Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Los Angeles

Large metropolis that Los Angeles may be, I had crossed this place off my list of travel destinations. The city is notorious among art models as being difficult  to schedule work with respectful photographers who believe in compensating their model talent, and as spread out as this city is, I decided traffic and frustrations would be best avoided.  As a Californian, in the battle between Northern California and Southern, my views of LA were colored with my student experience in the suburbs of Southern Californian, and my bias towards the Bay Area. Now, I stand by my decree that the Bay Area is superior, partially because of my familiarity and comfort with the area, but my recent trip to Los Angeles has shown that the city is not the monster I had envisioned it to be.

While traveling, I rarely have the chance to enjoy a weekend properly, as prime real estate for shoots is on Saturday and Sunday, which means going to bed in a timely manner and waking up refreshed is a basic requirement. A night at a party or at several destinations with a friend does not promise the sleep which is needed to offer myself fully for shoots the following day. And evening shoots on the nights for socializing leave me drained with a comfy home my most common desire. In Los Angeles, I purposefully set aside the weekend to see the city, LA Style.  I had to turn down work offers, but this trip was about visiting a friend and having social time.  Sometimes we need to do things for ourselves, even if the workaholic inside of us wants to lecture us about not working when there is work to be had.

With a Lyft ride, my friend Trish Davis and I were able to head to the city to enjoy a night out and know we could get home safely. Once a drink enters my body, I refuse to drive regardless of how much time has passed and how sober I feel.  Our first destination was a rooftop bar in the city, watching people for a while, icy cold drinks in hand. While delicious, my sazerac was inappropriately served in a metal cup which froze my already cold hand – I’m all for a cold drink, but when bundled in a jacket and exposed to the elements, extra chill is not needed.  The general crowd was fairly young and I marveled at seeing college students with fancy cocktails in hand, as my young experience did not include any such thing. I am a believer that having several destinations makes an evening when not offered any one outstanding place to be, as the momentum and variety provides a fun taste of several ambiances, and we were ready to get inside a warmer environment after our time viewing the city at the bar. Neither of us being familiar with many downtown options, we asked the doorman who sported a hipster look and beard, and he either had horrid taste or misread the two thin girls in black pants, leather jackets, minimal makeup and a head of curly hair, directing us to a bar which was far from our style. We entered, visited the restroom and turned back around to exit, unenthusiastic about standing in the mix of dark bumping and grinding. We headed to an after hours party where large sofas were organized throughout a backyard, tarps put overhead in some places, and cheap drinks served in the corner, still not indoors but a substantially different vibe to experience. The place became busy, with no shortage of people watching, but a serious lack of females. At one point, the two of us huddled on the couch closest to a fire, with another woman, seeking respite from the cold, and were circled by male eyes.  The entire scenario was a trip to experience even without intoxication, but eventually the cold snuck into our bones and we were ready to rid ourselves on another couple of guys bragging about their success and offering us a taste of their prosperity. 

Photographed by John Stutz

There would be other nights out, but most of them much shorter evenings; once the weekend has passed, the start of a week is always much quieter.  For about 4 years now, photographer John Stutz has been trying to shoot with me, but shooting together is difficult when a photographer does not travel to me, nor do I travel to where they reside. On this trip, I was able to drive to the outskirts of the LA area to shoot with him, for a great first meeting. His style is generally outdoors in direct sunlight, and his project had been strong women, but our shoot was primarily done indoors as he experimented with new studio styles and avoided cold, overcast winter days outside. 

Shooting with female photographers is a treat. And a shoot with anyone who is exhilarating to be around is spectacular. Trish Davis and I had both shot with the inspiring, adventurous Liz Earls in past years, and were invited to shoot with her a couple of times on this trip. My memories of my first shoot with Liz include wearing high heels in a shower while Liz sat in the foreground of the photos, saxophone in hand provocatively, with this all taking place in an dizzyingly decorated home with a plethora of beautifully strange art installations. As a trio of women plus her adorable puppy D.O.G. (another female), we created scenarios of fallen angels, and lounged around doorframes and on beds. Trish and I model differently, but have somewhat of a similar look, which makes for a great pairings of styles, which bother contrast and compliment each other.  I had to try her stripper pole, but failed miserably in managing to do anything but climb up and down a handful of times. This woman's home is an adult playground as you may glimpse from some of these photos.

Models Trish Davis and D.O.G (and me)
Photographed by Liz Earls

I had never been to a Korean Spa before, but modeling and sitting in vehicles tears up my body, so this new experience was added to our list. After a shower, soak in a salt water hot tub, and time in a steam room, I was ready for my massage. A tiny, strong woman kneaded on my robed body while standing at my side, then while sitting on me.  The second half of the massage was done without a robe and with the largest quantity of oil I have ever had slicked over me. Rolling out of the room feeling a little looser, there was a series of rooms to experience. The mud room was divided into plots of little, malt ball size mud ball filled rectangles which looked somewhat like cemetery plots and sounded like shuffling through leggos when entering and exiting. The room was heated and the mud balls incredibly hot and relaxing to lay on. The ice room was less cold than expected, but likely because of the welcome respite provided. Deemed “boring” by some and a favorite of others, I enjoyed the tranquility and subtle high of the oxygen room. The Himalayan sea salt room was another heat room with mats to lay on, and the Infrared room too hot to handle for much time.

My final night in Los Angeles was back at Liz’s place with Trish, for more great photography and company. We snuggled in bed with the most well endowed mannequin I have ever felt, and did other photos before heading to dinner. Appropriately dressed for some flashing photos, and accompanied by D.O.G., we purchased tacos for entry into a Mexican restaurant shooting location, shot for a moment, then quickly departed after unappreciated looks. A bridge and wall mural would be another background for photos before finishing the photography component of the night.

We whispered sweet words to this sexy babe meaning them in the moment, 
and like the fog, her name was soon forgotten.
Models Keira, busty babe, and Trish
Photographed by Liz Earls
I have tired of the frequency of delayed airline flights but for once my notice of a delayed flight was a welcome opportunity to sleep a few more moments before driving through traffic in the pouring rain, to yet another plane ride.

Los Angeles, you treated me well, I will be back.

Photographed by Liz Earls

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