Kick and Play: Retro Sneakers For Comfort & Style

Comfort is key. Whether you’re the over-booked weekend eater that has a Saturday schedule of breakfast, lunch, coffee, and dinner or you’re planning on going to Sunday brunch and staying put for half the day, having something on your feet without the worry of tired feet is important.

The easiest solution? Go old school.


Vans Rata (to the left)

When a sneaker is too casual for you, allow me to introduce you to a pair of atypical Vans. Known for slip-ons and low-cut lace-ups, the Vans Rata is a unique pair that you can pair with shorts and jeans but still get away with keeping them on at a warm-weather brunch with your non-denim rolled up and no socks.

These Vans have an extra-cushioned sole, and slowly form to the imprint of your foot as you wear the shoe in – a big plus if you plan to wear them regularly. And why not? They work with almost everything. Tired of wearing the same round-toed dress shoe to work and looking ordinary when you meet up for drinks later? This should solve that. If you’re that espresso junkie with your feet up at a coffee shop for hours, the thicker, softer lining on this kick will surely help.

Be mindful of the fact that the Rata comes in a variety of colors and fabrics. But for the best look and comfort, stay away from hemp and canvas, and stick to suede or nubuck (pictured above). They are built better for longer wears, last longer, and give off a much cleaner aesthetic. Good price, great fit, fantastic daily wear.

Available at most Van’s retailers, $60 to $75.

Some recommended finishes: Dachshund brown fleece, pig suede + nubuck

New Balance 1300 series (photo credit: Angel Gonzalez/Vagrant Sneaker)


I get it. For many people, the consensus is that New Balance shoes are for the 60+-year-olds that spend early weekend mornings doing cardio in the mall. Or the Steve Jobs wannabes.

But the 1300 series changes that. The narrow New Balance sneaker features a rare blend of premium leather, suede, and mesh that results in a good-looking sneaker in almost any color. With its loose laces and popped tongue, the sneakers work with nearly anything, tucked in jeans or cords. The retro vibe on the heel gives this shoe an all-around nostalgia and a perfect addition to all closets.

The best color available now? The grey and navy pictured above, but the good thing about NB is they are always releasing good color combinations on the regular.

Available at most retailers, or New Balance . Find them here. $129.99 to $159.99.


Burma Superstar, San Francisco, Ca.
At first glance, Burma Superstar appears a little suspect. A plain dining room with old-fashioned furniture usually is a no-go, right? However, give this low-key restaurant a chance and experience an incredible fusion of Asian food that make long waits and cramped space well worth it. Any foodie – high maintenance or simple – will speak highly of the tea-leaf salad. The renowned salad is a mixture of fermented tea leaves, fried garlic, diced shrimp, and sunflower seeds crafted meticulously to satisfy anybody’s palette with a refreshing, flavorful start to any meal. Other standouts: Samusa soup, coconut rice, sesame beef, and Burmese curries. Easy to get seated for two, but great for big parties if planned ahead.

Escuela Taqueria, West Hollywood, Ca
We all love our fancy dinners, but sometimes, dim lighting, good music, and ridiculous tacos are much needed. Enter Escuela, a small taco shop that defines itself both by its look and food. This taco shop takes décor to a new level with an extensive use of chairs and shoes. But the extra attention to detail doesn’t stop there – the tacos here are legendary. Sure, you get your standard chicken, shrimp and carne asada, but poblano chilies, lobster, and a variety of pork and beef options on the menu guarantee one damn good night of food. But it’s the refined and unique attention to your meal that makes this place so rad. All meals come with delightful pickled cactus and habanero coleslaw.  Something else worth mentioning: Cucumber mint agua fresco. Want to make it a party? Bring your own beer, tequila, or wine.

Café Mogador, New York, NY
One thing about restaurants in New York is their revere for authenticity – the look, the feel, and the food. Café Mogador does this with a vibe that screams Middle Eastern – from the bohemian interior, to the rural feel of both inside the restaurant and on the busy outdoor patio. Yes, the café is open for dinner, but bless your soul by having brunch here. Start with a decadent cup of Turkish coffee and indulge with spicy Moroccan eggs benedict, fantastic pastries, maple almond granola, or a pretty amazing frittata. All are big winners at Mogador. And in the event that you haven’t tried eggs with hummus, it’s most certainly always a good choice. Inspired with flavor and energy from North Africa, this is a must-visit brunch spot in New York. And hey, for what it’s worth, there always seems to be good-looking people here.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.  

