STREET SEEN I like LA because outfits don't have to be as functional. In San Francisco, you're always worrying about whether you'll flash someone disembarking from your single-speed, about what exactly is going to happen to those white platform sandals inside the Montgomery Street BART station. Oh lord, sandals in San Francisco?
In Los Angeles, you can wear whatever the hell you want. After all (just to be SF-bitchy about it), they don't dance down there, they certainly don't walk, and you probably won't broach the waterline at the beach, so the gold braid on your swimsuit? Appropriate, necessary. (Just take it off when you go in the pool.) In Los Angeles, you are allowed to dress like you are at the white-hot center of the hip universe, free of earthly fetters. Buy the dress in midriff.
And in this year of 2013 AD, Freak City is the place to shop for one's interstellar journey.
Freak City hosts Rye Rye concerts. Also, it's a clothing store.
If you can find it. This is not a store that deals much with walk-in traffic. Located in a dilapidated old department store on Hollywood Boulevard amid stripper stores and concrete stars, a few blocks from a combination health food store-spa where one can buy raw juice and a B12 injection in a single high-powered errand, Freak City encourages the art of the shopping appointment.
After spotting the Day-Glo-tagged interiors in the latest Gucci Mane-Wiz Khalifa spot directed by Video God, we were thrilled to bits when FC co-owner Justin Time responded in the affirmative to our Sunday morning voicemail pleas.
Soon enough, he was leading us past FC's Internet-famous club space to the chainlink fence that marked the start of the retail area.
"I think that was in a Miley video."
Full-length fleece hoodie dresses, digital garden wear, frenetic usage of charm bracelet motif. These are the markings of LA Rap!, the in-house Freak City brand designed by Time's co-owner and partner-in-crime Vally Girl. She sits at the cash register answering our questions politely in front of a short white mock turtleneck dress bedazzled by a hundred plastic toys hanging on the chain-link. She tells us Queen Cyrus picked it up for a video not too long ago.
You get used to those throwaway references to pop culture domination here -- the marijuana leaf lab coat you're crusing on the LA Rap! website is shown modeled by Lady Tragik, sitting on a car hood with a "GURL" beanie-wearing Kreayshawn. The list of in-house performers in the Freak City club is long: Rye Rye, Mykki Blanco, Peaches, M.I.A.
Vally has styled Nicki Minaj on tour. Diplo told Mix Mag back in 2011 that the ramshackle department store, retrofitted with troll doll-decorated fitting rooms and terrifying mannequins that loom over us on our Sunday afternoon visit, was his favorite club in the world.
Freak City is a cultural center for the Internet generation -- check the ski masks emblazoned with the arcing wi-fi symbol above the eyesockets that, retailing at $100 a pop, probably show up in more Tumblr feeds than closets.
Things I cruised at Freak City: a lime green, tightly-knit shirt with strips of mesh an inch wide down the center, side seams, and breastbone. A deadstock purple ‘90s swimsuit, again with mesh where mesh should not be, and duh gold braid. I bought some cross-strap white platform sandals, which have against the odds insinuated themselves in my San Francisco wardrobe.
Later, I hit up Vally Girl YEP ON THE INTERNET to figure out how hype that hot comes about.
San Francisco Bay Guardian Tell me how Freak City got started.
Vally Girl It all started when this lil' school girl met this street boy ... fast-forward three years -- after living in Hollyhood, playing warehouse shows, throwing underground parties, making artwork and creating a line -- to Justin convincing me to go in on a commercial space in East Hollywood off Melrose, which was found accidentally and was offered to us with no credit check due to the poor economy and we set up shop.
We threw a few events there and the space served as our store, gallery, and music studio.
Our psycho neighbor next door hated us for rehearsing for our shows, for beatboxing, rapping, and playing our 808. He "hated hip hop." How Freak City actually got it's name is pretty random ... Justin wanted to do a party with his friend, and had doodled the logo "Freak City" (which was one of the first of our logos) on a Post-It note that I had seen. At the time we were calling our space the Lipstick Gallery, but when I saw the Post-It note, a light bulb went on, and I announced to everyone, "why don't we call this place Freak City?" We all agreed and ran with it.
SFBG What was in your building before you guys? It's so creepy.
VG This is the third location that we've been in, which is also the creepiest. This place was an old department store-fashion graveyard. It was full of old merchandise, alien-like mannequins, men's '90s fancy suits and silk shirts, Calvin Klein fixtures, cross-colors displays, tons of Timberlands, and really, really baggy Phat Farm jeans and Ralph Lauren ads. There was also a bunch of tacky club girl and quinceanera dresses.
SFBG Had you two collaborated on past projects?
VG Our first collaboration was music, our bedroom band The Keyishe. We also worked on art together and painted a few murals. One was with Raven Simone for an orphanage. Then we started the clothing line LA Rap! We also started working on music videos together, music production, set design, and art direction.
SFBG Describe the Freak City aesthetic. What artists or brands do you see as part of the same school of style?
VG Freak City is Ghetto Tech Hood Couture, bridging the past, present, and future of the underground. There are freaks all around the world, no need to drop names :)
SFBG Please tell me about shooting the Gucci Mane video in the Freak City space.
VG Naked video vixens, a lot of body paint, Ferraris, black lights, and blunts ... It was fun, Gucci showed us a lot of love. He was freestyling over some Freak City beats and chilling with his posse. Even his girl copped some custom pieces from the shop. The director Video God is the homie, so it was all love that night.
SFBG What other kinds of events have you used the space for?
VG We hosted a Fader magazine party with Lil B, had Peaches perform here, Egyptian Lover live, Limelight movie screening, tons of other underground nights, and some baller birthday parties.
SFBG Who would you want to dress who you haven't yet?
VG I'd actually like to design some pieces for Bjork.
Freak City 6363 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles. freakcity.la. To schedule a shopping appointment email firstname.lastname@example.org