Karl: It’s a frigid LA evening on Thursday, February 18, 2011. Sarah and I are overlooking an active Sunset Boulevard from a window-side booth at Sushi Dan. Thank you for doing this, by the way.
Sarah: Oh are you kidding me? This is so exciting!
Karl: So what’s your occupation?
Sarah: I’m currently unemployed. I’d like to be doing comedic acting, ideally, my own sitcom. I’m also a singer/songwriter, although I suffer from major stage-fright.
Karl: I find that hard to believe.
Sarah: Only when it comes to singing. It’s so easy for me to be the funny girl, but when it comes to singing and playing for people it’s really uncomfortable. So I would be pursuing that full time if I wasn’t totally debilitated by my stage fright.
Karl: Are you pitching sitcoms right now?
Sarah: No, not even in the slightest. Literally, in the last two months, I just decided I’m going to pursue acting and I haven’t even been on one audition yet. I’m a brand new baby.
Karl: Relationship status?
Sarah: Single… Not wanting to be. *laughs* I’m gay, except every 6-months I sleep with a guy, just because I get an urge to. A lot of my friends say, “Well then you’re not totally gay.” But I identify as gay because I’ve never had a boy friend, and I don’t really want one. But I love… *makes thrusting motion with fist* …penis.
Karl: Yeah, I get it. I imagine you take a lot of shit for that from your lesbian friends.
Sarah: Yeah well, I’m already really strange, so people think, “Oh, just one more thing we can’t wrap our heads around.”
Karl: Is it the same guy every 6-months?
Sarah: No. It’s now been 9 different guys! 2003 is when I first embarked on the journey. I was just so curious.
Karl: How do you meet these guys?
Sarah: I’ve known all of them previously – acquaintances, co-workers, brothers, or friends of mine. I just call them up and say, “Do you want to have sex with me?” And that’s how it happens. It’s never been organic in any way. It’s more of just an actual booty call.
Karl: I’m sure they’re happy to oblige. They’re probably like, “You would not believe this call I got tonight!”
Sarah: Usually I’m like, “Ok, you can go home now. I don’t need to snuggle.”
Karl: Tell me about your hobbies and what you do in your free time.
Sarah: I’m 30-years old but I love riding my skateboard. I’ve been riding since I was 7. When I think of my childhood, I think of riding around this area for hours. I’m also really into astrology!
Karl: Oh really? Tell me about that, what does that entail?
Sarah: Well, if I’m getting to know someone new and I know a lot about their birth chart, it gives me these tools to know how to relate to them. For example, if your moon is in Pisces, that would mean that you’re a very sensitive person, and I would know, “Maybe I won’t make fun of him about this thing because it might hurt his feelings.” It’s just a guide to know how to work with someone, especially when I meet a new girl. I’m like, “What day were you born? What time were you born?” *writes on invisible pad* And they’re like, “What are you doing?”
Karl: So what brought you back to West Hollywood? You grew up here…
Karl: So what did your parents do here? Why did you leave? And what brought you back? Give me the full circle.
Sarah: My dad was a photo-journalist, and my mom has always been trying to end hunger, that kind of stuff, a lobbyist. She’s done many things but now she’s a life-coach. Anyway, they met in Salt Lake City, got married, moved to Sausalito, and after a few months, decided to move to Harper and Romaine. So we lived in a duplex with my mom’s best friend from high-school, her husband, and their new baby. We were on the bottom, they were on the top.
Sarah: Yeah, right there! *points down the street* My dad decided that he wanted to become a producer, and he met some friend who said, “Oh I want to be that too.” So everyday they would meet up at the Farmer’s Market and have meetings with each other and see how they could create this company.
Karl: What a place to brainstorm. That place is fantastic.
Sarah: Yeah, so we lived on Harper until I was about 6. I remember when Gelson’s was Mayfair back then, and that neighborhood was pretty seedy. I was really young, I just remember my parents saying, “We’re not going to let you go up there by yourself.” And you know Basix? It used to be a small little bakery. We called it “the croissant store” because on weekends, we would get chocolate croissants that were the best because they would melt in your mouth.
Karl: Describe the Santa Monica Strip as you remember it.
