psychoPEDIA: Daily News

My Town: Phoenix
A Power Publicist's Strong Pitch For The Desert City

Mark Palmen is one of the great champions of fashion’s irreverent and unconventional types. For 10 years he worked as PR Director for the queen of them all, Vivienne Westwood, before moving on to support the next generation of style provocateurs -- like Daryl K, VPL, Gary Graham, Southpaw*Pawe.wa, and Imitation of Christ. It was Palmen who produced IOC’s earliest and most buzzed-about fashion shows/theatrical performances, such as the funeral-parlor presentation, the Sotheby’s auction, and who could forget the reverse fashion show, in which editors were herded along the runway to RuPaul’s “Supermodel,” while the actual models sat front-row discussing how much weight everyone had gained? It was, as Palmen often refers to things: “Genius.”

So, to hear the Seattle native discuss Phoenix, Arizona – where his family has had a vacation home for the past 20 years – you’d think the guy had been hired by the mayor to work his magic. After all, this city isn't known for its exciting culture. It is, however, known for its blistering heat. In the summer, temperatures average well over 100°F, making it the hottest city outside the Middle East. Yet Palmen believes it’s on the brink of greatness.

“Because it’s such an inexpensive city and so beautiful – you have the hills, the sunsets – there’s a whole art scene emerging, and people are just starting to discover it,” says Palmen, who spends three months a year there, working on his “true love,” his art. “It’s a series of silk-screened and beaded fairytales,” he explains of it. “It’s all about growing up and realizing your dreams are just that, and you have to go play the lotto.”

As for Phoenix, here are his favorite things about it:

The Kusama Room at The Phoenix Art Museum
“Yayoi Kusama is this 80-year-old Japanese artist, who was big in the New York art scene back in the‘60s. She lives in a crazy-person home in Japan, and every morning she gets in her car and drives 30 feet to her studio, and in the evening, gets back in her car and drives 30 feet back home. She does these mirrored “infinity rooms,” and The Phoenix Art Museum commissioned her to do one for them: “It just opened, and it’s really a unique experience. It has tons of mirrors and fairy lights that cover the ceiling and change from red to blue to green.”

“The costume department at the museum is also really interesting. For years it went unpromoted, until Dennita Sewell -- who worked at The Met for ages -- recently became the director. They have like 5,000 - 10,000 pieces, from 18th C. France to modern years.”

Durants
“It’s this really old restaurant. The waiters have worked there for years – they’re as old as the restaurant and they walk around in wrinkled tuxedos. It has a really great bar. It’s a proper old-school steakhouse – you walk in through the kitchen.”

First Fridays
“It’s the big social event. It happens the first Friday of every month and it’s been going on since the ‘80s. All the art galleries downtown – like 30-40 different places – stay open late. Bands play on the front yards. Artists clean up their apartments and turn them into galleries. It’s really funny, and everyone turns out for it. It’s become one of the biggest art walks in the country.”

Passage
“It’s a new boutique, specializing in unique products and labels. They carry Gary Graham and Kai Kuhne. They have a ton of limited-edition artist T-shirts. They also have these finger puppets that I’m really into.”

Casino Arizona
“It’s really a trip. There are all sorts of weird people – it’s great for people-watching. If I’m not by the pool, I’m at the casino. I play the slots and blackjack.”

TT Roadhouse
“It’s a biker bar – total dive. But it’s really fun.”

Valley Ho
“It’s the new funky boutique hotel. It’s like The Standard with its whole ‘60s-modern gist. The James is also a hip hotel. Their bar, J Bar, is pretty much the hotspot – everyone goes to see and be seen.”

Go There:


Phoenix Art Museum, phxart.org


Durants, 2611 North Central Avenue, Phoenix; (602) 264-5967


First Fridays, artlinkphoenix.com


Passage, passage4400.com


Casino Arizona, casinoaz.com


TT Roadhouse, 2915 N 68th St, Scottsdale; (480) 990-9033


Valley Ho, hotelvalleyho.com


The James, jameshotels.com


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Video Phone Road-Test: Nokia
Casey Neistat Won’t Stop Talking

Filmmaker Casey Neistat can’t go 45 minutes without talking about cell phones. At least that’s what his brother Van believes: “He’s one of those nerds whose whole life revolves around tech stuff. No matter what the conversation is, he’ll lead it towards cell phones.”

“I am a bit of a gadget freak,” concedes Casey, who turned 24 last week.

So, it was with great pleasure that he discussed with us his latest acquisition -- a Nokia N90 that twists, shoots video, and is impossible to find in the U.S.

The Background Story: “Nokia makes the best cell phones in the world. They’re one of the few companies, along with Apple, that seriously considers its customers, which is why they have loyal followers.”

So, when Nokia announced eight months ago that they were coming out with a camera phone, which had Carl Zeiss optics and shot video at 30 frames per second (with the same resolution as “the old VHS cameras that our moms used to carry around on their shoulders”), Casey was all over it. He ordered it from a dealer -- “called NYC Cell Phones, or something” -- who got it straight from Finland.

“Three weeks ago, some guy delivered it to me, by hand, to my studio. It was a little shady. No one offers tech support. I have to call Nokia if I have a problem.”

The Price: “I’m embarrassed to say, like $600.”

His Assessment: “I like to videotape everything.” Fortunately for him, the phone can hold two hours of footage on its removable memory card, which he imports to his computer and edits. Of the video quality, Casey asserts, “It’s not just good, it’s good enough.”

But What About The Phone Part: “I’m talking to you on it now. Sounds fine, right?”

His Ring Tone: “It’s called ‘Broken Phone Ringer.’ I downloaded it. It sounds like an old phone that’s broken.”

Get It:


Nokia N90, $599 with plan: nokiausa.com/phones/N90


For more on The Neistat Brothers, and to watch their films: neistatbrothers.com


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Outsider Art
Hunter Barnes Gets Up Close And Personal With Outlaws

Hunter Barnes has carved out his career by knocking on the doors of society’s most marginalized -- gang members, maximum-security prison inmates, citizens of an Oregon outlaw community called Sammyville, to name a few -- and asking to take their picture. He’s even been known to live with them for extended periods, to gain their trust and capture them naturally. Either the 28-year-old photographer has no fear, or he hides it well.

“They’re not seen by people. They’re not even sought out,” explains Barnes, a grown-up skate kid with armloads of tattoos, of his subject matter.

People, however, will pay to own portraits of them. Like Mazdack Rassi, the managing owner of Milk Studios, who not only funded Barnes’ documentation of Espignola, New Mexico’s Lowrider car clubs, but is also – along with former Butthole Surfers’ frontman Gibby Haynes and model Noot Seear – one of Barnes’ biggest collectors.

This week, Milk Gallery will exhibit Barnes’ biggest solo show to date, with photos from the past five years. For $1000, you could go home with a 16x20 portrait of Sammy, Sammyville’s 90-year-old namesake rebel, grinning big with ill-fitting teeth, and a .44 pistol aimed right at you. “That guy – he’s the banker, the preacher, the mayor – he runs that town,” says Barnes.

The desire to give these people recognition they don’t always deserve, started when the North Carolina native took a road trip in 2001. He ended up in Joseph, Oregon, home to “ranchers, rednecks, hillbillies, and old timers – you know, regular people,” says Barnes. “I started taking pictures of them, and it just blew me away.”

Since then, he’s spent time with the Ni Mii Pu tribe of Lapwai, Idaho; a bunch of bikers in New York, the low-riders of New Mexico, inmates of Corcoran State Prison, and members of the East St. Louis Bloods. And the experiences haven’t always been chummy.

