Angelyne (1995) + Will You Dance With Me? (1984)
An end-of-summer celebration with two video delights, including the L.A. premiere of Derek Jarman's rediscovered dance film.
Sep 09, 2022, 8:00 PM
Frogtown Creative, 2930 Gilroy St, Los Angeles, CA 90039, USA
directed by Robinson Devor and Michael Guccione
1995, U.S., 25m, digital
L.A.’s enigmatic billboard diva Angelyne has been both a pop culture icon and paragon of self-marketing since the early 1980s. Now regarded as a forerunner to Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and every personal-brand hustler on social media, she is one of the few contemporary public figures whose background remained shrouded in mystery—at least until a 2017 Hollywood Reporter exposé. This rare documentary portrait, shot in black-and-white and only ever released on VHS, is an oddball snapshot of the blonde bombshell at the height of her exposure in 1995, at which point she reportedly had 200 billboards over Los Angeles. This film takes the form of an extended interview with the woman herself, as well as testimonials from figures including Angelyne’s lawyer, “financial backer”, fan club president and lingerie consultant.
“With its black-and-white, MTV-in-its-second-decade, coolly detached aesthetics, [Angelyne] perfectly reflects the bombshell-from-outer-space persona of its subject. An exaggerated quintessence of a sexy California girl—her hair platinum, her figure ridiculously voluptuous, her performative ditsiness tempered by the foreboding blankness of her dark sunglasses—Angelyne became known by (and for) purchasing billboards around Los Angeles and plastering them with her likeness. Her flagrant focus on making herself known just for being herself was, of course, an important precursor to today’s famous-for-being-famous reality TV celebrities. But the relatively limited purview in which her desire for fame could express itself made it all the more keen. The primitive graphic language of the billboard was a perfect encapsulation of the graphic language of Angelyne—a woman who was, and still is, to borrow a phrase of [Albert] Hayes’s, always “perfectly true to [her] own rhinestone self.” - Naomi Fry
WILL YOU DANCE WITH ME?
directed by Derek Jarman
1984/2016, UK, 78m, digital
Los Angeles theatrical premiere!
In 1984, pioneering gay filmmaker Derek Jarman was recruited by director Ron Peck to research the club scene of East London, and spent a single night at Benjy’s. What resulted was this exuberant, transfixing document of pre-AIDS queer culture, arguably one of the great dance films ever recorded. Shot on a VHS camcorder and featuring a nonstop soundtrack of disco hits – think Break Machine, think Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Jarman’s camera eavesdrops on bar conversations and dances with New Romantics and Beat Boys, reaching the heights of a bleary video expressionism. This singular ode to the gaze and movement of nightlife was rediscovered by Peck and released in 2016, where it enjoyed a run at New York’s Metrograph cinema. This event will mark the first authorized public screening in L.A.
“I don’t know that I’ve seen dance better filmed.” William Fowler, BFI
“A time capsule of an era shot by an exuberant filmmaker whose dance with the camera blends seamlessly with the casually stylish boys and girls of London’s Mile End.” -Bruce LaBruce
“An awkward, frequently transcendent document whose sense of rhythm, purpose, and narrative is as unlikely as it is ultimately persuasive, and whose fascination with moments of haunted impermanence signals, perhaps more than anything else, the mark of its maker.” -The Village Voice
“While [Jarman’s] shooting style here seems largely un-self-conscious, it’s clear that he had a good grasp of whatever expressive potential the VHS camcorder held. The lens flare, the ghosting effects, the garish and inaccurate color; all these will touch off nearly as much nostalgia, or anti-nostalgia, for the 1980s home-video hobbyist as the disco tunes might for any late boomer or early Gen X-er.” -The New York Times
Special thanks to Robinson Devor, Ron Peck, Ed Halter, Thomas Beard and Sara McGrath.
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