Sarah: There wasn’t a lot going on. It was sort of seedy… 4-story office buildings… homeless people… trannies. We hung out a lot in front of our house. We did a lot of hop-scotch ’cause my best friend lived down the street. Our upstairs neighbor used to pull his car onto our front lawn and just park it there. My dad hated it.
Karl: Sounds like any other American neighborhood with kids in the street and everything.
Sarah: Yeah. There weren’t a ton of other kids, but I had my best friend. Then in August of 1986, we moved to another duplex in Hancock Park, on Mansfield and Beverly. Those are all duplexes over there, where all the Hasidic Jews are. *chuckles* It was different over there. I went to Third Street Elementary School… Do you know where that is, on 3rd and June?
Karl: I’ll probably know of it more when my girl gets into Kindergarten.
Sarah: Yeah. And if you want to send her there, just know that everybody is Korean there now. So she’ll learn a lot of Korean.
Karl: This is where you first stared skating?
Sarah: Yes. I remember my first skateboard, it was green plastic and was shaped like a fish. It said “Scampi” on it! I don’t know what that means. It had really loose trucks.
Karl: I had an orange one just like that. Those were great!
Sarah: I’d get home from school and I was on my skateboard for hours. I skated everyday from the time I was 7 until about 15 or 16. You know my boards got much nicer and I’d go much further… But I was a real tomboy.
Karl: I remember all the girl skaters when I was young. What did we call them? *thinks* I think we used to call them “bobbies.” They were always cute and loved to show us up.
Sarah: I didn’t have any guy friends who were skaters. And the funny thing is, I grew up in a very Hasidic neighborhood… I mean, I’m Jewish, but I’m not that religious.
Karl: Not that Jewish.
Sarah: *laughs* Well, I’m such a people person, and I was so fascinated by these Jews in my neighborhood. I always wanted to talk to them and get to know them, and they were so rude – always protecting their children from me. It’s not like I was going to corrupt them or anything. I used to try to tell them, “You know, I’m Jewish too!” But they couldn’t give a shit, ’cause in their eyes I’m not Jewish. That was always frustrating for me. I would come home and ask my parents, “How come they don’t like me?”
Karl: Did your parents associate with them or have Hasidic friends?
Sarah: Oh, God no.
Waiter: Everything okay?
Karl: More napkins, and another glass of cab, please.
So where did you run off to then? When you left LA, I mean.
Sarah: Oh… I was like, “How did you know I ran away from home?”
Karl: Did you? *laughs* No, I meant for school, or when you really left.
Sarah: I left to go to Humboldt State. *groans*
Karl: Not a fan?
Sarah: Well, I applied to a lot of schools on the east coast and chickened out. I was still very connected to my parents and I just wasn’t ready, so I thought, “Well, I’ll go somewhere on the West Coast.” I didn’t get into Santa Cruz or Santa Barbara, but I got into Humboldt. I had lived in the big city my whole life so I thought, “Let’s see what’s it’s like to live in the Redwood Forest.”
*Sarah’s cell phone buzzes*
Karl: You can take that.
Sarah: *looks at phone* No, it’s just a text. If it was gonna be a hot girl, I was gonna have to answer it. *laughs* You know, I’m on my game right now. So I was at Humboldt for 2-years. It rained a lot, there were all these hippies, and it wasn’t challenging enough.
*Waitress sets more ikura in front of Karl, Sarah nearly spits out wine*
Sarah: God, you really like those things! You know, I think I’ve tried one like that and it kind of just popped in my mouth.
Karl: Did it gross you out? Here, try one.
Sarah: Is it the flavor you like?
Karl: You know what, they’re really good for you. They’re incredibly healthy, packed with vitamins.
Sarah: Okay, I’m gonna just take, like… *takes 3 eggs with chop sticks* So these are like, unfertilized eggs? I’m not going to get pregnant am I? *takes bite*
Karl: Let’s hope not.
Sarah: Ewww, *makes face* that is so gross!
Karl: Sorry. Thought you might like them.
