BlackBook’s List Of The Best And Brightest Stars Of 2013

The New Regime 2013

Whether in front of the camera, or up to the mic, or behind the bar, the stars collected in our sixth annual declaration of the best brightest talents in film, music, television, art, and nightlife are all ready for their close-ups. Pay attention to these faces, because you’ll be seeing them often.

The New International: ALICIA VIKANDER

In the recent adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Sweden-born Alicia Vikander plays Kitty, the virtuous, if naïve, counterpart to the immoral titular character played by Keira Knightley. Kitty is one of the few characters in the film to break out of the claustrophobic stage setting employed by director Joe Wright that ensnares the other Russian aristocrats. Not that being on stage has ever daunted the 24-year-old. “My mother’s an actress, and when we didn’t have a babysitter, I would come with her to the theater,” she explains. Already an award-winning actor in her home country, Vikander became an international star after appearing in the Danish film A Royal Affair earlier this year, playing the adulterous Queen of Denmark, Caroline Matilda. Although Anna Karenina was her first English-language film, she’s eager to continue to work on international projects. To that end, she shot alongside Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore this past summer. “It’s a very big adventure film,” she says of the project, helmed by Russian director Sergei Bodrov. And although Vikander is returning home to Sweden, she hopes to make her way back to the States soon. “The industry is so small in Scandinavia,” she explains. But for Vikander it’s not the size of the industry that counts. “I just want to continue to work with people—actors and directors—I admire.” —Tyler Coates

Photo Alisa Connan
Styling Angie Smith
Makeup Emma White Turle @ Red Represents
Hair Alex Price @ Frank Agency

The New

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has been a hair’s breadth from becoming a household name for longer than seems justifiable. He starred in two Fox series that didn’t catch—as a 400-year-old homicide detective in New Amsterdam, which had an eight-episode run, and as the lead in the cult favorite sci-fi pilot, Virtuality, which was co-written by Ronald Moore (Battlestar Galactica) and directed by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights)—but with his front-and-center role as the incestuous, gold-plated Jaime Lannister on HBO’s Game of Thrones, he’s finally beginning to take his rightful place in the spotlight. In the fantastic 2011 Norwegian film Headhunters, he played a revenge-seeking CEO who put his nemesis through a world of shit, literally. (Mark Wahlberg is planning a stateside remake of the film, and Nikolaj jokes about how busy the actor/producer is, saying, “He does catering on Game of Thrones.”) When asked about his lead role opposite Jessica Chastain in the upcoming Guillermo del Toro-produced supernatural thriller Mama, he instantly sings the first line of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “I can’t watch movies like that,” he says. “They freak me out.” In an appealing confession for someone so tall (6’ 2”) and square-jawed, he says, “The idea of ghosts scares the shit out of me,” adding that he even had trouble watching the rough cut of the film. “I had to turn the sound off.” In 2013 he’ll appear alongside Tom Cruise and Olga Kurylenko as a battle-hardened weapons expert in the big-budget sci-fi epic, Oblivion, and opposite Juliette Binoche in A Thousand Times Goodnight. When prodded for hints about season three of Game of Thrones, which premieres in March, he’s appropriately tight-lipped. He also admits to not reading the books until after he gets the scripts. “I don’t want to get attached to anything too specific with the character because they make changes for the show,” he says. “I don’t want to start questioning their decisions. After all, they got us this far.” —Adam Brent Houghtaling

Photo Aaron Richter
Styling Christopher Campbell
Grooming Tayler Treadwell
Location Acme Studios, Brooklyn

The New Sound of Young America: HAIM

“We grew up on TLC, Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Backstreet Boys, and ’N Sync,” says guitarist and vocalist Danielle Haim of the ’90s R&B influence in the sister act’s sound. “We still listen to Top 40 radio most of the time, but through our parents we listened to classic rock and Motown and funk.” All those sounds blend together in the celebratory pop of HAIM. Danielle, 22, has the highest profile in the band, having toured with Julian Casablancas and Jenny Lewis, but along with multi-instrumentalist Alana, 20, and bassist Este, 24, the trio—who recently added drummer Dash Hutton to the band—have years of live experience after playing in family band Rockenhaim with their parents when they were young; “Alana was four,” says Danielle. “We always thought we would end up working together on something more serious. We just didn’t know how to get there.” They went the great-artists-steal route while learning the songwriting process, taking their favorite songs and refashioning them as their own. They soon began playing live and building a loyal following in their native Los Angeles. But recording proved to be a difficult process. “Every year we would go into the studio and try to make a record and it always sounded… not good,” says Danielle, but each instance was an education. After “fucking around on three songs for six months” the Forever EP finally appeared this past February, and their fortunes have sharply improved ever since. They recently signed to Columbia Records and are now under a little more pressure to turn out a full-length album, which Danielle vaguely suggests they’ll be ready to release in the early half of 2013. —ABH

Photo Dan Monick
Styling Christopher Campbell
Makeup Sandra Ganzer @ Jed Root
Hair Candice Birns for using Orbie Haircare
Location Siren Studios, Los Angeles

The New Hollywood Believer: NATE PARKER

“I think I’m an activist before I’m an artist,” says actor Nate Parker, whose favorite roles exhibit a strong social perspective. “I love the arts, but I think a platform is no good if you can’t use it to better your fellow man.” With electrifying supporting roles in Spike Lee’s coming-of-age drama Red Hook Summer and Nicholas Jarecki’s Wall Street thriller Arbitrage, the 33-year-old Virginia native claims he tries to make it “extremely difficult not to cast” him. But Parker didn’t always have Hollywood ambitions. Having received a degree in computer science from the University of Oklahoma, it was only after accompanying a friend to an audition in Dallas that he was inspired to begin acting. At the audition, Parker was approached by a manager who asked him to read a monologue and, after watching him perform, insisted that he move out to Los Angeles immediately to pursue an acting career. “I try to live my life completely without fear,” says Parker who, without hesitation, uprooted his life—moving to Los Angeles within four days. As a “firm believer in process,” before auditioning for his longtime hero, Denzel Washington, Parker wrote a 100-page biography of the character he was in contention for after hearing a tip about the elder statesman’s own methods. He impressed the Oscar-winning actor/director, landing a role in his film, The Great Debaters. “These journeys we go on as actors, in many ways, are a call to tap into our own experiences,” says Parker. And perhaps it’s his competitive background as an athlete, or the fact that he left home at the age of fourteen and endured the life experiences of someone much his senior, but Parker’s work ethic and confidence are unquestionably setting him ahead of the young Hollywood pack. —Hillary Weston

