William Kuhn: There’s a dual quality in what I've read of your novel in progress. It’s aware of the abuses and the excesses of Hollywood, particularly about twenty or thirty years ago, yet it’s affectionate and sensitive to the geography, the architecture, the atmosphere of Los Angeles. This feels like a Sunset Boulevard for the Hollywood of the 1990s, at once clear-eyed about the place’s absurdities, but describing it using rich, evocative blacks and whites. This is also typical of the still photography on your website. Will you tell me about your loving Los Angeles? How did you first get there? Has your attitude to the city changed over time?
Susannah Corwin: When I finished university I had a choice, an entry-level position with an ad agency in Manhattan, where I would only be able to afford a studio that looked out into an airshaft, or to take my chances in the sunshine and sprawl of Los Angeles. I arrived at my mom’s Palm Springs place (90 minutes from L.A.) and was hanging around juicing oranges, swimming, and taking interviews, to, of all things, write for the sports section of the paper (I knew nothing, zip, zero, about bouncing balls, batting balls, or rushing balls). Even so, the editor took pity on me and turned me onto a gig at a magazine.
When I was just about to accept the magazine job, my mom telephoned, having bumped into the production manager of a movie that would be shooting in the resort during the off season. She said that he (Boris) was looking for a production assistant. I leapt at the chance.
My main duties were corralling actors onto set, running errands, shushing people, or lending a hand to all departments. I jumped away from a car heading toward a swimming pool in a pair of white Ray Bans and a pink frock when we were short of extras, I painted on fake tans, and I fanned movie stars behind the scenes so they wouldn’t sweat through their makeup.
Once I was directed to talk to the prop department because my mom had a house nearby and they were looking for something they needed in a big hurry. So, on set, in the men’s locker room of a trendy gym I met my future husband. He said he was looking for several impressively bound volumes of Shakespeare and I said, “That’s funny. There’s tons at home. My grandfather collected them.
He said, “That’s funny. My grandfather collected string.”
We’ve been together now for 33 years.
Perhaps my love of Los Angeles has to do with falling in love, that giddy heightened perception you get when you’ve “found the one.” I have to admit I’m no longer giddy. (Good god! That would be damn difficult at my age, what with my waning hormonal levels.) But I still love them both, the city and the mister.