Thursday, November 11, 2010

CSI’s Anthony E. Zuiker – Dark Prophecy



In his first novel, Dark Origins, CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker brought us a serial killer so extreme that he was the world’s first to be deemed worthy of Level 26 status. The spree of diabolical crimes perpetrated by the latex-attired – and therefore forensic-proof – Sqweegle, was ultimately halted by Steve Dark, a Special Circumstances investigator with demons of his own.


On October 14, Steve Dark returns in the second Level 26 installment, Dark Prophecy. Having left Special Circs at the end of the previous book, when Dark’s destiny crosses paths with that of the Tarot Card Killer, he’s forced to operate under the auspices of a far greyer area of the law.


In the same way that the psychopaths Dark hunts are no ordinary killers, the Level 26 books are no ordinary thrillers. Dubbed “digi-novels” by Zuiker, the multi-platform murder mysteries combine traditional text with web-based movie and community elements. We caught up with Zuiker ahead of Dark Prophecy’s release to talk about the progression of Dark, and how, with the introduction of the iPad, the digi-novel has finally come of age.


Read our exclusive interview with CSI’s Anthony E. Zuiker on SuicideGirls.com.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O: Jackass 3D



The new Jackass feature film is spectacularly shitty - in an awesomely gross kind of way. And because it's shot in 3D, the excrement literally comes flying right at you, giving the MTV-rooted franchise the opportunity to connect with its audience in a whole new, and yet familiarly meaningless way.

I don't mean that disrespectfully - it's just that it's important not to overthink things when it comes to Jackass's intentionally lowbrow brand of entertainment. Creators Johnny Knoxville, Spike Jonze and Jeff Tremaine, and cast members Steve-O, Bam Margera, Chris Pontius and Dave England have been doing silly stunts for shits and giggles - and increasingly large amounts of cash - for a decade now, and the interplay between the beloved faces is as important as the feces and flying dildos. It's this timeless male bonding, which appears evident and genuine on screen, that's perhaps the key to Jackass's popularity, longevity and charm. As Steve-o succinctly puts it, "The chemistry definitely makes it work."

I spoke with professional pranksters Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O by phone this past weekend about the secrets of Jackass 3-D's undeniable allure.

Read my exclusive interview with Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O on SuicideGirls.com.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Janeane Garofalo: If You Will



"I do try like hell to not be ashamed. But, sometimes I am, I have to admit," says New Jersey-born comedienne, actress and activist, Janeane Garofalo. We've been talking for close to 45 minutes - mostly about TV, politics, the media, and the toxicity of contemporary pop culture. As I switch the tape recorder off and the conversation winds down, we briefly discuss what Garofalo herself turns to in order to unwind, which is the source of her current state of angst.


"Sometimes I fall dreadfully short, behavior-wise, activity-wise. Sometimes I'll watch bad television, sometimes I'll read crappy magazines and I'm ashamed, because I've done it," she admits. The New York resident, who recently released a new stand up DVD entitled If You Will, is currently living outside of her comfort zone in a Los Angeles hotel while filming the Criminal Minds spin-off Suspect Behavior (which also stars Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker).


Like crack down a pipe, The Young and the Restless is coming down the cable into her hotel room, and Garofalo is unable to resist her nightly SOAPnet fix. "I discovered it when I started staying here two months ago. And I have been falling asleep to it," she reveals when asked about her "guilty pleasures" (my words not hers).


Though a daytime drama might just be a pleasant - if unsubstantial - distraction for anyone else, for the earnestly politically correct Garofalo it's a matter of personal integrity. "If I'm going to be falling asleep, I should be reading," says the Air America alum, who doesn't want to be guilty of denigrating the work of fellow actors by using my "guilty pleasure" phrase, nor of indulging in the potentially socially toxic material we've previously been discussing.


"I do feel guilt and it is my pleasure," adds Garofalo, who it seems is constantly torn between her desire to fix society and her need to participate in it - flaws and all. Holding herself to impossible standards of moral perfection may be the source of undue anxiety, but Garofalo's awareness of her own - and our culture's - shortcomings brings sharp social commentary to her humor, and makes for an illuminating conversation - which, after a little small talk, soon turns to topics that carry more gravitas than glasses.


Read my exclusive interview with Janeane Garofalo on SuicideGirls.com.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tommy Lee - Methods of Mayhem



Tommy Lee gives good phone. He's the consummate professional when it comes to interviews. Don't be fooled by his easy going charm and natural flirtatiousness; Behind it lies a disarming intelligence and an instinct that knows exactly how to perpetuate and sell the rock & roll myth we all want - and need - to buy into.


It's not that he's is being insincere - far from it - it's well documented that the drummer-turned-multi instrumentalist walks the walk as well as talking the talk. However, all rock & roll shenanigans aside, when it counts, Lee seriously has his shit together - like on the designated press day for his new Methods of Mayhem album, A Public Disservice Announcement.


Fielding questions from an endless procession of rock critics and music writers can be a tedious task. It's therefore not uncommon for artists to flake entirely or give jaded responses. However Lee is diligently going through his record label supplied phone list, giving his all and - no doubt - successfully connecting to each of the journalists on it on some level.


It's this balance of work vs. play that has helped Lee stay on top of his game for over three decades - that and the fact that he is still genuinely excited to be making music and talking about it with those that love it too. Thus, though SuicideGirls are not the type to wait around for the phone to ring, we found ourselves doing just that one Friday afternoon...


Read my exclusive interview with Tommy Lee on SuicideGirls.com, and preview "All I Wanna Do" from A Public Disservice Announcement on the SG Blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chester Bennington: Linkin Park



“We're willing to put our balls on the line.”

- Chester Bennington


It's been over a decade since Linkin Park released their debut album, Hybrid Theory, which spawned the breakout, radio-friendly crossover hits "Crawling" and "In the End." The SoCal rock/rap band, whose vocal interplay between singer Chester Bennington and rapper Mike Shinoda became their sonic signature, have come a long way since then.


But though Linkin Park's subsequent full-length offerings, Meteora (2003) and Minutes to Midnight (2007), were solid performers, they failed to match the excitement of the band's initial release. Consequently, when we were invited to a special laser listening event a week ahead of the street date for Linkin Park's fourth studio album, A Thousand Suns, we weren't sure what to expect. However, the album - and its presentation - quite frankly, blew us away. And, judging by the reactions of those gathered at Hollywood's Music Box Theatre, we weren't the only ones who felt that way.


Though not strictly a concept album, in an age of single song MP3 downloads, A Thousand Suns is somewhat of a concept by default - being a collection of tracks that are specifically intended to be listened to old-school style, in order, in their entirety. Having toyed with the idea of not even breaking A Thousand Suns into separate song files, the band chose to premiere the album in front of a select group of fans and press at the aforementioned listening party by playing it from start to finish, with Pink Floyd-style laser visuals serving to focus minds and energy, and underscore the vintage Dark Side of the Moon-style album effect.


Less than a week later, Linkin Park similarly exceeded expectations when they performed the first single off the album, "The Catalyst," during MTV's 2010 Video Music Awards. The epic performance, which was broadcast from the iconic Griffith Park Observatory, surprised fans and non-fans alike.


I caught up with the Linkin Park's frontman, Chester Bennington, by phone to find out how the band busted out of their music box.


