SEPTEMBER 2013 Issue • 308
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DALLAS BASED DESIGNER CHARLES SMITH II HAS A LOT TO SAY ON THE RUNWAY
THE ‘SYTYCD’ ALUM AND CURRENT OUR INSIDER’S LOOK AT ‘SUPREME’ ON BROADWAY TALKS D.C.’S SIGNATURE THEATRE BLEEP 1 ABOUT PERSEVERANCE PRODUCTION OF ‘MISS SAIGON’
n i p e ble inside
ON THE COVER
They say style is a way to say who you are without having to speak. Charles Smith II is a designer who firmly believes that fashion is indeed an art. Heâ€™s a master of expressionism and experimentation and has aligned himself with the boundarypushing aesthetics of the avant-garde movement.
66 20 20
You might have first heard her name when she made the Top 20 on “So You Think You Can Dance” and you may have recently read her name in your Playbill when you saw Bring It On or Motown: The Musical. Now, get to know Ariana the artist.
BLEEP GOES TO D23
We were at Disney’s biggest fanstravaganza, D23 and accompanying images of storyboards, poster mockups and original Disney art from some of the most lasting films in movie history, we share a few sound bites from the greatest of Disney’s creative minds. BLEEP rubs shoulders with Viking bands, crowd surfers, guitar playing ex-cons, and Hellbillies at this year’s Mayhem Fest to give you a glimpse at a culture commandeered by Rob Zombie and is as passionate about their music as any One Direction fan.
Letter from the Editor I released my first book in August. Yep. There is a book on my shelf now that has my name on it. That’s a lot to take in. I’m sure for someone like JK Rowling, it’s not that big of a deal, but for me, it is. Four years ago, my friend Cheryl told me I should compile all of these stories into a book and here it is. Four years of writing, six months of editing and 30 years worth of stories added up to “I Laughed Too Hard,” and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ll admit I haven’t had any time to really celebrate this accomplishment though (and it is an accomplishment). There’s been too much happening in real life to have the time to get people together and celebrate something like this. Honestly, releasing it at all was celebration enough for me. And I’ve heard nice things from people about it, which is nice, albeit not completely the point. Honestly, this is the first real moment I’ve had to think about the fact that I have added the name ‘author’ to the description of my life. That’s a big deal. Many people say they should write a book, but few actually follow through with it. Now that I think about it, it’s pretty cool. I’m pleased I can share my stories with you and perhaps impart something into you that you didn’t previously have. The artists in this issue are doing the same thing. Does that mean I can add the title of ‘artist’ to my description as well? I suppose it does. I’m Ryan. I’m an editor. I’m a designer. I’m an author. I’m an artist. I’m an artist who loves artists. Thanks for checking out the artists in this issue and if the mood so moves you, thank you for checking out “I Laughed Too Hard” on Amazon and Kindle.
Ryan Brinson Editor-in-Chief 4 BLEEP
The Signature Theatre’s production of Miss Saigon has been making waves in the industry for creating such a notably large musical in a non-traditional theatre space. We chat with scenic designer Adam Koch and associate scenic designer Steven Royal about their vision for the production and what it was like creating such a musical theatre staple in a big black box. BLEEP 5
ANOTHER BEN HUMENIUK CARTOON!
BLEEP CREATIVITY. UNCENSORED. RYAN BRINSON Editor-in-Chief LISA SORENSON Design/Decor Editor RACHAEL MARIBOHO Culture Editor SARAH ROTKER Business & Audience Development Manager BEN HUMENIUK Cartoonist BRANDON LYON Cover Photography FEATURE EDITORS: Juan Lerma Molly Craycroft WRITERS: Caleb Bollenbacher Danielle Milam Courtney Shotwell Lisa Sorenson Laura Seitter Alex Wright FEATURE CONTRIBUTORS: Katherine Morgan Nathan Robins WEB CONTENT: Sheena Wagaman Renee Rodriguez Eric Lehman Jordan Shalhoub
All articles and photos are the property of the writers and artists. All rights reserved.
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WHAT HAPPENED MTV?
