Florence and The Machine, Lungs

Not fair, Lilith: lead singer Florence Welsh has got some thundering pipes. Supported by backing band the Machine, Welsh’s huge voice dominates every moment of this debut and firmly establishes her as a major player among modern U.K. chanteuses.

But while Florence has obviously spent her youth listening to Kate Bush (like Bat For Lashes) and Etta James (à la Adele and Amy), she has an unhinged, unpredictable streak all her own. Typical of all tracks on this album, “Kiss With A Fist,” an exuberant rockabilly meditation on domestic abuse, is perverse and undeniably powerful.
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Air, Love 2

The title of stylish Parisian duo Air’s sixth album proves typically inscrutable: while there is no “Love 1,” the Goth prog recorded here does sound like a sequel to their 2000 soundtrack for The Virgin Suicides.

Spooky minor chords, ominous ambiance and krautrock rhythms make this the perfect score for a ’70s horror film or tragic romance—or, like we said, The Virgin Suicides 2. The willfully avant atmospheres of Love 2 may be initially off-putting, but after sufficient listens they gradually take on a slow-motion immediacy all their own.

Hell’s Angel: Devilish Sweetheart Evan Rachel Wood

Evan Rachel Wood doesn’t fear the edge—it’s her natural habitat, onscreen and in real life. Uncomfortable, Lolita-esque situations? Check. Nudity? Check. Drugs? Um… Bisexuality? Naturally. “I love me some girls, man!” Wood states unequivocally, sidling into a back booth at a sleek pan-Asian bistro near her home on Los Angeles’ West Side.

At just 21 years old, Wood has proven to be that most freaky-deaky hybrid: classic Hollywood starlet, but hard-wired for serious acting. Just as she’s titillated gossip columns with her (real) on again/off again romance with much older rocker Marilyn Manson and (never-actually-happened) affair with her much, much older co-star Mickey Rourke, Wood has dazzled in films both indie (The Wrestler, Down in the Valley, Running with Scissors) and blockbuster (Across the Universe). She pushes boundaries, making her stand out against more established co-stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett and Rourke.

“She’d joke around the set like a 12 year-old, but as soon as I said ‘action’ she could go immediately to the deepest emotional level,” explains Catherine Hardwicke, who, in 2003, directed Wood in the acclaimed, controversial teen-angst film Thirteen. “In some scenes, she went as far as an actress could go—maybe too far. I was so happy when she was the youngest person to ever be nominated for a best actress Golden Globe, but she deserved an Oscar.”

Even in less volatile roles, Wood can catch you off-guard: take her beguiling, against-type turn as a naïve, homeless Southern beauty queen in the new Woody Allen chamber comedy, Whatever Works. “She’s an actress of limitless capabilities,” Allen says. “I had not seen anything Evan was in; my wife told me about her. Once I started looking at clips of her, she looked like a wonderful actress and looked very good for the part. It was an easy choice—she could be trusted with anything.” Wood is the latest actress to receive Allen’s benediction—which didn’t do too badly, after all, for Diane Keaton, Juliette Lewis, Mira Sorvino, Penélope Cruz and Scarlett Johansson. In Whatever Works, she more than holds her own against the seasoned likes of Patricia Clarkson, and steals nearly every laugh from Larry David. “He is totally like his character on Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Wood claims. “I’d been a huge fan before, but it’s twice as funny watching it after you meet him, because he’s just totally that guy.”

image Eyewear and slip dress by Dolce & Gabbana. Necklace and cuffs by Cartier.

Having never attempted a full-fledged comedic role before, Wood admits she was “nervous as hell” about working with Allen and David. But in Whatever Works, as a waylaid (and way-laid) Southern belle, Melody, a beauty pageant winner who “lost her virginity to the boy who caught the biggest catfish in Plackman County,” Wood is like a comedy Terminator. She blazes through Allen’s existential malaise with blonde naïveté, innocent sexuality and an omnipresent grin. “I was not surprised by Evan’s comic timing,” Allen says. “It was not surprising at all to me. She just has it built in.” Melody’s note-perfect Southern accent was built in, too. “Evan told me that she could do a Southern accent and I took her word for it,” Allen says. “I never heard her do it, but she came on the set and did it.” Like Melody, Wood was raised for much of her life in the South (North Carolina, to be exact) before moving with her just-divorced mother to Los Angeles to start acting. “I based the character on my stepmother, actually,” she admits.

