June 12, 2018
Pro Skateboarder Brian Anderson Opens Up About His Groundbreaking Coming Out
Playboy.com October 4, 2016
Words: Rob Brink
In 1999, professional skateboarder Brian Anderson won the World Championship, followed by the most coveted accolade in skateboarding, Thrasher’s “Skater of the Year” award. Just a year prior, in 1998, Tim Von Werne’s soon-to-be professional skate career came to a screeching halt after his sponsor, Birdhouse Skateboards, killed an interview with Skateboarder magazine in which Von Werne revealed he’s gay.
The world of sports hasn’t traditionally been kind to gay athletes; skateboarding is no different. Anyone relying on a heterosexual, male-dominated, youth-driven activity for their livelihood has always had to carefully consider the impact that coming out could have on their career and personal life. In skateboarding specifically, nobody wanted to become the next Von Werne.
Anderson is big for a professional skateboarder, towering at six-foot-three. He’s covered in tattoos and skates with the eyes of an axe murderer and the elegance of a zenned-out surfer. You don’t want to get in Anderson’s way during a session, but you do want him at your side in a bar in case there’s a brawl. Throughout his career, Anderson has designed his own shoe for Nike and collaborated on boards with some of the most respected skate brands in history. He’s been an icon in the skate world for more than a decade. Last week, Anderson upended that world when he came out publicly in a Vice Sports documentary directed by Giovanni Reda.
Anderson knew he was gay since he was four years old, when he found himself attracted to Popeye’s enemy, Bluto. His friends in the skate industry didn’t know until he told them in the early 2000s and, although word spread through inner-circles, a tightknit group of insiders protected Brian’s secret, speaking about it only amongst themselves and behind closed doors.
When the news hit in late September, Anderson did more than break the internet. He transcended skateboarding and harnessed the web’s power to bring people together in support of someone who pulled off a career move greater than any trophy and gnarlier than any trick. With little to no backlash, you’d be hard-pressed to find another example of a time when there was so much compassion and unity in the skate community.
Anderson might not be the first pro to come out, but he is the first A-list World Champion and “Skater of the Year” winner to. It marks yet another watershed moment in the recent wave of mainstream sport athletes coming out, from Michael Sam to Jason Collins to David Denson. But unlike what Von Werne experienced, this time around the skate community is grown-up enough to embrace it. To celebrate this pivotal moment in socio-sexual progress, Playboy asked sports journalist Rob Brink to meet up with Anderson to talk about the aftermath of his important public announcement. One thing becomes clear during their conversation: if you are going to hate on Anderson for being gay, you are hating on one of the most beloved, talented and influential figures in the history of skate culture. You’re also an asshole.
In the documentary, you say that you originally hadn’t plan to come out until after retirement. What changed?
I’d already told so many people in the industry over the last 15 years. It was irritating being halfway out. To be honest, I just want to be able to post a picture of my boyfriend and me on the beach on Instagram. But it’s not just about social media—that’s not real life. I simply wanted to be able to walk down the street and give my boyfriend a kiss in public before he got on the subway and I went skateboarding. I want simple things like that.
Just for my soul, I had to get this out. When you hold it in for so long it really messes with your head. I would hate to leave this planet and not tell my story. I wanted to tell everyone so that some little kid in the middle of nowhere who is wondering what’s going on with his life gets to hear all these fantastic people say, “Screw it, we love Brian!” Now, anybody who wants to come talk to me can. If there’s some kid that wants to pull me aside and go, “I’m gay and I’m freaked out” and I will be like, “I’m here for you. Want to go talk about this?”
What reaction were you expecting prior to the release of the documentary?
I wasn’t expecting it to be this huge at all. I should make the point that this thing was supposed to come out a week earlier, but due to some technical difficulties, it was delayed. I was upset because I had watched and combed through the edit so many times and was finally not afraid anymore. I was texting Reda, “Just put it out!“ That being said, it was a magical blessing because the night before it came out, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton debated. I got so many messages from people saying, “Last night was the worst, but to have something great come out in the world the morning after that madness was so refreshing.”
How has life been since your public coming out a week ago?
My phone is like a volcano. I wake up at five in the morning and look at Instagram, which I never used to do. It’s all been positive; the support from all different kinds of people is amazing. I’m very happy and just busy trying to be a gangster and embrace it all with the little sleep I’m getting.
What was it like for you to watch footage of your friends talking about you?
I shed tears watching it. Having that kind of support is incredible because not everybody does. I’m fortunate in that I’m a six-foot-three tattooed, hairy guy with a masculine voice, so I haven’t experienced anything too crazy. I was able to slip under the radar and my heart goes out to the people who it is more difficult for. What I went through was awful, but if you live in a small town in middle America and you are effeminate, I can’t imagine what that must be like.
I’ve been in my fair share of skate tour vans and have heard the way people say “faggot!” and “that’s gay!” How difficult was it to keep your mouth shut when that happened?
At times it was tough. I was scared. I couldn’t call someone out so I just had to deal with it. The people around me who might have used those words, they weren’t mean people. They weren’t racist; they weren’t homophobic. I was always careful to surround myself with good people and they never hurt me too much in that way.
Early in my career, being with [skateboarder and owner of skate brand Toy Machine] Ed Templeton helped a lot. To be on his team you have to be open-minded because you’re dealing with him. As an artist, he has a lot of provocative photos of he and his wife having sex and stuff. The people he let into our world were pretty darn open-minded folks. I never really felt a lot of homophobia with them. I would hear it around me in other venues, at contests and stuff, and I was like, “Thank God I’m not in the van with them.”
It’s amazing how respectful and protective the skate industry was of you all these years. I once saw a Vice UK article outing you, which is scary. Did that create any urgency for you to come out?
That disgusted me. I don’t know who had the audacity to think it’s their right to publicly post something like that. Like, who are you? Do you understand what it’s like to be gay? Screw you. I’m a public figure to a degree, so of course people are going to talk, but for someone to tell your story before you’re ready to, that’s disrespectful. That person should be ashamed of him or herself.
There have also been incidents where people’s careers were damaged as the result of coming out, such as Tim Von Werne’s. Mark Nickels, a friend of mine, was a videographer for Osiris and allegedly lost his job because they found out he was gay.
I don’t want to name names, but I heard how Tim was, what you’d call “fired.” That totally disturbed me. It made me angry about whoever was involved in doing that to him. And fuck Osiris for doing that to [Nickels]. Put that in print. That’s disgusting. They should be ashamed of themselves.
Based on percentages, one has to assume there are more gay pro skaters. Do you think you’ve encouraged them to come out?
I only know one and I think he’s basically retired. In the future, I hope so, just so they can be themselves. After all this stuff is over, we need to not even talk about the fact that we’re gay. It’s a great point to make right now and I’m thrilled, but I’m looking forward to just being a skateboarder again. It’s going to be cool when this is over so we can say, “Okay, we all puked this up and shit it out of our systems. Now we can just live.”
What would you say to other people out there, especially skateboarders, who are scared to come out?
Be careful. We are fortunate that we live in a time where things are becoming more accepted, but somebody can still throw a fucking bottle at your head. There are a lot of close-minded people and if you’re on a bus holding your partner’s hand, there might be someone who’s going to freak out and want to hurt you. If you feel like your family has old-fashioned values that may result in negativity, or if you think your parents are going to freak out and disown you, then don’t come out. It sucks to say, but we all have to wait for the right time in our life. But then guess what? There are going to be a lot of new people you’ll meet that will become your new family. They are going to hold your hand and walk you through the rest of your life. They’re going to love and embrace you and help you go further and be happier. There are millions of people out there ready to help you.
August 14, 2016
By Robert Brink
I drink a lot of tea while I work. Green tea usually. In case you didn’t know, tea is a diuretic. That means it makes you pee. And when you drink as much tea as me, you pee A LOT.
Above the urinal in the men’s bathroom at The Hundreds headquarters (my new workplace), hangs a framed photo of Asa Akira. She’s wearing a black, custom “Adam Bomb” The Hundreds bikini top; the bottoms are pulled down and wrapped around her red six-inch stilettos, ready to trip her up at any second. Her hand is covering her crotch, even though it seems like she’d rather I see it all. Her hair is long and black and flipped over the right half of her face. The eye shadow around her left eye is dark and overdone and exactly what you’d expect from a porn star. This is a good thing.
