Saturday, February 28

Andy Nemeth, West Hollywood

When Andy isn't laughing, he's smiling, cracking jokes or shopping for cashmere sweatpants. "I only wear four suits," he says in the courtyard of his home/fantasy world. "A sweatsuit, a swimsuit, a wetsuit or my birthday suit."

I should've known, since I met him years ago when I was working in retail and he was a USC student looking for high-end leisurewear.

Andy and his big, friendly personality will land some kind of hosting gig on television, I'm sure, but right now he's in the beginning stages of putting together a blog or something, so when he does, I'll link to it. In the meantime, let's tour AndyLand, the gated village where he lives with two other guys in a three-story townhouse. "It's a total gay frat house," he says. People are always coming and going." A portrait of the adorable roomies, formerly known as the "ambiguously employed trio":

Before we go inside, let's tour the courtyard. Andy and I (and pup Bailey) practiced this shot below about 17 times before getting it almost right. A maze of terracotta-tile footpaths winds around fountains and outdoor seating areas and gardens of Senegal palms, agave plants and bougainvillea. He leads me to the Writer's Court, a peaceful place with teak love seats and ornamental turtles. "It's where writers go to collect their thoughts," he explains. Andy and Bailey pose for a portrait (top), and then he shows me a tombstone engraved with a cross. "It's Harry Houdini's dog's grave." This is Hollywood, so I don't bother asking...

Living Room and Dining Room
Who gets to sit in the leather chair? The living room has a cozy fireplace and a random lit niche for object worship. On this Thursday, there are flowers from Trader Joe's. The dining room has an adjacent outdoor area, where Bailey snoozes or watches birds.

Baby Levi's Bedroom
Andy tells me that "Baby Levi," a sales associate at James Perse, is the youngest "and messiest" roomie. (We kind of made his bed.) Baby Levi, the second-most famous one in Hollywood, painted these cool birds above his bed. "He sponged them on," says Andy. "Baby Levi is so resourceful," he adds. "I mean, he's from Alaska. That kid could survive on tree bark and squirrel meat for three weeks."

Messy or not, Baby Levi is awesome for fighting for equal rights with the No on 8 campaign.

Andy's Bedroom
Upstairs, Andy's bedroom is half playful boy, half Hermes orange. I think that's a needlepoint pillow of Be-be (Bailey's nickname, pronounced Bay-bay)? Like the one in the living room, Andy's pillows look like they've been karate-chopped on top. Visitors are encouraged to scrawl on the chalkboard wall. Children's book author and manny-to-the-stars Shaun Sturz--he's a man-nanny--drew the waves. Check out his blog, Malibu Manny. On the balcony, Be-be listens intently to Andy's game plan.

Forget the Villeroy & Boch sink and the Groehe faucet: This is where the amibiguously employed trio keeps a breast implant on the counter to use as a paperweight. I did not style the photo below. Andy and I were in the kitchen when I watched him pick up a toy and massage it, lost in thought, before slipping it under his sweatshirt. "Oh," he said, forming the thing to his chest, "this is a breast implant! My friend's husband is a rep who sells them." He tossed it to me so I could feel for myself. It was surprisingly tough and round and...impossibly big. "It's only 150cc," said Andy. It says so on the back (in case the chest wall ever needs to be reminded). Andy styled an artful still life that he called Orchid, Candle, Breast Implant. You have to admit, if MUJI was ever gonna sell a paperweight...

Wednesday, February 25

Press in Edificial (Feb 2009)

It's September 2012 but I'm filing this post in February 2009.

I came across my very first press about Homebodies, and it's no longer online. It's written by Ian Volner for now-defunct Edificial, and it ran just days after I launched the site back in February of 2009. (Ian, who's known as Davey, has a nose for news.) I just found a screen grab I took of the post, and I'm so glad I did. I forgot how much I liked it, and it's fun to read years later: "Arnold is no shut-in." Yeah.

Saturday, February 21

F., Los Angeles

If you think it's crazy that people let me photograph their homes, and you don't ever want me to come over, you're not alone. You're probably a lot like my dear friend F., Mr. Hollywood screenwriter. When I walked up to his place in Beachwood Canyon under the Hollywood sign, I stopped to snap a shot of his courtyard. So pretty!

[A voice, from somewhere]

[Door slam.]

[LIZ, 32, in short black dress and brown boots, rolls her eyes and walks quickly through the rain to his door.]

Why are you taking pictures? I don't want to be on your blog!

[F., 34, handsome, bespectacled, and "tall for a Jew," he likes to say, now makes the big bucks. His one-bedroom reflects his success and is a huge improvement from when he lived near Runyon Canyon. Except that the other place had a rooftop pool, where F. and Liz once met freaky Renaissance Fair people and ate lime Popsicles with them while one of the girls tried to braid Liz's hair.

You could be a braider.
[REN GIRL's sticky fingers take to Liz's head, her wide shadow blocks Liz's sun, and a limesicle, stuck in her mouth, drips on Liz's chaise. The sun sets over West Hollywood.]


