Nightranger: Steppin' Out
Red carpets and logo-swathed backdrops have become more ubiquitous at nightclub entryways than faux tans and velvet ropes these days, and while we always thought of the things as pretty innocuous forms of promotion, we're seeing them in a whole new light lately. These often cheaply produced partitions, called "Step and Repeat" walls, are important, image-based tools of corporate America's not-so-subtle incursion on pop culture, designed so that whomever is shot in front of them appears to be endorsing the sponsors floating behind. It was probably only a matter of time until an artist — particularly an L.A.-based artist — took these on as subject matter. And who better to do just this than a guy who has seen more than his share? Rocker/artist/famous offspring Elijah Blue debuted his first gallery collection, "Step and Repeat," last Wednesday at the Kantor Gallery on Melrose, and as expected, the line between exhibit and celeb-reality became blurred, making its own sort of meta-statement. For those who don't know, Blue is the son of Cher and Greg Allman, half bro to Chaz — formerly Chastity — Bono and former frontman for the band Deadsy, a group that may have been lumped into the nu-metal sludge pile thanks to associations with Korn and Limp Bizkit but were in fact inspired by artful, if darkly so, aesthetics (everything from Frank Herbert's Dune to David Lynch films). Deadsy is "sleeping at the moment," Blue told us after the opening, which was attended by both his mother and sibling, as well as Mark McGrath, Balthazar Getty, Hayden Panettiere, Monet Mazur, Harry Morton and Cisco Adler to name a few. Now focused on fine art, Blue's debut show, though sparse works-wise (three hand-painted walls designed to look like printed ones and two smaller pieces, all punctuated by faux "brand" logos with clever subtext: "Ivory Tower," "Johnnie Cum L8 Lee") became as much about the interaction of those observing as the art itself. People awkwardly posed in front of the pieces as if they were real media backdrops for photogs (including yours truly). The screaming irony of the scene was obviously Blue's intention. "I'm sniping at it," Blue said of celeb culture. "But I'm also addressing my own context and my own pretense." Blue promised further works exploring the Hollywood paradigm among others, and if his Kantor debut is any indication, he's only begun to express his unique and fiercely provocative perspective.
If Step and Repeat walls are all about marketing, at least they can be fun to look at, which was totally the case at the Tarina Tarantino Beauty Launch Party at Siren Studios last week. Tarantino, best known for her colorful bauble and jewelry designs, has created a similarly glitzy cosmetics line for Sephora, and everything at the bash, from the dolly and bow–covered backdrops on the carpet to the pink champagne drinks and makeup sampler stations inside, celebrated glam-girl aesthetics. The pink-haired visionary's line features glosses, shadows and, most popular at the party, a product called "Sparklicity Shimmer Dust" sprayed from a vintage-style perfume bottle. Those of us gals who fancy glitter know it can be a big ol' lingering mess sometimes, especially the (hungover) morning after (Nightranger's hubby has woken up none-too-happily looking like a T-Rex video extra too many times to count!) and this product is, by contrast, quite light but still packing some fairy glimmer goodness. We caught actress Debi Mazar spritzing the stuff at one of the tables, along with hordes of purdy dames rocking tats, techni-colored tresses and ruffly dresses (Tarantino fans are not meek or tomboy types). Also seen: celeb pals, including Andy Garcia and Kelly Osbourne, the latter of whom used her carpet time to tell reporters that no, she did NOT say that "being fat is better than being a drug addict," a twisted quote that recently had the Twitteratti aghast. She was, ironically, chastising the media for treating her like that was the case. We believe it. If you like Kelly's punky pixie look or Harajuku-style hotties or anything edgy/girly, you'll love TT's whimsically packaged cosmetics line. Find it at your local Sephora.
More high gloss and glamour were in store in a downtown loft Friday night, where L.A. singer/artist/party girl Elizabeth Fraines a.k.a MuseZon threw a wild Femme Fatale/Venus in Furs–themed fete inspired by the Velvet Underground's music, and seemingly, strong, sexy women in general. Amid slide-show pics of divas such as Marlene Dietrich, Jane Fonda and Madonna, DJ Notorious Jen (Le Violette at the Standard Hollywood) spun a lively mix of electro and pop, and scantily clad cuties roamed and raged, sipping lethal libations and taking in an impressive art show from local talent, many known for showcasing during the Downtown L.A. Artwalk. Robert Vargas (a former talent buyer at the Conga Room) has been hailed by many as the "Mayor of L.A. Artwalk" thanks to his omnipresence on the streets, where monthly he creates on-the-spot portraits for passers-by who can spare a C-note. He did this at the party as well, and watching his process was truly a joy. He really does capture the beauty and essence of his subjects, and the in case of one rather snippy subject, the inner bitch as well. Speaking of bitches, there were some sexy ones on the catwalk after midnight, where Hairroin Salon and No. Y2K body art showcased sexy femme style throughout the ages: flappers, goths, housewives, disco chicks and spacegirls of the future (the finale that saw a half-naked Zon hit the crowd with a laser love gun). It was a wild, truly underground-style affair, so we were surprised by what we saw as we left: a makeshift wall for photo ops emblazoned with patterned logos from the salon. Could what Blue proclaimed earlier in the week about Step and Repeat walls' omnipresence and their being "more powerful than any other media platform right now") be true? Sure looks that way.
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