“They put me through a little test,” he says of his time with The Bloods. “They took me on a ride in my rental car -- took me out for ribs. They said, ‘We gotta go take care of something – will you give us a ride?’ So, they all go into this house, except for one dude who stays in the car. He kept looking at me in the rear-view mirror. Finally, he says, ‘So what are you gonna do if they come out here with a bag of money and a gun to your head?’ And I say, ‘I’d tell them we’d better go.’ And he was like, ‘He’s cool.’ After that they trusted me. Woke me up one morning and told me they were ready for their shoot. There were like 50 of them, all dressed up.”

Then there’s the experience at Corcoran State Prison, a maximum-security slammer in California. Barnes spent two hours in the prison yard with the inmates. The warden’s last words: “Watch your back.”

“Everyone’s out for themselves in there. You’re either in a gang, or you’re screwed. There were Bloods, Crips, Aryan Nation, Mexican Mafia. I just went up and introduced myself – some were cool with getting their pictures taken, others weren’t. It was definitely intense. I took off after those two hours. It made me appreciate freedom like never before.”

So how does Barnes choose the people he shoots? “It’s the people I naturally connect with,” he says with a shrug.

Get It:

Hunter Barnes, “Scenes from the Outside.” On view March 30th – April 9th at Milk Gallery, 450 West 15th St., NYC; milkstudios.com

Hunter Barnes “Outside of Life,” a book of black-and-white photographs that document his experience with Lowriders, Bikers, Coolers (prisoners), and Bloods; $50, hunterbarnes.com

Redneck Roundup,” $50, hunterbarnes.com

For more on Barnes, or to order prints, hunterbarnes.com

Next up, Barnes is planning a trip to Kalmunai, Sri Lanka, where he’ll shoot the residents of the small town devastated by the tsunami. He’ll work with Rose Charities, a Canadian organization that raised money for the town; rosecharities.net

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Butt Seriously
Check Out My Ass

It took us a couple days to stop spewing milk through our noses every time My Ass jeans was used in a sentence. Our favorite was when the spokeswoman of the two-year-old Italian brand politely informed us: “If you have any other curiosity about My Ass, just let me know!”

But then we actually saw the jeans, and all pubescent humor went straight out the window. Designed by James Walley, a rising British star who formerly worked his magic at Diesel and Missoni, My Ass has one mission in life (snicker, sorry) – to make women’s rears look like works of art. And, somehow, by way of the heart-shaped seams, the low-slung Western rise, the tulip-shaped pockets that sit far apart, and the stretch of the denim, the jeans do just that. Word is, Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, and Christina Aguilera have all been won over.

“Once people try them on, they’re pretty sold on them,” says Joseph Quartana, who stocks the drainpipe and cropped cuts alongside those of Acne and Tsubi at his downtown NYC shop Seven. “The thing about My Ass,” he notes, with a surprisingly straight face, “is that you can’t get them too tight, or they smoosh your butt.”

Adding -- in their own words -- “a touch of weird to the party” this season, the My Ass team has collaborated with “eccentric” cartoon/manga illustrator Saburo Ito. The result is a good dose of wacky, high-end erotica, like a pair of knickers with buttoned butt-flaps. “He likes experimenting, and pushing his designs to the limit,” explains My Ass rep Jessica Costa. Further proof of that is their spring ad campaign: Shot by Ito, the racy black-and-white photos were banned by every European magazine, except the Italian-street-style publication Pig. Enter your own joke here.

Get My Ass:

My Ass, $225, available at Seven, 110 Mercer St., NYC, (646) 654-0156; sevennewyork.com

For more info: myassjeans.com

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Family Affair
The Chapin Sisters’ Fresh Folk

To hear The Chapin Sisters perform their moody, lovelorn songs in heartbreaking three-part harmonies -- and to see them, with their milk-fed complexions, swathed in floaty white lace -- you’d think someone sprinkled pixie dust in your drink. Certainly, you weren’t still in a Lower East Side bar on a cold night in 2006, but rather, you’d been transported to a sunny, dandelion-filled meadow circa 1977.

But then you pay closer attention to one of their songs, and realize it sounds familiar, and not just because it’s been relentlessly played on L.A’s KCRW, but because it’s a cover of a Britney Spears song.

“There’s no escape. I can’t hide. I need a hit. Baby, get me it. You’re dangerous, I’m loving it…I’m addicted to you, but you know that you’re toxic,” moans the middle sister, Abigail Chapin, in a soft, slow voice so bewitching, it ensnares listeners and strips the initial smirk off their faces.

Comprised of Abigail and Lily Chapin (the “early-twenties”-aged daughters of Grammy-award-winning folk singer Tom Chapin), and their half-sister Jessica Craven (the “early-thirty” daughter of scream-king Wes Craven), the L.A-based band mixes feel-good folk with a wicked sense of humor and an undeniable coquettishness to create a wholly modern sound. Even their coordinated ‘70s-style ethereal dresses, paired with suede boots and long shiny hair, look like something off Chloe’s spring runway.

“When the three of us sing together, something magic happens,” admits Lily, who worked in film production until two years ago, when, like her sisters, she was lured away from her day-job by the music. (Abigail had been working in costume design at Nickelodeon; and Jessica, screenplay writing.) It was a spring weekend spent in a friend’s studio recording enchanting covers of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun, Culture Club’s Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, and that big hit by Britney, which converted them all into professional crooners.

Now, singing all new self-written songs, the Chapin trio are luring a fashionable cult following from L.A. to Austin to NYC, where Libertine’s Cindy Greene and designer Cynthia Rowley showed up to hear them play.

“To be able to balance a music career with a nice life is really all we could ask for,” says Abigail, getting her folk up. “That’s something that MTV doesn’t understand.”

Hear Them:

For more info on the band, thechapinsisters.com
Be their friend: myspace.com/thechapinsisters
Get their self-titled debut EP: $12, cdbaby.com/cd/chapinsisters

Check out The Chapin Sisters’  favorite vintage stores in L.A:
The Way We Wore, 334 S. La Brea, Los Angeles, (323) 937-0878
Playclothes, 11422 Moorpark, Studio City, (818) 755-9559; vintageplayclothes.com

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My Town: Seattle
Alex Calderwood’s Awsome Adventure

Ever since Seattle native Alex Calderwood started doing business back in the mid-‘90s, haircuts and hotels in the Pacific Northwest haven’t been the same. His first group venture, Rudy’s Barbershop , set the parlor-shop standard by offering the hip and artfully-coiffed a place to get a cut and a copy of the latest i-D. There are now 12 locations throughout Seattle, Portland, and L.A.; and the 13th – a more grown-up, appointment-friendly version called Rudolph’s – will bow in L.A. on April 15th . And the Ace Hotel, which Calderwood and partners opened in a Seattle flophouse in ’99 (a second locale will open in Portland, OR this coming August), brilliantly mixes minimalist design with street art. All for no more than $189 a night.

The Calderwood empire doesn’t stop there. As one of the masterminds behind the brand development and marketing agency Neverstop, his genius is also seen in everything from Heavy, a must-have coffee-table tome in which contemporary artists reinterpret classic-rock album covers, to the double-decker Luella Bartley-for-Target bus that recently parked itself on a downtown New York side-street and caused a minor shopping frenzy.

