Meeting the Queen of Billboards, Angelyne
When I lived in Los Angeles, it was impossible not to pass by one of Angelyne’s huge billboards on Sunset Blvd. She was an enigma, a mystery, a legend. In a time before the world wide web was as convenient as looking at your phone. In a time before people were famous, just for being famous. I remember reading about her in the book LA Bizarro, which was my go-to book for fun, out of the ordinary things to do in LA. When I would see her pink Corvette around town, it would be the highlight of my week. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would be a passenger in that pink car.
When I got a txt message stating that I had won a ride with Angelyne, (the result of putting my name and phone number on a post it note and throwing it in a box with her photograph on it), I was more scared then excited. Just days prior; a huge article published by the Hollywood Reporter went viral. In the article they claim to have identified who Angelyne really is. Including her being the Jewish daughter of two holocaust survivors, and her real name being Renee. Off the bat I already had 3 things in common with her, our names are the same, we love the color pink, and we are both decedents of holocaust survivors.Yet every person I met, kept telling me that she will expect my husband and I to pay for her groceries, gas for her corvette, and that she does a hard sell of Angelyne merch out of the trunk of her car. So add another item to our list of similarities between us, because I sell copies of the book I wrote, called Southern Arizona’s Most Haunted, out of my hearse when I am the Ghost Host on the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour.
My anxiety regarding this once in a lifetime opportunity hit an all time high when I told my friend Rick about it. Rick, little had I known, was Angelyne’s art manager. His job was to promote her and her art, yet every time he got a gallery interested in her and her art, she would back out of the deal. Corey Helford Gallery and Hyaena Gallery :were both interested in having her art displayed and she turned them both down. Rick went so far as to want to marry Angelyne as a publicity stunt to help his efforts in getting her artwork into the LA art scene.
Angelyne's Movie Script The Bra That Ate L.A.
Rick invited us to his home to see his collection of Angelyne memorabilia that he collected from his short 3 months of working with her. His collection included business cards, bumper stickers, postcards, t shirts, posters, a copy of the film script she wrote and the crowning achievement of his collection: an original acrylic Angelyne painting.
Dancing Flame painting by Angelyne
Dancing Flame is an original self portrait acrylic painting which is 36x48 inches big. It depicts Angelyne as a Shiva-esk type being. In the painting, her blond hair forms a halo effect around her 6 arms and 6 legs. Though her eyes are painted with glitter (yet another thing we have in common), what stands out the most in this piece are her larger than life breasts, unrealistically tiny waste, and no genitals. A random skull painted in glitter is held in one of her left hands as she dances in front of what appears to be fire. Of course her signature was done in glitter as well.
Rick told us the painting was for sale if we wanted to buy it, but we opted for the poster, t shirt, bumper sticker and business card he gifted to us instead
Our meeting location for our celebrity encounter was at the corner of Argyle and Sunset at the Coffee Bean at 6pm. We arrived thirty minutes early. I had butterflies in my stomach from excitement as I anxiously waited for her to pull up on Sunset Blvd in her pink car. I imagined people would flock to it, knowing who it belonged to and I would have to fight my way through wannabe paparazzi to introduce myself.
At 6:05pm I thought that the 'star' stood us up and I was thinking of ways to write a blog about being stood up by Angelyne. Then I noticed her pink Corvette parked on the side of Argyle. There were no fans, no wannabe paparazzi. Just a pink Corvette with Angelyne sitting inside, fiddling with her iPhone.When I approached the car, she saw me and waved. The passenger window was open so I crouched down to speak to her through the window. She admired my Sweet Midnight Webs We Weave shirt and my bright pink hair. She then imminently made the sales pitch asking if I would like to see her T Shirts for sale. She got out of her car and the first thing I noticed was how petite she was, wearing a mini dress that looked tie dyed with peace signs all over it, platform sandals (with stockings on. Which is a pet peeve of mine), a bright pink coat (that matched my hair) and holding a very dirty Hello Kitty bag. Her platinum hair was teased up and accented with two cute bright pink (again matching my hair) ribbon hair clips. She walked to the back of the Corvette (which had obviously been in an accident and had used duct tape to fix) opened her trunk and the Angelyne Store was open for business."you can charge anything you want" she said in her quiet whisper of a voice."Have you've seen the billboard?" she cut me off to ask."Oh you remind me of Barbara Stanwyck" she interrupted me again to tell me."Do you want to look at any paintings" she asked againI told her that I couldn't afford one of her paintings and she seemed very, very disappointed.She then tried to sell me an 8x10 for her to autograph. I told her that we brought our own poster (from Rick) of her to sign for us. She told us to give the poster back to our friend and buy the 8x10 off of her.
