The Alt-Folk Guitarist Presents a Paean to California’s Myth, Nostalgia and Landscape
A glamorous LA ingénue is enticed by the allure of the big time in today’s video for Jonathan Wilson’s infectious track, “Love to Love". Directed by Grant James and Magdalena Wosinska in collaboration with veteran documentary maker Robert Carl Cohen, the short splices archive footage with freshly shot scenes that follow actress Lexi Stellwood in a metaphor-laden role that serves as an autobiography of Wilson’s youthful move to California. “I envisioned a classic Hollywood coming-of-age story, with literal images and iconic ideals,” says Wilson of the video's birth. “Lights, elation and heartbreak—all the things I felt drawn to when I first moved there as a teenager from my small town in North Carolina.” The Echo Park-based singer-songwriter’s departure from a tiny furniture-making town of 15,000 in the Piedmont Region to Beverly Hills forms the basis for “Love to Love”. “I talk about things in the tune like Lower Topanga Canyon, where Woody Guthrie's old cabin sat that I watched get bulldozed, and speak about Yamashiro hill, which is a beautiful Pagoda garden overlooking the city that only a true Angeleno will know.” The track appears on Wilson’s recently released second album Fanfare, an intricately detailed and meandering record on Bella Union, centered around a nine-foot Steinway grand piano and featuring guest vocals from three founding fathers of his brand of rock, Jackson Browne, David Crosby and Graham Nash, and contemporary alt-folk player, Father John Misty—stay tuned for Wilson’s ambient, Terry Riley-influenced collaboration with the latter.
Clara Cullen Takes a Sideways Look at Water Ballet in an Otherworldly New Film
A day's shooting with the Aqualillies water dance troupe is transformed into a sinister-edged short in Clara Cullen's Above and Below. Appearing at this week’s annual art-world pilgrimage, Art Basel Miami, the Aqualillies recall the golden era of swimming champion-turned-Hollywood actress Esther Williams. Yet today’s portrait, scored by Nicolas Schindler, demonstrates the strange uniformity and beguiling shapes of the troupe’s practice as much as their athletic prowess that has earned them fans in Natalie Portman, Leonardo DiCaprio and Dita Von Teese. “Every show and every audience is different, so you never know how people are going to react, which in turn fuels you in the moment,” says Alejandra Miranda, a member who swam for the Colombian national team growing up. “I think my favorite or maybe scariest memory was swimming with sharks for the background of a Justin Bieber concert.” Founded in 2008 by Mesha Kussman, the performers are a mix of dancers and former Olympic swimmers, some of whom have made appearances in music videos for Sébastien Tellier, and most recently, Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally”. Stealing a moment with the water ballerinas during a recent rehearsal, NOWNESS regular Cullen was required to keep up with Aqualillies' strenuous regime. “I was swimming with them the whole time,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how long I was staying underwater but it was so striking I couldn’t stop—I was almost dying for air.” Cullen shot on black-and-white Super 8 to depict them in a brand new light. “Troupes have a distinct identity,” she adds. “In fact, someone told me it looks like a Soviet film.”
STATS FROM ON SET
Number of pools
Three: Annenberg Beach House and Palisades High School in Santa Monica, and the Thompson Hotel, Beverley Hills.
Number of water ballerinas
“Anything Could Happen” by Ellie Goulding.
Food consumed on set
Peanut M&M's; hummus and pita bread.
Approximate calories per person burned on the Aqualillies workout
Look out for more of Clara Cullen’s depictions of troupes in the coming months.
Rose McGowan Dances Au Naturel in the Privacy of Her Californian Hideaway
Rose McGowan moves intuitively around her LA home in this tender portrait by Marlene Marino, shot earlier this year when the photographer captured the American actress for the latest issue of lifestyle title Apartamento. The Brian De Palma and Quentin Tarantino favorite made her name in tongue-in-cheek slasher Scream and supernatural series Charmed, and established her cult status in director Gregg Araki's 1995 comedy thriller The Doom Generation, which saw the pin-up entangled in a sordid ménage à trois. Yet shooting today’s short was a strict case of ‘Two’s company.’ Having met through director Ridley Scott’s Black Dog Films—set to release McGowan’s directorial debut Dawn—the actress and Marino bonded over a shared attitude towards beauty. “Marlene and I were just celebrating femininity,” she says of the visceral short that is soundtracked by Italian composer Ludovico Einaudi, who previously scored Shane Meadows’ This Is England. “I think people can rise higher than the consensus of what is considered sexy; our only objective was to do something natural. I didn’t act, I just flowed into it.”
What was it like to see yourself in this completely uninhibited state?
Rose McGowan: It was really transformative: it actually made me cry. It was born out of reclaiming my own ideas of what beauty is. I have realized that I don’t have to be bound by the “rules” here in Los Angeles or Hollywood. It is me, but not an artificial version.
What’s next for you?
RM: I’m going to direct my first feature film, taking things I borrowed from Marlene. I’m also making a show about art and pornography. It will be custom-made porn but not in the kind of way that you’ve seen or that you think of it.
Is that in production?
RM: I just shot the teaser for it and in it I’m wearing a strap-on. It’s pretty balls-out, I’m not gonna lie—it’s going to look insane.
What’s your experience of pornography?
RM: I have never liked it and don’t find it sexually interesting: I don’t like their hair, makeup, or acting. How am I supposed to get excited by something that I think is cornball and not beautiful?
So what would you consider to be sexy?
RM: Oh I don’t know, maybe two people in a lovely field on a farm, shot like Terence Malick.