Karl: Today is April 19, 2012, and I’ve just ordered lunch at Hugo’s with?
Karl: Your approximate age, Roxy?
Roxy: I’m 38. No approximations here.
Karl: Relationship status?
Karl: Occupation or occupations?
Roxy: I’m in Sales. I work for an internet company that sells furniture. I also work at a gym. I’m a personal trainer and I teach.
Karl: What do you teach?
Roxy: I teach Turbo Kick®, a Les Mills format called BodyPumpTM, and a brand new format called Nike Training Club that’s just been introduced in Los Angeles by Nike with drills designed by professional athletes. It’s like boot camp.
Karl: You’ve been doing this for awhile?
Roxy: I’ve been teaching group exercise since 2005.
Karl: You’re in fantastic shape, obviously, I’ll point out for our readers.
Roxy: Thank you. It’s nice to have that in print. *laughs*
Karl: Give us a little background about your life outside of work, what you do in your free time, your hobbies and interests.
Roxy: Most of my free time is spent at the gym because that’s my fun job. My day job is busy but I try to balance that with a lot of the friends I’ve got around town. I like to go out to dinner with them and have a nice bottle of wine. I love the local hiking. Griffith Observatory is one of my favorite places in LA. I love the shows because I can see them over and over again and I always notice new things. I also like to just sit on the couch and do nothing ’cause I don’t get to do that very often. Sleeping is my favorite thing. On Sundays I like to silence all of the alarms and sleep as late as I can. Although they just scheduled my Nike training class on Sunday mornings.
Karl: So it sounds like you’re working seven days?
Roxy: Technically, yes, but I don’t really count the gym as working. I teach two classes on Saturday mornings but I’d be there anyway. And Sundays I teach just one at 11:00 a.m. so they let me sleep a little bit. But yeah, everyday I’m doing something. It’s hard to make plans with people because I sound like such a lunatic. Every night I’m either training a client or teaching a class. I’ve been trying to balance that a little better.
Karl: How late do you take clients?
Roxy: I train my last client at 8:30. I finish with him at 9:30, then we go out to Starbucks and have some tea and chit chat. He really goes to the gym for the social aspect, he probably wouldn”t go otherwise. It’s really sweet. We sit there, have tea and kibitz. So I don’t get home ’till 10/10:30 most nights and that’s when I have my dinner. But I’m a night person so it doesn’t seem that late to me.
Karl: So being single, where do you like to go out?
Roxy: One of my favorites on Sunset is Cafe Med. It’s amazing. They do handmade pasta. It’s in Sunset Plaza across from Chin Chin and that little area there. There’s a secret parking lot behind it, well it’s not secret, just no one uses it.
Karl: Is it hard to get a table?
Roxy: No, not at all. That’s a place you really do not need a reservation. Most nights you can just walk in. The other place I love, where it’s harder to get a table, is Dominick’s on Beverly. Unbelievable! I tend toward Italian food since I’m half Italian.
Karl: They’re so nice there, at Dominick’s.
Roxy: Oh my God, they make rice balls, and Brooklyn is the only other place where anyone knows what a rice ball is. It’s amazing to me that it’s on their menu. I always start the meal with their rice balls. *sips drink* Hugo’s, where we are now. I love this place for breakfast and brunch. Although Sundays it’s really hard to get in for brunch. I wish they took reservations. And my new favorite, ’cause I used to go to the one on Cahuenga, is Kitchen 24.
Karl: And now we’ve got one.
Roxy: Yes, we’ve got one with a full bar! And it’s amazing. It gets a great happy hour. So after I teach my class, it’s become a new tradition on Saturday mornings. We go have coffee at Starbucks and by 3:00 we’re at Kitchen 24 having “Deep South Sippers.” We tried to recreate it on our own with some Jeremiah Weed and lemonade. It’s a really good drink.
Karl: Rejuvenating after a work out.
Roxy: *laughs* That’s why I workout, so I can eat and drink whatever I want. I’m not too much a food nazi. There’s room for a little bit of everything.
Karl: What brought you to West Hollywood?
