Dear LAist: What's That Building With The Random Slogans Off The 10 & The 110?
WE'RE ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS ABOUT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA THAT KEEP YOU UP AT NIGHT. IF YOU HAVE ONE, ASK IT HERE.
Driving down the freeways of Los Angeles, you're likely to see all sorts of billboards, banners, interesting architecture, and other distractions that hopefully don't make you crash into anything.
LAist reader M.J. wanted some answers: "Who hangs the banners with random slogans on the building on the right that you pass at the Grand Avenue exit going east on I-10 towards DTLA?"
The signs in question can be seen atop the Vertigo building, which houses events space Casa Vertigo.
Building owner Shawn Far loves grabbing onto pop culture moments, looking for opportunities to draw attention with catchy or provocative slogans. Pop culture figures who've been named by the sign include Kanye West, Roseanne Barr, Miley Cyrus, and Kendrick Lamar.
Some of the most memorable have include "TWERK MILEY" (following Miley Cyrus twerking on the MTV Video Music Awards) and "PRAY FOR KANYE" — as well as political signs like "KANYE 2020?," "OPRAH FOR PRESIDENT," and "TRUMP NOW.
One Reddit user called the signs "billboard clickbait."
The Vertigo, located just southwest of the 10/110 interchange, has between 300,000 and 400,000 people who see it on a daily basis, according to Far. They get lots of attention with their catchy sayings — interspersed with advertising.
The billboard goes for $25,000 for two weeks. Most recently, they hung a banner on the side of the building for Nipsey Hussle after the rapper/community activist's murder — with an advertisement for Fashion Nova running on the roof.
The building's advertising kit promotes the high visibility of the signs, with images of previous billboards used to promote fundraisers and conventions. But it also includes numerous examples of what it calls "brand awareness billboards," which includes those provocative signs everyone remembers.
After Bernie Sanders didn't win, Far switched his support to Donald Trump, Far said. They received some threats over the Trump sign, according to Far.
"You know what, unfortunately, in this day and age, you cannot be very clear about supporting him," Far said. "But I see positive things off of him, as far as business, and the economy."
While the sign was up, someone went up at night and covered the W of he sign, according to Far.
"It became 'TRUMP NO,' which was very smart and interesting of the person who did it," Far said.
The signs' politics are all over the place — they've also included a billboard reading "BUILD LOVE, NOT WALLS."
A HISTORY IN FASHION & THE MASONS
The building was first built in 1926 by L.A. architects Morgan, Walls and Morgan (better known in another iteration as Morgan, Walls and Clements) — they designed other L.A. landmarks like the El Capitan, the Music Box, the Mayan Theater, and more. It was originally built for fraternal organization (a la the Freemasons) the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Far rechristened the building as Casa Vertigo in 2010. Far's worked in fashion for more than 30 years, he said. He owns both the Vertigo women's fashion line, as well as a line of unisex clothing targeted at LGBTQ allies called I Am Gay USA. He said that he got his start importing clothing from Europe before later opening retail stores.
Far sees his work with the Vertigo building as helping to improve the area.
"Before I purchased Casa Vertigo, it used to be an abandoned building," Far said. "My lawyer was recommending not to buy it — he told me, let me buy you a bridge out of nowhere, but don't buy this business. But I did like it, and I saw potential in it. And fortunately, it's now a very good piece of the community."
So next time you're driving down the 10 or the 110, take a look up — you may see another provocative catchphrase. Or just an ad.
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