Blog: James Franco at Strand Books
He’s hosted the Oscars. He’s contributed his acting talents to some of the most iconic films released in the past decade. He’s a student of his craft who, despite his immense celebrity, has ventured to Columbia University to further himself even though he’s made enough money in his young life to never have to work again. He’s even made the controversial leap from movie star to daytime soap opera ensemble performer and last year, he released a book of short stories titled “Palo Alto.” With a slew of other projects on his plate, actor James Franco is also an accomplished artist. Friday night, the always eventful Strand Books hosted Franco in their jam packed Rare Book Room amongst a sea of curious New Yorkers, in what would best be described as part performance art and part interactive Q&A regarding the release of his new book, “The Dangerous Book Four Boys.”
The massive coffee table sized art book is an introspective look at Franco’s reflections on male adolescence and sexuality, often depicted with Franco’s artistically driven thick marker sketches over a bevy of different interpretive pictures. The book is a collection of works from the actor/artist’s exhibit from The Clocktower Gallery which was on display in 2011, and is a carefully created purview into Franco’s creative mind.
The heavy books were spread throughout the room on Friday night- a smattering of pages turned as the crowded space awaited the arrival of Franco himself. As the room filled to near capacity, we were treated to a 20 minute artistic film that Franco had created called “Dicknose in Paris,” a clever, purposefully amateurish short that humorously explored raw human emotion with focus away from Franco’s celebrity and more on the prosthetic penis and testicles adorned to his face. Candidly, it appeared that much of the crowd was unsure of what to make of the piece, but most found it amusing judging by the chuckles of laughter it often received.
Sprinkled in seats throughout the audience were several crowd members wearing masks and as the film concluded, the men all gathered in seats in front of the room, with one of the men revealed to be Franco himself, having just watched his film among us. Flanked by author Rick Moody and photographer Laurel Nakadate, the session then turned into a brief Q&A with Franco as the two paced questions back and forth regarding Franco’s recent work, his passions, and his interests in broadening his career path. Often exasperated, Franco would deliver his answers to the intently listening audience with such intensity that he would cease to look up at them, and thus concentrating on delivering his answers appropriately. At times however, we would catch a glimpse of his trademark smile- perhaps the talented performer’s most endearing quality.
Franco then answered some audience questions before the line formed for readers to have their books signed by the multi-faceted artist. With his hands in so many places, Franco’s work ethic and his ability to succeed in seemingly every spectrum of the arts is incredible to consider. With so many artists aspiring for the celebrity Franco has earned on his looks and acting chops alone, the actor is truly a trend-setter in that he cares more about expanding his mind and exploring different avenues of his creativity than resting on his laurels and making run of the mill films, like seemingly everyone else in Hollywood. There have been many of his acting contemporaries that attempt to recreate their successes in other areas of the arts, but few have been as successful or as believable in their attempts to create than James Franco. For more information on “The Dangerous Book Four Boys,” and for a list of all of their upcoming events, check out strandbooks.com.
- Jane Van Arsdale