Sarah: You like that? Eck! *sticks out tongue* Sorry, that’s rude. Anyway, I wanted to get more into singing and song-writing. So I thought I would move back to Los Angeles, live at home, and just go to all the clubs and play music. I moved back to LA, but ended up getting in touch with a family friend who lives in Western Massachusetts. And she was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa… Excuse me… You just came out of the closet, you’re a singer-songwriter, and you want to experience something new and exciting? Well you should move to Northampton, Massachusetts!” *laughs* “It’s the lesbian capital of the world! And also, it has a huge folk/rock music scene.”
Karl: It does I think. Right? And Vermont too.
Sarah: Yes, Northampton is known for having a ton of folk/rock musicians come through there. Within a month, I packed up my life and moved out there at 19.
Karl: Man, what a change.
Sarah: My grandparents are… *pauses* wealthy. My grandpa was a CPA, he lived in Bel Air. He set up a college fund for me when I was little and my parents decided, “Well, if you’re not going to use it on college, you can use it to help yourself live while you pursue what you want to do.” So I had all this money at my leisure. Granted, it’s a lot less expensive to live in Northampton, but I basically was working 2 to 3 days a week at Whole Foods Market, living in a 3-bedroom apartment by myself.
Karl: Wow. You made it count.
Sarah: *laughs* Yeah! The days I wasn’t working, I’d sit in my room in the freezing cold and would write songs, but was living this adult life. I had this great apartment. I painted all the rooms, decorated it… Looking back, I’m like, “God, I was really spoiled!” And since I would take the money each month to live off of, I really barely had to work.’
Karl: Well, to a 19-year-old, it sounds fantastic.
Sarah: Yeah, but it really fucked me up, ’cause now I’m 30, and I’m like, *obnoxious whiney voice* “I don’t wanna work!” I’m disappointed in myself for being that way. When I am working, I’m a really hard worker. All the PA’ing I did for all those years, they called me, “Uber PA” I was the best. But if I don’t need to work, or I’m on unemployment, I get really fucking lazy. And that’s where I’ve been, so I gotta get out of that rut. *bites into tempura* Mmmmm, I think that’s kabocha squash!
Karl: Nice… Where’d you pull that out of? You know squash I guess. *laughs* Right, you worked at Whole Foods.
Sarah: I did, that’s how I know it! That is totally kabocha a squash! *eats the rest* So, this is 2002 now, 2-years after I moved to Northampton, I started to get a little restless, and I decided to enroll in Naropa University. Do you know Naropa?
Karl: No, tell me about it.
Sarah: It’s like a small, private, Buddhist, American school, super new-agey… It was started by all the beatniks like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, and they all started this Naropa Institute. Now, when I think about it, it sounds a little corny, but I was really into it back then. So I left my community of Massachusenites and moved to Boulder. I’m 22 now, still single. I was getting really great grades because it too wasn’t super challenging. Really great people, but I only went there for two semesters and changed my major 4 times in those 2 semesters. So I felt restless again. Once I left Naropa, I visited Massachusetts and low and behold, I met a girl in the week that I was there. So I thought, “Well, I don’t really know what I’m doing with my life, so I should just move back to Northampton!” *laughs*
Karl: Well, that’s a good enough reason.
Sarah: Ew, I smell fish. I guess it’s all over the place… I’m eating it!
Sarah: No, it was that smell, sort of like vagina smell. Like bad-vagina smell… You know what I mean. Yuck. So I moved back to Northampton and we lived together for a year.
Karl: What did you do there, now I mean?
Sarah: Well, I’ve always been a big fan of uniforms. So I decided that I was going to get a job based on the kind of uniform I got to wear… I thought, “I’ll be a mailman!”
Karl: Don’t tell me you got to be a mailman!
Sarah: I did!
Karl: Awww! Jealous! You get to be outside, it’s a union gig, it pays well!
Sarah: Well, I was what they called a casual employee, which runs for 3-month blocks. So I did 3-blocks in 9-months. The first 3-months, I was… the janitor! *laughs*
Karl: *laughs* Everyone’s got to have a job like that at some point.
Sarah: I know it’s so funny ’cause I’m so horrible at cleaning things. But the next 3-months I got a truck.
Karl: The mail truck?
Sarah: The Mail truck, where you sit on the other side. Here’s the thing though, as a casual employee you don’t get a uniform.
Karl: Oh man, which was the whole point!
