All over Los Angeles in the mid-1990s were high-hoisted billboards in tribute to a pneumatic blonde named “Angelyne,” who peered over sunglasses to her admirers below. This was when I first visited the city in fall of 1994 and found that no matter where I traveled there was always a giant monument to Angelyne, the billboard queen—or as I thought of her, Our Lady of Los Angeles. When I asked who and what and why? no one knew much other than to say in that kinda laid back Angeleno way, “Oh, that’s Angelyne—she’s famous for being famous,” as if this somehow explained everything.
Famous for being famous?
I suppose it did in some kind of a way make sense and captured something of the hope people have for the great American dream, where anything or everything is supposedly possible. And in an unconsidered way, she seemed an appropriate metaphor for LA and Hollywood. For many years Angelyne’s billboards were LA landmarks, even earning her a cameo (via one of them) in the opening to the 80s TV series Moonlighting with Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd.
Angelyne is an actress and a model and a singer and an artist and… she even ran for governor of California in 2003, where she polled 2,536 votes. She still sometimes appears in movies and exhibits her childlike portraits in galleries across LA, but no one really seems to know any more about her than they did back in 1994, or even 1984 when those giant pink “Angelyne” billboards first blossomed over Sunset. (For instance WHO was footing the bill for these billboards?)
In 1995, a young filmmaker named Robinson Devor made a short film about Angelyne. Devor is a highly talented, genuinely brilliant maverick filmmaker whose work includes the movie The Woman Chaser and the disturbing award-winning hybrid documentary Zoo about the death of a man after intercourse with a horse. But long before all this (and sadly many other unrealized projects), Devor shot a grainy B&W documentary on Angelyne, which looks almost like a taster tape for a longer doc—but still its five minute + running time probably says all that needs to be said about Our Lady of LA, Angelyne.