And that book by Nabokov, too: Melody is a familiar, umpteenth variation on the “Lolita” character, on which Wood is an admitted expert. “I had grown up around adults, but I was a teenager,” she says now, “and I was struggling between the two.” As such, many of her roles have an intentional Lolita quality, a reference that reflects back to the obsession with the Nabokov novel she’s had since she was a kid. “My mom would say, ‘I’m not paying for home school so that you can read trash like Lolita.’ And I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? It’s Nabokov! Would you prefer I read Invitation to a Beheading?’”

To spite her mother, Wood began dressing like Lolita every day, down to the sex icon’s trademark heart-shaped glasses, a come-hither accessory she has become a devoted collector of. “I’ve got every pair imaginable,” she says. “My apartment is covered with different kinds of heart-shaped glasses. My goal was to bring them back.”

Marilyn Manson helped her with this, not only by writing an ode to his young (then) love called “Heart-Shaped Glasses,” but by directing a controversial accompanying video where Manson and Wood erotically cavort in flagrante in a sea of crimson viscera. (Manson has claimed that Wood’s role made her the highest-paid actress in a music video, ever.) “We just made it into something that we could be creatively fulfilled by and totally proud of, and you know, laugh about,” Wood explains with a smile. “I’m a thrill-seeker! So much of it is for our own enjoyment.”

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In person, Wood appears as a portrait of the artist as a young Goth, albeit in high style—it’s a look that might be described as insane punk elegance. The severe black military jacket is, naturally, by Chanel, the bag by Miu Miu. Her iridescent red hair has been sublimated into two architecturally vertical, gravity-defiant ponytails; a smudge of kohl and bronze offer graphic contrast to Wood’s curiously opaque hazel eyes and alabaster skin; the dangerously spiky heels hanging off her feet look both stripper-ready and expensive. The overall effect makes her appear as an exotic manga character, although one with access to very good stylists.

But while visually she might convey the dusky hauteur of a graveyard girl, Wood’s infectious charisma dispels any gloom. She goofs constantly, gesticulating and sticking her tongue out for emphasis like a kid, cackling ostentatiously when the waiter brings over a plate of sweet potato fries, which she promptly devours with refreshing glee.

“I need to work on my laugh,” she says, suddenly self-conscious at her outburst. “I’m used to being in big crowds of people, so when I get in an intimate setting I laugh really, really loudly. Recently, it’s been really bad: I’ve been extremely giggly. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m happy.” Her chuckle seems not so happy, however, when the rumors of her supposed dalliance with Mickey Rourke come up. “Mickey and I are kind of crazy,” she explains. “Of course we’re going to be slightly rowdy at the after-parties, but we just have fun. We’re certainly not sleeping together; it’s not true.”

It’s not that the public was convinced this mercurial Bohemian beauty and Rourke were an item between the sheets; it’s that, from her own turbulent, “Are they together or are they not?” romance with Manson to her risky film choices, a rumble with Rourke seemed like something she might do out of sheer perversity. After all, Wood proved exceptionally authentic as Tracy, Thirteen’s anarchically precocious teen protagonist dangerously in thrall to the holy trinity of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Her embodiment of wasted adolescence felt way too effortless and lived in; it was the realness of Wood’s performance, rather than the jerky hand-held cinematography that gave Thirteen the scent of documentary reportage.

image Necklace by Cartier.

“It’s probably okay for me to say this now, but my Thirteen character was completely, 100% me at that age,” she claims. “That’s why I did it. I had never seen something that honest being done for teenagers and their parents, that wasn’t some terrible educational film. It was like Requiem for a Dream, but with teenagers: everything about it just rang true with me.”

Up until Thirteen, the young ingénue had acted in kiddie movies and on TV’s Once and Again and Touched by an Angel. When she hooked up with Manson in 2007, the gossips started sharpening their shivs. “It made me laugh so hard when people were like, ‘Evan Rachel Wood and Marilyn Manson? She’s so squeaky clean!’” Wood says now, with yet another chuckle. “I was like, ‘I was cutting myself on camera at the age of 14 and making out with chicks!’”

Her flickering, volatile relationship with Manson is pretty much the only reason you’ll read about Wood on “Page Six,” however. At the time of the interview, she had been recently reconciled with him; by the time the issue went to press, however, they were no longer a couple, and Manson was making overtures in the press to Lady GaGa. But Wood was already a veteran of tumultuous celebrity romance with an older man before the Manson madness, having previously been involved with actor Jamie Bell, her co-star in a Green Day video. The liaison resulted in a “J” tattoo on Wood’s ankle, and some semi-permanent bad feelings. “He was shorter than me,” Wood claims, “and I have no problem saying that!” Her four other tattoos remain intact. There’s a diamond “for ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,’ and ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond,’ which is my favorite song of all time.” There’s also an entire Edgar Allen Poe verse inked on her back.

