The vine-covered Villa Bonita was built in Hollywood in 1929 to house cast and crew working for Cecil B. DeMille; today, it is home to a more diverse array of LA types—a model/bartender, a photographer/bartender and actresses, but also artists, a retired dance teacher, a screenwriter/psychic, a life coach, a pilot. This human inventory is the subject of Pamela Littky’s new book Villa Bonita, out this week from Kehrer. Over the course of a year, Littky knocked on doors and got to know the building’s residents, interviewing and photographing them and making a record of their lives at home. There are portraits of inhabitants lounging on couches and beds or sitting at kitchen tables, but each apartment’s bohemian decor is as much Littky’s subject as the men and women who have lived there for weeks or decades. Littky’s camera pokes around like a nosy visitor, finding dirty cups in a kitchen sink, a drawer stuffed with five dollar bills and a cassette tape (Tiffany’s Greatest Hits) and a fridge covered in postcards and Comic-Con badges.
In Littky’s vision, the building functions as a sort of village, where people come and go but are temporarily tied together. “In the absence of traditionally scaled, walkable neighborhoods, residents of Los Angeles have long created community within the confines of these kinds of apartments,” she writes in the book. “Young and old, employed and between gigs, dreamers and those whose dreams died long ago, everyone arrived—or stayed—at the Villa Bonita for one reason or another. For me, the Villa Bonita represents the diversity and contradictions of the city itself.”
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Oriana Koren’s Far East, LA
Stand-Out Photo Promos: Pamela Littky’s “Happy Hour” Set (For PDN subscribers; Log in required)