Photo Dan Monick
Styling Natalie Toren
Grooming Kristen Shaw @ Jed Root

The New Thespian: LILY RABE

“I’ve always wanted to perform,” says Lily Rabe, channeling the plucky sensibility of her childhood self. “I remember going by the Broadway Dance Center and seeing the dancers in the window. The teacher said I was too young to train there—I was still wearing diapers. My mother told me that within two weeks I had potty-trained myself and was like, ‘Alright, let’s go!’” While adamant against acting as a young girl, she came around to the craft in high school. It’s no surprise given her fortitude—and her pedigree (her parents are playwright David Rabe and the late actor Jill Clayburgh)—that she’s become a respected performer by the age of 30. “I was so determined to do it differently from my parents,” she explains. “I wanted to forge my own path.” After attending Northwestern University, Rabe returned to her native New York and landed a role in a Broadway revival of Steel Magnolias in 2004. Highly praised performances followed, most notably as Portia in The Merchant of Venice opposite Al Pacino’s Shylock, for which she earned a Tony nomination. After two more starring turns on stage, Rabe headed to L.A. to play poltergeist Nora Montgomery on American Horror Story. She returns to the psychosexual drama for its second season—American Horror Story: Asylum—as Sister Mary Eunice, and this time around goes head-to-head against recent Emmy winner Jessica Lange. “It’s the best kind of challenge, and I’m having an incredible time,” she gushes, while keeping mum about this season’s shocks and terrors. Both American Horror Story and her starring role in The First, an upcoming biopic about silent film legend Mary Pickford, will keep her on the west coast for a few more months, but she’s already planning a trip back east. “I’ll return to New York soon,” she says. “I get itchy when I’m not doing a play.” —TC

Photo Emilie Elizabeth
Styling Marissa Joye Peden
Makeup Joanna Schlip @ Cloutier Remix
Hair Danny Rishoff @ Tracey Mattingly
Photo Assistant Adrian Espinosa
Location The Jesus Wall, Los Angeles

The New Short Seller: JIM GAVIN

“All the stories in the collection were rejected everywhere until I sent one to The New Yorker, unsolicited, and they took it,” says author Jim Gavin of the pieces that make up his first short story collection, Middle Men, which is being published this coming February by Simon & Schuster. From his home in Culver City, Gavin writes about a side of Los Angeles that is often overlooked in favor of the city’s more glamorous reputation. His stories are sun-bleached and overflowing with bloviating salesmen and well-meaning people with dried-up checking accounts. “They’re all stories I wanted to tell for a long time, I just didn’t know how,” he says. “They’re very autobiographical.” The titular two-part story, “Middle Men,” comes straight from his own experience as a plumbing supplies salesman. “That’s what people want to read about,” he quips, “industrial plumbing in southern California.” “I think writing fiction in Los Angeles is fun,” he says. “There’s a healthy remove from the New York literary world and there’s a great fiction scene flourishing here in the shadows of Hollywood.” For a time, he worked on the sports desk at The Orange County Register—“It gave me a thick skin, but it burnt me out. I lived like a vampire.”—and recently finished an MFA at Boston University, but he credits a handful of adult education classes at UCLA as being a turning point in his life. “That’s when I started to get serious [about the work],” he says. Following the sale of the collection, he’s moved on to his first novel, which has also been sold to Simon & Schuster—but don’t expect to see it any time soon. “It’s a fun, grueling, terrible process,” he says. “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I can sort of see the horizon.” —ABH

Photo Emilie Elizabeth

The New Double Threat: SAINT LOU LOU

“We’re floating.” These are the first words Miranda Kilby (the brunette one) says after we establish a trans-oceanic connection with her and her sister, Elektra. And the twins, both 21, should be floating. The universal adoration the duo has received for their first single, “Maybe You,” is nothing less than amazing; the song is a hypnotic re-imagining of ABBA’s melancholy side as run through a chillwave filter (listen at They certainly didn’t expect it to spread like wildfire over the internet as it has (it’s since been released as a single via Kitsuné Records). “It was crazy. It was a rough demo that took off and then got mastered and became the single,” says Miranda. “Overnight it became this big thing.” Born in Australia, but raised primarily in Sweden with holiday jaunts back down under, the girls grew up in a musical environment, but were initially more interested in becoming academics. “I think Saint Lou Lou chose us,” says Elektra. “Time chose us. It does feel like destiny.” They’re still getting to know themselves as songwriters while they carefully gather material for more singles and, eventually, an album. When asked about what they’re working on for the future, they say people will be surprised. “Some of the songs are more up- tempo,” Miranda says. Elektra quickly leaps in to add, “When we say up-tempo, it’s still down-tempo.” As the interview wraps, Miranda asks, “So are you going to use the crazy twins angle? The sultry twins angle?” A question she quickly follows with the sweetest of threats: “I don’t like that. If you do, we’ll come and knock on your door one day. You can be sure.”—ABH

Photo Alisa Connan
Styling Angie Smith
Makeup Emma White Turle @ Red Represents
Hair Alex Price @ Frank Agency
Photo Assistant Jack Lawson
Stylist’s Assistant Danielle Whiteman

The New Innovator: CHADWICK BELL

“I was a little awkward. I’d paint all the time, all night even, then go to school the next day with the paintings,” says 30-year-old womenswear designer Chadwick Bell of his teenage years in Southern California. Bell was drawn to art at a young age, but ultimately gravitated toward fashion, getting his start in retail at Dolce & Gabbana while studying design and media arts at UCLA. After graduation, he and Vanessa Webster, a childhood friend-turned-business partner, set their sights on the Big Apple. “I was visiting Vanessa while she interned in New York during our sophomore year of college, and it sort of sealed the deal that this is where we needed to be,” he says. “New York just felt right,” he adds. “I’m just a little too high strung for California.” Bell found his first muse in Webster, who in turn likes to say that she discovered his talent. “There’s a mutual push between us,” says the designer. “Nobody can get me to do things the way she does.” Chadwick Bell—the brand—made its debut at New York Fashion Week in fall 2008. The collection stemmed from one of his many fantasies about “the Chadwick Bell woman,” someone who is always “worldly, modern, chic.” That season he found inspiration from a 1940s Robert Capa photo of American socialite Slim Keith holding a shotgun while bird hunting with Ernest Hemingway. For spring 2013, Bell places his muse in the American Southwest (“New Mexico, to be exact”), envisioning her on a “personal crusade for clarity.” While focusing on minimalism, illusion, and austerity, the collection, entitled “Nirvana,” features clean lines and a neutral color palette with splashes of green and yellow. And then it’s on to next season’s designs. “All we can do is recreate and reinvent,” he says. “I plan to be doing this forever.” —Ryma Chikhoune

