Meet the people of LA’s famous Runyon Canyon
‘Interacting outside of your social circle is rare in LA but this mountainous trail is a social leveller. Up there all those people talk, they laugh, they flirt –they mix. ‘
London writer and editor of all things cool Josh Jones and slick photographer Dan Wilton headed for Hollywood hills. Soaking in the view and more importantly the eclectic eccentricity of LA’s finest characters. Meeting and photographing Angelino’s from all walks of life.
‘From Mulholland Drive millionaires, to gangsters and hustlers from Downtown. From Hollywood fitness freaks to postal workers from south LA.’
Putting it all together in a beautifully visual limited edition book CANYON, available now from Ditto Press.
I chatted to Josh Jones to find out more about CANYON, the people they met, and the one’s he’d like to bring back to London with him!
You’re a man of many talents! Writer, interviewer, Features Editor at Le Cool, UK Editor at Sup Magazine, Editor at Special Request, co-founder of cult zine Pavement Licker, the list goes on…..
Thank you very much – I have a short attention span so I try to make sure I do a lot of things all at the same time.
Where did the idea first originate to put CANYON together?
Well Dan and I have been friends for about 10 years and always wanted to collaborate on a book together, we were both in LA at the same time and decided to get an Air Bnb, hike up the mountain and see if we could meet enough people. At first we figured it was just a project to do and then thought it would just live online but we got enough interesting people and great shots to take it to a publisher. Ditto Press really liked the idea and the book was given life.
Why Hollywood Hills?
Ummm – it was the closest? We were staying in West Hollywood and we didn’t really venture much out of there or North Hollywood. Also Runyon is the most popular and although it doesn’t have the Hollywood sign on it, people know the name Runyon much more than… (checks google)… the Mount Hollywood Trail. Runyon gets 5,000 people a day on it – more at weekends – which adds up to 1 million people clambering all over it a year. We figured we’d have a better chance of meeting more interesting people up there.
Along with the dialogue that you exchanged with all these eccentric and diverse characters you met, the visuals that I’ve seen so far for CANYON are so so strong. Were people pretty open to posing or having their picture taken?
They certainly were – this is LA remember. Everyone’s an actor or a director or a performer or just likes to talk about themselves. People there seem to be genuinely interested in you and in turn love to share a whole heap about their lives. To Londoners that is a lot of sharing. The people we met also kinda meant it when they said we could go and stay with them if we came back. I guess we slightly fear them wanting us to honour our empty promise of staying in London. LONDONERS NEVER MEAN THAT WHEN WE SAY IT!
The visuals are super strong and that’s because Dan is an excellent and acclaimed photographer and he shot them all on his medium format camera.
You’ve worked together with photographer Dan Wilton a lot in the past. How did that partnership come about?
We first worked together on a massive year-long, world tour for a vodka brand. I was the in-house journalist (a total WIN of a job) and Dan was one of the official photographers. After that finished we hung out a whole lot and worked together for various magazines I was writing for and he was shooting for. We make a very good combination – we have a unique style.
Of all the people you met for CANYON who was the most surprising?
I guess the most surprising comment was a really nice old lady called Yolande who told us she was a Playboy Bunny at the original Playboy bar in Chicago. Then she proceeded to tell us the mother of all stories where she married a famous screenwriter, lived up on Mulholland Drive, partied with all kinds of interesting cats, walked around the Canyon before it was a park, saw two Native American ghosts up there, had a neighbour who’d ridden to LA from Oklahoma on a horse during the Great Depression, built a cabin by hand and lived there ’til she was 102… her story went on for ages – we totally didn’t expect it.
You’re about to debut and celebrate the release this week in London with Ditto Press. If you could invite your favourite people from Runyon Canyon who would you want at the launch party?
There was a guy called Joel who had a wild story about how he found his pet dog Pony. Pony had been raised by feral cats in the Laguna Mountains and was found by a religious sect. Joel bumped into them on the way back from a pagan festival and they said they didn’t have room for Pony in their temple so let Joel keep him. They were super best friends. I reckon Joel would be pretty fun at the party. And a rapper/singer called Watts Waldo was fun too – he kept saying ‘Holy Snaps!’ and he could provide the music, which would be handy.
Where can people pick up a copy? Whats next?
You can buy them at Ditto Press or on their website. We’ve both got separate irons in the fire – I’ve got a couple more ‘zines on the horizon and there’s a plan to do another, London based book but I have to convince Dan that it’s safe first.
CANYON is available from Ditto Press