David Reeves & Shari Roman / The Face / October 2002
One of our film stars is missing. Larry Clark is on the phone. He wants to know where Leo is. Larry shot a guy, went to prison, got a smack habit and then he took up skateboarding aged 47. Now he's really pissed off...
"There is more life in a skateboarder skating down the street than in a hundred Hollywood actors," says Larry Clark. It's his motto. Any other director would struggle to harness that 'life' and not get anything more eloquent than a 'fuck you' from a bunch of skate rats in response.
But this year in Venice, Telluride and Toronto, Larry Clark will search for skaters skating around and give the little bastards free passes to the premiere of his new movie Ken Park. Larry does this every time his movies go to a film festival. He will find some sweaty hellions skating around and give them the keys to The Big Hoopla, so they can cadge drinks, scrawl all over the bathrooms and steal the velvet rope. Why? Why does Larry Clark do such a thing?
Because this is what Larry Clark does.
Larry Clark is doing it again. They've called Larry in to 'direct' the FACE photoshoot in New York, which is a nice way to say that Larry is the only person qualified to wrangle The Larry Mob into a presentable photo. Two of the young stars from his upcoming Ken Park are taking the overnight from Los Angeles after missing their original flight, due to the fact that they had never taken a plane before. Rosario Dawson's publicist demands a limo; Harold Hunter doesn't have a phone; and where the fuck is Leo Fitzpatrick?
You are familiar with Larry Clark's photography even if you've never perused his seminal photobooks Tulsa (1971) or Teenage Lust (1983). Before Larry was a film director, he was already the 'photographer who changed American films and photography.' If you don't believe that, then please reference the works of Mario Sorrenti, Nick Knight, Terry Richardson, Juergen Teller, Corrine Day, Nan Goldin, Bruce Weber, Steven Meisel, Alexei Hay, David Armstrong or Steven Klein (whose work graces the cover of this magazine). Or watch Drugstore Cowboy or Rumble Fish or Y Tu Mama Tambien. So many photographers bleed Larry's art for their advertising work that Larry has been implicated as the father of heroin chic. One critic so profoundly misunderstood the situation that he said Kids looked like 'a bad Calvin Klein ad.' This is why Larry refers to anyone in the industry as "those fashion cunts..."
"They got it all wrong... They don't understand it. I'm documenting real life. They thought it was all about the drugs. They take what I do, use it and make a lot of money out of it. My art is personal. I don't fuckin' sell clothes... and some art director goes out and buys a book and says, 'Here it is! This is the next ad campaign!' Is that supposed to be talent?" Then Larry calls them cunts again.
'Fashion cunts' better watch their step. Larry didn't get to be an 'outlaw' photographer just for getting a few speeding tickets. In 1976, Larry was sentenced to 19 months for shooting a man off a toilet over a poker debt. Later, he stabbed another guy who "was talking when he should have been listening. I just missed his liver."
His fugitive lifestyle in the years leading up to the conviction all dripfed into Tulsa, a book about the trouble speed freaks who can't sleep get themselves into. It included a series of verite photos entitled 'Snitch,' in which two men (well three, if you count Larry taking the pictures) break a guy's face with a set of brass knuckles.
Larry may have become an almost-respectable photographer-cum-director since then, but he's never lost touch with his fascination for youth. He took up skateboarding aged 47, which has to be a record of some sort. Only an ex-speed freak would take up skateboarding in San Francisco for relaxation, but now Larry is an evangelist for the lifestyle. 'They have their own transportation, make their own fun and can live on two dollars a day. If I was a kid, I'd be skating right now.'
So it's a perfect symbiosis: Larry and the skaters. Without that, where would all these Chloe Sevignys, Rosario Dawsons, Brad Renfros and Leo Fitzpatricks be? Speaking of which, where is Leo? THE FACE people are pale with fear. Stiff upper lips are chewed upon.
Larry's cellphone rings (it plays 'God Bless America'). The missing Ken Park actors have been located in the Soho Grand hotel, wiping out the minibar, and have been poured into a cab on their way to the set. Larry and photographer Steven Klein are relieved. Now, if only Rosario can manage to get in her limo.