“Everybody’s gonna think I’m a poser—‘Oh, I’m dark and I like Edgar Allen Poe,’” she says. “But you know, I like Edgar Allen Poe—I’m sorry.” Much of Wood’s body art relates directly to Manson. Both have matching designs of the number “15” inked behind their ears, along with black hearts. “His birthday and his name add up to fifteen, which is my lucky number—it’s weird,” she explains. “And we got the black hearts on Valentine’s Day.”

Wood admits that her propensity for dating older men has something to do with working on her own abandonment and father issues, both of which she says she’s finally resolved: “Thank God. It’s funny, though—I’ve never dated a guy who didn’t have mommy issues, and that is a fact.” Manson seemed to bring all of these issues together, making her the heavy metal Holly Golightly. “I was so worried about telling my mother [about Manson], because my whole life I had been brought up with the idea that an older guy dating a younger girl is sick, disgusting and everything is wrong about it,” she says. “Being with Manson put my creativity into overdrive. When I’m not working, I’m still always doing something creative—reading, making music, taking photographs, and that’s especially true when you’re dating somebody else that’s creative.”

From her penchant for older, Satanic rockers to her ability to balance iconoclasm and success, it’s clear that Wood inhabits a unique space on Hollywood’s food chain. For one, while she does have a soft spot for the Chateau Marmont, she doesn’t play the paparazzi game when she goes out. Wood would rather linger at late night haunts like Toi and The Dime, or authentically divey strip clubs like Jumbo’s.

image Corset by Miu Miu. Briefs by Dolce & Gabbana. Jacket by Alexander McQueen.

Before she turned 21, Wood could be found hanging out at fully nude strip clubs, where she would get let in because, ironically, they didn’t serve alcohol. Today, however, her primary vice is karaoke—she developed the habit at Chorus Karaoke in Manhattan’s Koreatown, which she’d routinely close down at 6:00 a.m. with Eddie Izzard while they were shooting Across the Universe. (Her surefire karaoke jams: “Piece of My Heart,” “Purple Rain,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” the assorted hits of Guns ’N Roses.) When Wood turned 21, then-boyfriend Manson invited Grease star Jeff Conaway out for a birthday karaoke happening. “I got an actual ‘hickey from Kenickie,’” Wood gushes. “And then we sang ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘Greased Lightning,’ and Jeff was doin’ all the moves!”

And while Wood’s moves behind the scenes may seem unpredictable, there’s a method to her madness when it comes to her career. In choosing films, she consciously surrounds herself with actors whose careers she respects—Annette Benning, Holly Hunter, Uma Thurman (although she still has yet to work with her idol, Jodie Foster—another former child actor with a taste for provocative choices). As a result, Wood’s cred is less mainstream and more indie rock—but Arcade Fire indie rock, where the sales are starting to match up to the acclaim. That’s clear from the upcoming projects on her radar.

Wood is most excited about Sucker Punch, a big-budget, surreal fantasy directed by Zach Snyder that Wood describes as “Moulin Rouge meets Girl, Interrupted.” And returning to her Goth roots, Wood has also just accepted a major role on the HBO vampire series True Blood. Her role in Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll, Manson’s long-planned directorial debut, where she plays a twist on the “Alice In Wonderland” character, now, alas, seems up in the air. It’s sure to be as provocative as their “Heart-Shaped Glasses” video collaboration, but alas may never see theaters. “I hope it gets made,” she explains, “because it’s such an amazing script.”

image Dress by Jill Sander. Ring by Cartier.

Venturing outside of film, Wood claims she is recording an album influenced by everything spanning from PJ Harvey and Billie Holiday to “electro with a weird Asian undertone.” It’s all routine for her non-routine life—anything to shake things up, defy expectations, draw out some body fluids and maybe make life seem authentic and real for once (or twice). “I love when I’m completely insane, chaotic, manic and crazy,” she explains with a laugh. “My life literally flashes before my eyes: next thing I know, I’m driving in the backseat of somebody’s car with my head up against the window, going ‘I can’t believe I’m here!’ I’ve lived, like, 50 lifetimes in the past three years. I still can’t believe all the crap that’s happened.”

She sighs, then flashes a smile that’s both wicked and sweet. At the end of the day, Evan Rachel Wood just wants to do something cool, paycheck be damned. “I actually had that moment where somebody looked at me and said, ‘So you wouldn’t even do this for a million dollars?’” she says. “And I’m like, ‘Yes, not even for a million dollars.’ Does that make me smart, or an idiot? I don’t know. Either way, it makes me happy.”

image Dress by Marc Jacobs.

