TIFFANY LIMOS - LOVING MY LIFE !!!
"You can't be what everybody else wants you to be. Do what makes you happy." - Tiffany Limos 3/31/09
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The Kids Are Not All Right
Larry Clark on Wassup Rockers and More
"For me it was like, How do I manipulate this kid so he can do this and he's comfortable?, which is all part of directing."
By Damon Smith
Pervert. Pornographer. Pedophile. Larry Clark has been tagged with many unsavory sobriquets since his in-your-face debut in 1995 with Kids, a film that ignited lots of anxious adult conversation and talk-show sermonizing about drugs, parenting, AIDS, family dysfunction, and juvie sex habits. Scripted by then-unknown enfant terrible Harmony Korine, Kids depicted a day in the life of morally blunted skater punk Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick), who roams New York City with a boarding buddy getting high, chugging brewskis, and deflowering "young baby girls" while an HIV-positive ex-conquest (Chloë Sevigny) tries to hunt him down before he contaminates another nubie. As a raw, quasi-documentary exposé of the wayward morals of today's youth, Kids was, at least to some hand-wringers, a potent wake-up call: The kids are not all right. And they're screwing! Yet many were unnerved by the film's nihilism, too, and wondered if all the gratuitous fondling and dead-end teenie sex talk made the middle-aged filmmaker complicit in his lurid depictions of underage excess.
Questions about Clark's character have never really gone away. Despite the accusations of voyeuristic exploitation, Clark has always crabbily maintained his status as an artist, an outsider whose films align in a thematic continuum with his equally provocative photography. In his landmark 1971 photo collection, Tulsa, Clark aestheticized the gritty, back-alley depravity of Oklahoma's druggie subculture in a series of coolly iconic black-and-white images echoed in the early cinema of both Martin Scorsese and Gus Van Sant. His 1983 follow-up, Teenage Lust, offered more of the same: young dopers, post-coital idlers, hard-luck cases in repose, and one scantily clad lad monkeying around with a handgun. Without a doubt, Clark enjoys ruffling feathers and riling social hang-ups with his caressive bod-cam shots of lithe young flesh and shocking depictions of fringe-world behavior. After the furor over Kids, Clark's dark, rollicking Another Day in Paradise (1997), a semi-autobiographical film about two renegade addict couples, positioned him as a more conventional film artist, but a peek-a-boo crotch shot in his brutal, high-school true-crime thriller Bully landed him in hot water with star Bijou Phillips. Then came the ill-fated Ken Park, scripted by Korine and co-directed by Ed Lachman, with its spiky-haired-waif-boy-on-MILF cunnilingus and one prolonged, hilariously distasteful scene of autoerotic asphyxiation. No wonder the French love him!
But the question still nags: Is Clark an old chickenhawk or a canny purveyor of low-rent erotic images? He seemed to satirize that puzzle himself with his ludicrously tasteless, flesh-and-gore remake of Roger Corman's Teenage Caveman, produced by trash-schlock king Samuel Z. Arkoff for Cinemax. (Tagline: "The future sucks." And how!) Either way, Clark's abiding subject is clearly the mannerisms of urban youth: how they speak and dress, how they behave, how they view the world, and yes, how they fuck. Occasionally, like Paul Verhoeven, he makes a vital movie from his recurrent motifs of sex and violence. Wassup Rockers, which tails a rambunctious crew of Latino skater kids on a slapstick adventure from their South Central L.A. ghetto into the frilly bedroom of a Beverly Hills hottie, was a departure of sorts for Clark, and earned mixed notices on its release. Yet before it devolves into an absurdist romp, there are moments of pure charm, and the opening split-screen docu-homage to pubescent skater Jonathan Velasquez, Clark's ready-made star, has the touching quality of a religious diptych. Wassup Rockers may not rock as hard as its youthfully yowling hardcore soundtrack, but it does offer a window into the woof and warp of Clark's unapologetic kid-mania.
Since Clark's never really out of fashion, as a March photo exhibit at London's Simon Lee Gallery (one of many in recent years) attests, it seemed like a good time to revisit a memorably colorful conversation I had with the old troublemaker and eternal adolescent on the eve of Wassup Rockers' theatrical release in 2006. I spoke with Clark about his method of working with young actors, his disreputable obsessions, and his checkered past as an artist with an intimate knowledge of his sometimes sordid subject matter.
Not long ago, you said you wanted to make a film about ethnic kids growing up in America. Did that idea morph somehow into Wassup Rockers?
That film is called American Girl from Texas, written by Tiffany Limos, my actor from Ken Park, about growing up in racist Texas. But the interesting thing is, I was with Tiffany when I met Porky and Kiko. Ken Park was opening in Paris, and a French magazine asked her to make some photographs. I didn't want to do it, but it was going to be good press for the film. So these two French ladies flew in from Paris, and Tiff and I went out to L.A. I was going to photograph her with some of the kids from Ken Park. They weren't around, so I said, We'll find some skate kids. We went down to Venice and we met Porky and Kiko, who looked different, and a little out of place there. They were skaters, but they were wearing really tight clothes, they had long hair, their skateboards were shabby, and their shoes were falling apart. They taped them up and painted their shoes with spray paint. They had style, you know? So we started talking to them, and they said they were from South Central. They ended up taking us out to South Central, where we met Kiko's brother, Carlos, and Jonathan and his brother Eddie. We took them all over L.A. and Hollywood for four days, photographing for this magazine. When the magazine came out, they gave us 23 pages, and they did a second cover with Jonathan, this little man-child with a moustache. All the women fell in love with this kid. So I took the magazine back to the kids, and their parents were amazed. And the kids wanted to go skating again. I took them skating every Saturday for over a year. I was always dependable, I'd always show up. I'd take them all over L.A., feed them, and bring them home. And by doing that, we really got to know each other well.
The whole article here: The Kids Are Not Alright.