Brad Elterman's Le Reve is a new column that will follow the Los Angeles photographer and legend on his continuing adventures. An early photographer of American punk rock, Brad captured many of the greatest musicians of the 70s and 80s at the height of their beauty and talent. Brad has been living the dream for decades, and he has the face of someone who was smiled a lot over the years. He still takes photographs every day and stocks the swimming pool at his Bel Air home, Villa Le Reve, with beautiful women, artists, fashionistas, and cultural luminaries. In this first installment of Le Reve, Brad revisits the sites of his 1978 photos of Joan Jett with hot chanteuse Soko, who wasn't born until '85.
Joan Jett was my greatest photo subject of all time. We met around 1976 during the early days of the Runaways and somehow I got to hangout with her. Still in our teens, we would go to Hollywood Boulevard to see our pal Rodney Bingenheimer, the Mayor of The Sunset strip, at his office; to Flooky's in Sherman Oaks to eat hot dogs and hit softballs and to the Santa Monica pier for french fries. One day I was hanging out with Joan in her dumpy suite at the old Tropicana Motel when we came up with the idea to stand in the center of Santa Monica Boulevard just as the sun was setting to the west. The photo felt so iconic when I took it and I think we both felt like we were standing at the center of the Earth. All of my escapades with Joan involved my old Canon FT film camera. I never went anywhere with out it.
Recently I become friends with the cool French singer Soko and I told her all about my early escapades with Joan and we came up with this plan for me to revisit these locations again with my film camera. Some of the locations are gone, like the Tropicana, and the Pleasure Chest has moved, but the vibe was still there. I posed up Soko in front of the old Pussy Cat Theatre and I was able to block out the exact location where Joanie and I once stood. Although I did not let it show, it was a bit emotional for me to go back to these locations almost four decades later. I stood there in wonderment as Soko posed next to one of the stars on Hollywood Blvd with the lovely natural golden California light behind her and I thought to myself that age means nothing. You are as young as you feel and the great party that started for me in 1976 still continues today.