by Ryan Brinson
What exactly happened at the VMAs this year? Our Facebook and Twitter feeds would suggest that Miley got exactly what she wanted, our attention at any cost. But I think something else happened at the VMAs this goround. It’s become clear that gone are the days when Britney could put on a show-stopping performance that would land her on the cover of every newspaper the following day. Gone are the days when an artistic video would actually stand a chance against a boy band who doesn’t dance but rather, jumps around the stage for an hour singing catchy songs and making girls scream by flipping their hair. Gone are the “VMAs” I grew up with. Justin tried. He tried to bring some of that into this year’s show. He even coerced his N’Sync bandmates to join him on stage in a cleverly leaked, yet “surprise” moment. Bruno Mars tried. He took his cue from the Wizard of Oz to put on a lightshow and pyrotechnic spectacular while he sang about being drunk, on cocaine and “making love like gorillas.” Even Gaga tried, and she’s usually able to hold up her end of the show, except this performance of a runof-the-mill and wildly self-indulgent single apparently warranted a career retrospective via wig changes that 8 BLEEP
were poorly executed and the impact was bland at best. Then there was Miley. Poor, misguided, attentionhungry, desperate Miley, trying to show the world she’s grown up by singing about drugs and dancing in latex underwear. Sadly, she showed us what has come of the VMAs. It used to be an awards show where musicians would put their best and boldest foot forward. When N’Sync performed with flat screens in front of their faces, they showed just how technology and performance could intertwine. When Madonna rolled around on the stage, it made her an icon. When Britney stripped off that suit and had the flesh colored sparkly outfit on, it did the same for her. She even followed it up with an even more talked about performance with a snake. But the difference between what Britney did and what Miley did, even though shock-and-awe tactics were employed by both, was that Britney’s routines were calculated down to putting real tigers in the cages and choreographed to perfection. The overhead shots were orchestrated to show off what was happening on the entire stage and she never missed a beat. With Miley, she ran around with a bunch of stuffed bears, stripped down and tried to be as vulgar as she could could up against a married man. I know she will be what’s remembered from this year’s awards, which is sad, because there was a true, news-
Left: Katy Perry performs beneath the Brooklyn Bridge to close the VMAs. Her straight foward, cleverly choreographed and fun performance proved why she sold over 500,000 downloads of her hit single, “Roar” in a week’s time.
worthy performance tucked away in the night. Macklemore offered up a sincerely heart-felt version of “Same Love” featuring Mary Lambert with an unannounced walk-on by Jennifer Hudson. What made it the performance of the night was that it transcended the attention-starved and the record-sales-challenged artists that populated the performance roster. It made a statement. And the fact that Jennifer Hudson sang with Mary Lambert and not in front of her was a testament to her as a true team player. She could have “Effie’d” that song and belted her heart out, but instead, she gave Mary Lambert the moment she deserved. It was beautiful and decidedly brave. Beyonce is selling out stadiums all over the world, Adele is breaking record sales records, Katy Perry is outselling the other pop divas without even trying. None of which are using shock tactics and vulgarity. They are making music people want to listen to. I wish MTV would take their cues from them. I wish Miley would take her cues from them as well. And I like a good performance that gives you something you weren’t expecting and I even like a good sexy performance too. But when it’s just sex and no substance, nobody wins. Actually, I guess MTV wins when the ratings come in. I suppose that’s why the VMAs are probably doomed. Ratings and dollars trump artistry. Perhaps the “VMAs” as I remember them are done with.
A K-POP SURPRISE
You may not have ever heard of Shinee, the South Korean boy band with millions of YouTube views, and that’s okay. You’ll probably never hear them on US radio or anywhere else for that matter. But in a day where record labels aren’t spending money on music videos, in favor of using the cheapest route possible, their video for “Dream Girl” stands out. And it really stands out. It’s fun. It’s inventive. The editors have done interesting things to the shots. Their outfits are equal parts ridiculous and fun. It’s really something engaging to look out. So check them out. They aren’t out to change the world, just to have some fun. Click on the link below to watch the video and hear the song.
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the intersection by
Photo by Joe Shlabotnik
Is the album back? For years now, we’ve been hearing that the album as we knew it has gone the way of the dinosaurrelegated to little more than a convenient piece of packaging. Where musical artists used to release cohesive packages of songs in a shiny, intentional bundle, bands of late have opted out in favor of more individualized – albeit potentially shinier – collections. You know what I mean. When’s the last time you went and bought something that even aspired to be as thematically linked as Sgt. Pepper? Whatever format you buy these days – CDs, digital albums, records – the albums are just collections of radio singles, organized by nothing more than a point on a recording timeline. I’m looking at you, Rihanna. This year, however, things feel a little different. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, discounting those of you who have been living under a rock, 2013 has brought us the long-awaited returns of several of our generation’s musical icons. We have new material from Justin Timberlake, Jay Z, Kanye West, and Daft Punk, after lengthy absences. And they’ve changed a little bit since last time we’ve seen them. Or maybe they haven’t and everyone else has just been firmly rooted to this swiftly tilting planet. Either way, the new albums by these four acts have made a huge splash, and I have a feeling that the ripples will be noticeable for a while yet. Here’s the thing about these four releases: They’re really not that radio friendly. Sure we’ve been hearing Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and new J.T. lately, but I don’t envision the same amount of airplay for a Daft Punk follow-up single, and Timberlake’s songs are half on the cutting room floor by the time you’re hearing them in your car. Where are the singles? Why are titans like Kanye and the newly hyphen-less Jay Z not making the rounds with new songs? It’s not that the albums aren’t selling – believe me, they are (Timberlake leads the pack, having gone double platinum in the U.S. with The 20/20 Experience, but the others are 12 BLEEP