Larry's World #1
Of course Tulsa, Oklahoma reeled when Tulsa, the book, came out. Larry didn't really think about what would happen - he figured he'd put out his little photobook and no big deal...
So Larry gets a call from a friend in Tulsa saying the book is all over town. Everyone knows about it - bad news for the guys in the book.
One of the lead characters in Tulsa, David Roper, has used his charm well and scored a cushy job in the penitentiary. When the warden sees Tulsa, Roper is pulled from his cushy job and thrown in 'The Hole,' where it's not so cushy.
Another character, Bobby Dean, who was photographed breaking a snitch's face in Tulsa, is stopped by a patrolman while driving home.
'You're Bobby Dean, right?'' the cop asks, recognising him.
'Yeah,' says Bobby Dean.
And so the cop beats the shit out of Bobby Dean with a blackjack.'
Larry realized that publishing evidence of known felons doing felonious things might be misconstrued by them, especially if the cops are beating them up and throwing them in the holes...
So Larry does as a wise outlaw does: 'Keep your friends close but your enemies closer - and if your friends and enemies are one and the same, go right over to their house and settle it.' So Larry does just that... flying down from New York to confront the beaten Bobby Dean.
'You want to kill me?' Larry wants to know.
'I was a little pissed,' allows Bobby Dean, 'but then I realised that the book was a classic.'
The Face (October 2002)
Harold Hunter arrives with his manager in tow. You may remember Harold from Kids (the one that did the willy trick) and if you don't remember, just take a look at the cover of this magazine. Harold is the naked black man.
A sleepy-eyed Rachel Miner and Daniel Franzese, who acted for Larry on Bully, troop through just in time to hear, er, climax of Harold's story about the Finnish girl he'd been 'courting' the night before: "And when I busted - and it was so good, man - I went again."
Daniel 'The Incredible Chunk' Franzese is a paradigm of Larry Clark's non-skater casting. Danny jumped Larry in a Florida nightclub and drunkenly screamed lines from Kids at him until he agreed to let him audition. Danny is a big guy and they needed a big guy. Larry put him in Bully and Danny rocked it as acid-fried cousin Derek. Danny Franzese is now playing the part of 'freakin' rat' in Party Monster, the feted death-in-NYC-clubland movie, starring Marilyn Manson, Chloe Sevigny and Rachel Miner's ex-husband, Macaulay Culkin.
Rachel Miner is quiet and sweet, so she sticks out like a sore thumb in this crowd. The girl played Bully's high school murderess doesn't have a criminal record or a habit or anything, so Rachel spent most of the shoot hiding in her hotel room 'looking for a quiet place.'
Quiet places were in short supply during the Bully shoot/crimewave, according to Florida police. Larry hired a 'man sitter' to make sure that Brad Renfro didn't try something stupid like... try to steal a yacht without untying it from the dock. Brad went out the hotel window and did it anyway. The boat just surged at its mooring and went nowhere, so technically he didn't steal anything. But he was found in the company of two black men which is illegal in certain parts of Florida (doubly so, if you have cocaine in your pockets). These incidents happened to occur on the eve of principal photography for Bully. 'You have no idea,' Larry swears, 'what I had to do to get Bully done.'
The main reason we have no idea is because Larry will not talk about it. Larry doesn't want to obscure his work with 'name-dropping gossip.' He wont dish about how Leo Fitzpatrick was arrested for a skinny dip with the lesbian grips, nor will he talk about who stole the prop car and got sued for egging the stylist. Larry is only concerned with letting his work 'speak for itself' and not 'selling out' which seems almost crazy, these days. I mean... who even talks like that anymore?
Unheard of among directors, Larry doesn't even want to talk about his new film. As the only person not affiliated with the movie to see it, Larry will kill me for telling you that Ken Park is Larry's most unflinching profile of any town except maybe Tulsa. And that the careers of Tiffany Limos, Mike Apaletigui, Stephen Jasso, James Bullard and or PJ Ransone are likely to join Chloe, Rosario, and the perpetually absent Leo in the class of successful Larry graduates. Or that the unknowns blend seamlessly with established actors Amanda Plummer and Wade Williams. 'Not a word about any of that,' Larry insists darkly.
