October 21, 2020 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

Bringing Beastie Bak

Venice Art Crawl President Sunny Bak with Pinky Bak. Behind is a vintage Bak photo of the Beastie Boys in New York City.

by Melanie Camp

This year’s Venice Art Crawl Fundraiser is set to be one of the best Venice parties of 2017. Special guests include OG members of NWA, there will be a vintage rock and roll photography exhibition, and a VIP sit-down dinner at Hal’s in Playa Vista. The Music Connects Us: Photography & Art Show VAC Fundraiser event on April 20th is a great excuse to support Venice’s volunteer run, non-profit arts organization.

2. Beastie Bak
As a young teen Bak ran with a pack of Paparrazi in New York City.

Music and photography have long been a passion of Venice Art Crawl President Sunny Bak. It all began in New York City. Bak was obsessed with the theater and would ride the 7 train, “the Flushing line to the end” to Times Square, where she would catch matinee shows on Broadway before spending her evenings as a teenage paparazzi. She was so young, one time, Elizabeth Taylor asked her if she was out past her bedtime.

Bak, began her photography adventures in the early 70’s in New York City when she was just a teenager. “I had been shooting as a kid paparazzi from the age of 13-17 on Broadway,” she said. A regular with her camera, she soon befriended many of the cast from the Broadway shows.

“I used to play hooky and tell my mother I was at the library or my friend’s house but I was really at Times Square seeing Broadway shows and skipping school on Wednesday afternoon to see matinees,” Bak told Yo! Venice.

Bak saw the greats. Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Chorus Line, Pippin, Candide, Chicago. “Gail Boggs was in Leonard Bernstein’s Candide on Broadway then, and now, she is performing for the VAC at the Hal’s dinner event on April 20,” said Bak.

Times Square was rough for most back in the day, especially so for a 13-year old. Broadway actress Crissy Wilzak, who was in the original Seesaw, gave the young photographer some vital survival tips.“When you get out of the subway look straight ahead. Walk like you know where you’re going. Don’t look around like a tourist,” Bak remembers Wilzak saying.

American born Bak is of Chinese Indonesian heritage. Standing at only 5”1, even today she looks young for her age. However, as a tween running with a pack of New York City paparazzi, she said she never felt out of place, even if her age did catch the attention of some major celebrities.

“I remember one week Elizabeth Taylor was in town. We were all following her around. She would get back to her hotel at two a.m. each night. One night she looked at me and said ‘Aren’t you a little young to be out so late?’ I said to her, ‘well if you didn’t stay out so late I wouldn’t have to be up so late,’” said Bak adding that the next night, Taylor was back at her hotel before midnight.

Sunny Bak Beastie Boys013
Venice Art Crawl President Sunny Bak at the globe where she shot the gatefold for Beastie Boys License to Ill.

Life as a child paparazzi soon morphed into a young adulthood running her own studio. Her main clients were models. However, she did work with the odd musician or two and even took the picture on the gatefold of the Beastie Boys License to Ill album.

Beastie Bak new the Beastie Boys long before the album shoot. Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “MCA” Yauch, and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz were regulars at Bak’s studio, “I used to wonder why they were hanging out so much then I worked it out…the models,” said Bak.

While waiting for a model to arrive Bak would put the Beasties to work, as stand-ins while she set the lights for a shoot. She has many prints of Diamond, Yauch, and Horovitz hamming on set. “The guys were stand-ins for me here,” she said pointing to one such photo.

In another picture, Horovitz stands, face half in shadow. “He was helping me test the light here too.” Bak’s personal collection of prints reveal an intimate side of the superstars; eating lunch on a skateboard, late-night shenanigans in a bodega, and the day they found the shoot location for the License to Ill gatefold.

5. Beastie Bak
Last year’s Venice Art Crawl Fundraiser at TV Producer Marta Evry’s home in Venice.

Some of Bak’s Beastie shots will be part of the collection on display at the VAC Fundraiser. Works by one of the early innovators of rock-and-roll photography, Guy Webster, will also be featured. As will pieces by Los Angeles street artist Homoriot, whose art is a global movement that promotes equality, gay pride, and “homo love.” The list is long, with the event transforming 3,800 square foot of space into an urban art installation. Plus there will be music. Original NWA member Arabian Prince will perform, as well as Decora, and Betty Nguyen.