no lightweights) – it’s that they’re empty on their own. They’re albums. The tracks flow into each other physically and thematically, with a firm refusal to let the listener go. It’s often graceful, even under all the production. These records must be imbibed as a whole in order to appreciate the full value. And that’s the way these things should be. Singles are great, sure, but after a while I start to wonder what the point is. As an artist, are you going to maintain the status quo and give the DJs and general populace what they want? Or are you going to do what you want and trust the right audience to latch onto something that dares to be just a little transcendent? As far as I see it, that’s the whole point of art: to create. Not to recreate, but instead to fashion something new where it did not exist before, to pull something from inside yourself and share it with others. Is there going to be some synthesis? Inevitably. My dad heard me listening to a new Timberlake song and refused to believe that it was not Michael Jackson. I’m not going to claim that we aren’t the sum of our influences. But just because we can’t reinvent the wheel doesn’t mean we can’t turn it in another direction. These four artists have earned the right to branch out and try something different, even if it is just a return to form, and while the result might sound a little different this is one instance where I’m glad that money talks. They’re still selling. They’re selling a lot. And that means we’re letting them get away with it. We’re letting them get away with creativity. I’ve still heard plenty of people complain about these albums, but to them I’d say to just wait and watch, because this might be a trend to get on board with. After all, why have a piece of the cake when you can have the whole thing? Let them eat cake!
by Alex Wright
Measures of Cool
clearly missed the memo - the one that informed the artistic community that sincerity was no longer cool. First of all, when did the artistic community care about what was cool? Secondly, why is detached apathy the way to live your life? It seems like our generation has become obsessed with cloaking everything in a shroud of detached irony. A life full of cynicism is the marker of an educated, socially conscious, and “cool” deep-thinking soul who is only passionate about not caring about anything. What happened to feeling things deeply in a way that aches and rips you apart and turns you on so that you HAVE to dance it, sing it, write it, draw it, act it? Clearly, I missed the memo. And when you think about it, do you ever want to experience art that was created by someone who felt neutral? Someone who had nothing invested—personal, emotional, or otherwise? I went straight to graduate school upon completing my undergraduate degree, and when I first met my classmates at Harvard, I’m pretty sure I was perceived as the naïve youngin’ - the bubbly ex-sorority girl from sunny SoCal. I remember holding a puppy and one of my grad classmates cooing and saying, “Oh Alex, I’m half expecting you to whistle and sing and have all sorts of fauna rush to your side and help you make your bed and braid your hair.” They were never cruel in their remarks, but I could tell that due to my optimism and sincerity, I was perceived as someone who lacked depth or intellect. Keep in mind, this was Harvard! It was almost as if I could hear the intellectuals booming from their podiums, “You’re happy? Don’t you know what’s happening in the world?” Happiness has become a marker of blissful ignorance. There is shame in sincerity because it means that you are invested, and therefore, vulnerable. Our generation limits acts of affection to liking a Facebook status or an Instagram photo. Anything else is clingy, pathetic, and overly sentimental. I believe that as artists, we should care deeply, and that the investment in our work should be personal and emotional. Being a serious actor doesn’t mean you have to be serious or rebellious to the point of
anarchy. Stanislavsky said that actors should emulate children; curious, earnest, sincere, and guileless. Some of my classmates were shocked that little Snow White singing to her posse of forest critters could suddenly produce work that was deep and often dark. As artists and actors, we should be able to express the whole spectrum of human emotions: we are emotional athletes. While I’m not implying that everything is always sunshine, butterflies and roses, we should never make emotional attachment or empathy something to be scorned or mocked. Here’s the thing: I would rather feel everything than nothing at all. It’s why I’m an artist, but more specifically, it’s why I’m an actor. I have chosen a career that forces me to be empathetic with every character I play. It’s thrilling! When I’m preparing for a part, I always try to make provocative choices that excite, titillate, sadden, or move me. I want to be moved. No character is ever neutral, so why are we set on making ourselves neutral for the sake of the being unique? Can’t we be unique because we feel things uniquely? This cool detachment is so clearly seen in relationships. No one wants to be the one who feels the most. No one wants to be the most invested. There are few things that make you feel more humiliated or stupid than having an attachment to someone who doesn’t return the same level of affection. Yet, if you don’t invest fully in relationships - romantic or platonic - then what’s the point of interaction? You will find yourself living a safe, detached life, full of cynicism, drenched in irony, and lacking in meaning. So feel. Something. Anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. I will always sing a bit too loud in the car, and I will always care too deeply, and I will always admire you and tell you. If that makes me seem naïve, so be it. My eyes are no less open than yours—I’m just choosing to see things a bit differently. Because in the end, lessening my worldview to match yours is, well…so not cool. Now, if you excuse me, I have some forest critters to tend to. BLEEP 13
