Michael White Is the Most Famous Person You’ve Never Heard Of
Michael White in the early 1970s. All photos courtesy of Michael White unless otherwise stated
How do you begin to tell the story of a man who’s spent his life telling the stories of others? I’m sitting on the floor of impresario Michael White’s home in London’s fashionable Westbourne Grove, sifting through an endless collection of photo albums and trying to work out the answer.
“I have 20,000 photographs of people. I only like to take pictures of people, not places,” says Michael, casually ignoring the fact that the “people” he’s talking about happen to be some of the most iconic figures from the past four decades of popular culture.
Bruce Anderson, Margaret Thatcher, Dennis Thatcher, Naomi Watts
Here’s a picture of a young Bob Geldof holding a pair of Easter eggs; there’s a photo of Jack Nicholson flexing his muscles by a pool; a few pages down, Naomi Watts, conservative columnist Bruce Anderson, and Margaret Thatcher are leafing through books next to a Christmas tree. On his mantelpiece there’s a tiny framed picture of Kate Moss with Michael’s son in her lap, taken on vacation sometime in the 1990s.
“Michael White is the most famous person you’ve never heard of,” says actress Greta Scacchi inThe Last Impresario, an upcoming documentary about his life. You might not have heard of him, but there’s no doubt you’ll be familiar with his work.
Michael White, Susan Sarandon, Boy George
Having basically discovered men like John Cleese—as well as introducing women like Yoko Ono and Pina Bausch to Britain—he’s had a hand in shaping the sensibilities of both your generation and your parents’. Meanwhile, his productions Oh! Calcutta, The Rocky Horror Showand Polyester liberated the concept of camp and elevated it to a mainstream aesthetic.
I Was an Accidental Porn Star
Civilian to porn star; it’s a route most travel via casting couches and cum shots. However, for Luke-Kristopher Davis—a 21-year-old physics student at Swansea University—everything happened the fairytale way. While spending a year in Spain, he was whisked off his feet by director Erika Lust, who cast him in two of her films.
Luke-Kristopher’s now back in the UK, but besides his bio on Erika’s site—which says he “dances and attends university when he is not wowing us with his great smile”—I didn’t know much about him or his accidental foray into porn. So I gave him a call to talk it over.
VICE: Hi Luke-Kristopher. So how did all of this happen for you?
Luke-Kristopher Davis: I was in Barcelona on a night out with some friends, and this woman came over and asked me if I was a model or an actor. I said I was just a student. Then she asked me to do a porn film.
Did she say what she found so alluring about you?
Yeah, yeah. Well, she thought I’d done modeling. She said, “Oh, you’re very good looking. Are you a model or an actor?” I do actually get it absolutely everywhere I go [laughs].
Yeah. Right now I work in a bar, and all my customers ask me. They come up to me and take pictures. It’s quite funny.
What went through your mind when she suggested it?
I wasn’t really shocked, to be honest. I just saw it as an opportunity to have a little—you know, fun [laughs]. I thought about it rationally: ‘Would this be worth it?’ I had to assess the risk and if it was safe. She described her company and it didn’t sound like a back alley thing. It’s very high quality. And it’s a feminist company, so I was impressed by that.
This Canadian Male Model Has Buzzwords Tattooed All Over His Face and Body
There’s something admirably misanthropic about getting a face tattoo. You really need to be fully committed to having a somewhat shitty life to let a stranger draw something on your face. Whether it’s a teardrop or the name of the softest rapper in the game, having a face tattoo screams: “You may never trust me with your child or gainful employment, but I’ll be damned if I care!”
Of course, there’s the rare occurrence when people with face tattoos have not just succeeded despite their regretful life choices, they have excelled as a result of their facial ink. Would Gucci Mane’s rep as “the coolest rapper in jail” be secure if his face didn’t havea triple scoop ice cream cone on it? Would Miami rapper Stitches’ video for “Brick in Yo Face” be as insanely popular if his mug didn’t look like it was decorated by a tween with an unhealthy obsession for Tim Burton and assault rifles? Could Zombie Boy have parlayed his association with Lady Gaga into his own brand of overpriced bath towels, condoms, and energy drinks if he had just been some random non-skeletally decorated Montreal skid living on the streets? The answer is a resounding: “Hell-to-the-no!”
