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LINDSEY STIRLINGâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S RISE TO SUCCESS
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OFF THE DEEP END
Dive into Summer SWIMWEAR
CHRISTINA MILIAN singer, songwriter, mother, superhuman
model, musician and tattoo icon
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IN THIS ISSUE 16 CONTRIBUTORS 18 EDITOR’S LETTER 76 GET THE LOOK - In For The Swim 97 LYRICS WE LOVE - How Deep Is Your Love 98 RAD APPS - Get Connected 110 BEHIND THE SCENES
FASHION 52 OFF THE DEEP END Take a dive into this summer’s hottest swimwear! 68 TAKE IT TO THE STREET This season’s coolest street styles hit the walls of LA with Nickayla Rivera.
32 ON THE COVER Photographer Ben Cope Wardrobe Stylist Eric Archibald Makeup Artists Lavonne and David Rodriguez Hair Artist Michael Solis Producer Bryan Patrick Franklin, GRID Paco Rabanne Chain Mesh Dress barneys.com 1 4 | L E FA I R MAG AZI NE
20 LINDSEY STIRLING - Rise to Success Fearless, talented and strong and are all words to describe Lindsey Stirling. The violinist, dancer, and artist shares her inspiring journey towards success and happiness. 32 COVER STORY - CHRISTINA MILIAN Singer, songwriter, DJ, actress, mother, superhuman — Christina Milian has it all. 62 JOHN RUSSO Celebrity photographer John Russo continuously gives back to his family and the artistic community, both of which helped make him the success that he is. 78 THE DON Model, musician and tattoo icon — Don Benjamin talks about the grind and the fruits of his success. 104 AMANDA CREW - Crewsing Into Tech She is known as Monica Hall from Silicon Valley, but there’s so much more to Amanda Crew. We chatted with her about her role in the tech world, and stepping out of her comfort zone. 106 SOMETHING THAT MATTERS Famed fashion photographer Steven Lyon speaks to us about his passion for Africa and the rhino poaching crisis.
ARTICLES 30 YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL Read about one woman’s journey of recognizing and healing her eating disorder. 50 TRAVEL INSIDE Katharina Kowalewski, German actress, filmmaker and chief brand activist of BOL (Believe of Leave) Meditation gives us the details on the new modern meditation sanctuary in LA.
42 GET THE TRIP - Weekend Wanderlust Wanna get away? Take a weekend and escape your regular routine to unwind at one of these Californian havens. 92 LA HOT SPOTS Looking for a night out on the town? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Check out favorite swanky hangouts in LA. 100 GET YOUR OM ON! Whether you’re an amateur yogi, established practitioner, curious novice, or have never even stepped foot into a yoga class — there’s a yoga retreat tailored just for you! L E FA I R MA G A Z I NE | 1 5
L E F A I R SUMMER 2017
TRACY KAHN Editor in Chief, Creative Director & Photographer @tracykahn
MADELINE ROSENE Senior Editor @madelinerosene
RILEY YAHR Art Director @rileyyahr
HAYLEY KIRKSEY Assistant Editor @haykirksey
KATE FERGUSON Brand Liaison @kateferg
ERIC ARCHIBALD Wardrobe Stylist @ericarchibaldstylist
DAVID RODRIGUEZ Makeup Artist @drodbeauty
BROOKE LANDON Writer @mindartists
CRISTEN STEFANELLI Wardrobe Stylist @cestefanelli
DEREK YUEN Hair Artist @dereksyuen
LAUREN VALENCIA Writer @poshsquatter
TORIA WEBBER Assistant Stylist @toria.webber
MICHAEL SOLIS Hair Artist @michaelsolishair
KATHARINA KOWALEWSKI Writer @katharinaishere
BRYAN PATRICK FRANKLIN Producer @bpfrank
MARLY GONZALES Hair Artist @marleythebarber
BEN COPE Photographer @ben_cope
GRID AGENCY @gridagency
BEN SHANI Videographer @benshaniproductions
KATE SZATMARI Photographer @kateszatmari TAS LIMUR Photographer @taslimur DESIREE MORALES Wardrobe Stylist @desireemorales JENNY RICKER Wardrobe Stylist @jennyricker
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GRID PRODUCTIONS @gridproductions MICHEAL GOYETTE Hair & Makeup Artist @michaelgoyette MICHELLE MILLER Makeup Artist @missmeeeshie HELEN ROBERTSON Makeup Artist @helenrobertsonhmu LAVONNE Makeup Artist @lavonnebeauty
ETHAN SIGMON Videographer @emsigmon HANNAH DRAGOMER Intern @hannahdragomer TWO MANAGEMENT @twomanagementwomen PHOTOGENICS @photogenicsla THE REX AGENCY @therexagency
the S T A R S
CHRISTINA MILIAN Singer, Songwriter, Actress @christinamilian 4.1m followers
AMANDA CREW Actor @amandaccrew 74k followers
DON BENJAMIN Model @itsdonbenjamin 2m followers
DIANA LIKHACHYOVA Model @diana_likhachyova 8,113 followers
LINDSEY STIRLING Violinist, Dancer, Artist @lindseystirling 1.1m followers
JOHN RUSSO Photographer @johnrussophoto 39.2k followers
KYLA SHAY Model @kyla.shay 77.2k followers
NICKAYLA RIVERA Model @nickaylarivera 64.5k followers
STEVEN LYON Photographer @steven_lyon 5,935 followers
Connect with us! Are you a writer, photographer, model or musician and want to contribute to LEFAIR Magazine? Tag us on Instagram and email us to receive our submission guidelines. If you would like LEFAIR to produce a fashion or music video for your brand, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d love to hear from you! email@example.com | www.lefairmag.com
@LEFAIRMAG *Number of followers taken at date of publication L E FA I R MA G A Z I NE | 1 7
“BUT I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE! I’M HAVING TOO MUCH FUN!”
said Tracy Kahn as we reluctantly left the “Calvin Harris Funk Wav Bounce” album release party. “But we have a magazine to launch, so let’s go! It’s summer and this is the magic issue.” Tracy is living proof that positive thinking attracts golden opportunities, loving and lasting relationships, and keeps you young, vibrant and beautiful. I don’t want this to be the Tracy Kahn slobber fest, but seriously, our fearless Editor in Chief gets mad props for having the bravery to create a magazine and to stick with it through all of the ups and downs. With dogs eating camera memory cards, creative differences, attitude problems, and production drama, there’s plenty that can go awry during the creation of a magazine. Tracy said, “It’s like climbing a mountain and all of your muscles might hurt and it’s blood, sweat and tears, but eventually you get to the top and you look around at how far you’ve come, you see what you’ve accomplished, and you feel good.” Our cover star, Christina Milian said in her interview to not be afraid of the word, “no.” If our team has learned anything from editorial production, it’s that sometimes when you get turned down or something doesn’t turn out, usually something else ends up happening that is better. “No” often turns out to be a blessing. Of course, persevering and powering past the “no’s” is easier when you love what you do — securing talented and inspiring editorial subjects, collaborating with our amazing team, the high after a photo shoot, the positive feedback on a beautiful product. We’re proud of this issue that features a selection of people who are truly in love with what they do too and have worked so hard to pursue that love. “The sky’s the limit!” Tracy says, and the stars of this issue know that. This issue Tracy got the chance to put one of her favorite artists in the sky, “Lindsey Stirling has been an inspirational artist to me for a long time. I saw her in concert and she is an amazing dancer. I wanted the concept of the photo shoot to have something to do with movement and dancing. I wanted to have her suspended in the air because her spirit is light.”
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This issue is comprised of so many inspiring people. Celebrity photographer John Russo invited us to the London Hotel West Hollywood where we interviewed him about his career and philanthropic pursuits. Don Benjamin is also a part of this issue. Tracy serendipitously ran into Don in the hallway of her apartment building months ago. Having followed Don on Instagram for years, featuring his story and gorgeous eyes in the magazine was a goal from the beginning. Don was cool enough to let us film him getting a tattoo that he had wanted since he was a kid. This magic issue and the magazine in general wouldn’t be half as fabulous without the help of our strong network. We’re stoked about our partnership with the innovative tech company, RANDIAN and its co-founders, Randall and Ian, who created a way for our editorial videos to be shop-able with a simple click. We’re very excited to be part of their launch and share this breakthrough in technology with our readers. Working with our dear friend, Bryan Patrick Franklin at Grid Agency has been an honor and we are consistently blown away by his vision, drive, focus, and ability to produce brilliant editorial content, like our cover shoot with the sweet and authentic, Christina Milian. “The only real struggle is the business part and of course, writing the letter from the editor,” said Tracy (hence me writing this right now). “Unfortunately all of the business has to be done and honestly,
I JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN. FOR ME, FUN IS CREATING AND COLLABORATING TO MAKE BEAUTIFUL THINGS. I want to bring inspiration to people through other people.” I know our team will continue to do this and that our special network of content creators and readers will continue to grow. For Tracy Kahn and LEFAIR Magazine, the party never stops. Here’s to making magic, Madeline Rosene Senior Editor
LOOK UP TO THE SKY. YOU’LL NEVER FIND RAINBOWS IF YOU’RE LOOKING DOWN.
- CHARLIE CHAPLIN
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AN INTERVIEW WITH
LINDSEY STIRLING RISE TO SUCCESS Writer Madeline Rosene @madelinerosene Photographer Kate sZatmari @kateszatmari Creative Director Tracy Kahn @tracykahn Wardrobe Stylists Desiree Morales @desireemorales and Cassandra Dittmer @cdittmer Makeup Artist Michelle Miller @missmeeeshie Hair Artist Derek Yuen @dereksyuen
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“OH MY GOSH!