And with my dick in my hand, while countless cups of green tea stream out of it, I’m three inches from her and she’s staring right at me—her mouth agape and her lips gooped in some sort of pinkish gloss.
Five to six times a day, in these two-minute increments, all I can do is think about fucking Asa Akira. And I’ll say with 100 percent certainty, that, not only would this notion NOT creep her out, but she’d absolutely love it. It’s part of her charm.
And it’s this charm that has, more so than most adult film stars, thrust (pun intended) Asa into mainstream pop culture—from penning her autobiography Insatiable: Porn A Love Story, to her DVDASA Podcast with David Choe, to her recent reality web series, “Hobbies With Asa Akira” with The Hundreds, you’d be hard-pressed (pun intended) to find anyone somewhat hip who doesn’t know Asa’s name.
Oh, and she loves skateboarders. So you might have a shot …
So tell me about your phone phobia.
I really hate talking on the phone. I’m just always dreading that it’s gonna be someone I don’t wanna talk to. But when they don’t leave a voicemail I’m like, “Oh my God, who was that? Maybe I won a bunch of money and now I lost my chance!”
I get completely anxious when my phone rings or I have to make a call. When we were kids we sat on the phone all night long.
Every chance I had. I can’t even imagine doing that now. Even when my friends call, I press “ignore” and then I’m like, “Let’s just text.”
Do you have other neuroses?
Yeah, but one of them is that I can’t talk about it.
Like Fight Club?
Yeah (laughs). I’m a pretty neurotic person.
Does the world seem particularly terrible to you lately? Like, I’m driving to work and thinking about the drought and ISIS and Baltimore.
It’s horrible. Everything. And I don’t know if every generation has felt that way or if the world is actually getting worse. That’s why I feel like it’s too late for me to take acid anymore. My mindset is way too negative now. I went to Six Flags the other day and left knowing that would be my last time on a roller coaster. I used to love them—the scarier the better. And now, like, why would I put myself in that position?
Like when you hear about the Croc Hunter or some bungee jumper dying.
It’s the dumbest way to die because you put yourself there.
I was listening to an NPR interview with you from last year and it turned into that typical “What went wrong in your childhood” thing. Do you find it bizarre that so many interviews with porn stars go in that direction?
Definitely. When I wrote Insatiable I did a lot more mainstream media rather than porn interviews, and, for the most part, I think the interviewers walked away disappointed that I wasn’t some tragic story. I think they were rooting against me. In the book I talk about how I had this happy childhood. I didn’t have any traumatic experiences. And they seemed to come into the interview already doubting that and trying to catch me slipping—wanting me to accidentally say I was raped when I was three or something.
Trying to trip you up with questions like “If you had a daughter would you let her do porn?”
Questions like that don’t really come from a place of curiosity. It says more about them than about me. I think they’re uncomfortable with the fact that I’m so comfortable with my sexuality. It just bothers them. A lot of people need to justify it to themselves with something horrible.
What’s upsetting to you about the porn industry?
Here’s the thing: I didn’t grow up watching porn or knowing anything about porn. In my mind, porn stars were these really glamorous people. It’s not like I followed the careers of girls before me and then came out here and found out they were horrible people. To me the fantasy was coming out here, doing porn, being successful and having people jerking off to me. In that sense, it’s even more than I could’ve hoped for. But I was definitely shocked to learn that fluffers don’t even exist.
But that used to be a thing back in the day right?
No! I asked Nina Hartley and she said no. Fluffers were never a thing.
Nina Hartley’s still kinda hot.
She really is. There’s something about her that’s so incredibly sexual. It’s like the molecules of her being are all just vibrating on this sexual level. It’s crazy. And it’s impossible to not wanna fuck her.
She’s the person you wish you get accidentally caught jerking off by instead of your mom or your brother who’s just gonna embarrass you.
She would say the exact right thing at that moment. She’s just amazing.
How did “Hobbies with Asa Akira” with The Hundreds come about?
I’ve known Bobby Hundreds for a while and we did an interview when my book came out last year. A couple weeks later, he texted me like, “Hey, what do you think of doing a video series?” And I was like, “Ok, let’s do it!” not knowing any of the details or anything. We had a meeting where everyone pitched ideas and we decided on hobbies because I’m such a homebody. I genuinely don’t have a hobby. My favorite thing in the world is to read and watch movies. House arrest would be paradise for me.
I agree. I just wanna be home in Laguna Beach.
I feel like people are constantly asking me, “What do you like to do outside of porn?” and I’m like, “Nothing.”
But also, when you have careers like ours that you love and you are doing awesome shit like writing books and filming shows, you don’t necessarily need a hobby.
I love that you just said that. I think I’ve always felt that way and I’ve never been able to put it into words. It’s funny because people will often describe me as a workaholic but I’m really not. I just love my job so much that I want to do it all the time. If I were working a 9-5 job I’d do the bare minimum—complaining the whole time, trying to take long lunches. I wouldn’t be a “workaholic.” We’re really lucky in that way. I try to remind myself of that all the time.
What hobby did you enjoy the most?
I really enjoyed taxidermy, which is weird because it’s not something I would’ve imagined I’d enjoy. But I don’t see myself doing that on weekends. And crocheting I got super into. After we finished filming that episode I bought a bunch of yarn and everything I needed to crochet, but the only thing I can make is a rectangle or a square. And you can only make so many scarves before it’s like, “Either I’m gonna take this to the next level or I’m gonna quit.”
I also really enjoyed boxing because I like anything that is exercise without me thinking its exercise.
How much of your life is devoted to staying physically fit so you look good on camera?
Like, the whole thing (laughs). In some form, I’m thinking about my weight 85 percent of the day. Whether it’s because I’m hungry or need to be tan to look skinnier. It’s what I have to do to be able to have sex for a living and make money doing what I love. When I think of it like that, it’s not such a big price to pay. But it sucks. I’m always hungry. I’m never satisfied with the way my body looks. And the thing I’m most looking forward to when I retire is getting fat.
I read that Lisa Ann is the most popular porn star in the world. As someone considered “older” in your industry, is it comforting to know a woman older than you is that popular and there’s time left, rather than some 19-year-old coming in and putting you out of work?
It’s definitely more comforting than if that weren’t the case, but I’m not completely at ease either. People ask what I’m gonna do after porn and I don’t know. I wish I could do this forever, but what if I decide to have a family? I guess I don’t feel totally secure. Like what if MILFs are really in right now but in five years they’re not? I still feel my age haunting me, but it’s more comforting than if there were no such thing as a MILF category.
Like if it was cut off at 27?
Oh my god. I’d already be over it.
In skateboarding most people are done pretty young too. The two industries are very parallel.
I totally agree. They’re both kind of on the outskirts of society while still having one foot in the mainstream. It’s kind of frowned upon, right?
The mainstream often takes what it wants from our industries to benefit, but then doesn’t really accept it. When they want skaters in a McDonald’s commercial, it’s cool, but then it’s illegal for me to skate down the street to buy groceries.
And there’s also something super damaging about being treated like a star too young. You guys even more so because skateboarding starts super young. But even with porn, 18 is too young. If you go from your parents’ house to being treated like a star and making thousands of dollars a day, how can you possibly be a normal person? You have no shot.
And the skate industry is crazy because there’s such a focus on alleviating anything from your mind other than performing on your skateboard. People book your flights, hand you cash on trips, send you clothes and you party.
Wow. Like all you have to do is skate?
Yeah, a lot of skaters don’t pay their taxes, they’ve never written a check. There are basic life skills that are handled for them starting so young.
It’s not their fault that they grow up to be a man-child. How would they know any better?
Have you personally noticed the skateboarding and streetwear cultures being particularly drawn to porn?
Yeah, for sure. I don’t think anyone in the skate or porn industry is attracted to what’s considered the norm. I think we like being outcasts and we’re drawn to things that are supposed to be bad or dangerous or unconventional. Comedians too. There’s a lot of intermingling between the comedy and porn scenes.
