The Last Bohemian, RIP 

Jirayr Zorthian, 1911–2004

Thursday, Jan 22 2004

Page 3 of 3


I came to believe that Zorthian and his world are all but unique in this day and age. Certainly I’ve never seen anyone, or anything, else quite compare. (And it has been my good fortune to be paid to get to know artists and investigate the art life.) The exception, I suppose, might have been Jean Varda — another pagan endowed with the life force — who held court in a houseboat moored at Sausalito. Both artists, and especially Zorthian, extended the tradition of Norman Lindsay, the “heretical” Australian artist who celebrated pagan sensuality and the liberating power of sex in his controversial paintings.

That energy — the sensuality and passionate enthusiasm that informs the life force — is, above all, what kept the diminutive but powerful artist (he was famously proud of his strength, inviting everyone to feel his hard calves or — in the case of female admirers — his thighs) uncannily youthful almost to the end. I hope the rest of us do nearly as well and learn to live life as fully. Zorthian was, as I have often referred to him, the “last bohemian” (whether or not he liked the term; and he claimed not to). Living the Art Life served Dabney and Jirayr very well, indeed. The rest of us, far more timid types, would do well to pay attention and make the appropriate adjustments accordingly. Whatever place history and the art world finally assign to Jirayr Zorthian, and that judgment will take a while, the man and his zest for life will not soon be forgotten.

Related Stories

  • At Zorthian Ranch, a Return to Bohemia

    The parties Jirayr Zorthian threw at his ranch in the foothills of Altadena were invitation-only events, yet everybody in Los Angeles seemed to rub elbows there: Caltech physicists, modern artists, Pasadena bluebloods, jazz musicians, the famous and infamous, hipsters, hippies and hedonists of every stripe came to dance, drink and...
  • The Wildest Party in L.A. History 5

    Charlie "Bird" Parker has been called the greatest saxophonist who ever lived, a jazz legend who not only spearheaded the bebop movement but also laid the foundations of modern jazz. He was also a party animal. In 1952, Los Angeles would play host to one of Parker's wildest exploits. The...
  • Teacher's Ride

    A high school teacher is accused of kidnapping three of his students over the weekend, according to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. Deputies allege 34 year-old John Edward Maust was "intoxicated" when he forced three 17-year-olds to drive him around Altadena Saturday. One of the teens called 911, and a...
  • Great Affogatos

    Among the many excellent mash-ups in the food world, one of the simplest and most blissful is the affogato, the marriage of two of Italy's finest exports, espresso and gelato. The word comes from the Italian affogare, to drown, and it's a pretty accurate summation of the dish, in which...
  • Mama Musubi Pops Up Serving Fantastic Rice Balls, or Onigiri, in Downtown L.A.

    Why some so-called street food grabs a city's attention and not others is a mystery for the anthropologists - or maybe the folks at Lucky Peach. There are, thank God, tacos and fruit carts on repeating corners in L.A. But it remains bafflingly difficult to find good omusubi, also called...

Read more recollections of Zorthian by Anthony Ausgang, Lynn Foulkes, Brett Goldstone, Molly Barnes and Norton Wisdom.

  • Jirayr Zorthian, 1911–2004

Related Content

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets


  • Karaoke Pole Dancing @ The Viper Room
    Sam's Hofbrau presented "Sam Tripoli's Rock N Pole Championship" this week at The Viper Room. Paired up karaoke singers and pole dancers competed for a nice cash prize and Hollywood Hustler gift bags. Entertainment included a special appearance by porn star Tera Patrick, serving as judge, and performing a burlesque number. All photos by Nanette Gonzales.
  • The Best L.A. Costumes of 2014 (So Far)
    It's no secret that SoCal knows what it's doing when it comes to make-up and costume design, (hello, Hollywood!) so it makes sense that we would also have the world's best cosplay. Here are our picks for the best of 2014 (so far).
  • Lina in L.A. -- The Dog & Pony Show
    Comedian, burlesque diva and L.A.'s most fabulous little person, Selene Luna, hosts a wild variety show (no pups or ponies, just great performers) Mondays at Akbar. Recently, the fun featured strip tease from Audrey DeLuxe, standup from Michael Patrick Duggan, Paul Jacek and Mary Kennedy and the smokin' musical stylings of Crissy Guerrero and Kristian Hoffman.