instrument with your voice, with your scat singing. One song, in fact, is solely scat-singing.
SEL: “Pesnya Bez Slov,” which translates as, “Song Without Words”.
ACL: It’s amazing that without language, basically with nonsense syllables, it can
communicate so much. One thing I loved was that for any listener coming to it, you set the stage for them to bring their own story. With your inflection, and the way you used your voice, the emotion came through without any words. Yet it really did tell a story. As I was listening, I pictured this youthful feminine character who was yearning for intimate connection and it was eluding her and she almost achieved it, but it kept kind of going wrong. There was a section of the song where she was just so fatigued, but then, at the end, she picked herself up, and kept going. That was the story I heard. Can you talk about the making of that song, in all its aspects?
SEL: Sure. I think probably the reason that that story came across to you is because it’s very close to the story that came across to me when I was listening to the piece that inspired it, Rachmaninoff’s Allegretto in E flat minor. It’s from his collection called “Moments Musicaux”, which is where the name of this album comes from. The first time I listened to that song, I was in my car, and it was autumn, and it was sort of gray, and it was the mood of autumn: things are starting, but things are also dying, and that’s the story of autumn that comes around every year. And I listened to this Rachmaninoff song and I felt like my heart was falling down a flight of stairs—but beautifully. It wasn’t sad. It was everything happening at once, and I felt from Rachmaninoff—and I should say that I was listening to a recording of Rachmaninoff playing, it wasn’t someone else interpreting his music, it was his playing—and I felt from him that, that piece, which also has no words, was about the story of humans. How we are trying to achieve these grand dreams, and find these grand loves, and do all these things and it’s like (lifts hands up and spreads them out with an inverted sigh – inhaling) Auuch, it’s so beautiful, and then (slumps, exhaling) Auch, you’re back to the end, you know? And it’s also, you know, he was Russian and he had a lot of tragedies in his life and also a lot of grand successes, too. I think in all of his work, that comes through, but that song, the Allegretto in E flat minor is what inspired the arpeggiated section of “Pesnya." I structured it very similarlyto the way he structures that section of his piano Allegretto, and I had that story and those emotions in my mind when I was structuring it.
ACL: It’s fascinating that something without words can communicate on so many levels. To me, it conveys that sometimes, we human beings are just at a loss for words, we just don’t have the words to articulate our emotions. And sometimes, like the Tower of Babel, we’re all speaking, but we can’t each understand each other .
SEL: Sure. Well, a lot of the communication in speech isn’t necessarily from the
words that you’re speaking. A lot of the communication is from tone of voice and from prosody, and body posture and facial expressions. What I was thinking about when you were asking me initially about the song, the lead-in to your question about phrasing, lyrical phrasing, was that my technique with this record—thiswhole record—vocally, was to try and amplify the meaning of every verbal statement, of every word, by taking the meta-things from human speech, inflections and prosody, and thinking of the natural rhythms of speech. If I say, like, oh, “Excuse me,” (lightly, lilting tone) I'm being polite, but if I say, “EXCUSE ME!” (frowning, angry tone) I'm saying two different things with the same words.
ACL: Or if you say, “Come on, now,” (beckoning, friendly tone) or “Come onnnnnnn!” (exhasperated tone)—
SEL: Right, exactly, exactly. So exaggerating the natural prosody that you use can communicate meaning. I rethought some of my melodic lines to make the prosody more like you would speak, you know, for instance, I didn’t want the melodyto exaggerate a word like “to” or “the” or “but.”
ACL: I think one of the real strengths of this album and of your songs is the marriage of the music and the words. What was your process in melding the lyrics to the music?
SEL: I usually start with a lyric idea rather than a musical idea, and usually inherent in the lyric idea, there is some idea of mood as it relates to mode. Like if it’s happy, I’m going to want major keys and happy things, and if it’s sad, I’m going to want minor key. That’s really obvious and straightforward, but—De Temps is a good example. It’s a nostalgic song and it’s a bittersweet song, and so it’s mostly in a happy mode but there’s also a lot of dissonance, a lot of tension there, with the viola and the clarinet, and some close harmonies, harmonies you want to resolve. So the nostalgia, the bittersweetness of the lyrics can go with the harmonies. And then, you know, melody suggests itself to me from the harmony, and if it doesn’t work with the lyrics, I adjust, revise them. I would say, oh,
“I always knew that I would see you again,” right? “I AL-ways KNEW I’d SEE YOU a-GAIN.” That’s the rhythm. So if my melody has the wrong stresses, then I’ll go back and retool it.