Is there anything particularly surprising or different about filming a porno movie compared to filming a reality series like “Hobbies”?
The main thing for me, it probably will sound really silly to you, is that with porn I can’t eat the night before. That comes with so much anxiety for me.
Is that a body image thing or an anal/cleanliness thing?
It’s a body thing. My body’s built for anal. I can eat all day long and I’m fine as long as I clean out and do my little ritual. But even if I’m just doing a blowjob scene I’ll will watch what I’m eating because I don’t want my stomach to bloat out. I’m pretty convinced that everyone in porn has body dysmorphia.
Given that so many women dislike or won’t try anal, how does that become your specialty?
I’ll tell you what the secret is, because my first time I didn’t enjoy it and didn’t do it again for five years. The trick is to do it about 20 times in like, a month. Don’t space it out too much and then it becomes enjoyable. But for those 20 times, it hurts like a bitch. You just have to know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
That’s what I tell people about eating oysters and sushi.
Or olives! So true. And then one day you’re craving it. It’s just like that.
We are opening up the world for men who want anal and women who wanna enjoy it.
I think the reason men want anal so badly is because we resist so much.
It’s the final frontier. Chicks always ask, “Why do guys want anal?” I think it’s that we just want to know you’re willing to please us.
I think so too. I can’t imagine that the asshole actually feels better around the penis than the vagina. I refuse to believe that.
It doesn’t. It feels like I’m doing something wrong. Maybe it’s Catholic guilt, but it feels like I’m hurting the girl and I want to just go back to the regular thing. There’s probably a lot of girl advice for skateboarders coming out of this interview, inadvertently.
Ugh! Skateboarders are the worst! Us girls love you guys so much and you never give us the time of day. I remember being a teenager growing up in NYC, I spent countless hours watching boys skateboard. And like, they totally didn’t give a shit that I was sitting there for four hours waiting to finally get to hang out.
Skating might be the only thing I’ve ever experienced that trumped the desire to get laid.
I think all skaters are like that. That’s the appeal though. That’s why girls love skaters, I would imagine. The unattainable factor.
So you have an Instagram account just for selfies.
This is my third or fourth time on Instagram because they keep kicking me off. And I’m not even posting anything crazy at all.
Suicide Girls are probably more racy.
Yeah, exactly. So I set up three accounts anticipating getting kicked off again. In the meantime I was like, “I can’t make all the accounts the same.” I feel really conflicted about selfies because as a principle I’m against them. I feel like it’s everything that’s wrong with the world in a way.
I feel the same. We sound old.
But I can’t stop taking them and wanting to share them.
Has there ever been a situation that made you say; “I can’t believe my career has taken me here”?
Writing the book was a lot like that. I love to write and read. When I was little I wanted to be a writer. I’ve always journaled. I’m certainly not a good enough writer to only be a writer. I would not have gotten the book deal had I not done porn. The whole process—even speaking to a literary agent, I was like, “Holy shit. I can’t believe my life right now!” And I think it was like that for my parents too. Writing the book justified a lot of things for them. It makes them a little less mad about the porn—something good came out of it in their eyes.
In order for you to get a book deal there had to have been a tipping point where you had mainstream appeal, right?
It was social media 100 percent. My literary agent, Mark Gerald, works with David Choe, who I do a podcast with. He follows me on Twitter and called me one day like, “I really like your Twitter and I feel like you could write a book. Let’s explore what we can do.” I was so excited that as soon as we got off the phone I wrote an essay and sent it to him. He loved it and then I wrote four more. We used those chapters as a book proposal and it just went from there.
That’s amazing. That crossover thing, maybe 1 percent of 1 percent of porn stars get there. Was Jenna the first?
I think Jenna’s the first and in a lot of ways she’s the only. I wouldn’t consider myself a crossover star at all. I’ve done things and crossed over a couple times but, I mean, Jenna Jameson had an E! True Hollywood Story. Neil Strauss wrote her book.
She’s a full-blown celebrity.
Oh for sure. She’s a household name.
Ok well, we’re both gonna have an anxiety attack if we stay on the phone any longer.
(Laughs) That was a really fun interview. You asked me so many things I’ve never been asked.
Well that’s the ultimate compliment. You cool with us doing a bonus “Hobbies” episode with bloopers and B-roll after the series ends?
Yeah I’m always down for whatever.
That’s the best thing a man could ever hear from a woman.
(Laughs) I’m down for whatever … including anal.
August 14, 2016
The Stoya Interview
Words: Robert Brink
Photos: Josh Friedberg
The first time I met Stoya for lunch in New York, she was wearing a dress she made herself and en route to her first aerial acrobatics class—trapezes, rings high up in the air and Cirqué de Soleil-type shit. Stoya is crafty. She’s eager to learn and try new things outside of her profession. You gotta admire someone who doesn’t just kick back and coast once they get their career going and make some money and a name for themselves.
Stoya also briefly worked at Philly’s legendary Sub Zero skate shop, where discovering alternate uses for griptape (i.e.: on the bottom of her stripper shoes) she prevented bodily harm and skateboarding totally played a vital role (sarcasm) in shaping her career as a model and adult actress.
I just read an article about how shrimp are high on Prozac because of all the medication humans flush into the ocean.
Oh my God.
Predators are killing them because they aren’t on point.
Fuck. That’s fucking ridiculous. And then we eat fish that come out of the ocean. What’s that doing to us?
I don’t know but that’s what I learned today.
That’s fucking wacky. I wonder if that happens with semen. If someone’s on a bunch of shit and you swallow their semen, what happens? Vaginal secretions too.
I’ll have to pay attention next time I perform.
You don’t wanna be fucking some crazy bitch and then putting up with her shit because you’re too doped up on second-hand Prozac.
Did we just stumble upon something?
I think we just created a really dark rom-com short film.
All full of apathy and lack of happy ending.
Some pathetic dude is all happy because he finally got laid …
Yeah, and then he’s walking around fucking addicted to the girl but its just science tricking him.
I read once that there’s a chemical release inside your body when you get off that results in a sexual addiction for some people.
Oxytoxin. There are a couple of chemical releases. There’s the happy chemicals like endorphins, but Oxytoxin is also released, which affects women more. It makes them feel all cuddly and family-oriented and maternal. It’s after the physical act of sex. That’s one of the reasons women start dating someone and having sex frequently with them, they build an emotional bond. It’s also why they get all baby happy.
Guys just wanna pass out.
I guess it makes people sleepy too.
So what were your days at Sub Zero like?
We are going deep into personal territory here—where no reporter has ever gone.
I graduated high school at 15. I did it in 10 months or something ridiculous because I was home schooling and breezed through it. I was too young to drive and didn’t want to sit in Delaware for two more years so I decided to move to Philadelphia and find an apartment and a job. When I got there I moved in with this guy who worked at Sub Zero. We lived above the sushi place next to Sub. It was after Shane had turned it into a motocross shop or whatever and then back to just skateboarding.
Only Shane and the guy I was dating worked there at the time. Shane’s girlfriend just had a baby, so sometimes he would be like, “Aaaah! Can you either watch the kid or the shop, for just an hour? Because if somebody doesn’t do one or the other, stuff’s just not gonna happen.”
I’m not so good with babies but gripping a skateboard isn’t rocket science, so I’d come down, watch the shop and ring things up whenever they needed help. It was really fun. I’d always stop in and hang out after work for a couple hours.
You were a surrogate employee.
Kind of. And, oh my God, there was this girl who lived upstairs. Gimme a second to remember her stage name … Valentina Vaughn. She was in Hustler and photographed by Tony Ward. Now that I’ve been in the adult industry, I know she’s done girl-girl scenes for astronomical rates. She’s the hottest girl in the entire world.
She’s bangin’. She used to come into the shop and get skate sneakers! Eventually I broke up with the dude and he moved. Because I was so young and Shane was in the middle of developing all these paternal, fatherly instincts, he would see me walk out of my apartment in a super skimpy tank top and come running down the street with a Sub shirt, like, “What are you doing? You can’t walk around here dressed like that! It’s not safe!”
