BEFORE THEY GO, Venice Artists in their studio by Debbie Zeitman
“I call myself a multi-disciplinarian because I love everything that is creative. I studied film at UCLA. I started as a singer/songwriter. And then got into performance art.”
In Venice for over 25 years, Linda moved to LA at age 19 from Colorado and took a job at Disneyland. “I wound up being the Space Girl there. She’s the Alice in Wonderland of Tomorrowland.” She also got to be in some Hollywood films, “just because I was tall” (6’4”) after being rejected for the exact same reason.
After graduating from UCLA Linda realized she didn’t want to work in the film industry. “So I went back to writing songs.” But she was told that her songs didn’t “fit the mold,” insinuating that she wouldn’t make it as a songwriter. Assorted musicians and singers disagreed, and Linda had success with artists like Linda Ronstadt, Taj Mahal, Carolyn Hester, and more recording her songs. Linda cites a quote from Cocteau: “Do what they hate. It’s you.” And she stayed on her path.
Soon Linda’s songs were no longer songs, but evolved into spoken word. Friends did movement behind her. She projected slides and added other elements to her performances, and performed at assorted venues like the Lhasa Club in Hollywood, John Anson Ford Theatre, and LATC.
“At one point I was invited to go on tour with Alice Cooper. Two tours, for a year and a half, all through the US, Canada, and Great Britain. It was an incredible way to see the world, to see the US. We were on a bus and stopped everywhere.”
More and more Linda was asked to read her text in the company of poets. “It was a lot easier than bringing props, making costumes, films, slides, the things I was doing for performing.” She was invited and flown to the One World Poetry Festival with all expenses paid. “I was there with Wanda Coleman. She was my roommate. Exene was there representing LA. Dennis Cooper was there. And I thought, ‘Poetry. That’s where the big money is.’” She punctuates the thought with a smile.
Linda says she’s slowing down “in her dotage,” but still plans performances and stores props in the basement studio she shares with a publisher.
Debbie Zeitman has photographed over 50 Venice Artists and still counting. Sixteen artist portraits and stories are hanging at Wabi Venice (1635 Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice). Her photographic life began as a freelance photographer for the Associated Press covering primarily sports. Now her eyes drift to life’s everyday rich details, whether tiny or grand. She also spends an extraordinary amount of time trying to capture the meaningful expressions of shelter dogs and cats in an attempt to get them to safety and into permanent homes. In addition, Debbie advocates for all animals and lives a vegan lifestyle.