EVAN’S FAVORITE HOTEL: CHATEAU MARMONT, LOS ANGELES.

Photography by Andrew Macpherson. Styling by Lisa Michelle Boyd.

Top photo: Pants by Yves Saint Laurent. Belt by Chloe. Necklace by Cartier.

Hair: Serena Radaelli for Cloutier Agency using Redken. Makeup: Shane Paish, International Makeup Advisor to Dior for Celestineagency.com. Photographer’s Assistant: Alex Almeida. Digital Tech: Alex Themistocleous and Nate Caswell. Location: Private Residence of Steve Shaw, 1311 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA.
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Primal Scream: PJ Harvey’s Tortured Genius

“I want his fucking ass! I want your fucking ass!” These imperative, pornographic commands from “April,” a characteristically maverick song off A Woman A Man Walked By, the anticipated new collaborative album by PJ Harvey and John Parish, evoke nothing so much as Marlon Brando’s improvised dialogue in Last Tango in Paris as rendered by the Jesus Lizard. Hurtling out of the speakers, Harvey’s uncanny, decidedly masculine bark relays the aggression and growling timbre of a sexual thug.

Strangely, when speaking with Ms. Polly Jean Harvey by phone from London, just after she’d performed a low-key show, the acclaimed singer–songwriter seems nothing like the unhinged, unabashedly profane character inhabiting “April.” Decidedly English, with a proper accent, the diva offstage proves articulate, almost demure. When asked about “April,” she seems to shudder with embarrassment at the thought of discussing it. “That Luddite chorus—I couldn’t even repeat it, because it’s bad language,” Harvey says in total seriousness, a blush audible in her voice.

The irony that Harvey, 39, can sing those words at the top of her lungs but not say them out loud seems strangely appropriate, considering the twists and contrasts shaping her career. When she released her acclaimed debut album, Dry, in 1992, it signaled the arrival of a major, yet unpredictable, new talent. Harvey’s rapturous performances ricocheted tension, while the enigmatic storytelling of her lyrics illuminated an uneasy intrigue. Meanwhile, the almost Cindy Sherman–like characters that she created onstage and in photographs toyed provocatively with traditional ideas of sexuality and gender. All these elements fused together for a beguiling, if inscrutable, persona. Dry’s sound still owed a debt to indie guitar rock like the Pixies, but frontwoman Harvey was something else, very much her own animal.

Initially, Harvey was repeatedly compared to Patti Smith, to her annoyance. It wasn’t that she sounded like punk poet Smith; instead, it was that both put “icon” into iconoclasm, each sharing the ability to become transformed by the spirit of sound into something larger than life. But Harvey’s intensity exuded a dark, religious ecstasy all her own—especially on her bluesy, spooky masterpiece To Bring You My Love (voted one of the 500 greatest albums of all time by Rolling Stone magazine). Since then, Harvey has proved consistently unpredictable, spiraling from 1998’s harrowing, emotional Is This Desire? to the primitive pianos haunting 2007’s impressively stark White Chalk. “I don’t understand how people keep making the same kind of music over and over,” she explains. “I feel so passionately about that: I need to constantly feel like I’m learning something new. All I’m trying to do is make records that sound different from one another.”

Exploring themes of sex, transgression, obsession and self-loathing, Harvey, on A Woman A Man Walked By, invokes the blues shot through with Gothic Americana, closer in tone to Flannery O’Connor than any of her alt peers. Speaking of the aforementioned “April,” Harvey recalls “a moment where I use my voice in what I would call a very… singer-like way.” At this, she lets out another embarrassed laugh. “My voice crescendos up to a high note, just to tumble down in quite an acrobatic vocal style. I wouldn’t do that on my own songs, but John’s music threw me into this emotional expression where, I hesitate to say, I sound like a… singer.” She cracks up laughing again, adding: “The energy and savagery in the music that John gave me produced those words and that singing.”

The unique working arrangement that Harvey and Parish share allows the pair to access new places in each other’s music. Parish, an acclaimed producer and musician in his own right, lays claim to an impressive catalog of experimental, uncompromising solo material, avant-garde scores for theatrical productions and idiosyncratically brilliant studio productions for the likes of Tracy Chapman and the Eels. With Harvey, Parish maintains a specific musical telepathy: He co-produced To Bring You My Love, and has since worked as a sideman on nearly all of Harvey’s solo projects. On A Woman A Man Walked By (as well as on their jointly credited work, 1996’s Dance Hall At Louse Point), Parish writes all of the music, while Harvey handles lyrics and vocals, out of which springs intentionally unexpected results.