Sarah: Exactly! But I begged them to let me wear a uniform. So I was the only casual employee who wore a uniform. *laughs* I still have it!
Karl: Of course you do, you have to hang onto that sucker!
Sarah: It’s not very flattering on me, you know, the crotch goes down to my knees, but it’s fun.
The other 3-months was getting there at 4 in the morning, in the middle of winter, and lifting pallets of mail from there to there.
Karl: Manual labor.
Sarah: Right. I’d get out at 1:00 and then sleep all afternoon, it was horrible. Then I decided I wasn’t into my girlfriend anymore, and I started to think, “Maybe I should move back to LA, I don’t know what I’m doing here anymore.” And, I just… *long pause* did. So in the Spring of 2005, I moved back to LA. And I’ll tell ya… *takes bite of food* I haven’t regretted it since.
Karl: So describe how things were different when you returned.
Sarah: Well, if I can back up for just a second, when I originally moved to Massachusetts, my mom actually moved to Philadelphia. My dad had just left her, and she was getting divorced, so she randomly moved to Philly. So I came back thinking I could just crash with family. But my dad didn’t have room, because he had just had two little girls with his new wife, so the next best thing was to move in with my grandparents.
Karl: Out in Bel Air.
Sarah: So I still had somewhat of a nest egg, just residual money, probably $10K or $15K to play with. So I moved in with my grandparents, and their pool, and their many gardens. I basically spent everyday lying on the roof in my bikini. I didn’t have a ton of friends out here. Most had moved away for college and were in grad school, and I didn’t feel like I needed a bunch of friends. I was just living in my own oblivion.
Karl: Are you writing now?
Sarah: I don’t think I was very much. Well, I was writing a little bit. I wrote my hit song in ’05, so here and there. Mostly I would go to the gym, and would lay out. But in 2006, I started feeling pressure to get a job, ’cause I was running out of money.
Karl: The J word.
Sarah: I know, God, one of those. *rolls eyes* So I got a job at the Whole Foods in West Hollywood cutting cheese and meats for famous people. I liked it alright, I only worked 3 or 4 days a week, but I started to get my game on, and started dating a lot of girls. The Summer of 2006 was girl central. Here I was, working in the center of West Hollywood, but I didn’t have a ton of friends, and I didn’t drink… at all. I’ve just started drinking more in the last year. So I never really wanted to go out to the bars to meet people. So I started meeting girls, and then I started dating a few of them, and one of them became my girlfriend. And I finally moved out of my grandparents house and moved in with her in Burbank. I was also doing full-on commercial PA work by now, just commercial, commercial, commercial. It was really good money, and then nothing, and then really good money…
Karl: The “LA way.”
Sarah: More like the “Sarah way.” I’m always really rich, or really broke, *pauses* so soon I’ll be really rich! *laughs* So we broke up and she moved back to Miami, and then I got my job for 2-years as an office manager at a production company. We were on the corner of Wilcox and Hollywood in the old Pacific Theaters building . The longest job I’ve ever held after the 9-month Post Office job. I knew that I just needed a job to pay the bills while I pursued my artsy fartsy thing. But I wasn’t really pursuing it, that’s the thing. I don’t know if I have ADD or motivational issues, but I just get so excited about doing something and then I don’t do anything about doing it.
Karl: I think you’re just an “artist.”
Sarah: Exactly. And I think it’s so funny that my mom is a life coach, but she can’t help me at all. I moved to Wilcox, between Willoughby and Waring… Right next to the DMV! *laughs* It was a really ugly street but it was a cute apartment.
Karl: I like it down there. I like the grit, I dig it down there.
Sarah: I don’t like grit. All my friends are like, “Move to Silverlake, move to Echo Park!” When I think about those places it reminds me of when I was younger and feeling like those were dirty places. You know, with poor, dangerous people.
Karl: Well, now in 2011, tell me some of the changes you’ve seen in the area since you’ve been back.
Sarah: Well… *thinks*
Karl: Do you go out more now?
Sarah: Well, since I broke up with my last girlfriend about a year ago, I’ve been going out to the Abbey and all the clubs all around there a lot. Well, they just did that whole island of grass and trees on Santa Monica. They’ve really fixed it up and I remember thinking, *in snobby voice* “Oh… this is getting classy.”
