First of all, it’s a real living breathing elephant that Banksy has at his warehouse show in downtown Los Angeles; not a sculpture or taxidermy, but 15,000 pounds of actual pachyderm. Her name is Thai, because she is, and she once belonged to Michael Jackson. (Watch the video). She’s the literal “elephant in the room” meant to draw attention to the metaphorical elephant Banksy tries to make us aware of with the note passed to us as we entered:
The fact is that life isn’t getting any fairer.
–1.7 Billion people have no access to clean drinking water.
– 20 Billion people live below the poverty line.
– Every day hundreds of people are made to feel physically sick by morons at art shows telling them how bad the world is but never actually doing something about it.
Anybody want a free glass of wine?
But the fact is, if you’ve ever actually seen an elephant in a room not meant for elephants, you know how hard it is to ignore and how often you’re drawn back to it. And this one was painted to match the wallpaper, for crying out loud.
After we grudgingly pulled ourselves away from Thai in her roped-off living room environment, our attention shifted immediately to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who were engaged in casual intercourse with another couple just over there. As they moved about the cavernous warehouse space with its Banksy wink-wink art pieces flung about as if in an Area installation from the ’80s, so did we, not exactly coincidentally. (We figure the famous and famously civic-minded couple was there in support of the first two points on Banksy’s note.) We were with WOW’s Steven Corfe, his boyfriend James McGowan, Thairin Smothers, and James St James. James was wearing a gold quilted and belted trench, with just a touch of gold on his lids. We nonchalantly looked at the giant graffiti-style paintings of poor Africans cohabiting the same space as incongruous objects, just as the couple known as Brangelina was doing the same. Of course, we never looked directly at Brangelina, even when they were kissing, which was often, though others at the exhibition had no qualms engaging the pair in lengthy conversations and having their pictures taken with them. Distancing ourselves after a while, we observed that Angelina, in a chic black dress and black spike heels, and Brad, in fashionable worn jeans, white shirt open several buttons down, and a light brown sportscoat, looked not unlike a suburban couple or, frankly, like Brad and Angelina characters who might stand outside Mann’s Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, offering to pose with tourists.
But it was still a surprise when St. James approached us in the darkened room where a widescreen video was projected showing Banksy (or a representation of Banksy) perpetrating guerrilla acts of art on London and other locations. “Look,” said James, his digital camera screen lighting our faces. “How cool is this?” Staring up at us in the dark was a glowing photo of James flanked by the couple we’d just come from stalking. “And look.” There was another one. We tried to get the story out of him. It was a bit garbled but it seems he approached them and Seth Green’s name came up and so did Party Monster and, mysterously, Brad and Angie had a good laugh at the mention of Macaulay Culkin, go figure, and at the end someone may have said, “Call me,” with thumb and pinkie raised to ear.
The rest of the night was about James and Brad and Angelina, a team called Brameselina in our minds. We never tired of gawking at the couple, even after Keanu Reeves showed up. Keanu, unlike Brangelina, who chatted and posed with everyone, refused to have his picture taken. “I’m too ugly,” he told James, then initiated a discussion of Falstaff (yes, that Falstaff) with him and Thairin. We also saw Duran Duran’s John Taylor looking much too young to be John Taylor, and Ann Magnuson, who thought the art reminded her mostly of Mad and somewhat of Cracked. After James had seen all the Banksy works, he set about doing what he was put on earth to do: photograph cute people, mainly boys, the results of which we now post here. Since the presence of Banksy at the Banksy show last night was never established, and he may even be a collective, as some think, any number of people there could have been him, or her, including – who knows? – someone in this gallery of James’s.