ACL: So you go through a back-and-forth editing process between the words and the music, and wordsmith and notesmith?
SEL: Yes. I want to make sure everything’s very intentional.
ACL: One of the songs that spoke to me particularly was “Just A Little Longer.” I felt it captured so perfectly one of those moments in a relationship when you’re both really acting and feeling in unison, even though you’ve been in a long relationship and you’ve dragged each other through whatever. But here you’ve happened upon this moment when you’re truly together as one, when the relationship becomes greater than the sum of its parts, and transcends the polarizing pull of two separate selves trying to make a life together. Time can erode relationships—and grow them—at the same time, I think. It seemed that you played with time in this song. It starts with those arpeggiated guitar chords hovering a half-step above and below the fifth, resolving, hovering again. The way they flirt with the slow bass line created such a sense of anticipation of a special evening just really getting warmed up. It made me think of the Manhattan of yore, the Astaire-Rogers Manhattan, and the little Fred and Ginger inside all of us married couples, when we’re at our best.
SEL: It’s a really New York song. It’s funny that you say it made you think of Manhattan, because in one sense it’s a song about two people, but in another sense, it’s a song about being a young person in a big city.
ACL: It conjures the setting of the big city so vividly. For you, a young person, for me, a not-young person. You do that beautifully, go from the particular to the universal and back. You bridge that divide so well. To me, a measure of a universally appealing song is if people can take it in and say, “Yeah, that’s about me, too.” It connects to their narrative of themselves.
SEL: That’s how I feel, a lot of the time, like I’m personal, but I also have all these thoughts (spreads hands apart) about the universe…
ACL: Yeah? Well, they all come through. Can I just walk through the verses? The first begins with some broad strokes painting the setting, the characters, and evoking that sense of anticipation, which is interior, in the mind. Then the moment turns real, turns present as soon as you go into that chorus. No matter where I am when I’m listening, my foot starts tapping at that chorus, wanting to dance.
SEL: (nods, smiles) You know it’s funny that you said Fred Astaire. What I said to the instrumentalists in the first couple of rehearsals when we were getting the songs ready, was, “Now we’re going to go into the chorus and everybody’s going to be little Frank Sinatras. I want you guys all to be little Sinatrasand walk down the street and kick people in the shins and throw martinis at them. Come on!”
ACL: (laughs) There’s an edge to it, but it’s a very sweet edge, a very gentle edge. Not aggressive.
SEL: (smiles) No, it’s not aggressive, but it’s swaggering. I had to give a little oomph to my direction because it’s hard to get, you know, a lovely viola player and a clarinet player to swagger.
ACL: Well, it’s a really swingy swagger! And then, it dips back in time in the second verse, lyrically. I’m coming from a perspective— I’m twenty-four years older than you are, so I’m looking backwards, at the long courses of relationships, of intimate partner relationships—and those images of getting to the dawn and you’re both just so bedraggled, you know? Not necessarily literally, it doesn’t have to be hungover, it could be just emotionally bedraggled. And I was thinking of time and place, of post world war songs—some of your songs suggest bygone days to me. There was a song called “After the Ball is Over”—it was actually written in 1892, so it wasFin de Siecle for the 19th century. It starts out, “After the ball is over, after the break of dawn…” and the last part of it goes “Many a heart is aching, if you could read them all… Many a hope that has vanished, after the ball.” Mitch Miller used to sing it, and so I knew it when I was quite young. And it’s like your lyrics about the dawn, which should be new and fresh…
SEL: “We’d watch the dawn, plain and shivering,
Creep through glass and ashes out the door…”
ACL: It’s just like Peggy Lee—
SEL: Oh yeah!
ACL: The sad Peggy Lee condition, “Is that all there is?” But, then—there’s redemption! There’s the chorus, and it’s like, ‘Well, we’re not quite to the “Is that all there is?” point yet.’ You give us hope and redemption in the third verse, which is just magical! Brendan (Sarah’s brother, Brendan LeMieux, the drummer in the Quintet) and I were talking about how you can, simply with word choice, pack so much meaning in. I think the phrase, “in between the midnight and the one,” is a great example of this. You set it up with “We can race the dawn again and win,” so there’s the “We won, yay! We finally won!” And then you’re with “The One” as in “Your One and Only,” and you know at that moment: “Yes! We really were meant to be together.” And then there’s, “One o’clock”, of course, the time reference.
