Continued from yesterday’s post (Lashes LaRoo: Tales of the Film Industry, Part 1), which tells how Lashes started in the film business. Today—Lashes moves to Hollywood, in her own words:
I grew up in New York and I got into the business in New York. Then I moved to California, unfortunately, because of a relationship, because of a man, which you should never do. At that time every place had its own union. Chicago had its union, as did Los Angeles, and New York. So I really couldn’t work within the guidelines of a Los Angeles union because I wasn’t in it.
I took a lot of non union films, making less than half of what I was accustomed to making, and also not getting my benefits or adding to my pension. But I did it hoping that one day I would get on the right movie that would be picked up by the union. Then I’d sign a union contract, which would get me in. Eventually I did. It was because of a wonderful producer, who is no longer with us. He got the cinematographer of this one particular film and me in by signing a union contract, half way into the film, which he knew he was going to do.
So I was finally able to work on union films, but found I wasn’t hired as much because there was already an established group of people who were known entities that I wasn’t a part of. New York is a small enclave, a very small film community. There were five still photographers when I was there, and there still are maybe five or six even now. In Los Angeles there were several hundred. In New York I was a star. In LA I was just a small fish in a HUGE pond. I survived, certainly, but not the way I had in New York.
LA was never really kind to me. I wasn’t happy there. I’d moved for the wrong reason, for someone else, and I was no longer with the man. But I’d sold my loft in NY and there was no going back. So I ended up buying a house and staying there for fourteen years, always wanting to get out.
One Friday night I had a dinner party and a friend invited a woman who walked into my house, opened up her checkbook, and told me she’d write a check for whatever amount I wanted. At first I thought she was crazy, my house wasn’t for sale. But as the night progressed I was thinking, “Wait a minute, maybe my house is for sale!” So she came back Sunday morning and by Monday we were in escrow. The following weekend I drove to New Mexico.
I had been to Santa Fe many, many times. I came to visit friends who had a hacienda in Nambe, so I pretty much knew northern New Mexico like the back of my hand. I also had gone there with my parents since I was 17. So I came and rented this little casita at Ojo Caliente for a week. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I decided to look at real estate. I was interested in Tesuque, if I could afford to buy something outright but, if not, I thought I’d go north. I knew Truchas very well from many previous visits. The second house I looked at was this house. I walked in and just knew this was it. So I bought the place immediately and moved in seven years ago this November.
This house was put together piece meal, as all these old adobes have been. Nothing is straight or regular; the walls are all over the place—certainly not plumb, the paint dried with drip marks everywhere. The floors are very old tile that’s chipping and dirty and can’t really be cleaned anymore. I thought when I first got it I should tidy it up and then I just decided that I quite love it the way it is.
Unbeknownst to me there was the beginning of a film business starting up in Santa Fe and Albuquerque at that time. And I just popped up out of nowhere with all these film credits. I became a star again. It was like living in New York, until our governor took away almost everything from us this year (the state of New Mexico, under former Governor Richardson, offered tax incentives to the film industry to encourage films being made in the state, incentives that worked very well for years, until new governor, Susana Martinez, succeeded in her push to get state lawmakers to severely cap the incentives). She put the kibosh on it and it’s really sad. Every day I would go to work, work I love, and would think, “Look where I am!” And then every night I’d get to come back to my home, a home I love to live in. How much more can you ask for out of your life? I hope next year when this comes up again in the legislature that she’ll realize she made a grave mistake.
I don’t want to work outside the state. I have a person in my life that I knew in New York, and re-met in New Mexico, after not having seen him for 20 years. I’m very happy in this relationship and I don’t want to leave. I like it here. I like my friends. I love living in Truchas. It’s a community beyond community. I know that if I got sick in the middle of the night I could call half a dozen people and they would help me. I only hope that we can bring back what we had–our thriving film business. In the interim, I dabble with my pottery—making plates and bowls– which I get great enjoyment out of (the photos of her pottery show unfinished pieces and some molds—her work is currently being shown at Hand Artes Gallery here in Truchas).
Jeane here: While she doesn’t talk about it much and she never name-drops, the life Lashes LaRoo leads would be considered very glamorous by most. She works with, befriends, and entertains people we all know very well from the silver screen. And while she loves her life and her work, what she probably enjoys the most is traveling all over with her partner in his RV. “I love the emptiness of it,” she says. “It’s stripped of all the material stuff we both own in our homes. I don’t need any of that to be happy. These are all things I’ve acquired over a very long period of time. But if the situation and circumstance were right, I could live in a box and be very happy. In the RV we have our animals and us. There’s nothing else to look at but what you’re looking at—me at him, him at me, out the windows. We sit outside a lot and cook outside, enjoying the sunrises and the sunsets. It’s a whole different lifestyle and I love it.”
Of the tales she’s felt unable to tell she says, “It’s a shame because I do have great film stories. There are actors I’ve worked with that are the gems of the earth, who have made my job remarkable– certain people who gave so much to my life and to what I was doing, I would love to be able to tell you. Maybe another time… maybe when I retire…”
Much of the art in these photos, which has been collected over the years, is by artists from Truchas.
Love to you all,