I told her that my husband was waiting for us at the Coffee Bean and she looked up and saw him wearing the T Shirt with her face that Rick had given us. She was perplexed and disappointed knowing that her sales pitch would be more difficult now. I told her that my husband was her fan and to bring stuff with us to the coffee shop. She threw a black t shirt, CD, DVD, buttons, and business cards into her leopard print bag and handed it to me to carry. We walked into the Coffee Bean, my husband carrying a Sweet Midnight gift for her, and I carrying her bag of merchandise. She picked a table by the window, lowered the shade so no one could see her, but then found a better table in the back corner. She asked Jimmy to go with her to the counter to order 'The Angelyne' drink. Which we came to find out was 1/3 African Sunrise tea, 1/3 coffee and the rest vanilla.
Angelyne's bag full of her merch, fan and sunglasses
She asked if I was a 'sweet or salty' type of girl. I responded 'both'.
She asked if I was a 'sweet or salty' type of girl. I responded 'both'.
As we waited for her drink to be made she chose to sit with her back to the rest of the coffee shop. Jimmy and I sat against the wall facing the shop. We chit chatted about what Jimmy and I do, why we were in LA, how I resemble Barbara Stanwyck, showed her photos from my Flash in the Past photo shoots, she opened her gift we gave her (a Sweet Midnight Coffin Bag). She told us how superstitious she was and made sure no black cats were in the box. She said that Dave Nivarro from Jane's Addiction had a coffin as a coffee table and we told her that our kitchen table was an embalming table, and she felt we won that contest on who is the creepiest person. She made compliments on how beautiful I was, and how I reminded her of Barbara Stanwyke again. She then asked where we lived and I told her Bisbee, Arizona. She then made a creepy comment and said 'Busy Bisbee Bats' which is the vanity plate on the hearse 'bzbbatz'. This lead me to believe that perhaps they did a little bit of research on us prior to the meeting. Why else would she have said such an out of the blue comment?
Angelyne merch and The Angelyne drink we all shared
At this point her drink was ready. She came back holding the Coffee Bean paper cup and 3 little espresso mugs. She placed one in front of each of us and poured The Angelyne drink from the paper cup into the three mugs so we all could share. We toasted to Angelyne. She got up and asked to borrow Jimmy and walked him over to the ladies room. She had him stand outside the bathroom and watch the door, explaining that she did not trust the lock. She came back and explained to us how she wants to make everyone feel special. She told us that both Jimmy and myself were special.
She returned to the table and we spoke about how wonderful glitter is, compared our lipstick colors, had a discussion about her fan and Alf. Then came the sales pitch again! She claimed everything she sold was handmade and nothing was mass produced, which is why a T Shirt cost $60 and a button cost $20. Jimmy explained to her our budget, but she said we could pay cash for some and charge the rest.It was then time for our ride! I opened the passenger door after my chauffeur got in on the driver's side. As I opened the door Angelyne cleaned off some papers and an empty Starbucks cup (I wonder if they make her signature drink too) and threw them into the back of the pink Corvette which doubled as her store. She put on red knit gloves which she had cut the fingertips off of. She put on her sunglasses as I buckled my seat belt. Her Hello Kitty bag was between us and I asked her if she liked Hello Kitty."only because she is good luck! If she wasn't good luck she would be outta here"She put on her music (as in, the music she recorded from the CD she tried to sell us). We rode up the street and she slammed on the breaks, put her arm out across my chest and looked at me to make sure I was OK. We joked about her having insurance and then drove up to see her newest billboard. She pulled over so I could take a photograph of it.
Angelyne Billboard taken from inside her pink Corvette
The sun was just setting at this point so she took out a fan from the driver side car pocket and handed it to me so I could use it to block the sun from my eyes. At this point I noticed how people walking around Hollywood started to take photos and videos of us in the car. People would pull up next to us and blow kisses at us (fine, they were really blowing kisses of Angelyne but whatever...). At one point a gentleman in an SUV pulled up next to us and took out his cell phone, she grabbed the fan out of my hand to cover her face with. She then handed it back to me after the light turned green. I didn't dare ask why she didn't want her face photographed. Rumors and Rick told me that it was due to her botched plastic surgery, her aging, or that she wanted people to pay her for face photos.
As her song Kiss Me LA blared on her Boise stereo we continued to drive around LA. We passed the Gelson's market where years earlier I had met Drew Barrymore with my friend Cassie Townsend. She drove through the parking lot and asked if I needed to stop for any groceries. Even if I did it seemed a bit strange because the Angelyne Store took up any room in the car for groceries.
We drove some more, she tried to make a phone call, told me how she got food poisoning, turned up a dead end street, played more of her music to which I told her that Gwen Stefaniallowed Jimmy to take a photo with her at no extra charge.completely stole her vocal styling. We then returned to the Coffee Bean on Sunset and Argyle. We got out of the car where Jimmy met us. She posed me in the same stance that she was standing in, with one leg bent like a flamingo. Jimmy snapped a few shots which Angelyne had to approve to make sure her eyes were open. She then
I gave Angelyne a hug, she hugged Jimmy we said our 'goodbyes' and then she got back into her pink corvette and we got into our glitter covered hearse with one hell of a story to tell.
- Renee Harper