But, for as cool as Calderwood is, he’s also incredibly generous. Somehow, amidst a late-night flight back to Seattle and jury duty the following morning, he managed to sit down and discuss his favorite spots in his hometown. Here they are, in his own words:

The Cha Cha Lounge

It’s this divey punk-rock Mexican restaurant and bar. It’s basically ground zero for the music scene here. There are no DJs – the bartenders just play whatever they want to hear, so it’s always really random and good. And my favorite bartender in town, Kim Warnick, works there. She used to be in a band called Fast Backs, and has been through the whole music scene – before, during, and after – and has some great stories to tell. Everyone who works there has either been in a band or is still in one.

Pike Place Market

It’s one of the best parts about Seattle. There are fruit and vegetable vendors, arts and crafts booths, antique stores; and it’s open 7 days a week. In the mornings – super-early, like 7am – I love to go to this diner called Lowell’s. All the workers eat there. It’s basically a greasy eggs place, but it has a real honest quality about it. And it sits right on the waterfront, so you have a great view of Elliot Bay. All the seagulls fly up to the windows and tap on them until people open ‘em up and give them food. They’re really huge, those seagulls – much bigger than you’d ever think -- and really aggressive.

Dick’s

It’s a burger joint that’s been here since the ‘50s. There are three or four of them and they haven’t changed the look at all since they were built. They’re so cool. The burgers are all organic beef and really good. And the place is family-run, which you just don’t see anymore. It’s open til 3am, so it’s always packed after the bars close at 2.

Maximilien

I don’t like to tell people about this place, cuz it’s kind of my secret spot. But, it’s in Pike Place Market. It’s French. The whole staff is French, and it has an awesome bohemian atmosphere, and a view of the waterfront. It’s a great place to go for a date. People are really loyal to the restaurant. They don’t have steak frites, though, which mystifies me.

Goods

This is the best spot to get rare trainers. The guys who own it also own Manik Skateboards. One of the kids – he’s like in his mid-20s – he’s also a professor at The University of Washington! Teaches landscape architecture! It’s a cool store. I bought a really fresh APC shirt there.

Golden Oldies

It’s an awesome record store for vinyl junkies. You just go and dig in the bins. It’s been there for years, and the guys who work there are walking encyclopedias. You walk in there and you’re like, ‘I think I heard this song’, and they know what you’re talking about, when it was released, who covered it. My business partner Nasir had a friend in town from London who had been searching forever for this one track from Art Ensemble of Chicago called Theme de Yoyo. He found it there for $1.

Henry Art Gallery

They have this fresh installation by James Turrell. He’s the artist who’s been building that huge crater in the desert for years. Anyway, he created a room at Henry Art, which is an amazing museum on the University of Washington campus. It’s this beautiful round teak room, with a skylight. You go in and sit on a bench, and it’s peaceful and quiet. And it’s always different – always changing with the weather and time. It’s a great place to go and clear your head, and experience nothing.

Olympic Sculpture Park

The Seattle Art Museum is creating this massive sculpture park, which will be finished this fall. Every major large-scale sculptor is creating an installation -- Richard Serra, Louise Bourgeois... It’s the last undeveloped waterfront property, and it’s gonna be pretty major. It’ll definitely put Seattle on the map again.

Go There:

Cha Cha Lounge, 506 East Pine St., Capitol Hill, (206) 329-1101

Pike Place Market, pikeplacemarket.org

Dick’s, ddir.com

Goods, 1112 Pike St., (206) 622-0461; needgoods.com

Golden Oldies, 201 NE 45th St, (206) 547-2260; goldenoldies-records.com

For more info on Light Reign: James Turrell Skyspace, henryart.org

For more info on The Olympic Sculpture Park, iamsamcampaign.org

For more on the Ace Hotel, acehotel.com

Info on Rudy’s Barbershop: rudysbarbershop.com

Neverstop info: neverstop.com

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Denim Road-Test: Nudie
Anne V.’s Revelation

Looking at her spread in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, it’s difficult to discern model Anne V.’s affection for denim. From what it appears, the 19-year-old Russian is happiest half-clad in a bikini bottom and strappy high-heel sandals.

But the truth is, Anne is most at ease in jeans. “I wear them everyday,” says the luminous blonde who looks Scandinavian, but speaks with a slight Spy-Who-Loved-Me accent. “Mostly dark blue ones, because they make you look tall and skinny. I’d like to get some light ones, but I can’t find a good pair that holds my ass tight.”  Gotta love this girl.

On the day that she came and hung out at our offices, she was a vision of nonchalant chic in Lucky Brand jeans. They were dark and stretchy, tucked into a pair of knee-high riding boots and paired with a black Gap tank top. “These old things?” she remarked. “I got them like four years ago when I first came to New York. My modeling agency took me shopping to get some normal clothes. In Russia, all you wear is, like, red pants and a white shirt – weird stuff.”

Now well-versed in the language of American fashion, she prefers the Swedish denim labels -- like Acne. “I first saw them on a shoot with Steven Meisel,”  she recalls. “Black Hex’s. I loved them immediately. I wear them pretty much all the time.”

Then there’s Nudie, which, as of a couple weeks ago -- when we gave her a pair of murky grey Slim Kim’s to try out -- is now her favorite. “The material is so nice -- they feel so comfortable,” she cooed on the phone at the time, having just returned from Las Vegas. “And they’re not too low. Nothing hangs out when you go to dinner, or hangs over after you eat. You know how you have to open a button? None of that.”

Check our latest feature film with Anne V. in Nudie Jeans on our home page.

Get Them

Lucky jeans, luckybrandjeans.com

Acne, acnejeans.com

Nudie, nudiejeans.com

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Boy’s Toys - A Design Star’s Gadget Theory: Mix New & Old

Throughout his 20-year career creating exceptional interiors, Jim Walrod has been called many things: A “design guru” by The New York Times. A “furniture pimp” by his best friend, Mike D. of the Beastie Boys. A “genius,” by pretty much anyone who’s seen his work at The Standard Downtown in L.A. or The Park in NYC. 

“They’re all cool,” laughs Walrod. “But I do prefer the title supermodel.” Anything but the dreaded label of Decorator. “I know nothing about fabrics and curtains, and good taste; and I really don’t hang out with anyone in the interior design world,” he explains. 

Instead, Walrod’s eccentric style is cultivated through cultural references. “I’m influenced by cocaine right now,” he readily admits. “The ‘70s culture of blowing lines off marble tabletops. Everything was low and shiny. That sort of psychology of things.”

It’s in that spirit that we asked Walrod to discuss his current favorite gadgets, which range from an antique hair-dryer to a smart toilet. Below, some insight into Walrod’s mind:

“The way to go is mix new and old. Basically because most of today’s gadgets are just status symbols, and the only people who look at them are the kind I’d never want to talk to.

“But some work pretty well. Like the Nokia 8800 phone. It’s like $1000 and has a rotating video screen on it, so you can take pictures and easily show them to others. It’s good if I have to do a presentation -- I can just throw the person the phone. And if it drops, it doesn’t break. It’s got a covered keyboard.

“The Neorest toilet by Toto is really cool. You stand in front of it, and it automatically lifts the seat and puts it back down. I just put it in somebody’s house. I like their website, too. It’s got classical music.

“The Sony Cybershot DSC-T7. It’s a video camera that’s 5 1/2 inches by 1/4 inch, which makes it smaller than a pack of cigarettes. And it’s got high resolution.

Ray-Ban sunglasses from 1967. There’s not one bit of ornamentation on them. And they have a bit of a forward tilt, which fits better around the nose. If you drop them, they don’t break. And the company was owned by Bausch & Lomb back then, so the lenses are good – they don’t burn your eyeballs out.

“A Dieter Rams handheld hairdryer for men from 1957. It was designed for Braun. It’s really cool. You don’t feel like you’re blow-drying your hair. You just fuck with it a little bit and run out the door.

