Lana Del Rey, America’s most enigmatic, controversial, and seductive rock star, spent the morning in Los Angeles traffic, anxious, wearing one of her favorite minidresses – the navy blue cotton one – on the prowl for some fake palm trees she wanted as onstage props for tomorrow night’s show in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
It’s the famed resting place of Rudolph Valentino and Fay Wray, and she felt certain some faux tropical flora would add the perfect finishing touch for these surreal final shows of her long 2014 tour. But she is home now and calm, at ease on the little deck just off her bedroom, hidden behind the tall hedges encircling her 1920s Tudor, freshly painted but stylishly in need of repair – Hollywood golden-age glamour gone slightly to seed – like a scene from Sunset Boulevard or, perhaps intentionally, one of her videos.
“I never saw myself in California,” she tells me. Del Rey is as much provocateur as pop star, known for moody and lush songs about the intersection of sex and violence and money. The videos with which she made her name traffic in the faded imagery of American nostalgia and decline. She combines a classic, sultry beauty with a heavy dose of all-American alienation – the head cheerleader gone desperately wrong. A few years ago, she changed her name, changed her hair, discarded an entire album, left behind a world-beating partying habit, and started anew. For someone like that, California seems an inevitable landing point.
For the full interview grab the April 2015 issue of MAXIM, in stores from March 19 to April 15.
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