NEXT MONTH TO
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THIS 22-YEAR-OLD LOS ANGELES NATIVE TURNED NEW YORKER IS ALL ABOUT DESIGN. FROM HATS TO SHOES, ELI MONKARSH IS AT JUST THE BEGINNING OF WHAT WILL BE A THRIVING CAREER. HE’S OUTGOING, FRIENDLY AND VERY OUT-OF-THE-BOX. AND HE HAD SOME GREAT THINGS TO TELL BLEEP. WHAT IS YOUR TALENT? I have many talents but what I am most passionate about at the moment is shoe design. WHEN DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER THIS ABOUT YOURSELF? I grew up in a very supportive household and my parents always encouraged me to pursue my artistic passions, whether it be theater, dance or design. However, it was only in college that I developed this passion for shoe design. WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO NYC? My family visited New York City and it was always a fantasy of mine to move here. When I was in my teens I went to summer camp in the Catskills and after camp, we would come to The City. It made me more entranced with the idea of moving here. I was also fortunate enough to be hired at Marc Jacobs as a sales associate, two weeks before moving to New York to attend Parsons. I remained with the company for three years until my senior year when I heavily focused on my academics. WHY DO YOU THINK YOU’RE STILL UNDISCOVERED? Part of being discovered is putting yourself out there. This is me putting myself out there! After graduating in May I was fortunate enough to travel and take a break from reality. Now I can hone in my varied fantasies in regard to design and the future product I want to create, and make them into reality. WHAT IS YOUR INSPIRATION? Glitter. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR? Glitter. WHAT IS YOUR DREAM? To have a job that doesn’t feel like work, but rather feels like I’m engaging in my passions and sharing my creative insight in a way that brings joy to other people. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT NYC? It is always changing, thus constantly providing inspiration. I also love how active the elderly are and I take a lot of my inspiration from history. WHERE CAN PEOPLE GO TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOU? Facebook.com/eli.monkarsh or just come and find me on the dance floor! 16 BLEEP
Photo by Parker McComb
BY MOLLY CRAYCROFT
I L E NKARSH MO
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Photography by Ryan Brinson
ARIANA DEBOSE BLEEP 21
A N A I R A E S O B DE Ariana DeBose grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. She started dancing when she was three-years-old and when she was 12, she began studying dance at a competitive dance studio, training with many choreographers who were working in the business, some of which went on to choreograph routines on “So You Think You Can Dance,” the show that, years later, would put DeBose in front of an audience of millions. When she turned 18, one of her friends asked her to go to Atlanta to audition for “So You Think You Can Dance” with her. She went to keep her friend company, she ended up on national television in the top 20. “It was the craziest thing I’d ever done,” she said. “From the second I got there, it was kinda magical. I’d never experienced something like that with so many dancers. It was my first test as a semi-professional dancer. It was a huge audition and it taught me how to make it in a cattle call.” One thing that DeBose found unexpected about being a part of such a popular show was how much she learned about herself.
“I couldn’t go in and try to be someone else. I had to be myself. At 18-years-old, you don’t know who you are, but I certainly became more acquainted with who Ariana was.” Having performed as “Carmen” in FAME as a freshman in high school and starring as “Aida” in an all-county production, DeBose found herself in the audition room for the new musical Bring It On, which eventually found its way to Broadway. “It taught me a lot. I’m a life learner. That’s why I’m here, I’m here to learn. I never in a million years thought I’d be able to dance as hard as I danced in that show, to find my voice in that show and cover a lead. I mean, I was covering a leading lady on the road. That’s not “So You Think You Can Dance.” That’s something completely different and I’m completely grateful.” Not too long after Bring It On closed, DeBose went on to cover another leading lady, this time in the most profitable new musical of the 2013 season, Motown: The Musical. “I play Mary Wilson and I cover Diana Ross. I
A E BLEEP 23
knew when I took this job that it was going to be challenging. Next to the “Young Barry Gordy” actors, I’m the youngest in the ensemble. I’ve had to find a maturity and a new sense of confidence. When I get that phone call, I have to put those gowns on and I have to be Diana Ross. It doesn’t matter how old I am, I’ve got 1700 people out there expecting me to be Diana. It’s made me grow up.” Embodying someone who is still alive has had it’s challenges. “I have to find the mannerisms of someone who is still living. In Bring It On, my character Nautica is not a real person. Diana Ross and Mary Wilson are very real people. To have the confidence to go out there and tell 1700 people I am those women takes gumption. I think I found an unexpected gumption within me that I didn’t know was there.” After having a career that has, so far, taken her from being a dancer to covering a Tony-nominated role on Broadway, DeBose has no plans on stopping now. “The dreams are ongoing,” she said. “I don’t know if I have an endgame but I would love to do television and film. There’s a part of me that would love to go on tour with my band. Maybe I want a record deal. Maybe I want an EGOT. I don’t know where this thing could end. But my dreams keep multiplying. You never know where I will end up and you never know where I will show up.”
