SELLER: Jane Wiedlin
LOCATION: Los Angeles
SIZE: 1,280 square feet, 1-2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Go-Go's guitarist Jane Wiedlin was squarely on the pioneering real estate vanguard when, in 2007, she sold her historic Streamline Moderne residence in the heart of L.A.'s hipster-choked Silver Lake community and decamped to a sun-flooded loft condo in an even hipper, industrial, and still somewhat gritty if not exactly seedy section of downtown Los Angeles known as Little Tokyo.
Although not exactly wildly popular, living in downtown L.A. is trés chic and even trendy amongst arty-farty Angelinos in search of a more urban, pedestrian friendly existence than is customarily available in the sprawling, auto-oriented mega-city that—let's be honest, butter beans—functions more like an interconnected amalgamation of suburbs than a proper city. Simmer down, children, we ain't hatin'. Just like Randy Newman, we love L.A. But, you know, it is what it is. Anyways...
Miz Wiedlin is, of course, best known as the perky, pixie haired and squeaky-voiced rhythm guitarist for the iconic late-70s and early 80s all-women pop-punk band The Go-Go's. It was she, in fact, who co-wrote the hard charging yet infectiously bubbly music for the band's hit song Our Lips Are Sealed. Miz Wiedlin left the group in 1984 to pursue a (less successful) solo career but occasionally re-groups, records and tours with her Go-Go's gal pals. Indeed, the Go-Go's sold out the Hollywood Bowl last summer (2012), thirty years after the first time they sold out the legendary L.A. venue.*
In addition to whatever personal musical pursuits Miz Wiedlin still pursues she's also a tireless advocate for animal rights, dabbled in acting, and co-created the Lady Robotika comic book. Some years ago she became an ordained, mail-order minister who offers her marriage and commitment ceremony services as Reverend Sister Go-Go for between $1,500 and $4,000 (plus travel, accommodation and food expenses), depending on the package.
Property records and other online resources show Miz Wiedlin purchased her approximately 1,280 square foot loft at the Little Tokyo Lofts building as a bare shell in March 2007 for $695,000. In 2010 the diminutive rocker—who looks almost disturbingly like Joyce DeWitt from the 1970s and '80s sitcom Three's Company—had the top floor loft listed for lease with an asking price of $4,250. It's now listed for lease at a much lower $2,350 per month. It's also for sale with—as of today—a $596,000 price tag. Miz Wiedlin pushed her downtown digs on the sales market in late-April (2013) with an asking price of $850,000. Since then, the price tag has repeatedly been slivered—a dozen times as of this morning—to its current $596,000. By Your Mama's quick and rudimentary calculations, even if Miz Wiedlin manages to secure of a full price buyer at today's asking price of $596,000, she's still faced with a $99,000 financial gut punch, not counting carrying costs, customization, and real estate fees.
Current listing information shows the "Rockstar-owned penthouse loft" has "million-dollar views," two deeded parking spaces, "fantastical original decor"—which is putting it mildly, and $459 monthly home owner's association fees. Current listing details also show the sixth floor corner unit has magnificent steel casement warehouse windows, yellow blond maple hardwood floors, coveted 12-foot ceilings, and at least one exposed structural column around which Miz Wieldin had a Saturn-inspired steel bar and shelving system installed where she stores and displays her collection of burlesque oriented bar ware.
The loft's front door opens into a multi-functional foyer/dining/kitchen space where Miz Wiedlin's decidedly peculiar but refreshingly personal decorative style immediately smacks a person across the face with its remarkable, well, weirdness. Those children with less fantastical and more traditional taste might categorize the day-core as Unrestrained Hot Mess but in a low- to no-budget marketing video that popped up on the YouTube in late 2009 Miz Wiedlin describes her decorative phantasmagoria, a kooky and deeply personal blend of "Asian, mid-century and Future-y stuff," as "Bladerunner-esque." Frankly, as nuttily done as Miz Wiedlin's loft may be—and it is unquestionably wacky, Your Mama would most certainly rather look at this odd and deeply personal decorative extravaganza than look at another one of those awful, cookie cutter Bacchanalia of beige that's way too often lauded as tasteful.
At least one wall in the combo foyer/dining area is papered with vintage 1970s Mylar that's been seamed and riveted to look like the side of a space ship, she proudly declares in the marketing video. At least one more wall has cinematically pedigreed, vintage orange and silver abstract pattern wall paper that was used in the cult-classic film Barbarella. Miz Wiedlin says in the video that the film's the late movie producer Dino De Laurentiis retained several rolls of the stuff that she bought on Ebay. We.re not wallpaper people but, kitty cats, of all the kooky stuff Miz Wiedlin's got stuffed like sardines up in that loft, this wallpaper is a goddamn treasure. The compact but perfectly serviceable open concept kitchen area has black granite counter tops, a butcher block topped work island, rental-grade stainless steel appliances and maple cabinetry painted a lustrous Chinese lacquer red.