SEL: Well, sure. And that’s the perfect time, if you’re having an exciting night, between midnight and one, that’s the moment for you.
ACL: I know. And then, you’re back on the tonic, the “one” (I)!
SEL: (laughs, nods) I know.
ACL: And those layers of meaning are echoed in the arrangement with the background vocals. It’s such an uplifting end to the verse, ringing and lingering“in between the midnight and the one.” And we get to go back to that moment every time we listen to the song. It’s a gift!
SEL: (laughs) Thank you.
ACL: Speaking of your background vocals, I find them really skillfully, tastefully, and subtley done.
SEL: (smiles gleefully)
ACL: You tracked all your own background vocals on the album and I’ve also seen you do it live with the “looper.” I find it amazing. I was reminded of Pierre Bensusan, who used to do that with a chorus box—maybe one of the early influences you absorbed. There are a few places where you come in with your background vocals, and it’s like, “Wow! She’s a one-woman chorus of sultry sirens!” In “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen,” for example. Then there are other places in different songs where it’s the kind of vocal harmony that brings to mind not only the Andrews Sisters and the Lennon sister, but the vocal trio of Allison Krauss, Emmy Lou Harris, and Gillian Welch. So seamless and rich. And I think the harmonic resonance is deepened just because it’s all your own voice, like those sister-act harmonies—because of the fact that they’re related, that unified one-voice tonal quality is enhanced. And obviously, you’re highly related to yourself and your background singers! I look forward to the day when you and Nella can—and maybe me if I still have a voice left—
SEL: Yes. And Lily. And Jacob, too!
ACL: Back to your vocals, with De Temps En Temps, there was sort of a lightness to the songbut with a bittersweetness, too—I think the French term is “douce-amère”—when the bitternesshas waned and what you recall is the sweetness, which is the best essence of memories.
ACL: And it reminded me of… Doris Day.
SEL: (short burst of surprised laughter)
ACL: I love Doris Day.
SEL: (laughs) Sure. She’s great.
ACL: I thought she was a fabulous singer. She was very highly trained, you know, she went into her career as a trained vocalist. I looked her up to see if that comparison was way off base, because there were a couple of your songs—Doyou remember(Of course you do, because you wrote it!) “Is It Too Late?” That reminded me of Doris Day the first time I heard it. Not just the vocals, the breathiness, the almost conversational quality in spots. There’s something about her singing that seems fundamentally optimistic. Cheerful. And when you remind me of Doris Day, with that kind of buoyancy, that lilt in your voice, like in “De Temps En Temps,” you’re smiling. Doris was a smiling singer. That’s how I remember her.
ACL: Can we talk about probably the most whimsical song on the album, “The Gang’s All Here?” (Which, by the way, has the best, most musical use of a canned laugh track that I’ve ever heard.) To me, the lyrics were little visual and aural vignettes, that, if you were walking around a party, you would catch a little bit here, a little bit there, and it reminded me of—pointillism.
ACL: Yes, well, of “Sunday in the Park,” by George Seurat. All those little clusters of people scattered about, enjoying a lovely, leisurely afternoon, separate but together in the same frame. That song had an interesting inception. Can you describe how it came about and touch on the Kickstarter experience that funded the album project?
SEL: “The Gang’s All Here” was connected to one of the reward tier levels for the backers of my Kickstarter campaign. I said that I would write their names into a song that would go on the record, and I did. I tried to—for each person’s name, I tried to give some meaning that had to do with who they are. And for people I didn’t know—because some contributors I didn’t know—I asked. And I wanted the mood in it to be different from the mood in the other songs, because it wasn’t part of the writing process that I had gone through to write the other songs on the album. I wanted it to feel sort of like a cast party, I guess, you know?
ACL: It definitely has that feel. Brendan told me that you wrote the lyrics, or part of the lyrics—he actually has the notes that he took—
SEL: On the way to the studio in Hoboken.
ACL: And he was so impressed with your process, that you could do that on the fly on the way to the studio.
ACL: Writing lyrics. Throughout the album, there are things that made me, as a writer, think, “Wow! That’s a gracefully sophisticated turn of phrase!” or “That’s really finely crafted—Well done, Sarah!” For example, “steal Sol’s blazing glows…” or “good-bye kiss of lead…” or “holding our regrets upon remembering, holding out a hope of something more…” And the marriage of the lyrics with the music enhances the emotion and sense of the songs. In “The Gang’s All Here,” you have, “Grab yourself a cup of good cheer…”
SEL: “Here’s your easy chair, my dear.”