“A 1959 Rolex Oyster Perpetual stainless steel watch. Mine has a green face, which is hard to come by. They’re smaller-bodied watches – the kind nobody notices until you’ve left the room. It’s just one of those products that’s cool because it works within the frame of technology today.

“A Gillette Fusion razor. It vibrates. It has five blades. It runs on a battery. The thing is amazing. And so terrifying. Most men think it’s gonna rip their faces off the first time they use it. But it’s really good.

“An OXO Good Grips potato peeler. It’s really cool. It’s got a rubber handle that forms into your hand. It was actually made for disabled people.

“A Zippo lighter. It’s indestructible. You can burn down a village with one, or light a cigarette. And they’re guaranteed for life.”

Get Them:

Nokia 8800 phone, nokia.com

Toto Neorest toilet, $5000, totoneorest.com

Sony Cybershot DSC-T7, $400, sonystyle.com

1967 Ray-Ban sunglasses, look for them on eBay.com

Dieter Rams handheld hairdryer for Braun, virtually impossible to find.

1959 Rolex Oyster Perpetual, check eBay and watchestobuy.com

Gillette Fusion razor, $9, drugstore.com

OXO Good Grips potato peeler, $9.99, amazon.com

Zippo lighter, for collectors’ clubs and repair, zippo.com

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Do Real Men Wear Tangerine Jeans? - Hot Designers' Take on the Candy-Color Trend

The fact that Swedish denim brand Julian Red's new Tron-esque video features male style-bots strutting to techno in skinny-legged, saggy-butt bubblegum-pink jeans isn’t such­ a crazy thing. What is kind of shocking, though, is the fact that the pants are appealing to a new crew of stylish and straight young men.

 Take 22-year-old photographer Sean Donnola for instance. His style icons lean more towards Cary Grant and James Dean than David Bowie or Keith Richards. Yet, there he sat the other day, eyes glued to the candy-colored images flickering on his computer screen. "Where can I get those?" he asked, excitedly. Is men's fashion really this forward-thinking?

For decades, brands like J.Crew and Ralph Lauren have been mass-producing men's garb in colors typically considered effeminate.  Yet, men's denim has, for the most part, remained true blue. Until now. 

"The denim trend is peaking,” proclaims Julian Red's co-founder and head designer Mattias Lind.  "There is a trend of giving the classic five-pocket a new look, with new fabrics; and I personally don't like jeans with glass beads on the back pocket, a pink elephant embroidered on the fly, or a little poem written on the cuff." 

Instead, Lind -- like some other brazen denim designers -- has opted to explore a range of candy- and condiment-colored washes. Inspired by “the musical scene of 'Madchester' in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s -- the acid scene mixed with indie-pop," Lind’s fall denim collection comes in canary yellow, prison orange, and hot pink. "The orange ones are classy, the yellow arty, and the pink...hmmm...tough," he explains.

Feeling similarly “bored with blue jeans,” Ron London of the new Australian denim brand Selvedge has designed a fall line that ranges from ruby red and mustard yellow to purple. And Tsubi, the party-hard sportswear label also from Oz, has sent out neon-licious denim for the past five years. (But they also, it should be noted, put live rats on the runway.)

So, will men really wear juicy-fruit jeans?  "At first they will be hesitant," predicts Richard Cadet, owner of Famous Friends, an East Village denim shop notorious for being the first to carry in-demand European brands.  "But after a while they'll be buying it up,” he adds, citing the recent raw-denim phenomenon as a precedent.  "More fashion-forward guys want to feel special," says Cadet. And the fact that "a lot of brands have widened distribution," in his opinion, is depleting their chances of landing highly individual customers.

Cadet is so sure it’s going to be a big trend, he’s literally bought into it: For next season, he’s ordered a healthy stock of colored denim, although he remains tight-lipped about which brands he’ll be carrying.

Here’s our advice: Diana Vreeland once said, “A little bad taste is the spice of life,” and we couldn’t agree more. Go ahead, guys, think pink. Just not head-to-toe. The key to doing color down below, is keep it simple on top. A slimmer cut works well, but be careful that the pants aren’t too tight: No one’s going to take you seriously if you’re in pomegranate leggings.

 

~Alisa Gould-Simon

 

Get Yours:

 

Famous Friends, 616 East 9th Street, NYC, 212.460.9094, famousfriendsnyc.com

For where to find Julian Red jeans: julianredjeans.com

For more on Selvedge, selvedge.com.au

Tsubi info at tsubi.com

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Pure Country - Mark Seliger’s Down-Home Sound

“I’ve always been that bad campfire singer,” admits longtime rock photographer Mark Seliger, who has lately led a double life as the frontman of country-blues band Rusty Truck. “You know, pulling off Cat Stevens songs, but never proficient in any way.”

Funny what a few music lessons and confidence-building karaoke sessions can do: Nowadays, the Houston native’s voice is undeniably strong and soulful. “As solid as any of Nashville’s country-pop crooners,” wrote Rolling Stone in a review of Broken Promises, Rusty Truck’s full-length debut album.

For the album -- which started out as a one-song goof with pal Jakob Dylan -- Seliger enlisted the help of some heavy-hitters: Dylan, Willie Nelson, T-Bone Burnett, and Lenny Kravitz all produced tracks; while Sheryl Crow and Rob Thomas were invited to sing back-up. “I didn’t want it to sound too garage-y; I wanted it properly put together,” says Seliger, who wrote all the songs. “I remember when I went into Lenny’s recording studio in Miami to make the title track, he said, ‘Sit back and let me do what I do. This is record-making here, not songwriting.’” 

The result is a beautifully melodic exploration into Seliger’s down-home world. “It was an amazing journey for me, making this album,” he says from a photo shoot in Nashville. This is, after all, a guy who on the song 1000 Kisses gets to perform a duet with Willie Nelson, whose 1978 album Stardust initially got Seliger hooked on country. “Working with Willie was amazing,” he says quietly, as if still in awe of the collaboration. “I mean, he sang the third verse of that song and it was like hearing it for the first time. He interpreted it exactly how I saw it.” 

Saw it or heard it? “Well that’s the thing. To me, songwriting is basically a reproduction of what I create visually.”

See It and Hear It:

Rusty Truck, Broken Promises, $11, amazon.com

In My Stairwell by Mark Seliger, $47, amazon.com

For more info on the band, rustytruckmusic.com

For more about Mark, markseliger.com

Look for the re-release of Broken Promises this summer, which will include a new track produced by Burning Spear, as well as a DVD on the making of the album.

 

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MY TOWN: Mexico City’s
Miguel Calderon Prefers the City’s Non-Chic Side

“I hang out with musicians mostly. Sometimes I feel like a rapper,” says 34-year-old artist and Mexico City native Miguel Calderon, sporting a Black Flag T-shirt and a big grin. “I could diss so many tight-ass artist types!”

Calderon is sitting in La Covadonga, a cantina filled with the noise of clinking glasses and conversation, surrounded by an ever-changing crew of friends that includes filmmakers, set designers, writers, and, yes, musicians. “Tomorrow night will be better,” he forecasts, referring to the all-night party happening directly upstairs in celebration of Mexico City’s third annual film festival.

Yet Calderon never makes it out the next night. Instead, he finds himself recovering from a full night of partying, a full day of film-festival screenings, and the looming opening of his untitled (“very schizophrenic,” as he describes it) solo show, now on view at Mexico City’s new gallery, Kurimanzutto.

