If you managed to catch the romcomdocudrama Dumb: The Story of Big Brother Magazine on Hulu then there is absolutely no doubt in the world you were fascinated with one of the staff's most enigmatic characters: Earl Parker. Rick Kosick caught up with him recently at his place in Hollywood and this is a transcript of the ensuing conversation (and that's a fancy ass way of saying interview).
Kosick: What’s been going on with you lately?
Earl: Not really that much.
Why is that?
I do top secret stuff and I can’t talk about it.
You can’t give a little indication was to what you’ve been doing?
No, I can’t tell anybody.
So, what, just like roaming the streets taking photos, being a detective?
Ah, different types of stuff. Actually, I was taking a lot more photos in the past, and I would show them to people in the building and this old lady. I would just show her some pictures of random girls and stuff and this old lady asked me if I was looking for somebody.
How would you describe your photography style?
I haven’t been doing that lately.
Yes you have.
Not with my camera. Just with my phone.
So how would you describe your style of shooting with your iPhone?
I don’t know if there is one. I don’t really have much of a following with that kind of stuff… you would have to talk to somebody else.
Follow Earl, aka Alex, aka Thomas, on Instagram at @sheesh_capeesh.
I think you have a following. People just need to know more about you and what you are doing. Do you consider it to be like abstract or street life?
I guess so. It’s pretty boring and I don’t go many places. It’s just like around LA and stuff.
What other kind of cameras do you have?
I have two rangefinder cameras and a digital camera. I’m kind of losing interest in photography. There are so many cameras available that I just get tired of looking at pictures of them. I’ve been reading about cameras for a long time and I’m happy with what I have. I have everything all figured out, but then people have objections to what I’m into because everybody has a different idea of stuff. If you hang out with people they tell you to buy like a new camera and stuff and it goes on forever and I just don’t really care anymore. I’m just trying to give up on being interested in stuff like that.
Not really. I’m not that interested in America anymore. I want to go to some different countries and experience different types of cultures. I used to go over to Mexico. That’s really fun, but it can be kind of dangerous.
How’s Mexico dangerous?
I don’t think it is, but they say it is on the news. They were having drug wars for a while and people said don’t go there.
If you went to Mexico, what would you see yourself getting into?
I would just probably take pictures, eat tacos, and drink beer. Go to the bars in the afternoon with all the crazy drunks.
Maybe visit a brothel or two?
Ah, maybe, but I don’t go there for that reason. I’ve met people who are into that kind of stuff, but I would mainly go further into Mexico just to get out of places that have McDonalds everywhere. You have to go into central Mexico where it starts to get more exotic with different types of murals on the walls.
What’s the furthest you’ve traveled into Mexico?
I once sold an article to TransWorld publications and jumped on a bus through Texas all the way down the east coast of Mexico to Veracruz. It took two days and then I came up through the middle of the country and stopped at various cities and ended up in Tijuana with 600 dollars and I still had money when I came back. And then one time I didn’t have a place to crash, so I jumped on a bus and went to Calexico, California, which is straight east. You can walk over a bridge into Mexicali, which is the capital of Baja California. Pretty wild. The border towns are kind of sketchy. Groups of frat guys walk by and yell at you.
Have you every gone to Juarez?
I would never go to that place. You’re not supposed to go there. It’s not a nice place. But Cancun has problems too. I sit around and read the news all the time and I hear that people are getting sick at the resorts in Cancun and Cabo San Lucas. Recently there’s something about the beer that is making people sick, which is kind of strange, because the only reason I go there is to get one dollar beers. I don’t know… the more I read the news the less interested I get in traveling. I used to be more into it and then terrorism has been getting really big and I felt like I wasn’t missing as much anymore.
Have you written anything good lately?
No, writing isn’t going very well, but I’m going to start making my own homemade magazine as a solution. If you have to rely on other people it isn’t always that fun.
Do you see yourself as being famous?
I don’t really feel like I live the lifestyle of a famous person. I guess the answer is no. I don’t feel I have a lifestyle of anything.
People know who you are. You’ve contributed to something that’s been recognized.
Well, I just think there should be more of a lifestyle with convertible cars. And they hang out with pretty women and go to movie screenings.
But you see yourself as a creative type.
Yeah, I guess so. I don’t know how rewarding it is.
But you have fun in the process of doing it, right?
It has its moments.
Do you still have an infatuation about Hollywood and what this town has to offer?
Somebody recently said to me that they thought I was fascinated with Hollywood. I guess I kind of am, I live around here because it has cheap rent. But that’s kind of an interesting question… I don’t know how much I’m into that type of stuff. Maybe it would appear that way because of the pictures I take of the Hollywood stars on the Boulevard. I’m sure there are scenesters that are more interested. You would think that’s what it would be—the stuff about the actors in Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe or something—but other people don’t see it that way and have different ideas about what they think of this place. Like some of them don’t care about the Hollywood type stuff. It’s kind of like the people who work at the liquor store down the street don’t seem like they realize their store is in Hollywood.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve come across while walking around the streets of Los Angeles taking photos?
I was walking down Vine Street past the Arclight theatre and there was a small curtain blocking the view from the street, but I was walking next to it and I saw a couple having sex behind the curtain. Yeah, homeless people have sex in the streets. I always hear stories about it.
Do you think people understand your sense of humor or where you’re coming from?
Yeah, that can be a tricky thing with the writing. Like some peoples’ writings have their own style. They can either turn out great and the people love it, or their own particular style they have makes it a less desirable thing where people don’t understand where they’re coming from and they don’t like it. It’s not to say it’s badly written, they just don’t get the idea of it because of the person’s writing style. I’m really tired of all that stuff. I’m just going to start doing it for myself again.
That’s what you should be doing in the first place. I’m doing this interview because I like you and I have history with you. You’re interesting. I don’t give a shit what anyone else thinks, because I think you’re cool and I want to share that with people. I think you should do the same with your writing and the pictures you take. That’s from the heart. That’s what matters most. Did you like how the Big Brother documentary turned out?
Yeah, I liked it. I thought it was pretty cool. Some people right afterwards had some thoughts about it, but I don’t really see myself as one of them critic types.
Did you have a lot of people come up and say they saw you in that documentary?
No, I kind of stay home a lot and I don’t really get out as much as I should.
So the building you live in, it’s a historical landmark?
Yeah, it’s been here a hundred years. The Black Dahlia, that girl who had a famous death, lived here for a few months.
Do you see yourself as a free spirited kind of guy?
I used to be more like that, I don’t know as much anymore. I’m kind of integrated with everything now. I’m more into theories and talking to people and listening to what people have to say.
Do you have any closing thoughts?
I’m hoping there isn’t a bad earthquake. I think one is definitely coming. That’s what everybody says. The last big one, the Northridge in 1994, I was out of town so I missed it. And when I came back to LA I saw the devastation from it and it was pretty crazy.