Roxy: I’m from New York. After college I was going to go to grad school but was a little hesitant. My uncle from California just happened to be in town and he needed some help with his furniture business out here. We left it where I would come out for the Summer after graduation to help him out in the office ’cause he had three women that were pregnant and all due within two weeks of each other. The office was going to be desolate. So he sent me a ticket in my graduation card and I came out in June of 1995.
Karl: He sent a one way ticket from New York?
Roxy: It wasn’t one way! *laughs* I know, right? It had an open return. We had an understanding that maybe three months later I would figure out where I wanted to be. Obviously I never went back. Within that three months of working in the office, they opened a new store and the General Manager at the time said, “You can sell. We need you. I need you to commit to a year.” So they put me in Sales and I quickly rose through the ranks.
Karl: Was this your mom’s brother or your dad’s brother? Were your folks okay with this?
Roxy: My dad’s brother, and they were still in Brooklyn. They were just happy that I was working. I went away to school and I never really moved back home. I was home for a couple weeks and then came out to California.
Karl: Where did you go to school?
Roxy: Suny Albany… Upstate. I got a degree in Psychology. I was thinking about grad school for that, but not really sure I wanted to be a therapist or professor, because that’s for sure where I would’ve ended up. I don’t know if I’m a professor type. *laughs*
Karl: You’d be good at that.
Roxy: You think so? Some people think I should have my own religion.
Karl: So why Albany?
Roxy: When I was thirteen, I went to soccer camp in Cobleskill, which is a little farm college in the middle of nowhere, Suny Cobleskill. At soccer camp, I met a boy and got a crush. He lived in Guilderland which is just outside of Albany. So when it came time to pick a college, I thought, “Well… You know… Albany has a good Psych program.” I visited and loved the school, it was close enough to home but far enough. Consequently, a lot of my friends ended up in Albany. They said, “Oh yeah, I’ll go too.” So there was a group of six or eight people who ended up in Albany because I had a crush on a boy in soccer camp. I love New York, I never thought I’d leave, but as soon as I got to California… I mean, my God… It’s gorgeous here.
Karl: It’s certainly addicting.
Roxy: Life is easier when you’re around money. I hate to say it, but obviously my uncle had a lot of money because he owned a furniture business and it was just an easier transition. I was able to work for him and I even lived with him and my aunt for a little bit, then I moved out to Newport Beach and had a beautiful apartment. It was amazing there except that everything closes at 9:00.
Karl: Yeah, it’s a difference pace down there. I haven’t gotten to try that LA life yet – the whole beach lifestyle.
Roxy: It’s so cool down there. It’s so rich, so different than LA. I think it’s a great place to raise a family. I was there for about a year and a half, but the minute I started working at the Los Angeles store on La Brea, I said, “Alright, I’m moving.” I think I moved within a month.
Karl: Yeah, that’s a horrible commute. That would be brutal.
Roxy: The two guys that were running the store lived in West Hollywood. So rather than driving home in the traffic, I would go to their house and hang out. They had a cute little bungalow in the Norma Triangle that was built in the 20s, authentic, really cute. I would hang out with them and their dogs and I got to see a glimpse of West Hollywood. I would walk to 24 Hour Fitness and get a work out in, then walk back to their house and leave. So I would drive back at 10/11 just to drive back in the morning. So I found a split-level studio on Palm Avenue and that was it. I moved really quickly.
Karl: And you’re a home owner now.
Roxy: Yes. I consider myself quite lucky. I lived at the Villa Francisca on Palm and they kept raising my rent. In 2002, I realized I could own a place for that kind of money. A mortgage sounds so scary, but a mortgage for a couple hundred thousand dollars is only a thousand dollar payment, I had no idea. I was already paying that in rent so I started looking for a condo. I found this really cool real estate agent, local to West Hollywood… Shaun Seeram. *speaks directly into microphone and laughs* I’ve referred a lot of people to him, he knows West Hollywood really well. He’s a saint because at first I thought that I had no real requirements. I’m from Brooklyn, I used to live on a busy street. But I realized I was more picky than I initially thought I was when I started seeing all these apartments that I didn’t want. But now I’m on West Knoll and I love it.
Karl: Yeah, it’s nice and tucked away. And you’re right there, right on the strip.
Roxy: Right on the strip. I love when Halloween rolls around and when Pride rolls around because literally I just walk to the corner and there’s the parade. But I can’t hear anything because I face the back so I think it’s the best of both worlds.