Best known outside the fine-art community for his paintings of masked bikers in the wilderness (one is prominently displayed in Wes Anderson's Royal Tenenbaums), Calderon -- who has been represented by the Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York for the past 12 years -- could be considered a bad-ass: “I like to be able to break the law without major consequences,” he blurts out. “I feel I have absolutely no limitations.” That’s exactly why we enlisted him to be our Mexico City tour guide.

“I like going from one side of town to the other, because I often feel I’m in different countries,” says Calderon, who spends more time at “random bars” than trendier, tourist-ridden spots. “When things build up here, they explode like nowhere else,” he adds, referring to spots such as the sleek rooftop bars at the Condesa DF and Habita Hotel, which attract a nightly crowd of trust fund kids and fruit-juice heirs; as well as the ultra-modern, light-flooded gallery spaces of OMR and Nina Menocal, which have recently earned international buzz.

Despite the city’s past reputation as a mecca for kidnappings and muggings, a new slew of boutique hotels, burgeoning contemporary art scene, and non-stop nightlife have provided a much-needed facelift. But Mexico City’s 26-million-strong population and 400 colonias (districts) ensure you’ll find more than just slick minimalist interiors.

So where do Calderon and his friends hang out? There’s the late-night, always-crowded taqueria, El Califa, just down the street from Calderon’s house: “My favorite taco is called Gaono -- yummy!” Or, he heads 20 minutes away to Downtown, “where I end up meeting criminals of all sorts.” There, he spends time at El Centenario: “I’ve been drinking that place dry for more than 10 years.” Or, Xel Ha, when El Centenario is too full: “I love this place. There’s a bit more space and you can consume whatever you like.” And, of course, Covadonga -- “which used to be an escape, but now it’s really hip, especially on Thursdays. As you can see, cantinas rule my world.”

~Alisa Gould-Simon

Go There:
See more of Miguel Calderon and Mexico City on psychopedia.com’s Dusk 2 Dawn


Check out Calderon’s solo show (“It has no title and is about coming up with things without trying to think about them too much”), currently on view at Kurimanzutto, Mazatlan 5 depto., t-6, col. Condesa 06140, 52 55 5286 3059, kurimanzutto.com


Condesa DF houses a rooftop sushi restaurant and basement screening room. 102 Avda. Veracruz, Condesa, 52 55 5282 3100, www.condesadf.com.


Hotel Habita screens films (like Barbarella and Sex and Lucia) on a building facing its rooftop bar, Area. 210 Avda. Presidente Masaryk, Polanco, 55 5211 5280, hotelhabita.com


El Califa, 22 Calle Altata, Condesa, 55 5271 7666


La Covadonga cantina, where you’ll find Calderon most weeknights, Puebla 121, Roma, 55 5533 2922


El Centenario, Vicente Suarez 48, Michoacan, 55 5211 0276

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Denim Road-Test: Rock ‘n’ Republic
Lydia Hearst-Shaw And Her Scorpion Fetish

Lydia Hearst-Shaw, the 21-year-old great-granddaughter of publishing baron William Randolph Hearst (and daughter of SLA-abductee-turned-John Waters’ actress Patty Hearst) obviously doesn’t need to be gracing the cover of Italian Vogue, nor the ads for Bottega Veneta, to pay the rent. But at least, becoming an in-demand model has gotten her out of the house.

“Before I started working, I never came to New York,” admits Hearst-Shaw, who’d been sequestered in Wilton, CT, until eight months ago, when she moved to the Big Apple. “It took me aback at first.”

Yet, check her out now: boldly parading in the window of Barneys New York for the Imitation of Christ fashion show, jetting to Paris for magazine shoots, doing the pre-Oscars party crawl in L.A. So, we figured, as long as she’s busy racking up frequent-flyer miles, why not give her a pair of jeans to road-test along the way?

The ones she chose – a pair of Rock & Republic Scorpions – were so miniscule, we thought no one could ever fit into them:

How they working on you, Lydia?
“They fit great. They really elongate the leg. And I love that they’re not normal jeans. They’re a little different -- they have big deep pockets in front, and a rip below the knee, and worn-in holes -- they’re super-aged, and you don’t see jeans like that anymore. I’m not too particular about wash, but I really like the light denim. They’re easy to dress up or down.”

Where did you wear them?
“I wore them to [the Bryant Park] tents. I wore them to the Heatherette show, but I wore Heatherette after the show. I went to dinner at Matsuri in them with a bunch of people. I went on castings, to sittings. They’re really comfortable, so I went pretty much everywhere in them.”

What have you been wearing them with?
“I wore them with tank tops, wife beaters. A cute Calvin Klein sweater. Big heels. My Tara Subkoff for Easy Spirit half-boots.”

Who are some of your favorite designers?
“I love everything from vintage to Heatherette. I throw it all together and somehow it works out. I’m into Thierry Mugler-type deals, Chanel, Lanvin. You never know what I’m gonna do. As for jeans, I like Edun – they’re pretty comfy. Michael H. – they’re really unique. And Immortality, a new brand where each pair of jeans is named after a goddess. I’m into Venus and Eros, which has crystal belt loops. Basically, my style is kind of rocker chick with an edge – I like clothes that aren’t plain and simple.”

What are some of your favorite vintage shops in NYC?
“What Goes Around Comes Around – I’ve gotten amazing fur jackets from there. Amarcord, next to Heatherette headquarters. They have great coats, hats, and sunglasses. Fabulous Fannies is incredible for funky, vintage glasses. I’m obsessed with that store. Right now I wear big black Prada glasses to read with, but it would be fun to get a cool vintage reading pair.

Get It:
R&R Scorpion jeans in Xenon wash, $235, bergdorfgoodman.com

What Goes Around Comes Around, nyvintage.com

Amarcord, 84 E. 7th St., NYC; (212) 614-7133

Fabulous Fannies, 335 E. 9th St., NYC; (212) 533-0637


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Beauty of the Beast: Success is Taming Wild-Man Artist Dan Colen

Despite his reputation for being drunk and rowdy on the Lower East Side (or perhaps because of it), artist Dan Colen is all work these days. On the Friday afternoon of this interview, he had no time to take his eyes off the painting he was finishing. It was for a group show at Bortolami Dayan, opening the next day. That evening, he was due at Gagosian Gallery, where his show 5 Bathrooms 5 Paintings was opening in -- as the title insinuates -- the gallery’s restrooms.

The lanky 26-year-old, known around town as “the beast,” is also one of the chosen young guns to show at this year’s Whitney Biennial, and his work for it – three oversized paper-mache boulders – have all sold at $30,000 a pop. Not surprisingly, Colen’s being courted by more than a few major galleries in New York.

5 Bathrooms 5 Paintings – or, Potty Mouth Potty War, as he would have liked to title the show – consists of five found paintings that have been altered by adding words or images. Hanging over one toilet is a blue hazy picture of two figures embracing with the painted phrase “wouldn’t it be nice.” Another painting is hung facing the wall so that the back of the canvas is what’s shown, with the written sentence, “I found in this the awesome power of nature. And the warm nature of man.”

“The whole show didn’t make sense, and I didn’t want to believe it could happen,” says Colen, sitting in his Canal Street studio dressed in APC jeans, his dad’s Gucci chain, and a white T-shirt so old it’s turned beige. “It was a random thing that came about one drunken night.” After running into someone from Gagosian, Colen proposed the idea as a joke. “Then it occurred to me that it was kind of awesome, and the timing was perfect.”

Making the exhibit even more extraordinary is the fact that the other artist showing in the gallery is celebrated American sculptor and painter David Smith. “Not just a big famous artist, but a big famous dead artist,” he explains.

