Trace : Sweet Surprise


From 2001-2006 I was the Executive Editor of the magazine hailed as “the style bible” by The New Yorker. Acting as a purveyor of emerging cultures worldwide, Trace has been called the leading voice in “transcultural style + ideas,” and has featured some of the most iconic artists, models and creative’s on its cover since its founding in 1996, many of them before they became household names. Our editorial team continuously met the challenge of finding compelling content and presenting it in an authentic, edgy light. My particular passion was to act as the driving engine and curator of our annual year-end “Destination” issues, which saw us traveling to and immersing ourselves in countries such as South Africa, Japan, Mexico, Jamaica, Portugal, Argentina, India, Uruguay and Brazil.

Sweet Surprise

The opening footage of Wassup Rockers is vintage Larry Clark. A bare-chested boy with dewy adolescent skin and a set of preternaturally ripened lips describes the crimes and misdemeanors of his gang of loveable low lives. There is a palpable tension pushing up against his monologue; he scratches his arms, riffles through and then self-consciously rearranges his hair; his smile wavers between sincere generosity and cowering suspicion. It almost feels as if Clark’s presence behind the camera threatened to further unveil his already exposed state of vulnerability.

The energy continues to build so that by the time our subject Jonathan has guided us through tales of underage sex, a friend’s failed suicide attempts, and his own dreams of rock stardom, we are prepared for nothing short of what we have come to expect from Mr. Clark’s photojournalistic approach to life on the fringe: another dangerously irreverent ride to the dark side of teenage love and lust.

“The film starts out like a documentary but then turns into this wild fantasy ride,” Clark said, during a recent telephone conversation from his home in Los Angeles. “I didn’t want to make what you’d expect from me. I wanted to make this crazy, made-up adventure. I wanted to goof on white people a bit too.” Indeed, Rockers has the distinct feel of a road movie, roving, euphoric, full of constant motion. The only difference is that instead of a car, the mode of transport is seven skateboards, carrying seven oddly timeless and strikingly beatific young men. Trailing them through a day-in-the-life scenario—we see them going to school, hanging out in the park afterwards and later getting drunk on 40’s at a late night band session, where they compare notes on their parents’ sex lives—Clark gives us more of a virtual painting of modern-day life in South Central than an actual start-to-finish storyline.