*Waiter delivers Papa’s Eggs and Desayuno Fuerte*
Karl: Oh man, that looks awesome.
Roxy: Oh my God, would you like some?
Karl: That’s ok, thank you. Enjoy. So, tell me how things here have changed?
Roxy: I think a lot more families have moved into West Hollywood. A lot more. And I can even speak from the gym population. When I first walked into that gym, it was all Boy’s Town working out there, but now that they’ve built a Kid’s Club, there are families everywhere. In my building, the older generation that had lived there has moved on in one way or another and families are moving in. But also young professionals. So West Hollywood is not losing it’s reputation as being open and gay friendly, but it’s welcoming the tapestry of all other cultures and ages that want to move in.
Karl: From what you’ve observed, do you think that these families are moving in, or that the veterans who have lived here are turning into families?
Roxy: I think a little of both, but I’m seeing straight families and I don’t think the original population of West Hollywood was all that. I feel like it used to be a lot of single people, gay men, and couples living here. Some of them have become families, but to me that doesn’t feel like the norm. I don’t know what our schools are like but I feel like they’re good because we’ve got such good tax money here. I used to drive by them and I feel like they’re good.
Karl: Our schools are terrible.
Roxy: Oh really?
Karl: *laughs* Yes. I know. It sucks.
Roxy: Where are you sending your kids?
Karl: We haven’t figured that out yet. It’s a shame. I hope that changes over time as the population of kids grows.
Roxy: Well, I feel like West Hollywood is a secret little city where we have more control over how things look, so it’s really nice and taken care of. I don’t know the demographics but I believe within The County of Los Angeles, we’re probably a more affluent city because we’re smaller and there are more men that live here. *laughs* It feels right. It’s quiet, and there’s so much here.
Karl: Has it always been that way? Was it this quiet when you moved here?
Roxy: Yes. When I moved here, it was one of the things that I noticed most. It was how the people here have such a sense of community and take care of the city. And I feel that’s still the same. The only thing that I feel has changed is younger people that are coming up are more open to the change in the tapestry. I don’t really know a lot of the older population, I only hope that they’re also open to it. There might be some people who don’t like the change, but I don’t know those people so I can’t speak for them. And I’m out in it quite a bit. *smile*
Karl: What are some of the things you’d like to see more of here?
Roxy: Hmmm… *Sips drink and goes quiet* That’s a hard one for me. They just built that library, I can’t say that they’re not putting money into the city.
Karl: Yeah, it’s awesome over there.
Roxy: The landscaping and everything is great, they do art installations in the middle of the street, and they let Kitchen 24 come in and be open 24 hours! The parking seems fine, although I walk everywhere. I think we could do a little bit more to publicize the West Hollywood Art District. They have those orange signs up La Cienega Blvd. that denote they are a part of… whatever it is… but I don’t think anybody knows what that thing is. It might be nice to open the Pacific Design Center for events, especially now that they’ve build the red building there. I’m hoping there are plans to have public events there.
Karl: Have you ever done the West Hollywood Art Walk?
Roxy: I have not. I have no idea when it is.
Karl: I’ll send you the website. It’s a lot of fun.
Roxy: See, that’s the thing, I live here and I have no idea when it is. That sounds like something I would probably do. It’s strange that’s it’s not a little more visible. Hey, I live here, send me a postcard, I’ll put it on my fridge.
Karl: How’s the dating scene? Do you date locally?
Roxy: I don’t date too much in West Hollywood but have recently started dating a little more. It’s not something that’s on my list of things to do but it’s been a recent endeavor for me and couple of my girlfriends to branch out of our West Hollywood scene. We hang out with the boys and we’ll go to the Abbey and we’ll go Here Lounge so it’s kind of nice to see what else is out there. Recently I went to the silent movie theater.
Karl: Oh, how is it? I’ve never been.
Roxy: It was really fun. What I went to was called “A Movie Interruption.” It’s a group of comedians who sit in the front row with microphones and talk over whatever movie is playing. It’s hilarious. That was actually a date and it was really cute, I never would have thought of that on my own. I try to get out to Griffith Observatory or Huntington Gardens…
Karl: Escape the bubble?