I look like I’m flying!” said Lindsey Stirling, violinist, dancer, performance artist, and composer. She looked at the photos celebrity photographer, Kate sZatmari, had just snapped of her on the trampoline placed on a roof in Downtown LA. She stood up again on the trampoline. “I kind of want to try some where I go almost vertical!” Lindsey’s team looked on nervously. “Is there anything you’d like me to do that you guys liked?” She demonstrated some mid-air poses. “Yes! That was it! Love it!” said Kate. A true choreophile, Lindsey manages to effortlessly dance in the air between bounces and strike a pose in the sky, smiling angelically. An impressive display considering Lindsey had no formal dance training and is now known for incorporating dance while playing the violin on her tours and official music videos. From humble beginnings, her parents once told her, “You choose violin or you choose dance, but we can't afford both…” At just five years old, she chose violin, taking fifteen-minute lessons once a week. But in the end, both pursuits chose her. From being a YouTube sensation and a finalist on America’s Got Talent, to a world tour, and as of recently, her book, The Only Pirate at The Party, YouTube Red Documentary and new album, Brave Enough, Lindsey Stirling aimed for the sky and she made it there. MR: Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade is one of your favorite classical pieces. It’s based on Arabian Nights and it’s super epic. Of course it has a very strong narrative. How do narratives in classical pieces influence your writing? LS: My dad was the one in our family who was the most into classical music. He would play records for us. There was this one song — I forget what it was but he explained that it’s supposed to sound like cats meowing. About Scheherazade, he said this is a love story between a King and a Queen. In the piece Danse Macabre, “Death” appears at midnight every year on Halloween. Death calls forth the dead from their graves to dance for him while he plays his fiddle. His skeletons dance for him until the rooster crows at dawn, when they must return to their graves until the next year. You hear all the xylophones and it sounds like little skeleton bones. My dad was always great at telling us the stories associated with the music. It inspired me to write music and tell a story.
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MR: So you grew up listening to classical music—a lot of kids don’t today. Do you have any thoughts on this? How important is it for training your ear? LS: I think classical music is kind of like the ballet of music. It’s all about the technicality. If you have a really good classical base it allows you to expand into other things. Classical is probably the hardest thing to play especially for violin and it’s becoming a lost art. I appreciate that my parents would take me to concerts. People tend to think of attending classical concerts as an upper class activity but we would go to free concerts in the park. I loved it as a child— going to symphonies and seeing orchestras. That’s why I begged for violin lessons as a kid. MR: You said you wouldn’t trade your humble background for anything. How has the way you were raised contributed to your success? LS: When I first started my career, I had no money but I knew how to be really frugal. Some Christmases my parents made us Christmas presents. My dad made a painting easel and my mom made these horse sticks. She sewed the horse head herself. They were very creative. My mom used to do crafts with us I was taught to make due and the fact that I had no money didn’t make it impossible for me to succeed. I made some of my own costumes. I made my own sets. I was very creative in those first few years.
I STARTED WITH SIMPLE THINGS BUT IT WAS LIFE CHANGING. I WOULD LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND SAY, 'I AM BEAUTIFUL.'
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MR: What is your song writing process like? LS: I often times approach it with a pop structure— verse, chorus and post chorus with a bridge thrown in somewhere. There’s got to be a chorus. I like to think of it as a classical fusion with a pop structure. In order to write, I have to kind of lock myself into a studio. I wish I was prolific and it just flew out of me. I am never able to write on tour. I have to be in the writing mindset totally. I usually write with producers. We’ll create really rough tracks with chord progressions and I’ll write over them. MR: In your Brave Enough movie, you are referred to as “the most hands on artist ever.” How much of the videos are your vision? LS: I’m very involved. I thought of the ideas for almost all of my videos on my channel. Even before I wrote the song Lost Girls I knew I wanted it to be about a ballerina, a continuation of the Shatter Me video. Same with Shadows and Prism— I had the concepts before I made the video. I would tell the producers the vibe of the story. It’s a lot of fun. I even do some of the story boarding and make mood boards for the videos. It’s like we have the palette and paint and we already know what we’re going to paint.
LET YOURSELF FEEL ALL OF THE EMOTIONS AND GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO HEAL. DON’T SET LIMITATIONS FOR YOURSELF.
I went to school at Brigham Young University originally for film. I wanted to be a director because I love telling stories. I love music and now since I direct a lot of my music videos, I get to pursue both of my passions—story telling and music. MR: In Brave Enough you talk a lot about learning how to love yourself and how hard it is to change the thoughts in your head. How did you change those thoughts? LS: To say I got rid of them would be amazing and inaccurate but I am much more positive than I used to be. It started when I realized I was anorexic in my early twenties. It’s hard to tell yourself to be motivated and happy when you’re super depressed. Start with little things— notice the inner dialogue and ask, “Am I lying to myself?” Ask, “Is what I’m focusing on extremely negative?” A lot of times we don’t even consciously realize what we’re thinking and what were saying to ourselves. We speak to ourselves in absolutes. We say things like, “I look ugly,” or “That was dumb.” I started with simple things but it was life changing. I would look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful.” It’s like a muscle. Whatever you’re doing, it’s easy to exercise your negative muscles. It’s all about creating different neuro pathways in your brain. It’s absolutely scientific and I find that fascinating. New ways of thinking get easier the same way exercising does.
MR: How do you overcome the devastating feelings of loss? How do you feel whole again? LS: That’s what Brave Enough the album is all about. It’s about not shutting off after loss and it started with the song Lost Girls. I felt like a lost girl and I was trying not to feel lost emotionally and thematically, it progressively gets warmer as the album goes on. Some of the last few songs like Something Wild and Love Is Just a Feeling represent how I just want to love with my whole heart. You cant live closed off. My best advice is let yourself feel everything. Don’t numb. There are so many ways to numb. Some people are workaholics. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol. Let yourself feel all of the emotions and give yourself time to heal. Don’t set limitations for yourself. The old Lindsey would have shut off but through my experiences, I was able to treat the passing of my dad and my best friend differently. Drawing together with my loved ones and family made us all closer. It’s much better than trying to deal with it by yourself. Sometimes you don’t want to burden people with your feelings but other people can make you stronger when they’re there for you. L E FA I R MA G A Z I NE | 2 5
BRAVERY IS TO DO SOMETHING IN SPITE OF FEAR; TO STAY OPEN WHEN YOU WANT TO CLOSE, TO FIGHT WHEN YOU WANT TO FLEE, TO JUMP WHEN YOU'RE AFRAID OF FALLING, TO CHASE YOUR DREAMS...
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DREAMS CAN COME IN SO MANY SHAPES AND SIZES. IF YOU PERSEVERE LONG ENOUGH, YOU WILL FIND SOME VERSION OF YOUR DREAM.
MR: Has your faith played a big role in your rise to success? LS: My faith has played a huge role in my rise to success. I have noticed that a lot of people lose their faith when they become successful. When I started to see my career taking off, it scared me. My religious beliefs have played a huge foundational role in my life and it was a part of me that I didn't want to change. I was afraid that maybe I would fall away from faith the same way I'd seen so many others fall away. So I made a promise to God that I would do my best to keep my values and my lifestyle of faith a priority in my life. I promised that I would try to represent him well and share a message that uplifts others. In return, I asked him to bless me with the opportunities that would take me as far as he wanted me to go. I also asked for him to send angels to help me. I really feel like God took me up on my offer. Many times, I thought I was walking blindly but looking back at my path, it is obvious that there is no way I made all those perfect decisions on my own. There is no way that luck and hard work led me to where I am. I know God has led me here and has sent angels to protect me. I'm far from perfect but I'm continually trying to stay strong in my faith. It takes a lot of work and sacrifice but it's worth it to me. MR: How do you want people to remember you and your contributions to music? LS: I hope that people remember me as a girl
who wasn’t afraid to be herself, as someone who stood for the fact that you don’t have to be who everybody tells you to be or fit a certain mold. No one should feel like they have to fit into a box and I hope my music and lifestyle is a testament to that. Dreams can come in so many shapes and sizes. If you persevere long enough, you will find some version of your dream. Keep going and you will get to the place you’re meant to be. MR: What is the difference between impressing a crowd and entertaining a crowd? LS: In order to impress someone, you focus on making yourself look awesome. It's a more selfcentered approach where all the choices of the performance would be based on "What makes Lindsey look the best?" To entertain is to think about the audience. What do they want to see? What will make my audience smile? What will make both an adult and a child feel magic and inspiration? To entertain is a team effort. You have to share the spotlight. How can the staging, the dancers and the band all shine together to make this amazing? MR: What makes someone brave? LS: Bravery is to do something in spite of fear; to stay open when you want to close, to fight when you want to flee, to jump when you're afraid of falling, to chase your dreams when you know you'll probably fail along the way. ■
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YOU ARE BEAU TIFUL ONE WOMAN’S JOURNEY OF RECOGNIZING AND HEALING HER EATING DISORDER Writer Brooke Landon @mindartists
Thoughts swarmed inside my head like a cluster of bees around a beekeeper collecting honey. “180 from the granola bar, but let’s round that up to 200. That apple was a decent size, so I’ll say 100. Already tallied up breakfast, so when I add on to that, we’re looking at 800 calories. Shoot, I didn’t even get to lunch yet. What do I eat that will last a while, but won’t get me fat? And what about dinner? Oh my God, with these rolls on my belly, I might as well be Santa for Halloween...” 3 0 | L E FA I R MAG AZI NE
That was my mind most of the time for years. I think it’s safe to say if you have self-deprecating thoughts about your body daily, you might have an eating disorder. Yet even if you don’t, you’re still not off the hook. We’re living in a world where our society feeds us labels and ideas that we, without question, accept. We’re in an environment that makes a lot of people feel insecure and inadequate about their appearance through the media and unrealistic expectations. From Photoshop and malnourished models, to diet ads and the idealization of people with thigh gaps, flat stomachs and toned arms, it all contributes to feeling less than this false assumption of perfection. It’s a very dangerous combination that has caused many people to be in denial about the possibility of having an eating disorder or eating disordered behavior. For example, “I’m not anorexic, I’m a healthy body weight!” Since when did weight have a direct correlation to a mental imbalance? Regardless of whether it’s crossed your mind or not, you might have an eating disorder and not even know it.
