When we sat for the interview for ABT Marc-Edouard Leon was wearing a suit. He asked me if that was weird. I laughingly reminded him that we met on set with James Franco to begin with: I’ve seen Marc in drag, dressed up as a vampire, skinny dipping in pools, covered in blood or as any twisted result of a late night. Marco is one of my favorite people to run into at a bar or at a party in LA.
Since we both love to see what happens in the world after sunset we run into each other rather often. He always has a smile and a story to tell and although, because of that same social nature, he’s always greeting someone, he’s extremely present in interchange, he feels like a safe zone, he feels good.
When we sat for the interview for ABT David Hache was wearing a leather jacket and that was the first time we had ever met. I realized I was slightly uncomfortable interviewing someone and that was a first. Looking at him in the eyes while going through our Q&A I strongly felt his eyes back on mine. I was the one asking the questions, yet I had the sensation he was studying my persona. Between cigarettes and chatting I noticed a quiet soft presence in his manners behind the tall, dishy, french accented being. For the first time leaving an interview I found myself wondering, maybe vainly, what the person I had just interrogated thought about me.
I recently got to spend over a month in the area where I grew up in, which hadn’t happened in years. I was close to my language, my family and friends and, simply, in the environment that was the home base to most of my childhood and teenage years. I was reminded of those relationships, the freedom that there is with the people that know you since you were 14 years old. That immediate understanding. A lack of explanation. Not having the feeling that you should impress anyone, that someone is studying you, somehow judging you and trying to figure you out.
There’s something that happens when you’re around your old clique, around those homes, for better or for worst, even if sometimes you can’t wait to run away, or you drive each other crazy, there’s an unconditional well-being, just an extremely nice comfort at the dinner table.
Marco and David, the yin and yang behind the directing duo Skinny (partizan.com), are A BEAUTIFUL TANDEM to me for following together their adventure to pursue their passion of being directors having that background of having been kids together. Being, somehow, each other’s safety net while sharing the courage of overcoming that natural fear that going after a dream entails and sharing the fun that comes along with it.
I find that a beautiful, rare and lucky accident.
A BEAUTIFUL PLACE BY SKINNY (MARC-EDOUARD LEON & DAVID HACHE)
• City: Salton Sea Beach. It’s a strange and dangerous place, a manmade natural disaster near the Mexican border full of meth-labs and abandoned trailers where dead fish line the beautiful shores. David and I go there all the time to shoot music videos and get inspired.
• Bar: The Know Where Bar is probably LA’s best-kept secret. It’s on a shitty strip in Thai Town so you can pop in there for a few drinks and then get weird with bizarro strippers at Jumbo’s Clown Room or at one of the illegal after-hours karaoke bars next door. It’s one of those joints where you can have the best night of your life on a Monday.
• Restaurant: My new favorite restaurant is a Japanese hole in the wall called Ito. The owners redesigned an old hooker bar a block away from the Moulin Rouge in Paris and they serve insanely good tapas-style dishes. They also play the most amazingly obscure 50’s Japanese rockabilly hits you’ve ever heard. It’s basically Tarantino’s wet dream.
• Cafe: We shot a video in Bangkok last December and every day we’d hop on a water taxi outside the king’s palace to scout the canals. We became obsessed with this one old tail-boat vendor who sold plastic bags full of orange slush with a straw. I have no clue what was actually in that Thai ice coffee but it was fucking delicious and you couldn’t beat the setting.
• Clothing Store: For the future of fashion, go to Freak City in Hollywood. The average teenager there looks like an extra from the orgy scene in the Matrix. I did a photo shoot about these kids for Grazia France and was completely awestruck by their originality and creativity. They are LA’s young vanguard. We actually hired one of them, Palma Wright, to style our new video for Angel Haze and she did an incredible job.
• Design Store: When I can find time to visit the Saint-Ouen flea market in Paris, I always drool at the window of the gallery James. It specializes in Midcentury Brazilian furniture and carries gorgeous pieces from design gods like Oscar Niemeyer. Many of them were made in the 50’s with magnificent woods from the Amazon forest that are now illegal to log. They’re priceless.