WANT MORE ARIANA?
Check out one of her performances from her recent concert at Joes Pub in New York City.
WWW.ARIANADEBOSE.COM BLEEP 25
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“It’s our decision to believe nothing is impossible.” – Trish Albright; Imagineer;
The DNA of Innovation panel discussion at D23 28 BLEEP
D23 THE ART OF
ON THE SCENE WITH DANIELLE MILAM
BLEEP 29 Photos by GRN Photography
“The one thing that most creative people have in common is they believe they are creative.”
– David Durham; Imagineering Director for Concept Integration; The DNA of Innovation panel discussion
THE ART OF
Everyone knows I am a huge Disney fan, so it wasnâ€™t a surprise when I attended the biggest Disney fan event of the year â€“ The D23 Expo in Anaheim. This year had an extra special emphasis on the Imagineers of Disney: the masterminds of the Disney creative process - and we all listened in rapt attention as they shared their creative process. Here, accompanying images of storyboards, poster mockups and original Disney art from some of the most lasting films in movie history, are a few sound bites from the greatest Disney creative minds.
ON THE SCENE WITH DANIELLE MILAM
“Whether you believe you can accomplish something or you can’t, you’ll be right.”
– Scott Trowbridge; Vice President for Creative Research and Development; The DNA of Innovation panel discussion
BLEEP 33 Photos by Ryan Brinson
“You can be the new Walt of your generation.” – Trish Albright; Imagineer;
The DNA of Innovation panel discussion at D23
“We’re never allowed to stop experimenting.”
– Scott Trowbridge; Vice President for Creative Research and Development; The DNA of Innovation panel discussion BLEEP 37
We love creative people. BLEEP 39
THE HAUS OF
They say style is a way to say who you are without having to speak. Charles Smith II is a designer who firmly believes that fashion is indeed an art. He’s a master of expressionism and experimentation and has aligned himself with the boundary-pushing aesthetics of the avant-garde movement. Born in Harlem, the Dallas-based couturier first debuted as a model on the runways in Milan and eventually shifted his focus to the creative and limitless sector of design. His inspiration stems from a variety of subjects. It can be found in the form of raw emotion or simply in the shadow of a silhouette in the street. Charles creates clothing for the fighters of change those who fear uniform and conformity in the name of fashion. His recent collection, “33”, was motivated by his love of basketball. As both a former player of the game (33 being his designated number) and a free agent of the NBA D-League, Charles decided to unite his passion for the sport together with his eye for design in order to construct this new line. When asked about the collaboration, he said, “You will see that I used a variety of jersey fabrics in these pieces because of the way they fit and flow with the body. I happen to find the walk of a runway synonymous with the movement that occurs while running up and down a basketball court. That’s what this season’s muses are made of.” Underground societies provided the inspiration for the photoshoot - organizations whose activities and inner functioning are concealed from non-members. In order for the men to be admitted, they must first complete the initiation process, becoming completely subdued to their female counterparts. There are three rules that govern the Haus: see no evil; hear no evil; speak no evil. This achingly beautiful story is comprised of a series of images, each revealing a rite of passage that will ultimately mark their entrance into this exclusive alliance.
feature by Juan Lerma Written by Kenzie Mainard photography by brandon lyon BLEEP 41
WHERE ARE YOU FROM? I am from Harlem - born and raised and half-raised in Dallas. WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO DALLAS? I played for one of the Reeboksponsored AAU teams, the Dallas Mustangs, who scouted me from New York and ended up traveling back and forth between Dallas and New York and eventually ended up enrolling at Lincoln High School. WHAT DO YOU DO? I make cool shit for people to wear every day. TELL US ABOUT THE JOURNEY THAT LED YOU TO DESIGN CLOTHING. I’ve always been in the fashion industry. I was a model when I was a baby and began high-fashion runway in Milan for two years beginning at age 14. I’ve always had a creative vision – I just didn’t know how to construct clothes. I’ve always sketched and one day, I got tired of going to the mall and seeing the same shit. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST FASHION MOMENT? Meeting Karl Lagerfeld in 2009 and meeting Jean Paul Gaultier last year at his exhibit at the DMA. WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND SMITH II? The formula of SMITH II is simple: Give no fucks about what people think of you, do what’s true to you and don’t feel bad about it. WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR DESIGNS? My inspiration comes from natural instinct and hits me during the magic hours of the night. Sometimes it hits during a full moon, or I can see a bum in the streets and like the silhouette, and 42 BLEEP
then try to figure out how I can make that into something modern I would wear. Also finding inspiration in hell of chaos, misery, demonic serenity of what is beautiful to me through Different 7 Circles of every world I’m a part of. WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NAMING YOUR NEW COLLECTION “33”? I wanted to bring 2/7 worlds that I’m in into one existence for a season of my undying love of basketball. I am a free agent of the NBA D-League and 33 has been my basketball jersey number since elementary school. Bringing my love of art in fashion and bringing the two worlds into one by using jersey fabrics which move with the body - just as walking the runway to me is synonymous with running up and down a basketball court. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF DESIGNING CLOTHES FOR WOMEN? I get to make them dress like boys with attitude. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF DESIGNING CLOTHES FOR MEN? I get to make them dress like soldiers with attitude – very fresh and coollooking soldiers. WHAT ARE YOUR SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM GOALS FOR YOUR BRAND SMITH II? Everything I do is thought of in longterm. I hope to become a big fashion house – like Chanel-level. I say Chanellevel because I like the way they brand themselves and the way that people perceive them: in a very classic, timeless, personal, traditional way. That’s what I want for a lifetime.