Do you “body check”? Until I went into treatment, I was unfamiliar with the term. Body checking is the urge to constantly check out your body and or focus on areas where you feel dissatisfied. There are many different ways in which you can body check. You can look at your body in the mirror, lift up your shirt, pinch the fat on your thighs, weigh yourself constantly, compare your body to others, or ask peoples opinions on how you look. Though most people do this at some point in their lives, if it’s a daily occurrence, then there is likely a mental obsession regarding your body, which is an eating disorder behavior. Some helpful questions to ask yourself if you notice you are body checking are: Is this serving me/ is this helpful? Has much changed since I last did this? Though the response may not be logical, challenging this behavior will make your body checking less frequent over time.
or desire to control, then there are deeper rooted issues. I opened my eyes and stared at the window by my bed. Light began to shine through the blinds, creating white lines across my grey silky sheets, “I want to eat,” I thought. “If I have that for breakfast, that’s 500 calories and I should be fine until lunch. I’m probably going to want some carrots in between though. Should I count that? Of course! That’s like an extra 100. Shit, I ate a lot after 6PM last night. I’m going to have to check how my stomach looks this morning.” Addictive thoughts fired through my mind. “Damn it. Already? I haven’t even gotten dressed yet!” I thought to myself as I rolled out of bed. I was consciously aware that these thoughts were sabotaging me. Whenever I began to take action and create momentum in creating a different and better life for myself, old addictive thoughts would resurface and restrain me from changing. As Allison Brevier, an eating disorder specialist, so greatly put it, “It’s not really an eating disorder. It’s a life disorder.” She went on to say that these behaviors are signals from our innermost true self that something is incongruous with our value system, and somehow we have deviated from our paths. Which is to say, at our very core, we are worthy as we are, but through society, upbringing, and social media, we have been programmed with these false beliefs that we would be more worthy, or better, if our outside circumstances such as our bodies would change. “There is nothing that needs to be fixed. There is something to be healed.” Brevier said. Meaning, we are not wrong or lesser of a person for having these thoughts or behaviors. Fixing implies that something is wrong, which we are not. Healing is the process of shifting one’s beliefs so they are in alignment with our core ethics.
Do you calorie count or restrict?
Do you compulsively eat or exercise?
Of course, there are popular weight loss programs that advocate for counting calories, or body builders trying to count their macros, and wrestlers who need to cut weight to reach a certain weight class — but if counting calories or restricting is embedded in your daily routine due to fear of weight gain and/
We all eat and occasionally indulge, and many of us go to the gym frequently, but there is a fine line that many cross without knowing it. All of these behaviors give us a false sense of control and power. I would have disagreed with such a statement back in high school when I would sit on my 1970’s mustard-
colored couch, fisting all kinds of food in my face, like cookie monster on a bad day. I would have said, “I just like food,” or “It’s just a habit.” It’s not easy to see when you’re in it, but if you begin to become aware of your behavior, and ask yourself “What am I really hungry for?” or “What am I running from?” You may be surprised what you find. All of these behaviors give us a sense of temporary safety. Whether the dominant feeling it gives us be control, power, comfort, it doesn’t matter, it somehow gives us the illusion that things are okay because we’re in control, and therefore safe for the time being. That security feels more and more short lived, so the behavior expands and accelerates. In regards to body checking habits, it’s as if things are okay on the outside, then we must be fine on the inside. We try to receive validation or control from the outside world, because we are unable to fully validate ourselves within or feel like we lack control of our own lives. Society instructs us to look a certain way to be considered “attractive,” or urges us to do this or eat that in order to be “healthy.” This construct makes us feel like the problem, but actually “our society has an eating disorder.” -Allison Bravier. Our disordered thinking stems from our fundamental belief systems, and the incongruent stories we tell ourselves that are not in alignment with who we truly are. It makes sense that we would have disordered thinking and beliefs when the society we are living in constantly tells us to believe what often does not serve us. If you have discovered through reading this that you might have an eating disorder, or experience eating disordered behaviors, you have already reached the first step to transcend this or any other mental obsession or illness. Awareness is key. Once you become aware of these patterns, you can catch yourself in the moment. Then, you can ask yourself the questions suggested above, use another coping mechanism, or seek professional help to assist you in breaking free from these patterns. It’s one thing to read a self-help article, and have an understanding of what you can do to help, but it’s a totally different story when it comes to implementing what you know. Reach out, get support, accept where you are, focus on the well-being you’d like to achieve and get on with your good self! ■ L E FA I R MA G A Z I NE | 3 1
CM CHRISTINA MILIAN
ONE IN A MILIAN
Photographer Ben Cope @ben_cope Creative Director Tracy Kahn @tracykahn Wardrobe Stylist Eric Archibald @ericarchibaldstylist Hair Artist Michael Solis @michaelsolishair Makeup Artists Lavonne @lavonnebeauty and David Rodriguez @drodbeauty Producer Bryan Patrick Franklin @bpfrank with GRID @gridagency @gridproductions Videographer Ben Shani @benshaniproductions
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umming ever so softly and unintelligibly, singer and actress, Christina Milian, sat in her glam chair getting ready for our summer issue’s cover shoot. I took this murmur of a private acapella performance as a sign that it probably sounds like a philharmonic orchestra when Christina sneezes. Everything she emits — her laughter, energy, vocal sounds, all have a distinct radiant beauty. Currently, Christina has a full plate as a panelist on Fox’s new show, Super Humans, mother to Violet Milian, and DJ. “I don’t know what I’m humming,” she admits. “A catchy hook and melody — that’s what makes a hit song, right? The lyrics have to be catchy but half the time you can hardly remember the lyrics so melody is number one.” Our cover star knows a thing or two about hits — with charted top forty songs, TV shows, major motion pictures, and melodies addictive, Christina Milian is also a super human. MR: I was reading on Wiki that during your childhood, your parents discovered that you had an affinity for performing and show business. So they basically said, “Okay, let’s move to Los Angeles!” and you all packed up and left Maryland? Is this an accurate depiction? CM: Both of my parents were actually planning our move to Los Angeles a year in advance. You can’t trust anything Wikipedia says! I have a middle name on Wikipedia. Christina Marie? Where did that come from? I don’t have a middle name! We were supposed to move in 1994 but then there was the huge earthquake two weeks prior to us moving so we didn’t end up going. It was still really scary when we did end up moving, not knowing if another earthquake would strike. We drove across the country — three days from Maryland to Los Angeles. We were with my dad at the time but then he wound up going back home. MR: You were mostly raised by your mom then? Because your parents split after you moved, right? CM: Well, I was already thirteen by the time they divorced so most of the “raising” was done by both my parents in Maryland. But after that, I was a teenager living here in LA and I became kind of like a co-parent with my mom to my sisters. We’re all super close. We have our arguments about typical family stuff but we all get along. MR: Your mom must have believed in you a lot… CM: My mom said she recognized something in me and she knew I wanted to be in the business. I grew up in the era of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and MTV. Growing up watching music videos, I was very attracted to the idea of being on TV. I wanted to sing and act and perform in front of a lot of people. That became my goal for what I wanted to do. I wanted to sing and act for sure. I took piano lessons and vocal lessons. I used to be in theater. I went on a whole musical theater tour, performing in plays all over when I was a kid. I got to sing and act. As far as professions go, it
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was a lot easier to get into acting. How do you even get a record deal and get discovered? As you grow up, you come to find that it’s a lot of networking. MR: What kind of adversity did you experience when you broke into entertainment? CM: From either being a woman or a woman of color, there are so many different issues. As a woman, I’ve seen so many men billionaires hustle people right before my eyes. I don’t sit here and cry about it. It sucks that sometimes people waste your time. That’s a pain in the butt. When I first got into entertainment, my name, Christine Flores, didn’t work because I wasn’t African American enough and I wasn’t Latino enough to even get an audition. So when I changed it to Milian, it changed over night. I was like the new girl in town. I was booking everything. You just have to know how to work with what you’ve got. Luckily, everyone these days is being very vocal in trying to break down these walls, create opportunities, and bring more equality. We are in a beautiful time. Some of the things I’ve done and decisions I’ve made, people are and will benefit from, just like people have paved a way for me. Of course it’s a process but were getting there. MR: How did you break into the music scene? CM: The music really came into place when I was living in an apartment complex where there were a lot of other musicians. It was there that I met Rodney Jerkins. He was 18 years old. It was before he produced albums for Whitney Houston and Brandi. People used to come up to me and say, “Hey are you in a girl group? They would kind of ‘discover me.’ Technically he was kind of the first big producer who introduced me into being in a music studio. I would make demos for him. Eventually it was taking too long. I was 17 and I enrolled in a music business class. My mom had been reading books and I found this class at Los Angeles Valley College. It’s one thing to be a singer, but you don’t want to get screwed, so know your shit. In that class, I met someone who worked for a record label, David Foster. Eventually I wound up signing with Def Jam. MR: What parenting lessons has your mom taught you? Do you feel like your relationship with Violet resembles your relationship with your mother at all? CM: My mom and I are really close and we have always been close. She still works with me as a manager. Violet and I are also tight so our closeness resembles the relationship I have with my mom. When I found out I was having a girl, I was like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what I’m getting myself into.” The world is so crazy and you almost want to overprotect them. In a mother-daughter relationship, you have to be prepared for the stages puberty, make her privy to how guys are and what guys will try to do to, as my dad would say, “get in your pants.” I’ve focused on Violet first before letting anyone into my life and that’s been important. I think with my parents’ help, I have made some pretty good decisions in my life.
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MR: How would you feel if Violet wanted to be in show business?
MR: So, what’s on your list for qualities in a man?
CM: If she really wanted it, of course I would have her back and it would be great because it really is a networking thing. I would help her avoid all the challenges and I would explain to her that if she didn’t get a job, its nothing against her. There are a lot of people who want it and if you want, you have to go for it because someone wants it more than you do. You have to give it your all.
CM: I want someone fun and spontaneous. I love spontaneity. He has to be confident enough to understand my career. It’s a big deal because I work a lot and understanding my schedule isn’t easy for a lot of people. There are plenty of men who are excited by what I do but then when they are in the relationship, they can’t handle how busy I am. He has to be confident enough to support me. Competition can be cute in a relationship when you are competing to be better as individuals, and inspiring each other, but not competing against each other isn’t any fun. I want a family guy. I am close to my family so I want to get to know someone else’s family.