Read my exclusive interview with Linkin Park's Chester Bennington on SuicideGirls.com, and hit my photo gallery for more images from Linkin Park's Laser Listening Party at The Music Box.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Tank Girl, Genesis, and The Cool-Crap-Continuum

With her idiosyncratic style, DIY aesthetic, and kick-ass attitude, Tank Girl, who made her debut in Deadline in 1988, is without question a proto-SG. I was therefore jolly chuffed to receive a spiffy, glossy bound copy of her latest adventure, Skidmarks. Written by Tank Girl co-creator Alan Martin and drawn by the awesomely awesome* Rufus Dayglo, the gzillion thrills a minute plot is basically Wacky Races for an audience with a penchant for punk rock, smelly chicks (Tankie rolls with a pungent aroma), on-fire farts (see previous) and esoteric references.



Having grown up in a universe somewhat similar to Martin and Dayglo’s, these seemingly random and bizarre nods to popular culture perhaps make more sense to me than most. However I was particularly confused and disturbed by a reference to Genesis, the well-shite** British band that was once fronted by Phil “I-Dumped-My-Woman-By-Fax” Collins. If Tank Girl had been kicking their collective butts, or nuking the entire world supply of We Can’t Dance albums, I might have understood. However the band’s inclusion in a non-painful, non-violent, and non-deadly context seemed, quite frankly, the far side of wrong.

Then I turned another page, and, thanks to an essay Martin had helpfully included in Skidmarks, much about life, the universe, and Tank Girl suddenly became clear:

Read Alan Martin's Cool-Crap-Continuum manifesto at SuicideGirls.com.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gary Numan: The Pleasure Principle



The Pleasure Principle is an album that's provided its maker, Gary Numan, with both instant and delayed gratification. Three decades ago, when the now classic electro album first came out, it made a massive impact culturally and commercially. The Pleasure Principle, and the iconic single it spawned, “Cars”, hit the number one spot simultaneously on the album and singles charts in the UK in September, 1979. The following year, the records crashed the US Billboard charts, making the painfully shy young vocalist, composer and musician a household name here too.


Numan's Kraftwerk-inspired tracks, which channeled the voice of the machine, had a raw energy and DIY aesthetic that served as the bridge between '70s punk and the early dance and hip-hop scenes of the 1980s. Indeed the bare break beats from the opening segment of "Films" (the fourth track on The Pleasure Principle) became the sample of choice for a generation of producers, thanks in part to the song's inclusion on Street Beat's tastemaker compilation series Ultimate Breaks and Beats (which served as the primary DJ and studio sample resource pre-CD).


Ironically, as the spotlight faded on Numan, the sounds he created proliferated exponentially through the fabric of pop music culture. As a new generation of producers sampled samples, the origins of these staple breaks escaped many. However those in the know - such as Basement Jaxx, Armand Van Heldon, Afrika Bambaataa and Dr. Dre - openly covered, used, credited and paid homage to Numan's body of work.


In 2002, Numan once again toped the charts in the UK with an all-girl band called the Sugababes and a song called "Freak Like Me." The track was essentially a highly produced and super slick mash-up of the top line from Adina Howard's "Freak Like Me" and the riff and groove lifted directly from "Are Friends Electric," a song Numan recorded pre-Principle with his band Tubeway Army (which first hit the #1 single spot across the Atlantic in May, 1979).


More recently, Trent Reznor outed himself as a fan, inviting Numan to perform his songs with Nine Inch Nails during the band's 2009 shows in London and Los Angeles. The strong reaction Numan received following his guest spots at NIN's four final shows in LA in particular turned heads, and a coveted invite to play Coachella this year was forthcoming. Unfortunately, fallout from a volcano in Iceland, which grounded flights throughout Europe, meant that Numan, along with several other artists, was unavoidably a no-show at the festival. However fans won't be disappointed for long, since a dedicated tour honoring the 30th Anniversary of The Pleasure Principle will stop off in 15 US cities this fall.


I called Numan up at the East Sussex home he shares with his wife and three children to talk about the shows, his music - past and present - and the realities of life beyond The Pleasure Principle.


Read my exclusive interview with Gary Numan at SuicideGirls.com.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Lee "Scratch" Perry Image is Indie1031's Picture of the Week



My snap of Lee "Scratch" Perry is the Picture of the Week on Indie1031.com.


The photo was taken last Sunday (Aug 22nd) at Sunset Junction.


See photo gallery for more images from the event.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Richard Patrick: Filter



"I'm going to write songs about fucking blowing my head off and giving in to apathy," says Filter founder and frontman Richard Patrick during our interview. It's not that he's going to do either, it's just that he understands what anger combined with a sense of hopeless can do to a person's psyche.

In 2008 he released Anthems For The Damned, which served both as a protest against the Iraq war and a tribute to a friend it had claimed. (Anti-war, but very much pro-troops, Patrick has traveled to the region twice to play concerts for those who risk their lives to serve our country.) Two years on, though our president may have changed, the status quo (or lack thereof) remains the same in the Middle East. After too many years listening to grim reports from the frontlines of a war that was misguided from the start, both the troops on the ground and the masses here at home are suffering from a severe case of fuck up fatigue. With dissent now largely falling on deaf ears, and, even worse, serving to remind the proletariat of their powerlessness, Patrick gets why it's therapeutic to embrace indifference, shrug your shoulders and say "fuck it" to the world.

Thus, at least on the surface, the latest Filter release, The Trouble With Angels, channels the middle finger up attitude of Patrick's drug and alcohol dependant youth - and of his band's 1995 breakthrough debut, Short Bus. Featuring songs with titles such as "Down With Me," "Drug Boy" and "The Inevitable Relapse," the new Filter full-length – which is undoubtedly one of the band’s best – explores topics such as addiction, murder and suicide. Inspired by the music, but puzzled by the message, I checked in with Patrick to find out where his head was at.

Read my exclusive interview with Richard Patrick on SuicideGirls.com.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Met Loaf + Pearl Aday feat. Scott Ian (Anthrax)




Went with SG Radio co-host Sam Doumit to see my SuicideGirls pal Scott Ian play with his lovely wife, Pearl Aday, last week. Pearl, who released her debut solo album Little Immaculate White Fox in 2009, was supporting her dad – Meat Loaf – at the Gibson Amphitheatre. For more images from the night check my SuicideGirls photo gallery.

Monday, August 16, 2010

SuicideGirls: Ink n' Undies



SuicideGirls partied in their panties for a good cause on Saturday night (8/14). The event, a lingerie fashion show held at Hollywood's Ecco Ultra Lounge, benefited UnderShare, a non-profit dedicated to providing new undergarments and toiletries to LA shelters that assist the homeless, and women and children escaping domestic violence.


The event was hosted by Criminal Minds actress Paget Brewster, UnderShare founder Helen Huang, and SuicideGirls co-founder Missy Suicide and featured underwear by Seven 'til Midnight. For more images from the night go to SuicideGirls.com.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Steven Adler: My Appetite For Destruction



In 1988 when Guns N' Roses debut album, Appetite For Destruction, topped the Billboard 200 chart and the band's seminal single "Sweet Child O' Mine" did the same on Billboard's Hot 100, being a member of the hard rocking Los Angeles band should have been a dream come true. But for the band's drummer, Steven Adler, his fantasy reality was already turning into a nightmare. Guns N' Roses muse, "Mr. Brownstone," a.k.a. heroin had moved in, and by 1990 it had robbed Adler of his career, health and wealth.


But the seeds of Adler's destruction were sown long before Guns N' Roses was born. A quintessential problem child, Adler was thrown out of his home by his mom and step-dad when he was just 11-years old. Lack of proper parental supervision aided and abetted his underage activities at the clubs that gave him his music education. It also facilitated sexual abuse at age 14 - something Adler was unable to deal with or verbalize for the next three decades.