Roxy: It is our little bubble. It’s a skewed vision inside the bubble because everyone is beautiful in this safe little enclave. But outside of our bubble, people are not as accepting, nor focused on fitness or fun.
Karl: Isn’t it funny how you leave LA and remember what America looks like?
Roxy: That’s actually frightening to me. I see my New York friends, we all started in the same place. I mean I’m 38, I’m not young. When I’m there, we mostly go out to dinner, drinks and maybe a movie. It’s cold and rainy and dirty. Yes, it effects your outlook, it effects your life, it effects everything. So yeah, coming back to the bubble is really refreshing. It’s like Never Never land or something. Mmmmmmm. *bites into lunch*
Karl: What would you like to see less of?
Roxy: I would change the crosswalks. We have kamikaze crosswalks here. The one by my house and the one in front of Starbucks, there’s no light there. You have the right of way but you have to wait for the cars to stop and I regularly almost get hit. There have been a couple times when I cross the street and I get a text from my friend saying, “Oh my God, I almost ran you over.”
Karl: Yeah, I saw a person get hit there one night.
Roxy: What we really need is a pedestrian crossing system, or you press a button and it becomes a stop light.
Karl: Like on Fairfax.
Roxy: Just like Fairfax, yes. It’s really dangerous and crazy cause Santa Monica Blvd. is essentially a freeway and people don’t stop. If I’m late for teaching my class, I don’t even stop, I run straight across the street. I’ve taken to glancing over to see if the light at La Cienega is green or red. ‘Cause if it’s green…
Karl: You’re going to be killed.
Roxy: I’ve thrown my water bottle at cars before. Cars have been close enough for me to tap them. I think it’s just a matter of time before something really bad happens. A few years ago there was an eighty something year old woman that got hit over by Pavilions. She was okay, but it’s ridiculous. I love the idea that you don’t need to wait for a light to cross, it’s great, but it’s really not safe. I’m not talking about building a pedestrian bridge or anything, but there’s a way to make it more safe. My client and I will sit at Starbucks and watch the cars rear end each other when people cross. One time I almost got run over by a Sheriff’s car. So if there’s anything, I feel the lights could be timed a little bit better. They’ve narrowed the street so much.
Karl: You’re referring to the grass median strip?
Roxy: Yeah, it’s a little ridiculous. Coming from Beverly Hills, you enter West Hollywood and you’re entering this little gridlock zone.
Karl: Well, on that note, describe West Hollywood in 20 years.
Roxy: I hope the trend of this live/work/play continues. They’ve had plans to build a big building on the corner across from Koo Koo Roo to do this retail slash condo complex thing.
Karl: The big dirt lot?
Roxy: Yes, the big lot. The project got put on hold I guess. So I hope the economy turns around and we see more of that. I’d like to see more affordable places to live I guess. I’ve helped people look for apartments, it’s expensive to live here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for low income, subsidized housing, but somewhere where the people that work in West Hollywood can live in West Hollywood. A lot of people commute to this city and it’s not the easiest city to get in and out of.
Karl: Well, they’re proposing a train to go through here.
Karl: It will likely go down Wilshire I believe, or close to Santa Monica Blvd… Which would sky rocket your property. Villaraigosa gave some speech at Paramount yesterday to kick off the initiative. I understand the hold up is Beverly Hills not wanting a train going through there ’cause they’ll have to go under a school or something.
Roxy: Well, I look at the red line, and the blue line, and the gold line or whatever they built… These trains go nowhere. We spent so much money and no one uses them. If there was a train that went down La Cienega to the 405, and then a train that ran along the 405… I don’t understand why there isn’t one. Especially after they widened it and did all that construction. They easily could’ve put one in the middle. It’s so strange.
Karl: I imagine we’ll see that someday.
Roxy: It’s weird to me how California spends money. But I wish it were easier to live here for people that are single. Maybe that’s why more families live here – because you need the double income. It’s hard for a single person to live in West Hollywood, which is a shame because it’s so set up for single life.
Karl: How has the Sunset Strip changed? You were thinking of living up there ten years ago, right?