Photo Alexander Wagner
Photo Assistant Ken Morton


Zal Batmanglij’s hauntingly seductive first feature, Sound of My Voice, opened this past year to critical praise, establishing him as one of the most innovative voices in a new wave of American independent cinema. “I’m excited to make movies that feel real even in the most fantastical situations,” says the 31-year-old director. After studying anthropology at Georgetown University, Batmanglij attended AFI’s graduate school for directing—and what better course of inquiry for a filmmaker whose debut walked the line between in-depth ethnographic study and psychological thriller? Sound of My Voice, co-written with the film’s star Brit Marling, tells the story of a couple who infiltrates a cult in order to expose its leader who claims to have time-traveled from the future. “A story is a disguise that allows you to bypass people’s defenses and enter the innermost chambers of their hearts,” Batmanglij says. Following their success with Sound of My Voice, Batmanglij and Marling collaborated again for his upcoming directorial feature, The East, a drama about a young woman who goes undercover to join an anarchist collective—starring Marling, Ellen Page, and Alexander Skarsgård. “So much of what Brit and I have to do as writers is to go live,” says Batmanglij, who actually stayed in an anarchist collective with Marling prior to making the film— understanding the importance of “living something authentic” in order to come back and tell an original story. Inspired by directors from Krzysztof Kieslowski to Alan J. Pakula, it’s evident that Batmanglij has a zeal for creating stories that stem from the anxieties of the modern age as shown through a lens that exposes the mysticism lurking just beneath the surface. “I feel tremendously lucky to be a filmmaker in this decade,” reveals Batmanglij, “but it’s also daunting because nobody knows what the fuck is going on. We live in a strange, strange time.” —HW

Photo Dan Monick
Styling Natalie Toren
Grooming Kristen Shaw @ Jed Root

The New Multi-Talent: DOMHNALL GLEESON

“I hate having my picture taken,” says actor Domhnall (pronounced “tonal”) Gleeson during our photo shoot. It’s a surprising confession considering the infectious energy he brings to the set as he poses and pratfalls for the camera. One of a family of acting Gleesons—he’s the son of character actor Brendan Gleeson, and his brother, Brian Gleeson, is also an actor—Domhnall seems to have his fingers in every aspect of the business. His resume is already flush with choice roles in films like the final two Harry Potter installments (as the scarred, elder Weasley, Bill), 2010’s Never Let Me Go and True Grit, and the recent adaptation of Anna Karenina, but that’s just the beginning. He earned a Tony nomination in 2006 for his part in the Broadway play The Lieutenant of Inishmore, co-wrote and starred in sketches for the six-part Irish comedy show, Your Bad Self, and wrote and directed two short films—2009’s What Will Survive of Us, which he refers to as “the anal sex one,” and Noreen, which stars his father and brother as incompetent police officers. Writing, acting, directing—is there anything the 29-year-old Dubliner can’t do? “I haven’t done any interpretative dance yet,” he says with a long sigh. But he has gotten a haircut. When asked about what happened to his trademark long ginger locks, he laughs and says, “Really…I’d done as much with my hair as I possibly could.” Coming up, he’ll play the romantic lead opposite Rachel McAdams in About Time, and he’s learning to play guitar for the rock comedy Frank, for which he’ll go head-to-head with Michael Fassbender. And it turns out he’s camera-shy when filming as well, admitting that being in front of the camera is nerve- wracking. “What’s so terrifying—and exciting—is that it remains forever.” —ABH

Photo Aaron Richter
Styling Christopher Campbell
Grooming Tayler Treadwell
Location Acme Studios, Brooklyn

The New King of Cocktails: JOAQUIN SIMÓ

“I love this window,” Joaquín Simó says, gesturing to a large half-moon aperture facing a soggy Avenue B in New York’s East Village. After five-and-a-half years making cocktails in the inky shadows of venerated spirits den Death & Co., and earning the title of America’s Best Bartender at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail industry gathering, the academic-turned- bartender is seated comfortably in his recently-opened bar, Pouring Ribbons. “The devil is in the details,” he says, referring not only to novel cocktail ingredients like his house-made corn milk, but also to remembering customers’ names and their favorite drinks. Simó, a Cuban-Ecuadorian-American, learned hospitality from a priest at his first job, making coffee in a Miami church office. He picked up the art of bartending—shooting the shit, cutting people off—from a couple of Irish guys in Boston. And he perfected the trade of making cocktails— balancing ingredients, the art of the elegant pour— with guidance from modern legends like Phil Ward and Brian Miller (both formerly of Death & Co. and now at Mayahuel and Lani Kai, respectively). Now Simó makes a Southside that would put the 21 Club to shame and blasphemously stirs up a killer Negroni without a drop of Campari (he prefers Luxardo Bitters). On any given night Pouring Ribbons is busy with a mixture of recognizable barkeeps, chefs, and cocktail aficionados. It’s a bar owner’s dream. “I knew New York was going to make or break me. It is the best city in the country to be completely anonymous, or the city where you can find the biggest, brightest stage.” —Leslie Pariseau

Photo Eric Medsker
Photo Assistant Anthony Tafuro
Location Pouring Ribbons, NYC

The New Pride of Manchester: JOSEPHINE

“When I was a kid I used to listen to a lot of indie rock,” says 29-year-old singer-songwriter Josephine Oniyama. “A lot of Oasis and Nirvana, and my mom used to play a lot of highlife music like Fela Kuti and King Sunny Adé. And as I’ve gone along I’ve begun to enjoy the American Songbook and American folk like Woody Guthrie and Odessa.” Her addictive debut album, Portrait, is reflective of the many influences that informed it. She also feels a deep connection to her home city of Manchester, which has produced some of the greatest U.K. bands including The Smiths, The Stone Roses, and the aforementioned Oasis. “I’ve always felt connected to the history here,” she says. Portrait was written and recorded over a long length of time, and the album’s final material was finished a full 18 months before it finally saw release in October. In terms of songwriting, she says, “I’m a years kind of person,” explaining that the germ of a song—a riff, a verse, a chorus—can sit for 12 months or more before it takes another step forward. “When it comes to finishing songs off, I’m terrible,” she says. “It’s a great help to have people like my producer to help carry it along.” She co-wrote three tracks on Portrait with British singer-songwriter Ed Harcourt—including the sweeping album opener, “We Were Trespassers,” and the fragile finale, “House of Mirrors.” Now with a bona fide critical success to her name, she’s been hitting the road with The Noisettes and Rodrigo y Gabriella, and in the new year you’ll find her playing a string of U.K. dates with Paloma Faith. —ABH

Photo Alisa Connan
Styling Angie Smith
Makeup Emma White Turle @ Red Represents
Hair Alex Price @ Frank Agency
Photo Assistant Jack Lawson
Stylist’s Assistant Danielle Whiteman

The New Prince of California Cuisine: ARI TAYMOR

Alma is the most exciting restaurant in Los Angeles right now and it sits in the most unlikely of locations: next to Las Palmas, a hostess club on South Broadway in Downtown, and across the street from the United Artists Theatre, a long-empty movie palace. The restaurant opened in June, and Ari Taymor, its 26-year-old chef, is already one of the most intriguing culinary names in the country. His cooking is a compelling version of California cuisine that balances reverence for farmer’s market produce with the avant-garde aesthetic and complex textures of Nordic culinary heavyweight René Redzepi, chef at Copenhagen’s lauded Noma. In Taymor you can chalk up another motivating victory for Alice Water’s inspirational Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse. It was a meal at the influential locavore restaurant nearly six years ago that led him to pick up a chef ’s knife. He sharpened his skills at Bar Tartine and Flour + Water in San Francisco, but when it came to stepping out on his own, he headed for Los Angeles. “I wanted to seclude myself from the influence of the Bay Area,” he says. “It’s too hard to shut yourself out from it and develop your own style.” He needn’t worry. His style is already distinct, but Alma is very much a work in progress. The kitchen may make squid-ink ice cream—a black orb of which sat on top a dish of dry-aged steak tartare—with a $4,000 Pacojet, but diners still sit in the faux snakeskin booths selected by the previous tenants. The contrast between exacting food and disheveled surroundings is charming, but Taymor can’t wait to make changes. “Having lights that don’t look like they came from a brothel in Katmandu, and not having a countertop made of Formica, those things are important to me, but not more important than being able to cook and plate food.” —Willy Blackmoore