Having served his apprenticeship on the Sunset Strip, Adler and his childhood friend Slash hooked up with Axl Rose in 1985. Rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin and bassist Duff McKagan completed what is now considered the classic Guns N' Roses lineup. Under the stewardship of manager Vicki Hamilton, Guns N' Roses signed a marquee deal with Geffen Records, which was also home to the band's idols Aerosmith.


With the release of their first studio album, Guns N' Roses transcended the record sales of their heroes. Appetite For Destruction went on to become the best-selling debut album of all-time worldwide, selling over 28 million copies around the globe. The quintet followed up with G N' R Lies in 1988. It would be the last complete Guns N' Roses album Adler would perform on. He was conspicuous by his absence during Guns N' Roses' 1989 American Music Awards performance (for which Don Henley subbed). A disastrous appearance at Farm Aid the following year would prove to be Adler's last with the band. He recorded one final track, "Civil War," which was included on Guns N' Roses' fourth studio album, Use Your Illusion II (which was released as a companion their third, Use Your Illusion I in 1991).


Adler was fired by his Guns N' Roses' bandmates in 1990. With the absence of a reason to get up in the morning, his substance abuse spiraled. Adler's life was punctuated by a series of car crashes, accidental ODs, and suicide attempts. In 1996 one such incident led to a stay in hospital during which Adler slipped into a coma. He awoke to find one side of his face paralyzed due to a suspected stroke, which resulted in a permanent speech impediment. However, unfazed by his near-death experience, Adler continued on his path of destruction.


Adler credits Dr. Drew Pinsky with changing the direction of his life. He appeared on the second season of VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Though he's succumbed to several, perhaps inevitable, relapses - most notably while appearing on the Celebrity Rehab spin-off series Sober House - Adler nevertheless is proud of his progress.


In order to move forward, Adler has spent a lot of time coming to terms with his past, which he has chronicled in a new memoir entitled My Appetite For Destruction: Sex & Drugs & Guns N' Roses. In the book, Adler is upfront about the part he played in his own downfall, but also makes it clear when and how he thinks those around him may have given him an added push.


I called up Adler to find out more. Read my exclusive interview with Steven Adler on SuicideGirls.com


Nicole
XOX


Ps. Steven Adler will be an in-studio guest on SuicideGirls Radio on Sunday Sept 12th.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chris Mallick: Middle Men



You may not recognize his name, but as the man who figured out how to make online adult entertainment pay, Chris Mallick has had a profound effect on our world. "Third-party billing" is not exactly a sexy phrase, but the concept Mallick masterminded revolutionized the way the invisible masses achieved satisfaction, and gave e-commerce its kick-start.


A rarity in the world of pornography, Mallick didn't focus his attention on making or marketing sexual images, it was a few lines of computer code that excited him more. This revolutionary source code allowed users to pay for stuff – any kind of stuff – remotely via the World Wide Web. Naturally, like many technological breakthroughs, its potential was first exploited by the triple-x rated business community. Mallick’s company made its millions by taking a tiny cut of each credit card transaction he facilitated in an industry that would eventually generate fifty-seven billion dollars per year globally. Essentially Mallick and his fellow third-party billers were the ultimate middle men.


Having made “more money than anyone ever imagined,” Mallick got out of the business he’d helped invent while he was ahead and now works in Hollywood as a producer. Initially he’d hoped to turn his stranger than fiction experiences working in the backend of the adult entertainment industry into an HBO television series. After teaming up with screenwriter Andy Weiss (of Punk’d), the project morphed into what is now a major motion picture released by Paramount Pictures.


Luke Wilson plays Jack Harris, a character closely based on Mallick in Middle Men, an action packed, smartly written comic caper Mallick claims is eighty-percent based in truth. Given that on screen his story involves the Russian mafia, accidental murder, an affair with a 23-year old porn star, FBI agents, terrorists, and the bribery of an elected official, it’s intriguing to speculate exactly which twenty percent is purely fictional.


I called up Mallick and got some surprising answers from the internet pioneer. Read my exclusive interview with Chris Mallick on SuicideGirls.com.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Hypernova, The Troubadour, LA – 7/16



Took some snaps of Hypernova when they played WeHo's Troubabour recently (see photo gallery). The band have an amazing story (they're from Iran) and an awesome sound (New Order meets Franz Ferdinand).


Hypernova are currently on a nationwide tour with fellow Iranian band The Yellow Dogs (who appeared in an award-winning documentary about the underground rock music scene in Tehran called No One Know About Persian Cats). Both bands are in exile (it's illegal to perform Western style music in Iran) and based in New York now (Hypernova originally obtained work visa thanks to the personal intervention of New York Senator Charles Schumer). They're hoping the tour will open a window on a different, more positive aspect of Middle Eastern culture than we're used to seeing on TV, so be sure to check 'em out.


Visit Hypernova's Facebook for tour dates and their website for a free download of their new single, "Fairty Tales," off their debut album Through The Chaos.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview with Jonathan Davis of Korn



As the frontman for heavy duty California rock band Korn, Jonathan Davis has turned angst into an art form, and has sold an impressive 32 million albums worldwide since the group's inception in 1993. Having battled addiction and long-term depression, much of the inspiration for Davis’ lyrics has come from internal demons. But right now he’s making noise about an external issue that will likely affect us all in some way – the April 20th drilling explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.


Owned by Transocean but leased and operated by BP, the disaster at the rig appears to be caused, at least in part, by the oil giant’s concern for profits above safety. Channeling his anger at the company’s culpability into action, Davis is the instigator behind a boycott of BP’s products by a coalition of touring bands. Initially it consisted mostly of those on the traveling Mayhem Festival bill, which Korn are currently co-headlining, however the coalition’s ranks have rapidly swelled and now include artists such Lady Gaga, Anthrax, Backstreet Boys, Maroon 5 and Filter.


Though the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, the human and environmental issues it raises are far closer to home for Davis. He was born and raised in Bakersfield, a city within the borders of Kern County, CA, which has the dubious honor of being the largest oil producing county in the US. Though rich in oil, eighteen percent of Bakersfield’s population lives below the poverty line. The city also ranks as one of the least educated in the nation.


Music was a way out for Davis, but his ties to his hometown remain strong, as evidenced by the first single off Korn’s new album, Korn III: Remember Who You Are. The track is called “Oildale (Leave Me Alone)” and is named after a suburban town 3.5 miles northwest of downtown Bakersfield. Surrounded by oil wells, Davis calls Oildale “the most impoverished, fucked-up place I think I've ever been to.” Though this statement is anecdotal, if the video for “Oildale” which was shot there is anything to go by, it's clear the place could do with benefiting a little more from its oil wealth.


SuicideGirls caught up with Davis shortly after he came off stage after performing at the Mayhem Festival in Idaho. Talking the day after the new album’s release (Korn III: Remember Who You Are has since debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 sales chart), we spoke about life, music, organized religion, close encounters of the crop circle making kind, and his hope that his wrath for big petroleum will prove to be contagious.


Read my interview with Jonathan Davis of Korn at SuicideGirls.com.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Diamondsnake feat. Moby



In a world in serious need of some extreme silliness, Moby and his new happy metal project Diamondsnake have successfully filled a void. Phil Costello, of Bee Gees metal tribute band Tragedy, fronts the project, bringing dodgy hair, a carefully sculptured butt-crack, and an awesome attitude (ie. his love for anything that will give him some sweet lovin' back) to the plate.

More than a few of the SuicideGirls crew were in the house for the band's debut assault on Los Angeles at the Dragonfly on July 7th. I restrained myself from headbanging and stopped laughing for long enough to take these snaps.