The Face (October 2002)
Larry's World #2
The Boys (remember, Larry Clark doesn't drop names) at Miramax offer Larry and good chunk of money to give up his final cut on Kids. 'Aw, come on Larry, it's just alittle this and that, here and there. No biggie. Just so we can get it past the censors.'
Larry jumps around and beats on his chest and tells them 'No!' and 'Hell no!' but The Boys insist. 'You know, Larry, first-time directors never get final cut. Never, ever, ever. So why don't you take this fifty thousand and stop acting like a big baby?'
Miraculously, Jean-Luc Godard is lecturing at the Museum of Modern Art and Larry gets The Boys to come and see Godard with him.
They watch a Godard movie and Godard says his bit and then he starts fielding questions from the audience. Larry jumps up and Godard points to the girl behind Larry - but Larry needs to know. He can't wait a second longer so he steps on her questions and says, 'Godard... Have you ever made a film where you didn't have final cut?'
Godard is stunned by such a question, 'I can't imagine.'
Larry turns to The Boys: 'See?!'
And The Boys roll their eyes and say, 'Alright Larry, damn it - a hundred thousand then.'
Everyone is here now - except Leo 'Where The Hell Is Leo?' Fitzpatrick. Larry points out that Leo was the first kid to be cast for Kids. "I wanted Leo because, you know when a skateboarder misses a trick, he screams and cusses and throws the board around? Well, Leo did that every time... like a hundred times in a row every fuckin' time and it was his voice that got me. It was right over at Washington Square Park..."
The Ken Park boys, Mike Apaletigui and Stephen Jasso, stumble in clutching their skates and asking where the weed is at. They eyeball the cast of Kids and the cast of Kids eyeball them back.
The fresh-faced pair meet Harold Hunter for the first time. Harold is a professional skateboarder and an Original Larry Kid. At 28 years of age, Harold seems like some far-out old man to Mike and Stephen. Mike and Stephen are starstruck, but they play it off by being drunk. Then finally, the mascot, Leo Fitzpatrick, saunters in. 'There's Leo!'
And here they are... three generations of Larry Clark, with their pants slouched off their asses, considering themselves at home. Rachel and Tiffany are huggy and perky, PJ Ransone is rolling cigarettes, while Harold and Rosario sing 'Hey Love' and remind each other that they have to get married by the time Harold is 34, Leo and Larry gossip quietly, James Bullard plays his damn guitar and everyone is giggling about how much they have changed... "Hey hey, the gang's all here," says Larry." And it is a Gang, an Oliver Twist gang of sharps that Larry has trained and enabled to go and pick those fat Hollywood pockets.
"If I had a kid, I think I would name it Leo," gushes Larry's 'old lady' Tiffany Limos, the star of Ken Park and (Larry's 2001 TV movie), Teenage Caveman.
"Old faces, new scars," Jon Abrahams says, referring to Leo's cleft eyebrow, a souvenir from a hit and run in LA. This vehicular assault knocked Leo Fitzpatrick right out of a Robert Redford movie that would have surely boosted him into Hollywood's Most Wanted.
"The fucked-up part about getting hit," says Leo, "was that I had just got done playing Marcus in [Todd Solondz's] Storytelling, and I get hit by a car and ended up in the exact same physical therapy unit with the guys I just did my character research on for the movie."
Chloe Sevigny (with her Academy Award nomination) and Rosario Dawson (recently in Men In Black ll) apart, Jon Abraham's resume is the most varied of all the Kids kids. Larry cast Jon because he was "a cute kid, 14 years old, with his hat on backwards like a little puppy," but Larry claims "he was always stoned. So I went and found his mother and made her deliver him to the set. Next thing I know he's Sean Penn's brother in Dead Man Walking." Jon is a natural vamp, oozing attitude as he swaggers around wiggling a Rolex around his wrist.
Absent from the original Kids posse is Justin Pierce. Justin wont make it to the reunion because he hanged himself two years ago. The mention of his death casts a pall over Never Never Land for a moment... Larry says that Justin's wake was the worst day of his life: "It was a full-on Catholic wake with the open casket and all these skateboarders in their father's suits..."