“John writes very extravagant music, in a way that I never would or could in my solo material, and it’s quite a challenge as a singer and a writer to match it,” Harvey explains. “Collaborating with him, I feel more liberated than in my own work. What he throws me is a wide-open canvas, so my mind can go anywhere. I’m working in unfamiliar territory straight away, so I immediately start exploring areas I’d never stumble across were I working on my own.”

“Polly can be intense—deranged even—but she never slips into histrionic vocal gymnastics,” Parish notes. “She’s very technically capable, but she’s more interested in the emotional intensity of performance. I love that the record has many different voices, which Polly has an incredible gift for. The voices she uses emphasize the change in atmosphere and character from song to song.”

A Woman A Man Walked By brims with similar contradictions: Kurt Weill–style recitations given a contemporary frisson; gutbucket stomps inspired by Baudelaire, but rendered in post-punk aesthetics; and, above all, a smoky cinematic quality suggesting David Lynch. “I almost see each song like a little movie: the characters spawn themselves because of the atmosphere that’s inherent in the music,” says Harvey. “As a child, I’d perform stories I was reading. If I was reading Toad of Toad Hall, I’d act out the book’s characters: I’d have a little voice for Toad, and a different voice for Badger, then another for the mouse. I used to have my parents in hysterics! So it’s very natural for me to see the story in the music. In some ways, I’m just the narrator for what I’m seeing.”

Not surprisingly, Harvey’s exquisite feel for narrative recently led to her first theatrical score commission, for a recent Broadway production of Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler starring Mary-Louise Parker. “I’ve wanted to write music for film and theater ever since I began, and no one ever asked me!” Harvey exclaims. “I’ve been longing to do a soundtrack, so when they asked I immediately said yes. I love the play and have seen many productions of it, as well as productions by the director, Ian Rickson. I liked writing for a director’s vision—it was lovely for me not to have to be the boss!”

Harvey’s next career move might prove (laughably) to come from left field. Judd Apatow, take note: Harvey is yearning to explore her lighter side. “Comedy is a hugely important part of my life,” says the avowed fan of American sitcoms like Seinfeld and classic Brit humor such as Blackadder and Monty Python. “I think I have a greater understanding of the meaning of life through the utterly ridiculous. I’d love to appear on Curb Your Enthusiasm, and one of many things I want to do before I die is a standup comedy performance incorporating music with another comedian. It sounds completely unfeasible—to pull it off would be a miracle, but challenges excite me. As long as it’s pushing some boundaries, then it’s worth doing.”

PJ HARVEY’S FAVORITE LOUNGE: The Waverly Inn, New York.

Photography by Maria Mochnacz

Flashing Lights: DJ Paparazzi Gets Caught in LA’s Brightest Dance Scene

It’s not flashbulbs but strobe lights that this paparazzo is surrounded by. Meet Cesar Rios, aka DJ Paparazzi, the recently appointed pied piper of Los Angeles’ vibrant electro dance scene. “L.A. is pretty much the new Paris,” says Rios, a popular DJ/ promoter for whom the City of Angels has become the new epicenter of dance music trends (much like the City of Lights spawned iconic electronic duos Justice and Daft Punk).

That’s evident from the throngs of stylish young Angelenos lined up to get into his Tuesday night party held at the vast Arena nightclub. Simply titled “Dance,” the blowout pulls in nearly 2,000 kids every week (on a Tuesday!) after just a year and a half in operation. By the end of the night, many of the attendees will have spilled onto the DJ booth stage, shaking it to ironic old-skool classics like “Show Me Love” by Robyn S. and the latest blog bangers (the Smashing Pumpkins–sampling “Zero Machine” by Le Castle Vania is the current nu-electro scenester anthem). The crowd’s moves are captured by omnipresent videographers and photographers, who upload their images onto the Internet not long after Paparazzi’s last song of the night plays.

What impresses about “Dance” is its low quotient of Sunset Strip bottle-service bullshit and high amount of sheer energy: the dance floor is rammed solid from 8 p.m. until they turn the lights on in the early a.m. — and it doesn’t seem to be drugs but the music keeping the dancers there. Reflecting the inclusiveness and innovation that made nightclub culture exciting in the first place, Paparazzi operates in a zone where bleeding-edge sound and fashion gather without fear. Here, the next wave of club kids in outrageous costumes rub up against indie rockers in Chuck Taylors and Mishka T-shirts. The diverse crowd encompasses Latino, Asian, white, straight and gay, suburban and urban. “Other cities are very cliquey,” says Paparazzi. “If you’re a certain kind of hipster, you can only go to one kind of party, but here everyone has a good time.” It’s clear that Paparazzi — a 24-year-old who’s been a regular Hollywood turntablist since high school — became a DJ superstar because he’s one of the kids, too: when he plays, his brethren see and hear themselves. “I’ve been in clubs since I was 16,” he says. “What I love most is that these kids feel comfortable coming to my club and being who they are. It’s their home.”