More images from the night can be viewed in a sideshow at the link below:

http://suicidegirls.com/members/nicole_powers/albums/site/20222/

For more on Diamondsnake go to:

http://diamondsnakerocks.com/

Friday, June 18, 2010

Samantha Bee: I Know I Am, But What Are You?



"I have a knack for penises," isn't the kind of confession you'd expect from a memoir penned by Samantha Bee, The Daily Show's Most Senior Correspondent. But then I Know I Am, But What Are You? isn't the kind of book you'd expect her to write. Leaving politics and talk of Jon Stewart & Co. mostly to one side, the collection of humorous essays sheds light on Samantha's unconventional upbringing, which in turn sheds light on why her recipe for success includes a hearty helping of sexually explicit material - ergo her theory that "we need to bring more of a porn sensibility to our financial regulatory mechanisms" (see April 27, 2010 Sex-curities XXXchange Cumission report).


I spoke with the Canadian-born not-news show funnywoman (who is married to fellow Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones) about her Granny juice steeped childhood, her affairs with Jesus and her cat, her rebellious dislike of hot ham, and the repercussions of her exposure to penis-laden literature and videos at an exceedingly young age.


Read my interview with Samantha Bee at SuicideGirls.com.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tilda Swinton: I Am Love



I Am Love is a cinematic tour de force that explores the revolutionary power of love. The film is the result of a long-term collaboration between British actress Tilda Swinton (Orlando, Michael Clayton, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Italian writer and director Luca Guadagnino, who first worked with Swinton when she took the lead role in his 1999 feature-length debut, The Protagonists.


At the center of I Am Love, is Emma Recchi, played by Swinton. She's a trophy wife acquired by her Russian art-loving husband on a foray into the former socialist republic. By marriage, Emma is part of an Italian industrial dynasty that is born of fascism but embracing capitalism. But having served her primary purpose, giving birth to and raising those that will carry on the Recchi lineage, Emma is searching for a place in life beyond that at the end of a well-laid dinner table. At a point where she's at a crossroads in her own life, Antonio Biscaglia, an associate of her son's, crosses her path. As a chef, he's below stairs and below her status, but he proves to be irresistible to her, and their passion ignites a chain of events that rocks the stability of the Recchi patriarchy.


Though I Am Love is a work of fiction, there are distinct parallels to Swinton's own life. "You're always playing yourself," the actress told The Observer newspaper back in 2005 while promoting the film Thumbsucker. "It's all autobiography, whatever you're doing. It's using them as a kind of prism through which to throw something real about yourself."


With luminous pale skin, Celtic coloring and disconcertingly vivid green eyes, Tilda is clearly not born of Italian capitalist / nouveau aristocratic stock. However she comes from one of the oldest feudal baronial families in the United Kingdom, and can trace her bloodline back to the ninth century, so understands what it is to be a woman in a grand family. The mother of twins by Scottish writer John Byrne, who is twenty years her senior, since 2004 Swinton has been in a much-speculated about relationship with German-born painter Sandro Kopp, who is her junior by 18 years. Though this love triangle has echoes of that in her latest film, ultimately the outcomes are very different. The choice Byrne made to give Swinton his blessing in order to preserve their love and family life for the sake of themselves and their children is as progressive as her partner's alternate choice in the film is archaic.


I sat down with Swinton at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons to talk about her philosophies on filmmaking and love.


Read my interview with Tilda Swinton on SuicideGirls.com.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jake Shears: Scissor Sisters



When Scissor Sisters first burst forth with their debut self-titled filthy gorgeous album in 2004 their brand of hedonistic dance was too hot for mainstream America to handle (the CD was even pulled from Wal-Mart's shelves). It was a different story across the Atlantic in the U.K. however, where the band were welcomed with open arms - and notable record sales. There the release spawned a total of five Top 20 singles, and became the country's top-selling album that year (and the 9th biggest seller of the decade). The band's follow up full-length, Ta-Dah, released in 2006, also fared much better outside of the U.S. It went straight to the top of the U.K. album charts, and the first single, "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'"(a collaboration with Elton John), also hit the number one spot - and stayed there for four consecutive weeks.


The wide chasm in reception and record sales between the two continents - the Scissor Sisters' first two albums each sold in excess of 3 million units across Europe - can easily be explained when looked at in the context of cultural attitudes. The more liberal Europeans have been dancing continuously since the '70s and dance-based music is ingrained in the fabric of European life. In America however, seizing on the opportunity afforded by AIDS, the disproportionately influential Christian right whipped up a frenzy of anti-dance "disco sucks" hysteria, stopping the party in its tracks and creating a deep-seated prejudice against the genre as a whole that remains prevalent to this day in significant pockets of society.


However mainstream America has started to loosen up, shake its collective booty and dance again. The success of European-produced tracks from the likes of Madonna (who enlisted William Orbit for Ray of Light and Stuart Price for Confessions on a Dance Floor) and Britney Spears (who prominently featured Bloodshy & Avant's production talents on her past two albums) has brought the dance aesthetic back to the mainstream, and paved the way for 100% domestic-raised spawn of disco to return to the fore.


So as Scissor Sisters prepare to step back on the dance floor with their much-anticipated third album, Night Work, the mirrored ball is at least proverbially spinning above middle-American heads. Though this bodes well in many respects, it does pose a new set of dilemmas for the band. Previously, against a background of overbearing earnestness as practiced by a generation of shoe-gazing indie bands, their tongue-in-cheek flamboyance seemed refreshing. Now, their once unique style has become de rigueur in pop culture thanks to the Scissor Sisters-influenced and much-imitated House of Gaga. Hence, to stay ahead of the pack, they’ve been forced to switch things up visually and musically.


I caught up with Scissor Sisters' frontman, founder and driving force, Jake Shears, to talk about Night Work, what inspired it, where his party is headed, and what he'll be wearing to it.


Read my exclusive interview with Jake Shears at SuicideGirls.com.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chuck Palahniuk: Tell-All



Chuck Palahniuk needs little by way of introduction on SuicideGirls.com, the site's very name being an hommage to the author of Fight Club, Choke and Snuff. I caught up with him by phone to talk about his latest novel, Tell-All. It's a fictional gossip-laced memoir told in the voice of Hazie Coogan, the female assistant to "the glorious film actress" Miss Katherine Kenton who resides in Hollywood's very real past - a glamorous world populated by the likes of Lillian Hellman, Darryl Zanuck, David O. Selznick, Clark Gable and Bette Davis, who are all names Tell-All's characters love to drop.


During our conversation, Palahniuk spoke about society's need for the culture of celebrity, the nature of name-dropping, and the ultimate name to drop. Read my interview with Chuck Palahniuk at SuicideGirls.com.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Justin Halpern: Shit My Dad Says



Justin Halpern is an ordinary guy who curates an extraordinary Twitter page. In less than a year it's garnered over 1.3 million fans who follow Justin simply to keep track of the latest and greatest shit his dad says. Justin's talent lies in realizing the aforementioned shit was of a superior quality to that emitted from other dad's mouths. He also has a knack for conveying the underlying heart behind his father's seemingly harsh witticisms.


Raised on a farm in Kentucky, Justin's dad, Sam Halpern, is a man of few words - who knows how to make every syllable count. The exact opposite of passive-aggressive, Halpern, Sr. has never been backwards about coming forwards with his often-unsolicited opinions and words of advice. Growing up, this brutal honesty was difficult to deal with, but now Justin is reaping the rewards. His @ShitMyDadSays Twitter page has spawned a hilarious yet surprisingly touching book of longer vignettes -- brilliantly retold by Justin -- and a TV sitcom produced by Warner Brothers for CBS starring William Shatner, which was co-written by Halpern, Jr. in association with the team behind Will & Grace.


