Ashley Huizenga is sitting on a sidewalk in Los Feliz eating a falafel from a Styrofoam container and sipping soda from a large cup. She leans back against the wall of the Thirteenth Church of Christ Science and smiles behind a pair of cheap sunglasses while licking hummus off her fingers, which are painted in yellow chipping polish.
With her red/blond mullet and Crayola green-and-yellow outfit, the pretty 23-year-old looks like an art star, rock star or American Apparel model. Which is it? Ashley could be all three.
She has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Pasadena’s Art Center and an ’80s-inspired glam band called Hard Place, which has performed on KXLU and at the Smell. She also has a day job at American Apparel, the hipster cotton-clothing mecca where virtually everyone who works there looks as if they were one of the company’s models.
It was “Trader Joe’s or American Apparel,” she says.
Are you really into green and yellow?
“This is American Apparel.”
Oh, they make skinny jeans?
“Yeah, I have them in purple too. They’re cool. My mom bought those for me.”
Describe what your art is like.
“It… is… almost … like me?” she says, trying to find the right words. “I am my art. It sounds cheesy. I guess when people describe it they call it rock & roll fine art, which sounds really, really worse.”
It should be noted that Ashley does not speak rapidly, as you might expect. Instead, her delivery is slow, deadpan like Andy Warhol’s, with the distinct habit of ending her sentences in questions and making everything sound as if she were contemplating whether something was serious or ironic.
Ashley does animate her conversation by occasionally waving her hands in front of herself like a sarcastic Al Jolson, as if to illustrate when she is telling you something that is supposed to be a “big deal” — for example, when she is letting you know she has a band or that she graduated with honors.
You have a pretty elaborate MySpace music page called “Actually Huizenga,” but do you have a Web site for your art?
“If you go on YouTube and put in my last name, my videos come up. There are a lot of animals, androgynous people, sort of a music-video study in making art out of leisure time. I like to get a bunch of friends together. I research a theme like, say, Viking stories or something and mix that with some sort of color idea or glitter, and try to combine different eras and different types of music. It’s just about having a good time… everyone is so serious.”
It sounds like a postmodern art party.
“My parents have a house in Arrowhead, which is pret-ty nice. I like to take kids up there, bring costumes and music, and record a very loose script — use the environment. So, it’s like… kids… that have a lot of time and money and are just a little… demented? It’s very hard to describe.”
When you say your art is about kids who have a lot of money and are demented…
“They aren’t really…”
“Oh, they’re demented… but it’s not like they have a lot of money to spend. Everyone I know lives in crappy apartments in Echo Park.”
Do you live in a crappy apartment in Echo Park?
“Yeah, it has cockroaches and mice. I gotta move out. I quit smoking a month ago. My roommate still smokes. I wanna try and live cleaner.”
Ashley, who is now walking back to work along Vermont Avenue, removes her sunglasses to expose two different-colored eyes, one hazel and the other almost turquoise.
Ashley, is that a colored contact?
“I have something wrong with my eye. It helps me see. I have one good eye, one bad eye.”
It’s like David Bowie, right?
“Actually one of his pupils is bigger than the other. So that’s the thing that makes it a different color. He has a permanently enlarged pupil from when he got punched in the face or something. I was a big David Bowie fan when I was younger, so I know everything about David Bowie. I tried for that MTV ‘Try and meet your favorite star’ back in the ’90s. I didn’t get it.”
Do people ask you often if the contact is for David Bowie?
“Yeah, only if I am out in the sun. And I don’t really go out in the sun that much. Usually I am out at night, unless I am at work.”
Ashley is also carrying a purse in the shape of a tropical fish and wears a wooden bracelet decorated with puffy paint.
Did you make your bracelet?
“Yeah. It was to help me not smoke,” she explains, touching the bracelet. “I love puffy paint. If I could, I would put puffy paint and googly eyes on everything.”
You really like bright colors too.
“I am really into tropical-colored snow.”
“I would love to wear all tropical colors and run around in the snow.”
In fact, in one of her YouTube videos, Ashley, who has received rave reviews on numerous Web sites, is seen dancing in the snow wearing a tiger-striped body suit. It should be added that she was featured last year in Vice magazine’s scathing fashion Dos and Don’ts. You can guess which category they placed her in.
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