For the Biennial, which this year has a high-low theme, and includes artists who use street images and text alongside more traditional ones, Colen (who obviously falls into the former category) created new work. After studio visits by the show’s curators, he had four days to build his rock sculptures. Gum, bird droppings, and graffiti -- all meticulously handmade on-site -- cover each of the boulders, which rest on Plexiglas or paper-mache bases cut to spell out “zip-a dee-doo-dah,” “ver al diablo” (go to hell), and “eat shit and die.”

The Biennial catalog calls it “an aesthetic of charmed excess.” However it’s summed up, Colen’s wild-man persona is finally paying off. Yet, ironically enough, “I don’t know people’s reactions yet,” he admits. “I haven’t had time to go out lately.”

- Sara Costello

See It:
See Dan Colen’s video of 5 Bathrooms 5 Paintings on psychopedia.com’s Dusk 2 Dawn tomorrow. Gagosian Gallery, 555 West 24th St., NYC; gagosian.com March 11-April 15, 2006

Whitney Biennial 2006: Day For Night, 945 Madison Avenue at 75th St., NYC; whitney.org March 2- May 28, 2006

Bortolami Dayan, 510 West 25th St., NYC; bortolamidayan.com March 11-April 1, 2006

For an upcoming show at his LA gallery, Peres Projects, Colen is recreating the wall of his friend and fellow Biennial artist, Dash Snow. It’s an elaborate shrine of cutouts, photos and stickers. For more info: peresprojects.com



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Lab Tests: New Store Goes Way Past Just Jeans

Had designer Rogan Gregory been at the “soft opening” last Friday of his new R Store, and not in bed with a 101-degree fever, he probably would have described the shop -- like the manager did -- as “his lab.”

“It’s where he can introduce all the designs he loves that other retailers would shy away from,” explained his stand-in, Rachel. Like tissue-thin T-shirts with holes in them. Or super-narrow “Funnel” jeans with no visible stitches (what Rogan himself wears everyday). Or $700 rigid selvedge “Bow” jeans with hidden rivets, triple stitching, and silk lining. There’s one pair for each size, and they also come in white.

But the store, which also houses Rogan’s suit line called A Litl Betr, isn’t just about clothes. With its heavy brick walls, black paint, and low-hanging aluminum lamps, the space (designed by Rogan himself) is a shrine to rare -- if not exclusive -- arts and crafts. There are shelves full of out-of-print books on subjects ranging from Art Nouveau lighting, to how to sleep better. And there are tables devoted to stylist Kate Young’s artful side projects, such as unusual corkscrews, wooden bangles, and stationary cards that read “dear true heart.”

There’s an enormous glass vase filled with women’s underwear designed by Dustin Horowitz, using men’s shirting; delicate gold jewelry by Scosha; and, coming soon, vintage objects and jewelry culled from all over the world by Cassie Mercantile -- like huge indigo-dyed African Fetish necklaces.

But the real focus of the shop, as well as its foundation, is Rogan’s clean-lined furniture collection, which debuted last month at Barneys. The hammered metal tables and modernist wood and leather chairs are made from recycled materials riddled with imperfections. Exactly the kind of pieces you’d expect from a man who likes his T-shirts artfully tattered.


Go There:
R Store, 91 Franklin St., NYC; rogannyc.com

Get Them:
Rogan T-shirts
, $104 -$120
Rogan leather chair, $3200
Kate Young corkscrew, $30
Dustin Horowitz’ “Pipit” underwear, $60



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Low-Key Notes: Bravo Silva’s Melodic Style

It’s nearing midnight. Henry Silva is sitting in a red, fuzzy Brooklyn bar called Sweet Ups, sipping his second Makers Mark of the evening, telling the story of Chekhov’s play The Seagull, from which the name of his band, Bravo Silva, originates. “It’s about an artist whose mother is a very famous actress – a real diva. He struggles constantly for attention, and in the end, shoots himself, hoping that will bring it.”

“But it only puts more attention on his mother!” adds Joel Bravo, the other half of the band.

“The play’s meant a lot to both of us, for a lot of different reasons,” shrugs Silva, keeping it at that. The fact that his mother is Meryl Streep isn’t brought up – this isn’t the Barbara Walters Special.

Instead, the band is the focus. So, who got to be Bravo and who Silva? “Ah, that’s a good question,” says Silva. “He seemed more like a Bravo – more theatrical,” he explains, smiling at his wild-haired, bushy-bearded bandmate.

Spawned during Henry and Joel’s Dartmouth college days (they’re now both 26), and built up in the past year to a five-member act, the as-yet-unsigned Bravo Silva has garnered lots of buzz lately for their artfully-crafted rock music. Comparisons have been made to early Police, and big radio rock hits of the ‘80s – and that’s fine with them:

“In the ‘80s, a lot of the bands had melody,” explains Bravo. “The Police, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty -- they knew how to be selective in what sounds they were using, to embrace melody. And it’s melody that has weight to it and sustains it – that’s why you remember it. We’re trying to make music that has staying power.”

And, as two stylistically low-key, sweatshirt-and-old-Levis-by-day/sportscoat-by-night kind of guys, they’re trying to get by on being themselves. Which is refreshingly un-hipsterish.

“When you’re in a band, everyone expects you to look a certain way,” says Silva. “To act a certain way. It’s all an outfit. I guess it’s good from a marketing point of view. But we’re trying to reach out to a wider audience. We’re not trying to just appeal to the top of the small anthill based around the Lorimer subway stop.”

“But we have style,” assures Bravo, describing a stage outfit of his: a white jacket, white scarf, and black jeans.

“Yeah, and we’re really into wearing color. Like primary colors,” adds Silva, with a slight embarrassed smile.


Check Them Out:

Bravo Silva will play two shows this week at South by Southwest in Austin. For more scheduling info, and to hear their music: bravosilva.com


Get their debut self-titled album, $10, neighborhoodiesmusic.com


Bravo Silva album cover photograph courtesy of thomashandkeefe.com


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My Town: Havana
Young Filmmaker Explores Cuba’s Underground Hip-Hop Scene

For as long as any New York nightlifer can remember, Jauretsi Saizarbotoria has been throwing the coolest parties in town, with the most flavorful music to dance to. But that would be expected of the Cuban-American Miami native, who grew up hanging around her family’s restaurant, Centro Vasco, where just about every legendary Cuban exile performed. “Celia Cruz, Cachao, Albita – they all played there. I was raised around music.”

After the restaurant shut its Miami doors in ’97, Jauretsi -- as she’s simply known -- took a pilgrimage to Cuba; and what she found there was unlike anything she’d ever heard: an underground hip-hop scene that had formed in the eastern outskirts of Havana, and was only recently legalized.

“The officials didn’t understand it – they thought it was protesting. If you were caught rapping, you were arrested.”


With no American albums to listen to, the kids took soda cans and wire hangers and rigged illegal radio antennas. Moved by the music coming out of Miami’s Hot 105 and 99 Jams, they began creating their own mix-tapes, which spread fast across the island.

“There’s a brilliant youth culture happening down there that’s not covered in the news. Everybody talks about Cuba’s past – no one talks about its future.” So, with hopes of opening a dialogue on just that, Jauretsi headed back down to Cuba in summer 2004 with a couple of film cameras and the U.S. government’s approval. East of Havana, her awe-inspiring documentary, produced by Charlize Theron and co-directed by Emilia Menocal, premieres March 14th at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, and will hit theatres this summer.