[In the living room Liz recognizes a poster F. bought in 2000 for that other place. He loved this print and even had it framed. Suddenly her eyes widen, alert with an idea. She realizes how much F. has in common with the 13-year-old cartoon character Emily the Strange.]

[Liz shouldn't be so surprised. F. has always loved teenagers, and he writes teen comedies at every opportunity.]

[Liz is bummed F. won't let her take pics of his bathtub, which is still famously filled with newspapers from at least the past year. He's very lucky to have such an awesome Lady Friend. Whip-smart, down-to-earth and cool, Lady Friend is the kind of person who asks to come over to clean up a bit, because it makes her feel productive when she's frustrated with other stuff in her life. She is saving the bathroom for a really big breakdown.]

[F. and Liz cover all the bases--friends, family, work. Then they amble up the hill to the market, where Liz orders a tuna sandwich and F. tries to buy pasta sauce but realizes he forgot his wallet. Again.]

Can I borrow $10?

Fade Out.

Friday, February 20

Shannon Kim, Los Angeles

Shannon Kim is my rock-star friend. Professionally she's a hairstylist, and I'm proud to say I've known her since I was 15. But she's always had an incredible sense of style--she can sport a girl-mullet, a single dangling earring or tattered leggings and still look more pulled together than anyone else in the room. I'm amazed at how well she wears Chuck Taylors. The high tops. I'm not surprised her apartment looks effortlessly cool, too.

Last week, I went to visit her in LA, where I lived for six years until 2005. She was kind enough to let me crash with her for five whole nights, and forgiving enough to allow me to poke around her spacious one-bedroom apartment and take lots of pictures: endless kitchen cupboards, the dining room (dining room!), her bathtub, lemon trees outside. Why did I ever leave LA?

So this first entry is a BIG ONE with a lot of text and images, because I had so much time to discover fun stuff and admire how her place looks during the day and at night. It marks the beginning of what I guess I'll call the LA Series, because when I told friends I was in town, almost everyone said, "just come over." Oh, LA! How I forgot that everyone is at home--"writing a screenplay" at home, part-timing from home, "on retainer" and at home, all with dining rooms and vegetation out back, because the abundance of space is just normal there. Over the course of six days, I was able to photograph 11 residences. On my vacation!

Back to the fabulous Shannon Kim (who can be found at Thomas Chase Hairdressing in Santa Monica when she's not styling celebrities). Entering her place from the driveway (where you must leave extra-extra-extra space when you parallel park so the neighbor girl doesn't tuck a curt note written in increasingly slanted writing under your windshield wiper and then deny it when confronted), the layout curves around in a U-shape and goes like this: Kitchen, dining room, living room; from there, a hallway to the bedroom and the bathroom. Roomy closets everywhere.

An all-around happy place. Pretty ceramics, a bright blue crepe-paper flower wired onto the cupboard knob, smiling faces on the refrigerator. I always like to recognize mutual friends like Betsy and Bruce in pics I've never seen. She's had the colorful dish towel "forever. It's maybe from Japan." And despite evidence like wilted carrots and some random take-out salsa in the fridge, Shannon is a great cook, which explains why capers are one of the only condiments in the door. She recently turned me on to smoked Black Forest bacon.

Dining Room
The plaster walls are curved, and the space feels like an old parlor. I love the built-in shelves. The dining chairs don't match, but it's barely perceptible. Dark-stained wood and some kind of red upholstery on each one bring them together as a set, but their varying shapes make the collection interesting and feels more casual. One of them is from She Sells Seashells on nearby 3rd Street. I forgot to ask about the Styrofoam head, but Shannon is starting to make headpieces, too.

Living Room
The huge L-shaped sofa is covered in microsuede and was custom made by a guy named Ritch--yes, with a T--in Marina del Rey for $1,000. He'll even deliver it on his back. During the day, lemon trees screen the view. At night, the room glows. She "couldn't figure out dimmers," so she used orange bulbs.

It brought me such joy that the soap in the shower is long and skinny and an unusual but perfect shape to fit the built-in holder. It's like the frustratingly narrow Spare Ribs piece in that Milton Bradley game Operation. But unlike Spare Ribs, you don't need tweezers to fetch it, and there's no rude BZZZZ!!! or blinking red-lit nose you when you go for it. Pretty rug. Essential oils like little soldiers.

I came home around 4 pm one day and saw this adorable bow peeking out from a chest of drawers. It was winking at me! I opened it up and discovered Shannon's amazing collection of colorful lingerie. Ooh-la-la! She's having way more fun that I am, I decided. When I closed the drawer and looked again, I felt like maybe it wasn't winking at me, it was flipping me off in mockery.

This Robert Indiana Love-licensed doormat was a gift from me a few years ago, when Shannon lived at another residence. It's so welcoming, and I "love" the idea of scuffing your dirty soles on a powerful word so commercialized and styled that it loses its meaning (at least in this example). She ended up meeting a cute neighbor boy once who recognized her as "the girl with the Love doormat." I had one, too, but someone stole it from outside my NYC apartment. It's all about having lemon trees stand guard, I'm telling you.