KCET Departures asks, "What's your or your family's Los Angeles arrival story?"
Today, we hear from publicist and culture marketer Lynn Hasty-Tejada:
"I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit.
"I was such a fanatic about movies and music. My degree was in television production and my first couple of years out of college I stayed in Michigan and worked at the McCann Erickson ad agency.
"I first made my way west, in 1989, to San Francisco. The whole year and a half I was there I couldn't find a job in my career field. So I bartended, I waitressed. Finally, through a temp agency, I got placed in a post-production facility called Fleet Street. They cut commercials, music videos - it was really delightful.
"But it was only part-time and I had no real responsibilities - I remember re-stacking Coca-Cola cans in the refrigerator as my main task. So it really shocked me to no end when two weeks later the owners asked me if I wanted to transfer down to L.A. - all expenses paid - to work at their brand new editing facility.
"I was just flabbergasted; I was so excited to come to the capitol of the entertainment world where my favorite films and videos were made. This was 1991, when the first Gulf War was happening.
"My first month here I lived on the Venice Canals with a woman just a few years older than me, who was also my boss. Then I became roommates with a make-up artist who had a cute house off of La Cienaga in West Hollywood. I lived there the entire two years I worked for that company until I struck out on my own to start my promotions company that would become Green Galactic.
"I drove down from San Francisco to L.A. in a U-Haul. I roped my good friend from high school, who was living up north and had a serious bank job, into driving with me. In the days leading up to that ride, I couldn't find my pet snake. He was a boa constrictor - a South American common boa. He grew to be about eight feet long. At the time, he was probably about five feet long.
"So he did not move with me at that moment - he was lost in the 1890s Victorian, multi-tenant house that I lived in. My former roommate stayed in the flat and almost a year later called me and said, 'You'll never guess who showed up in the apartment?'
"I said, 'Who?' And he said, 'Cory!' - my snake. So I had to drive back up and get Cory about nine months later. (Cory just passed away in March; he was 23-years-old.) It was really scary - to think he could have been lost in the City terrorizing people! But I was excited to get my butt to L.A. right away.
"I'll never forget my very first day of work here. Even though it was an edit facility where we were doing post-production work on commercials and music videos, there was this crazy South African director who the company loved to work with.
"The director decided to have a casting call at the facility. So there I was, answering the phone and running around making sure the flowers were right and that snacks and drinks were available in the kitchen.
"And one-by-one, this bevy of beauties showed up. They were models, they were former Playmates, they totally had that stereotypical plastic thing going on. They had fake boobs, I think they were all blondes.
Even though that was not an aspect of L.A. I was looking forward to it was still fantastic! All these women were so happy and so excited at this opportunity to be cast in a music video. I took such delight in watching their excitement. Here I was, brand new in this new town in this new job, excited by the possibilities - and so were they.
"From that day on I've never forgotten just how much L.A. represents the quintessential American Dream. Anything is possible. You can be whatever you conceive you can be. I love that about Los Angeles.
"Where I came from, the Midwest, life was about much more traditional jobs. You work in a bank. You're a bus driver. You're an Indian chief. It didn't seem that creative, it seemed very by the book.
"But in L.A. it felt like the American Dream - and it still does! Looking at all those girls, it didn't matter to me that they seemed kind of fake and phony and plastic because they, like me, were pursuing their dreams. I love that day being my very first day in Los Angeles."
-- Lynn Hasty-Tejada
(As told to Jeremy Rosenberg)
- Departures References:
- Departures: Venice Homepage
- Departures Venice: A Visual History of the Canals
- Lincoln Place Apartments -- More talk about moving to L.A. in pursuit of the American Dream
- Arrival Story: Roxanne Steinberg & Oguri -- Another story that involves snakes
- Departures: Community "Life In LA" -- Poem by William Mikell that mentions Playboy Mansion
Photos: Courtesy Lynn Hasty-Tejada. Photo credits: (top) Francisco Arcaute, (bottom, of Cory the boa) Lynn Hasty-Tejada.