Meanwhile, here’s a tour of Jauretsi’s favorite spots in Havana. In her own words:

The Malecon Wall
The Malecon is one of the most revered places to sit in this world (and the most photographed in Cuba). It’s where authors wrote their first novel, and where couples had their first kiss. In comparison to Miami, it’s the big ol’ Ocean Drive of Havana, minus the annoying traffic and neon lights. The breeze by the Malecon is one of those things you just have to experience for yourself. If you go to Cuba, grab a bottle of rum day or night, and go sit on the wall for a good talk.

Infanta
Infanta is a very long picturesque street, off the beaten path away from tourists. At #202, there is a gentleman outside who physically resembles a Cuban Hunter S. Thompson. There are usually 10-20 pieces of albums leaning on the floor beside him. Ask this man where the rest of his records are, and he’ll walk you into a secret vault of endless vinyl to buy at your disposal. A true diggers’ paradise. (Note: he has a sick Beny More collection.)

The Alamar Amphitheater
Located 30 minutes outside Havana, the neighborhood of Alamar is best known as the home of hip-hop in Cuba. Its reputation stems from hosting the first rap shows on the island. The amphitheater is a tough, cement-blocked, outdoor venue with Greek theater seating. All of Cuba's seminal bands had their start here, including the Grammy-winning Orishas. Mos Def played in this theater on his visit to Cuba and said he felt like he was in the last scene in Wild Style. Need I say more?

The Bay of Cojimar
This is a little, humble town nestled between Havana and Alamar. Cojimar has a special fishing tradition, and was the place where Ernest Hemingway fished endlessly. The Bay of Cojimar is what he referred to as "the big blue river" in The Old Man and the Sea. East of Havana's main protagonist, Soandry, is from Cojimar.

Centro Vasco
My trips to Cuba would not be complete without visiting my family's restaurant, which had its heyday in the ‘50s. The government owns it now. The walls practically speak to me and hug me when I walk in the room. My grandfather’s Basque energy lingers strong. There are still two employees left who worked with my family pre-revolution, whom I love to catch up with. Centro Vasco is one of my main stops in Havana, and reconnects me to myself all over again. It's my soul's ground zero.

Habana Riviera Hotel
The view of the hotel can be seen in the famous film, Soy Cuba, in the long crane shot. It’s a classic hotel with lots of old-school casino vibes. Back in the pre-revolution era under Batista, Habana Riviera was run by Meyer Lansky and his gangster posse in their days of gambling and mob rule. It is simply one of the most beautiful buildings and elegant hotels. I hope to see it restored to its true glory one day, and not turn into some cheesy Vegas hotel.


Check It Out:

For more info on the film East of Havana, as well as its accompanied book, check out www.eastofhavana.com

South by Southwest runs March 10 –19. For more information and event scheduling, www.sxsw.com

How does one get to Cuba? According to Jauretsi: “If you're from anywhere other than America, google Cubana Airlines. If you’re from the US, prepare to jump through hoops with the US government; America is the only country that embargos travel to Cuba. So, you’ll need Mr. Bush's permission to visit. If you sneak through Mexico, prepare to get fined $10,000. But you can always apply to the State Department for humanitarian, educational, or journalistic reasons. Go to Marazul Airlines’ website (www.marazulcharters.com), and check out the rules and regulations. Flights are roughly $200-300.”

For more on Jauretsi, www.jauretsi.com

Second and Third Photos courtesy of Jason Florio, www.floriophoto.com

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Denim Road-Test: Genetic Denim
Jamie-Lynn Sigler
Does Some Testing

Finally, after 16 absurdly-long months, The Sopranos returns to television this Sunday night, and if you’re Jamie-Lynn Sigler -- who plays mafia princess Meadow Soprano -- you’ve already started celebrating. (And we did spot Sigler getting pretty wily at Stereo last Saturday night.)

But the 24-year-old Long Island native (who, by the way, has no Italian blood in her -- rather Cuban, Jewish, and Greek) has extra reason to be amped. She also scored the role of everyone’s favorite madam in the made- for-TV movie Going Down: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss, which airs later this month. And she’s single again.

So, who better than Sigler to slide into a pair of smoking-hot jeans and run around town, road-testing them for us? We had her try some dark, boot-cut jeans from Genetic Denim, a six-month-old brand started by nightclub impresario Scott Sartiano (Butter, G Spa & Lounge), and his fellow Olsen-twin-ex-boyfriend, Ali Fatourechi. Yet, as Sigler attests, the two media-friendly fellas can also cut a mean pair of pants. Take into account, though, that Sigler has lately been getting kinda cozy with Sartiano.

We hear you love the Genetic jeans?
“They’ve become my absolute favorite in my closet right now. It's hard to find jeans that have a nice fitted look that don't stretch out after one or two wears, but Genetics don’t. They keep their nice tight fit. The wash that I have is really good and dark, so I can dress them up or down. Ali Fatourechi really knows what he is doing with the design and fit.”

What other jeans do you like?
“I really like Rock and Republic, Paper Denim, and True Religion.”

Where have you worn them?
“I wear them EVERYWHERE. I wore them with flip-flops and a cute top shopping one day. I also wore them with a Louis Verdad top and heels to the Escada Pacific Paradise fragrance launch party in LA. I wear them more than any other jeans…maybe 3 or 4 times a week.”

What are your NYC hangouts?
“I love Level V, Marquee, Butter, Bungalow 8, and now G Spa & Lounge, but I really don’t go out that much. [ed. note: yeah, right]. And to eat, I love Nobu, Barca 18, Dos Caminos, and Pizza 33 for late night!”

What else are you working on besides Sopranos?
“I did three movies last year -- Lovewrecked with Amanda Bynes, Chris Carmack and Johnathon Bennet; Under My Skin with Donald Faison, Whoopi Goldberg, Paul Mooney, Tony Rock and Joey Fatone; and a horror movie called Dark Ride.

Also, I have started up my foundation, which, for lack of creativity, is called The Jamie-Lynn Sigler Foundation. I work in conjunction with the National Eating Disorders Association. Our hope is to bring awareness and attention to eating disorders, and our major goal is to raise funds to get federal support for eating-disorder treatments to be covered by insurance. Right now, we have charm bracelets and necklaces being sold exclusively at Claire's and Icing stores across the country, to support the foundation. They have been in stores for two months and have sold out! So we are on our way, hopefully.”

Get It:
Genetic Denim, $198, for stores, geneticdenim.com

See It:
The Sopranos airs on HBO Sunday, March 12th at 9pm

Going Down: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss airs on USA, Monday, March 29 at 9 p.m. ET

For more on the Jamie-Lynn Sigler Foundation, jamielynnsiglerfoundation.org

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JT Leroy Is Deceitful Above All Things: And Asia Argento Only Adds More Intrigue to the Scandal

So, JT Leroy doesn’t exist. At this point, does anyone care? Well, possibly Palm Pictures -- the distributors of the film adaptation of Leroy’s ‘novel’ The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things -- who, at the eleventh hour, had to rework the marketing of the film, which now bears the brilliantly convoluted tagline: Behind the greatest hoax of our time is the heartbreaking story that started it all.

However, Asia Argento -- the 30-year-old Italian actress who wrote the screenplay and directed the film, and is now carrying all the weight of this 98-minute morbid beast -- is very real. Which is fortunate, because with her bombshell looks and truck-driver mouth, not to mention a long resume acting in her father Dario Argento’s legendary horror films, Asia (pronounced Ahz-ia) is all the film needs to make it intriguing once again.

“I never told any fucking truth in my life. Nobody tells any truth,” fired Argento, standing before the audience at last week’s New York premiere, with her hand tucked down the front of her Miss Sixty jeans. Before a crowd that included Mick Rock, Casey Spooner, and a JT Leroy impersonator, she did her best to support the film (which she described under her breath as an “excruciating experience”) and the Leroy saga, which she admitted to being fooled by as well.