Photo Emilie Elizabeth
Photo Assistant Adrian Espinosa

The New Solo Show: DIGITS

“I just can’t stop releasing music,” says Alt Altman, the 27-year-old, Berlin-based, Toronto-bred mastermind behind moody synth-pop act Digits. There’s ample evidence to back up that statement. In 2012 alone he released the Death and Desire mixtape, the seven-song album Where Do You Belong, a serialized story album called City of the Dead, and his next EP, Only Affection, is already complete and ready to be released early in the new year. He started Digits, which grew out of his old band Europe In Colour, in 2009 with the release of his first album, Hold It Close, and the new project quickly became his focus. When asked about how it felt when The Guardian compared his mixtape Death and Desire to Human League’s unimpeachable synth-pop classic Dare earlier this year, he still sounds shocked and excited: “It was the craziest experience,” he says. “My jaw was on the floor and I even thought, ‘This is a bit much.’ Everything really took off after that… more press, more shows, everything’s been different.” When quizzed about the R&B influence that runs through much of his recent music, it becomes clear that Altman is approaching the genre sideways. While his contemporaries like the xx, How to Dress Well, and Nite Jewel pull from ’70s classics and ’90s Top 40, Altman’s soul influence comes from hip-hop and house music. “Frankie Knuckles’ work with Jamie Principle has always been a touchstone for me,” he says, “and I’m also a huge Prince fan.” Live, Digits is truly a solo show. “I’ve never played a Digits show with anyone else on the stage,” Altman says, “My drums are generated by a laptop, but I play two synthesizers live and also use a looping pedal for various synth lines and backing vocals.” It’s important to him that his fans see more than a guy standing at a computer. “I’ve been to a lot of electronic shows where it felt like nothing was happening live. So I prefer to make my shows as live an experience as possible.” — ABH

Photo Norman Wong

The New Soft-Rock Renegades: DIANA

When speaking with Joseph Shabason (saxophone and synths) and Kieran Adams (drums, samples, and synths), founders and songwriters for Toronto-based four-piece Diana, words like “substance” and “texture” tend to crop up a lot. “Joseph and I met at jazz school, which is also where we met [bassist and guitarist] Paul [Mathews],” says Adams, “but by the time we graduated, neither of us was enamored with the idea of a career as a jazz musician. At some point Joseph got a keyboard and a Pro Tools setup and we started writing pop songs, but I don’t think we figured out how to really do it until we started writing for [our first] album.” Their music is soft, fuzzy, and smart, and much of their inspiration comes from ’80s touchstones like Talk Talk’s The Colour of Spring, Tears for Fears’ Songs From the Big Chair, Roxy Music’s Avalon, and Bryan Ferry’s Boys and Girls. “I think music from that era has a combination of intelligence and pop sensibility,” says Adams, “and there’s a progressiveness in the sonic aesthetic of those albums. It’s all well played and carefully delivered.” When singer and guitarist Carmen Elle came into the process, the Diana sound gelled instantly. “I think I saw her perform when she was 16 and I was 23,” laughs Adams, “and we knew she was a perfect fit for the material we were writing.” Shaboson adds, “We would give a picture of what we wanted for a song and she would run with it. The recording of the vocals was actually hilariously quick.” Listeners can find some of the band’s work on their Soundcloud page, Forest Family Records has released their first 12-inch single, “Born Again,” and they expect their full-length to see the light of day this spring. They’re also planning a big tour in the new year that will take them through the U.S. and parts of Canada. —ABH

Photo Vanessa Heins

The New Lord of Light: DEV HARLAN

“No matter what the medium, good design is timeless, and if something has good design qualities, it will hold up outside the medium,” says Dev Harlan, a New York-based light artist whose work is a coolly modern juxtaposition of video mapping and sculpture—the projections throwing patterns of ephemeral color and light over his fractal, pyramid-based objects. “I consider video projection mapping a medium in the same category as sculpting, painting, or drawing. It’s an expressive medium, but not the be-all end-all of the work.” Harlan was homeschooled, so it’s no surprise that he became a self-taught artist. He worked in commercial design for five years, but his interest began to drift as he became more involved in experimental films and paper-craft models, all of which led to his unique work blending sculpture and light. Though he primarily works with video mapping technology, he’s also worked with L.E.D. lighting and says, “I consider myself an artist who works with light rather than an artist who works with video.” Harlan’s goal is to get as close as possible to the experience that his sculptures are glowing and says, “The projectors are a necessary evil.” He’s done commissioned work for fashion label Y-3 (at 2012’s New York Fashion Week) and the launch event for Target’s Jason Wu fall 2012 line, but it was a video of his 2011 work “Parmenides I”—a room-sized fractal orb awash in video mapping projections—that has increased his exposure more than anything else. Concerning the future, Harlan says, “It’s totally intuitive. I’m not entirely sure myself.” —ABH

Photo Alexander Wagner
Photo Assistant Ken Morton

The New Wild Card: SCOOT MCNAIRY

To call Scoot McNairy an overnight success would be selling the multifaceted actor short. For the past decade, the 32-year-old Texas native has been steadily building momentum—working everywhere from independent film, to the stage, to behind the camera, producing such features as the award-winning In Search of a Midnight Kiss (in which he also starred). But lately, McNairy has been busy working with some of Hollywood’s most acclaimed directors and garnering attention from critics and audiences alike. With roles in Ben Affleck’s political thriller, Argo, and Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly, McNairy holds his own in two of the year’s most lauded films, showing off his well-honed acting chops and ability to disappear into his characters. “It’s hard to tackle two roles at once,” admits McNairy. “I invest so much in the character. I consume myself 100 percent in their daily thoughts.” After moving to Los Angeles from Austin, Texas, to become a cinematographer, McNairy began taking acting classes for fun. He admits he was never particular about which aspect of the film world he wanted to be in. “I just knew that I wanted to work on movies,” he says. McNairy will continue his streak of challenging films with Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave and Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land, both of which are slated to open in the new year. “It’s been a great experience working with these directors; the creativity that they allow you to bring as an individual is something I wasn’t expecting,” says McNairy, who not only plans to continue taking on interesting roles, but looks to pursue directional ambitions of his own in the future. —HW

Photo Dan Monick
Styling Christopher Campbell

Makeup Sandra Ganzer @ Jed Root
Hair Candice Birns for using Orbie Haircare
Location Siren Studios, Los Angeles

Introducing the 2011 New Regime

For our fourth annual New Regime Portfolio, BlackBook presents an explosive mix of curatorial savants, razor-sharp comedians, genre-defying musical acts, screen saviors, fashion visionaries, literary geniuses, and one of the Glee kids, each of whom would like you to know that, despite global warming, the global financial crisis, and the global embrace of a girl named Snookie, this new year will, in fact, be better than the last. Featuring the likes of Dave Franco, Rosamund Pike, Chiddy Bang, Chris Colfer, Hailee Steinfeld, and more. Click through to see them all.



