The answer to every unasked question:
On Phone Numbers and Photographs
Taking pictures of stylish people is like trying to approach a woman in the club: You’re talking to a stranger based on appearance and assumptions, and you must deliver the pitch quickly. I was great at getting numbers in the club, and when rejection was looming, I’d settle for other alternatives: “Well, give me your email address then.” In both pursuits, you are selling yourself, and a certain amount of trust must be established in order to proceed with the transaction.
I don’t club much anymore. I now love bars, lounges, and house parties. Earlier this year, I attended a house party hosted by Megan Coates. Outside her Uptown home were several tall, dark, and muscular men with beards. I didn’t realize the party was for people who were working on Django Unchained, a Quinton Tarantino movie being filmed in New Orleans about a slave-turned-bounty hunter (Jamie Foxx) on a mission to rescue his wife from a brutal plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). Coates works in the wardrobe department for the movie, and several of her guests were actors. I started my rap: “I’m writing a style column for The Oxford American….”
For some reason, more than anyone else, one guy really listened: Omar J. Dorsey. He looked kind of familiar—I thought he was a comedian. He has more than twenty acting credits to his name. I’ve run into him three times now, and each time he’s been wearing a hat—and he didn’t let me take his picture until the third time we met.
Actor Omar J. Dorsey, wearing a hat from Stefan's Vintage Clothing in Little Five Points in Atlanta
“My hair is really fucked up because I’m doing this movie,” laughed Dorsey the second time I ran into him. We stood outside the Howlin’ Wolf, where cast and crewmembers were attending a party. “I’m usually clean-shaven and never wear hats.” Dorsey plays Chicken Charlie, another ex-slave who accompanies Django (Jamie Foxx) during the second part of his journey.
Dorsey started caring about style in the eighth grade. “I went to school and everyone was dressed really nice, and I was like ‘oh shit, I got to step it up.’” Off the movie set and with a proper haircut, Dorsey says that his look (which he calls “grown man”) was influenced by his father, who had a real keen sense of fashion.
Dorsey started acting as a teenager while he was a student at DeKalb Center for the Performing Arts at Avondale High School and later studied film and theater at the University of Georgia. Dorsey was still an undergraduate when he got a role in his first movie, Road Trip (1999). He went to school to become a director, but has not been behind the camera since. After working with Tarantino, however, he sees that directing is still something that he eventually wants to do.
Dorsey appreciates Tarantino’s attention to detail. “You could push pause on any Quentin Tarantino movie and it would look like a still photograph.” He admires Tarantino’s vast knowledge of films, which gives him the ability to reference so many past movies while still making a vision of his own.
Dorsey cites Pulp Fiction as his favorite movie and Kill Bill as the most perfect movie. He’s confident Django will have the same success. “It’s going to kill everything in the box office, it really is,” he says very seriously. “There are so many Oscars on that set,” he said. “It’s on another level.” Just then a black SUV rolled past and parked nearby. Jamie Foxx stepped out of the vehicle and walked to a side entrance that led to a VIP seating area.
Dorsey turns to me: “You need to take pictures of him.”
“You think he’d do it?”
“You could ask.”
“What about Tarantino?”
I asked Dorsey to introduce me to other cast members.
Lupita Nyong'o, a New York-based actor, with Nikkia Moulterie, a New York-based indie producer
The night rolled on, I took a few pictures. Tarantino left, and I said nothing. Later, Foxx was walking around freely, with his dark jeans, hoodie, and a Yankees cap. My date suggested I take a photo of the man with the goatee, not realizing it was Foxx. I told her I didn’t want to get played in front of everyone, that it reminded me of walking up to a girl on the dance floor who shakes her head to say she doesn’t want to dance with you. I hated that feeling in my club days.
Foxx left the dance floor, where folks stood around talking, and headed back to the VIP section. I went to the side door where the SUV remained parked. Foxx said a few goodbyes as I walked up to him. A man stepped between us.
“What do you want?” he asked plainly.
I started my pitch: “To take pictures for my style column.”
“You got to…” he said without completing the thought, “…not right now.” They left the building and the SUV disappeared.
When you have the opportunity to get the number or take the photo, use it. I hesitated too much, as if the photo subject was out of my league. I forgot the rule: No is the answer to every unasked question.
Style on the Spot: Goorin Bros. Hat Shop Opening Party, Royal Street
Goorin Bros. employees Elijah Bradshaw, wearing the Mickey the Barber hat. and Sigourney
Gogo McGregor, wearing a vintage Goorin Bros. hat, with Elijah Bradshaw
Courtney Knowles, wearing a Mick Bloom hat from Goorin Bros. and carrying a hatbox after flying in from New York, where he splits his time with New Orleans
Courtney Knowles, president of Newx2 Communications and director of Love is Louder
Vanessa Centeno, MFA student in painting at the University of New Orleans.
Top: repurposed from Vanessa's high-school prom dress by her mother; Pants: vintage; Fan: from Spain
WWOZ DJ and Goorin Bros. manager Sam Cammarata, wearing The Don hat, with his girlfriend, Cassie Anderson.
Suit: vintage Haspel; Cravat: Beau Ties LTD of Vermont
Top: Forever 21; Skirt: Millau; Purse: Street Level Handbags
Goorin Bros. employees Tony Dimunno, Geoffry Ward, and Brian Simonson
In red: Cutie Calamity, visual merchandiser with Sick and musician in The Dap Kings
Style on the Spot: Solstice party for RAW: natural born artists at the 12 Bar
Model for Kc Thomassie Designs
Model for Halfshell Productions
Nakisha Phillips, model for Kc Thomassie Designs
The crew from Buffalo Exchange, who came out to support fellow employee Kaci Thomassie of Kc Thomassie Designs
Buffalo Exchange employee Christine Hamilton
Marty Garner, copywriter at Peter Mayer