The @ShitMyDadSays phenomenon was precipitated by a very humbling experience for Justin. As the founder of the Holy Taco comedy site, a Maxim.com contributor and an aspiring screenwriter who was free to work wherever is laptop rested, he decided to move back from Los Angeles to his hometown of San Diego to share an apartment with his girlfriend who also happened to reside there. Things didn't go to plan however; Justin's love interest broke up with him the day they were supposed to start cohabiting. To add insult to injury, having already given up his LA apartment, at 28 Justin had little option but to move back in with his folks. Fortunately his story, or at least this chapter of it, has a happy ending.


I caught up with Justin, who now splits his time between Los Angeles and San Diego, to find out more about the upside of living in close proximity to your grumpy old dad (and the fun that can be had with irritable bowel syndrome).


Read my interview with Justin Halpern at SuicideGirls.com.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alex Gibney: Casino Jack and The United States of Money



They say the house always wins, but in the case of "Casino" Jack Abramoff it was the guy holding the keys to the front and back doors that made out like a bandit. Like thousands of other lobbyists (close to 14,000 individuals were registered as such in 2009 according to the Center for Responsive Politics) Abramoff peddled access to influence, which he bought with generous campaign "donations" and perks such as luxury "fact-finding" trips.


Abramoff wasn't too picky about who his clients were, had no problem representing more than one side, and, as a disciple of Ronald Reagan school of economics, had a innate disrespect for any rules and regulations that interfered with his ability to capitalize at the often excessive expense of his clients.


Having represented several Indian tribes with regards to their lucrative gaming rights, Abramoff (along with business partner Adam Kidan) utilized his gambling expertise and made a play to buy the SunCruz floating casino line. The deal hit headlines in 2005 when three men connected to the Gambino crime family were charged with the 2001 murder of SunCruz founder Konstantinos "Gus" Bouli, who had sold a majority interest in the company to Abramoff and his associates. By this time Abramoff was being investigated for bribery and corruption relating to his Indian gaming clients, who had collectively been charged an estimated $85 million in fees by Abramoff and cronies Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Grover Norquist and Michael Scanlon -- for the privilege of being played off against each other.


In truth, Abramoff's business practices probably had much in common with those of a large proportion of his contemporaries. His main crime in Washington's prevailing climate of corruption seemingly being that he got too cocky not to get caught. Ultimately Abramoff and an elite group of conspirators including Ohio's Republican Rep. Bob Ney, his former Chief of Staff, Neil Volz, and Michael Scanlon, who had served as Communications Director for disgraced Texan Rep. Tom DeLay (and had assisted Abramoff in the SunCruz purchase), paid -- albeit relatively lightly -- for their crimes, and Washington was able to breathe a collective sigh of relief that it had been seen to do something with actions that had minimal long-term impact on the status quo.


However, it's this status quo, the lobbying system and how its symbiotic with the way we finance the election of our leaders, that we should really take issue with since it has done more to pervert the course of democracy than any one individual. In 2009 a record $3.48 billion was spent on lobbying. And since a politician's primary objective once they get in power, by necessity, is to find the money to get reelected, it's easy to understand why our representatives in government are forced to serve the needs of those with fat checkbooks above those of the people.


With an eye on this bigger picture, Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney (whose previous credits include Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room and Taxi to the Dark Side) takes an in-depth look at the stranger-then-fiction Abramoff affair in his new film Casino Jack and The United States of Money. I caught up with Gibney to talk about the wholesale selling of America he investigated, and how, with a dearth of untarnished white knights, our future champions might just take the form of the likes of Eliot Spitzer (who's the subject of Gibney's next, as yet untitled, project).


Read my interview with Alex Gibney on SuicideGirls.com.

Monday, April 12, 2010

John Lydon: Public Image Limited



John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) says he doesn't like tattoos, but try not to hold that against him. If I'd been calling in on behalf of a golf magazine, he'd probably tell me how much he's offended by the sport. Not because he's disagreeable -- he really isn't -- but because first and foremost, above all else, the OG punk rocker is a provocateur and contrarian.


The Sex Pistols frontman is back on the scene after reviving his post-punk avant-garde music project Public Image Limited (a.k.a. PiL). The band, which was formed in 1978 in the wake of The Pistols dramatic demise, featured a revolving cast of players (including SG's Martin Atkins), with Lydon being the driving force and only constant.


Returning to the stage after a 17-year hiatus, PiL played a series of critically acclaimed shows in the UK in the latter part of 2009. With the music industry in a state of flux, and with very little cash flowing to support any artistic endeavors, Lydon financed the reunion in a true-to-form, eyebrow-raising fashion. The singer who had once called for "Anarchy in the UK" become a spectacularly unlikely spokesman for a brand of British butter called Country Life, appearing in a humorous commercial which sent sales of the saturated fat soaring.


Lydon, who lives in California, is now set to bring the organized chaos that is PiL stateside. The band will be playing Club Nokia in Downtown LA on April 13 prior to a highly anticipated opening-night performance at Coachella and a series of dates across the US.


I called Lydon up at his Los Angeles beachside home to talk a little bollocks about life, butter, music, politics, PiL, the psychology of punk - and his apparent dislike of body ink.


Read my exclusive interview with John Lydon at SuicideGirls.com.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Benjamin and Peter Bratt: La MISSION



The companion to hope, "change" is perhaps the most over-used and under-executed words in the common vernacular today. With their movie, La MISSION, actor Benjamin Bratt (who is best known for playing Detective Rey Curtis in the NBC drama Law & Order) and his writer/director brother Peter (who previously collaborated with his famous sibling on the 1996 film Follow Me Home) explore the motivations that might transform change from an abstract concept into tangible social movement in the forward direction on an individual level.


Human beings, by their very nature, resist change. This innate intransigence is often only overcome when the consequences of maintaining the status quo are significantly more painful than personal growth and transformation. In La MISSION, the central character finds himself at such a crossroads.


Che is a tough walking and talking Latino man who has secured the position he enjoys within his local community thanks to his testosterone-charged social skills, which are prized among his peers. However, Che is himself a victim of cultural stereotypes which dictate what a man should be, and unless he can reconcile his outdated ideas of masculinity and overcome the homophobia that to this day is a very real part of his culture, he risks losing the one thing that is most important to him - his son, Jes, whom he finds out is homosexual in the film's opening act.


The story was inspired by two characters in the Bratt brothers' life: Che is based on an older schoolmate and natural born leader whom Benjamin and Peter looked up to as kids (though the real-life Che has two sons, neither of which are gay), while Jes' journey echoes that of a family member who experienced a similar struggle for acceptance when his father discovered he was gay. But the family roots in La MISSION go even deeper. The film is set in the San Francisco neighborhood in which the brothers were raised, and its underlying message of hope and transformation is a testament to the convictions of Peter and Benjamin's activist mother, Elda Bratt, who participated in the Native American occupation of Alcatraz in 1969 (with her two young children in tow).


Though the subject matter of La MISSION may seem a little earnest for some, the underlying issues are handled in a sophisticated and subtle manner, which belies the power of the film. Politics take a backseat, as the viewer is immersed in the colorful lowriding culture Che reveres, and the very personal issues which father and son are fighting to overcome. Heartfelt and touching, La MISSION is all that independent filmmaking should be.