Photo by Steven Perilloux

No Age’s Randy Randall Samples Classic Movie Cocktails

Liquid lunches have overtaken the power variety as the go-to for Hollywood types on the go. As such, Randy Randall, one-half of the Los Angeles-based DIY buzz band No Age, quenches his thirst with cocktails from unforgettable silver-screen classics. Roll credits, please.

THE LUAU MAI TAI, Blue Hawaii, 1961. “I’m used to my brother’s DIY Mai Tai… the DIY Tai? It’s a very sweet drink. His is probably three-quarters rum and a splash of something else, but with this one, you can’t even taste the alcohol. Is it weird to drink something that Elvis might have drunk? I think it’s hard not to drink something Elvis might have drunk. Maybe we should sprinkle some barbiturates on this, and serve it with a banana sandwich.”

BLACK JACK, Basic Instinct, 1992. “It kind of looks like the water that might slip out of your boot. I’d drink more of this, but I’m worried my mouth might go numb and I might start spreading my legs.”

VESPER, Casino Royale, 1967. “Martinis come in funny glasses — I’m more of a beer cozy man than a shaken or stirred guy. It tastes like gasoline mixed with rubbing alcohol.”

GIBSON, North by Northwest, 1959. “Gibson makes a good guitar, but it’s not my idea of a great drink.”

HOT TODDY, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958. “Hot Tin Roof was Truman Capote, right? No, sorry, Tennessee Williams — both gay, both from the South. A great going-to-sleep drink!”

WHITE RUSSIAN (WITH COCONUT MILK), The Big Lebowski, 1998. “I love the idea of a lazy Sunday afternoon, sipping a White Russian in a bathrobe, but I’m vegan so dairy isn’t an option. But with the coconut milk… well, if the Dude came to a luau, he’d probably put on an incredible Hawaiian shirt and drink these. The Big Lebowski definitely made the White Russian less of a mom drink and more of a Dude drink. The Dude abides.”

RED EYE, Cocktail, 1988. “Mixing beer with anything sounds horrible. When I was with this band Staring Problem, we used to do all sorts of fucked-up shit, and once, I drank beer and Jim Beam from this trough-type thing, after which I vomited from the fourth story of a building. Not a good idea.”

SEVEN & SEVEN, Saturday Night Fever, 1977. “This, I would drink. When I was in high school, we had to remake a scene from a famous movie, so I chose the beginning of Saturday Night Fever where John Travolta walks down the street — except I walked down the hallway of school to the snack bar.”

TOM COLLINS, The Seven-Year Itch, 1955. “This tastes like lemonade, or something you’d get at Disneyland. I might drink this at a company picnic while walking around in my gabardine or seersucker suit.”

MANHATTAN, Some Like it Hot, 1959. “[Coughs.] This is a heavy drink! I like the bourbon. And I could see Dean [Allen Spunt, bandmate] and I remaking that movie. Or maybe it would be a better video concept? Would the Pitchfork kids get it?”

ABSINTHE, Moulin Rouge, 2001. “This does me right. Hey, let me keep these photos. I’ll take them with me to my first AA meeting.”

Photo by Steven Perilloux

Our Tribute to ‘Blue Velvet’ Starring Emily Blunt

“I adore film noir style,” says actress Emily Blunt, shown here in the role of Dorothy Vallens, the tragic femme fatale in cult auteur David Lynch’s 1986 opus Blue Velvet. The kinkfest classic turned Isabella Rossellini into an icon, while pushing noir convention into the shadows of dangerously surreal Americana. “Blue Velvet is so dark and ethereal,” says Blunt. “It’s brooding yet artistic—I love it.”

Best known for her comedic roles—like a star-making breakthrough performance in The Devil Wears Prada—Blunt had no problem channeling Rossellini’s smoky, knife-edge carnality. At the same time, the 25-year-old London native put her own wicked spin on the sexy transformation. A week later, she’s still buzzing about the results.

“The shoot was definitely glamorous,” Blunt explains by phone from her family’s home in London. “Becoming that character was incredible: it was more like acting than just doing another photo shoot.” Blunt has been plumbing emotional and psychological depths for some time, beginning with a role that first brought her fame in the U.K., a gripping turn as Tamsin, the sapphic teen antagonist at the core of the 2004 indie hit My Summer of Love.

