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August 31, 2014

The Original Paparazzo

Elio Sorci and the Birth of Celebrity Culture

Elio Sorci was a paparazzo before there was a name for it. His cat-and-mouse game through the streets of his native Rome was a far cry from today’s long lenses pointed at luxury yachts, but the us-against-them mentality towards the rich and famous was the same. “A paparazzo, ” he stated, “is a young, carefree, happy man who earns his daily bread by putting other people into difficulty and doesn’t mind the risks.”

The term ‘paparazzo’ entered the global vernacular with the release of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in 1960: Walter Santesso played the celebrity-chasing photographer 'Paparazzo,' and the rest was history. Sorci was there to document it, having been asked to visit Fellini’s set and capture chance moments with, among others, Anita Ekberg, who appears here in an exclusive edit from Roads publishing's forthcoming book Paparazzo: The Elio Sorci Collection, alongside Sorci’s shots of Keith Richards, Tina Turner, Audrey Hepburn and Clint Eastwood.

Sorci was named the highest-paid photographer in the world in 1963. He passed away last year, and did not consider the generations that followed him to be true practitioners of his craft. “[He] found his professional path by chance rather than design,” writes Christies’ Director and International Head of Photography, Philippe Garner in an introductory essay to the book. “Indeed, it might be rightly posited that it was precisely their lack of formal training, their lack of self-consciousness towards the medium, the absence of all those aesthetic and ethical anxieties that can inhibit spontaneity, that cast them so perfectly in the role of ruthless image-hunters.”

Paparazzo: The Elio Sorci Collection is published by Roads, and is available in limited-edition with an archival quality digital print.

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I Used To Be In Pictures

The British Twins Who Gathered the Untold Story of Hollywood's Golden Age

Born in Surrey, England in 1972, twins Austin and Howard Mutti-Mewse were raised in a household that enjoyed classic black-and-white Hollywood movies, and aged 12, the pair enthusiastically began writing to their on-screen legends. “Ultimate glamour personified,” says Howard of old Hollywood’s faraway appeal. Many responded with heartfelt, handwritten notes and signed pictures, with Lillian Gish the first actor to reply. The so-called First Lady of American Cinema was entranced by the twins’ “Englishness” and was followed by Katharine Hepburn, Frank Sinatra and Shirley Temple. Letters soon turned into invites for tea, and the twins made their first visit to Hollywood in 1992, long after the demise of the much-loved studio system. “Someone once asked our mum about our fascination for film, but she was always nonchalant,” says Austin. “She and Dad were equally relaxed when Marlene Dietrich called and one New Year's Eve when Robert Mitchum rang.” Over a decade later, the twins—who continue to keep in contact with surviving stars—compiled their treasured findings in the book, I Used to be in Pictures. Below, Austin Mutti-Mewse reveals to NOWNESS some of his untold Hollywood stories.

Only one screen legend eluded us: Greta Garbo.
Rex Harrison who lived in the same apartment building as Garbo suggested to Howard and I that our flattery was futile. “Gentleman, she has no interest,” he once told us. “Miss Garbo has made a second career out of trying to avoid anything relating to her first as a film actress, and like the former she's succeeding rather brilliantly at it.”

Mildred Shay once told me that at the famed movie director Cecil B. DeMille’s estate Paradise Ranch, guests would eat oysters with the pearls still attached. For the females there was a gift of an ermine cape on each of the dining room chairs with tiny ermine tails around the collar.

We walk along a path and through a small gate and suddenly, there’s Anita Page. Sitting poolside on a white plastic sunbed wearing a white and pink polka-dot short sleeve day dress. No makeup; bare arms with just wisps of white hair; her skin, alabaster. On spotting the pair of us [her companion] quickly grabs a Walmart carrier bag and pulls out a honey-colored wig and in a flash forces it rather haphazardly on her head.

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Highrise

Benjamin Millepied’s LA Dance Project Turns Ace Hotel Downtown LA Into a Multi-Storey Stage

Dancers Rachelle Rafailedes and Nathan Makolandra twist and turn in a stirring duet captured at the recently launched Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Directed by Ricky Norris, the short previews Benjamin Millepied’s forthcoming performance, Reflections. Ahead of the star choreographer and filmmaker's milestone residency at the hotel’s revived theatre, NOWNESS presents Millepied’s love letter to Los Angeles.

To love LA, you have to get to know LA. I was always attracted to the diversity of the architecture, the way you go through areas that are stuck in time. It can feel like the 60s, 70 or 80s, with this stunning light. There's also possibly the greatest record store in America in Los Angeles.

I’ve been living for four or five years in Los Feliz, but the LA Dance Company’s home is in Downtown. When I first moved to here, I spent time visiting the old theaters that fascinated me. You have places like the Los Angeles Theater where Charlie Chaplin opened City Lights—there are pictures of Albert Einstein walking out after the show. It touches the heart, a Louis XIV theater that needs to be renovated as soon as possible. LA Dance Project’s new home is the old United Artists Theater at Ace Hotel; because of its proportions and sight lines, it’s really the best old theater for dance in Los Angeles.

The new shows scream LA. All of these dancers are a growing part of the city, with Reflections having visuals by Barbara Kruger and music by David Lang, who was born in Los Angeles and still has family there. LA artist Sterling Ruby designed the set for Justin Peck’s Murder Ballads, with Bryce Dessner from The National creating a fantastic score for us. The third show is by the Japanese choreographer Hiroaki Umeda who created the set and the music, exploring the relationship with technology and movement on stage, something I wanted to explore with the dancers. I couldn’t be happier, because part of my commitment is an understanding of the past in order to move forward, caring for the existing American repertory alongside new commissions.

The LA Dance Project launches at The Theater at Ace Hotel, Downtown Los Angeles (formerly United Artists Theatre) with performances on February 20, 21 and 22.

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