I spoke with Peter and Benjamin to find out more about La MISSION, and their wider calling to inspire and enact change through the ancient art of storytelling and their shared passion for film.


Read the full interview with Benjamin and Peter Bratt at SuicideGirls.com.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

International Pillow Fight Day in DTLA



My SG buddy Heathervescent helped instigate the feathered anarchy that was the International Pillow Fight Day celebrations in DTLA.


For more images of the fluffy fun hit my International Pillow Fight Day photo album.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sia Furler: We Are Born



For her forthcoming release, We Are Born, the darling of downtempo, Sia Furler, hits a distinctly upbeat groove. Indeed, the six tracks we've heard so far are decidedly funky. Just don't, whatever you do, use the F-word in the singer/songwriter's presence - it's very likely to irk her.


Having come to the attention of the KCRW-listening, latte-sipping music intelligentsia thanks to her turns with English post-trip-hop outfit Zero 7, for a while Sia was inadvertently defined by what was initially intended as a very limited, no-strings-attached guest spot with the lush lounge combo. Thanks to the success of Zero 7's debut album Simple Things (2001), and their follow up release, When It Falls (2004), and the numerous international tours that followed, Sia's personal brand became synonymous with the downtempo pigeonhole Zero 7 prominently occupied.


Seeking to capitalize on Sia's credentials in the 90 bpm & under department, record label execs understandably pressurized her to continue in a similar vein with her solo work, despite a personal preference for something a little less languid. It was therefore no surprise when Sia's evocative track "Breathe Me," became her first breakout solo song, thanks to its prominent use at the end of the final episode of Six Feet Under. Indeed the inspired TV license earned Colour The Small One, the album on which the song was originally featured, a long overdue release in the US in 2006 (the CD was released in the UK 2 years earlier). And while her next solo album, Some People Have Real Problems, helped bridge the gap between the music Sia was expected to make and the music she wanted to make, it's her latest offering, We Are Born, that has finally allowed the Australian born (but currently New York based) artist to come into her own.


I caught up with Sia by phone to find out how she got her groove back, and to get the 411 on her aversion to the F-word.


Read my exclusive interview with Sia Furler at SuicideGirls.com.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Floria Sigismondi: The Runaways



Floria Sigismondi is the director of one of the most anticipated rock biopics in recent memory: The Runaways, which stars Kristen Stewart (as vocalist/guitarist Joan Jett) and Dakota Fanning (as frontwoman Cherie Currie). Known for her trademark hyper-surreal style (as seen in the music videos she’s directed for Marilyn Manson, Fiona Apple, David Bowie, Christina Aguilera, and The White Stripes), the challenge for Floria with The Runaways was to create an authentic representation of the trailblazing all-girl band and the era they exploded (and imploded) in. Though a seasoned photographer and video director, this is the first time Floria has helmed a feature film project. It’s also the first time she’s worked as a writer, having taken on the formidable task of transforming Cherie’s excellent biography, Neon Angel, a definitive account of the life (and death) of the band into a screenplay.


During a press day held at a Los Angeles hotel, I sat down with Floria to find out how she set about capturing the essence of The Runaways on film.


Read my interview with Floria Sigismondi on SuicideGirls.com.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cherie Currie: The Runaways



You can't always control the situations you find yourself in, but you can control how you react to them. This is a lesson that Runaways frontwoman, singer and rock & roll icon Cherie Currie learned the hard way.


After a chance meeting with vocalist/guitarist Joan Jett and demented pop n' rock Svengali Kim Fowley (a producer whose credits at the time included the novelty hit "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa"), Currie found herself at the eye of the storm that was The Runaways at age fifteen. The year was 1975, and the male-dominated industry was keen to dismiss the fledgling Los Angeles-based all-girl quintet (which, during Currie's tenure with the group, featured Lita Ford on lead guitar, Jackie Fox on bass, and the late Sandy West on drums).


Under the guidance (or, it could be argued, misguidance) of Fowley, who was a formidable taskmaster, the girls relentlessly rehearsed until they were a beyond tight unit and a force to be reckoned with. Creatively and musically, Fowley's berating and bullying - his primary motivational tactics - paid off. Over the course of the next two very hectic years The Runaways would leave an indelible mark on the music industry, smashing the misconceptions of those who ever doubted that women could rock.


Though Jett thrived on the challenges laid down by Fowley, his abrasive divide and conquer management style took an emotional toll on the more vulnerable Currie, who had never sung before and was the product of a recently very broken home. Ultimately the band was torn apart by the festering resentment fostered by Fowley; the tragedy of The Runaways' considerable legacy being that they stopped far short of their true potential.


Post-Runaways Currie's career was like a leaf blowing in the wind, succumbing to forces beyond her influence. Fowley shaped her first unfulfilling solo album, and pressure exacted by her father turned the second into an ill-fated family affair, with Currie's unseasoned twin sister Marie sharing vocal duties - and creative input.


While recording this second album, Currie also bagged her first acting role, starring opposite Jodie Foster in a film called Foxes. Though not a huge commercial success, Foxes, Foster - and Currie - received very favorable reviews. However accomplishment in this one area was not enough to save Currie from herself. Mourning the loss of her rock & roll dreams, Currie, who had been a casual cocaine user, sought solace in drink and highs from freebase.


Her addiction killed her career and threatened to do the same to her being. After hitting rock bottom, Currie fought to get her life back on track. Having learned how to make healthier choices on her road to recovery, Currie turned addiction on its head and became a drug counselor. Continuing the healing process, she subsequently wrote a book about her experiences with The Runaways, and her journey to the edge and back. Published in 1989, Neon Angel was considered to be an instant classic in the rock biography genre.


Over two decades later, the book serves as the backbone to the highly anticipated biopic about The Runaways, which stars Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie. However the film is far from the final word on Currie's story. The original version of Neon Angel was published by a family-orientated company looking for a vehicle to launch a new young adult literary division. Though well received, the nature of the teen orientated book meant Currie had to skip several key chapters in her own story. As a companion to The Runaways film Currie is therefore releasing a more definitive, completely revised and re-written version of Neon Angel. In it, among other things, she talks for the first time about a childhood rape and a harrowing knifepoint kidnap ordeal that happened several years later.


Currie has taken on many roles during her dramatic and varied life - trailblazing woman of rock, actress, drug addict, drug counselor, author, chainsaw artist, wife and mother - but perhaps the most important of all is that of survivor. I caught up with Currie at a recent film junket for a one-on-one chat about The Runaways, redemption, and forgiveness.


Read the exclusive interview with Cherie Currie at SuicideGirls.com.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SuicideGirls Must Die Premiere



SuicideGirls premiered their groundbreaking reality horror movie last night at the Downtown Independent, in DTLA. Those who came out to witness the sexy fun/terror of Suicide Girls Must Die included members of the cast and crew, alongside We Live In Public director Ondi Timoner and Jeremy “Wizard of Gore” Kasten.


Suicide Girls Must Die is unabashedly documentary in its lowest (and funnest) form. When SuicideGirls co-founder Missy and photographer / filmmaker Sawa invited 12 of their favorite Suicide Girls to a remote cabin in Maine to shoot a calendar video, none of the girls had any idea they were going to be a part of SuicideGirl’s first feature length horror movie.


When models Bailey Suicide and Evan Suicide go missing, the idyllic working vacation quickly degenerates into a chaotic nightmare for the calendar girls. As more girls vanish, those who remain wonder who’ll be the next to disappear – and if their calendar shots will come out OK.


Suicide Girls Must Die is the ultimate feel-good horror movie. After this, all other horror movies will seem way too overdressed!