Next Year’s Best & Brightest in Movies, Music, Art, & More

Allow us to present our fifth annual New Regime Portfolio, which offers up an electric blend of hitmakers, thespians, web-savvy scribes, visionary curators, fashion savants, video artists, and even a Greek god. Through sheer talent, determination, and maybe just a smidge of natural selection, this group of overachievers will shape, bend, and define culture in the coming year. So meet the chosen few, remember their names, and get used to their faces, because they’re here to stay.


Romola Garai

As much as the news business has changed in recent years, it remains at heart the same as it was a half-century ago, according to Romola Garai. For someone not yet 30, the English actor is in a unique position to make the comparison. As Bel Rowley, the London-based producer of a 1956 TV news show on the critically acclaimed BBC drama The Hour, she’s had plenty of time to consider the journalism profession, and how difficult it can be to get the real story straight.

“Television news has to fight for great, investigative journalism in much the way it always has,” she says. “The 1950’s news programs in the U.K. were battling government censorship, while the programs of today are battling the controlling influence of the corporations that own them.”

Indeed, the first season of The Hour revisits the dark day when Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser decided to nationalize the Suez Canal, setting off a murky war with the UK, Israel, and France. Defying pressure from the British government to toe the official line, Garai’s fictional show instead broadcasts an incisive, tongue-in-cheek segment on the crisis—leaving a generation of viewers riveted.

To prepare for the role, Garai studied the life and career of Grace Wyndham Goldie, a pioneering journalist who rose through the male dominated ranks of the BBC in the mid-20th century. Rowley shares Wyndham Goldie’s intelligence, drive, and vision, but thanks to Garai, she’s graced with a fair measure of intrigue and sex appeal, too. Rising journalist Freddie Lyon (Ben Whishaw) is hopelessly in love with her, even as she pursues her infatuation with married news vet Hector Madden (The Wire’s Dominic West).

Fearless, fragile, and highly believable, Garai’s performance leads one to wonder if she could ever embody another character so fully. Yet her resume is filled with impressive turns. From her leading role as Angel Deverell in François Ozon’s Angel to her stint as the adult Briony Tallis opposite Keira Knightley in the Oscar-nominated Atonement, Garai has imbued her characters with an authenticity that’s earned her the admiration of the industry’s top directors.

Though busy filming the second season of The Hour, she’ll soon travel to Burundi with the International Rescue Committee to write about the organization’s work with women and refugees. Does this mean she may one day become a real life news hound? “I read English Literature at university and did think about becoming a journalist after I left,” she says. “In truth, there is no way I would have been tough enough.”—Victor Ozols. Photo by Matthew Eades.




“I feel like American movies are more about entertainment. In France, there are more auteur films,” says 26-year-old French actor Léa Seydoux, who stars as Tom Cruise’s nemesis in Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol. “Both are very interesting. In France, we don’t have many action movies, so it was exciting to be part of something that is not from my culture.”

That’s not to say that this is Seydoux’s ¬first foray into big-budget Hollywood—or what she calls movies “for the audience.” She also starred in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood as the baneful Prince John’s Gallic paramour, and Quentin Tarantino’s blood-stained Inglourious Basterds. It’s Woody Allen, though, who seems to have impressed her most. “There’s something about a Woody Allen film,” admits Seydoux, who played a suspiciously pretty antiques dealer in Midnight in Paris. “ There’s an intimacy, and I really like that.”

She was drawn to the profession, she says, after an encounter with an actor led her to think she wanted his life. A few years later, in 2009, she was nominated for a César award (think French Oscars) for her performance opposite Louis Garrell in La Belle Personne. She recently added a Prada fragrance commercial to her credits, too. And though she does love posing, she insists that fashion is only a hobby. “I’m just an actor who sometimes models,” she says.

So what about those American Apparel ads she appeared in back in 2006 before she caught the acting bug? “I was very young, I didn’t know. A guy came to me and asked if I wanted to do pictures for him. He said he had a brand called American Apparel. It was very new at that time. I said yeah, why not—the guy actually was the creator. I don’t remember his name, but now I know that he lost a lot of money.” Take that, Dov Charney. —Dana Drori. Photo by Iain McKell.