WWW.SMITHTHESECOND.COM 44 BLEEP
Creative Director and Fashion Stylist- Juan Lerma at The Dragonfly Agency Photography by Brandon Lyon Set Designer- Cassandra Willis Writer- Kenzie Mainard Makeup Artists- Jerrad Trahan and Shawn Cude at La Bella Mafia Hair Stylists- Rachel Horne and Lorene Herrera at The Dragonfly Agency Photography Assistants- Steven Chan, Brent Hughes, Rebecca Burleson Fashion Assistants- Garrett Flowers, Kenzie Mainard Set Design Assistants- Tiffany Lee, Lucas Roe
All wardrobe by Smith II, all jewelry by Couture Rocks Fine Jewelry On the cover- Charles Smith II and Zalika Thomas at Heyman Talent Models: Violet Hanners at The Dragonfly Agency, Abbey George at The Dragonfly Agency, Alencia Lewis at The Campbell Agency, Jordan Wehr at The Campbell Agency, Issacc Rendon at The Dragonfly Agency Special Thanks- Red Arrow Contemporary for the use of their venue & Jarrod Fresquez for the use of Haus the Doberman.
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‘Signature’ a look at the design ON behind the new Signature Theatre production of the ‘Saigon’ iconic musical
Photo by Christopher MueBLEEP 59 ller
Photo by Christopher Mu eller
Associate Scenic Designe
r Steven Royal
ch Scenic Designer Adam Ko
THE SIGNATURE THEATRE’S PRODUCTION OF MISS SAIGON HAS BEEN MAKING WAVES IN THE INDUSTRY FOR CREATING SUCH A NOTABLY LARGE MUSICAL IN A NON-TRADITIONAL THEATRE SPACE. WE CHAT WITH SCENIC DESIGNER ADAM KOCH AND ASSOCIATE SCENIC DESIGNER STEVEN ROYAL ABOUT THEIR VISION FOR THE PRODUCTION AND WHAT IT WAS LIKE CREATING SUCH A MUSICAL THEATRE STAPLE IN A BIG BLACK BOX.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM? ADAM KOCH: I am a Dayton, Ohio native and now a Brooklyn, NY resident. STEVEN ROYAL: I am from Greensboro, North Carolina. After a longer than planned stint in Baltimore (where I was designing sets for Santa Claus, no joke), I now reside in Washington, D.C.. WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN THEATRE? AK: As a boy my mother would take me see a traveling marionette theater company that appeared every so often at the local library or at our school. The puppetry and stage craft was mesmerizing but eventually I would take the liberty of crawling around and watching the show being operated from the back BLEEP 61
side. It has always been the magic and power of the behind-the-scenes that’s bonded me so mysteriously close with theater. SR: It was a natural progression. I was always putting on shows in my bedroom, forcing friends to dress up and sing songs that no one was really interested in except me. I was also really into puppets and magic. I had a wagon I used to pull around my neighborhood that had everything I needed to do a show in it : puppet stage, lights, and a shop vac retrofitted to create a confetti blast. I was ready for the big time. WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN DESIGN? SR: I have always been interested in making things and using my hands. My father and I made huge painted cut outs for every major holiday that we would display outside of our house. These displays became bigger and bigger installations every year. I used to love making mini sets for my puppet stage and constantly making puppets and costumes. I also loved to take things apart. Radios, remote controlled cars, the aforementioned shop vac, I’d take everything apart and make it into something else. (Isn’t that the essence of design?) AK: I was drawing from an early age, thanks to 62 BLEEP
my mother, who perhaps in an effort to keep me successfully occupied, were generous with the art supplies and the encouragement. With my father’s guidance and drafting tools, I taught myself how to draft scale technical plans and spent years surreptitiously surveying and drawing the floor plans of all the incredible old houses in the neighborhood. I’ve always loved the act of planning and drawing spaces one could inhabit and experience. HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH THIS PRODUCTION OF MISS SAIGON? AK: I’ve been fortunate enough to have designed several productions for the director of Miss Saigon/ founder and Artistic Director of Signature Theatre Eric Schaeffer, and of course fell out of my chair when he called a year ago with the offer to design it. SR: I was at the opening night party for Hello Dolly! at Fords Theatre in March when I met Adam. I knew he was designing Saigon and I jokingly asked him how he was doing the helicopter, he laughed. We began talking about design and theatre and I told him that we needed to work together. The next day, he called and asked if I’d work on the show with him. It was meant to be, we both knew it. The rest is history. We’ve
STEVEN ROYAL ON TH E CREATION OF THE GIANT STATUE OF LIBE RTY HEAD FOR THE PRODUC TION: “It was a crazy task and we literally spent four days without sleep, carving it overnight after rehear sals. It was our baby. The whole number chan ged during previews and we had to take it fro m the original green to gold. The head is now covered in 24k gold leaf. Another great colla boration. It took about 80 man hours to make an d is on stage for 53 seconds during the prod uction. It is the center piece of ‘The American Dream.’”
