In Feast of Burden, an online mini-series that premiered this November, Los Angeles It-girl Lauren Avery makes her acting debut. She plays Saab Moonroof, the aloof and literally spell-binding member of an eccentric group of friends who find themselves at a dinner party gone awry due to supernatural forces. With bright neon green hair, jewels decorated along her forehead, and a bulky sweater that evokes ’90s grunge (not to mention a vinyl mini-backpack), her character is at once dry, unselfconsciously awkward, and bombastic.
Eugene Kotlyarenko, who created the 12 webisodes for MOCAtv, hyper-personified each of his characters, exaggerating dress and behavior for effect on screen, while writing with specific real-life personalities in mind. “Lauren’s natural flair for performance and her ability to command attention in any room, made her a given in this ensemble,” Kotlyarenko explained. For the series, Avery’s natural attributes are heightened: red lips accentuate her already voluptuous pout and her eyebrows are thick, defined, and shaded black.
Born and raised as a part of Los Angeles society, Avery is accustomed to eccentricity and pushing the envelope both personally and professionally. Like a real-life Martha Marcy May Marlene, Avery takes on as many names as personas. She is Meg Ryan as a pop-electronic-rocker performing at underground LA clubs like Freak City; model Angeleno Lauren Avery when styled in pastel-hues for Schon magazine; and simply Lauren Avery as an actress.
Here, she talks with us about working with Kotlyarenko, becoming an internet celebrity, and the many sides of Meg Ryan Lauren Avery.
How did you meet Eugene Kotlyerenko?
It was about two years ago at an after hours bar in LA. I was in a bitchy mood standing in the corner drinking by myself. Through the ambiance of the crowd this maniac approached me in a pair of denim maternity pants. It was Eugene and he was hitting on me. I thought he was perfectly charming and we were having a wonderful conversation. I guess my friends must have thought he was bothering me because before we could exchange numbers or anything they swooped in and took me away. I actually showed up the next week at the bar to apologize hoping he would be there. Sure enough he was, the maternity pants were there too.
How did you come to be involved in Feast of Burden?
Eugene contacted me and said he was putting together a show and there was a role he was interested in me playing. He sent me the script and I went over to his house to do a reading. At the time I had no idea what an insane vision he had for the show, but through shooting I realized how lucky I was to be a part of it all.
Do you relate to your character in Feast of Burden?
There were a lot of elements to Saab that I related to, not necessarily all the witchcraft, (although I did go through some weird phases as a teen) but I mostly related to her overall “attitude”. She’s kind of just your average cosmopolitan bitch trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with everyone around her; which is essentially what my life is like.
Do you relate to the social dynamics presented in the series?
I think anyone with friends can relate to the social dynamics presented in the series. We all have friends that fuck each other, we all know some love obsessed fool crippled by his own desires, a friend who likes to stir the pot for their own sick amusement. I personally related to my characters kind of “wild card” role in the whole thing. She didn’t know any of these people before arriving at the dinner party which gave her somewhat of an advantage to read people without much of a bias. Well, that and her superhuman powers.
What do you think about the commentary on technology and society that the series presents?
The commentary on technology and social media in society is one of the funnier elements about the series. Eugene is so vocal about how he hates that a lot of filmmakers today disregard technology as a part of our every day lives. The world we live in is so influenced and guided by social media that to subtract all of that from a film is almost too contrived.
What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently writing a screenplay with Eugene about a brothel run in LA’s Chinatown in the early ’90s. It’s the first film I’ve ever written and Eugene’s fourth or something. Hopefully it will get turned into a big feature length and someone hot like James Franco will be in it. Other than that I am also working on a long term project with Nick Haymes, a friend of mine who is an amazing photographer. We have been shooting photos for the past two years and plan on releasing a book to follow his last one called “Gabe.”
Do you see yourself as having a role in LA club culture?