Though he got his start in menswear, the collection that propelled J.W. Anderson from need-to-know insider to fashion editor favorite offered clothes for both genders—not that it’s easy to separate the two in the designer’s world. By subverting classic shapes in favor of movement and material, he creates silhouettes that are exhilaratingly androgynous. Don’t expect the monochrome minimalism of Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester, who tried to flatten boy meets girl into somber sameness. Anderson’s signature style looks more like a co-ed slumber party, where everyone keeps trading clothes just for fun.

Jonathan William Anderson was born in Northern Ireland in 1984. In 2001, he moved to Washington, D.C. to study drama at the Actors’ Studio, where he found himself more interested in the costumes than the stage. He returned to the U.K. to work as a stylist (notably for the musician Rufus Wainwright) before enrolling at the London College of Fashion. By the time he graduated, his label was firmly established. He unveiled his first collection in London in 2008, and within two years, he’d not only won a NEWGEN Men sponsorship to show at London Fashion Week, but also launched his first women’s line.

Anderson gives all his collections ornate names like “Craft Goes Machine” and “Eye for an Eye,” and he regularly posts artsy videos on his website (“The Fear of Naturalism”) and Tumblr. His eye for technology is keen: His patterns can look like fractals or organic forms under a microscope, and he helped pioneer the use of immediate sales, wherein certain pieces are sold directly after his Fashion Week presentations. Indeed, J.W. Anderson’s designs have the look of leisure wear from some Mars-bound space craft—modular, sleek, and reminiscent of footy pajamas. But they’re also eminently wearable, like a cashmere sweater with a loop of canary yellow latex encircling the waist. Back in August, he tweeted, “New Studio. New life. New me. New you.” Above all, the future through Anderson’s eyes looks like a lot of fun. —Megan Conway. Photo by Matthew Eades. 


Luke Evans

Before glimpsing a single paycheck, every actor dreams of being christened “a rising star.” It’s a universally acknowledged stamp of industry approval, and more often than not, a prelude to big money. But for Luke Evans, whose star is undoubtedly rocketing skyward, the label is losing its luster. “I’m wondering how long it’s going to last,” says the 32-year-old Welsh actor, “because I find it quite funny. How long can you stay ‘rising’?”

In Evans’ case, not much longer. For starters, he has been working since his early twenties, leading the 2002 West End production of Boy George’s musical, Taboo. He’d eclipsed 30 when he scored his first film audition, thanks to casting directors who took notice of his focused and sensitive performance in Peter Gill’s Donmar Warehouse production of Small Change. “It wasn’t me searching out movies, it just sort of happened,” Evans recalls. “I was very content working in the theater. It’s where I learnt my craft.”

Then, quite suddenly, he morphed into an action star. In October, he appeared as Aramis, one of the titular swashbucklers in Paul W. S. Anderson’s chop-socky thriller The Three Musketeers, and three weeks later, as a vengeful Zeus in Tarsem Singh’s phantasmagorical myth redux, Immortals. This March, he’ll travel as inspector Emmett Fields to 19th-century Baltimore, where he’ll help John Cusack’s Edgar Allan Poe track a serial killer in –The Raven. “I’m not quite sure how it happened, to be honest,” Evans says of his macho screen personas. “I never thought this Welsh boy who liked to sing would end up doing action roles.”

Over the next year, he will jet back and forth to New Zealand, where Peter Jackson is shooting consecutive films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Evans will play Bard the Bowman, the eagle-eyed archer. The last time Jackson put a bow and arrow into the hands of a dashing young Brit, the Brit became the global star known as Orlando Bloom. Is Evans worried that The Hobbit will wipe out what remains of his anonymity? “My saving grace is that I live in London,” he says, “where people don’t really give a fuck.” —Ben Barna. Photo by Iain McKell.


Shailene Woodley

Like many 18-year-olds, Shailene Woodley wanted a part-time job. A slender brunette with doe eyes and a bright smile, she was living in New York for a few months with her then-boyfriend when she agreed to fold cardigans and placate hipsters at an American Apparel outpost. Unlike most people her age, though, she already had a full-time gig back home in L.A.

She was the star of ABC Family’s earnest teen soap, The Secret Life of the American Teenager.

