August 22 2014

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38 posts tagged "James Franco"

The Pheelgood Performance of the Year

------- contributing editor and party reporter Darrell Hartman circles the city and, occasionally, the globe in the line of duty. In a new column, he reports on the topics—whatever they may be at whatever given moment—that are stirring the social set.

Earlier this summer, I became a doctor. Not any old doctor but Dr. Goodpheel, a character in Kalup Linzy‘s wacky online soap opera, Melody Set Me Free. I was in this season’s first and second episodes, and the thrilling finale just went live. I met Kalup last year, at a Chanel dinner for the Tribeca Film Festival. After that we’d say hi at art parties, and next thing I knew we were shooting scenes together in his collector and socialite Stacy Engman’s art-filled Soho pad.

Melody is a hilariously tangled web of storylines, but you don’t have to follow them all that closely to enjoy it. “I try to frame the stories so people can just come in anywhere and have something to pick up on,” Kalup told me by phone the other day from California’s Headlands Center for the Arts, where he’s doing a summer residency. The subplot I’m in involves music-industry legend KK Queen, one of about a half-dozen characters expertly played (in drag) by Kalup. A jealous rival shoots KK Queen in the—well, let’s just say in a very sensitive spot—and he goes into a coma. Being a compassionate and responsible doctor, I keep a close eye on her recovery. Maybe too close an eye, in fact. And things get interesting…

As everyone on the show does, I lip-synched to dialogue written and pre-recorded by Kalup. Unfortunately, this doesn’t entirely mask the fact that my acting skills haven’t evolved since I played Scrooge in fifth grade. Nonetheless, I can now boast that I’ve shared an acting credit with Natasha Lyonne and January LaVoy of One Life to Live—and potentially even James Franco, with whom Kalup has collaborated plenty of times before. (Melody airs on Franco’s Web-TV site.)

Kalup grew up in Central Florida watching tons of Guiding Light. With his catchy tunes and love of divas, he’s been a natural fit for the fashion world. Proenza Schouler—for whom he’s made music videos starring Chloë Sevigny and Liya Kebede—and Diane von Furstenberg are among his fans. (Kalup told me Sevigny demurred when he asked her to act in Melody: “She says she don’t like to lip-synch.”) And he’s sure to make a splash with that crowd again in September, when he performs at the opening of the Met’s big Regarding Warhol exhibition.

Also in his future: Frieze in October, and convincing Cindy Sherman (an obvious inspiration) to play one of his many ingenious characters. She’d certainly be a step up from yours truly.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Franco On Valentino—The Other One


James Franco’s mission for his latest Seven For All Mankind campaign was to meld old Hollywood and new. “The whole aesthetic approach of the campaign is based on the eternal hipness of the clothes,” Franco says. “We can do a meditation on old and new Hollywood at the same time because of the way the clothes fit into all eras.”

Old Hollywood is well represented by classic landmarks, including Hollywood Cemetary, Sunset Boulevard, and Mark Mahoney’s famous Shamrock tattoo parlor. New is represented by the diverse cast, including Lily Donaldson, Lou Doillon, Cody Horn, and Henry Hopper (a very direct connector of old Hollywood and new: he’s the son of the late Dennis Hopper). The roster is international (Doillon is French, Donaldson English) but Europeans have always found a happy home in Hollywood—just as the campaign’s inspiration, Rudolph Valentino, did. “He was the great sex symbol of the silent film era, so much so that some journalists wrote pieces about the general decline of masculinity and blamed Valentino’s suave effeminacy as the main cause,” Franco tells “But now, almost a hundred years later, we can champion the ambiguity of Valentino.” The campaign debuts exclusively on, as do a few behind-the-scenes shots. Look out for the accompanying Web video series shot by Franco on the brand’s YouTube channel July 26.