Then, when I started go-go dancing, people would put their drinks on the stage, which is fine, but it would get wet from the condensation on the glasses. Stripper shoes have no traction, so it gets dangerous up there. One day on my way to work I got an idea, so I ran into Sub Zero, got a sheet of grip and gripped the bottom of my stripper shoes. It was one of the most epic moments of my life.
Did the other girls pick up on it?
No because they were like, “What’s griptape?” I tried to explain …
My next-door neighbor in high school used to stick my extra grip on the wall next to her bed. She’d file her nails on it while she was sitting on the phone all night.
It has so many uses! Chicks should hang out with skateboarders more often.
I noticed that people who interview you tend to latch on to you being a tech geek, making your own outfits and not living in Los Angeles—things different from the average porn star. Most porn interviews I see don’t say much of anything. The girls seem to play the role of the hot horny chick who only wants to please a man. Do you think by putting this other stuff about yourself out there that you’re offering something more than just being a “typical” porn star?
Having worked in the adult industry for a while now, I’ve learned many of the girls really do have other facets to their personality—hobbies and families and serious things they invest a lot of time and energy into. But many of the girls are playing a role. Actually, I consider some of them the best actresses in history because they play a role everyday. They play it in front of cameras and in behind-the-scenes interviews and on social media. It’s really admirable, but in this day and age where there is no privacy I just don’t have it in me to maintain a 24/7 persona like that. So I’m just myself. Fortunately people react to it in a favorable way.
Do you ever feel pressure to carry on the persona? I see you do it in your Fleshlight commercials, for example, but then I’ve also spent time with you …
Yeah but when you see things like the Fleshlight commercial, I’m trying to play the very surface stereotype of a porn star.
I feel like you’re parodying it.
I try so hard to do it right and give them what they want but there’s this giant river of sarcasm running underneath it.
I wondered if others picked up on it.
I get unsolicited opinions from strangers all the time and they can tell too. Like, “Oh that’s so cute. They tried to get her to act like a porn star.”
Do you think people appreciate that?
Well, there’s all this ironic entertainment now, like Will Ferrell movies and the entire hipster culture. America and a lot of the western world appreciate irony and self-parody. People should be able to laugh at themselves and do things like that. So it resonates with people. And again, I’m very lucky that the things I do work that way, otherwise I’d be screwed.
So you’re being yourself essentially…
Yes. When I first signed my contract with Digital Playground, I was like, “Okay, you guys have your brand, please let me know what you want me to be.” And they were like, “We like you just the way you are.” And I was like, “Okay, I’m just gonna be myself and run with it because it’s worked so far.”
Is it possible you might set a new standard that you don’t have to constantly be “in character” as an adult actress?
I don’t really know, but I feel like with celebrities being under constant surveillance and everybody having their social networks going on, what’s happening is that public figures have to be multi-dimensional people. And if you’re just portraying a one-faceted character, people aren’t gonna connect with that—or if they do they’ll get bored very quickly.
They’re just gonna see through it.
Yeah. If there’s no substance there, it doesn’t hold people’s attention. All those movies where there’s the plot and there’s the subplot and then there are all these references … a lot of times people don’t necessarily pick up on everything that’s being referenced, but they know there’s something deeper there and that’s what makes them connect with the product.
As time goes on, the audience gets savvier too.
Do you have a different kind of fan than the average porn star?
Oh gosh. Probably. Obviously there are the fans who love pretty girls who take their tops off. Then there are fans of Digital Playground’s product who follow me because of that. But aside from those, most of my fans are people who, over time, I’ve developed friendships with. We’ll email back and forth and discuss books. A couple I call on their birthday to be like, “Hey, what’s up?”
And I guess it’s probably because I’m into sci-fi and whatever else, so we get into these deep conversations and it’s like, “Dude, you are cool!”
One of the first times we wrote, you told me how Nine Inch Nails, one of my favorite bands, sampled Leviathan for a song. I knew there were tons of weird samples on The Downward Spiral but didn’t know they were from specific sci-fi films. Then I found them all on YouTube and I was stoked. That exchange could never have happened between Jenna Jameson and me 15 years ago when I had pictures of her on my wall.
Regardless of the whole porn thing and having a public persona, when I talk to people, I don’t want to talk about surface stuff. I wanna get in there and connect with them—have a real conversation.
How about the cliché, “She’s too hot or pretty to be a porn star. She could’ve been an actress or a model.” I hear it about Tera Patrick; I hear it about you. I feel it’s kind of a backhanded compliment.
Adult entertainment continues to be portrayed as something that’s not desirable as a career, but rather something you fall into or are forced into. People, in general, don’t know much about it. It’s not like everybody has a neighbor that’s a porn star, so they continue to perceive it as something very negative.
I think they mean it in a complimentary way, but it’s also like, really? I could not have been a model. I’m 5’6”. If you’re not 5’9” or taller, agencies throw your head shot in the garbage. It’s just a basic requirement that essentially has to do with sample sizes. So it’s like, “Oh that’s really sweet you think I should model, but you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about.”
It’s the same as when you go for an interview in corporate America. If you don’t have at least a Bachelor’s degree, they’re probably gonna chuck your resume.
If someone said to me, “Oh you’re too smart to be writing for skateboarding.” I’d be like; “I worked my ass off for this!”
Like, you could probably also be writing for Time Magazine. If the editor for Time was like, “Hey, Robert. You should submit an article because I think you’d be great for Time,” you’d be totally excited. But when it’s some random person, it’s like, “Awww.” Like, a pat-on-the-head-because-you-don’t-understand-the-world-you’re-talking-about situation.
People also have this thing where they grow up feeling like they need to get straight out of high school into the best college they can, graduate with the highest GPA they can, meet some nice girl or boy, work in corporate America, live in the suburbs, start breeding and then restart the whole process with their children. It’s more important to do whatever makes you happy. Whatever you feel passionate about, do it. And especially in things like porn or skateboarding—anything that relies on your appearance or the condition your body is in—there’s gonna be a cap on that. After 30 or so you probably can’t do it much anymore, but you can do things that are related to it, or you can move into something else entirely different. Pretty much everyone I know that’s 50 or 60 has had at least two careers. They did something until they were 30 or 35 and then went back to get an education and do another thing.
It seems like people often do what they really wanted to do all along in the second half of their lives which is a shame. It’s good it gets done but people shouldn’t have to wait ‘til they retire to go on their dream vacation or try a new career path.
Or sometimes they do what they really wanna do and then they decide that they really wanna do something else. I think the decade between 20 and 30, you’re in the best shape to really get out there and struggle if you have to suffer for what you’re passionate about to be able to do it.
May 18, 2011
Elegant Fun, SoCal Style
Laguna Cliffs spa and resort knows nuance
By Robert Brink
944, May 2011
Looking for a bit of youthful fun reminiscent of carefree summers of yore? Enter Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa in Dana Point. Recently renovated and honored as Dana Point’s 2011 Business of the Year, the AAA Four Diamond Victorian-style resort overlooks the Dana Point Harbor and offers a true Southern California experience: sunshine, ocean views, palm trees, pools, hot tubs, a spa, yoga classes, fitness facilities, indoor and outdoor wining and dining, live entertainment, tennis, volleyball and close proximity to tourist attractions and destinations—all par for the course.
Yet it’s the unexpected—the attention to fun detail—that sets Laguna Cliffs apart from other Southern California resorts — for starters, arriving at the valet to a fully restored, $175,000 1940 Ford Woody that’ll thrust any car or surf enthusiast into geek overdrive.
The pool, of course, is an important facet of any resort stay. Each of the two pools at Laguna Cliffs features hot tubs, a full-service bar, a grill menu and an outdoor lounge. While laying poolside, guests will be pampered hourly by servers delivering complimentary fruit, Otter Pops, Evian misting and sunglass cleaning. Why the latter? Because who wants sunblock or Otter Pop debris slathered all over their glasses while trying to watch kids surf a simulated barrel or run through the “mini Bellagio” fountains in the one-of-a-kind Splash Zone?
Activity options also include catching a showing of Star Trek or Finding Nemo at the indoor movie theater, fully tricked out with an old-fashioned ticket booth, popcorn and refreshment stand—all complimentary. The stub is also good for a free breakfast buffet as part of the seasonal Kahuna Laguna Kids Club.