MR: Tell me about your clothing line. CM: We Are Pop Culture Clothing started two and a half years ago with just t-shirts and then we expanded to sporty athleisure, which is my general style. So that is the direction we went. It takes a lot of work to build a clothing brand. I’ve sort of put it on pause. I want to find new designers and investors. It’s all about marketing. It’s more than just making clothes. I’m looking to merge with some partners to take it to the next level. I want to find a really solid partnership but it’s fun. I have fun designing and being the creative director. Giving other people opportunities and jobs in modeling and designing is very rewarding. MR: You’ve been in and out of relationships but you never seem bitter towards anyone—how do you manage to remain friends or amicable with exes? CM: Stay optimistic. Things don’t work out for a reason. We want things our way, and we want things to last forever. But once you realize life isn’t like that, things are a lot better. MR: What’s the secret to getting over heartbreak? CM: I get over it pretty well. You have to let yourself go through it for the first couple of days. Then you have to vent to your friends. When you talk to your friends, you realize you just have to hear it out loud. You have to tell yourself it’s okay to cry. Just get it out of the way. I don’t know that’s just how I am. Also, working out helps. You look good and your mind is much more clear. Use all of that energy to push yourself to look really hot. MR: Have you grown a lot through your relationships? CM: Absolutely. Every single relationship has been a new chapter and a new lesson for me. The biggest thing you learn from relationships is that everyone has a different story. You learn to accept people for what makes them different. You learn what you want in a man or a woman. I find myself building a list. I started to know the things I have to look out. Like, this is a red flag or this might be good for today but not for tomorrow. Sometimes someone seems promising and you might be looking for a relationship but you realize everything you need is already there. I’m single now and liking it. I am focusing on my daughter and me. Everything will fall in place. Libras like to be partnered but Libras also have a lot of friends.
MR: So, what are you working on right now? CM: For the past few months, I’ve been working on DJing. I’m also filming something for MTV but I’m not allowed to announce yet. I’m hosting a show on MTV that will start airing in August. And of course, I have Super Human on Fox. That one is great. It’s real and it’s good to be in the homes of the people of America. There are some extraordinary people in the world and it feels good to highlight them. I’m having a great old time sitting on the panel. I’m working with really fun people so it’s not really a hard job for me. MR: Who are some artists you’d like to collaborate with but haven’t had the chance to? CM: I’d love to write for more people. When it comes to writing, it would be a dream come true if I ever wrote a song for Beyoncé. I love listening to her sing and watching her perform. That is a fantasy — to see someone like her sing your song. I haven’t gotten to work with her yet but the degrees of separation are very small. MR: What do you attribute your success to? CM: It’s definitely drive and just staying hungry and passionate. I also attribute it to keeping good relationships and staying professional. Your name is all of you’ve got. That sounds like something my mom would say! Success comes from treating people how you want to be treated, following your passion, following your heart, and not being afraid of the word no. ■
WE WANT THINGS OUR WAY, AND WE WANT THINGS TO LAST FOREVER. BUT ONCE YOU REALIZE LIFE ISN’T LIKE THAT, THINGS ARE A LOT BETTER. L E FA I R MA G A Z I NE | 3 7
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SUCCESS COMES FROM TREATING PEOPLE HOW YOU WANT TO BE TREATED, FOLLOWING YOUR PASSION, FOLLOWING YOUR HEART, AND NOT BEING AFRAID OF THE WORD NO.
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Weekend Wanderlust Top 5 Summer Getaways Writer Hayley Kirksey @haykirksey
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SHELTER: JOSHUA TREE Joshua Tree, California
As the name implies, Shelter: Joshua Tree provides a respite and refuge â&#x20AC;&#x201D; from the vast intense beauty of the desert, as well as from day-to-day life. It embodies and embraces the surrounding natural elements while offering comfort and sophistication. Located just outside the west entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, the property offers three houses that can be rented individually or as a group. The two bedroom/two bath homes are identical in construction, but each has its own individual and distinct interior design, featuring the work of local artists and craftspersons. Situated on three 2.5 acre adjoining parcels, there is plenty of privacy to relax in the individual hot tubs and stargaze at the spectacular night skies. Shelter is located in close proximity to some of the best honky-tonks and high desert music in the area, as well as being just a short drive from Palm Springs.
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Photographer Dominick Rich
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HOTEL ZELOS San Francisco, California Located in the heart of San Francisco is an artistic retreat: Hotel Zelos is a contemporary hotel with 202 guestrooms in the historic Pacific Building, first established in 1907. This architectural gem sits at the intersection of 4th and Market in the SOMA District, home to a variety of shops, businesses, restaurants, and nightlife, as well as walking distance to Chinatown and the world-famous Union Square. Perched upon the fifth floor, Dirty Habit is an intimate hideaway within Hotel Zelos for those seeking an inventive and sociable drinking and dining experience. With a spacious heated outdoor patio and a cocktail focused menu that alludes to finding your very own dirty habit, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sure to be something for everyone to savor. hotelzelos.com
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PETIT ERMITAGE West Hollywood, California Inspired by the Mediterranean lifestyle and fashioned after a private pied-aterre, Petit Ermitage offers guests an intimate sanctuary in which to take refuge from the bustling city of Los Angeles. Nestled on a quiet street in West Hollywood, the boutique hotel is located just steps from the infamous Sunset Strip and a short distance from the most desirable areas in the city of angels. The property boasts one of the most magical outdoor spaces in the city. The Private Rooftop â&#x20AC;&#x201D; replete with native gardens, a heated saltwater European pool, cabanas, an outdoor sunken fireplace and 360-degree views of the Hollywood Hills â&#x20AC;&#x201D; is considered one of the premiere private spaces in Los Angeles. Petit Ermitage encourages its eclectic mix of visiting artists, unconventional business travelers and enlightened thinkers to unwind in a state of tranquility and enter the laissez-faire lifestyle of the modern day bohemian. petitermitage.com
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SOLAGE, AN AUBERGE RESORT Napa Valley, California Solage, An Auberge Resort redefines â&#x20AC;&#x153;funâ&#x20AC;? in the heart of California wine country with 89 design-focused and environmentally conscious studios, each featuring complimentary cruiser bicycles for guests use and a 130-foot landmark swimming pool. A local favorite and destination for foodies, the resort is home to Solbar, an eight-time Michelin Star-rated restaurant offering healthful and indulgent seasonal choices. The award-winning Spa Solage offers 20,000 square feet of health and wellness with 14 treatment rooms, Bathhouse, state-of-the-art gym and a Yoga & Movement Studio with complimentary daily fitness classes.
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KIMPTON HOTEL SOLAMAR San Diego, California Kimpton Hotel Solamar is a stylish boutique hotel in the heart of downtown San Diego. The regal-meetsvibrant, urban refuge provides modern comfort, a rooftop pool oasis, dazzling dining destinations and genuinely engaged service. Serving as a launch pad for the trendy East Village, the 235-room hotel is steps away from the city’s most sought-after dining, shopping, nightlife, and entertainment venues. Located at 435 6th Avenue, the hotel is home to Jsix Restaurant, a neighborhood hotspot known for its culinary ingenuity, farm-to-table concept and craft cocktails, and the newly-renovated Upper East Bar, which offers rooftop games including shuffleboard, giant connect-four, cornhole and other hands-on activities including a ‘make your own Bloody Mary’ bar. ■
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TRAVEL An inside look at BOL Meditation, the new modern sanctuary in LA
OL (Believe or Leave) Meditation, a new modern sanctuary in Los Angeles, recognizes that sometimes life gets busy. With the overstimulation of information, our constant need to keep up and continually surpass ourselves, we often forget to simply breathe and relax. However, a 5,000 yearold simple technique seems to be the solution for our modern life: meditation. Meditation is more than a trend, but a lifestyle. From Gisele Bündchen to Katy Perry or Miranda Kerr, meditation has a cult celebrity following. It’s no wonder, considering meditating makes you look younger, healthier and more relaxed — a free face lift! BOL Meditation is a new high-end space, recently opened in LA, that’s taking meditators on a first-class ride. With luxurious meditation seats, fragrances created in Paris Laboartoires and a vintage yet modern interior, the boutique meditative space is already a secret spot for actors, models and entrepreneurs who need a break from busy Hollywood life. BOL appointed German actress and filmmaker, Katharina Kowalewski as their Chief Brand Activist. We asked Katharina Kowalewski how she got involved. LEFAIR: When did you begin meditating? KK: I started meditating around 10 years ago and realized the benefits immediately. I used to be a major drama queen (which is okay for acting), but in my personal and business life I needed more balance. I remember when I came out of my first ten-day silent retreat, my parents almost didn’t believe that I was the same person. I was more grounded, Zen and peaceful. It also made a huge impact on my productivity. I was always doing a ton of things from directing to acting, consulting brands, producing, and running NETWORK KO — but suddenly it all made sense and was easy to navigate everything. LEFAIR: How did you hear about BOL Mediation? KK: I met Igal Benhamou, the owner of the Believe or Leave clothing line, at a party and somehow we started speaking for hours about spirituality and mindfulness. The name of his brand intrigued me immediately. I knew there was more thought behind it, a stronger concept. The mission was to “Step into the unknown and the truth will reveal itself. Whether you choose to Believe or
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Leave, always be loyal to your soul. Have faith and follow your heart with no fear or compromise. This will be your driving force, always be alive.” Next, Igal told me he wanted to soon open the BOL mediation sanctuary.