It’s a cold, clear day in London and actor Rosamund Pike has just returned from her morning bike ride. “I made a resolution years ago to be more aware of my body, and it’s really helped to hone my instincts,” she says. Those instincts are responsible for scene-stealing roles in Pride & Prejudice, An Education, and, more recently, Made in Dagenham, for which she won ecstatic reviews as a housewife during the 1968 Ford Motors factory strike in Dagenham, England.

But it’s Pike’s performance in Barney’s Version, an adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s prize-winning novel starring Dustin Hoffman and Paul Giamatti (her love interest in the film), which has finally earned Pike awards season buzz. “It was an incredible challenge for Paul and I to play characters in different phases of love from ages 29 to 60—to find language for that,” she says. “Now I’m going to make sure to wear a lot of miniskirts in public before people get the wrong idea.”

The picture of a patrician English Rose, Pike, 31, is excited about the opportunities she’s had to exhibit range and depth. “An Education was the first film that allowed me to play a villain, but also make people laugh,” she says. “That one opened up a lot of doors.” Among those open doors are a host of roles in upcoming films, including The Big Year, a bird-watching comedy opposite Jack Black and Owen Wilson, and The Sea, a drama with Charlotte Rampling. “I suddenly feel understood,” she says of her recent successes. “I’m like the geek at school who suddenly gets to be friends with the cool kids.” —Cayte Grieve

Photo by Ren Rox; Styling by Hew Hood; Hair by Sophie Chevalier.

Up next: The New Imagist… image


A Hitchcock blonde in a meringue-colored dress crouches on a roadside embankment. She looks ready to pounce. Or flee. Such is a typical photograph by 30-year-old Angeleno Alex Prager, whose Popsicle-hued prints look like noir thrillers brought to vivid life. A self-trained lenswoman who spent a chunk of her high school years selling knives in Switzerland, Prager was included in MoMA’s seminal “New Photography 2010” show. “I kind of took the side door,” she says of her art-world entrée. “My intention was just to show my pictures. I wanted some feedback.”

Prager doesn’t read reviews of her work (“unless they’re amazing”), but the response to her heavily stylized photographs has been glowing. She’s enlisted actor Bryce Dallas Howard and model Jessica Joffe to star in her short films, and has collaborated on fashion editorials with W and i-D magazines.

Still, hers isn’t the sort of success you can easily begrudge. When she returned to Los Angeles from Europe, Prager worked a string of unenviable jobs at a mall food court, a French Connection boutique, and “a place called Modern Data Products,” she says. “I realized my whole life could be an endless, mundane string of shitty jobs.” It was an encounter with William Eggleston’s work at the Getty Museum when she was 20 that persuaded Prager, instantly and beyond a doubt, to pursue photography.

Over the next seven years, Prager took photographs with and of her friends, largely for kicks. Eventually, her images, like film stills sliced out of a reel, began to be included in group—and later solo—gallery shows. “Because I don’t really know what’s right or wrong, I simply make images that I think are cool, and it so happens that people agree with me right now,” she says. “I want others to like my pictures. If they don’t want to look at them, then everything I’ve done is wasted.” —Megan Conway

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Min Min Ma @ See Management.

Up next: The New Dreamweaver… image


After winning the prestigious Swiss Textiles Award in November, beating out Adam Kimmel and Jason Wu, fashion designer Mary Katrantzou finds herself in a rather unusual position: She has to spend one tenth of the award’s $137,000 cash prize on Swiss textiles, which, presumably, she’ll use for her fall 2011 collection. But the 27-year-old Greek upstart hasn’t yet decided what her next collection will look like, or how exactly it will feel. “It’s still very early, so nothing is crystallized, but it will be a step forward in many ways,” she says vaguely. With a knowing laugh, she adds, “It’s very difficult to go into details without giving too much away.”

Last September, only a year after graduating from Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, Katrantzou stunned crowds at London Fashion Week with her debut show. Showcasing her imaginative air, she adorned her dresses and separates with dazzling, wildly colorful, digitally generated images of windows, doorways, table settings, and chandeliers. “It all started when, looking at some photos by Guy Bourdin, I realized that the models weren’t wearing fancy dresses. It was the interiors, with their colors and textures, that created the mood,” she says. “So I decided to put the room on the woman rather than the woman in the room.” We’re pretty sure Virginia Woolf would have approved. —Lee Muston

Photo by Mark Squires.

Up next: The New Sex… image


“I was reading an article about bands that are really hard to find on Google and, of course, we were in it,” says JD Samson, the androgynous frontwoman of Men, a high-energy, experimental dance trio. The brainchild of Samson and her former Le Tigre bandmate Johanna Fateman, Men was initially conceived as a DJ side project, and the name was anything but arbitrary. “Men is very much about gender fluidity,” Samson says. “Johanna and I were in an airport, frustrated, and she said, ‘What would a man do if someone cut him off in line? He’d stand up for himself, like, fuck you.’ That day someone said they wanted us to title our project and we were like, ‘Let’s call ourselves Men.’”

Guitarists Ginger Brooks Takahashi and Michael O’Neill—both recruited from Hirsute, yet another of Samson’s bands— round out the threesome (Fateman and artist Emily Roysdon stay behind the scenes, writing and producing), who have earned accolades for their electronic, guitar-fueled live shows. Three years after first recording together, and while juggling a demanding tour schedule, the members of Men have finally mastered their debut album, Talk About Body. “We’ve all been in different projects,” Samson says, “but this was the perfect group of people to make this record sound exactly the way it needed to sound.”

The lengthy recording process lends their album a pan-genre eclecticism, serving up good-humored social commentary on tracks titled “Credit Card Babies” and “Who Am I to Feel So Free.” Says Samson, “Talk About Body deals with gender expression, queer livelihood, and the way we see the world.” Pausing for a moment, she adds, “It’s not something we necessarily wanted to express—it’s something we needed to express.” —Nadeska Alexis

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Anthea King @ See Management.

Up next: The New Comedian… image


After getting her picture taken, Lena Dunham deflates the pompadour into which her hair was teased, changes back into a sweater she describes as a “Navajo sleeping bag,” and suggests we go for tea. Minty brew in hand, she shares with me her favorite quote: “My mom always says, ‘Problems are relative.’” It’s an adage that applies to the central tension of Tiny Furniture, Dunham’s singular, intimate, and quietly hilarious film about post-collegiate ennui. In the film, which she wrote and directed, she plays Aura Freeman, who, like Dunham, graduates from Oberlin College and returns home to live with her mother (played by Dunham’s mother, artist Laurie Simmons) and sister (played by Dunham’s sister Grace). The contours of the gleaming Tribeca apartment Aura spends her days shuffling around, often without pants, are as difficult to limn as her mother’s scale-defying photographs of tiny furniture.