ACL: “Here’s your easy chair, my dear.” You use poetic devices so smoothly, so naturally, alliteration and assonance, chiming, cross-rhyming, blending the rhythm and the rhyme, and it just flows the song along, like burbling over some little stones in a brook—(I just want to note that you have a little burbling brook in your own back yard, here—)
SEL: (I do.)
ACL: And the song has got that bubbly sort of thing going on, an effervescent feel, and it’s so simple, yet it’s so effective at conveying an impression, visually and mood-wise. It is like being at the party!
SEL: Thank you. It’s intentional. I use different rhymes or non-rhymes to either pull people forward or make them feel like they’re staying where they are, depending on whether it’s a moment when I want to pull them forward or have them sit for a bit.
ACL: Do you have any poets in particular that you feel have maybe gotten their voices or their rhythms into your— psyche or your creative mental files?
SEL: Poets… You know, people who are really fluid and dense with imagery, like Whitman or maybe Tennyson… But honestly, I really wasn’t thinking of the lyrics as poetry, as much as I was thinking of them as little paintings or scenes. That’s kind of odd, because it’s sort of rhyming word art that I’m making, but I was thinking more in terms of visual art—visual art and the movements of time. I was thinking of impressionism, I was thinking of very early modern, and I was thinking of the twenties, and of the Belle Époque in France. I was thinking of times when there has been this cultural cohesion of a place and a time. Although, actually, I don’t know how much of that is after-the-fact, of people looking back and thinking, “Oh that was then and this is what it was like,” you know? But I wasn’t really thinking of poetry when I was writing these lyrics, I was thinking of pictures. I wasn’t thinking of the words standing alone.
ACL: I was thinking of tone poems, like “Prelude De L’Apres-midi D’un Faune,” which came from—
SEL: Yeah, yeah! Debussy was totally in my mind when I was doing this, too.
ACL: Debussy’s Prelude was inspired by a Mallarmé poem, “Apres-midi D’un Faune.”
SEL: Oh, I didn’t even know that. I listened to that a whole bunch, actually, this year.
ACL: There does seem to be some similarity between the way you interpret life through some of your songs and the French symbolists—not just the breaking free from strict forms, but the inwardness, the intimacy and how the words reflect moods and transient sensations. “Moments Musicaux.” If I had to choose one word, which is hard, to describe this whole album, I would call it… evocative. In the broadest, and best, and deepest sense.
SEL: Why, thank you!
ACL: You’re welcome! “If I Were a Song.” Let’s talk about that song a little bit. There were a couple of lines in it, where you sprung from image to image, but you did more than just that with your choice of words. Those opening lines—
SEL: “If I were a song I would float over layers of sweat and gin,
Of smoke glowing in curls of light, like night blooming jasmine…”
ACL: It sounds beautiful. Even if the words were nonsense syllables, they would still sound beautiful. But it’s also so laden not just with the visual imagery, but with meaning. The lyric begins with something that’s decadent and transforms it into something that’s beautiful and rare, almost sublime. I find it one of those transcendent passages in your songs—and there are several of them. “Snow in Jerusalem” has a number.
SEL: Thank you.
ACL: Do you have a philosophy or working premise about the transformative power of music, song, in particular, but music in general?
SEL: Yes. I don’t know that it’s a philosophy as much as an observation, that music is… sort of… what we are. You know? Like, you have all cells in your body and you’re made of cells, and the cells make up your organs and your bones, and your brain, but it’s not the same cells. You know, it’s different cells, no matter how long they last.
ACL: “You are the music while the music lasts.” T.S. Eliot.
SEL: Right. And so you’re a repeating pattern of different cells, right? You’re a pattern that’s propagating through space and time, like a sound wave. And so I think… that’s really symbolic (chuckles), I think music works so well as a place for people to just put their emotions. You can put your feelings into this song and they’re… not going to crush you, you know? You can put it in the song, and that’s where it can be and then, you know, it frees you to be able to sing the song and feel the feeling, but still be able to live your life and go on.
ACL: I think that’s absolutely true, and not just for the people who are blessed enough to be able to compose and perform music, but—
SEL: For hearing it, too.