“None of my coworkers knew I was an actor,” she says. (No doubt because the show caters more to Beliebers and Twi-hards than downtown scenesters.) “And thank God, because I didn’t want them to know. There’s such a weird, preconceived image of what an actor is, and I didn’t want anyone to think of me like that.”

On her second day at work, Woodley got a call from her manager asking her to catch a flight to L.A. to meet director Alexander Payne for coffee. The Academy Award-winning filmmaker was casting his next project, an adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel ¬Th Descendants. Months before, Woodley had auditioned for the role of Alex, a combative teenager who helps her father (George Clooney) cope in the wake of a family tragedy. “I was like, ‘Can’t we Skype or something?’” she says. “I made a commitment at American Apparel, and I didn’t want to let my bosses down.” In the end, better sense prevailed and Woodley faked the flu to meet with Payne, who told her she was his first choice to play the part. Three months later, she was in Hawaii, where the film is set, meeting George Clooney at the first table read.

Alex may hit the bottle and lash out at her father, but Woodley insists she’s nothing like her rebellious on-screen persona. Now 20, she drinks clay each morning to detoxify and dreams of owning an organic farm. “I didn’t do drugs or drink in high school, and I don’t say words like ‘twat’ on a daily basis,” she con cedes. She will admit to falling for Clooney’s fabled charm, though. “He’s a superhuman,” she says. “He’s won at life.” Even so, she found herself more impressed by the Aloha State’s scenery. “The second I landed, I was like, ‘This is home.’ My body’s in L.A., but my heart is in Hawaii.”

Don’t be surprised to find her working there one day, coaxing vegetables from the soil. “When it comes to health,” she says, “I’m an extremist.” —BB. Photo by Jesse Dittmar.



Claire Boucher has big plans for her audiovisual alter ego Grimes. “I just want to make a really fucking solid piece of art,” says the self-described curator of culture, who just wrapped a tour opening for Lykke Li. “I want everything about it to be really thought-out and constructed. It’s not just music, it’s an entire production.”

Once a fixture on the DIY scenes in Montreal and New York, the headstrong 23-year-old now finds herself performing in major venues across North America and Europe. With four albums in just two years, she’s on something of a tear—she even designs the covers—but her latest, Visions, is the result of near-monastic introspection. “I locked myself in my room for three or four weeks, blacked out my windows, and barely slept or ate. I was full-on hallucinating and going crazy.” What she emerged with, she says, is “an idealized version of life filtered through my brain.”

Grimes looks like a rogue pixie. Petite and badass with an array of colors flowing through her hair, she peppers her conversation with fantastic one-liners (“I want to work on completely removing any self-censorship when I’m on stage”). Her music is far more difficult to describe, which is just how she likes it. She draws inspiration from a broad spectrum—Enya to Timbaland—and prides herself on mixing it up. “It’s about anti-genre. There’s no taboo reference. The more distasteful, the better.”

What is it that drives her? A little thing called the apocalypse, which she predicts is on the way. “I just want to have as much experience as I can before that happens,” she says. “I don’t care about accomplishing shit, I just want to experience pleasure and pain to the utmost. Being a musician will give you that.” —DD. Photo by Marley Kate.

GRIMES LIKES: Vanessa’s Dumpling House, NYC



Ellen DeGeneres, Christina Ricci, and Tracy Morgan are just a few of the famous faces that Mike O’Brien has lured into a nondescript closet on 59th Street in Manhattan, besieged with nonsensical questions, and then tried to kiss. That’s the basic premise of 7 Minutes in Heaven, an irreverent and inventive web series named after the hormonal make-out game.

When the cast of Saturday Night Live rushed off to vacation this summer, 35-year-old O’Brien and fellow writer Rob Klein found themselves in need of a creative outlet. Naturally, they turned to the internet. “We had three ideas,” says O’Brien. “One was a series of online how-to videos that always go awry, the other was about a character—half-human, half-giraffe—who’s a stand-up comedian in New York, and the third one was an interview series where I try and kiss people.” SNL patriarch Lorne Michaels, whose production company had agreed to fund the project, encouraged the duo to run with that last concept—in part because it was the cheapest to produce.

