Hollywood looms large over the city of Los Angeles. Winding hillsides aglow with wealth rise up over the dusty sprawl, and on a clear day, you can see slivers of history – the glamorous starlets and hushed secrets – shimmering like a sun-soaked mirage, hidden in plain sight amidst strip malls and street corners and restaurants that feel frozen in the past. Wherever you are, you can feel the shadow of the Hollywood sign above you, those crooked letters that announce that you can be anybody you want to be here, and anybody can be somebody here. It doesn’t matter where you came from, because now you have arrived.
Coiled like a snake in the heart of Hollywood, pervading its jasmine-scented, jacaranda-lined streets, is the breathless feeling that what you’re looking for is just around the next corner, the city unfolding in front of you, hazy and sparkling, like a warped and never-ending yellow brick road. Feverish with starry-eyed determination and fueled solely by iced coffee, everyone is muscling their way towards some point on the horizon only they can see.
People love to tell you to leave California before it makes you soft. They talk of the relentless sunshine melting your brain, turning it slow and sticky-sweet as honey. What they don’t understand is that Hollywood is a shimmering landscape built on an endlessly shifting surface. It sheds its layers as effortlessly as a snake. It may be silky soft to the touch, may blind you with its sheen like the whole city is coated in lipgloss, may look at you like a doe-eyed starlet who knows all her angles, but there will always be more there than meets the eye. There will always be a bit of strangeness folded into all that shine.
The latest series from photographer Cherokee Neas comes to us as if from a hazy midsummer dream, juxtaposing the languid swell of humid afternoons with the moody sense of mystery that saturates the streets of Hollywood. Starring Live FAST favorite Maelys Garouis, it’s a lustrous ode to the old school iconography of the city and the rosy-cheeked energy that keeps it endlessly buzzing.
Looking every inch the ingenue in ribbon-tied pigtails, amidst cut flowers and fresh fruit, there is an expressive arch to her eyebrows, a gleam in her eyes that says she knows exactly what she’s doing. She isn’t looking at you, she’s looking past you, towards something emerging in the cloudless blue distance. The magic of summer is that gloomy mornings swaddled in clouds always seem to unfold into afternoons drenched in golden sun. The magic of Hollywood is that it somehow always feels like it’s sharing its secrets only with you.
Keep up with Cherokee’s work here.