Angelyne is a self-made woman and a symbol for fame. By spreading her image on colossal billboards across Hollywood, her bodacious pinup became as important to the landscape as its forefather, the Hollywood Sign. Before jumping to accuse her of being famous for nothing, remember Hollywood is a place that promises a perfect existence. Whatever you imagine is yours to create and to live out. Angelyne brought the billboard queen to life and for almost 30 years has provided the city with an alternate symbol of fame in a landscape covered in corporate advertisements.
I remember the first time I saw her. It was the summer of 1984 and I was most definitely still playing with Barbies. I gasped with admiration as she stepped out of her pink corvette in the parking lot of the Alpha-Beta Supermarket. My mother said, “That’s Angelyne. She’s brilliant. She proved you can be famous for nothing.” Ever since, I’d wished I could talk to her, but never found the opportunity.
That was until a few weeks ago when I was with a film crew shooting on Hollywood Boulevard. The cameraman yelled, “You are in my shot!” The costumer and I backed up against a wall and hid behind a pillar to clear the frame. As we turned to look into the window there was Angelyne, standing in the lobby. We waved and blew kisses. As she opened the gate, we exchanged numbers. A week later we met for lemonades at the French Market in West Hollywood.
VICE: I remember the first time I saw you. You were like a Barbie Doll come to life.
Angelyne: How cute!
How did you get started in showbiz?
I’ve been doing beauty pageants since I was 12.
Did you ever win?
Oh yes! I won all the time. A lot of beauty pageants are rigged, but whenever the girls actually got to vote, I won.
What did you daydream about as child?
I wanted to save the world. My dream was to get the chance to sit on the President’s lap and be so cute that I could say, “Please no more war. You’re not going to blow up the whole world are you?”
When did you start making a name for yourself in Hollywood?
From pageants I went on to rock ‘n’ roll and was in a band for many years. We played everywhere. People seeing my billboards might assume that I haven’t paid my dues, but honestly it just wasn’t happening with my band. Show after show, club after club. It just wasn’t my niche, you know.
I love your songs “Magazine Madness” and “My List.” Who were some of your musical influences?
I love Debbie Harry and I’m also really into all the early-80s punk and new-wave bands.
How did you become the world’s first billboard queen?
Originally I thought the billboard would be good promotion for my band. The minute the billboard went up I became famous. It’s such a high to have such a success. The only thing better is having an out-of-body experience.
You had an out-of-body experience?
I was getting up to do a movie and suddenly I felt-light headed. I lay back down and suddenly I started rising out of my body towards the skylight above me. It was then that I realized there is consciousness without the body. I’ve talked to a lot of people who have died and come back and they have a similar experience. They remember leaving their bodies and realizing they were still conscious. It gives you perspective.
Did this experience bring any wisdom to your waking life?
Of course I have always wanted to be more and more successful. More and more beautiful, but this experience showed me that the body is limited. From then on I became more quested to do a service for the world. I want to represent the belief that something good does exist and it’s pink! However, it’s not about pretending it’s good here because it’s not good here.
How did it feel to become famous for being a billboard icon?
In the beginning it was difficult because I had to find the strength within myself to support my own image. For example, if an actress is doing a movie she will have a director to say, “You’re great! You look wonderful! You are really happening.” I have to look in the mirror and say I like myself the way I am.
Some people assume a millionaire bought you those billboards, but I’ve always doubted that.
People always assume it was some guy that paid the way. The truth is I made it on my own, without the help of anyone. A billboard is not that expensive. My fame is proof that it can happen if you really want it. I had no TV show, no record company, no PR firm. No one behind me. I just had an idea and made it happen.
Why did you run for governor in the 2003 recall election?
I ran for governor to prove a point and to give people clarity as to what they wanted--rather than going by what the government dictates. My slogan was, “We've had gray, we've had brown, now it's time for some blond and pink!” I really wanted to make a difference.
Do you think your aura is pink?
Well, the highest vibrating color is magenta so I’m pretty sure mine is pink. Tell me, what’s the one thing you know for sure?
This feels like a trick question. I don’t know!
Do you want to sleep on it or do you want me to demonstrate? What’s the one thing we know for sure?
[She pricks me with a pin.]
Owwww, it’s pain!
Do what you gotta do and believe in it. Don’t question everything. Are you in joy or are you in torment? Get in tune with yourself and make the best of what you can while you’re in that body.
Previously - Off Hollywood - Dan Curry