Interview Series: Earl Parker

I was kind of shocked when I read the invite to Earl Parker’s photo show and realized that this was to be his first exhibition ever. Since his epic days as a Big Brother Magazine contributor, Earl has been known to “disappear without a trace only to return days or weeks later with rolls and rolls of 35mm film documenting his journeys throughout L.A and beyond,” Sean Cliver explains. His sometimes controversial, always wonderful street captures have turned him into somewhat of a cult legend.

Thursday’s show features a collection of recent photographs of Hollywood’s weird and beautiful, curated by Lauren Graham. Read on as we chat about his day to day as a street photographer, upcoming projects and fond memories.

Q&A 

LF: How does it feel to show new photographs, after kind of being out of the spotlight for a bit?

EP: I don’t know. That sounds like a dumb question. I hope to use the money to move away from L.A. because I’m not into that kind of crap… I’ve been taking pictures for twenty years as a hobby and don’t see myself as being anyone from it unless I was fortunate enough in the future to work for a wire agency… I guess it pays off to be Julie Brown, but I don’t know why anyone would want to be…

LF: Where would you want to move then if you got out of L.A.?

EP: I just want to go to San Diego, or the East Coast or something. I have moved around a lot but I’ve been stuck here for years and don’t really make much off this city, so have no reason to be here. I’m sure people probably see me walking around in the afternoon sometimes. Or I’d just like to go to Reseda in the Valley and get away from this in the middle, especially after it’s already been all photographed pretty much…

LF: The title of the show is straight up. “Pop culture sucks.” 

EP: I was just unhappy with a lot of the things I’ve done stuff for in the past and wish places like America had better culture…

LF: What’s your favorite photo from this exhibition?

EP: I don’t know. I am mostly into architecture photos but they didn’t use any of those. I go to old Downtown areas often…

LF: Tell me a little bit about what you found in old Downtown?

EP: I used to live Downtown before I ended up in Hollywoodland and it’s a little better, but the people are creeps and shit. I look for weird man made type shit to photography, like stuff on the tops of factories. And there aren’t as many people if you go down there, it’s just a bunch of fishery warehouses and stuff…

LF: What do you think sets your street photography apart?

EP: I don’t know, really. I just spend a lot of money doing it, or get companies to pay for it, and still have difficulty with it to this day, but I don’t really have the funds to do it more and print a bunch of stuff all the time… I use buses to get around the city, I have a monthly pass and when I get bored, I just jump on a bus and go to a new area…

LF: What have you been shooting with lately?

EP: A Voigtlander Bessa R2M and a Leica lens, and a Canon digital “soccer mom camera…”

LF: What’s your favorite memory from the Big Brother days?

EP: A trampoline on the side of the building and doing tricks on a board with no wheels with friends…

LF: Where does “master journalist” come from; who started calling you that?

EP: I just made it up as some title. I had titles for other pen names as well…

LF: What other pen names do you have?

EP: Alex Starver, Quazar, Neil Hampton, and other ones I don’t want to mention. I just used those so my whole career wouldn’t fall under Earl Parker or my real name and then people that comment about my stuff wouldn’t have complete reference, but they would pretty much know any article in Big Brother or whatever that talked about massage parlors, etc.

LF: How do you feel these days about the Internet and how it affects journalism in general? 

EP: I don’t know if I read much journalism on the Web, except for a few blogs made by my friends. The last thing I sold was about going to the bathroom so I wouldn’t really know and be involved in that amazing world…

LF: What’s the weirdest place in America? 

EP: Wyoming has real cliffs and shit straight out of the Roadrunner cartoon. I think Omaha is a little odd. I’ve been through there many times on bus layovers and there’s two gentlemen’s clubs near the station with big women. Fun.

LF: How fast do you live?

EP: A lot of drinking going on around central L.A. or Hollywood or whatever, but I don’t touch whisky or mixed drinks anymore; so I’m a bit slow, but it works for me… There’s a coffee shop around the corner that has AA meetings every day and I’ve never felt the need to go…


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