“There’s a darker side to all of us, and people choose to explore it or not. Taboo love affairs are the most fun, aren’t they? We’ve all casually hurt someone, then looked back and regretted it. Or not, in the case of some people,” says Blunt, who recently split from singer Michael Bublé. “Playing ‘baddies’ is just more fun playing than ‘goodies.’ ”

That she even made it this far still surprises Blunt, who says she got into acting only as a last-ditch therapy for a childhood stutter. “It was an anguished disability—not fun,” she recalls. “But I overcame it.” At age 12, while playing a character from Northern England, with an accent completely different from her own, Blunt found her stutter magically disappear. “In acting, I could be someone else and escape being a child who doesn’t talk,” she recalls. “It became an out-of-body experience.”

Years later, she tapped into a similar sense of the surreal with the attention that followed her Prada breakout. “That film opened so many doors,” she says. “I wasn’t pigeonholed as the corset-bound, bonnet-wearing English period film girl. I’d rather be brave and make a choice that frightens me a bit. I don’t mind looking like a wanker: I mean, that character was on the edge of fashion—and had really keeled off it.”

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On the topic of personal style, Blunt fesses up to past fashion missteps. “I’ve had so many style blunders!” she says, laughing. These days, Blunt gathers expert advice so that she’s not busted on the red carpet. “You literally have to pry the baggy sweaters off me, but I am trying to discover life away from my Converse sneakers,” she says. “I have a great stylist who’s always encouraging me to be more fashion forward, but I’m always afraid that she’ll send me down the carpet in an ice sculpture or something.”

When it comes to Blunt’s most un-forward fashion moments on film, nothing could be further from bling than her upcoming turn as a chronically depressed trailer-park pothead in the indie tragicomedy Sunshine Cleaning, due out shortly. “For The Devil Wears Prada, we had to diet like crazy,” Blunt explains. “But for Sunshine, I put on a bit of weight, and I didn’t allow myself to see any sun. We certainly look rather pale and drawn, and the clothes were shabby: no one wore anything more expensive than, like, five dollars. Amy [Adams, Blunt’s Sunshine co-star] and I were pretty tough about looking real. We couldn’t look glamorous, as it was an authentic family we were creating.”

According to Adams, she and Blunt bonded like siblings. “People always thought that we were up to something!” Adams admits. Off-set shenanigans, however, mostly involved carbohydrates, Middle-American style—so much for any actual overlap with Blunt’s Prada fashion victim who’d faint if she didn’t eat her minuscule cube of cheese. “We went to the mall a lot, where I introduced her to Aunt Annie’s pretzels,” Adams confesses. “Emily became quite addicted to those.”

The friendship between Blunt and Adams continues to this day, but not without a speed bump or two, thanks to Blunt’s lacerating wit. “That English thing where they really rip on you but you still think it’s charming? Emily’s got it in spades,” Adams claims. “I don’t have international calling on my cell phone, but I can text. So if she calls me when I’m out of the country, I’ll text her to call me back. When she does, she’s like, ‘Cheap slut!’”

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Despite the fact that Blunt’s character in Sunshine Cleaning—Norah Lorkowski, an uneducated, career-averse, inarticulate American slacker—comes from a background so different from her own, Blunt still found a way in. “Norah is just yearning; those characters are always the best ones to play, because there’s a sense of turmoil in their desire for… ” Blunt pauses for a second. You can practically hear the gears whirring in her quick-moving brain until she finds the word that expresses exactly what she means: “More. They desire more.”

Life as an ascendant actor inevitably involves hanging out in Hollywood, a very different landscape from Blunt’s perennially cold, damp Britain. “English people have a faux snobbery towards L.A.,” Blunt exclaims. “It’s bullshit! Trust me, we all secretly love it!” Indeed, when in Los Angeles—which is, of course, often—Blunt loves the understated glam of the Little Door, the sexily noir-ish Mexican joint El Carmen, the foodie small bites and big wines at A.O.C. and the cool jazz sounds of the Green Door. “L.A. is a very seductive place,” she says. “If you have friends and cafés, you can survive here.” And if Blunt develops any Brit homesickness, there’s always the King’s Head Pub in Santa Monica: “It’s fantastic—they’ve recreated a true pub very well, even in the balmy tropical weather.”