Enter Canadian model Vin Los, the latest in the honorable lineage of people who have done stupid things to their face because, who gives a fuck? According to his YouTube video—a budget version of that Zombie Boy video that includes the very Quebecois directive to “BE ADDICT”—the 24-year-old’s goal is pretty straightforward: To become the most famous man on Earth. His face and arms already look like a buzzword checklist written by an art student with things like “FAME,” “LICK,” and “BAISE MOI” (fuck me) tattooed in handwritten font all over his toned body—which is hairless unless you count all the tiny fake follicles he got tattooed on his chest.
Objectively, without the tattoos, the man is a total babe. In fact, I admit that—even with the words “ICONIC FACE” scrawled on his cheek—one look into his deep brown eyes gave me a ladyboner. After spending hours caressing his Apollo’s belt on my HD screen, dreaming of the day where my name finally finds itself on his inner right thigh, I decided I needed to see his “iconic face” in person and find out why would a man with such a beautifully chiseled jawline would want to permanently walk around with the words “SEX BOMB” on his neck. Here’s how it went.
Photo via Instagram.
VICE: How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
Vin Los: I was about 16 or 17 years old. I got the Le Coq Sportif logo. Then I got words tattooed on my arms, and that’s when I decided I would never get another image or drawing tattooed. Drawings don’t mean anything to me. It may sound like I have bad values or something, but my tattoos aren’t just for me. I want to be an image for people to look at, something that has an impact. Everybody who sees me is bound to ask questions: “Why fame? What’s his life like?”
So you like it when people look at you that way?
Yes. A puzzled stare is one that’s gonna last. I want to create a myth, a mystery. A lot of people ask me if I’m scared I might regret it one day. If I was indecisive, I don’t think I would write on my face.
How do you pick the words or expressions that go on your body?
It’s very superficial. I’ll go on YouTube and listen to all the big hits and I’ll just take words from these songs. For example, “Top of the World” is from the song by The Cataracs, but it’s also what I want. I want to rule the world. As for the city names, it’s to show that we are all on the same level. Borders still exist, but not to the same extent. Whether you’re like, in Zurich or Sydney, I personify all of that. I want to embody pop culture. You could look at me in a hundred years from now and really get the idea of what pop culture was like in the early 2010s.
You say you want to be the most famous man on Earth. Why are you so fascinated by celebrity culture?
I’m still trying to figure out why I’m so passionate about it. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. And not just people, but also fame which applies to products like Starbucks for example. It’s all around the world. The marketing aspect really fascinates me.
Four Photographers Snuck into and Explored Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch
On November 18, 2003, Michael Jackson’s 3,000-acre primary residence, Neverland Ranch, was searched by 70 police officers from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department after accusations that Jackson had molested some children (The People of the State of California v. Michael Joseph Jackson). Following this, Jackson abandoned his estate, saying it had been “violated,” and three years later the property went into foreclosure.
While the Ranch floated in real estate limbo, a group of photographers snuck onto the grounds and explored the abandoned kingdom, returning several times between December 2007 and March 2008. I spoke to the photographers to see what they saw. (Because tresspassing is illegal and I was feeling nostalgic for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, they will be referred to as Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello. A fourth member contributed photography and was not interviewed.)
VICE: What inspired you guys to explore Neverland Ranch?
Leonardo: It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing. I was aware that the park had been abandoned for quite a while, and I knew that Jackson was in Dubai at the time and that he wasn’t able to pay his electric bills. So, my understanding was that it would be a short-lived opportunity. I usually drive along the 101 freeway, and I decided, I have a few extra hours, I’m just going to go check it out. It just so happened that the day I was out there, it was pretty windy. It was a good cover because there were guards on-site, and the wind sort of blocked out my noise. I was able to sneak in without being heard. I had no expectation to make it in, but I just wanted to see.
What was the weirdest shit you saw?
Leonardo: Raphael is laughing because everything we saw was pretty weird. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Michael Jackson, but I knew that he was an important American historical figure. At the time, most people probably didn’t realize that he was part of history, and I knew that there was the potential for everything that was associated with him to be quickly lost. Without our documentation, I think it would’ve been a huge loss. So, I thought it was important to do that as quickly as we could, before it was gone.
Raphael: Are we talking about going into his house? Is that part of the story?
Raphael: We haven’t really told anyone about it… OK, the strangest thing to me was the little boy in pajamas sitting on the moon logo, everywhere. Like, it amazes me how much it resembles the DreamWorks logo. That thing was painted on the ground, like, 60 feet wide. It was on the signs, on the bumper cars, it was on the coach station where they parked the coach, one on the ground.
Donatello: That’s his creepy logo, right?
