Whether you're a Los Angeles native, a transplant or a tourist who's been in L.A. for 24 hours, chances are you've had a run-in with Angelyne, or have at least seen her Heroine Pink Corvette glide past you on the freeway.
Angelyne became “billboard-famous” overnight after a larger-than-life marketing plan made the mysterious enchantress an ubiquitous blond beacon in the more-gritty-than-pretty 1980s L.A. landscape.
Fame came seemingly effortlessly to the eccentric billboard star but — make no mistake — she has been hustling to maintain her version of the Hollywood dream ever since.
Angelyne slings merchandise, poses for photos for $10 or $10,000 (depending on whether her face is concealed by a fan), sells paintings for $200 to $100,000 and has a new record titled Kiss Me L.A.
Her next venture: An Indiegogo campaign to fund the return of her iconic bombshell billboards.
It's been more than seven years since Angelyne's signature billboards have appeared, but you can help make L.A. pink again. According to Angelyne, bringing back her billboards will cheer up the city and bring good luck to its residents.
Her goal is to crowdfund at least five billboards around the Los Angeles area. At the time this article was published, nine backers have contributed $390 to her $5,000 goal, although $25,000 is more likely needed to secure all five billboards.
“I'm doing this because so many people come up to me and tell me they miss my billboards so much. They miss the energy and the vibe and the colors that were around the city,” Angelyne says. “Honestly, I don't really need the billboards. I'm so famous and iconic. I've already established my image in the landscape of Hollywood and in people's minds.”
I chatted with Angelyne on the phone as she was cruising down the 101 to grab a cup of Angelyne (her specialty drink at the Coffee Bean, made of African Sunrise tea, coffee and vanilla powder) before meeting with a billboard company to discuss potential locations for the return of her billboards.
Angelyne has her eye on the space she dubs the “filet mignon of billboard space,” Sunset Boulevard, where she was featured on two 50-foot billboards last year for Impulse Group's safe-sex campaign. In the photograph, Angelyne's eyes are peeking over an Impulse-branded fan and her leg is extended toward two beefcakes in bed. Above them, bright pink text: “Play Safe, Boys!”
“It's all up to my fans and the public and how much they want the billboards,” Angelyne says. “I like going big … I do well with big.”
The image Angelyne has in mind to display is a photograph of herself that has never been seen. “The photo is absolutely to-die-for gorgeous!” she assures me. “Can I call you back in like three minutes? A fan is coming up to me and I gotta talk to them.”
Fifteen minutes later, Angelyne calls back.
“I like people to search me out. I think it's more fun. Do you realize everything I've ever done, they've called me. You called me. I won't allow myself to be solicited. That's why I don't have an agent. I manage my own life.”
Angelyne is generous with her time and is a pleasure to speak to, often asking questions in return. She offers me an autographed photograph as a thank you for not recording audio of our conversation.
“You seem like a nice girl,” Angelyne says. “How did you start working for L.A. Weekly?”
While speaking with her, one thing becomes clear: Angelyne is her own muse. I decide to tell her this.
“Right. I am my own muse. I like that. No one has said that to me before, so thank you for being so creative. I just keep on doing what I'm doing. … I'm a rebel. I don't even stop and think about how to analyze it,” Angelyne says. “Everyone shines in their own time.”
Whether you're a fan of Angelyne or not, you have to admire the grassroots celebrity of a woman who's been L.A.'s most recognizable — and accessible — resident since the 1980s.
I ask about her 2008 Corvette that is parked in Hollywood with a “for sale” sign on it. Last June, the car was listed on eBay; 17 bids were placed reaching $14,100, but the reserve was not met.
“If anybody can help me sell my car, I will give them $1,000 to find the right person,” Angelyne says. “They can just email or call. The Batmobile sold for $4 million, and my car is much more famous than that car, I think. It's more visible. It's more lively. Anyone who buys it will be able to turn around and sell it for a lot of money.”
According to Angelyne, her 2008 Corvette is worth $150,000, but she is willing to sell it for $50,000. The price is negotiable for the right buyer who will be “ethical” with the use of the car. Angelyne says she denied a potential buyer who wanted to purchase the car to drive celebrities around Los Angeles.
Throughout our conversation, Angelyne offsets deep thoughts (she has a catalog of original quotes) with lighthearted one-liners that teleport you onto her pink cloud. A lot can be said about a woman who can earnestly tell you, “I just have a really high expectation to make the best of yourself and to be the ultimate,” and in the next breath tell you she's inspired by Barbie.
After 45 minutes on the phone with Angelyne, I start to believe the world needs Angelyne more than she needs the world. At this stage in her cosmic life, her goal may not be to become more famous but to inspire others to become “fully realized” — something Angelyne has already mastered.
“You can dress up a person like me … but I am what I look like from the outside,” Angelyne says. “The power of a great state of mind.”
I'm ready to donate. L.A. could use some luck.