ACL: I think about my mom. I have so many of her LPs. Music was her companion for the whole second half of her life. It seemed to me that it was really her only true defense against the loneliness that she felt.
SEL: It’s a wonderful defense against everything, music. And it IS a wonderful companion. It feels almost the same to be listening to a song that you love as, if you really get immersed in it, as it does to be sitting with a friend. It’s very restorative. It can cast everything in a different light, or in a different frame, you know? Like, you could be alone in your room, sitting there sadly, or you could be alone in your room dancing to James Brown! (feet dance a little, fingers snap) Two totally different moments.
ACL: Very true. In your room or in your car. Every time “The Sky Stays Blue” comes on in the car, which is where I’ve done most of my listening, I can’t keep my left foot still, it has to dance around a little! I love the vibrant feel, the Latin rhythms, and the visual palette—the colors in the lyrics are so vivid, so strong. One of your themes sort of popped for me in that song: Human conflict.
ACL: When you think of the rise and fall of the civilizations… you so elegantly, breezily delineated that.
SEL: (raises hand and opens it, lowers and closes it into fist a few times)
ACL: Right, expand, contract, in, out, like a lens zooming in for a closeup, then out for adistant perspective, then in again. In the verses you touch on the rise and fall of civilizations, which is often due to conflict, to war, as well as individual conflicts, one maybe a random crime, “cloaks concealing bright stilettos” maybe medieval political intrigue, the last verse an entangled love triangle. There’s conflict due to competition for resources and there’s conflict due to our need for love and connection, you know? But again, so easy-breezy, like a samba.
ACL: Rhumba. Anyway, it’s such a… saucy juxtaposition—the topic/the music.
SEL: (laughs) Saucy! Well, the sky stays blue.
ACL: And the sky stays blue.
SEL: The sky is still—I mean—obviously, practically, physically, on earth there are things we could have done that made the sky not blue, for a time….
SEL: But the universe is still there. The stars are still there. The planets are still there. What we do—we have fights, we have wars, we eat, we don’t eat, we love, we don’t love—the sky is still there, and it’s still blue.
ACL: I find that a very comforting ending, the chorus.
ACL: After giving us almost a film noir start in the first verse!
SEL: (laughs) I wrote that song from the title. And I wanted to have the title, you know, simple, sort of high concept, “the sky stays blue, no matter what we do.” And then I wanted to take that from sort of out here (spreads hands apart) and bring it down here (closes hands, lowers, and brings together) very personal, to people. I wanted to sort of amplify the meaning of it as I went along.
ACL: Very successfully done. Another thing about this song, it has a classic jazz feel to it. I think of the old “Blue Skies.”
SEL: Oh, yeah. That was definitely in my mind. Not the harmony of the song, but the title of the song.
ACL: Yes, it’s like tip of the hat, in the nicest possible way, to a source of inspiration.
ACL: “Snow in Jerusalem.” It stands out as distinctly different from the other songs. Your musical arrangement really enhanced the imagery in the lyrics:
“A single crystal hovers like a hummingbird,
Too buoyant to be real, you don’t believe your eyes,
And as you’re watching comes a second and a third,
And then they’re numberless, and softly filling up the skies…”
You’re describing the beginning of a snowstorm and as you sing, I see that first snowflake and then the others—the imagery just enveloped me. Very powerful. And I found it such a healing song—or a song that has the hope for healing.
SEL: Well, I just wrote a whole long piece about the song. I’m selling it to raise money for a camp called Seeds of Peace, where they bring children from conflict zones all over the world to learn how to talk to each other and be peaceful with each other, and solve problems with each other, instead of seeing each other as human enemies.
ACL: Does it have a leadership component to it?
SEL: It has a leadership component to it, it has… when they go back to their home countries they bring back skills to be able to be voices of peace in their own communities and they have offices in countries all over the world where children who have gone home can go for support to help them help, to help them help make peace where they are. But what I had written was… I didn’t want to just put the song out there without any introduction, because it made me very sad to listen to it, especially when the latest outpouring of fighting started again. I didn’t want the song to ambush anybody, in the middle of a record of jazz, and songs about other things, a night on the town, and oh, the Middle East falling to pieces and people are dying… And I wanted to give it some introduction, so I was writing about the process that led me to write the song at all, and it snowed, it snowed in Jerusalem last winter and I was looking at pictures of the snow in Jerusalem and it was like Blanket of Peace. It fell on everybody. It fell on Jewish people and Muslims and mommies and soldiers and vegetable sellers and investment bankers, it fell on everybody, you know? And I thought, well there’s a really obvious metaphor, you know?
