By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
“Let’s look at the furniture,” my boyfriend says, steering us toward a holding area for filing cabinets and desks and what must be a thousand office chairs stacked 20 feet high, and the ratcheting voice of the auctioneer.
“Nnnn, twentytwentytwenty, doIheartwentyfivefivefive, nnnthirtythirtythirty . . . .”
He’s in the process of selling pallets of computer equipment packed in shrink-wrap, everything from antediluvian electric typewriters with “County of Los Angeles” stamped above their keyboards, to a dozen new, 21-inch Samsung monitors, which the Pakistani guy next to me buys for $500.
“I can sell them for $150 each on the Internet,” he says.
I wander among brass hotel luggage carts with ratty carpet beds; a tower of animal cages; 60 rows of school lockers; six-burner Wolf ranges and walk-in refrigerators; three electric potter’s wheels and 23 pallets of fire blankets, each stenciled with “Contains No Asbestos.” It’s impossible to look at all this stuff and not wonder who once owned these things, and what hyperbolic optimism/catastrophe/bankruptcy/divorce settlement/fickleness of fashion forced them to offload. This point is driven home by 48 boxes of Korn rag dolls, 12 dolls per box, and already sold. Who would want 576 creepy little Korn dolls, and what are they going to do with them? It occurs to me that the transfer of commerce is a lot like physics; that the items up for auction are all matter, capable of conversion but never destruction.
We head over to the dim, airless hangar housing smaller goods — jewelry and “luxury items” like faux Fabergé eggs and ostentatious watches manufactured by companies whose unfamiliar names are meant to convey class (Philip Persio, Peire Bernie), all piled chockablock behind Plexiglas. A man carrying a vest-wearing live iguana on his shoulder contemplates a commemorative “9 Decades of Pennies” plaque, while another in a “Better Slob than Snob” T-shirt runs his hands over a shelf of microwaves. The auctioneer is madly racing through electronic equipment, selling receivers for $50, VCRs for $20. He’s gotten to the bitter end: three aluminum milk pails, which go for $5, and a box of several dozen locks in their original packaging, which a portly guy in soiled overalls buys for $30.
“Who would buy a box of locks?” I ask my boyfriend, as we head back to the car.
“Some freak,” he says.
Yeah. Or a bargain hunter, or a hardware-store owner, maybe even my hardware-store owner, looking to turn a profit on someone else’s loss.
Scene: Boys’ Night Out
Sandy Gallin, Hollywood power manager, lives not too far above the Beverly Hills Hotel, in a manor that’s hissy but not too hissy. Recently, he gave a party for Eric Freeman, a New York painter showing at the Mark Moore Gallery. I opened the door and Cliff Benjamin, the curator from Mark Moore who invited me, whispered, “God, this is so Dawson’s Creek.”
I looked around and saw what seemed to be a hundred boys, all in their early 20s, all of whom could have turned up on any TV show requiring a cast of barely legal, all-American wholesome hunks. Apparently the party had been crashed.
“I have no idea who they are or where they came from,” Benjamin said. “And I had no idea that there could be so many people who look the same.”
At least the real Ellen DeGeneres was there, humble as ever. And so was the ever-so-not-humble painter/socialite Ross Bleckner, who engaged my friend Yaroslav “Slava” Mogutin — 28-year-old author, photographer, Russian dissident, gay activist and star of Bruce La Bruce’s Skin Flick — in a brief conversation.
“What are you doing in L.A., Slava?” Bleckner asked.
“I’m here modeling, for an artist, Rainer Fetting,” said Slava.
“Modeling?” Bleckner said. “You’re still modeling? You’re too old to model. He’s a model.” Bleckner pointed to a nelly 20-year-old.
Next, we were presented to our host, Gallin. Not mincing words, he shook our hands and asked, “Who invited you here?”
“The gallery,” I replied.
“Oh, are you one of the artists?” asked Gallin. I grinned ambiguously, and Freeman, the party’s honoree, intercepted Gallin’s interrogation, saying that he knows Slava from “The City.” Slava, in turn, protectively rescued me: “He’s more of an artist than I am.”
We moved on, and cut into the chow line behind the photo curator of the Getty, Gordon Baldwin, and watched him take the very last serving of the pasta. On the veranda I surveyed the low-grade networking and realized how All About Eve L.A. can be. There were a couple Margots, a handful of Eves, and an abundance of Phoebes.
One hour was enough. In the car, Slava, in town for just a few days, asked, “How often do you go to these kinds of parties in Beverly Hills?” I ignored the question. We were heading toward Long Beach to meet friends at the Mineshaft, and I was wondering just how a suburban butch bar was going to translate. Then again, Slava informed me, Moscow is 20 below zero and miserable. How bad could the suburbs be?