Photos: James Franco / Courtesy of Seven For All Mankind

The Can’t-Miss Funeral Of The Season


The annual Whitney Art Party always lures a strong contingent of the fashion crowd, and this year should be no exception. If there’s a bit more buzz than usual, chalk it up to the evening’s entertainer, performance artist Kalup Linzy (pictured). A friend and collaborator of James Franco—who’s helped to publicize him and his work—Linzy has also been embraced by the fashion world, creating a video for Proenza Schouler’s show at Pitti and getting fitted personally by DVF. For the Whitney, Linzy will be bidding adieu to one of his longtime characters/alter egos, Taiwan, with an elaborate funeral. (Original plans called for a casket procession through the city.) In honor of the occasion, checked in with Linzy to talk about the end of Taiwan (live, at least; he’ll live on in video), the beginnings of his new character Kaye, and why design is best left to the designers.

I’ve heard that Wednesday’s performance will include a funeral procession and Whitney Houston songs. Care to fill in a few blanks?
It’s not going to be a funeral procession, per se, but I am paying a tribute to my character Taiwan and I am performing most of the songs I composed. But because Whitney is one of my favorite artists, there will be Whitney songs played too. There will be a video playing the whole time and in the background there’s a casket. That will be closed until the ritual happens, but something does happen during the performance. When I started my proposals like a year ago, they wanted to have the casket literally driving through the city.

For those not keyed in, tell us a little bit about the origins and evolution of Taiwan.
Taiwan is a soul singer. He was part of my thesis video in 2003 and then I started performing him live. The first live performance that got a lot of attention was at PS1 in 2006. Other big highlights were the performance in New Orleans with the Art Production Fund and then the videos for Proenza, then T, then working with James Franco.

He’s been a big part of your body of work. Why are you putting him to rest?
Taiwan was just an avenue that I would tap into but I don’t feel like going on stage and being like that anymore. For now, I have done all I can to stay true to the character. I could force it but I don’t think it would be the same, emotionally, as what people were getting before. Now I want to do something lighter. I feel like the stuff that drove Taiwan is not there or in the same place anymore.

Clothes and fashion play a very big role in your work. How do you see fashion in relation to your art?
The clothes help define each character—it’s an essential part. Even thrift store shopping, I find I am imaging them. It’s an emotional, visual response to what each should have on. Personally, I am really a T-shirt and jeans guy, but I think fashion is a type of performance art. Designers come up with clothes with a particular character. These days, they [don't want the models] to have personality, but back in the day the supermodels had personalities that went into selling the clothes, too.

And what will you be wearing for the performance?
He has a curly wig and a black suit from Theory they sent me yesterday. And I don’t know about the shoes yet.

Kaye, your newest character, features into the new film you’re working on. Will you be collaborating with someone on a collection for him?
Kaye is a fashionista but I don’t know if I want to have someone pull clothes or work with a designer formally because that can take forever. I have been talking to Cynthia Rowley about doing a full-on collab, but really I am focused on the film right now. It has crossed my mind to do my own clothing collection but it would probably be a hot mess. I studied art, not fashion, so I wouldn’t have that point of reference that real designers have. I can’t really transcend if I don’t know the history and I don’t want to imitate, you know? I trust designers with that.

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Postcard From L.A.: A Weekend Of Openings With Laure Heriard Dubreuil And Aaron Young


The Webster’s Laure Heriard Dubreuil and fiancé Aaron Young were in L.A. for the weekend for the opening of two shows featuring Young’s art: No Fucking Way, his solo show at The Company Gallery, and Rebel, the James Franco-curated homage to Rebel Without a Cause at MOCA. (For more on Rebel, check out our coverage of the opening party and our Q&A with Franco.) Laure sent back a few shots from her trip, which included plenty of art, plenty of parties, and (naturally) a little L.A. vintage shopping. Throughout, Dubreuil wears a dress by The Webster for Target. She’s encouraging readers to email photos of themselves wearing the collection to

Aaron and I arrived in L.A. on Friday morning for Aaron’s openings: a solo one at The Company on Friday night and a group one at MOCA on Saturday. We stayed at the Chateau Marmont, which is a key place this particular weekend, as it is basically the set for Saturday’s Rebel show at MOCA. It didn’t hurt that they had the latest Porsche convertible to rent for the weekend, either.

