Danger Angels

Autumn De Wilde

Photographer Autumn De WIlde talks to Francesca Lia Block, author of the beloved '80s-era Weetzie Bat book series, about their shared love of Los Angeles.

: One of my first loves gave me Weetzie Bat, so it's really meaningful to me. I grew up in L.A. and I have my own dirty love of the city that's so often hard to explain to people. This was one of the books I've referred to in defense of L.A. It was one of the first times where I felt L.A. was described the way I saw it. What were your favorite places to go when you were a teenager?

FRANCESCA LIA BLOCK: A lot of them are recorded in Weetzie Bat. We'd go to the Farmer's Market, Schwab's, and I had a fake ID, so we'd go to some clubs like the Whisky, the Roxy and Vex, which was downtown and was a darker, punk club. As a kid I went to the Tar Pits, the Griffith Park carousel, the Santa Monica Pier. I was born in Hollywood but grew up in Studio CIty in the Valley, and would always venture over to Laurel Canyon into what I thought was actual Los Angeles.


Every time I've taken someone on a tour of my favorite weird places in Los Angeles, I feel instantly they understand it. I think it's a "build-your-own-city," and you really have to mark a path and create the city you love, because it's basically like a bunch of broken-down sets. Now I feel like we're always at war with strip malls in Los Angeles. I think everyone in L.A. has seen a sad day where their favorite buiding was knocked down. The Brown Derby! What monster tears down a building that's built in the shape of a hat? I remember driving by sadly looking out my mom's car window when they told me they were tearing it down. I started crying and I was like "What kind of world?"

FLB: It's true! We're lucky we have what we do -- so much is gone.


What's on your list of "I wish there was still a..."

FLB: Hollywood in Miniature -- that's probably the main one. On Hollywood Boulevard, it was a little model of Hollywood that lit up in the dark right across the street from the Chinese Theater. I'm so glad the old part of the Farmer's Market is still there.


And the La Bre Tar Pits! Have you ever been there at night? I made out with some guy there once. What were your favorite make-out spots?

FLB: I have one -- it's in Weetzie Bat: The top of the Hollywood sign. That would definitely be it. I messed up my ankle permanently, but I enjoyed it.


Weetzie Bat's parents were like my friends' parents -- really talented, they won, they lost, they won, they lost. This side of Hollywood is damaging, but with it comes this beautiful, magical experience and the thousands of stories they have to tell are probably in all the retirement homes right now near Hollywood Boulevard. I shot in a Hollywood retirement home once, and this woman in a silky robe who was having a cigarette outside looked at me and goes, "I just wanted you to know I don't belong here." She was a dancer and an actress. It was sad, but I loved that she still had that kick.

FLB: My dad was a painter, he came here from New York to work on movie sets and write for Hollywood. He worked on Forbidden Planet -- that was his most famous project. The reason he came here was that there was too much weight of history in New York. L.A. was a new frontier where you could create your own art and create the life that you wanted. I think it really influenced me to do the same thing.


I really like the dirty side of Hollywood. I still buy wigs and masks and sparkly things there. Whenever I walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard, I'm always trying to sneak photos of the wig shop windows but they always yell at me and shoo me away. I've noticed that when I photograph on Hollywood Boulevard, there are characters that I'd only see there. Like those old men in their rundown dress-up suits, and broken actors and actresses -- the only performance they have left is on Hollywood Boulevard.

FLB: There will always be people who value and love those weird places and people. And those stars with the names on them carry a lot of energy. It's really an anthology.

MODELS: Lucia Ribisi, Arrow Sperske-De Wilde and Annakim Violette
HAIR: Yuji at the Rex Agency
MAKEUP: Robin Glaser
STYLIST'S ASSISTANTS: Ashley Furnival, Marisa Prefer and Ariana Ervin
INTERNS: Natalie Mancia and Jennifer Pinto
PRODUCER: Sarah Roach
Assisted by Brittaney Barbosa

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