SuicideGirls Top 10 Life lessons from Suicide Girls Must Die


1. Best misunderestimation:
“Nothing can go wrong.”


2. Most debatable statement:
“Humans are a bit more important than a calendar.”


3. Best health advice:
“An apple [bong] a day keeps the doctor away.”


4. Best model advice:
“Make the blow job face – you know what I’m talking about.”


5. Best fashion/face furniture advice on what not to wear when you accidentally find yourself in the middle of a real-life horror movie:
“It’s always the cute girl with glasses that gets axe-murdered.”


6. Most positive job performance assessment under adverse circumstances:
“All I have to do is make sure the models are happy. They’re all happy, they’re just lost.”


7. Best offer you’ve had all day:
“Let’s have some champagne, get drunk, and I’ll make out with you in the Jacuzzi later.”


8. Ultimate self-preservation evaluation:
“I’m not missing. I don’t give a shit.”


9. Best rallying advice after 80% of your friends have gone missing:
“Do you wanna sit and mope all night?”


10. Famous last words:
“I’m not going to fucking die.”


No Suicide Girls were harmed in the making of this movie.


Check out the HD trailer at SuicideGirls.com/MustDie/.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Massive Attack: Heligoland



'You're only paranoid if they're not out to get you,' is an adage that's self-evidently true. With that as a given, Massive Attack mainstay 3D (a.k.a. Robert Del Naja) has every right to feel more than a little suspicious and mistrustful, especially when it comes to matters of internet privacy, security and surveillance.


After the FBI passed on a list of 7,300 UK credit card numbers associated with various porn sites (some legal and some of an illicit nature) to UK authorities, 3D was swept up in the excessively wide net of an indiscriminate police sting in 2003. Though allegations of any wrongdoing were unfounded, the repercussions were severe for the outspoken graffiti artist, vocalist and music producer. His home was raided, and all his computers and hard drives were confiscated for several months. To compound the situation, despite the fact that no charges directly relating to the police operation were ever filed, the furor that surrounded the investigation and baseless accusations (which were leaked and sensationally reported by a tabloid newspaper) meant that touring plans to promote Massive Attack's fourth studio album 100th Window had to be put on hold. The situation was all the more ironic considering the title of that album referred to a book that exposed the flaws in computer security and the rampant misuse of information in the internet age.


That unfortunate episode however was not the only incident that might have put 3D on the various "person of interest" lists around the world. He has been extremely open and vocal about his disapproval of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, going as far as designing and funding a series of anti-war ads which were published in the NME (with cohort Damon Albarn). Furthermore, having made several forays to the Middle East with the band, 3D has frequently voiced his concern for the plight of the Palestinian people, and in 2007 put the issue at the top of Massive Attack's political agenda with a series of sold out benefit concerts for the Hoping Foundation (an organization which aids children of the troubled state).


These distractions coupled with increasing demand from filmmakers for scores and soundtracks, meant that a new full-length Massive Attack release took a little longer than expected to manifest. However the wait - and the adversity - has paid off. Original band member Daddy G (a.k.a. Grant Marshall), who'd been absent from the project for several years, came back into the fold, and the resulting fifth studio album, Heligoland (released last month), debuted at #46 on the Billboard Top 200, giving Massive Attack their highest US chart position to date.


I caught up with 3D while he was in LA on a brief promotional trip ahead of Massive Attack's first North American tour in 4 years. During our phone conversation, he spoke about the new CD (which features contributions from Damon Albarn, Hope Sandoval, Martina Topley-Bird, and longtime Massive Attack collaborator Horace Andy, among others), and shared his thoughts on the increasingly pointless posturing of British and American party politics, the inherent dangers of our heavily surveilled states, and the futility of exporting such a culture to the Middle East.


Read the full interview with Massive Attack's 3D on SuicideGirls.com.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Manifesting Equality



Was Manifesting Equality on Saturday night.


Hope it works!


Can't believe anyone can be pro-Prop H8te in 2010.


That kind of philosophy is so last century, never mind last decade.


It's about time primitive minds evolved.


Thanks to Jon Stern for the images.

Down The Rabbit Hole With Camille Rose Garcia And Robin Williams



I caught up with artist Camille Rose Garcia at the opening of Down The Rabbit Hole, an exhibition of the original art from her latest project, a reimagining of the illustrations that accompany the text of Lewis Carroll's classic children's book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.


Though the March Hare, the Mad Hatter and the Dormouse were unable to attend the party at the Merry Karnowsky Gallery in Los Angeles on Saturday night in person, Hollywood funnyman Robin Williams did make a somewhat unexpected appearance.


Earlier, I'd spoken with Garcia for an in-depth interview which can be found at SuicideGirls.com. After talking about the visual vocabulary and inspirations behind her Alice illustrations, our conversation turned to a core SuicideGirls topic: body art.


Here is a previously unpublished outtake from this interview in which Garcia talks about her own tattoos and her art as it appears on other people's body parts.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ondi Timoner: We Live In Public



At a time when, however deliberately or consciously, we live our lives in public online, access to our privacy is the new currency of value. Just because you can keep track of your friends via Facebook, post and tag photos on MySpace, and spew out your every waking thought on Twitter - all easily and for free - it's easy to assume it's a good thing. Josh Harris is a man who made a similar assumption.


Described as "the greatest Internet pioneer you've never heard of," Harris carved a high profile career out of being an instinctive World Wide Web visionary. Before the web was very worldly or wide, he founded Jupiter Research, a company which sold technology trend and impact information to corporations that barely understood what a website was. Harris then rolled the dot.com fortune he made there into Pseudo.com, a New York based Internet TV station that went live when most of America was still on dial up.


Serving as both business manager and creative director at Pseudo, which webcast multiple channels of original content, Harris reinvented himself in the frame of a digital performance artist during his tenure at the too-far-ahead of its time company. As the millennium loomed, Harris was forced out of Pseudo, and he subsequently invested a large amount of his considerable fortune ($80 million at its peak) in a series of two very controversial digital media social experiments.


The first was called Quiet, though it was anything but. For the project which was intended to mark the turn of the millennium, Harris built an ambitious - and expensive - fully wired environment, which housed 100 guests / experiment subjects 24/7 for a period of 30 days. The claustrophobic underground bunker featured pod bunks for sleeping, communal toilet and bathing facilities, a dining area, and a poorly insulated gun range where residents could blow off steam. There was also an onsite interrogation room.


Potential residents had to sell their pixilated souls in order to gain entry to Quiet. There was an intense intake program that involved an intrusive questionnaire, those that passed this initial test had to agree to subject themselves to random interrogations, among other dehumanizing things. All activity in the bunker was caught on camera and microphone, and relayed for the entertainment of Quiet's residents to their in-Pod TVs. Privacy was non-existent, and individuals were reduced to being "channels" for the entertainment of others - suffice to say the sate-or-the art society Harris had created was far from utopian.


For his next experiment / performance art piece Josh took things a step further, and took on the roles of both puppet and puppet master. He installed 30 motion-controlled surveillance cameras and 66 high sensitivity microphones in a New York loft, and moved in with his new girlfriend, Tanya Corrin (who had previously worked with Harris as a presenter at Pseudo). The pair were the first couple to broadcast their everyday home lives live on the Internet, and viewers could post their comments in real time via the project's associated chat rooms. The stunt garnered much mainstream attention, and fed Harris' growing need for 15 minutes of fame - per day. But as life in public unfolded, and not in the way either of them had planned, Harris and Corrin realized a little too late that perhaps the most valuable thing online might be privacy. It's a lesson we all may want to take note of.