Aaron’s solo show at The Company Gallery is called No Fucking Way and it’s about what he calls “tragic girls that have all been acting in their lives one way or another” (he jokes that it’s site-specific to L.A.). All the paintings are in the colors of the American flag and the canvases are the shape of folded flags. He painted women like Heidi Montag after all of her plastic surgeries posing in an American flag bikini, and Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan posing wrapped up in the flag before the pipe beating incident. After Aaron’s opening, we all went to the opening of Paul and Damon McCarthy’s Rebel Dabble Babble, a continuation of their pieces from James Franco’s Rebel show at MOCA. After that, it was downtown to UMAMIcatessen for a truffle burger before calling it a night.

Saturday morning we went to the MOCA space for Aaron’s press conference and interviews (he was wearing his The Webster at Target T-shirt for good luck!). We met up with James Franco, who curated the show. He told me he wanted to collaborate with artists he looks up to, who have dealt with film in their careers: Paul McCarthy and Aaron; there was Harmony Korine, Ed Ruscha, Terry Richardson, and Douglas Gordon. Continue Reading “Postcard From L.A.: A Weekend Of Openings With Laure Heriard Dubreuil And Aaron Young” »

James Franco: Rebel‘s Rebel


James Franco is busy. So busy that the only time he can speak is by phone at 7:30 a.m., before business hours for most of us, and an appointment not necessarily made more palatable by a night at the Met gala the evening before. No matter. “I don’t like to waste anything,” Franco says, minutes as well as creative outlets and even press calls. It helps to explain how the relentless multitasker finds time to do it all: shoot major Hollywood movies (next up: the title role in Sam Raimi’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, cameos in the latest from Harmony Korine and Seth Rogen’s directorial debut, etc.), direct his own student films and get them distributed (The Broken Tower, a life of poet Hart Crane), model for Gucci, create ads for Seven for All Mankind, occasionally host the Oscars, curate The Dangerous Book Four Boys (now also available in book form, from Rizzoli), and so on and so on.

Franco’s latest project, Rebel (sponsored by Gucci and Seven), arrives thanks to L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art, at JF Chen’s exhibition space in Los Angeles next week. For this meditation on James Dean—whom he won a Golden Globe for playing in 2002—and Rebel Without a Cause, Franco commissioned artists Paul McCarthy, Ed Ruscha, Aaron Young, Korine, Terry Richardson, and more to reinterpret bits of the film and its attendant legends. (His own take on it, Brad Renfro Forever, screens as well.) Not long after sunrise, Franco spoke with about an evening at the Met, fashion versus film, and the enduring rawness of Rebel.

Rebel runs May 15 through June 23 at JF Chen, 941 North Highland Avenue, L.A., for more information, visit

Thanks for speaking so early. I can imagine it was a late one last night.
It was pretty late. But my date was Marina Abramovic, and she is going to Cuba today, so she wanted to leave early. So I didn’t stay out that late.

How was the Met gala?
It was fine. It was my first time. It’s just a nice dinner, with every celebrity you can think of.

Did you get a chance to see the exhibition?
Yeah, they kind of walk you through it when you get there. It was great. It was all women’s fashion, which I guess I can appreciate.

Fashion definitely seems to appreciate you. How do you see it fitting into what you do?
I see it as one more aspect of the world that I’m involved in. I think a lot of what I do, in whatever medium it might be, is grounded in my experiences as an actor on film. That’s how I enter the professional world, through film. I’m used to certain working methods and collaboration with a lot of people. I’m used to making projects with people that are skilled in different areas. I’m used to coming up with ideas and then having them augmented through collaboration, or hearing other people’s ideas. So fashion is basically, like, the wardrobe department on a film, but for life—for our characters in life.

The companies I work with are very supportive of the art projects that we do, and in the other direction, we’ve been able to incorporate the clothes from Gucci or Seven into the art projects in a way that I’m really happy with. It’s not as if one side takes precedence. There’s something really important about that. It’s not like the art world, or the stuff I do art-wise, related to Gucci doesn’t critique fashion or make fun of it or anything—it just sort of uses the clothes as a wardrobe designer would on a movie. With fashion…they don’t force me to create a false image of myself to sell the clothes. Basically, who I am is what they want. Continue Reading “James Franco: Rebel‘s Rebel” »