ACL: You deal with the issue so gently. I just love the way the song closes, with, you know, all the mothers really praying for all the sons and only God can sort this out and, you know, I pray God—Yahweh—and Allah that He will—She—They will.
SEL: Everybody. Yeah, you know, that was my other thought, the snowstorm sort of obscured personal details about people and made everyone… just sort of humans and wouldn’t that be wonderful, if everyone could just have these details about themselves be obscured and let their human hearts shine through, so a mother could say, “Be careful!” and it could go with anybody’s son.”
ACL: Another thing, talking about “Snow in Jerusalem”… I’ve always had this sense in my own writing of people having personal geographies across the course of their lives. When your wrote “Amalfi”, I was very impressed with that personal-geographical quality. “Book a flight of fantasy… alight upon a sandy sanctuary…” That was one of the songs, I think, that caught the attention of the folks at the 2014 CT Music Awards, because it’s very distinctive, and again, so highly evocative, with the lyrical imagery and music. Hearing the waves, the strolling tempo, seeing the“limoncello afternoons,” that pale yellow summer sunlight, reflecting off the water, making everything look slightly ethereal, the dreamy melodic meandering somewhere on an Amalfi Coast beach, where “every day is a jewel, every moment a shining one…” And that started me thinking about the geography of your songs, going back to “Manhattan” which I think was—would you call that your first real successful jazz effort?
SEL: I think so.
ACL: And again, you painted these pictures, “The Brooklyn Bridge around your neck, your gleaming chrome and steel…” “A portrait painted in eight million pieces…” You have the whole big city, and then it all came down to the story of one girl.
SEL: (nods, smiles)
ACL: Which connects with the perspective of your song “I’m Just A Girl.” And here you are, this girl, and you’ve traveled from Manhattan to here. So, what was the impact of spending that time in New York on you?
SEL: Oh my gosh! It tremendously informed me as a person. I lived in New York, you know, off and on, for ten years I think? Something like that? I went to college at NYU and I stayed, pretty much straight through, with a few Connecticut breaks. Everything is there! You know? And it’s very much a city with a personality. It has a couple of personalities, actually. But when I lived there, it felt like I was in a relationship with the city. The city and I were, you know, intimate with each other. And it’s a wonderful—you know, if you’re going to walk around thinking of yourself as this star of your own movie, it’s a wonderful backdrop, to be the star of your own movie. Then you notice that there are eight-plus-million other people walking around starring in their own movies, too, and you go (nodding) “Oh! Oh, I see!”
ACL: Those are all extras.
SEL: But you realize that you’re an extra to them, and then sometimes you have these moments where you interact with people, and—you’re people!
ACL: Like the man who saved your life?
SEL: (nodding earnestly) Like the man who saved my life. That man in the rainbow scarf. My goodness! He’s a wonderful man. I thanked him in this album, too. I told you that story, right?
ACL: You did, but tell it again.
SEL: I was walking down University Place to go to class one morning, and I was not paying any attention, and it was before I had a cellphone, so I wasn’t, you know, on my phone, or anything, I just wasn’t paying attention. And I went to take a step into 14th street and someone grabbed me from behind around my neck (demonstrates headlock kind of grab with arm) and I was like “Ahh!” (sharp intake of breath) and then a bus went VWOOOZZSH! (slides hand passing right in front of her nose) And the guy said, “I bet you thought I was trying to kill you.” And I said, “Oh, thank you so much! Oh my God! Oh no!” (pauses reflectively) What a wonderful man in a rainbow scarf. I hope he’s having a wonderful life out there.
(A neighbor starts mowing his lawn.)
ACL: There’s one more thing I want to touch on and then I’ll see if we can do a little wind-up, because I don’t want you to lose your voice. So, what has been the biggest challenge to you, besides being a working mom with a nine year old and two year old twins, in making this album?
SEL: What’s the biggest challenge other than that?
SEL: Well, there are, you know, mundane challenges, like scheduling people to get in the studio, that’s mundane… The biggest personal challenge, I would say, is continuing to be able to emotionally inhabit material. When you perform it for a recording, you’ve been working on it like a bird house (makes tiny hammering motion with one hand holding imaginary tiny hammer) so consistently and you get very close to what you’re working on and then you start to listen and you’re, like, “Ahhhhhh, I can’t hear anything!” (waves and flaps hands near ears in confusion) This might as well be cotton candy. I don’t know what it means anymore. It’s all, you know, “too many notes, too many notes.” Like the Emperor critiquing Mozart in “Amadeus.”