Her inch-off -the-ground, “femme centric” comedy caught the attention of Judd Apatow, godfather of the sausage fest knee-slapper, who’s producing a pilot Dunham is writing, directing, and starring in for HBO. “People have accused him of having these half-baked female characters,” Dunham says of Apatow. “But I feel like there’s something slightly 2-D about the male characters I write, only because I’m limited by my own experience. Girls want to have their intelligence respected, but they also want to laugh, they want to see bodily fluids—they want all of the things guys want from movies.”

Much has been made of Dunham’s un-Hollywood physique (a comment on a YouTube video Aura posts of herself in a bikini reads, “Ahoy, mateys! Whales ahead!”) and her age (24), but her work draws strength from an almost anticipatory self-awareness of these qualities. “What’s funniest for me is character-driven comedy that comes out of the pain and hilarity of everyday human foibles,” she says. “I have no interest in seeing glamorous people, unless the glamorous person is falling in a puddle.” —MC

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Nick Barose @ See Management.

Up next: The Next Wild Child… image


Emerging from the ashes of England’s histrionic music stars—here’s looking at you, Wino—Coco Sumner could be Britpop’s redemptive phoenix. Only she doesn’t see it that way. “I’m just a kid from England who likes working and playing music,” she says, skirting, as she often does, the reality of her privileged upbringing. The daughter of Sting and Trudie Styler, Eliot Paulina Sumner (Coco is her nickname) grew up in the English countryside, playing guitar in her bedroom. “I had a very simple childhood,” she says. “I went to a local school, where I tried to work hard and all that.” At 14, she moved to London and spent time with other musicians, realizing in the process that she wanted to follow in her famous dad’s footsteps.

Early next year, American audiences will get the chance to hear the 20-year-old musician’s debut album, The Constant, which she’ll release under the alias I Blame Coco. The record was met with critical and commercial fanfare when it was released this fall in Europe, where Sumner played sold-out shows and collaborated with Swedish singer-songwriter Robyn, who appears on her first single, “Caesar,” a guitar-heavy anthem of youth and rebellion. Of her songs, she says, “They come from a sad place, but hopefully the music is uplifting.” After a beat, she adds, “I guess my sound could be called dark pop.”

Already a British style icon—much to her bemusement, and perhaps not without a touch of dismay—Sumner, along with supermodels Agyness Deyn and Lily Donaldson, was photographed for a recent Burberry ad campaign, which she insists was “just for money,” although it’s hard to imagine she was ever strapped. It’s obvious within minutes of speaking to Sumner that she’s loathe to indulge in the trappings of a successful music career, interested in neither fame nor frivolity. Sure, she drinks and smokes, and there have been rumors about dalliances with Pete Doherty, but for the most part, Sumner stays out of trouble. “I’ve got a pretty good head on my shoulders,” she says. “Gossip doesn’t really affect me because none of it is true. It’s just made-up bullshit.” —Dana Drori

Photo by Ren Rox; Styling by Kim Howells; Hair by Michael Jones.

Up next: The New Franco… image


Let’s just get it out of the way: Dave Franco is James’ little brother. You first met him playing just that on the satirical Funny or Die web series Acting with James Franco, in which James taught Dave the dark secrets of the dramatic arts. In truth, one might expect the Franco boys to, say, rehearse lines together the night before an audition. One would be wrong. “We don’t really talk about acting very much,” he says. “We have a strong relationship and we work well together, but mainly with writing.”

Franco is strangely calm considering he has a “huge” audition tomorrow. There will be no cramming, no panicking. “I’ll probably watch a movie and try to distract myself,” he says. By now, the 25-year-old actor has been to so many auditions that he knows most casting directors on a first-name basis, and yet he can’t quite figure out why they keep asking him to play assholes. “I don’t even know how to feel about it anymore,” he says. “I’m a nice guy, I promise.”

Nice or not, Franco will up the douche ante next summer in Fright Night, a big-budget remake of the 1985 horror flick, in which he plays a bully so vile, “you’ll be praying for his death,” he says. Fright Night isn’t Franco’s first brush with fake blood. Three classes away from earning a degree at the University of Southern California, he flew to Canada to shoot the unreleased Bad Meat, a B-horror movie he calls the worst experience of his life. “But it was my first starring role,” he says. “The momentum started from there.” He is also writing and directing the web series Undergrads, a gritty, semi-scripted glimpse of life on USC’s campus. “I don’t want to pat myself on the back,” he says, very un-asshole-like, “but I’m really pleased with it.” —Ben Barna

Photo by Juco.

Up next: The New Nureyev… image


Like Baryshnikov before him, Benjamin Millepied is a ballet dancer of foreign extraction whose chassé only serves to deepen his brooding sex appeal. The principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, Millepied (improbably, his name means “1,000 feet” in his native French) is also a celebrated choreographer and would-be renaissance man: when he’s not collaborating with composer Nico Muhly, the scruffy 33-year-old from Bordeaux is staging productions for his own company, Danses Concertantes, updating Swan Lake for Darren Aronofsky, or planning his directorial film debut. “I’m interested in making movies,” he says, and then, almost as an afterthought, “And dancing. And choreography. I’m doing exactly what my heart wants to do.”

Over a patchy, cross-country iPhone connection that makes the natural fits and starts in his conversation a little unsettling, he says, “Ballet is in crisis. Collaborations are key—other artists being fiercely interested in the art of ballet.” Partnering up with Aronofsky, first as the choreographer for the director’s Polanski-like Black Swan, then as an actor (“It was kind of an obvious choice,” he says of becoming the Swan Prince), led him to his most paparazzi-documented pas de deux to date: his ongoing romance with co-star Natalie Portman. “We were quite a team,” he admits. “She was nothing short of extraordinary.” It’s not clear, when asked if they’ll work together again, if Millepied’s chuckling is directed at the difficulties of celebrity romance, his overstuffed calendar, or the question itself. “I don’t know,” he says. “Maybe. We’ll see.” —MC

Photo by Santiago Sierra; Styling by Kemal + Karla @ The Wall Group; Grooming by Jhizet Panosian @ Exclusive Artists; Producer, Cesar Leon.

Up next: The New Overachiever… image


"Oooooh, how do I answer this one?" says Chris Colfer, the youngest star on FOX’s boundary-pushing, musical number-heavy cultural phenomenon, Glee. The question: If you could put together the playlist for an episode, which artists would you choose to include? “I’d love to do more Lady Gaga songs, and some Abba,” he says, following a considerable pause. “And, knowing me, I’d choose all kinds of theater.” Knowing his fans, that wouldn’t be a problem.

Colfer has garnered considerable praise for his portrayal of Kurt Hummel, an outwardly strong yet inwardly fragile gay teenager navigating the hornet’s nest that is the show’s William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio. He received a 2010 Emmy nomination for his performance (“I’m still in shock,” he says) and was quickly elevated to bonafide role model-status by Glee’s devout followers. “I never thought I’d play a character who could inspire so many people,” he says. “It’s a good thing I’ve gone through so many of the same things Kurt is going through—I definitely approach his character from a personal place.”