WHETHER YOU CHOOSE TO BELIEVE OR LEAVE, ALWAYS BE LOYAL TO YOUR SOUL. HAVE FAITH AND FOLLOW YOUR HEART WITH NO FEAR OR COMPROMISE. LEFAIR: Can you tell us more about your role as Chief Brand Activist? KK: Yes, Igal consciously makes all business decisions led by his intuition. Since I meditate so often, we immediately clicked and he signed me as the Chief Brand Activist. Soon after we shot the visuals, I brought along some of my favorite teachers to the studio. It’s such a great feeling to have a home and community for my mediation practice now. Plus, it’s so powerful to be part of something that you have kept privately for yourself for such a long time — and now you’re able to share with others! LEFAIR: What is your favorite form of meditation? KK: I started Vedic meditation at the space and completed a 4-day class. Vedic meditation is ancient, simple, and a natural meditation practice that requires very little effort and no concentration. It is a simple eyes-closed technique, practiced twice a day for 20 minutes. The practitioner uses a personal mantra, or sound, which quiets the mind and settles the physiology. The meditator experiences inner wakefulness beyond thought while resting deeply. Vedic Meditation produces benefits immediately and cumulatively. It also makes you happier! Now I do it twice a day for twenty minutes. I absolutely love it! It is simple and effortless. Vedic is one of the signatures of the place, and it teaches you to be completely self-sufficient. I love to travel into my mind, as each mediation experience is completely different. ■
KATHARINA KOWALEWSKI Chief Brand Activist
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he London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles provides modern luxury ambiance, with its black and white tile floors, teal sofas, and touches of gold and marble—upscale yet approachable. I am here interviewing acclaimed celebrity photographer and philanthropist, John Russo. Today in the lobby is a bearded, wavy haired man wearing multiple gold rings, orange tinted aviators, and a long two-tone tan suede jacket over a red floral shirt, both open, showing his sternum, a few couples dressed in athleisure-wear, and a woman carrying a Fendi purse complete with a yellow Fendi bag bug. So the crowd on this given day is rather diverse. Another “pawsh” attraction in the lobby is the English Bulldog china statue, The London West Hollywood’s mascot, placed at the entry. According to the BBC, “To many, the Bulldog is a national icon, symbolizing pluck and determination.” And according to the American Kennel Club, a Bulldog’s disposition should be “equable and kind, resolute, and courageous, and demeanor should be pacific and dignified.
JOHN RUSSO & KIND
Not to relate John Russo to a dog, but well, here it goes… “equable”, John is one of the most easy-going and even-tempered photographers I’ve had the pleasure of working with. “I just don’t get stressed. It’s not worth it,” John explains. “Kind, determined, and resolute”— unwavering in his generosity, John Russo continuously gives back to his family and the artistic community, both of which helped make him the success that he is.
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MR: Aside from being a celebrity photographer, you also shoot abstract photography. How did this interest come about? JR: I just do it for me. It’s super fun. I love it. It’s just another creative outlet. Having gone to art school, I was always working on so many kinds of projects— sculpture, painting... I was versed in a lot of different art forms. I don’t know how well versed I was, but I was versed.
The book is scheduled to launch January 2018. There’s a chance it might launch in time for Christmas but I think it will be January. I’m also working on another book called On Love.
WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW IS LOVE...
MR: Where is your favorite place to shoot? JR: Capri—the Amalfi Coast. I did a fashion shoot there last summer and it was amazing—the colorful scenery, culture, weather, texture, and light. It’s spectacular. I’m currently working on a project with David Gandy for Dolce & Gabbana. We may be shooting in Capri—I will know the location soon. Dolce & Gababna is one of my favorite designers and clients. I love Steffano. He is amazing. I don’t know if you follow him on Instagram but he is outrageous. His exercising and cats—he is a special person. MR: Your father, Dan Russo, was also a photographer. Did you learn a lot from him? JR: Yes, he is an amateur photographer and artist. He’s 83 and still painting. Right now, he is working on a painting for one of my friends. He’s doing more modern art. His painting was on the cover of Angeleno Magazine. We’re super close. I was totally inspired by him. He was always taking photos of my brothers and me.
On Love features a mix of couples that are in love but it’s all different kinds of love—someone and their dog, someone and their mom, their dad, their brother, their best friend. What the world needs now is love, and I just have all these concepts that I want to do with it. It’s a feel good book. When you’re in love you want to shout it from the rooftops. You want to show it. It’s such a great thing capturing that moment. I will have people writing forwards in the book regarding what the word “love” means to them. I will tie it in with a charity but I haven’t decided which one yet. MR: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be doing? JR: I really enjoy my job but as we all know, this industry is stressful. You’re dealing with attitudes and personalities. You can’t sweat the small stuff and you can’t take things personally. You simply keep moving forward. I have a really amazing team that I work with and everyone has their own thing that they contribute. If my job ever becomes too stressful, I’ll do something else. I’ll be a tennis pro probably! I play tennis so much.
MR: Tell me about your cosmetics line. JR: It’s all self-promotion really. I just created it so I could give away gift bags at photo shoots. I created both scents—the male and female. I got to choose all of the nail polish and lip colors. I tried them out on photo shoots and I gave them to my makeup artist friends. People were like, “Where do we get these products?” So I got a sales rep and now they carry it at the Four Seasons and Montage Hotels—a lot of different places! MR: When did you begin your project and book, 100 Making a Difference? JR: It began five years ago. It’s been a very long process. I only want to feature certain people. It’s my book and I want the people in it to really have a passion for philanthropy. We just photographed Salma Hayek a few days ago. We shot Kristen Bell and her husband, Dax Shepard. Those are just recent people. We’ve featured Malala Yousafzai, Maria Shriver, Scarlett Johansen, Goldie Hahn, and so many others. A lot of these people I have worked with for years and I am very excited to highlight their amazing contributions.
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MR: Why do people care about celebrities? Did you care about them growing up? What is the fascination? JR: I think the media feeds the whole celebrity culture because the celebrities have now become the models in magazines. They are selling products and everyone looks to them for what car to drive, how their body should look, and what fragrance to wear. Some celebrities are icons, so we look up to them like Sophia Loren or a fashion icon like Sarah Jessica Parker. Of course I was fascinated with them growing up in a small town in New Jersey since it was the furthest thing away from me. If you’re asking me if I’m fascinated with them now, I work with them. Some are amazing but at the end of the day, they’re just people. MR: What inspires you? JR: Other photographers like Marco Grobb and Vincent Peters inspire me. There are so many incredible photographers who do what I do—looking at their work inspires me to continue creating and keep raising my own standards.
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to stop being looked at as a testing photographer and disassociate myself from certain magazines. My dream was to shoot for Vogue JR: I grew up in New Jersey and I was the most driven kid ever. and Dolce & Gabana. In my late 20s, I had to stop accepting I have been working since I was ten. I always had a business work. It hurt financially but I had to only do certain things and project. From the time I was 14 until I was 22, I was detailing put out to the universe that I am at this level. When you put that cars. My business was called The Last Detail. That’s how I paid out there, people see that and accept it. When the publicists hit for everything. I was into fancy cars. I was like, “I have to have you up for spec shoots, you simply say, “I don’t do that anymore.” a Porsche." I was 18 years old, and the only way to get it was to I tell photographers all the time, “Keep doing the spec shoots work my ass off. All the kids thought I was a drug dealer. Little did and you will be looked at as a spec shoot photographer.” It’s they know I was killing myself. My friend Dan said, “You always not a hobby. It’s a career. Photographers should deliver a quality have hundreds on you. You’re either a drug dealer or a hooker.” product and be rewarded for it. I taught a course at the Brooks Institute of Photography based on I was waxing 8 cars a day myself and my process. I would tell the and charging $75 each. I was photographers in my class all the time, going door to door giving out I TOLD MY MOM it’s about your skill but your personality flyers. Back in the day, I had a is right up there with the skill. To be a great body—super tan, always AND DAD, 'I WON’T successful photographer, you need to be working it. It was fun. Of BE BACK UNTIL I’M a people person and you need business course, my fingers were chewed skills. There are photographers who are up from detailing the cars and SUPER SUCCESSFUL probably technically way better than I cleaning the engines but I didn’t am, but my business and people skills care. I love cars. I have a couple BUT WHEN I DO got me where I wanted to go. It’s all right now. I need to stop buying about meeting people and showing them but it’s a great hobby. The COME BACK, I WILL them what you can do. latest thing I want is a black 1973 Stingray Corvette with BUY YOU A HOUSE It’s a difficult industry to be in for a black leather interior. How young photographer. Networking is great would that be? IN THE NICEST the key. It’s the lunches and dinners and reaching out to people. They wont When I was a kid, I used to NEIGHBORHOOD knock on your door. tell my mom and dad, “I don’t AND A BRAND NEW think I was meant to live here. I MR: What other advice can you offer know there are bigger and better MERCEDES.' AND I DID. people who want to pursue a career in things for me.” photography? I made a plan—after college I was out of there and I moved to LA. I told my mom and dad, “I JR: I think if you want to be a successful fashion photographer, won’t be back until I’m super successful but when I do come back, you should move to New York City or Paris. If you want to shoot I will buy you a house in the nicest neighborhood and a brand celebrities, you should be in LA. There are so many opportunities new Mercedes.” And I did. When I was 28 years old, I bought out there. There is no need to be overly competitive. There them the house and on Christmas Day I shipped a brand new is so much work. I wish there was more camaraderie among Mercedes with a big red bow to their house. That’s the kind of photographers. I follow so many photographers and I always stuff that motivated me. I want to take care of my parents who chime in and support their work. were so supportive in my life and career. They always had that “Go Of course it’s a natural competition. There are so many great get ‘em attitude”. It was always, “Yes you can!” photographers out there and we are all trying to book jobs that bring Thank God I still have them. They’re 82 and 83 and they live in us money and success. Sometimes photographers are intimidated and they don’t want to be around other photographers. I think LA. actors have a similar issue except they have the Academy Awards and that brings them all together. I want to have soirees to bring MR: Describe your climb to success. photographers together. I don’t think there is an award show for JR: It was a gradual process. I put blinders on and focused. There photographers. It’s not really recognized like that unfortunately. I was no plan B. There was only plan A. there was a point when I had think everyone’s work should be recognized and rewarded. ■ MR: What was your life like growing up?
