You never know what’s going to pop out of the wonderfully warped mind of Lenora Claire next, but rest assured it wont be boring. The crimson-haired beauty is definitely leaving her mark on the art and nightlife scenes, curating shows at Pop tART Gallery such as Austin Young‘s popular “Your Face Here” project (the photo to the left is one of his and the shot on our “About” page is from the exhibit) and co-hosting parties such as the Tuesday boy boy institution, Mr. Black LA. Though she’d been putting together wild Apocolipstick performance art and music shows at local clubs for a few years, it was probably her work with World of Wonder Gallery that remains most unforgettable, particularly “Golden Gals Gone Wild” (featuring sexy rendering of the bitties from the TV sitcom). We’re excited to have the awesomely creative Ms. Claire as a contributor to LA Slush. Her essays promise a glimpse behind the subversive glitz of not only her eye-popping personna, but LA itself. Enjoy. -LL
By Lenora Claire
Even though I love Los Angeles and feel very lucky to have been raised here, growing up I never really felt like I fit in. I always felt like a Jem doll amongst the Barbies. As an incredibly precocious child everything about me developed way too quickly. Skipping a grade didn’t help. By the 6th grade I had won numerous essay contests and young writer awards but if you ask anyone who knew me then they would all tell you I was known as the girl with the giant jugs. Even in elementary school nothing is elementary when your giant rack can’t buy clothes off the rack. By the time I was 13 I had accepted that my bust was going to be more ample size than sample size. However this being the early 90′s I could put on my riot grrrl gear and know everyone was busy picking on the chubby kid with the sweaty pits highlighted by his Hypercolor shirt and pretty much leave me alone.
Shortly after I discovered cult film, Bettie Page, brooding boys who loved Joy Division, and swapped goth makeup tricks with cholas. I made friends with all the other weirdos in the valley. Together we would make pilgrimages to Hollywood to buy records at Vinyl Fetish and bondage bracelets from Rozz Williams from Christian Death at Retail Slut. Never fully appreciating the irony that he sold us those items while a wall of his own band shirts were on sale directly behind him. I guess that might make me suicidal too. As a teenage goth I would do things like buy wedding dresses, dye them black, and bury them for six months before wearing them to high school. My psychiatrist father would insist it was because I felt the need to externalize all the chaos that was manifesting internally. I argued that black was slimming and that I was being resourceful sharing collars and other accessories with the family dog.
As the years passed and stores like Hot Topic came out (full disclosure: I was one of their first models. If you search hard enough you can find photos of me modeling pleather prom gowns for them) my tastes evolved and I could no longer identify with what was now a mass marketed movement. So in a culture that needs to qualify and explain everything, what was I? Well, like most people I’m many things. I’ve been an entertainment journalist and have interviewed people I grew up loving such as Elvira, Pee Wee Herman, and Julie Newmar. I often joke that having been on Q TV which predated LOGO, giving gay men dating advice on Sirius radio, and spending 4 years at Frontiers magazine, that I’m the one straight girl that has managed to penetrate queer media. So am I a professional fag hag? No, that phrase has never been acceptable.
I’ve curated multiple outrageous art shows that have gotten me national news coverage and have appeared on media outlets so huge they don’t even need names– they can just go by a few letters such as TMZ, NBC, MTV, to NPR. Can I proudly call myself an artist when my biggest show to date brought Bea Arthur’s boobies into the headlines or is my art being an instigator and master media manipulator? I’ve been in a few ad campaigns, am pretty sure I know how to smile with my eyes, and believe it or not, even had my face all giant on a billboard in Time Square but I certainly would never call myself a model. I recently had a short stint where I was hired to help write and develop TV shows. Now all my brain can do is come up with the most obscene ideas possible and try to get them seen by as many people as possible. It’s gotten to the point where I’m tempted to send a pitch in to A&E which I feel has gone from the arts & entertainment network to the abuse & exploitation network. My idea for a new show is to take the methed out people from Intervention and send them over to clean up the houses on Hoarders. I’m certain the network would smell a hit on their hands but before I start writing my Emmy acceptance speech, I think I’d like to write my manifesto first. You see in a world where those like myself who embraced the counterculture were once considered outrageous weirdos, we’ve totally become less strange and less outrageous as the internet and reality TV have brought upon massive global weirding. I can spend a year of my life trying to make a painting of Bea Arthur nude famous (yes, I’ve done this) but that is nowhere as shocking as super square secretaries sending each other links to the “2 girls 1 cup” video. So with that said I think I’ve found my identity and my calling.
Much like John Waters before me I’d like to inspire a generation of deviants, drag queens, art kids, questionable glamour girls, flamboyant boys, and anyone who every stood in the corner of a school dance and wished they had Telekenesis like Carrie to make their own art and better yet, make it for the right reasons. Every good movement needs a name. I’ve decided we’ll be called Obscenesters. Next week I will share our manifesto.
Claire is producing this weekend’s “Illuminate Parkinsons by Allan Amato” event, which will be hosted by popular comic/graphic novel author Neil Gaiman. See info, here.
Check out Claire’s website for upcoming events and projects.