1. The set designed as a 3D computer image. been working together on almost every project since. story, the challenges of the piece as a musical We have a great simpatico with each other. script had to do with bringing a visual poetry and significance to the music, and comprehension and WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES YOU FACED WITH clarity to the plot. I had seen numerous productions DESIGNING THIS PRODUCTION? of Saigon prior to designing it, and had always been AK: Intimidatingly enough, the challenge of this confused about when and where so much of it takes Miss Saigon was also going to be the draw and the place, (‘Wait, who’s bedroom is this?’). necessity. Signature’s Max Theater is a 60’ foot x 6o’ foot square black room with catwalks above and WHAT SETS YOUR SET APART FROM OTHER balcony level walkway that runs around all four sides PRODUCTIONS’ VERSIONS? of the room. SR: This production takes place all around you. The SR: From the outset of the production, we knew we entire theatre has been transformed into a sculpture had a huge challenge. Miss Saigon is by definition a of real plane parts, parachutes and lighting elements. huge show. We go to many locations in the show, The spectacle of Miss Saigon is in tact but in a new some only for a moment, and we can’t lose the way. The actors are also very close to the audience, storytelling because there is no space. Luckily director intensifying the emotions of the music and story. Eric Schaeffer, had a concept that would instantly AK: There is and has been a lot of buzz of course simplify the staging: instead of trying to create each about the complexity and breadth of the technical of these places realistically, what if the show takes aspects of the Signature production, but despite its place in a “limbo” world of a plane crash. This meant the extensive environmental design, its secretly a we could really sculpt the space and only include the way to get the audience closer to the characters and items that told the story the best. the music. It feels less like your seeing Miss Saigon AK: The objective was to find a stage and audience and more like your in Miss Saigon. configuration (that seated at least 276), that would allow for the show and storytelling to explode WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO? out their tradition proscenium theater barrier and AK: Using the analogy of a human relationship in become immersive all-around-you elements. For such terms of a career and calling, I feel partnered with a sweeping (dramatic) and cinematic (complicated) stage design because we chose each other initially. 64 BLEEP
Photo by Christopher Mueller
2. The computer image is turned into a scale model. It found me, I found it, and we’ve been inseparable since. And like a relationship, design is half passion and romance, and half dedication and the will and decision to make it work. On the private side of things, I’ve always intuited and delighted in the theatricality of life itself. Just like a play, the realities we experience individually and collectively have scenes, acts, settings, climaxes and finales. Its been through the inward and outward discoveries of how drama works as an art form, that I’ve been able to see how each of us are called on in our own lives, to imagine, direct and act in our own stage designs. SR: This is a hard question with a simple answer. Because I love it. I love the moment when the lights dim and we all go somewhere else together. I lobe the moment wood and paint and metal and hard work become another place, another thing. It’s magic. I love making magic and the impossible, possible.
