Return of Le Théâtre du Grand-Guignol -- "graphic, amoral horror entertainment"

Grand Guignol was a French theater from the late 19th century that specialized in hosting graphic horror performances. A typical show would involve insane or hysterical characters, gory special effects, and a very bloody ending.

This month Corey Helford Gallery in Downtown Los Angeles presented three plays of Theater du Grand Guignol and two adult entertainments inspired by Oh! Calcutta!. With barf-bag and playbill in hand, audience members enjoyed very intimate showings of the one-act plays "Final Kiss," "Laboratory of Hallucinations," and "The Old Women."

Schuyler Helford, the director, said that working with these translated French plays was a wonderful experience since they are relatively unknown and include a good amount of comedy, an element that made the horror even more chilling. Gasps and laughter were constant throughout "Laboratory of Hallucinations," a play about a mad doctor who performs a controversial operation on his wife’s lover. When the adulterer, now insane, awakens in an unfamiliar laboratory, he turns on the doctor and things get bloody.

The two adult entertainments, shown between the one-act horrors, were Suite for Five Letters and Jack and Jill, which are based on the sex-ridden revue of 1969, Oh! Calcutta! Again, the combination of horror and comedy intensified the mood of the night. The actors, props, special effects, and dialogue were all believable, and the intimacy of the gallery setting helped make these acts absorbing. The final act of the night, "The Old Women," focused on a group of women in an insane asylum who plotted, out of jealousy, to blind another, more attractive resident. Read the rest

Interview with A$AP Ferg about his Adidas Skateboarding x Trap Lord Collection

Harlem Rapper A$AP Ferg has collaborated with Adidas to design the Adidas Skateboarding x Trap Lord Collection, which was released on September 1st. At the release party for the new collection, skaters were invited to participate in the Adidas Skateboarding “Skate Copa Court” competition to win cash prizes and giveaways. Adults and kids skated together and put on an awesome show for the people watching. Following the skate competition, A$AP Ferg performed, which was the highlight of the night. He even got off stage and moshed with the audience for a bit, which made everyone go wild. It was so cool to see a musician having fun with his fans like this during a performance. Both Adidas and A$AP Ferg made the release party a super fun experience.

The Adidas skateboarding x Trap Lord collection serves as a bridge between hip-hop and skate culture. The collection features classic adidas pieces with designs by A$AP Ferg. It consists of a pair of customized Matchcourts, a windbreaker jacket, a pair of fleece pants, a jersey, a t-shirt, and a cap. A$AP Ferg’s music video for Nandos was also released along with the collection, and features the new Adidas pieces in it.

I spoke with A$AP Ferg at the event about his collaboration with Adidas. He told me that one source of inspiration for the collection was the film Children Underground, which is about “mole kids” who live in underground tunnels and wear mismatched, vintage-looking clothing.

I asked him what his connection to skating and fashion was while growing up in New York, and he told me that the A$AP mob is a “whole crew of different elements. Read the rest

Gook is a movie that explores LA's Korean and black communities in the Rodney King era

Director Justin Chon’s new award-winning Sundance film Gook hit theaters nationwide on August 18th. The film takes place during the time of the Rodney King riots in LA and tells the story of how people within the black and Korean communities were affected.

Korean brothers Eli (played by Chon himself) and Daniel struggle to keep their family-owned shoe store open in an area of town that is unwelcoming to them. An 11-year-old black girl named Kamilla forms a friendship with Eli and Daniel who treat her like family despite her older brother’s warnings to stay away from them. Kamilla’s role in the film represents a bridge between the two struggling communities. The relationships between Eli, Daniel, and Kamilla mirror the chaos of South Central Los Angeles as riots break out and tensions rise between black and Korean communities. While the premise of the film may seem daunting, humor and exceptional acting balance the seriousness of the movie and create a very authentic experience.

In a Q and A with Ava DuVernay that followed the screening we attended, Chon explained that his personal life and upbringing directly influenced the plot. Chon felt driven to share this largely untold story because of his personal connection to this devastating time in history. The 25th anniversary of the riots just took place, yet racism and police brutality are still a major problem within our society, which makes the film even more powerful. Chon said “it was now or never” when asked about why he made the film. Read the rest