Karl: How would you describe the community here in West Hollywood?
Sarah: That’s an interesting question because I’m still trying to find my community here. I don’t hang around the heart of West Hollywood because I don’t feel welcome. It’s such a boy’s town. I think there’s a little bit of snootiness, and possessiveness of a lot of the gay men that I see walking around. Sort of like, “This is our territory.” And I’m like, “Hey, I’m gay too!” It’s like the Orthodox Jewish thing. When I’m around them I feel like they don’t want me around at all because I’m a woman, but then there’s a part of me that thinks, “Don’t you want me around because I’m also gay?” We’re the same, we’re both homos! I’ve met some really friendly guys, but I sort of feel invisible. Which makes sense I guess, because a lot of them could care less that there’s a woman there.
Karl: So is this walking around, or living here, or when you’re out on the town at bars?
Sarah: Well, going to the Abbey is always fun because everyone is so drunk that they love you no matter what. I volunteer for AIDS Lifecycle, and a few weeks ago they were doing a campaign to promote a big gay and lesbian reunion party they were having the following day. They asked me, because I’m so personable, if I would sit on a stationary bicycle on the corner of Robertson and Santa Monica, on a Friday night when everyone’s going out to the bars, to try and get them to come to this party. I thought, “Oh my God, that’s going to be so much fun! Everybody’s going to want to talk to me and I’ll tell them all about it.” They barely even noticed me.
Karl: You’re right there on that busy corner, riding a bike?
Sarah: I’m riding, dressed in full bike gear, yelling to people, and they could give a shit. They just totally ignored me. And then I was like, “Oh yeah, they don’t care about girls.” I mean, hey, it’s better than living down in Orange County where everyone’s super uptight and waspy and conservative. My favorite area to hang out in is around Curson and Beverly by Terroni.
Karl: By the Pan Pacific Park.
Sarah: I like to call that the “Struggling Actor’s Neighborhood.” There’s a mixture of everything there, families, even some Orthodox Jews which I guess I’ll take. *laughs* My real community is spread out. I have 5 close friends now but one lives in Koreatown, one lives in Santa Monica, one’s downtown… But when we do meet up, we usually meet up at the Abbey and that area. You know, this is sort of embarrassing but I really like hanging out at the Grove. On weekends, my dad, my sister and I would ride our bicycles to the Farmer’s Market and get a donut and orange juice from Bob’s.
Karl: *laughs* That actually warms my heart because I walk my kids there all the time. We get a fruit smoothies and go look at the fountain.
Sarah: It’s a little overcrowded, and they need an American Eagle.
Karl: It’s a great place to bring out-of-towners because you can park on the roof, and get an immaculate 360-degree view of LA. So you live just 2-blocks from here, what do you think of this particular area? *looks out window*
Sarah: Well, I live with my mom now. She’s been back for 3-years I think. I’ve been living on her couch since September.
Karl: How is that working out?
Sarah: I’m looking forward to having my own place again. She’s a great person, and we’re really close but…
Karl: But you’re living with your mom, I get it.
Sarah: She’s always like, “You don’t have a job yet!” I feel like a teenager again. *laughs*
Karl: Is the area heading in a good direction or a bad direction?
Karl: The way the city is evolving?
Sarah: You mean how it’s getting more upscale?
Karl: Well, is it getting more upscale?
Sarah: Yeah, I think so. I would say a good direction. I don’t remember how seedy it really was when I was younger, but my parents say to me, “when we lived there it was not a nice neighborhood.” As long as it doesn’t get too ritzy.
Karl: And what would you like to see more of?
Sarah: More girl hang outs! It’s such a boy’s town. I would love to see the presence of a lesbian community here ’cause it’s just nonexistent. A coffee shop where they all flock to, or just a few more places. I went into the Starbucks near the Ramada on Santa Monica Blvd. and I was the only woman in there. It was all guys.
Karl: Where are the current girl hangouts?
Sarah: In Long Beach! Who wants to move to Long Beach? Everybody says, “Oh, you gotta move to Long Beach, that’s where the girls are at.”
Karl: How about Palms?
