Los Angeles Magazine editor Mary Melton came up with a pretty good way to attract viewers to the website during the Christmas and New Year's traffic slowdown. She hand-picked eight stories from the magazine's recent past and is featuring one each day. The selections for Eight Days of Long Form "represent some of the richest and most memorable stories we’ve ever published," the magazine says. Though labeling what used to be a pretty standard length for main feature stories as "long-form" for today's readers might say something about the current state of magazine consumption.
Today's selection is LA writer Amy Wallace's 2002 piece about wearing some artificially large breasts around town and seeing how people react differently to her and how she feels about the reactions and about herself. California or Bust was kind of a deviation from the norm for Los Angeles Magazine at the time and something of a breakthrough in Wallace's point-of-view journalism, and brought both her and the magazine a lot of attention at the time. I remember thinking then that the premise was a little bit over-stretched — it overlooked the thin fashion model icon of beauty and sexuality, pretended that the leg and ass wing of the men's pantheon of objectification didn't exist, and generalized about LA a lot — and the story feels a bit more dated now, 12 years later. But it's a fun read and an enlightening one. Here's a sample.
I’ve had breasts for years. But now I have the biggest, firmest breasts in sight—a plump, jiggling set that obscure my downward vision and get in the way when I drive. My new breasts are D cup. They weigh 23.2 ounces—about the same as a couple of average grapefruits. They sit high on my chest in a bra that makes the most of my cleavage.
I’ve spent my whole life pretending breasts don’t matter. Part of me still wants to believe it’s true. I can make all the arguments, which basically come down to this: Women should be valued for their selves, not their shelves. Still, I have to admit, at the moment the breasts I’m toting feel like more than mere flesh. They feel like the source of all power.
he perfectly rounded breast is to L.A. what big hair is to Dallas. More than palm trees or surfboards or stars on Hollywood Boulevard, the breast—especially the surgically augmented breast—has become this city’s icon. That it taps into an American obsession only makes the symbol more potent. Saline or silicone, globelike or teardrop, ta-tas put the la-la in Los Angeles.
Angelyne. Pamela Anderson. Melanie Griffith. These women have the kind of breasts that people associate with Southern California. Six breasts among them, and not one could be found in nature. Angelenos accept this. We joke about it. We exchange tips on how best to spot the fakes. One woman I know says U-shaped cleavage is the tip-off. Another studies breasts at the beach, searching for the telltale melon shape, the way certain implants defy gravity. It’s a sport, and women here play it as much as men do.
Other pieces up so far include Tamar Brott's 2003 profile of Huell Howser, Joy Horowitz's 2001 piece on casting director Heidi Levitt, the 2003 profile of Eli Broad by Ed Leibowitz, Steve Oney's 2005 story exploring our relationships with our dogs, and Jesse Katz's 2001 visit with the jockeys at Santa Anita. Before anyone from previous Los Angeles Magazine eras and editors points it out, yes all the selections are from the period since Melton and former editor Kit Rachlis came to the magazine.