I certainly used to be all about that club culture, when I was gallivanting around the city as “Meg” that’s almost all I did. But it’s tiresome, uneventful, and transparent. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I’m in the mood to go out and be 100 percent transparent, but I much prefer going to clubs in other cities. I start to feel too much like a loser if I go out all the time in LA, mostly because it’s always the same stuff going on. You’re sitting there at the end of the night at the Jack in the Box drive thru, wasted, thinking “didn’t I do this last week?”
What is the difference between Meg Ryan and Lauren Avery? How would you describe your various personas?
Meg Ryan was a persona I developed in a pseudo-satirical fashion, more as a statement on the modern day Internet celebrity and what really goes into becoming one. Using tumblr as a media platform, I found out it’s really easy to achieve Internet fame, and all you really have to do is wear a lot of makeup and shop at goodwill. You should also have a friend who has a digital camera and is good at photoshop. The one bad effect of becoming Meg Ryan is that I still go out places only to hear some crazed lunatic screaming “MEG!” at me.
Do you think Los Angeles is emerging as an art capital?
The LA art game is totally bizarre. Areas like Silverlake and Echo Park, which are supposed to be the “alternative and artistic” places to hang, give me the worst vibes. People don’t recognize certain things as art unless it fits into this bracket of bullshit. However, this is why it’s better too, in my opinion, because when the true talent shines, it really shines. And things that are actually of quality stand out in stark contrast to all the boring stuff.
What is your family like?
Growing up I always thought my family was pretty normal, but as I’ve gotten older I realize more and more how peculiar they are. In a lot of ways they are old fashioned and formal, but reclusive to the point where they don’t realize how much they have incubated their eccentricities. I grew up going to country clubs in LA and that’s really where my family spends most their time. Back in the day my family were all socialites and society people, but now it’s a little bit more Grey Gardens. My grandma Moks is the matriarch of the family. She is 95 and on any given night can be found throwing back flutes of champagne and eating cheese souffles at the Los Angeles Country Club. She is a true woman. Her family was one of the first to ever settle in Southern CA—they were called the Sepulvedas. Most people know that name as a very long street that stretches from one end of LA to the other.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m one of those people you run in to at 3 a.m. at CVS wearing oriental house slippers, with white socks, and an over-sized FUBU jacket. It’s not a direct reflection of who I am as a person, although it is perhaps highlighting some kind of current emotional state. I go through phases. Last summer I wore a white tennis skirt and white shirt almost everyday. By September the skirt was covered in lipstick and beer, maybe even hot Cheetos dust too. There was also a time a bit before that where I only dressed like a member of the royal family. Not like princess Beatrice, but more like Queen Elizabeth I of England, if she had a sluttier little sister who was somehow half-Mexican. My style is just usually my own take on something else that I like. At times super simple, and other times messy and deranged.
Who are your fashion inspirations?
I don’t think I am inspired by so many specific people as I am inspired by culture and subcultures when it comes to fashion. I am equally inspired by some teen-mom in the waiting room of my dentist’s office as I am by the off-kilter Chinese immigrant decor in there too.
Tell us about your recent marriage:
For a little while now I have been telling my family about my desire to have one failed marriage before the real deal. I think it’s important to get some practice because I really don’t believe that dating someone truly prepares you for what comes after your walk down the aisle. I sent out inconspicuous invites for my party that alluded to a simple party of shrimp cocktails on the beach. I orchestrated everything perfectly so that an hour into mingling the guests were asked to take a seat in the rows of chairs by a gazebo. It was then that a homeless opera singer (I discovered) came out in all white and angel wings and began to sing. That was when people started to think something was up. I walked down the aisle in a simple Spanish veil carrying a bouquet of sparklers. It was truly extraordinary and I don’t recall a time I ever had more iPhones pointed at me.
How did you meet your husband?
He is my best friend’s little brother who I have known almost all my life. He is being a very good sport about everything.
Would you describe yourself as a wild child?
I am certainly no poised dame. I can, if need be, turn on the composed gracefulness instilled in me as a young girl through Cotillion and etiquette classes. For the most part I don’t really think about it unless I am in a high society situation, and even then, no one knows that I have a pet pig sleeping in a fur coat at home and I’m probably not wearing any underwear.