• Museum: My favorite spot is The Mütter Museum (collegeofphysicians.org) in Philadelphia. It’s a 19th century medical museum with a giant collection of deformed fetuses in jars. It’s fucking disturbing.
• Hotel: Our production company Partizan has its headquarters in Paris –but we have offices everywhere from LA to New York, London, Berlin, Dubai, Beirut, and even Mumbai. We’re very fortunate for this because it’s given David and I the chance to direct commercials all over the world in the past few years. I love strange and exotic stopovers the most but I have to say nothing beats the Hotel Amour in Paris. I’ve crashed there months on end preparing projects and writing my first feature so the staff essentially thinks I’m part of the decor. Every room has a different porno theme and they serve great espresso and croissants in the morning. What more could you want in life?
• Holiday Spot: My new dream destination is Lagos. I really want to discover Nigeria.
• Spa: Whatever you do, don’t ever go to one of those fish spas everyone’s raving about. They have you put your feet in knee-high aquarium tanks where tiny flesh-eating fish nibble off all the dead skin between your toes. It’s literally the most horrific thing I’ve ever experienced.
• City: We live between Paris and LA, and love both places to death. Luckily though, thanks to our videos and commercials, we got to work in five different continents this year. There’s nothing more inspiring and refreshing than discovering new cultures, especially places off the beaten track. It keeps our perspectives open and gives a more global perspective to our work.
• Bar: My favorite spot is the Zelda in Paris. It’s an awesome little bar named after Zelda Fitzgerald that attracts the most insanely creative people in town. The guitarist of our friend’s band opened it –actually the guys for whom we directed our first video- and he’s a total music snob so he always plays the greatest tracks you’ve never heard.
• Restaurant: My favorite restaurant is called La Poubelle, the French word for “trashcan,” which is fitting because it actually serves awful food. But you can’t beat the location: it’s a block from my house, right in the heart of Beachwood Canyon in Los Angeles. It is literally impossible to grab a drink there without running into ten close friends at any given time of the day. If I ever get writer’s block, I know that I can just unwind there for a minute and I’ll get inspired again just listening to all my friend’s crazy stories.
• Cafe: I can tell you where not to go. Our last night after shooting in Bangkok we ended up at the afterhours venue from hell: Swing. Imagine walking through the secret door of an empty restaurant at 9am to arrive in a grungy club straight out of Enter The Void where they blast ear-raping techno while unshaved post-op hookers and speedheads grope you in front of their actual mothers babysitting toddlers at the pool table. Did I say it was the worst place I ever went to? I meant it was the greatest place I ever went to. It still gives me nightmares.
• Clothing Store: My ex, Kimberley Gordon, who is one of my best friends, started a clothing line called Wildfox Couture. Seeing how she has built this incredible line from the ground up, and how she carries her vision to the very end has been a huge source of inspiration for me. I have directed several fashion films for her and never stop learning from her talent.
• Design Store: I’m saving money so I can take time off to work on my first feature. For the time being, the Rose Bowl flea market will do the trick.
• Museum: We loved Jeffrey Deitch’s tenure at the MOCA (moca.org). Marco was part of many of James Franco’s wild art projects and a bunch of our most talented friends, like the band Io Echo, or choreographers Ryan Heffington and Benjamin Millepied, worked with him closely to create some unforgettable events. They will attest first-hand to Jeffrey’s commitment to breathing new life into the museum and getting young people excited about art. He made the MOCA relevant again.
• Hotel: Without a doubt our best-kept secret is the Oasis of Eden in Joshua Tree. It’s one of those crazy theme motels with Cadillac-shaped beds and caveman walls. We shot the covers of Ke$ha’s first album and singles there. The rooms are dirt-cheap and you get to wake up outside one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.
• Holiday Spot: We haven’t had a holiday in four years, and barely take a day off a month. We’re open to suggestions!
• Spa: I moved into a legendary LA party house a year ago. It’s an old craftsman with wood beams and a quaint pool and jacuzzi nested in palm trees and luxurious vegetation. It beats any spa hands down. My roommates and I all work in the arts so there’s always bands, actors, filmmakers, and photographers. It’s like Coachella without the parking headaches.