If you happened to be hanging out at the Crazy Girls gentlemen’s club in Los Angeles as Wednesday night turned into Thursday morning, the familiar haze of dull smoke and neon might have lulled you into the false sense that this was a typical night of debauchery. Dollar bills littered the floor while laser lights flashed and scantily clad women quivered. The crowd of increasingly inebriated men chanted “I Think You Should Leave” quotes and OutKast lyrics at the top of their lungs. The only thing that separated it from the average Wednesday night stimulus was the fact that virtually no one was looking at the strippers. Despite the endless opportunities to look at beautiful women, all the boys’ eyes were on Harmony Korine.
Flanked by an entourage wearing the horned demon masks that have become his trademark in recent months – as well as two women in ghost makeup, a hype man in a grotesque rubber mobster mask and several strippers – the 51-year-old director performed a DJ set that saw him mixing Brazilian pop music and Linkin Park until late into the night. The spectacle included a laser show and video montage that combined everything from NFT-style animation and first-person shooters to live-action footage of bikers in Miami. Everything could have been ripped straight from a “Spring Breakers” sequel that exists in some alternate universe. And in a way it was.
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The hoopla was part of the aftershow at the Los Angeles premiere of Korine’s latest film, AGGRO DR1FT, which of course took place inside a strip club. My employment contract with IndieWire states that I’m only allowed to attend premieres of films featuring topless dancers, so I didn’t see any of the contractual screenings of “AGGRO DR1FT” at the Venice, Toronto, and New York Film Festivals. Still, it’s hard to imagine a better way (a relative term, if ever there was one) to see this film than 10 different screens, three of which were on the ceiling, and a top-notch sound system accentuating the bass-heavy score. The Infrared Tale is more of an atmosphere than a conventional film, and seemed destined to be used as a strip mall atmosphere. As the reds, yellows, magentas and cyans reflected off the audience members, the glow from the screens turned the entire club into a scene from a Harmony Korine movie in which we all had roles.
While there’s no way to verify this, it’s safe to assume the event set a world record for the most Letterboxd users ever crammed into a strip mall. Hundreds of the exact the type of person you portray (myself included) braved a brutal LA storm for a chance to see the infrared history of missed murders. But while the first non-festival screening of a new Korine film was certainly part of the draw, the true purpose of the evening was far greater than just a film premiere. It was a party for EDGLRD.
Launched in 2023 (with the help of IndieWire veteran Eric Kohn), the Miami-based multimedia collective seems determined to turn the entire world into a big Harmony Korine movie. The company plans to produce a range of films, video games, live events, clothing, skateboard gear and other items and immersive artworks united around the creative ethos that Korine has spent decades cultivating. And while Korine has been taking every recent opportunity to express his boredom with conventional filmmaking, the riveting viewing of ‘AGGRO DR1FT’ showed that EDGLRD is capable of creating the shared experiences that have always been the essence of cinema. Moviegoers might be sitting in chairs next to strippers leaning against their poles, but they were all looking at the same bright walls in the same dark room.
Watching “AGGRO DR1FT” at a film premiere where the film was almost an afterthought, I saw EDGLRD’s vision begin to take shape. The entire night was a celebration of Korine’s post-“Spring Breakers” aesthetic, from the EDM music to the limited-edition skates and t-shirts that his fans snapped up. His recent release was an endless celebration of Florida sleaze, and this was a celebration of the sleaze celebration. If the crowd at the strip mall is any indicator, EDGLRD could very well become the next Supreme, a brand fueled by hype that eventually becomes capable of selling any item to a passionate audience that would rather live in Korine’s world than Ours.
‘AGGRO DR1FT’ is set to be played in more strip clubs and other unorthodox venues across the country in the coming months and the tour will be the foundation for what comes to EDGLRD. Walt Disney always liked to point out that his empire started with a mouse. This could turn into a similar situation, except it all started with sparks flying out of an infrared stripper’s vagina.
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