Characters. Personalities. Provocateurs. This week, we couldn't help but think about the people in LA who always seem to stand out, even in the most audacious of crowds.
People who transcend mere popularity to create recognizable personae via their creative pursuits (music, events, blogs) as well their images. It's not just about how they dress or who they know or even what they do, though for the most part, all of these things are usually pretty over the top. It's about something more intangible and magnetic.
Some might say they're eccentric, some might even say they're a little nutty. They've all got healthy egos, no doubt, but their unbridled enthusiasm and willingness to put themselves out there is always inspiring. Props to the following for daring to be different and making our job so much fun! Drumroll please… here are LA's Top 10 Most Eccentric Characters:
10. Jonny Makeup: His outfits are often outrageous. His Twitter posts are scandalous. Gawker has been known to name-check him. And though we don't know what the guy actually does other than wear loud Jeremy Scott togs, tout his “fame,” befriend reality stars (and American Apparel's Dov Charney, whom he once likened to his very own Daddy Warbucks), we're fascinated. An NY to LA transplant, Makeup did have white boy rap band (“The A-List Boys”) in the big Apple, and is apparently working some new music material since moving here. When it's ready, we'll surely hear about it.
9. Madame Pamita: She's a ukelele-playing mystic/tarot reader fond of old-timey garb and atmospheric folk music both original and vintage, but did you know she was a rocker before that? Pammy played a whammy of a good riff with both The Neptunas and the all girl Cheap Trick tribute, Cheap Chick. But it's her madame guise that makes her a most magical gem both in the afterlife and the here and now.
8. Dennis Woodruff: One of the LA's best known self-promoters (for his customized art cars and flair for streetside hype), Woodruff, according to film-maker Ramzi Abed (whose developing a reality show with art prankster, comic and film-maker) personifies social satire in this city. His latest guise is a spaceman character, but there are more. We met the local legend this past weekend while out and about, and he tweeted us the next day, “Sorry if I was a bit out of it or erratic, but I was in between personas.” That's a new one! Woodruffs films were recently picked up for wide distribution by Troma Entertainment.
7. Clint Catalyst: A longtime fixture in the goth lit community from San Fran to LA, Catalyst's books, Cottonmouth Kisses, and Thrills, Pills, Chills and Heartache (an anthology co-edited with Michelle Tea) are cult classics. But his outlandish outfits and sassy tude have made both his URL and IRL (“in real life” ) activities fodder for an fiendish fanbase.
6. Heino: The German folk singer/impersonator (aka comic singer Mark Hickock) has made a name for himself at Red Lion Tavern covering ironic rock and pop hits with his signature silly accent and white-blonde wig, a tribute bit that always goes over well with beer-buzzed barflies and recently expanded to a full-blown variety hour at El Cid.
5. Don Bolles: The legendary LA drummer from the Germs, 45 Grave and Celebrity Skin has remained omni-present on the LA music scene thanks to DJ gigs, club promotions (Ding-a-Ling) and wild new music outfits: Fancy Space People and Raw Power Rangers, to name a few. And speaking of outfits, Bolles (we like to call him “bowls” after a certain downtown smokefest) has a signature accessory that's as much a part of his persona as Slash's tophat or Keef's skull ring: a fuzzy black chapeau that's almost as big as his personality. See FSP (with The Sweet) this Thurs., Feb. 3 at the Echoplex.
4. Kate Crash: On stage, Crash and crew tear it up with kooky choreography (and back-up dancers), costume changes, and uncontained musical chaos (a sludge of rock, glam and hip-hop), but Ms. Crash off stage is just as fun to watch. Her get-ups are technicolor, her makeup usually glitter-specked and her vibe is uber-vivacious. After years on the streets of Tokyo doing performance art and music, it seems this LA lass doesn't know how to chill, only thrill … and we love her for it. See Kate Crash, also this Thurs, Feb. 3 (with Conquistador) at the 3 Clubs.
3. Lenora Claire: The buxom (and bright) redhead gets attention wherever she goes for her look, but it's her art world activities that make her one of vampiest visionaries in the city. An artshow featuring beloved bitties from the TV show Golden Girls as sex kittens? She did it and it was a hit. Another show featuring reality TV stars as pinups? She working on it now. With the new gallery she co-owns, PoptART, we expect more twisted and titillating exhibits and events to come. See our report from the opening here.
2. BJ Panda Bear: The DJ/Blogger dons strange get-ups of the hot-mess hipster variety, and he hangs with the Cobrasnake-approved “in-crowd,” but his blog always has a very outsider, unflinchingly honest feel to it, which makes him appealing and unthreatening yet still kind of fabulous.
And, for the Number One Most Eccentric…
1. Kim Fowley: He might be the most seasoned on this list, but no matter how outrageous or outspoken any of the above may be at times, there's not a one in LA who rivals the relentless audacity of this songwriter/Svengali. (Though Michael Shannon kinda did capture it in his portrayal of Kim in the Runaways movie). Always pimping out new ideas, projects and people, Fowley told just us his latest activities include: appearances in upcoming documentaries including The Sunset Strip and Dick Dale- King of the Surf Guitar, a tune on Showtime's Californication, and his own film called Black Room Doom (“think a female Spinal Tap meets an all girl Commitments.”)
Honorable mentions (click their names to find out why): Allee Willis, Bobby Trendy, Tequila Mockingbird, Ginger Coyote, Ryan Heffington, Jeffree Starr, Giddle Partridge, Jean Spinosa, and pretty much every drag queen we've ever written about here.
Read this week's Nightranger to see which of the above takes center stage in our coverage this week.