SEL: So, being able to give a performance of something for posterity, that has all the emotion and the delivery and the nuance and the timing and the specifics, but is still full of feeling… is a bit tricky.
ACL: Well, I think that you’ve succeeded beautifully, and, um… Bravo, is all I can say. (applauds) Bravo!
ACL: I can get in touch with you for your personal background information, right?
ACL: Thank you, Sarah.
SEL: Thank you!
interview by Brad Holroyd //
1. What is it about fashion that fascinates you?
For me, fashion divides into so many different subcategories- from clothing I covet, to an art-form I get to think about through my work, to everyday things I throw on to wear to my stu-dio... and everything in between. What I love with my work is that I get to explore where fashion meets art, music, paper, scissors, or gets considered over a timeline or in sequences. It is how I can think about this time-old subject that re-interprets it, and puts in a new light. Fashion doesn’t exist on an island it sits and mixes with the most exciting elements of the arts, and in film I get to play with this.
2. What about the Dadaists’ work do you relate to?
I love their freedom of approach, to combine things for that are surprising, and just for the joy of the visual coincidence.
3. Does the environment in which you live in-fluence you in any way? i.e. - living in London vs. New York
I think you can’t help but absorb a bit of what it around you- my cycle ride to work is certain-ly different. It is such a buzz speeding over the Williamsburg Bridge everyday. You start and end on quite a high. But I think the main difference is the teams. The industry is much bigger in NY so you get the chance to work with amazing people.
4. Does your study of philosophy at Cambridge affect how you approach or inform your work in any way?
I would say that studying any academic subject can be useful preparation to going to art school and eventually becoming an artist- learning to think through other people’s ideas rather than spend too long emoting, and living inside one’s own imagination. There is a lot of self indul-gence at art school, in fashion and most of the arts. I think it is good if you can see your work for what it is, and not just from your own van-tage point. I think I get when the humour in my drawings is purile, or when my ideas won’t ap-peal to a certain client. I think studying philos-ophy maybe gives me the right amount of self-doubt. And, perhaps pushing myself to do three years of exams in philosophy was a good train-ing in commitment, when what I really craved doing was taking photographs and painting.
5. What was the catalyst to becoming the subject of some of your art and in what way is it different from focusing on an outside subject?
The only time I chose to be in my own piece was for the film Paint Test, all the stills are led by requests from magazines or brands. For Paint Test, it was a sort of experiment- I usually direct a girl, plan how what she does will relate to an-imation and editing, paint on top of stills of her a then sew everything back together. I wanted to make something that I didn’t have to story-board, explain to anyone at all, shoot without a team, and paint directly onto myself rather than images of myself.
6. How important is it for you to inject humor into your work?
It can be quite important depending on the client. Fashion takes itself way too seriously, when it can/should be a vehicle for entertainment.
7. What are the challenges (if any) of working with commercial clients/brands?
It is about learning to compromise- to allow half your ego to be put aside and not do what you really think is the best option, or edit to your project because of product-led concerns. I keep thinking about those Orange cinema ads, where they have the tag line “don’t let a mobile phone ruin your movie”, when a client asks for their boot to be the focal point of a film, or illustration.
8. Are there any of your films that are particu-lar favorites of yours? And why?
This year I really liked The Paper Boy, with Ni-cole Kidman and John Cusack. Maybe because I enjoyed how terrifying it was. In the last while Pan’s Labyrinth was one of my favorites- the surreal meeting the everyday has always been a theme I enjoy. So for the same reason The Lab-yrinth was a childhood film I watched again and again. I think all of the films share some sort of twisted escapism.
9. Anyone or any brand that you would love to work with that you haven’t yet?
On my hit-list- Stella McCartney, Prada, Beyonce (I know not a brand... or is she??)
10. Do you like to plan or storyboard things out or is your process more instinctual?
Sadly, I have no option but to storyboard. I hate nothing more than the storyboarding process, but it is a necessary evil. You need to be able to show people your ideas to be able to get a team to work with you to help make them happen. Luckily now, I can choose to have storyboarders do them for me if I am too busy to do them myself... but they never quite translate your own ideas as well as you can.