Klein chose to direct. That left O’Brien to be the host. At first, he says, his guest wish-list was a little quixotic. “People laughed at me, because it was like Oprah, Shaq, and Bill Clinton.” Would the comedian, who got his start on the Chicago improv circuit, have the stones to put the moves on the 42nd President of the United States? “Absolutely,” he says. “He’d be the easiest to kiss, right?”

Today the show relies on a hodgepodge of Studio 8H bedfellows and celebrities who traffic in quirk and self-mockery. The most-watched episode features Kristen Wiig. To bag Amy Poehler, O’Brien decided to accost her at her own birthday party.

The star factor is what entices viewers to watch, he admits, but like any talk show, 7 Minutes in Heaven lives and dies with its host. O’Brien deploys playfulness and unpredictability to disarm his guests. “I feel a little uncomfortable in almost all the interviews,” he says. “I’ve definitely offended people.” Case in point: The time he asked model Selita Ebanks, “Would you describe yourself as actually a guy?” In the end, though, Mike O’Brien’s great appeal is that he’s harmless, the kind of fellow with whom you wouldn’t mind being trapped in a closet.—BB. Photo by Jesse Dittmar.




Tall and lanky, Ezra Miller fairly vibrates with energy. In the course of a few hours in Washington Square Park, he croons “Ziggy Stardust” to a small black dog, shares a rollie with a man messed up on PCP, and ropes a particularly outré busker into competing in a sort of freeform jumping jack duel. The 19-year-old actor can talk a blue streak, too, so it’s a good thing he’s whip smart. “I would just caution all factions of industry,” he says. “Don’t give a crazy, radical person like me stardom, because I will use it on all the things you’re most afraid of.”

This stoner-philosopher from New Jersey shares nothing in common with the Ezra Miller who appears in We Need to Talk About Kevin—except maybe the Garden State itself, where the film is set. (“It was certainly an incredibly boring form of societal existence,” he says of his upbringing.) Miller delivers a chilling performance as Kevin, a disturbed teenager whose antisocial behavior goes haywire. Most of his animosity is directed at his mother, played to strungout perfection by Tilda Swinton. And yet, Miller couldn’t be more fond of Swinton in real life. “She is one of the greatest people alive,” he says. “Like some sort of constant electro-magnetic poly-rhythmic pulsation.”

Born into an artistic family, Miller was an alto-soprano with the Metropolitan Children’s Chorus as a “wee lad of eight.” These days, he drums for a jangly rock band called Sons of an Illustrious Father. His acting credits include City Island and Beware the Gonzo. Up next: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, in which his character introduces a Freshman naïf to girls and pot (Miller was arrested for possession while on location in Pittsburgh). Starry-eyed though he may be, Miller seems genuinely committed to la vie boheme. “I made a choice when I was very young: I will make art until I starve in a gutter, like Edgar Allan Poe.”

“Why should artists across society be diluting their processes and compromising their intentions just to fit into civilization,” he adds, “when what really needs to happen is an alteration of civilization?” Just then, a car arrives to whisk him downtown—to the protests for Occupy Wall Street.—Megan Conway. Photo by Alexander Wagner. 


electric youth

When the ultraviolent superhero allegory Drive stormed theaters last fall, the only thing that generated more buzz than Ryan Gosling’s bloodied bomber jacket was the flick’s soundtrack, a collection of ’80s-inspired songs exquisitely attuned to L.A.’s neon underbelly. In one memorable scene, Gosling woos a doe-eyed Carey Mulligan with a spin through a city viaduct while the dreamy, synth-driven ballad “A Real Hero” plays in the background. The song, featuring the Toronto-based pop duo Electric Youth, became the film’s unofficial theme song.

“We had no idea it was going to end the way it did,” says Austin Garrick. “I had a song that was partially written, inspired by a poem that my grandpa wrote about a hero, but I remember thinking, How do I make a song about a hero cool?” As it happens, a French producer named College had an instrumental beat called “A Real Hero,” which he dispatched to Garrick and bandmate Bronwyn Griffin in Toronto with an offer to collaborate.

Stories abound as to how the obscure song—originally released by a small Belgian label in 2009—ended up in the hands of Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. “All we know is that College was approached by the film’s producers at the end of last year,” says Garrick, reminiscing about the stroke of fortune that changed his life. “We didn’t think much of it. We were just like, cool!”