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n a sweltering day in Los Angeles, model and musician, Don Benjamin and the LEFAIR editorial team chilled out in the air conditioning inside Black Anchor Tattoo, home of celebrity tattoo artist, Nikko Hurtado. “I’m excited to get this basketball tattoo,” said Don, whose body is covered in ink artistry. In the creative hands of tattoo artist, Ricardo Castillo, Don waited and fiddled with his iPhone. “For most people, it’s hard to get their first one. I got my first tattoo at fifteen. After you get one, some people are like, ‘I don’t even care. I just want a tattoo!’ They don’t necessarily think about what it means to them. But if you’ve thought about it and it’s something that has significance in your life, like a girls name or, like right now, I’m getting a basketball, then go for it. Even though it might seem random, it’s a symbol that means something to me.” Rewind to our interview at the LEFAIR Loft in May. MR: You’re from the Midwest. Do you like it here? DB: I love Los Angeles. LA life is so fast. I’ve been here 11 years now. Back home is so slow. I’m from Minneapolis. It’s a small city. Obviously, there is a lot more opportunity in LA. In Minnesota, you get a regular job, you start a family, and that’s about it. And the weather—My mom said it was snowing last week and it’s 80 degrees here. I’m close to my family. I talk to my mom every day and my father every couple of days. My dad is from Chicago, a real Chicagoan. My mother met my father when she lived there. She is a typical Minnesota woman with a thick accent. When you think of a Minnesota woman, you think of my mother. Both of my parents are disabled. My mother has a back issue and she can’t work and my father is on dialysis. He is currently on a list for a kidney transplant but he has been addicted to drugs throughout my adolescence. Every time he relapses he gets taken off the list. So he has been on dialysis for 15 years*. He has been on the kidney list for half of that time. Hopefully he will get a kidney. MR: When did you get your first tattoo? DB: I was 15 years old. I wanted a tattoo and I went with my mother. At first I chickened out. I set the appointment but I was too scared. So my mom went and she got a tattoo on her neck and said, “It’s okay. If I can do it, you can do it.” She took me back to the shop. I wanted a basketball on my arm but the tattoo artist said he could only tattoo something of religious significance on someone underage. So I got a cross and I don’t regret it. I still want that basketball though. The only space now I have is my legs. I definitely have to do it soon.
In high school, all I did was play basketball. I was a top ten scorer in my city. I wanted to go to the league but my grades were horrible. I couldn’t get in to the colleges that I wanted to go to for basketball. So I gave up basketball for entertainment. I thought, “What else can I do and be my own boss?” If it can’t be professional sports, it’s definitely the entertainment industry. MR: Your usual tattoo artist is Romeo Lacoste. How did you meet? DB: Yes, he’s really good at character tattoos. That’s his specialty, anime and things like that. I originally linked with him because I was going to a tattoo artist who was fresh out of prison and it wasn’t the best work. Romeo was a friend of a friend and he came highly recommended. He just did Justin Bieber’s tattoos. My friend told me that since I have a high following, he would probably do my work. We hit it off as soon as we met. His tattoo work was incredible. I need help fixing up some of the others tattoos I had. We also figured out what I wanted to do I the future. He saw the vision. He saw how to add to it. A lot of well-known LA tat shops are really pricey and he doesn’t over charge. He has regular clientele but a lot of his clients fly out here from different countries to get work from him. MR: If you weren’t working in entertainment, what would you be doing? DB: I always thought I would play basketball – I thought it was the dream. You know, the dream as a kid coming up with nothing, seeing people on TV, watching sports and you thinking, “I want to have that life.” I just wanted to be able to take care of my family. I didn’t have the grades I needed to have to get into the schools that I wanted to play for. Once the sports dream faded away I hopped on the entertainment train. I have a cousin who lives in the Lakewood area and I went to visit him during Christmas. It was negative ten degrees in Minnesota and when I got here they were barbequing. I was like, “Yo, I need to live like this.” He told me how he did extra work on TV and in movies. In my 18 year old mind, I was like, “Wow, you made it!” Being on the set of any movie or show was impressive to me. I went home and told my mom that I wasn’t going to go to college and that I was going to pursue acting in Los Angeles. I’m her only child. She was torn that I was leaving but she said, “Go chase your dreams.” MR: What have you been listening to lately? DB: I’ve been listening to Kendrick Lamar’s new album. He has a record out right now called “Love.” I’ve been listening to Wale’s new project.
*Average life expectancy on dialysis is 5-10 years, however, many patients have lived well on dialysis for 20 or even 30 years (Nation Kidney Foundation). L E FA I R MA G A Z I NE | 8 1
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MR: We saw a picture of you with another one of our favorite tattoo icons, Ruby Rose. We’d love to have her in a future issue. How do you know each other?
Top Model, there were over 2,000 people there. I called my mom and girlfriend. I told them it would be a twelve-hour wait and they said, “Just stay. It will all work out.”
DB: We’re with the same agency. We were supposed to do a shoot together and it never worked out. We always run into each other at events. I’m always like, “You’re the female version of me!” I play in a lot of celebrity games. We had a celebrity basketball game in Canada and she came in and talked to me and Snoop in the locker room after the game. This was a charity event in Toronto during the MBA All-Star weekend. It was 2 Chainz vs. Snoop Dog. I was on 2 Chainz’ team. He picked me up. It was just playing the game for a good cause. I play in the Power 106 game too. They do an annual game for Homeboy Industries.
It took seven years to get my first break and even after I was on the show, I was still struggling. Now I can take care of my parents. I bought my mom a car a couple of years ago. I’m moving her out here soon.
MR: There is a certain power that comes from having such a large following on social media platforms…
MR: How did Liane become an influencer?
DB: A lot of people forget that, as an influencer, you have a lot of responsibility because people are watching us. I try to post things that are motivational. A lot of other people abuse it and they’re just drinking and smoking all day and posting about it. The cool thing is that people want to know what else is going on with you besides what you are shooting and what songs you are putting out. People want to actually connect with you. There are a lot of people who have disabled parents. I want those people to be able to connect with me on that level. I want them to see me taking care of my parents. MR: Recipe for success? DB: Tenacity is key. A lot of people don’t get that. On my grind, I had to dig deep to hear these success stories. People think it just happens and successful people are blessed but they don’t see the struggle, the family issues. A lot of people aren’t willing to talk about their struggle and how they overcame it. Some see it as a weakness. The way I saw it was, “I’m dealing with all of this but I have no choice but to make it.” MR: How does it feel now that you’ve had success in the entertainment industry? DB: It feels amazing now. It was hell before. I didn’t get on Americas Next Top Model until 2013. There were so many times I would call home and my mom would say, “No, stick it out.” Even when I went into the casting for America’s Next
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MR: You have a girlfriend? DB: My girlfriend is Liane V. She is a singer and influencer. We were friends for years while we were both in relationships. We both got out of our relationships and a year later we just hit it off.
DB: She was doing background singing on tour with some artists. She got into the Vine circle and she blew up on the Vine app. That carried over to her Instagram.
A LOT OF PEOPLE FORGET THAT, AS AN INFLUENCER, YOU HAVE A LOT OF RESPONSIBILITY BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE WATCHING US. I TRY TO POST THINGS THAT ARE MOTIVATIONAL.
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MR: Did you go to Coachella? DB: I did go to Coachella. It was cool. The thing is, I like air conditioning. I’d rather be inside the staples center. If it’s too crowded, I’m the kind of person who is looking for an exit. We’d be right in the middle and all you could see were miles of people. But it was a good experience, definitely. It’s fun to bounce around from stage to stage. I watched Kendrick’s show and Kehlani. Kehlani was amazing. I watched DJ Khaled’s show. Those were the only shows I caught. I flew right in from Morocco. I had food poisoning from the water there so the whole way back I was throwing up. It was the longest 24 hours ever.
WHEN YOU’RE ON THE RIGHT TRACK, YOU’RE PEACEFUL AND IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE YOU ARE. I’M HAPPY WHERE I AM. MR: What were you doing in Morocco? DB: A few influencers and I were flown out to do video skits with the producer RedOne. The song features French Montana, Dinah Jane from Fifth Harmony, and Fetty Wop. RedOne and French Montana are both from Morocco. They wanted to do a hometown thing. It’s like a euro dance record. We all got sick in Morocco. Liane was there too and she got sick, her makeup artist got sick. It’s a good thing we have a lot of fun together. MR: How do you deal with fake friends? DB: I keep a lot of people at a distance and I keep my circle tight. I’m pretty aware of the people’s
motives. I’m big on energy. If I feel any kind of negative energy from anyone, I distance myself from them immediately. And there have probably been some people who could have helped me in my career but I had to distance myself because I couldn’t trust them. I have family members who think I’m rich already and they hit me up all the time now. They’re like, “I see you bought a new car. Can you buy me a new car?” These are the same family members who told my mom I shouldn’t come out here. They said, “The industry is too hard.” Your family should always be in your corner but they doubted me. Now, of course, they say, “Oh, we knew you were going to make it!” It’s so crazy how that works. I mean it makes sense. Like, what are the odds that someone is going to succeed in Hollywood? But a lot of people have such small minds that they can’t fathom someone reaching their dreams. My mom was never in a financial position to help me. If I couldn’t make rent out in Los Angeles, we would call my aunts and uncles for help. At that time, a couple hundred dollars was like winning the lottery. They would hardly lend me that money and now they are so quick to ask me for favors. MR: What are you going to do for the rest of your day? DB: I’m gonna rest myself and watch some basketball. My birthday is coming up. Cinqo de Mayo is my 30th birthday. I’m excited for my 30s. I think it will be an exciting decade. MR: A lot of people don’t feel great about turning 30. DB: I think a lot of people are scared or they have lost faith around this time. I feel like I hit that point at 25. I kept thinking, “I’m getting old. What am I going to do?” And then I went on America’s Next Top Model. My friends who aren’t where they want to be in their lives are freaking out. When you’re on the right track, you’re peaceful and it doesn’t matter where you are. I’m happy where I am. ■
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SPOTS 9 SWANKY HANGOUTS FOR A NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN
There is something to do every single night in Los Angeles. From foodies to fancypants, everyone knows the best music venues and craft beer spots. But sometimes, you just want a perfect cocktail by the pool, 360-degree views of downtown and your favorite DJ all in one spot. Just when you think you’ve been everywhere, a new list of must-sees appears or your favorite band announces a show in a place you’ve never even heard of. So take a chance on a new nocturnal adventure. Rooftop bars beckon! Here are some of the best of the best until the new Hotel Figueroa is unveiled...