Sarah: I’ve actually never been there, but I would think, if anything, it would be more older women. It’s sad, I really don’t know where all the lesbians are. On Friday nights, they come out, but a lot of them aren’t very cute. On Fridays, Here has Truck Stop Girls Night, right next to the Abbey, and it’s just not girls my type. They’re from the suburbs, they’re from out there, a lot of pacific islander, latino, I’m more into white girls and black girls. I think the girls I like all live in Boulder, CO. I am so into Earthy, crunchy girls and they barely exist here. You know what else I would like to see more of, more bike lanes. Coming from Boulder, almost every street has bike lanes, and you could ride your bike anywhere.
Karl: Yeah, here you’re gonna be killed.
Sarah: Exactly. I rarely ride my bike in this neighborhood. If I ride it, I go out to Santa Monica where it’s less congested. If we had bike lanes it would really change the way I interact with this city.
Karl: How about less of?
Sarah: Less cat poop. But that’s inevitable, I love my cat. And I don’t like how they’re putting in all those cameras to catch us when we go through the yellow light.
Karl: Yeah, that’s a major issue for a lot of people.
Sarah: I mostly stop when I think it’s about to turn yellow, but I have friends who have gotten $400 tickets.
Karl: *points at self*
Karl: I got hit at La Cienega and Washington, down by all those Culver City galleries. Yep, got my picture in the mail, $400 or something. Brutal. Yes, those suck. I think they’ve slowed them down though, you get more of a cushion because so many people were bitching about them. I remember when they first came out, all this infidelity was coming to light because people were being photographed with someone else in the car.
Sarah: That’s awesome. Oh, I also like how they’re changing all the parking meters to let you use your debit or credit card. ‘Cause who has that many quarters on them all the time? That’s great, but I hate how a quarter will get you 7-minutes. Really? That use to get you an hour. And even though I’m guilty of it sometimes, I will finish writing a text, but only at red lights. I see people texting while driving, and swerving, and driving really slow, and it makes me so upset. But then I think, “Well, Sarah, if you didn’t text at all, you could get upset with that, but the fact that you still, every once in awhile just finish up that text…
Karl: Yeah, we’re all guilty of that, and it’s awful!
Sarah: Not my mom. If we pull up next to someone texting, she’ll go up to them and, *motions to roll window down* “Stop texting!” And it’s so embarrassing! If I see her about to do it I’ll slow down, or speed up.
Karl: *laughs* Good for her. I’m tempted to do that myself sometimes. So where do you see the city 10 to 20 years from now?
Sarah: Oh man, that’s weird, I never think about the future. I mean I think about mine, but never my city’s future. In Hollywood, they recently put up the new W Hotel, and it seems like they have a lot of new, upscale structures, so I like the direction it’s going. I never felt comfortable in Hollywood because it was always so seedy and gross, but they’re really doing good things. I’d like to see more parks. Pan Pacific Park is great, and there are other little parks, but sometimes you just need to get away.
Karl: Have you ever taken the bus here?
Sarah: The very first time I rode the bus in Los Angeles was with my girl-scout troop. The troop leader decided we were going to take an adventure. We got on the bus, and after a few minutes these two men get into an altercation. And one of the guys starts, *points finger through jacket* “I’ve got a gun, I’ve got a gun!” So my girl-scout troop leader starts freaking out because she’s got 15-girl scouts with her. She screams at the driver to stop the bus, and he’s like, “I can’t, lady!” But she yells, “Stop this bus!” So he stops, and she pulls us all off the bus, and I remember thinking, “So that’s why we’ve never taken the bus before.” About a month ago was the second time I took a bus in Los Angeles.
Karl: Alright, progress.
Sarah: And you know what, there was a totally crazy lady on the bus and she was looking at me and saying really strange things. I should take the bus more often, you see some people you would never see.
Karl: Will you be here 20-years from now, Sarah, or do you think you’ll get restless and take off again?
Sarah: This city has been good to me, and I love it. But I’m a hypochondriac so I think I’ll probably be dead in 20-years. If I’m not, I would like to see myself on a ranch in New Mexico with my fucking hot wife and our two horses, and we have a recording studio in the back of our really nice ranch house, and we just play guitar and have sex all the time.
And eat lots of chocolate!