This year’s event is the 7th Venice Art Crawl Fundraiser. Last year, locals and art lovers gathered in the garden at TV Producer Marta Evry’s Venice home for a more intimate soiree.

VIP tickets for this year’s event include a sit-down dinner at the new Hal’s Bar & Grill Playa Vista. General admission tickets are also available. You can purchase tickets online at veniceartcrawl.com. $200 gets you a ticket to the VIP Dinner and the Art Show, and $40 gets you into the Art Show.

The Music Connects Us: Photography & Art Show VAC Fundraiser is on Thursday, April 20th, 2017, at theRunway at Playa Vista, 12746 W. Jefferson Blvd, Playa Vista, 90066 from 6:00 -10:00 p.m. 

Get tickets here.

Related Posts

L.A. County COVID-19 Cases Partly Driven Teenagers

October 20, 2020

October 20, 2020

68 percent of new cases among people between ages of 12 and 50 By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County health...

Free Flu Shots at Palms Middle School for Students and Family

October 20, 2020

October 20, 2020

Los Angeles Unified and Health Net offering free vaccinations for seasonal flu to students and families By Chad Winthrop Los...

Mark Twain Middle School Community Raising Money to Restore Mural

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

Colorful mosaic mural in front of school in need of repair By Sam Catanzaro Mark Twain Middle School community members...

Intravenous Vitamin Therapy: A Natural, Effective Solution for the Flu

October 19, 2020

October 19, 2020

By Dr. Mahboubeh Hashemi, ND and Dr. Matthew Cavaiola, ND  As fall and winter are fast approaching, many people, and...

Three-Story Apartment Building Planned Near Venice Canals

October 18, 2020

October 18, 2020

1940s triplex could be replaced by co-living facility By Toi Creel Plans are in the works to demolish a 1940s...

Edify TV: Deal to House Homeless People Near Freeways

October 18, 2020

October 18, 2020

After months of negotiations, the City and County of LA reached a $300 million deal to house thousands of homeless...

LADOT Resumes Parking Enforcement

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) Parking Enforcement and Traffic Control (PETC) has resumed parking enforcement. Find out what...

Armed Suspect Attempting to Rob Several Local Victims

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

LAPD issue alert regarding series of Westside robberies Los Angeles Police Department detectives have recognized a pattern of robberies on...

Italian Restaurant Opens in Venice’s Former Chaya Space

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

Italian restaurant Forma expands into Venice By Kerry Slater A popular Santa Monica Italian restaurant has moved into space formerly...

Michelin Pauses 2020 California Guide

October 15, 2020

October 15, 2020

Restaurant guide says COVID-19 and wildfires forced decision By Kerry Slater The Michelin Guide has paused the announcement of stars...

Venice Under Heat Advisory

October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020

Heat advisory in effect until 5 p.m. Friday By Sam Catanzaro The National Weather Service (NWS) has declared a heat...

UCLA to Administer Faster, Cheaper Coronavirus Testing

October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020

SwabSeq testing platform to be rolled out after FDA approval Scientists at UCLA Health will soon be using a new...

Free School Supplies and Hygiene Products Wanted by Venice Family Clinic

October 13, 2020

October 13, 2020

Clinic celebrating 50 year anniversary by asking the community to participate in volunteer opportunities By Kerry Slater As part of...

Petition Calls for Bonin to Hold Public Saftey Town Hall

October 12, 2020

October 12, 2020

Petition circulating citing increase in crime By Sam Catanzaro Over 800 people have signed a petition calling for Councilmember Mike...

Is COVID-19 Driving Venice Rents Down?

October 11, 2020

October 11, 2020

Apartments.com study shows rents in City of Los Angeles down 6.2 percent By Toi Creel A recent study suggests that...