“I found out two months ago, like the rest of world, that JT wasn’t real,” she says. “I never questioned it. I slept in the same bed as JT. I was told, ‘I had a sex change.’ I fondled. I touched. The lights were off. But I thought, ‘Wow, they make good pussies nowadays.’”

Truth? Fiction? Who knows? It’s a certifiable freak-fest, and for the price of admission, you’re invited. In the film, there’s rape and cross-dressing. Heroin, crystal meth, blue pills, and booze. Explosions and nervous breakdowns. Peter Fonda and Ornella Muti as scary Jesus freaks, Marilyn Manson performing sodomy, Michael Pitt acting retarded, Winona Ryder playing the disturbed social worker, and Argento looking hot in red lipstick and a lacy slip, and then, totally not.

It’s a relief to continually realize that the story is fiction, and that no one (that you know of) lived this kind of life. And then it dawns on you: ‘Then why am I sitting through this misery?’ Answer: Cuz it’s good. Argento is a masterful storyteller with a beautiful eye and some insane ideas (“I wanted the music to resemble our nervous system”), and she makes you want to follow her around like the fake little Leroy does in the film.

“I am amused by all this. I am amused by myself after all this,” she added, before heading off to the after-party, where she spent the evening spinning industrial death-metal records.




See It:

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things hits theatres March 10th. For more info: heartisdeceitful.com

Check out Argento’s autobiographical film Scarlet Diva, $18, amazon.com

Asia Argento and JT Leroy Look-Alike Photos Courtesy of patrickmcmullan.com

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Keep It Real: Denim-Care Tips from the Experts


Awhile back, jeans got treated like what they were – workwear: Tossed in the wash when they were dirty, thrown in the dryer when wet. You paid them about as much care and attention as those beat-up boots you wore them with. Nowadays, jeans freaks are called denim connoisseurs, and aging a raw selvedge pair has escalated into an art form.



Here are some tips to master it:

Breaking Them In:
“There’s the old rocker trick: smoke cigarettes and rub the ashes on the jeans, then run your hand through your hair and rub the grease on too. I’m not crazy about the smell. But the look is perfect – that’s how A.P.C jeans should be worn.” – A.P.C founder/designer Jean Touitou

“Use a spray bottle with water in it. By continually spraying down your jeans, they'll start to mold to your body; and natural creases, folds, and areas of stress will start to break in. Wear as often as possible without washing to achieve the most authentic vintage appearance. With commitment, these jeans will become your favorite.” - Scott Morrison, co-founder/designer of Earnest Sewn

Stiffening Them Back Up:
“After you wash your jeans – and while they’re still wet – spray starch on them. You can either lay them on a table and do it, or put them on -- depending on how hardcore you are. Rub the starch in, and let them air dry, and it’ll give your jeans that rigidity that you loved about them when they were new.” – Richard Cadet, owner of Famous Friends



Washing Them:
“If you can, do not wash your jeans...wear them ‘til they’re stanky. Then, you can either rub a dryer sheet on them or spray Febreze. But, if you must wash your jeans -- and, no more than once a month if you can help it -- do it either by hand, or machine wash them inside-out in cold water with mild detergent. Some people suggest dry-cleaning jeans to keep them new-looking, but I find the chemicals change the indigo. True jeans aficionados would never dry-clean their jeans. They know better. I personally do the I Love Lucy wash in the tub, like I’m stomping on grapes....And never put them in the dryer. Let them hang to dry.” - Christine Rucci, co-founder/designer of 5EP

“I never wash my jeans ... so not much help here.” – Scott Morrison

"I don't wash my own jeans. I always start with a pair of raw denim and wear them down to what looks ‘washed’ naturally. A washing machine removes the top layer of indigo and speeds an aging process that I do through normal wear over 2-3 years. I have known denim aficionados in Japan to stuff their jean pockets with dryer sheets overnight to absorb odor.” - Donwan Harrell, owner/designer, Prps

“If you have a garden, hang them outside for two days to clear them out.” – Richard Cadet

Shrinking Them:
“You can try the old ‘sit in the tub’ method [which entails sitting in a cold bath while wearing them], or wash them in warm or hot water. And, as a last resort, the dryer works....” – Christine Rucci

Storing Them:
“I would ideally store them by hanging them from the locker loop on each pair of Earnest Sewn’s. If you don't have a locker loop on your jeans, then hang them by a belt loop or two.” – Scott Morrison

“I stack them by color and fit, and hang them on a hook at home. Keep them out of sunlight, or they will fade...Really rare pieces are stored in plastic containers in our denim archives at the 5EP warehouse.” – Christine Rucci

“I never fold them -- I hold them up and let them drop into a little pile on the floor.” – Emmett Harrell, creative director, Prps

Get Yours:

A.P.C, $160, apc.fr

Earnest Sewn, $198, earnestsewn.com

5EP, $240-$300, for store info, denimafia.com

Prps unwashed jeans, $260, bergdorfgoodman.com

Famous Friends, famousfriendsnyc.com

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Surreal Thing: A Peek Inside The Ethereal World of Floria Sigismondi

Floria Sigismondi makes music videos filled with exquisitely tortured souls, who twitch and writhe within color-drenched surrealist underworlds. They’re bleak, haunting, and breathtakingly beautiful – the sort of theatrical masterpieces one would expect from a woman who was born in Italy to opera singer parents, raised in Ontario, and regards Fellini, Frida Kahlo, and Hans Balmer as her artistic idols.

No surprise her work has lured the likes of Marilyn Manson, Bjork, David Bowie, The Cure, and The White Stripes.

But where do all her ideas come from? “I’m not really sure. All I can say is quiet, mid-dream states. I used to lock myself in a room for three days, and not talk to anyone.” Nowadays, with a 1-year-old daughter named Tosca (the husband/father is Living Things frontman Lillian Berlin), her states of fatigue are easier to achieve. “And I only make videos for music I can get lost in,” she adds. “I listen to the songs over and over ‘til there are no words anymore, just emotion.”

The Sigur Ros song [Untitled #1] made me cry. I had to stop listening to it. And all I could think of was walking around New York after September 11th with a gas mask on. I’m in this metropolitan city, and all I can hear is my own breath.” Her video for the Icelandic band, which portrays children running around in a post-apocalyptic playground, won “Best Video” at the 2003 MTV European Music Awards.

As for last year’s Blue Orchid video for The White Stripes, which cast Karen Elson in a lacy white dress alongside future husband Jack White (“you sensed an energy between them”), Sigismondi inexplicably saw Jack as the devil. “At first he’s the apple. Then he becomes the snake, then the horse that mounts Karen, who plays Eve, and makes love to her, and the rest is history,” she recalls with a laugh.

Currently, Sigismondi is working on her first film, Behind the Ballyhoo Blues. And, during this past New York Fashion Week, she celebrated the release of her second book, Immune, which contains her photographs from the past five years, and explores – as she puts it --“the state you go into to survive your surroundings.”

“Being frustrated with war and politics, and at the same time, bringing magic into the world with a baby – it’s been quite dramatic for me. It’s hard to understand how anyone can put an end to life after experiencing something like that.”

Enter Sigismondi’s World:

Immune, $69, and more on Sigismondi, floriasigismondi.com

The Living Things, Ahead of the Lions, $12, amazon.com. For more on the band and tour dates, livingthingsmusic.com

Get a Mamiya 645, the only camera Sigismondi shoots with, mamiya.com

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