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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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Tao Lin: The Vegan Muffin

The Internet Age Novelist’s Story Inspires Filmmaker Edward Housden’s Surreal Short

“I started just knowing that the main character was going to work at NASA, where I imagined her on Gchat at her work computer,” says author, artist and poet Tao Lin of the cake-headed protagonist in today’s deadpan short story The Vegan Muffin, adapted into a darkly comical vignette by Australian director Edward Housden. “For a while I was writing a lot of little stories with animals as the main character—there was a manatee, an ant, a shark—and it seemed a lot more fun. This is the only food-based one. And the only story set at NASA.” Recognized for his unconventional prose style that reflects the immediacy of the internet generation with refreshing transparency, Lin’s semi-autobiographical third novel Taipei was published by Random House last year, and his Muumuu House press has put out work by vanguard American writers Sheila Heti, Ben Lerner and Megan Boyle. In Housden’s film, Lin’s surreal day-in-the-life is transposed to London, complete with a Gary Card-designed muffin head and narration by vegan model and actress, Tallulah Harlech. “The original story was published in 2009, and I haven’t written any like this in years,” says Lin. “I have about 10 on a Google Doc that I work on from time to time. I find them very satisfying.”

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