The Vanishing Sunset of Boulevard at LAX (80s USA)

Clive Arrowsmith 1980s shoot for Boulevard Magazine styled by Michael Roberts

Michael Roberts said to me one evening over dinner “Lets go to LA and do a shoot for Boulevard Magazine”. We were dining with our mutual friends Soumi and Nadia La Valle the amazing Spaghetti People.

On the plane to LA, after a few drinks had mellowed my in flight nerves (in those days I always needed a drink to fly, now I fly everywhere sober) I said to Michael. “Michael I realise you have a mountain of clothes but we have not booked any models?”

He looked back at me over his red wine and said “Clive do not worry I know loads of people in LA,” and so the adventure began.

When we arrived Michael went off to his hotel with all the clothes and I went to stay with my dear friend Peter Morton in Beverley Hills. Peter was living in a beautiful white house, which overlooked Los Angeles and had reputedly belonged to Errol Flynn at some point.

When I arrived it was night and I looked down on the lights of LA from the terrace and they looked like a billion planets twinkling. I thought to myself we’ve got to do a shoot from here but how would I balance the light. Oh the torture of balancing the light, made worse by jet lag and alcohol. The next morning after a gallon of black coffee, which incidentally never helped. The coffee just woke me up with and the ghost of delirium tremens haunted me all the way to the Sunset Marquee where I met Michael for breakfast. As ever Michael was totally on the case, a quality he has never lost. Michael had a whole list of set ups and locations in mind and a great hair and make up team ready to go. 

We went up to his hotel room to look at the clothes. Where Michael had arranged them all over the place and set up an ironing board. As we talked he continued to iron clothes. I said “Michael don’t you want to get someone else to do that?” He smiled at me and said, “No Clive, I find it very therapeutic actually.” and ironed on.

The first model arrived and she had the classic model, tall blonde and beautiful a genuine Miss LA. Michael had also chosen another model who was incredibly beautiful and right for the shoot but not a conventional model and very voluptuous She had the most stunning emerald green eyes I had ever seen. Her beauty was so astonishing that it was almost terrifying; She exuded a raw natural beauty, like a purring panther waiting to pounce. Just extraordinary. 

I said to Michael, “Where did you find all these incredible people?” He smiled and said, “I have friends.” More models arrived and we drove down to Venice beach to shoot the first model in swimsuits. There was a cool wind coming off the ocean and she was being buffeted about but retained her poise even when the umbrella blew away. Joel my US assistant had to run after it and I had to explain to him that I only wanted her footprints to be visible in the sand to give the sense of her being on her own private beach, enjoying her solitude. As the weather got worse we abandoned that day and we were lucky to get that shot.

The next day we shot the white swimsuit and looking back this was the era of early Madonna with all the bangles and accessories. More was definitely more then. In the afternoon we shot five models on a balcony the theme being a pimp and his hookers. We were trying to be a bit risqué and capture the atmosphere of 80s LA where everyone was trying to be someone.

Later in the evening after the balcony shot Peter kindly let us use his terrace. Michael surpassed himself yet again, with his innovative and beautiful styling and I managed to balance the light! All this was before Photoshop and was shot on film. After the shoot we partied till early in the morning as we were really, really excited about all the pages we had shot for Boulevard Magazine. We were really looking forward to getting back to London and working on the layouts together, it had been a heady and exciting trip and the looks were really fresh for the time.

We had partied, met incredible people, and worked through epic hangovers. I’d also met some beautiful women and was convinced I was in love with about three different people. All in all we arrived at the airport, exhausted and elated and full of joyous anticipation of the sensation the pictures would cause once they were printed. Michael and I got to LAX glorying in a job well done. Michael said, “I’m going to call Boulevard and get them to send a car to pick us and all the clothes up.” I waited at the bar sipping my medicinal potion to calm my nerves. Michael came back and silently sat on the bar stool next to me, sighing. I looked at him and he was a little quiet. I said, “What’s a matter?” He said staring out across LAX ” Boulevard Magazine has folded.”

We both sat there in stunned silence for a moment and it brought to mind the end scene of the Hollywood Classic Some Like it Hot where Jack Lemon says, “You don’t understand I’m not a woman.” and his suitor (Joe E Brown) says, “It doesn’t matter”. 

The movie “Some Like It Hot”, directed by Billy Wilder. Seen here from left, Joe E. Brown as Osgood Fielding III and Jack Lemmon as Jerry. Initial theatrical release March 29, 1959. Screen capture. © 1959 Ashton Productions. Credit: © 1959 Ashton Prod. / Flickr / Courtesy Pikturz. Image intended only for use to help promote the film, in an editorial, non-commercial context.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Clive. Really enjoy reading about your adventures and the amazing results. Your good friend Maxxx

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