The Vue restaurant and lounge offers a tapas-style menu with snacks like cilantro popcorn and doughnut holes that’ll leave any inner child planning another visit before the meal is even through. In the mornings, the bar converts to a Starbucks, with plenty of space to fire up the laptops.
The full-service spa is equipped with a hair and nail salon, a massage and steam room, showers, a healthy menu, an array of self-serve hot tea, citrus waters, snacks, a gift shop and an outdoor patio with a hot tub and fire pit—all private.
“You aren’t going to see a spa like this at any other resort in the area,” says general manager Jim Samuels. “We’ve created an environment where you can check in and stay self-contained if you want. More importantly, you don’t feel like you have to wear a sports coat to walk through the hallways. It’s elegant and comfortable. You can walk to the beach or harbor, get a boat to Catalina, Jet Ski, whale watch, deep-sea fish or drive to Sea World or Disneyland.
“We do things to create the value for our guests,” Samuels continues. “We’d save money if we didn’t offer the tea or the fruit water in the spa, or the movie theater and Splash Zone, but we’d rather focus on providing a great experience.”
25135 Park Lantern, Dana Point
949.661.5000 | lagunacliffs.com
May 18, 2011
Preservation and Progression
Nieuport 17 Honors its past while embracing the present
By Robert Brink
944, May 2011
“We’ve become the finest photo, art and aviation museum in the country,” says former Naval aviator and Nieuport 17 founder, Bill Bettis. “There’s not a thing on these walls that wasn’t given to me personally by an aviation legend who walked into this restaurant.”
Founded over 40 years ago on the corner of Newport Avenue and Irvine Boulevard in Downtown Tustin, Nieuport 17 (also the name of a World War I airplane) began as a restaurant and accidentally evolved into a historical landmark and encyclopedia of aviation.
The entire interior of the restaurant features a unique collection of museum- worthy artifacts, photos and paintings from aviation history, many of which are autographed by world-famous pilots and decorated military officers, including the father of Nieuport 17 co-owner, Cameron Irons, who served with Bettis in the Navy. Even the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. is trying to get their hands on some of the extremely rare and valuable collectables. “When I die,” says Bettis, “I told them they can have some of the pieces they are looking for.”
The main dining area is a Disneyland Haunted Mansion and old school hunting lodge hybrid. A myriad of antlers, elk heads and vintage fighter plane art lines the walls. The vaulted ceilings are grandiose, but not as grandiose as the banquet room that seats 100 guests ... at one table.
“There’s no other restaurant in Orange County that can seat 80 guests at a single table, let alone in such a unique and intimate setting,” says Rob Hallstrom, owner of 714 Media and public relations for Nieuport 17.
The fine dining menu is traditional, known for its steak, seafood, free sides and salads, along with its wine list and classically crafted cocktails. The clientele is equally traditional and has been loyal for decades. And loyalty like that doesn’t come without exceptional service—opentable.com recently recognized Nieuport 17 as “number one in service” for Los Angeles and Orange County.
For younger, hipper foodies, Nieuport 17 revamped it’s bar and lounge area, and appointed new executive chef Marco Collin. The Barnstormer Bar is now serving up local craft beer, signature cocktails and gastropub fare like flatbreads, mac and cheese, sliders, tuna tartare and truffle fries alongside nightly live music, including jazz, piano and acoustic performers.
There’s something delightfully relaxing and rewarding about sinking deep into a premium oxblood leather sofa in front of a 14-foot fireplace, with an all-antler chandelier overhead, listening to live jazz and sipping on Nieuport 17’s signature Old Fashioned on a Friday night, while droves of OC scenesters in fedoras, with chest tats creeping out of their V-necks, are out at Club X or Lounge Y, waiting in line for a shot of Jägermeister. If smoking indoors weren’t against the law, OC’s finest pipe and cigar smokers would be here in the N17 lounge, kicking back and having conversation that isn’t muffled by the mind-numbingly loud auto-tuned hip-pop played by a “DJ” with a MacBook Pro in the corner.
Nieuport 17 may not be for everyone, but thankfully it exists.
13051 Newport Avenue, Tustin
714.731.5130 | nieuport17.com
April 7, 2011
Chef Inspired: A new twist built on the success of Vine
By Robert Brink
944, April 2011
Almost as tired as Charlie Sheen sound bytes (but far less entertaining), the term “gastropub” gets tossed around a lot these days. According to Wikipedia, a gastropub refers to “a bar and restaurant that serves high-end beer and food.” By that logic, for many, an Applebee’s is a gastropub.
“The term ‘gastropub’ sounds like a disease to me,” says Vine’s head chef and proprietor Jared Monson, who recently got the seven-year itch (literally, as Vine opened in 2003) and transformed Vine’s bar into St. Roy: a Chef’s Pub at Vine. “We chose ‘Chef’s Pub’ because it implies a chef’s take on pub food,” Monson continues. The name St. Roy is derived from four of his favorite wine country towns: St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville and Yountville.
“Culturally, our guests were looking for a more casual dining experience. St. Roy now gives them an opportunity to do so,” he says. “Seeing young customers pop in and start texting and calling friends to come down and to join them is great. The next thing you know, they’ve filled the communal table and are having a good time.”
The new pub boasts more seating with high-top wooden tables and a communal butcher-block bar table that offers a view of the exposed kitchen. Rustic and casual, it’s far from an Applebee’s — although the Dave Matthews Band and Goo Goo Dolls playlist is definitely comparable.
When Monson was looking to reinvent the Vine’s bar and expand the menu, he re-imported Chef Jared Cook from Crow Bar in Corona del Mar. “Jared was one of our sous chefs in the past,” Monson says. “He missed the experience at Vine and called me. It was great timing.”
The menu changes seasonally and guests are hard pressed to make a swift decision. From simple snacks like the olive and bar nut assortments, to small plates like pumpkin ravioli or mac and cheese; cheese and cured meat plates; classic and not-so-classic entrees and large plates; and even one of the best cheeseburgers in the region, there’s no way to try it all in just one visit.
Yes, there’s dessert too. Commitment-phobes should avoid the chocolate soufflé, which must be ordered 30 minutes in advance.
Monson personally suggests the duck confit salad to start, the West Coast paella with seafood as the main course and vanilla bean crème brûlée with fresh berries as an ender. Adventurous foodies should try the Mexicali burger (house ground burger blend, quasi fresco, roasted chilies, avocado, onion, cilantro, chile de arbol crème, brioche) and Fixin’ Fries (sharp cheddar mornay, bacon crème fraiche, scallions), as both are dishes that Monson calls out as “risky.”
“We’re branching out from our wine country cuisine and being influenced by our regional and cultural environment,” he says. Monson and crew go on walkabout to the Santa Monica Farmers Market every Wednesday and the produce they return with inspires the pub’s specials.
St. Roy also offers ten microbrews on tap, including local beers from Stone and Port Breweries. St. Roy’s new beer and wine-tasting bar faces a unique wine-on-tap system that houses 20 regional wines. For an enjoyable night out in San Clemente, whether for food or drinks, it’s winning.
211 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente
949.361.2079 | stroychefspub.com
January 17, 2011
Rising Stars in Action
Words: Rob Brink
944, January 2011
Progression, like time, waits for no one. If you don’t do it, someone else will beat you to it. Period.
Actions sports are no different, however, progression isn’t always about winning a medal, being number one or the money. Most times, it’s simply for the greater good—to push the envelope.
The athletes involved are intensely creative, dedicated, persistent, innovative and expressive individuals. Even in an event as high profile as the X Games or US Open, they are most likely battling themselves, not the other competitors.
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins, Kyle Loza and Brett Simpson are all in “the window” right now. It’s the age and place in their careers where they’ve accomplished more than most will ever dream. They’re at top of their game, but still rising stars and we don’t mind staring up at them. Not one bit.
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins: Professional Skateboarder
Age 21, Cardiff By the Sea
Lyn-z Adams Hawkins owns eight X Games Women’s Skateboarding medals—three of them are gold.
She’s the first female in history to land a 540 on a halfpipe and has never played her own character in Tony Hawk’s latest Activision release, Shred, because she’s “not too big on video games.”