In short order, the film’s success provided Electric Youth with the kind of boost that only exists in, well, the movies. Today, Garrick and Gri ffin—who also happen to be longtime sweethearts (he asked her out just before high school, when he realized “there would be a lot more competition”)—are on the cusp of releasing their first LP. More eighties pop nostalgia? You bet. “We definitely have a natural pop sensibility,” says Garrick. “We don’t shy away from that at all.” —Daniel Barna. Photo by Adam Beck.


candice madey

In September of 2008, the day before Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Candice Madey opened the doors of her brand new gallery on Orchard Street in New York. Despite the recession that followed, shuttering dozens of art spaces, On Stellar Rays flourished. The experience Madey had earned while working in a museum, an auction house, and the white-washed corridors of Chelsea helped, no doubt. But so did her MBA.

“I’m good at being the liaison between the collector, the institution, and the artist because I’m able to talk to different types of people,” Madey says over iced tea at a nearby café. “Hopefully, the artists are somewhat liberated from worrying about things like price—I’m there to give them the resources they need to make their best work.”

At the moment, the Ohio native represents only seven New York-based artists, all of them “intense, visceral, and extremely intelligent.” Like art-world doyennes Marian Goodman and Paula Cooper, she views her time with each as a decades-long investment. “They’re friends with each other,” she says. “There’s a fantastic dialogue happening.” Zipora Fried, for example, has completed portraits of the gallery’s other artists; Clifford Owens and Maria Petschnig have teamed up on collaborations. “After I feel secure that I’ve accomplished something with these first seven artists,” Madey explains, “I’ll start to think about adding to the program.”

The curatorial rigor she brings to her work is increasingly rare in an era of pop-up galleries and web forums. But Madey’s unwavering dedication is paying dividends. Before vacationing in Ljubljana this August, she was on-call at the Venice Biennale. After that, the Sunday Art Fair in London. When she returned to New York, she produced a show of Owens’ work at PS1, and four On Stellar Rays artists were selected for the MoMA offshoot’s “Greater New York” quintennial exhibition in 2010.

“I really believe the artists I work with are making the next generation of important work,” she says. “If it takes longer for people to understand, then it will just take more time.” —Megan Conway. Photo by Nick D’Emilio.



jason clarke

When it comes to Prohibition-era movies made by Australian filmmakers, Jason Clarke appears to have the market cornered. “It’s a weird coincidence,” says the 42-year-old actor of his next two films, John Hillcoat’s The Wettest County in the World and Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. “I hadn’t worked with Australians for a long time, but fuck, any time you get to put on some good period clothes and a couple of hats, let’s do it.”

An Aussie himself, Clarke moved to L.A. eight years ago and starred in Brotherhood, a Showtime series about two clashing Irish-American siblings. Though admired by critics, it was ignored by audiences and eventually got the boot. Clarke, who was going to be a lawyer before he enrolled in acting school, responded by padding his resume with minor roles in films such as the Michael Mann gangster odyssey Public Enemies and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. The multiplex crowd couldn’t have picked him out of a lineup.

That will change once Wettest County is released. In the film, adapted from a Matt Bondurant book by musician Nick Cave, Clarke plays the oldest of three brothers struggling to keep a bootlegging business afloat. “He’s a very good man, but he’s a very troubled man,” Clarke says. (The younger brothers are played by Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy.) Clarke’s work in the film was proof enough of his talent to earn him a role as the limp mechanic George Wilson in Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby remake. And make no mistake, the director was looking for talent. The cast includes Leonard DiCaprio in the title role, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, and Carey Mulligan as Daisy. Before shooting began, Luhrmann raised eyebrows by announcing that Gatsby would be filmed in 3D. But Clarke promises that watching it will be a uniquely immersive experience.

“You know when you walk into those tunnels that are aquariums and everything is all around you?” he asks. “Behind you, in front of you, underneath you—here, it’s the menu, the bottles, the curtains blowing in the wind. You’ll be as close as you can get without smelling it.” –BB. Photo by Ben Cope. 



“It’s always been a challenge for me to conceive of a straightforward sculpture or painting,” says Xavier Cha, the Bushwick-based performance artist whose past works have involved a bodysuit carpeted in cornrows, a brobdingnagian-size Horn of Plenty, and a dancing shrimp. “For me, it’s an attraction to the tangibility of space—how objects, people, and ideas expand beyond the physical space they occupy.”

