The "Hollywood Billboard Queen" is still pioneering the art of being famous for being famous.
If you live in Los Angeles, you've probably run into Angelyne, the perpetually pink "Hollywood Billboard Queen" who in the 1980s became a pioneer in the field of being famous for being famous. A master in the art of self-promotion, she gained national recognition before social media made everyone an promoter of their own personal brand. The Kardashians wouldn't be the Kardashians if not for Angelyne being Angelyne, so thank God for her.
Growing up I was told Barbies couldn't exist in the real world—that they'd be constantly falling over because of the unrealistic size of their boobs. Angelyne puts that myth to shame, standing upright despite her seemingly impossible boob-to-waist ratio. Her fashion choices leave very little to the imagination, with precisely placed cutouts on her vag-length dresses accentuating the remarkable smoothness of her ass.
Over the weekend, Angelyne had an art show at the MODA Art Gallery in Hollywood and proved she endures as the epitome of Hollywood celebrity. Because in addition to being a self-proclaimed Hollywood icon, Angelyne is also an artist who paints depictions of her favorite subject: herself.
Her signature pink Corvette was parked on Sunset Boulevard, not far from where the billboard that catapulted her to stardom in the 1980s once stood. There was a raffle at the show where 22 winners would be randomly chosen for a ride in the mobile Hollywood landmark.
The museum was packed with fans, reporters, and other characters in their own right, as extravagant and attention-grabbing as the nipples. Angelyne's fame comes from her persona, and it's clear that her be-who-you-want-to-be-to-the-highest-degree-possible attitude had rubbed off on the show's attendees. There were Tim Burton types, punk dudes in fishnets, and LA's most beautifully haired men, all showing Angelyne's influence in their public display of a caricatured, over-the-top version of themselves.
Everyone shuffled around the main room of the gallery, which was plastered in erotic, nip-focused paintings. Metallic, sensually posed mannequins were placed around the room, along with TVs playing slideshows of Angelyne. All of the art was on sale, with small prints going for a couple hundred dollars and the larger originals priced as high as $10,000.
In a smaller room, a bar was selling refreshments and handing out free "Pink Drinks"—specifically, pink champagne, Charles Shaw rosé, and Shasta Cola's "Fiesta Punch." Across from the bar was Angelyne, obstructed by a white room divider, taking photos and signing autographs at $10 a pop for a rotating posse of fans. Her "people"—a group of beautiful blonde men straight out of Saturday Night Fever—hovered close by. Anyone who tried to sneak a free photo got a stern talking-to from Angelyne herself—what, you thought this was a charity event?
I decided to splurge on a picture, hoping for the opportunity to snag a couple words with the elusive star of the night. Not surprisingly, she was all business, and quickly handed me a pink feather fan—"this one is yours"—then immediately struck her go-to fan-over-the-face-and-one-knee-up pose.
I asked if I could put my hand on her thigh for the photo, at which point she thrust her leg up into the air and placed her ankle into my hand. I was taken aback by the flying ankle and undeniably intimidated by her superior posing (and balance), but I held it together, happy to be Angelyne's accessory for about five and a half seconds. She then shooed me out of the photo area as her assistant ushered in her next customer.
In between photos, Angelyne spent most of the show darting around the gallery and retrieving merch out of the trunk of her Corvette: autographed photos, T-shirts, and $50 copies of her magazine Hot Pin. She was constantly on the move, sitting still only for a few moments to personally sell someone a shirt or chat with her personal assistant. It was clear she had her hand in practically every component of the event.
Despite being in a gallery filled with giant oil-painted nipples, most of the crowd was drawn to Angelyne herself. She's been at this for years, and she plays the role of self-styled icon well. Her persona draws its power from the mystery that surrounds her: Who is that woman on these billboards? Where did she come from? Why is she dressed like that? Why is she still famous? And what am I doing paying $40 for a T-shit she's selling out of the trunk of her car? But if anyone who thought her art show would be a chance to peek behind the curtain of spandex and secrecy, they were shit out of luck. Regardless of the medium, Angelyne remains Angelyne, mystery included.
When Angelyne came into the main room of the gallery to cut her cake, the place froze. She walked swiftly through the room, her entourage of attractive men in tow, stopping only to give the clerk of her favorite video rental store a smooch on the cheek. Soon, though, she returned to the back. Too much socializing with the rabble kills the mystery. Besides—there were pictures to pose for.
See more photos from the event below:
Follow Zoë on Twitter.