3. The company of Miss Saigon performing on the completed set. owe a great deal. SR: The dream is to be allowed to continue to create and dream for a living. Also to continue to work with the creative, talented, loving people I get the pleasure to work with on a daily basis. You really become a family fast given the constraints of the job, proximity and hours spent together. It’s truly a blessing to be able to collaborate with such amazing people. It makes going to work really easy when there are people around that you enjoy and respect. It’s not about one big payoff, it’s about the journey.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU? AK: On the drawing board are sketches for an upcoming Evita, Camelot, A Little Night Music (see: What’s your dream?, above) and a new musical Triangle (by Thomas Mizer, Curtis Moore & Joshua Scher). SR: More plays, more sets. Adam and I have a bunch WHAT’S YOUR DREAM? of fun titles on the horizon. Evita in New Jersey, AK: It feels like I’ve been living my dream all along, Anything Goes in DC, and a new musical called Triangle it just keeps unfolding one chapter to the next. In a in Oklahoma next Spring. We are also working on a professional sense I’ve always sought to wake up each new version of Noises Off and I am particularly excited day excited to be designing scripts and scores that I about a production of BAT BOY that I will be directing truly love, and thankful to be essentially stuck with and Adam will be designing next summer also in DC. the material or music, for the duration of the project. Beyond the dream, my goal is to give back to all those who have helped me along the way, to all of whom, I BLEEP 65
ESTIVAL BY STEPHEN GREEN
Born of Osiris singer Joe Buras
Born of Osiris singer Ronnie Canizaro
Picture it. Texas, July 2013. It’s hot as hell outside, and you and thousands of other people are braving the 100+ degree heat in black T-shirts, all the while screaming, fist-pumping, and purposefully slamming into each other in a mosh pit. To some, it looks like hell on earth. To those unacquainted with the heavy metal scene, this display may seem like nothing more than pure insanity. To me, it’s another great day of good music and wholesome fun. Bukowski’s sentiment of “Find what you love and let it kill you” comes to mind. This is Rockstar Energy Drink’s Mayhem Festival, a day for heavy metal fans to get together and rock out to some of the genre’s best acts. For me as a fan, this day is great entertainment. As a photographer, this day is nothing short of sublime. Having the opportunity to capture Viking bands, crowd surfers, guitar playing ex-cons, and Hellbillies is a joy, and I’d gladly brave the heat to do it again next year. -STEPHEN GREEN PHOTOGRAPHER
Attika 7 singer Evan Seinfeld
Rob Zombie bassist “Piggy D”
Swedish viking metal band Amon Amarth singer Johan Hegg
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by Katherine Morgan
RACHEL, 24, Barista
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE? I like to focus on symbolism in my style. I like Egyptian symbolism the most. I like clothing with a unique, but sort of mainstream feel to it. I love details, such as line work as well. I’m a fan of anything with interesting details.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS ONE THING THAT WILL NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE? Man, that’s hard. I would have to say cardigans and Oxfords will never go out of style. They’re extremely versatile.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF CLOTHING THAT YOU’RE WEARING NOW? My necklace -it is really simple, unique and it goes with everything. Best of all, it was five bucks!
bleepquiz Ariana DeBose
Triple-threat I am... an art warrior. I’m here because... I have something to say. What makes me happiest is... performing - making people forget their troubles and laugh for a bit. The color that best represents me is... ocean blue! I’m an Aquarius and feel most comfortable when I’m near the ocean! What I hope to accomplish today is... trivial. All I can hope for in each day is to be present to each moment that I’m in. I mean once a moment is passed, you wont get it back. My best friends are... images of what I hope to be in this life! They inspire me to be better! I can’t live without... an apple! I tell you an apple a day really does keep the dr. away. Between an Olympic champion or an Oscar winner, I’d rather be... an Oscar winner! I find actors to be some of the bravest people. You don’t realize the weight that comes with the responsibility of telling someone else’s story until you’re asked to do just that. If I wasn’t me, I’d be... Miley Cyrus and rethink that VMA performance. I like it best when you... say my name correctly. ARiana, not AIRiana. God is... in the rain. I’m hungry for... knowledge & a “wander lust” juice from Juice Generations. I cry… when I care so deeply to the point I’m angered, hurt or disappointed; like every other human. --or when I’m watching Pearl Harbor. Gets me every time. Style means… is being uniquely YOU! It’s freedom of expression friends- take advantage of it- just look at Gaga! I want to go... Traveling! Specifically Uganda, Greece & Egypt. I’m fascinated by these three places and would love to just immerse myself in their culture! The most obnoxious sound in the world is... dripping water in the middle of the night. Or a buzzing fly while you’re trying to nap! What makes me weak is... wine. Two glasses and I’m in for the night. At this exact moment, I’m passionate about... Kurt Froman’s ballet class at Broadway Dance Center. He is slowly but surely getting me back on my leg and allowing me to truly enjoy dancing and moving again. I crave... cookie dough & cherry coke. Terrible I know but these two things can set a bad day right if you let them. My inspiration is… everything that surrounds me. It could be a person, witnessing an act of kindness, seeing a sculpture, having a good meal. I believe inspiration organically comes to you in moments when you least expect it.
P E E L B
The September 2013 issue of BLEEP Magazine featuring Charles Smith II fashions, on the scene at D23, Broadway and So You Think You Can Dance...