To this end, renowned film director Ondi Timoner set about assembling and editing footage she'd shot of Harris over a 10-year period. The resulting film, We Live In Public, which Timoner describes as "a cautionary tale," is both thought provoking and shocking, having a profound effect on all who open themselves up to it. The documentary won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2009, making Timoner, whose previous film Dig! was also a winner at the festival (in 2004), the only director ever to be given the honor twice.


I caught up with Timoner ahead of We Live In Public's March 1st DVD and VOD release.


Read my interview with Ondi Timoner at SuicideGirls.com to get an exclusive retrospective tour of the Quiet bunker, and an insight into the mind of its maniacal master.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Anders Østergaard: Burma VJ



At the time much of the footage for the Oscar-nominated documentary Burma VJ was being shot, its director, Anders Østergaard, wasn’t even in the same hemisphere. Wanting to open a window on the closed country of Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar), the Danish-based filmmaker struck up a groundbreaking remote collaboration with a network of underground citizen reporters, who risked torture, imprisonment and death as they shot then smuggled footage beyond the military dictatorship’s closely guarded borders.


The documentary was originally intended to be a half hour short, profiling a 27-year old video journalist (or VJ) known as Joshua who worked behind Burma’s barbed-wire veil of silence and against the strict media embargo enforced by its military government (which came to power after a coup in 1962). Using a pseudonym to protect his identity, Joshua coordinated illicit on-the-ground coverage for the Democratic Voice of Burma, a non-profit news organization based in Norway. However, when Burma’s ruling junta abruptly ceased subsidies on fuel, which caused the price to skyrocket, destabilizing an economy that was already among the world’s poorest, Joshua and Østergaard’s project took on a far greater significance.


Thousands of the country’s Buddhist monks took to the streets in the latter part of 2007, leading what developed into widespread protests against the intransigent regime. Armed with their wits and hand held video cameras, Joshua and his crew of VJs documented the saffron uprising and the Burmese government’s brutal retaliation to it from the front lines. It was the first time in a generation that the people had dared challenge their leaders, but this was very different to the last uprising in 1988. Footage captured by Joshua and his team was beamed around the world. Vivid images of soldiers viciously beating monks in the street in broad daylight were broadcast via all the major new networks, putting Burma – albeit briefly – at the top of the United Nation’s political agenda. With no room for deniability, Burma’s military leaders were shamed into making concessions. And then the world’s attention moved on.


Fast-forward to 2010, with promises broken and hard fought concessions reneged on, it might be easy for Joshua and his fellow Burmese citizens to feel despondent. However, with Burma VJ, a documentary that combines original footage with dramatic recreations, Joshua and Østergaard hope to raise awareness for the ongoing plight of the Burmese people. At the start of this month their cause was given a massive boost with an Academy Award nomination for their film in the category for Best Documentary feature.


I caught up with Østergaard, a Danish filmmaker who was previously best known for Tintin and Me (a 2003 documentary about comics writer and artist Hergé). Over coffee we talked about Burma VJ's dramatic journey from the impoverished streets of Burma to Hollywood’s glittering Kodak Theater, and what the film’s Oscar nomination means for a new generation of citizen journalists and for those fighting oppression around the globe.


Read my exclusive interview with Anders Østergaard at SuicideGirls.com.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Friday, February 12, 2010

Camille Rose Garcia: Alice's Adventures In Wonderland



Growing up in the shadow of Disneyland, artist and illustrator Camille Rose Garcia spent a lot of time contemplating the reality of fantasy and the fantasies that make reality palatable.


Just as the white paint flaked and the wood decayed in the once-perfect picket-fenced suburbs that surround Disney's Orange County Fantasyland, on canvas and in print, Garcia's brightly colored fairytale tableaus are juxtaposed with darker elements, as real world forces impinge on her perfect dream worlds.


Much of Garcia's work explores the lie of the American Dream, the loss of it, and how the masses are self-medicating to deal with the aftermath. Though these themes are adult in nature, the on-the-surface beauty of Garcia's art appeals to a younger audience on a more basic level. So when Harper Collins decided to revisit Alice's Adventures in Wonderland amid renewed interest in Lewis Carroll's curious tale (which was first published in 1865), Garcia was a natural choice to re-imagine the visual element of the book.


I spoke with Garcia to find out what she saw when she followed Alice and a certain well-dressed (and very late) White Rabbit down Carroll's most unusual rabbit-hole.


Read my exclusive interview with Camille Rose Garcia at SuicideGirls.com.

Friday, February 5, 2010

David Belle: District 13: Ultimatum



Some people choose the easiest path through life; David Belle prefers to take the most interesting. As the world's premier exponent of parkour, a physical discipline of movement that's as much a philosophy as it is a sport, Belle has carved a career out of taking the unconventional route.


The freeform method of getting around is based on techniques developed at the turn of the last century by a French navel officer called Georges Hébert. Belle's father picked up the baton laid down by Hébert, building upon his techniques while serving in the French military. The passion for the physical discipline-cum-artform was then passed down from father to son. The latter helped brand l'art du déplacement (or art of movement) with its popular name, bringing "parkour" to the awareness of the mainstream through gravity defying appearances on TV and film. Thrusting parkour further into the popular psyche, Belle's stunts have also been showcased on TV commercials for companies such as Nike, Vittel and the BBC that have since gone viral throughout the net.


In 2004 Belle starred in District 13, a French language action movie co-written and co-produced by Luc Besson (who was responsible for the 1997 sci-fi classic The Fifth Element). District 13 was set in the near future in a fictionalized dystopian suburb of Paris, and was the first major film to feature parkour-inspired action sequences. Belle reprised his role as the gang-busting Leïto in a sequel, District 13: Ultimatum, which was released in Europe last year. Featuring spectacular rooftop chase sequences that should thrill action fans, the film is finally getting a North American theatrical release on Friday, February 5.


I called Belle up at his home in Corbeil-Essonnes, in the southern suburbs of Paris to find out more. With the help of a translator, we spoke about the new movie, the stunts it features, the origins of parkour and where it's taking him now.


Read my exclusive interview with David Belle at SuicideGirls.com.

Friday, January 22, 2010

SuicideGirls Wins LA Weekly's Sexiest Site Award



SuicideGirls were among the winners of the LA Weekly's 2009 Web Awards. The groundbreaking pinup and social media company was honored for being LA's Sexiest Site.


Co-founder Missy and model coordinator Radeo braved the chubby rain to pick up SG's plaque at a soiree held at Bardot on Thursday night. Other winners in SuicideGirls's extended family included SG columnist Wil Wheaton, who won Best Personal Blog, and SG photographer Zoetica and SG designer Courtney Riot, who picked up Coilhouse's prize for LA's Best Designed Site Aesthetic.


Hit my photo gallery for more images from the night.


Thanks to the LA Weekly's Erin Broadley for organizing and hosting the event -- and for making sure the open bar was open as soon as we arrived.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Pearl of Wisdom



Hit the House of Blues in West Hollywood last night to watch Pearl and her hubby, Anthrax's Scott Ian, raise the roof. The pair were celebrating the release of Pearl's awesome new album, Little Immaculate White Fox, which comes out today.


Those that like to rock should do themselves a favor and buy it from iTunes immediately. And while you're at it, I'd also recommend that you set your TiVos to record Jimmy Kimmel tomorrow night (Jan 20th), since Pearl will be the show's musical guest.


Check my photo gallery for more shots of last night's show, which also featured L.A. metal pranksters Steel Panther and Seattle's Witchburn.