Blunt’s upcoming roles prove about as incongruous as a classic British pub by the California coast. Her next two parts split the difference between her comedic and dramatic talents. She plays a neurotic publicist in The Great Buck Howard (a labor of love for Tom Hanks, with whom Blunt had a memorably naughty, Clinton-esque clinch in Charlie Wilson’s War). In The Wolf Man, she’s a mourning lover alongside Benicio del Toro in a big-budget, Gothic extravaganza. According to Blunt, she had to “resign herself to a corset” to be authentic to her Wolf Man character: “I had to run and scream while wearing it! But it helps your posture, and certainly makes your boobs look fantastic. My internal organs now loathe me, however, so it might be good to do something in jeans and T-shirts. After all, I don’t want to be typecast as the ‘English rose’—that’s boring, isn’t it?”

Nothing is more English than one of Blunt’s most anticipated upcoming projects: She stars as the youthful Queen of England herself in The Young Victoria. It’s a prize for any actor, and Blunt knows it—she calls it “one of the greatest love stories. You know you’ve made it as a British actress if you’re asked to play a British monarch.”

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Photography by Patrick Fraser, styling by Shirley Kurata.

Clémence Poésy: La Nouvelle Vague

When Clémence Poésy speaks in English, every sentence seems to end with a question mark. This quirk captures the essence of this French actor’s growing allure, both as a film star and a nascent fashion icon — there’s a mystery to her, an ethereal charisma that has positioned Poésy to break out as a global star. “I’ve always cherished that thing, of being able to travel between two different cultures,” she says. “Melting into different universes in different countries makes it more interesting.” See full fashion gallery.

The 26-year-old Parisian’s wide-eyed beauty and old-soul sophistication evoke 1970s international icons like Julie Christie or Charlotte Rampling more than her own generation (after all, she’s more apt to discuss her enthusiasm for Leonard Cohen and Robert Rauschenberg than, say, American Idol). Well known in her home country and in England for some time, Poésy first registered with American audiences via a blockbuster role: her distinctive turn as the lovely young French wizard Fleur Delacour in 2005’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. “I had no idea how strong the impact of success would be,” she says. “You start existing in the press just from this small thing you did. That felt strange, but it’s been great luck. It helps you do what you want to do.”

Indeed, her next role — opposite Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes as a wily Belgian drug dealer in 2008’s In Bruges — revealed Poésy’s range. The directorial debut from acclaimed playwright Martin McDonagh, In Bruges proved Poésy could not only hold her own with established talents like Farrell and Fiennes, but also confirmed her ability to shine in both studio and edgier indie fare. “Integrity is very important to me,” says Poésy, who always had acting in her life due to a theater-director father. “You have to serve the character, not have the character serve the star. Although I really don’t feel like I’m a famous person. At all.” That will change, as Poésy’s unforced boho chic has been embraced by fashion cognoscenti: She’s a continuous presence on the covers of forward style bibles spanning i-D to Jalouse, stars in Gap ads and was chosen in 2007 as a Chloé spokesmodel. “Fashion can be a great way to present yourself to the world,” she concludes. “I’ve always been interested in what makes clothes special and what they say about a character. And I enjoy that lightness that fashion has. It’s completely beyond clothes, and more like art: I did a shoot in a Chanel couture wedding dress, and I felt like I was in a painting! With fashion, you have to keep a spirit that’s yours, rather than just go wherever you’re told. You can’t lose your freedom. It’s like everything I do: I’m always just trying to be curious.”

Photos: Mark Pillai. Styling: Elizabeth Sulcer.

The New Regime: Dragonette

When it comes to combining sexual swagger and pop-art smarts, the only competition Martina Sorbara seems to have is an early crucifix-sporting, lingerie-flashing Madonna. Sorbara is the post-post-modern siren fronting Dragonette, the irresistibly naughty electro-rock band she founded with husband/bassist Dan Kurtz. And when it comes to her ironic-erotic charisma, the title of the Canadian quartet’s debut album, Galore, proves truth in advertising. “A lot of people just see a sex vixen,” she says of the reaction to Galore’s debauched diva tales. “That misses the point — I’m more feminist than prostitute. I like to be sexy, but on my terms.”

Indeed, Sorbara and Dragonette provide that missing link between Gwen Stefani’s populism and Crystal Castles’ dance floor deconstruction. “Jesus Doesn’t Love Me Anymore” sounds like Shania Twain blaspheming over a Primal Scream groove. “We were inspired to make pop songs that weren’t pop songs,” Sorbara explains. “We use sounds and progressions usually reserved for the lowest common denominator, but without concern for whether the songs apply to the widest possible audience. All the songs are an extension of something I’ve explored myself. I might hone in and magnify it, but it’s all me — me on an adventure.”

Photo: Sandrine Dulermo and Michael Labica