Humble much? Yes, Lyn-z is in video games while most are just playing them.
Hawkins is currently traveling the globe with Travis Pastrana on the Nitro Circus Live tour and somehow still finds time to be a 21-year-old: chilling with her boyfriend (who has his own backyard skatepark), surfing, snowboarding and learning to ride dirt bikes.
“It’s still a man’s world,” Hawkins says of action sports, “but we're working hard and it’s slowly but surely changing for the better. We [men and women] are built very differently but I don’t see why girls can’t be as good as the guys one day.”
What will you be up to when you’re 30 and no longer eligible to be in this article?
I’m working on figuring that out right now. I’m sure I’ll still be skating. I plan on being a mother too.
Well, you certainly have time … of all your contest wins, which is the most special to you?
My first X Games medal. I was 14. My father died between the previous X Games and the year I won, so I did it for him.
No better reason to win than that. So you’re on tour right now?
Yeah. I just spent the last six weeks in Australia skating the Nitro Circus tour. Next is three weeks in New Zealand, a few more weeks in Australia, then Europe and the States. I’ve been learning how to ride a dirt bike too and I’m lovin’ it!
What’s a common misconception about your job from people outside your industry?
A lot of people think I was just handed everything on a silver platter, but I worked hard to get where I am— and I still work hard.
Traveling is a lot more tiring and stressful than people think. It’s not its all cracked up to be but it’s still better than a real job. As much as I have to be places, I’m kind of on my own schedule, My job allows me to do whatever I want as long as I’m performing well when I need to.
How incredible is it being the first female to land a 540?
It was a big step for women’s vert. I would have been just as ecstatic if another girl had done it but I’m stoked it was me. I like to help grow the sport and pave the way for all the younger girls coming up who will soon be passing me by.
Brett Simpson: Professional Surfer
Age 25, Huntington Beach
When your father spends five seasons as a professional Safety for the LA Rams, being thrust into the world of little league sports is inevitable. Two-time US Open champion, Brett Simpson, was no different. That is, until he stepped on his first surfboard at age 11.
“We went to Seal Beach and were just messing around,” Simpson says. “My buddy had a surfboard and that was the first time I ever did it. That Christmas I asked my parents for a surfboard, got one, and from that point I was hooked.”
There are hundreds of pro surfers out there, but only 32 make the World Tour. Simpson is one of them. He’s competitive and focused on staying at the top, but not in the “intense alpha male at a pickup game who only cares about winning and ruins the afternoon for everyone else” kind of way. It’s part of Brett’s charm actually.
When you’re on tour what do you miss most about Huntington?
We stay at some cool places around the world, but tend to return to a lot of the same spots. You miss your own bed and the food back home after a while.
Hard to argue. Of all your contest wins, which is the most special?
The first US Open win was definitely my breakthrough. But to go back-to-back proved it wasn’t just a fluke. The first year I also won “Breakthrough Performer of the Year” at the Surfer Poll Awards. Any award there is a big achievement.
How does life change after two US Open wins?
You’re definitely a bit more recognized than before. You dream of it when you’re young but don’t really understand what comes with it until it happens. It’s meant a lot to me and has given me the drive to do well. I’ve committed a lot of my life to contests and the Tour.
Do you actually “train” for contests or do you surf like you would for fun?
It’s definitely a simulation. When you’re surfing a heat you only get 30 minutes to perform well on two good waves. That’s the hardest part. It’s what separates a good surfer from a top surfer. Plenty of guys surf really well, but the guy that can consistently surf well in 30 minutes … that’s been the toughest part for me. That’s what I’m practicing. Consistency is huge at this level.
What will you be doing when you’re 30 and no longer eligible for this article?
Hopefully, I’m still on the Tour. Kelly Slater is 38 and just won his 10th title. Careers are maturing later these days. Hopefully my body is healthy and I’m still competing at a high level and still wanting it.
Kyle Loza: Professional Moto X Freestyle Rider
Age 24, Rancho Santa Margarita
Kyle Loza only showed up at the X Games three times. Each time he walked away with a gold medal in Moto X Best Trick. You know why?
Loza doesn’t do amazing tricks like everyone else—instead, he invents them.
Years later, no one else has been able to learn Loza’s signature moves—a few are trying though. And what he’s currently working on is going to change Moto X forever—again.
It’s the stuff legends are made of. But, at 24, Kyle’s no one-trick-a-year pony. He designs his own signature line of footwear and apparel with etnies; builds furniture by hand with a friend; is a tattoo artist; plays in a band with his wife (sister to Audrina Patridge of The Hills fame) and records in their home studio with Rhianna’s producer. Did we mention he’s got two babies, the eldest being two and a half years old?
Explain how fatherhood impacts your life.
Every way you could imagine your life changing, it changes. It’s ridiculous. It’s the greatest thing ever, but then you start realizing that if you don’t find a way to get some sleep, you’re gonna die.
How did you initially get invited to the X Games?
I made up a trick called “The Volt.” My agent showed a video to some dudes at ESPN and they were super pumped on it. I hadn’t landed it to dirt yet. I tried it for two years, broke a bunch of bones and beat the hell out of myself. ESPN is a giant company that wanted a rad back-story and a rad trick. Everything turned out perfect.
Have other riders learned your tricks yet?
I think there have been two guys trying “Volts” for a while now, but haven’t landed it. It’s been pretty rad. I enjoy watching. No one’s touched an “Electric Doom” yet.
Tell us about this new video project you’re working on with etnies.
We’re trying to bring motocross out of its box and into the streets. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it’s basically jumping off stairs, landing on roofs of schools, airing off roofs down sets of stairs. It’s about finding new stuff that’s totally possible to do. Nobody really does it yet. There’s a way to try any trick—anything you could ever imagine—anything’s possible.
What’s your advice for anyone considering a face tat?
Make sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it’s not gonna affect you making money. You don’t want to get married one day and have a face tattoo and screw your family over because you’re ignorant.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
My friend Toby, who passed away four years ago, gave me this advice for riding but I relate it to anything I do life that I want to succeed at and move forward in. Every day I rode he said, “Make sure you either ride through five gallons of gas, crash three times or ride until you throw up.”
September 8, 2008
Sky Ferreira: Hurricane Lolita
By Rob Brink
Missbehave Autumn 2008
Prior to meeting 16-year-old Sky Ferreira in her hometown of LA, I mentally envision a sketchy Roman Polanski-esque aftermath to our first encounter. The V-card-holding model and soon-to-be-pop star chills in LA clubs that I can’t even get into. She can hold engaging conversations with people twice her age. She’s gospel-trained with the same vocal range as Mariah Carey and prefers Sarah Brightman to Cat Power. What’s not to desire? It’s practically a setup for “Catch a Predator.”
“There was like, this 40-year-old singer from Europe,” says Sky, “and he goes ‘You’re 15? Can I put my head between your knees?’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to throw up.’ Older guys like my braces, and I’m like, ‘You’re gross.’” Sky’s not well-trained in the art of girly. She can’t walk in heels and doesn’t wear makeup, “I’m really lazy when it comes that stuff, but I just want people to know I don’t smell. I don’t brush my hair but I shower.” Sky says, following the beauty regimen of that other LA Internet “muse.”
While Sky is just too damn young for me to want my head between her knees, I kinda do want to buy her a milkshake and have her sing to me like she did for Michael Jackson when she was 11, “I sang some gospel for him and he cried. I was surprised. That was when I realized I wanted to do this.”
And do this she did. Listening to her MySpace track “God Bless,” I think “OMG, you got some pipes on you, girlfriend!” when normally I neither say “OMG” or “girlfriend!” I imagine her in some lounge, leaning on a piano looking all cabaret, singing to a bunch of lonely local older dudes who may not even be paying attention, but are really in the zone and wishing/thinking she was singing to them.
At 15, Sky used the Internet to stalk and write letters everyone she wanted to get her music to, including Swedish producing team, Bloodshy & Avant, who actually wrote back, asked for a demo, and liked it. The result: Sky will be heading to Europe to begin recording her first album with them this fall. “I’m very good business-wise and at promoting myself. make sure to respond to every single person who writes me. The kids in Illinois and Venezuela—those are the kids that are going to go out and buy your album or actually see you live, whereas people here in LA are just going to steal it Limewire.” This giggly earnest innocence might be a schtick, but truly, you can’t knock her hustle.