Writer Lauren Valencia @poshsquatter
I. HOLLYWOOD ROOSEVELT HOTEL A boutique hotel with several happening spots, the Roosevelt is a world unto itself. So many corners in which to enjoy a classic cocktail! There’s even a luxurious bowling alley to be found in The Spare Room. Enjoy food and drinks by the David Hockney pool at the Tropicana or the newly opened Rosy Oyster. Wherever you choose to party, a hidden gem is sure to catch your eye and leave you planning a return trip.
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II. TAO ASIAN
From the same New York group that brought Beauty & Essex to the West Coast comes TAO, a stunning restaurant where people come for the food and stay for the unbeatable ambiance. The bar and lounge areas are decked out with a giant Buddha and a Koi pond, but the cocktails and desserts still manage to steal the show. Nearly brand new, TAO is already familiar to so many because of its beloved NYC counterparts and Hollywood just can’t get enough of this huge, glamorous hotspot.
III. THE ABBEY We would be remiss to talk about nightlife in Los Angeles and not shout from the rooftops about the West Hollywood institution The Abbey. It’s not merely a place, not just the most iconic gay bar in LA, but truly an experience. Go-go dancers surround the dance floor, everybody gets their groove on, and before you know it, it’s last call and you can’t believe how much fun you had. This place is always a good time, one of the few clubs consistently described as happy and upbeat. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, go to a weekend brunch for a drag show or daytime dance-off with a side of eggs benedict. You’ve heard the stories and may have seen the E! show about the Abbey, now go make your own memories!
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IV.UPSTAIRS BAR AT ACE HOTEL
In the historic theater district, the rooftop at the Ace Hotel buzzes with good conversation, lively crowds from all over the world, and daintyto-rowdy splashes in the pool. The geometric pool, inspired by Donald Juddâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in Marfa, TX, really is more of a submerged lounge, and no one is complaining about that in sunny Southern California. While there is the occasional line on weekends, the Upstairs Bar manages to feel open and un-crowded, often with room to dance to an interesting lineup of DJs. You might even get lucky and score the coveted couches by the fireplace. Curated for an eclectic audience, the offerings range from premier parties to live bands spanning genres and generations.
V.PERCH Atop a 16-story building off Pershing Square, Perch is a casual French restaurant, cocktail-focused bar and gorgeous rooftop with Art Deco charm and exhilarating views of DTLA. When the historic building was raised from 13 to 16 stories in 2010, its creators hoped for a classic space with lasting appeal. As Perch takes its place as a downtown institution, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to say their goals were exceeded. On weekend nights, expect high-heeled lines extending toward Grand Central Market. Where Perch really excels is on lazy Sunday afternoons for postbrunch mimosas, or during weekday aperitif hour when live music gives your steak frites and cocktails (whiskey drinkers, go for the Penicillin) an extra dreamy feel. 9 4 | L E FA I R MAG AZI NE
The word “beauty” cannot be emphasized enough here. This gorgeous space boasts high ceilings and courtyard dining, as well as a second floor patio, all dripping with modern Hollywood opulence. The vibe is perfect for girls’ night out, or any celebration that calls for incredible food in a glam environment. Not to spoil the surprise, but meetings in the ladies’ room come with complimentary champagne, so treat yourself and lounge awhile longer with the bestie.
Lest you think the Westside has been neglected, an upscale bar in Venice is breathing new life into the sandy scene. Rotating taps and wine lists, in addition to lesser-known spirits draw in aficionados and make this a fun choice for date night. Detail-oriented décor make for interesting selfies, from the outdoor patio with plenty of greenery to the custom bar inside. It’s no wonder this place gets packed on the weekends. Make like a local and pop in for a weekday drink with expertly-spun vinyl.
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VIII. CLIFTON’S AT NIGHT It might be hard to believe that a vintage cafeteria can be truly transformed into a tropical paradise for revelers, but somehow Clifton’s at Night succeeds. In one night, you can go from dancing to a live swing band in the ballroom to making an appointment by candlelight for the speakeasy Tiki Bar, one of the most well-appointed cocktail bars around. On the main floor, DJs spin the hits, pausing for intermittent performances by Hula dancers, burlesque troops and more. You really have to see it to believe it. Dress to impress so you can enjoy all areas, as if you needed a reminder.
IX. STANDARD HOLLYWOOD AND DTLA With two distinct spaces in Los Angeles and Hollywood, the odds are that the Standard will find you and your crew at some point. Head to the Downtown LA hotel for some ping-pong at SPiN Standard or a Saturday spent poolside on the roof. The Standard Hollywood on the Sunset Strip is home to delicious Alma and the Cactus Lounge, an intimate space to catch live music, like the Desert Nights series happening this summer. Both hotels have rooftop pools and are guaranteed to please you and your out-of-town visitors. ■ 9 6 | L E FA I R MAG AZI NE
Lyrics we Love HOW DEEP IS YOUR LOVE CALVIN HARRIS & DISCIPLES
I WANT YOU TO BREATHE ME IN LET ME BE YOUR AIR LET ME ROAM YOUR BODY FREELY NO INHIBITION, NO FEAR
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Rad APPS Strava Strava is the Swedish word for “strive,” which epitomizes what this app does. If you’re striving to improve, no matter your goals or ability, Strava is for you! Strava is the social network for athletes and a global community of millions of runners, cyclists and triathletes, united by the camaraderie of sport. The mobile app bring athletes together from all walks of life and inspire them to unlock their potential – both as individuals and as communities.
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Meditation Studio Meditation Studio is an app designed with real people in mind. Each of the 18 meditation collections offer meditations with solutions to our everyday challenges, helping us to be healthy, kind, curious and so much more. If you’re stressed, anxious, sleepless or just need a little pause in your day, this is the app for you! Guided meditations are led by some of the world's most influential experts. The variety of teachers gives users the unique option to choose teachers and meditations based on lineage, style, and voice.
"Untangle your mind."
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Doppler Social App Doppler Social App is a new mobile application with a mission to connect people by where they are going. With its interactive and unique heat map, Doppler Social App allows users to explore the most popular venues within their city and make connections with people based off common ground. Doppler Social App encourages users to connect offline through shared interests of trending scenes and events.
"Connecting people, places, event."
GET CONNECTED Our favorite apps that help you connect with athletes, friends, potential soulmates or youself!
Aligned Signs Aligned Signs is not just a dating platform, but rather a global social networking and self-awareness platform, open to all individuals in different situations and statusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; of life looking for friendship, networking and dating. It is the only tool that uses trusted character-analyzing identifiers, in addition to individual preferences to determine compatibility. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the only US Patented online relationship tool to use three time honored methods; Western Astrology, Chinese Zodiac and the Myers-BriggsÂŽ Personality Type Indicator. These identifiers were chosen because they are thought to be time withstanding, scientifically based, and multi-culturally accepted tools, giving the most optimum results for compatibility.
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om on! 3 Yoga & Wellness Retreats to Rejuvenate This Summer
Writer Hayley Kirksey @haykirksey
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lthough it may seem like yoga is just another trendy workout fad, it’s actually an ancient Indian practice that traces back over 5,000 years. Yoga fuses mental, physical and spiritual disciplines for a full mind, body and spirit experience. There are numerous styles of yoga (vinyasa, hatha, yin, bikram, kundalini, just to name a few!), each with a specific focus and intended flow or sequence. Countless scientific research suggests the health benefits of yoga include reduced stress, improved cognitive function, and increased mind-body awareness. Additionally, the meditative aspect of yoga cultivates a stronger inner-awareness, intention and allows
time for self-reflection, whereas the physical workout promotes flexibility, lean muscle mass, and overall strength. Rather than treating yoga as a 60-minute hiatus from your regular hustle and bustle day, embarking on a multi-day yoga retreat will empower you to dive deeper into your practice. Partaking in a retreat is a personal journey for you to step out of your comfort zone or habitual routine, in order to go above and beyond your typical practice. It’s an opportunity for you to elevate your yoga flow to the next level, but also a chance to tap into your inherent vital energy or “prana.” Are you ready to work your warrior pose and namaste all day? Here’s our top 3 yoga retreats to go to this summer!
1440 MULTIVERSITY Scotts Valley, California Immersed in nature and designed to nurture, 1440 Multiversity offers a revitalizing experience in a magnificent environment. Look forward to equal parts learning and vacation at the state-of-the-art campus nestled in the California redwoods between Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley. Get away for a weekend or five days of deep study with expert teachers, re-energizing downtime, and quiet reflection. Enjoy modern, stylish accommodations and delicious, locally sourced culinary delights. Fill your days with inspiring program sessions, hikes through the forest, nourishing bodywork at the Healing Arts center, and daily yoga and meditation.
UPCOMING PROGRAMS TO HIGHLIGHT: Optimize Your Vinyasa Practice, September 1-3: Join Jason Crandell—named one of the top yoga teachers of the next generation—for a vinyasa weekend of power, precision, and mindfulness. Jason will systematically guide you through all of the regions of your body in an organized, comprehensive way, building greater depth, intelligence, and sustainability in your flow practice for years to come. Yoga and Vibrant Health, September 24-29: Immerse yourself in five enjoyable days of self-care and learn to expand the rejuvenating benefits of a yoga into all areas of your life. Led by celebrated yoga teacher and holistic health coach Leah Cullis, you will experience twice daily yoga, meditation, reflection, nature, nourishing meals, and practices designed to cleanse and empower your body, mind, and spirit as well as clarify your dreams and goals.
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UPCOMING PROGRAMS TO HIGHLIGHT:
BALANCED ROCK Yosemite, California
Balanced Rock is a Yosemite-based nonprofit that has been inspiring health and wellbeing through its programs and classes since 1999. Yosemite National Park is a world-heritage site celebrated as one of the most sacred places on earth. Balanced Rock offers backpacking journeys, weekend yoga retreats, dayhikes, workshops, and lodge-based programs that focus on inward reflection, coupled with outward exploration of this incredible place. The compassionate, personable, and expert staff share a rare and unique combination of local Yosemite knowledge and passion for its natural history, with a spirited dedication to contemplative practices including yoga, meditation, and the creative arts. Come experience the wilderness this year to cultivate holistic health and wellness, rejuvenate yourself, and transform your life!
