By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
“I had a friend who did an act called Boobzilla. She had amazing boobs, and she’d come out and stomp on Little Tokyo and dress in full monster gear,” says Abbott. “One night, we did a battle where I was Muffra. I had these big wings, and I made it look like I had a vagina on my back. It was really bad.
“And now I’m boring,” she concludes. “I just sew and do my podcast [The Leatherette Heart Rock N Roll Hour].”
Abbott has also worked as a pattern maker for the Costa Mesa-based Paul Frank (after Paul Frank was no longer with Paul Frank) and Fox Racing.
“What I do is called ‘technical design,’ and it’s a new field basically because everything’s done in China now. You get the measurements of something, and you make a diagram, and [workers in China] make the outfit fit that,” she drones. “It’s just really boring, tedious and technical—there’s always a language barrier, and I have to tell them to ‘submit blap blap blap.’” Abbot motions her fingers over a keyboard. “I call it speaking robot because you can’t really say anything. No one wants to work domestically anymore.”
She brings out her array of bright, bold dresses, blouses and skirts—chainlink is a common theme. She credits her style to her love for music, especially old-school punk rock. A wall of decorative mirrors is adorned with images of Sid Vicious and Debbie Harry; another wall has hanging toy guitars.
“Everything now is a conglomerate. How many boutiques do you know of anymore? I buy a lot of clothing at H&M and Forever 21. You know Forever 21 is the devil—you just know it—and you buy there anyway!” she says. “The thing is, I think there’s more of a trend in looking more individual—and I think the crafting thing helps that. It helps foster individualism.”
Abbott left Paul Frank after not even a year. While she did think it was a cool company to work for, “I just couldn’t take the corporate fashion thing. So I’m doing this indie fashion thing now. Start my own empire. The Puff Daddy of Etsy.”
The morning of the Long Beach Second Saturday Art Walk, Abbott’s garage door refuses to open. “This never happens when you’re going to work!” she remarks. An unhelpful landlord meant that her racks, tables and displays wouldn’t make it that Saturday. It’s only with Cooper’s help that Abbott makes it down to the East Village with her clothing and jewelry.
Tote bags of items lay about the two EZ-Up tents the Craft Mafia occupy that afternoon. The girls have already set up their individual tables.
Lee’s is draped with a vintage cloth covered in yellow elephants and clowns with red hair, with her stuffed dinosaurs, journals, print, candles and hats fanned out carefully. For most of the afternoon, she spends her time crocheting a purple hat.
Dutton has a diorama of sorts as a display for her crayon fawns—the display is covered with AstroTurf and features a psychedelic sky, trees and even a river. Two slightly terrifying mannequin heads with mouths ajar, acquired at the Old Towne Orange Antique Mall with her grandmother, proudly display her cupcake hats.
Cooper is set up next to her, with a hand-painted display rack to hang her bags—one with a picnic-watermelon-and-ants theme—and her newsprint wallets and zippered bags propped up for display and ready to go.
Lee and Dutton were the first to arrive at the space earlier that afternoon—only to find some sort of mysterious towel dripping with some sort of mysterious liquid. Even after the offending towel was disposed of, the rest of the afternoon alternated between smelling whiffs of dog shit and whiffs of vomit—depending on which way the wind blew.
The event was to run from 4 to 10 p.m., and it only spanned one city block, but foot traffic was steady with young couples, older moms, children, and even the occasional skater and hipster. The other tents sold organic hand soaps, beaded jewelry, original art.
Laura Harjo, a Rancho Palos Verdes resident visiting the Art Walk that day with her daughter, had heard about the event through MySpace. She had come back for a second glance and finally purchased a Kelso Doesn’t Dance newsprint wallet for $12. Harjo says she enjoys supporting independent artists and designers whenever she can.
“Well, I’m starting at the beginning of the supply chain. So instead of going to Target and spending money there, I’m going straight to the ladies who are making it.” She pauses. “And it’s cool,” she continues, lifting her shopping bag with her new vinyl wallet inside.
Frequent Art Walk visitor Katie Stayner, 29, who lives in Long Beach and works at local bar and venue Que Sera, purchases a cupcake hat. “I’m really into handmade stuff because I guess I like to hand-pick everything that has to do with me,” Stayner says. “You know, what people create here—it’s art, and it’s functional. I really like enjoying those kinds of things all the time and surrounding myself with that. It’s not contrived. It’s handmade; it’s from the heart.”