Raised in Clovis, California, the 20-year-old actor has always had one eye on show business. “I grew up doing community theater,” he says. “I was very, very, very active in high school.” The series, Colfer’s first professional acting gig, came quickly. He graduated from high school in June 2008 and started filming that September, which he’s been doing—almost nonstop—ever since. “Glee is very time consuming,” he says. “We don’t get hiatuses like other shows because as soon as we wrap, we go on a music tour.” Although he cares deeply for the show, Colfer isn’t without other goals. “I would love to be the head of a studio one day,” he says, smiling. “But not an evil studio—a really nice one.” —Nicholas Remsen

Photo by Santiago Sierra; Styling by Kemal + Karla @ The Wall Group; Grooming by Jhizet Panosian @ Exclusive Artists; Producer, Cesar Leon.

Up next: The New Poachers… image


Chidera “Chiddy” Anamege (pictured right) never stops writing. “I was in the middle of putting together a verse when you called, so this interview might end up in a song,” says the 20-year-old rapper, who, along with producer Noah “Xaphoon” Beresin, is known professionally as Chiddy Bang. Laughing, he adds, “We’re in the studio cooking something up right now.” When they emerge, Chiddy and Xaphoon will have enough new material to release The Swelly Life, their debut full-length album.

The former Drexel University students spent the majority of their short-lived college careers—they dropped out at the end of their freshman year—fusing together the clever rhymes and eclectic mash-ups that catapulted them well past campus fame. Two mixtapes and an EP have already showcased the duo’s ability to transform indie-rock staples courtesy of Passion Pit, Gorillaz, and MGMT—whose "Kids” provided the template for their breakout single “Opposite of Adults”—into progressive hip-hop with mass appeal.

Chiddy Bang broke into the mainstream this fall with the release of their second EP, The Preview, which featured an original head-banger co-produced by Xaphoon and hit-magnet Pharrell Williams. Still, despite its success, they have no desire to stray too far from the samples that launched their careers. “We’re going to take sampling to the next level,” Chiddy says of their new material. “People identified with us early on because of the weird samples that we chose. That brought us to where we are now, so we’re going to perfect the original recipe and add some sprinkles to it. After getting the rights to use all of those songs, we probably won’t make any money from the album, but who cares? We just love the music.” —NA

Photo by Ren Rox.

Up next: The New Solo Artist… image


Ten years ago, 25-year-old electro-pop artist Oh Land moved out of her parents’ home in Copenhagen and relocated to a house in the Swedish forest. She wasn’t alone—an elderly couple and their dog lived upstairs—but she wishes she had been. “I was a hopeless romantic, and I thought there was something amazing about being that deserted,” she says.

Oh Land, born Nanna Øland Fabricius, seemed destined for center stage as a ballerina; her woodsy dwelling was 90 minutes outside of Stockholm, where she studied at the Royal Swedish Ballet School. The art form consumed her. “You get sucked into this world and you can’t see anything else,” she says. “I imagine it’s a bit like Scientology.” Then, at 18, she suffered a career-ending back injury. “It was tragic because I thought I was destined to do something,” she says, “And, suddenly, I found out I wasn’t.”

She took the one component of professional dance that doesn’t involve masochism—music—and, without any professional training, despite having been raised by an opera singer mother and an organist father, began to teach herself to play piano. “It was for me how Nintendo is for most kids,” she says. “I knew everything about the feeling of it, but I didn’t know the notes.” She began peppering her music with everyday sounds, recording the chime of bike bells and crunching snow.

Her melodies written, all Oh Land needed was a voice. “I had this idea that singers needed to sound like Beyoncé, and I didn’t sound like that,” she says, acknowledging her initial hesitation to sing herself. Still, these were her stories and she wanted to tell them, and, as it turns out, Oh Land has a beautiful, airy voice. She fashioned a collection of tracks into her self-titled EP (a full-length album is due in early 2011), which Oh Land released after moving to New York, a city where you can always manage to feel alone. —BB

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Anthea King @ See Management.


Up next: The New Ingenue… image


“It feels like I just won the lottery,” says Hailee Steinfeld, describing what it’s like to be the young lead in the Coen Brothers’ latest square-jawed Western, True Grit. “It feels like that one-in-a-million kind of opportunity.” It’s actually closer to one-in-15,000, the number of girls with whom Joel and Ethan Coen reportedly met before selecting Steinfeld for the role of Mattie Ross, the plucky tween who enlists the help of a boozy marshal (Jeff Bridges) to hunt down her father’s killer (Josh Brolin).

The 14-year-old home-schooled Los Angeles native appreciates the rarity of her situation. “I assumed that I’d be doing a few shorts and some guest-starring, and that I would work my way up,” she says. “Instead, I’ve gone from A to Z.” When asked who her acting role models might be, Steinfeld doesn’t say Meryl Streep or Jodie Foster. Instead, she says, “I have a cousin who is two years older than me. She was doing Barbie commercials back when that was absolutely all I was into.” My, how time flies. —BB

Photo by Santiago Sierra; Styling by Kemal + Karla @ The Wall Group; Grooming by Jhizet Panosian @ Exclusive Artists; Hair by Alex Polollp; Makeup by Stephen Sollitto; Producer, Cesar Leon.

Up Next: The New Butcher… image


Whatever you do, don’t complain to Noah Bernamoff about the lack of free pickles at Mile End. “It drives me nuts,” says the 28-year-old Canadian, who opened the Montreal-style Jewish delicatessen in Brooklyn a year ago. He believes that the expectation of a bowl of free pickles on every table—along with $16 behemoth sandwiches that only a sumo wrestler could finish—epitomizes everything that went wrong with Jewish delis in New York over the past few decades. They used to be specialized, he says: some were known for pastrami, others for hot dogs, and others still for chicken soup. But as they began to disappear in the latter half of the 20th century, the delis left standing felt obliged to offer a bit of everything, serving mediocre versions of “every Jewish soup, every Jewish meat, every side dish.”

What Bernamoff, who dropped out of law school to open Mile End, lacks in formal training (“I hadn’t even worked in a restaurant prior to this,” he says), he more than makes up for in passion for the cuisine of his youth. Chief among Mile End’s specialties is smoked meat, which is a specific type of pastrami popular in Montreal. Bernamoff and his staff prepare pounds of the delicious flesh every day, rubbing it with spices and slowly smoking it until it attains greasy perfection, at which point it’s hand carved and served with mustard on rye bread.

The restaurant has garnered significant praise since it opened last January, attracting a cool clientele that includes Paul Dano and Anne Hathaway, and even unseating longtime favorite Barney Greengrass to become Zagat’s favorite deli in the city. But it’s not without detractors, which brings us back to the pickles. “We make them ourselves,” he says wearily. “If people understood the time, patience, and skill it takes to make these things, they’d know why we charge six or seven dollars for a plate of assorted pickles.” Seriously, though, how much vitriol could pickles possibly elicit? “You’d be surprised.” —Victor Ozols

Photo by Alexander Wagner; Grooming by Sarah Sibia @ See Management.