WildYoga 300-hour Teacher Training: A one-of-a-kind advanced yoga training program conducted in the stunning landscapes of Yosemite National Park. The full program is dispersed over seven weekends and a full immersive week. Each segment is designed to stand alone, or the entire course can be taken to receive 300 hours of continuing education units as a certified yoga instructor. Reconnect to yourself in the clarity of the outdoors, be inspired by the wilderness at its best, and gain extensive knowledge to carry with you into your community and life at home. Yoga and Ayurveda Retreat, July 14-16: Delve into the ancient healing art of Ayurveda, while experiencing the soul-soothing power of Yosemite. Ayurveda is a sister science to yoga and translates to â&#x20AC;&#x153;the knowledge of life.â&#x20AC;? This science provides an opportunity to learn about ourselves and the world through the perspective of the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. On this 3-day retreat, enjoy delicious food, hiking, yoga practice, and encouraging company, as we explore what it means to lead a life of balance.
Photographer Patrick Bremser
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SAGRADA WELLNESS Santa Margarita, California Sagrada Wellness offers all-inclusive yoga retreats in Santa Margarita, California at a boutique mountain sanctuary situated on 45 private acres just outside of San Luis Obispo. Positioned on a majestic hilltop, surrounded by preserved land, Sagrada Wellness is a one-of-a-kind central coast California yoga retreat destination known for its boutique style yoga retreats, delicious rustic cuisine and acupuncture services, sure to leave you feeling inspired and grounded. Leave the busy city life behind — come spend a weekend at Sagrada Wellness and fall in love with California’s best-kept secret! All levels welcome, beginner to advanced.
UPCOMING PROGRAMS TO HIGHLIGHT: Yoga and Pilates Retreat, July 27-30: Rejuvenate, energize, and tone your body on this retreat getaway! This retreat is a nurturing blend of Vinyasa flow yoga, Pilates, restorative yoga, and Bollywood dance. Begin your day practicing a 1.5 hour flow yoga class in a spectacular studio that opens onto large oak trees and gardens. In the afternoon, enjoy an uplifting Pilates mat class that will tone your abdominals and bring balance to your spine. After this fun workout, rejuvenate your mind and body with deep restorative yoga postures that will leave you feeling grounded. Yoga and Hiking Retreat, September 1-4: This retreat is a nurturing blend of Yin Yoga, Iyengar and Ashtanga-influenced vinyasa, gentle Hatha and Pranayama. Begin each day with a guided hike on a nearby picturesque trail and explore some of the best unspoiled scenery in all of California. In the late afternoon, enjoy the yoga class followed by restorative yoga postures that will leave you feeling grounded and at peace. ■
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Rebecca Bruce Top & Pants Hot As Hell Kimono
AMANDA C R E W crewsing into tech Photographer and Videographer Steven Lyon @steven_lyon Writer Katharina Kowalewski @katharinaishere Wardrobe Stylist Randall Truitner @randian Assistant Stylist Yvonne Reddy @yvonnereddy Hair Artist Trace Henningsen @tracehenningsen Makeup Artist Annie Ing @annieingmakeup Assistant Denise Valencia
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nown as Monica Hall from Silicon Valley or Felicia in Sex Drive, Amanda Crew is the kind of person you want to be friends with. The Canadian actress, photographer and now also tech investor is extremely down to earth, low maintenance and now lives in LA. Living in Silverlake, she has distanced herself from the Hollywood scene. What makes her special is her authenticity, generosity and positive attitude.
KK: How do people react when they see you in the tech world? Do they recognize you from the show?
I met Amanda Crew for an exclusive interview at the LEFAIR Loft and chatted with her about tech, stepping out of her comfort zone and acting.
KK: What are the companies you have invested in?
KK: You are being photographed today for the magazine, but you are also comfortable behind the lens? AC: Yes, I like to do it for fun as a hobby for myself. I was dabbling with it a few years ago as I was frustrated as an actress. I wasn’t working that much, so I was trying to find a creative outlet for myself. I was always drawn to photography, so I started picking up the camera. I used to always define myself as an actress and my whole self-worth was attached to it. And I love acting but I don’t have full control over my career. My career is in the hands of producers and networks. It got to a point where I didn’t feel good about myself because I wasn’t working all the time. So I was trying to find something outside of acting that I was passionate about that excited me, that made me feel creative and as if I was contributing something. That’s where photography came in, but also, that’s when I started investing in companies and exploring the tech world. All of that makes me feel like I am actually doing something and it has created a whole world outside of the acting. KK: So it was a good thing that you had that frustrating phase? AC: Yes, you always have to step outside of your comfort zone. If that never happened, I wouldn’t have met all the wonderful women that have shaped the trajectory of my life. It really has boosted my confidence. KK: You are doing so many things right now and are becoming a role model for other women. Can you tell us more about your adventures in tech? AC: On Silicon Valley I am one of the few female characters, so there has been a lot of attention about me representing women in tech, but I didn’t know anything about the tech industry. So I started to educate myself and meet some of these women and it has opened up a whole new world for me. I started investing in female run companies. There are so few that find investors, so I’m proud to say that I found two of them. It’s something that I had no idea I would get into, but now I’m very passionate about it.
AC: People definitely recognize me from the show and just call me Monica. I feel like I don’t get recognized as much in LA , maybe because there are celebrities everywhere. When I’m up in San Francisco that’s when I get recognized the most just because it’s so tech heavy there.
AC: I have invested in two female owned companies. One is called Network B and it’s a women’s network online, trying to create a one-stop-shop for of all your female-focused media. The other is called Randian and it’s a tech media marketplace, so it’s basically when you are streaming your TV shows you can shop all of the outfits that are on your screen. At the end of the show, you can look at each character and see their whole wardrobe and buy the outfits with whatever device you are streaming it on. I’m a customer. It’s changing the way that we shop online. When I watch The Bachelor that’s all I want to do. KK: You are not watching The Bachelor! AC: Did I just admit that? Big fan. Guilty pleasure. KK: What are your future projects? AC: In October we are going back with the 5th season and I have a couple projects coming out hopefully this year. And I actually started writing a feature film that I hope I get to direct, as I don’t want to be in it. You can make me accountable for that. ■
I STARTED INVESTING IN FEMALE RUN COMPANIES. THERE ARE SO FEW THAT FIND INVESTORS, SO I’M PROUD TO SAY THAT I FOUND TWO OF THEM. LE FA I R MA G A Z I NE | 1 0 5
S OM E T H I NG T H AT M AT T E R S A N I N T E RV I E W W I T H S T E V E N LY O N
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Writer Katharina Kowalewski @katharinaishere
hen you meet Steven Lyon, the male model turned fashion photographer and documentary filmmaker, you know he is unusual. His work is sexy, raw, and somehow timeless. You never know if a picture was taken yesterday or ten years ago. What he shoots is not trend-based, but has lasting value. He has a different perspective on beauty and even life itself. He took a break from fashion photography and focused on a documentary in Africa where he documented the brutal treatment of rhinos. For LEFAIR, he shot Amanda Crew in the desert and met with Katharina Kowalewski to speak about what really matters to him in life. KK: Tell me about your film, Something That Matters. SL: I have been working on it for some time now. It is a documentary about the rhino poaching crisis. It escalated to a place possibly beyond repair, but we still have to try. I undertook a 1,000 kilometer journey across Africa by foot with some incredible South African guides. We took almost four months to walk across Africa, and through that journey I discovered so many things about this crisis. That is what the movie is about. I
have been involved in the fashion industry for the past 25 years, but now I’m trying to make a difference in Africa — I have put my photography on hold to make this film. I had no idea it would take so long, but it really doesn’t matter. I recently moved to LA and I think I will find people here to complete the project. KK: You were first brought to Africa through your photography with fashion editorials? SL: Yes, and I also like shooting wildlife. I love going on safari, I just bring a better camera than most people. I will always go back to Africa. The first time I had a lion or a elephant in front of my camera it was just so thrilling. I was hooked. When I go on theses trips I tell my guides immediately be prepared to wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning. I want to be in the middle of the jungle as the sun is coming up. I want to do that for as long as I’m breathing. Just go in the bushes for three months and shoot wildlife. Africa is under my skin. There is something about it. It’s just all these diverse cultures and such an eclectic group of people, but it’s a little bit dangerous so you have to keep your wits about you. It’s just so interesting to me and there are not many places in the world left like that.
I WANT TO BE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE JUNGLE AS THE SUN IS COMING UP. I WANT TO DO THAT FOR AS LONG AS I’M BREATHING.
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KK: From all the people and personalities that you have photographed, is there one special picture that you are especially proud of? SL: I have not been photographing that much lately due to the film, but a recent tragedy reminded me of one special photo. I photographed legendary rock star, Chris Cornell in his Paris apartment. It was a thrilling experience and I was very close with him and his family. I am proud of the picture, unfortunately now it has become very popular because of his death. I shot Chris a couple of times, in 2005 and 2006. We also started to socialize quite a bit. I would love to say now, let’s do another session, but it is too late. He was the sweetest, kindest, coolest guy. When I first met him, I saw his guitar lying around. I used to make music in little LA night clubs. Chris was sitting there and while we were getting to know each other, I asked him if I could play his guitar. “Here is a song I just wrote,” I said. So
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I was sitting there with Chris Cornell, performing my songs. And he called his friends and it really broke the ice. I had the privilege to see him on stage. He had so many amazing songs and I saw him also in smaller intimate venues, cafés and at his house. I was at his wedding, he wrote a song for his wife. What happened was such a tragedy. KK: You went from modeling to photography. How did that happen? SL: I was a model in the 80s. I was very successful and it was super fun. I lived in Paris for 90% of my career. Then I dabbled a bit in acting back in America, but when I decided to be a photographer, I knew that Paris was the place to do it. That is where I knew people, where there is so much inspiring creativity and where you don’t have all that censorship with your images like you do in America. I would have never become the photographer that I am if I had developed my craft in America. My work is very sensual and gritty. It’s very erotic. It has a certain flair to it that is very European. ■
BEHIND the SCENES
Check out behind the scenes footage from a few of our stories.
OFF THE DEEP END
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TAKE IT TO THE STREET
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