April 22, 2008
Amber Heard: Pretty Girl Makes Good
By Rob Brink
Missbehave March 2008
Actress Amber Heard is hot. She's also agnostic, fascinated by the death penalty, equally into bowling and libraries, and is going to be a star.
"I need to look at your wardrobe on Xanax," twitters 21-year-old actress Amber Heard as she approaches the stylist and his racks of clothes, before effusively hugging him. She eagerly fingers a bubblegum pink pair of patent leather shoes. "I love a man with a great pair of heels," she remarks and moves on to ogle other fineries. Heard has bed head, and from the looks of her, you'd swear it was about 8 AM on New Year's Day. But we're all smiling—about eight of us, as she grabs a coffee and perches on a stool. "I love my gays!" Heard squeals while gesturing to the room. She bobs her head in time to the tugs of one of the aforementioned homosexuals. He's pulling insistently on the matted knots while another commandeers her feet for a pedicure. Yet another grooms her brows and with every third pluck, her eyes spring tears but so goes the strife of a budding starlet.
Austin-born Amber Heard is suitably ecstatic. 2008 is looking exciting with three movies coming out in 2008, starting with Never Back Down with the Oscar nominated Djimon Honsou, then Pineapple Express with Seth Rogen, then The Informers, the Bret Easton Ellis movie with Winona Ryder. The actress' star is rising which not more than three years ago seemed impossible to everyone in the Lone Star state. Her family was adamantly against her pursuit, citing odds, probabilities and the cost of mistakes so the bullheaded actress skipped town and just left for L.A. She hasn't looked back.
Today, on her first cover shoot, Heard happily basks in the attention and in a coyly exaggerated Texas accent regales them with stories of going to the shooting range with her dad and again apologizes to her beauty swat team for her hair. They, however, are far more interested in exalting her soon to be "it girl" status, and that she was the "belle of the ball" at a recent fashion party. It was among this melee that we conducted our interview and by the time it ended, she was changed from the undeniably beautiful but tired Amber to the scorching hot version you're about to see in these photos. Maybe it's cause I'm a guy but if you'd undergone this transformation, dude, you'd love your gays, too.
You transitioned from modeling to acting, how did you make the leap?
My father persuaded me to take classes, and my first agent in Austin paid for them. I'd always wanted to be an actress. I did it in high school and fell in love with it, but I was distracted by the modeling industry because I wanted to travel and get out of my hometown. It was the easier ticket.
Friday Night Lights was your first movie; it must have been comforting that it was a football movie based in Texas.
Yes, there was an honesty to the character that made it easier for me to connect with. But after I did that I was ready to get the hell out. [Laughs]
Did you always want to move to Hollywood?
Not specifically Los Angeles. I love Texas and my hometown, but a lot of the reason I do this job is because I want to travel—do what I love, but travel.
Did the prospect of leaving high school to pursue acting scare you at all?
It's not scary at all. In retrospect, I think, "God I don't know how I did that." But now that I'm mature—well more mature [laughs]—I know how silly it must have sounded to everyone else. But at the time, the more people kept telling me not to do it, and that I should be scared, the less I cared. I just did it. It was the right time, and I knew I wasn't making a mistake. Turns out I was right.
Wow, you say that so decisively.
Well, I headed out to L.A. during Friday Night Lights and met with an agent that I'm still with. I told my parents I was leaving the day before I got on the plane. I left the next morning and haven't looked back once.
That's pretty ballsy. You moved your sister out here afterwards, too didn't you?
I made sure she graduated high school, then I put her on a plane, moved her, and put her in school. I'd been in L.A. about two years and felt there were more opportunities out here—not just in acting. You have access to so much more in a city like Los Angeles. Austin, on the other hand, it's felt like the place that people go to when they're comfortable and settled. To be honest, I care for my sister more than anybody else on this planet. I wanted her with me for selfish reasons also.
Do you get to spend time with her given your schedule?
I'm always working and traveling. When I'm not traveling I'm working and when I'm not working, I'm traveling. I just immersed myself in the job. And then I don't stop working, ever. I love it. If I do get some free time, I am an avid reader. I read all the time.
What are you reading right now?
A really great book by Christopher Hitchens called The Portable Atheist, US News about some discoveries on some secrets of Christianity, and a book about Pakistan.
I saw your profile on the website "Friendly Atheist." So, that's your thing huh? I mean, that you're um… practicing atheism?
Ha. Yeah, that's a great oxymoron. No, I'm not a practicing atheist. I'm a practicing human and I know how that sounds but I'm learning everything I can about being human. I was raised in a strict Catholic environment but the only thing I feel comfortable saying that I know is that I can't know. I will never prescribe to an organization that claims to tell me how to do anything. I'm not anti "higher power" so you could call me agnostic. Whatever, call me anything but I will never be a "religious" person.
There was an open letter on the site asking you to be the Atheist spokeswoman. Pretty goddamn funny.
You have to love the irony—an organization based on the belief system of telling you not to believe in any organization based on belief systems...
Do you think if you weren't raised in that crazy Catholic environment you'd feel the same? Anyone I know that grew up Catholic is so against it now.
I'd like to thank the way I was raised for giving me enough knowledge about organized religion to make the adult decision to live the rest of my life without it. I don't think you can believe or not believe in anything unless you know a lot about it. I know Christianity, especially Catholicism, like the back of my hand. And my education has given me the freedom to know that it is completely absurd for me to believe it.
Since you're not walking with Jesus, who do you hang out with out here? True friends, industry acquaintances, or do you have trouble mixing work with a social life? Amber, do you play well with others?
I've lived here for like three-and-a-half years—maybe longer, and [laughs] I don't really have many friends. I don't have time to make a bunch of fair-weather friends. I'd rather have a few great friends than a bunch of people that I call "friends." It's a pretty popular practice in L.A.
Do you want to be famous?
It's my goal as an actress to have a performance that the audience likes. And I imagine that if I become "popular" or "famous," or whatever you want to call it, that it's partly because people enjoy the work that I do. But a lot of times when people become famous there's too much other bullshit that goes with it and sadly it pulls them off track. We all know who these people are—girls, especially young ones. I don't want to be those people.
How hard is it not to be?
It's hard. You have a lot of opportunities to stray away from your career. It's easy to get distracted in a place like L.A. This is an industry for distraction.
Does it bother you to read about yourself?
No. I'm an actress. I've chosen roles because I appreciate that they're a written character and unlike myself. I choose and take on roles that are nothing like me so there is nothing a stranger could say about me that I would take seriously.
But that's not how things work these days, especially with tabloids and TMZ and all that. They're not talking about your performance they're talking about you.
Again, if I'm going into this line of work, there's a certain part of me that I'm ready to give and show the world. The things that I want to keep private—and I do have a private life—I will try to make it so that no one will write about it.
What role has presented the largest challenge?
I did a movie called All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and it's as far from myself as you can get. It takes focus, concentration, and understanding to prepare for taking on someone else's life that's nothing like you. My character Christie in The Informers is completely different from how I really am, too.
I read somewhere you once had to drop 25 pounds for a role. Has that been one of the most physically grueling things you've had to do for work?
It's my job. I'm happy to change how I look, whether it's my hair or my weight, for my characters. I hate to diet, but you have to take on the character properly.
You have to be strong and very careful. This industry is based on rejection. Build thick skin—it's important. I guess it's important no matter what industry you're in, but especially this one.
So now you're the "hot girl."
I get pigeonholed into a look or character. Now all I want is to escape that. I want to do ugly or hard-to-swallow roles because it's always more interesting. Everything is based on looks. I hate that everyone is so jaded and cynical that people think you can understand someone based on how they look.
Mandy Lane has been completed and gotten rave reviews at film festivals, but is only just being released. How frustrating was that?
It's hard. It's like you've worked on a project or a painting that even you can't see.
Does that dissuade you from selecting larger roles in smaller movies like The Beautiful Ordinary versus smaller roles in larger films?