Roxy: I was. The Sunset Strip is really funny. I always tell my friends when they come to visit, “You walk up the hill if you’re straight, and you walk down the hill if you’re gay.” When I was first here there were a lot more grittier bars like Coconut Teasers. It was a different experience going out, more of a rave scene back then. Now, everything seems like this high end experience – the clubs, the social scene, the way people are dressing, all these super short dresses… One of my friends calls it, “Hollywood Barbie.” I don’t really go out there much but that could also just be my age showing.
Karl: Okay, how about the Santa Monica Strip then?
Roxy: I think when Micky’s remodeled after their fire, the strip got launched to a whole new level. I’m happy to see Revolver is back, it’s nothing like it used to be. I remember when it was this dark, gritty, hole-in-the-wall. Now it’s…
Roxy: *laughs* Vegas-ified! It’s trendy and cool. You can say the same for most of the bars, there are very few that have remained. Mother Lode is still the same and true to their form. I remember the first time I ever walked the strip with the guys from my store. It was evening time and we waked by Rage and went in, and it was all these shirtless guys dancing with some random techno music playing… It’s a lot different now. It’s much more of an experience, much less of a meat market. And I’m friends with some go-go boys, they’re doing quite well.
Karl: Yeah, you probably train half of them.
Roxy: Mmm hmm. I’ve got a few in my class. They’re so cute.
Karl: How are your colleagues doing? Are they still here?
Roxy: They moved on. When the decision was made to transition my store to more traditional furniture, we all moved on. That’s when I left my uncle’s company and went on to do different things. One of the guys had a relative in Baltimore so they decided to leave. Last I heard they were still together and selling furniture there.
Karl: That must a bit of a transition… to Baltimore I mean.
Roxy: I have no idea what the scene is like as far as acceptance. It’s tough, there are very few places in the world like this where you can just be who you are and not have to worry. When my friends and I are out anywhere else, you quickly become aware that not everybody is so accepting. And it’s so weird because it’s not part of my reality. If I have friends that want to come see me, I tell them, “If you’re not accepting and not comfortable, don’t come here. It’s not your place. Every other place is your place.” *munches on lunch* I’m protective of my boys. *laughs* There was someone that I met along the way after a happy hour. We were walking to the Abbey to see my friend dance. I said, “Hey, come with us, we’re heading to the Abbey,” and we were flirting and getting to know each other. Of course, they always pretend to be cool with it. We get there and he sees the atmosphere and sees me putting money down my friend’s pants and het gets weird and jealous.
Karl: Is your dancer-friend straight?
Roxy: Oh this guy clearly isn’t straight. You know, blue eye-shadow, body make-up, rocking’ body… I can attest to that, he takes my classes.
Roxy: He took me outside and said, “Hey, I really wanted to hang out with you.” And I said, “Hey, I invited you to come along with me, this is not a date, we’re just hanging out with my friends and if you’re not comfortable, I get that but I need to go back inside now.” The guys always pretend to be ok with it but then they think that they’re going to take you away from it. But I live here. This is where everything I love is. This was just another recent occurrence that reminds me of why I don’t date much.
Karl: How has our crime been? Pretty consistent?
Roxy: Yeah. I haven’t noticed a change one way or the other. I’ve always felt that this is a safe spot. There was that weird guy that was setting things on fire.
Karl: That was exciting, huh? At New Year’s?
Roxy: Yes, that was strange. I remember the groups that would come through and do some gay bashing. That was scary.
Karl: When did that happen?
Roxy: I feel like that was five, or seven years ago… People coming through here and beating people up.
Karl: I’m always impressed there aren’t more problems at Halloween with half a million people here. It’s amazing we don’t all destroy the place.
Roxy: It’s impressive how the city is so set up for that. Hey, West Hollywood can throw a party. They’re really good at directing traffic in and around here, explaining what’s going on before it happens. And the place is spotless the next day, you’d never know what had just happened.
Karl: Do you have any crazy stories to share, anything funny that has happened while living here?
Roxy: Well, there’s the time I was pushed down a hill in a shopping cart by a midget. *laughs*
Karl: Did you pay for that?
Roxy: *laughs* No, I did not.
Karl: You sound pretty happy here. You’re not going anywhere are you?
Roxy: No. This is the city. This is where I want to live.