Up next: The New Raconteur… image


The characters in David Bezmozgis’ stories are a lot like you—that is, if you’re a cousin-humping, weed-dealing, Latvian-Canadian teenager. But the author, who is only some of these things, describes emotions and experiences to which all readers can relate, regardless of age or ethnicity. Using sparse yet evocative language, he conveys joy, pain, curiosity, embarrassment, boredom, and alienation, all the while underscoring one universal truth: you are not alone.

Bezmozgis entered the literary scene in 2004 with the publication of Natasha and Other Stories, which was inspired by his childhood in Toronto, where he moved at the age of 7 after emigrating from Riga—along with thousands of other Soviet Jews—in 1980. Since Natasha and the critical acclaim that followed, he’s continued to sharpen his voice with more short fiction, as well as 2009’s Victoria Day, a feature film he wrote and directed about one teen’s experiences with love and death.

This April, he’ll release his debut novel, The Free World, which chronicles the lives of a family of Latvian émigrés who find themselves in the visa processing centers of Rome in 1978. Intrigued by the slippery concept of identity, especially as it pertains to immigrants, Bezmozgis says, “It’s more of a theme in North America, because we have the luxury of figuring out who we want to be. If you’re Latvian, that’s great, nobody minds, and if you want to feel completely American, that’s fine, too. Back in the Soviet Union, identity wasn’t a choice.” The bewilderment felt by a formerly oppressed people upon tasting freedom for the first time provides fertile ground for the 37-year-old writer. “It’s fascinating to immerse yourself in a culture where the rules are different,” he says. “But we all want the same things: love, friendship, and some sense of what we’re supposed to do in the world.” —VO

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Min Min Ma @ See Management.

Up next: The New Gallerists… image


Last June, when Jeffrey Deitch shuttered his multi-borough art empire, Deitch Projects, to take over the directorship of LA’s MoCA, a giant vortex opened into which all things gritty, challenging, and—dare we say—cool about the downtown New York art scene disappeared. Now, two former Projects directors, Meghan Coleman (pictured left) and Kathy Grayson, are attempting to stop the cultural outflow with their Greene Street gallery, the Hole. “We liked the idea of filling that hole with the Hole,” says Grayson. “The world doesn’t need another Chelsea gallery—it needs something weird and different.”

To Deitch, Grayson brought a roster of artists—Dan Colen, Terence Koh, and the late Dash Snow, among others—who now define the streets-inspired, druggy undercurrent of the contemporary art scene. “For every show I did at Deitch, there were five shows I wanted to do,” says Grayson, who would rather support “a group of kids who live in Virginia Beach making thrift-store junk piles and pop paintings” than “the most recent Yale graduate who makes conceptual sculpture.”

The Hole’s first exhibition, “Not Quite Open for Business,” went up just six weeks after Coleman and Grayson got the keys to their new space. It displayed works in various phases of completion in the still-unfinished gallery rooms, which stack behind each other like a Greenpoint shotgun apartment. Grayson explains, “If you want to change the art world, you have to open a gallery or inherit ten million dollars. We wanted to have an impact on the community.”

Grayson notices a Dearraindrop painting hanging in the café at the back of the gallery with an inky dribble darkening its seizure-inducing stripes. Taking her sleeve, she daubs at the stain. “It’s okay,” she says. “It comes off with a little spit.” —MC

Photo by Alexander Wagner; Hair and makeup by William Murphy.

Up next: The New Culturalist… image


Before entering the world of men’s fashion, designer Siki Im was an architect, but he’s had no trouble reconciling those seemingly disparate career paths. “The interior of a garment is just as important as its exterior, and the same can be said for a building,” he says. In 2009, after working as a senior designer at Helmut Lang and Karl Lagerfeld, Im decided to strike out with a label of his own. “I have very little support now and I have to fight for everything, but it’s good to have freedom.”

Im’s diverse background probably accounts for his eclectic fashion references: Arab keffiyehs, Japanese kimonos, Scottish kilts. The 32-year-old Oxford University graduate was raised by Korean parents in Cologne, Germany, and now works in Manhattan, where he has lived since 2001. Im says his forthcoming collection was inspired by American history—it’s unclear if that means Bill the Butcher toppers, Geronimo scarves, or Eisenhower-era suits. “Eventually,” he says, “I want to get back into architecture, but right now, this is the medium I’m using to express myself.” No matter which route he takes, Im, already an Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Men’s Award winner, will go the distance. —LM

Photo by Mark Squires; Grooming by Min Min Ma @ See Management.

Up next: The New Riot Grrrls image


A great woman once sang, “Girls just want to have fun,” and although she probably didn’t realize it at the time, she was talking about The Suzan, a bouncy rock-pop quartet from Tokyo. Sisters Rie and Saori, along with their friends Nico and Ikue—four ebullient Japanese twenty-somethings—have already achieved stateside success as the Suzan, a feat that eludes many of their country’s most popular artists. Not coincidentally, the band, which formed in 2004, eschews the ringtone-ready pop sounds that dominate Japanese airwaves. “J-pop sucks,” Saori says, her bandmates nodding in unison. “It’s so boring.”

The Suzan’s American debut, Golden Week for the Poco Poco Beat, has no shortage of melodic surprises. It draws on disparate in influences—in the words of its makers, “hip-hop, jazz, and African”—creating a sound tailor-made for a Tarantino flick. It was this eclecticism that convinced Bjorn Yttling (of Swedish pop maestros Peter Bjorn and John) to produce the album. Recorded over two weeks in Stockholm, the Suzan’s new favorite city, Poco Poco Beat is fast, frivolous, and all kinds of fun. Their sound, they say, evokes images of “tropical delight dancing.”

It’s the “dancing” part that caught the attention of Fool’s Gold, the Brooklyn-based label that made The Suzan their first rock act on a roster stacked with DJs and MCs. This October, they played a Fool’s Gold showcase at the CMJ Music Marathon, where Kanye West made a surprise appearance. The ladies, who released a cover of West’s “Paranoid,” were able to meet their idol—one of many—and while he admitted to not having heard their version, “He told us he really loves Tokyo!” Ikue says. Then they all burst into high-pitched laughter. —BB

Photo by Mark Squires; Styling by Christopher Campbell; Hair by Sarah Sibia @ See Management; Makeup by Anthea King @ See Management.

Calling All Artists: BlackBook & Society6 Want You to Join the 2011 New Regime

BlackBook tradition states that every December we publish a roster of lesser known artists that we think are destined to have a major impact in their field. Past luminaries include the new Spider-Man, aka Andrew Garfield, Ellen Page, and The xx. Getting your name on the list is a pretty big deal, and this year, you won’t need a buzzy movie or an anticipated album to do it. We’re partnering up with Society6, an online community for artists, to discover the next big thing. Successful applicants will be featured in the issue as part of the New Regime (that means getting your picture taken!) and your work will get the royal treatment on The deadline to apply is October 1st, so what are you waiting for?