Though mostly raised in Dallas, Cha was born in Los Angeles, the city where she returned to cut her artistic teeth by transforming performers—herself included—into human advertisements (note the dancing shrimp). A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, she presented her first gallery show at New York’s Taxter and Spengemann in 2006. In a smart riposte to the strictures of her field, she invited performers of all stripes—strippers, jazz musicians, opera singers—to join her in an unhinged, ’60s-style happening. In the same space three years later, she merged satellite pictures of Saturn’s rings with spa imagery “to speak to the sterile spirituality or ‘zen’ that’s often associated with treating yourself,” she says.

Last summer, for her show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, she outfitted performers she’d selected with a camera rig called the Doggicam Bodymount (though distinct, it shares much in common with the SnorriCam, a favorite of horror movie directors)—the lens pointed directly at the face of each performer as he or she moved individually about the museum’s lobby. The resulting footage was screened while the next performer saddled up.

“When I experience something powerful, especially in film, literature, music, or dance, there’s a specific feeling of heart-wrenching emptiness, of being a thin cold hollow shell, like your being has been sucked out, or falls out from beneath you into a black hole,” she says when I ask what it is she hopes to communicate with her art. “Not to be dark, but I love when things make me feel like this. I hope to make others feel it to some degree. It’s like being reset.”

With performance art on a steady climb—historically, the genre has thrived in tough economic times—Cha is eager to keep busy. “I have future performances brewing, just awaiting the opportunity and funding to produce them,” she says. “I guess I just need to remember how potentially powerful and influential one person can be—and to always enjoy.” —MC. Photo by Nick D’Emilio.




“I’ve always been interested in systems,” says Robin Sloan, whose nominal day job involves media outreach for Twitter. “I’m interested in change, new things—and though I was studying economics and philosophy in college, I got interested in the system of journalism.” That interest led him from the Poynter Institute media think tank to Current TV to Twitter—and ultimately to his first novel. “I actually started writing fiction because I was jealous of friends who were putting out short stories on Amazon’s Kindle,” he explains. Sloan’s fascination with the device might have sparked his desire to create, but a fateful tweet turned him down the path of pure inspiration.

It all began with Rachel Leow, a formidable academic intellectual and prolific Tweeter, who in 2008 typed, “just misread ‘24hr bookdrop’ as ‘24hr bookshop’. the disappointment is beyond words.” This struck Sloan as perfect fodder for a story, which led to “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore,” a long post on Sloan’s personal website that he says is still far and away the most popular piece of narrative he’s published. (You can read it on your Kindle, of course.) A mannered mélange of magical realism, the story tracks a down-on-his-luck technocrat as he takes a night-shi ft job at the titular bookstore, gradually adapting to its strange environments and bizarre characters.

What happened next was totally unexpected. An editor Sloan knew at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux expressed an interest in transforming “Penumbra” into a non-irtual, tangible-object book, which will land on shelves later this year. (¬The storied publishing house of T.S. Eliot and Flannery O’Connor apparently has no reservations about tweet-to-book deals.) For his part, Sloan had no trouble stretching the simple premise to fill the larger stage of a novel. In fact, he’s eager to get to work on something new. “Right now,” he says enthusiastically, “is the most exciting time to be a novelist.” —Chris Mohney. Photo by David Fenton.

ROBIN LIKES: Burma Superstar, SF



The three bearded founders of Borderline Films, Antonio Campos, Josh Mond, and Sean Durkin, can’t seem to agree on the exact moment their movie Martha Marcy May Marlene became a Sundance knockout. A spellbinding psychodrama about a young woman trying to readjust to society after fleeing a cult, it is best known for introducing the world to Elizabeth, the younger Olsen sister. But Fox Searchlight, which bought the rights to Martha at the festival, didn’t cough up $1.6 million for just a performance; Borderline went on to sign a two-year production deal with the company. “I think it’s once we walked out of the theater after the premiere,” says Mond. “I don’t think so,” counters Durkin, who wrote and directed the film. “It’s when Searchlight called.” But Campos sides with Mond, his fellow Martha producer. “I feel that during that screening, there was something different in the air.”

