If you happened to be hanging around the Crazy Girls gentleman’s club in Los Angeles as Wednesday night turned into Thursday morning, the familiar haze of blunt smoke and neon might have lulled you into a false sense that this was a typical night of debauchery. Dollar bills covered the floor while laser lights flashed and scantily clad women twerked. The crowd of increasingly intoxicated men yelled “I Think You Should Leave” quotes and OutKast lyrics at the top of their lungs. The only thing separating it from your average bout of Wednesday night horniness was the fact that virtually no one was looking at the strippers. Despite the endless opportunities to gaze 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 what appeared to be a grotesque rubber Mafioso mask, and several strippers — the 51-year-old filmmaker performed a DJ set that saw him remixing Brazilian pop music and Linkin Park until late into the night. The spectacle included a laser show and video montage that blended everything from NFT-style animations and first-person shooter games to live action footage of motorcyclists 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 all part of the aftershow at the Los Angeles premiere of Korine’s latest film, “AGGRO DR1FT,” which naturally took place inside a strip club. My employment contract with IndieWire stipulates that I’m only allowed to attend film premieres that feature semi-nude dancers, so I did not see any of the conventional screenings of “AGGRO DR1FT” at the Venice, Toronto, and New York Film Festivals. Yet it’s hard to imagine a better way (a relative term if there ever was one) to see this movie than on 10 different screens, three of which were on the ceiling, and a premium sound system that accentuates the bass-heavy score. The infrared fairy tale is more of a vibe than a conventional movie, and it seemed destined to be used as strip club ambiance. As the reds, yellows, magentas, and cyans reflected onto the audience members, the glare from the screens turned the entire club into a shot from a Harmony Korine movie in which we all had roles.
While there’s no way to verify this, it feels safe to assume that the event set a world record for the most Letterboxd users ever crammed inside a single strip club. Hundreds of the exact type of person you’re picturing (myself included) braved a brutal L.A. rainstorm for the chance to see the infrared tale of assassinations gone awry. But while the first non-festival screening of a new Korine movie was certainly part of the draw, the night’s real purpose was far bigger than just a film premiere. It was a coming out party for EDGLRD.
Launched in 2023 (with the help of IndieWire veteran Eric Kohn), the Miami-based multimedia collective appears determined to turn the entire world into one big Harmony Korine movie. The company plans to produce a litany of films, video games, live events, clothing, skateboard gear, and other objects and immersive art projects unified around the creative ethos that Korine has spent decades cultivating. And while Korine has taken every recent opportunity to express his boredom with conventional filmmaking, the immersive screening of “AGGRO DR1FT” showed that EDGLRD is capable of crafting the communal experiences that have always been the essence of cinema. Moviegoers might have been seated in chairs next to strippers leaning against their poles, but everyone was watching the same bright wall(s) in the same dark room.
Watching “AGGRO DR1FT” at a film premiere where the film was almost an afterthought, I saw the EDGLRD vision begin to take shape. The entire evening was a celebration of Korine’s post-“Spring Breakers” aesthetic, from the EDM music down to the limited edition skate decks and t-shirts that his fans ravenously purchased. His recent output has been an endless celebration of Florida sleaze, and this was a celebration of the celebration of sleaze. If the crowd at the strip club is any indicator, EDGLRD could very well become the next Supreme, a hype-fueled brand that eventually becomes capable of selling any object to a passionate audience who would rather live in Korine’s world than our own.
“AGGRO DR1FT” is set to screen at more strip clubs and other unorthodox venues around the country in the coming months, and the tour will be the foundation for whatever EDGLRD ends up becoming. Walt Disney always loved 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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