VIDEO PREMIERE: Randa recalls meeting the Dirty Girls and shooting his new video ‘Apollo Creed’.
I gaze up at Amber who has just climbed a 12-foot ladder and is now hugging the top of a palm tree at Papas & Beer, an outdoor night club extravaganza in Rosarito, Mexico. Maybe it’s wrong to appear gleeful – as security guards scurry below, some Jaden Smith brow-game showing concern might be more thoughtful. On second thought, no way. My friend is fearless and passionately invested in living life to the fullest. She’s like a living embodiment of a YOLO tat. Hold up… Amber is gnarly… she is a Dirty Girl.
A year earlier, in August 2015, I’m sitting in bed trying to swallow apple stewed porridge which my mum has kindly been making my crybaby ass for the last ten days. My throat is ulcerated and I’m recovering from glandular fever, AKA ‘mono’ as the American kids say and how I refer to it when explaining to my new internet pal why I may not be well enough to make a music video this coming week.
Amber Willat, leader of Dirty Girls Project has come all the way from Los Angeles to attend a family wedding. Riding along with her is dope guy Sayer Danforth and fellow badass babe, Casey Whitmas. It feels like bad timing; just not enough to keep us from meeting.
We private message via Facebook chat.
“Can we come and visit you?”
One hour later, we’re getting to know each other, taking pictures on 35mm film in my parent’s living room. The energy surrounding the three humans is infectious, the vibes are immediate and I start to feel alive again.
“Can we kidnap you?”
Half an hour later, we are dressed in sniper ghillie suits, hanging out at a Wairau Park swamp shooting a music video for ‘Apollo Creed’.
Dirty Girls Project began as a reaction to the global attention received by Dirty Girls, a short documentary filmed in ’96 that was uploaded to YouTube in 2013. The film follows teen sisters Amber and Harper as they go about high school life in Los Angeles. The siblings are bold, speaking with a unique confidence about their experiences as riot grrls. The message is timeless but it’s one that hits you right in the gut when being explored by eloquent, witty and often hilarious 13 year olds: “Be yourself, and don’t let negativity from others affect your lifestyle and how you share your essence with the world.”
I was super jazzed when the now-adult Amber got in touch. I had come across the Dirty Girls before and felt inspired by their content. Through songwriting, I had been trying to highlight and share a similar ideology and I guess it came across when Long Beach-based videographer Sayer was surfing Vimeo Staff Picks one afternoon. He checked out my visuals for ‘Rangers’, directed by Robert Wallace, and shared it with the Dirty Girls. Months later and the universe had brought us all together IRL.
Over the course of a three day hang out, my new posse and I bonded over fries, creativity and an overnight adventure to Waiheke Island. We stumbled upon a gym and dance teacher who was a lot more interested in us than teaching her tween-age students. Upon instruction, her class put away their hula hoops and showed us their latest hip hop routine.
“Where’s the boom box? Someone get the boom box!”
She was transfixed.
We learnt every step and even got to practice somersaults from mini trampolines onto crash mats as the kids looked on in confusion. “Why are we doing this?” asked one. We visited a horse farm, or what was advertised as a horse farm. We met a family who lived in an old wooden house, the mum allowed us to meet their animals including a super large girl pig named Sweetpea. “Can we ride the pig?” asked Amber. Pig-riding sounds kind of fucked up, but it was incredible. Casey got bucked by a goat and we were on our way.
I directed everyone to the Red Cross Community Store where we purchased an ’80s board game called Olympigs (tiny pig catapults and high jump bars included). It was here we chose the look for our future band’s album cover. This involved picking outfits for everyone and finding shirts with good slogans: “Party Animal” for Sayer and “Canadian Drinking Team” for Casey. I was a lazy boy with Amber and simply dressed her as Michael Hutchence, her hair being my starting point.
It felt like we were back in the city before we could blink. I was still emitting flu goo from my face cavities but I felt amazing. We returned our suits to Army Surplus and ordered some hot mud mochaccinos. I was woken up with bittersweet goodbye hugs the following day at 6am. I fell back to sleep and when I woke up, it had all felt like a massive dream. And it really was classic Anaheim Disneyland levels of heart warmth, minus the people shouting at their families.
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