Raphael: It’s got a little boy sitting on it in those footie pajama things. Isn’t the back open, or is that only on some of the paintings? [Laughs]
Noisey examines all the beginnings of the end of Justin Bieber, the boy most destined to lose his mind.
I Photographed a Former Survivor Contestant at the Lowest Point in His Life
"I was doing this series called ‘Invited,’ where if anyone invited me into their lives, I had to go, no matter what the situation was. So my friend Shane [Powers, who was a contestant on Survivor: Panama] said to me, ‘Well I’ll do it. I invite you, but I want to be naked.’ His father had died not long ago, and his girlfriend had just broken up with him.”
"So I went over there without having told anyone where I was. I was pulling up to his house and I heard his voice say, ‘Shoot, bitch!’ I got out, and I found him in the dark by flashing my flashbulb."
"There he was, on the ground, bloodied, because he had fallen when he came down to get me. I don’t know what he was on, but he was really wasted. He’d been in recovery, and he had fallen off the wagon.
When I walked into his house, he didn’t say hi or anything. I just helped him inside. We were going to do this thing where he fried up some bacon and ate it, but I didn’t want him to burn his house down so we scrapped that.”
"At one point he got out this container, and poured it out, and then sort of slumped over. And I realized that was his father’s ashes."
"We went in his bedroom, and he wanted to show me his manscaping. He was proud of his appearance, but he was also kind of touching himself at that point."
How Fake Celebrity Porn Destroyed One Guy’s Life and Saved Another from Suicide
I’m looking at an image of Jessica Alba. In it, her face looks just like it does in every red carpet photo you’ve ever seen of her, but her body looks a little unfamiliar: The most striking differences is that it doesn’t have any clothes covering it, and that it’s having some anal sex with a guy in a gold silk shirt.
This photo is, of course, a fake. As far back as I can remember, there’s been a big online demand for this particular brand of smut that involves stitching the heads of celebrities on to the bodies of porn stars.
Usually, the people who create the fakes—almost all of whom seem, understandably, to work under pseudonyms, such as “Lord Hollywood”, “Knight in the Wired,” and “Pirate Duck”—post their work to online forums, where it’s critiqued by fans and other fakers. Occasionally, fakers get into head-to-head “duels” with other forum users voting for the winner. Of course nobody with an internet connection actually pays for fake nudes of female celebrities, so the fakers practice their craft merely for forum kudos. Or, if you’re being more thoughtful about it, because it allows them to subvert Hollywood’s control over their fantasies—young starlets in low-cut tops, frolicking in bikini scenes, mounting motorcycles in short-shorts for no particular reason—and repackage them into something more risque for the gratification of both themselves and legions of enthusiastic wankers.
I Went to a Convention for Old, Washed-Up Celebrities
The Hollywood Show does not, as its name would imply, take place in Hollywood. Nor is it a show in the traditional sense of the word. Rather, it’s a weekend-long expo in a hotel ballroom, a chance to peddle yellowed movie memorabilia and yellowed-er still celebrities from days long past. For a mere $20, nostalgia buffs can meet “the guy”: the guy who wrote the song “Build Me Up Buttercup,” the guy who starred in M.A.S.H. (the movie, not the T.V. show), the guy who spat, “No soup for you!” on the episode of Seinfeld that inspired a million novelty shirts.
A “Celebrity Check-In” table greeted the show’s attendees; behind it, a bored-looking woman silently ate a slice of flavorless-looking pizza. In the corner, a revolving door of middle-aged men, who each had paid $40 for the privilege of getting professional photos taken alongside a rapidly decaying Martin Landau, struck a pose next to the Ed Wood star. “Make sure to mention the Hollywood Show on your Facebook posts!” an employee loudly, cheerfully, reminded them.
Hugh O’Brian, star of 60-year-old show The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, hung signage in the hallway inquiring, “He’s still alive???”; said signage instructed readers to “See for yourself!” Once one took the bait, they bore witness to the sight of an elderly, yet still breathing, O’Brian eating a sandwich next to his parked Rascal Scooter.
Lita Ford, wearing a leather jacket with her own name on it, signed mementos shakily held by a man sporting a vintage Runaways tour shirt. The face of the woman who played Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan contorted into a look of pain and confusion as a large white male (the show’s target demographic) asked her one in a no doubt series of inane questions.
Did you hear? We went to another one of Corey Feldman’s parties. Cameras were banned, so this time we brought artist Johnny Ryan with us.