If all of small, independent, art house, low budget—but artistically fulfilling— movies were all the best ones, then, that's all I would do for the rest of my life. And I would be poor. But it's whatever script that I most connect with at that time.
How did you end up getting the role in The Informers?
I read the script and halfway through I called my "representatives" and said "Yeah, this might be a go." By the time I'd finished it, I was 100 percent on board. People were nervous for me because the movie is so strong and based on a book that was hard to swallow for a lot of people. But I loved the story and nothing could've stopped me from doing it.
Yeah, people have problems with Bret Easton Ellis. He wrote American Psycho, which was banned in Canada. Did you read The Informers?
No. I was told I shouldn't and I've heard the book was more graphic, more intense, more violent, and much darker than the screenplay.
But it's shot so beautifully and it's great. I'm really excited about it.
Let's talk about your comedy.
I'm really excited about Pineapple Express. It was the most fun set I've ever been on.
The Missbehave girls are obsessed with marrying into director Judd Apatow's crew. Burst their bubbles; give us the real dirt on them.
[Laughs]. Like I said, I have a very small group of actual friends. But Seth [Rogen], Judd [Apatow], Jonah [Hill], and Michael [Cera] are every bit as great off screen as they are on. They're amazing. And hilarious. Honestly, they're just all the funniest people I've ever been around.
Is there anyone you fantasize about working with one day?
I got to work with Niki Caro a couple years ago in North Country. That was the one director who before I became an actor I said I would do absolutely anything to work with. I also love Tony Scott. There's so many good directors I can only hope that someday I'll have the opportunity.
How about actors or actresses?
I really appreciate Hillary Swank and Charlize Theron... women who I look up to and admire. Of course I wouldn't mind working next to a couple good looking guys either [laughs].
Ha. So other than acting with hot dudes, why else did you want to be an actress?
Movies are powerful. And these days, they're so effective at getting messages across. People don't read anymore. If I can be in movies and influence people… I can only dream of some day moving people the way I've been moved by film. I just want to do good work and I want to be a good artist. I saw Whale Rider recently and whole movie is brilliant but something about that performance…
Let's do James Lipton rapid fire. Best professional advice you've ever gotten?
Peter Berg, a director and friend said that I was in the position to do what I love and that I just had to go for it. Commit. He said, "Don't listen to anything anybody says and go for it." I think it was the way he said it. But the advice changed my life.
Something about you that people don't know?
My bowling skills. I don't wanna brag or anything but they're crazy.
Reading about religion. I'm fascinated by every religion out there because it's changed the whole world. Religion shapes government and starts wars. I'm obsessed with the non-fiction section of the Beverly Hills Library.
Whoa. I haven't heard the library mentioned in ages.
The day before yesterday, I spent five hours there. Read a little about the death penalty. The Supreme Court has reviewed the constitutionality about lethal injections for the first time since the 1800's or something. So now I'm obsessed with the death penalty. I get into these topics, like that or whatever random thing it is and I spend hours in the library learning about it.
Any kind of alcoholic beverage [laughs]. Um, no, I'm kidding.
Last movie you saw?
Atonement [making suicidal, wrist slitting motions].
I take it you didn't love it?
Hated it. I loved Juno. That was the last movie I will admit to watching. I love that movie. I think it's brilliant and hilarious.
Last lie you told?
The previous 45 minutes of my life.
Ha. Last thing you broke?
I'm the biggest klutz in the world. I've never met a more klutzy person. I break anything I touch. Whether its bones or high-heels or cars or things I hit with cars. I'm not kidding. I break everything … or lose it. If it's not lost… well… if it's lost it's probably safe. If I haven't lost it, I've broken it.
Most horrifying or surprising thing you've experienced in Hollywood?
Nothing surprises me in this industry anymore. I don't think I've been surprised since the moment I got to Los Angeles—or after about a week of being there. Hell, I'd love to be surprised.
February 25, 2008
Hey You're Cool!
By Rob Brink
Mass Appeal #49
Lizzy Caplan commutes 45 minutes daily in pajamas for her favorite morning coffee in hometown LA. She's quick-witted and clever, refreshingly bullshit-free. To the point where her making fun of you actually feels good. And, despite obvious cute-slash-hotness, the 25-year old is more modest than she needs to be.
Caplan never really harbored any secret desires to become an actress until she defaulted to drama when playing the piano at the Hamilton Academy of Music in Los Angeles got boring—then she "just went for it."
You might remember her as Janis from Mean Girls. You know, the gothy, atypically attractive chick with an influx of eye shadow? But that was eons and a short-lived TV sitcom ago. These days, Lizzy spends her time eluding the Hollywood scene and working with powerhouses like J. J. Abrams, Harrison Ford and Sean Penn, while firmly rooted in the denial that she will soon be sought after and posing for cell phone photos with fans.
RB: I just spent 18 hours Googling you and the only dirt I found was some paparazzi picture of you on a cell phone snarkily entitled, "Lizzy Caplan loves her cell phone!"
LC: I don't want to hear it! I'm actually really uncomfortable even knowing that you looked all that shit up.
There's not a lot of Lizzy hate out there.
Oh, you just wait and see. It's a really troubling time to want to be an actress. There's people who are famous for the sake of being famous, which I just can't wrap my head around at all, so it scares me. It keeps me up at night so I just avoid it.
How do you feel about interviews then?
I hate reading any interview because I come off in print like a total idiot. Always. My grammar is incorrect and I ramble on. So I'm not looking forward to reading this, no.
Have you ever met any hardcore Mean Girls fans?
The second after that movie wrapped I dyed my hair blonde and just went a completely different direction, so I was never recognized on the street. But when I'm with Daniel Franzese, a good friend of mine, who is in that movie, he gets swarmed by people and says, "Oh, and that's Janis,"' and then they kind of freak out a little bit. Otherwise I could be standing right next to him and people would have no idea, which is great. I don't know how to react to people wanting to take pictures of me. I just get really uncomfortable, it's pathetic, and it's totally my problem.
You're potentially looking at being the chick that everyone wants photos with very soon.
Maybe. I just can't picture it. I may have to change my hair again. That'll protect me.
What about when Maxim calls you and wants you to be "the hot chick from the J. J. Abrams movie"?
I'll passaroo on that. I actually did Stuff magazine years ago.
Damn, I've gotta find that.
No! Ah! I shouldn't have told you. It's very weird. You could be talking about something that has nothing to do with anything to them, and it'll be like, "Oh, God, and his cock is so huge, I love cock!" And its like, wait, I didn't say that! What? And it's blown up huge and printed over your face in the mag.
Working on the Abrams film and another movie with Sean Penn and Harrison Ford, are you thinking, "I've got a big year coming up. This could be my year"?
I don't. Only because I felt like that before with different television shows or whatever I was doing, and allowing people to put ideas in my head that "Okay, things are gonna be really different for you this year so your life's gonna change, get ready." And I mentally prepare myself and it doesn't happen. So I have zero expectations. What's the point of getting ready for something until it actually happens? I don't think you can really prepare yourself for "your life completely turning upside down."
I was told I could only inquire about the Abrams audition but not the movie…
The audition was actually weird though, cuz we auditioned with Alias scenes. We had no idea what the movie was about. And we had to sign on not reading the script. And they kind of told us a few things. We thought it was gonna be a mid-twenties coming-of-age comedy. Then there would be an Alias scene where you'd have to plunge a dude's heart with a syringe, and it's like, "Well, what is this movie?" And they all think it's really funny that nobody has any idea.
With all the cryptic hype, does that add to the pressure? It's a lot to live up to.
One hundred percent. But the new trailer comes out in about a week and I think people are gonna be impressed. We had no idea we were making such an insanely large-scale movie. The Class was all Friends creators and there was so much hype and so much pressure around that show. It ended up hurting us because it wasn't Friends. For this though, people love J. J. Abrams so much they seem to be much more accepting of whatever he's gonna throw out there and more into thinking that everything he does is great.
It seems like movies used to be the more legit thing to do. Now you can be a legit actor on TV and taken more seriously.
Absolutely! And it's cool. I think the roles for women are just better in television across the board. Like, comedies. You can actually have a comedic voice as a woman. You see that more often in TV than in movies.