Girls with homeless-hag hair and pricey designer bags, boys in fugly (desperate for irony) t-shirts, and cartoon characterish cliques grooving geekily (yet self-consciously) to tunes spun by Shepard Fairey (M.I.A., The Go-Gos and The Beastie Boys). Last Tuesday night's grand opening of The Cobrashop in Hollywood had the expected weirdos, wares and wild party atmosphere, an oddball mixture that all makes sense in the context of shutterbug extraordinaire Mark the Cobrasnake's camp consciousness. There were old people (Grandpa Snake, Grandma Snake, Papa and Mama Snake) and young people (tikes and tweens); a wall of clunker TV sets showing The Spice Girls Movie, Hedwig, Beavis & Butthead, and The Barbie Workout simultaneously; a merch mélange of old toys and tchotchkes next to stickers and coveted Obey Giant prints, and Salvation Army reject threads hanging next to pop art high fashion (courtesy of Jeremy Scott).
Yeah, it'd be easy to cast a jaded eye at the wacky disparity of stuff, the mesh of awkward chic and hipster attitude, or even the scenester photog's insane success (rent for a space in the Hollywood & Highland complex, where the new store is located, has got to be in the tens of thousands), but we won't. It wasn't luck that made Mark Hunter a world-renowned arbiter of hipness. It was vision and balls.
From left, Jeremy Scott. Mark the Cobrasnake and Shepard Fairey
We were one of the first journos to write about the guy (long before The Weekly started running his work, and our Nightranger column and his Snake Bites pics were presented as a two-fer in this pub's print version). What struck us about the kid (and he was a kid, not yet 21) from the start -- besides his Richard Simmons short-shorts -- was his bold enthusiasm, which, as much as his great eye, made his site (originally called Polaroidscene) a hit.
Beardo busts it out.
The site was on the cusp of the rampant attention-whoredom that is now commonplace on social media sites and blogs, but Mark's talent for capturing the LA club and party scene on film (or memory card) and displaying for all via the web was more than just the right idea at the right time. His popularity was also about the guy's own nerdy-cool persona, the company he kept (Steve Aoki, Cory Kennedy et tal) and, let's face it, the jailbait allure of many of his female subjects.
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Can he parlay his notoriety and place in the LA zeitgeist into something more? Jet-setting around the world to shoot parties is one thing, but The Cobrashop may be the ultimate test. After the gregarious grand opening, which saw the afotementioned hip-to-be-squaresters pack in with the likes of Peaches Geldof and BF Eli Roth, rap-punk fro-bro Beardo (spewing off a Mickey Avalon/Shwayze-hazy style flow but with a decidedly more hardcore and heartfelt rhythmic fury we rather enjoyed) and celebrated NYC photog/blogger Todd Selby signing his new book, The Selby is in Your Place (with special Cobrasnake insert) we're gonna say yes.
The Cobra fashions are atrocious (though waif types somehow make 'em work) and there was nothing we wanted to buy amidst the garage sale-like selection of stuff, but that didn't matter. Walking in, it's hard not to buy the vibe, the lifestyle and the branding presentation (Vitamin Water, a sponsor, even had a neon sign that touted Cobrawater!) repped here. The art-minded scene and colorful individuals who will haunt the place (more parties are planned) will bring us back to The Cobrashop as it will surely be making the H&H mall a new kind of Hollywood hub this Summer. It sure ain't no Hot Topic.
The Cobrashop (on the 4th floor of H&H) opens to the public this Wednesday, June 16.