March 5, 2024


Arts Fanatics

Angelyne’s prescient art of self-promotion


Nancy Oliver, Angelyne, 2022, still from a TV show on Peacock. Angelyne (Emmy Rossum).

NOW THAT THE Real Id of the eccentric Los Angeles character Angelyne has been exposed, one crucial query continue to remains: Is she a movie star, or is she a efficiency artist? Finest regarded for showing on a sequence of eye-popping billboards across LA, starting in 1984 and peaking in the ’90s with two hundred simultaneous adverts, she is a self-manufactured, intensely augmented pin-up who became famous for currently being popular when Kim Kardashian was even now in preschool. Barbie-like, almost comically pneumatic, she was by no means promoting everything on those people billboards other than her very own existence, creating the whole task an intriguing commentary on the hollow, facile character of Hollywood stardom alone. If she is a celebrity, she is specifically the type of celebrity that drives cultural purists bonkers, being equally really sexualized and certainly pointless. If she is an artist, how may well I describe her? I would say that Angelyne is what may well come about if, rather of currently being married and then horribly divorced, Jeff Koons and Cicciolina, by way of some misbegotten lab experiment, have been forced to share a one entire body. She is Cindy Sherman if, rather of slipping on a thousand different personalities, she had invested four many years embodying and reembodying one, permitting it overtake her until eventually she inevitably went at minimum a minimal mad.

Angelyne may well be a genius. She is also, arguably, a genuinely major present-day art-historical determine, a person whose candy-dazzling oeuvre of self-détournement merits as substantially analysis and inquiry as the function of lots of extra “serious” artists. Accordingly, I was rather anxious to enjoy Angelyne, a evenly fictionalized biography now streaming on Peacock. The five-episode miniseries arrives at the peak of what I could describe as the Gillespiefication of the latest historical past of movie star women of all ages: With I, Tonya (2017) and the recent series Pam and Tommy, the director Craig Gillespie has pioneered a distinct style of biopic, focusing precisely on gals who have weathered both scandal or derision, and then punching up their stories with a pressure of irreverent, prankish black comedy that is both playfully punk or terribly unkind, relying who you question. Despite the fact that Gillespie was not instantly concerned in Angelyne, its creator is his Lars and the Serious Female screenwriter Nancy Oliver, and the display shares some stylistic DNA with his product. Current are the brash and flashy needle-drops the all-caps, brightly coloured titles the actress hiding underneath prosthetics the humorously conflicting experiences of occasions delivered either via simulated interviews or by way of replayed and edited scenes. Fortunately, though, Angelyne diverges from the current Pam and Tommy in its managing of the buxom blonde babe at its center: Where the latter series’ Pamela Anderson was far too generally depicted as a simpering naïf, Angelyne is totally credited as the canny architect of her possess picture, describing herself as “a Rorschach test, but in pink.”

The exhibit is in element an adaptation of a 2017 piece in The Hollywood Reporter which disclosed that, in spite of her previous statements about getting been born both in the US or in outer room, Angelyne was in reality the kid of Polish Jews who satisfied in the Chmielnik ghetto through Environment War II, and her spouse and children had emigrated to Los Angeles in 1959. Wanting to reinvent herself as an American lady, it occurred to Angelyne in the early ’70s that there was no much more successful way to come to be American than to develop into extremely famous, and that becoming well known for staying blonde and acquiring an huge bosom would be more American nonetheless. (Pamela Anderson, lest we forget about, had a equivalent idea, acquiring moved to LA from British Columbia.)

“I’m anything you have to truly feel, a thing you have to experience,” she tells an interviewer in the exhibit, a tagline so easy and so generic that it might as simply be employed to promote a vehicle, a chocolate bar, or a new brand of razors. Emmy Rossum, lacquered in a metric ton of makeup, approximates Angelyne’s babyish purr and Betty Boop mannerisms to a tee she also lends her an unnerving blend of small business savvy and dissociated otherworldliness, with the episodes dissolving into fantasy anytime Angelyne feels lifetime turning out to be as well “real.” Does Angelyne assume of its titular platinum weirdo as an artist? Perfectly, like several artists, its edition of her lives virtually fully in her head, employing ache as inspiration for her observe. Like some artists I can imagine of, far too, she balances an avowed fascination in “bring[ing] the consciousness of all mankind a couple steps higher” with a passion for content items and private wealth. “Your car or truck is meant to be an extension of you,” she suggests about her well-known pink Corvette, sounding for all the world like J. G. Ballard Barbie. Later in the exhibit, showing as a chat-exhibit visitor, she proves that even if she was once the daughter of Polish immigrants, she is now as American as they occur. The host asks why she wanted to be well-known in the initial spot, and she appears to be at him as if he is an fool. “Well, to make dollars,” she claims, smiling. “Isn’t income lovable?”

Angelyne is presently streaming on Peacock.


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