The outcome remains the same: these three longtime friends have cracked the Hollywood code. All in their late 20s, they met at New York University film school eight years ago and have been collaborating on each other’s projects ever since. “We’re not jetting around L.A., taking a bunch of meetings,” says Campos, who wrote and directed Simon Killer, the trio’s next effort. But that’s not to say they’re immune to the windfalls of success. For one, they can now pay their rent on time. “It was bad living month-to-month, day-to day,” says Mond.

According to all three, the key to their success is each other. The rule goes, whoever isn’t behind the camera must produce. It’s a model espoused in film school, but not always practiced. “In terms of rotating roles and positions, that’s your basic filmmaking class,” says Mond. “In school, we all go through a very self-centered and insecure period, but people need to lean on one another more, because you can’t navigate through this industry, and through your own creative mind, alone.”

While the leap from struggling filmmakers to Oscar contenders might seem miles wide, they insist the steps between were taken incrementally. “People think we haven’t been making movies for eight years,” says Campos. “Everything that’s happened so far has just been one tiny step up after the other,” adds Durkin. “This is very much the next step.” —BB. Photo by Alexander Wagner.



Edith Zimmerman

How do you follow a fling with Captain America? Edith Zimmerman certainly raised a few eyebrows with her remarkably candid GQ profile of superhero actor Chris Evans, which detailed some highly charged interpersonal chemistry that found its way into the tabloids (she denies that anything really intimate happened). But Zimmerman is best known for leading the masthead at The Hairpin, a website that explores pop culture from a female perspective. Increasingly popular with readers of all genders, the site is worth visiting as much for the deadly accuracy of its wit (“Women Laughing Alone with Salad”) as for its next-level approach to stereotypical women’s topics (Jolie Kerr’s earnestly postmodern column on housecleaning).

In person, Zimmerman, who has also penned articles for Esquire, New York, Heeb, and the Huffington Post, is surprisingly self-effacing. As an Esquire intern just a few short years ago, she never envisioned taking the reigns of a popular website. “I had no idea about anything,” she says. “I just saw myself in some cool office at a desk, my hands typing da-da-da-da, being a writer somehow.” Now she’s charged with publishing 15 provocative items a day for The Hairpin (conceived by the folks behind The Awl, a mothership of sorts for smart young writers). “I was just afraid of embarrassing myself. They gave me a few pointers, but for the most part they didn’t give me much help, which at first was incredibly scary,” she says. “But I’m really grateful for that. If I had been waiting for everyone’s approval, it wouldn’t have given me the confidence to put it together.”

Now that the site has become a mustread, Zimmerman is looking ahead. “The next step is to come up with a cool new concept,” she muses. “Each year, it’s a different thing I didn’t even imagine existed.”—CM. Photo by Nick D’Emilio.

EDITH LIKES: The Brooklyn Inn, NYC



“Marty is a really amazing director,” says Asa Butterfield. It’s certainly not a statement—or a level of informality—most 14-year-olds would employ when discussing Hollywood gray eminence Martin Scorsese, who cast the young actor in the 3D adventure movie Hugo. But as anyone versed in fantastical children’s fictions already knows, Butterfield is no ordinary boy.

With his elfin looks and a talent belying his years, he practically bounded to stardom straight from the stage at the Young Actors Theatre in London. He’s well-known for his wrenching turn as Bruno, the son of a German SS officer, in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and for his work in the beloved Nanny McPhee franchise. How is it working alongside the likes of Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins? “After the first day of filming,” he says, “you don’t think about them as celebrities, just as friends.”

To his credit, Butterfield, who was recently cast as the lead in the sci-fi epic Ender’s Game, recognizes the unique nature of his position. “Being an actor does give me the opportunity to do and see things I wouldn’t otherwise be able to,” he concedes. “Come to think of it, I’m like Hugo.” That would be Hugo Cabret, the orphan Butterfield plays in Scorsese’s film. He secretly lives in the walls of a Paris train station, emerging only to get tangled up in a grand romp with costars Ben Kingsley and Chloë Mortez. Working with Marty—known for his ability to handpick pint-sized actors destined to become full-fledged stars (Jodie Foster, Juliette Lewis)—bodes well for Butterfield. Though still young, the cobalt-eyed comer is looking forward to “playing characters that have a bit more world experience. If anyone wants to make Young Bond,” he says. “I’m your guy.” —Hillary Weston. Matt Holyoak.