Jon and Harold are both wearing home-made Justin Pierce T-shirts. "Justin is the dopest ghost you know," somebody says... and that is all that is mentioned. No one wants to mar the reunion going on here. Larry says he wants a Justin shirt too and Harold gives Larry a 'Harold Hunter Skateboard' T-shirt. Harold and his skateboards are big in Japan.
Also missing today was 'Downtown Diva' Chloe Sevigny, off shooting a movie with Vincent Gallo. She was in the day before, with a laundry bag full of Gucci. Harmony Korine wasn't invited, despite being the writer of Ken Park. Harmony has fallen out of favour and is rumoured to be living in England on Agnès B's dime. Harold regards Harmony as his boy but qualifies this: "but he is the illest liar I have ever met..." The last time he saw Harmony was on David Letterman and his standard quote regarding him is this: "He was a cute kid. He aint so cute anymore." That's all he'll say because Larry don't 'bitch-fight in the press.'
"Where the hell is Leo?" Leo is needed but nowhere to be found. When Leo gets back from the store clutching a big Mexican beer, they pounce and drag him off to the set.
The Face (October 2002)
Larry's World #3
Larry picked up a heroin habit after Kids. It gets so bad he figures it's a good idea to kill himself. Larry gets his two pistols out, and tries to figure out which one is best. The .22 might be too small and the .357 might make a mess of the place - and who is going to clean it up? A friend of his had blown his head off with a shotgun and it fucked his house up so bad that his roommates had to leave. They hated the guy for that, so Larry doesn't want people to have to clean up his brains. So he calls up a friend of his to confer on how to kill himself.
"Hey, Jimmy," says Larry, "I'm sitting here wondering which pistol to shoot myself with."
"Larry, are you fixing to kill yourself?" James asks eagerly.
"Yeah, I'm going to do it with and don't try to talk me out of it... but I wasn't sure if I should use the .22 or the .357."
"Larry don't do it. Let me shoot your sorry ass. I'll kill you."
"Really, James?" Larry thinks this will solve alot of problems nicely in terms of insurance and the clean-up costs and Larry is, y'know, pretty far gone.
"You'd do that for me, man?"
"Of course, man, I fucking hate you..." his friend swears, "just hang on for a minute. Don't move. I'm coming over right now."
"Thanks, man," Larry is so relieved, he cries and makes out a will.
When James arrives, he takes the gun off Larry and checks him into rehab.
When Larry gets through telling the story, he says: "That reminds me. I got to go get them pistols back from that motherfucker."
It's time to close the set for something 'double secret.' This means that somebody is getting really naked. It's Harold. Steven Klein is getting Harold to 'fluff' himself a little.
The 'fluffing' is too much for Leo Fitzpatrick and storms offset screaming that he isn't "down with this homoerotic shit." Leo is tired of them screaming his name every five minutes... so he defiantly munches down most of a bag of psychedelic mushrooms. 'Shenanigans' ensue.
No adults see Leo eat the mushrooms, so they attribute his increasingly bizarre behavior to the 'Irish gene' and keep cool while Leo starts ranting that they are 'bananacakes' while rooting through the props. "I'mma wake up in a park, I just know it," is what Leo tells us as he snatched $300-worth of roses from the foyer and dashes out into the night, never to be seen again.
The day after the shoot I go and have Mexican food with Larry.
"The thing I want everybody to come away from Ken Park with is that the kids are going to be all right, no matter how fucked up their parents are." Larry isn't jiving, as it is evident in Ken Park. "Kids are always naive... innocent," Larry tells me, "no matter how much they know."
Just then Larry is hailed by a jabbering man, "Look! He got a Harold shirt! Look at that - it's a Harold T-shirt." The man screams and points. He has no idea that he is molesting the very genius who minted Harold Hunter. Larry's not going to tell him that he is Larry Clark because Larry does not drop names, so he stands their and lets the man pick at the silk screening for a minute.
"Well," he tells the man, "I got to get back to work."