The dining foyer and kitchen space opens up into a roomy corner living room where Miz Wiedlin tiled the front of the (gas) fireplace with ebony river stones and sparkly grout. An open back entertainment unit strikes a cacophonous pose in front of graphic black and white vintage wall paper. Godawful vertical blinds, the very kind penny-pinching landlords install in rental apartments both far and wide, twist and pull back to reveal giant, multi-pane warehouse windows filled with urban city and skyscraper views.
Custom made sliding shoji screens divide the living room from an unexpectedly spacious, bedroom-sized dressing room lined with hardware-free flat-front closets and a built-in storage bench along the window wall. Miz Wiedlin helpfully suggests in the marketing video that the enclosed dressing room, with its magnificently kitchen lighting sconces—multi-colored bunches of glass grapes dangling from the sharp teeth of a dragon—can do double duty as a guest bedroom.
A bent steel floating staircase, designed and fabricated by the set designer for the Indiana Jones movies, ascends to a loft bedroom with a very low ceiling and, at night, a glittering, laying down view of the surrounding city lights. Miz Wiedlin furnished the head-banging bedroom with a custom studded leather headboard and vintage 70s sci-fi themed wall paper on which 60s-era space ships battle on a shimmery silver background. Sorry Miz Wiedlin, Your Mama lives for you but that bizarre, undulating row of bamboo makes for an ass-ugly and piss-poor safety railing.
The decorative bravery—or treachery, depending on one's point of view—reaches its full, blunt force in the loft's lone, double-sized bathroom that's equipped with a stacked laundry and multi-functional shower pod that Miz Wiedlin describes as "the bomb" and "a party in itself." The steam-equipped contraption has multiple shower heads, a jetted tub, a radio, a foot massager and—because every shower needs it—disco lighting. Miz Wiedlin goes on to describe the wacky, self-designed sink and vanity situation as a combination between "a pyramid and an octopus from a different planet." The walls are custom-tiled with what the sci-fi fan calls "an alien cityscape" and overhead there's a lumpy silver ceiling treatment meant to give the room the vibe of an "alien cave or cloud." This is not a bathroom for those who love neutral finishes and travertine tile but it is most certainly an eccentrically customized crapper in which one will never forget shaving their legs, brushing their chompers or doing their dirty bizness.
The Little Tokyo Lofts complex, originally built in 1922 as an industrial structure, offers its urban setting preferring residents a quiet interior garden courtyard, an outdoor swimming pool and spa, and a long and narrow dog run with faux-grass. There's also a small fitness room, 24-hour security with video surveillance, and gated garage parking connected by a private pedestrian catwalk over the swimming pool terrace.
Your Mama seriously and sincerely wishes Miz Wiedlin all the luck in the world unloading her highly customized digs in downtown L.A. However, our brief and unscientific research suggests the lovably goofy and kinda nerdy Miz Wiedlin may have have a difficult time unloading her downtown loft even with its substantially discounted asking price. Although it is still hipper than shit for artists, bohemians and others to live downtown, the 2007-08 real estate bubble burst had a tremendously negative impact on L.A.'s then burgeoning downtown condo and loft market. Once upon a time the lofty apartments at the Little Tokyo Lofts traded for $300-700,000 but, alas, sale prices plummeted and, for the most part, remain a fraction of their peak. A 710 square foot studio style loft that sold in 2007 for $376,000 sold in February (2013) for just $225,000. A higher floor studio style loft that went for $408,000 in September 2007 traded hands in mid-March 9 (2013) for a mere $160,000. And, most troubling of all for Miz Wiedlin might be a lower floor loft of similar size to her own that sold in early 2007 for $647,000 but traded hands in late February (2013) for a measly $218,500.
Miz Wiedlin has previously owned a couple of homes in Los Angele. In 2004 she sold a hill climbing mini- estate tucked up into an out of the way area of the mountains above Burbank for $1,200,000. She later and briefly owned the Skinner House, a delicious, William Kesling-designed Streamline Moderne in the heart of the Silver Lake that she bought in June 2005 for $1,135,000 and sold in late 2007 for $1,495,000 to Atlanta-based decorator William "Bill" Stewart.
Property records show Miz Wiedlin also briefly co-owned a Beaver Cleaver-ish residence in the Madison, WI neighborhood of Maple Bluff that she picked up in December 2007 for $322,000 and sold two years later for $355,000. She moved to Wisconsin, where she was born and lived until she was six, because she fell—ahem—Head Over Heels for then Madison-based musician Travis Kasperbauer.
As far as we know—and we really know so very little—Miz Wiedlin and Mister Kasperbauer—and their canine menagerie—currently live in an area of San Francisco's Castro District that our S.F.-centric b.f.f. Fiona Trambeau tittered to Your Mama is often referred to by local queens as The Swish Alps. Property records and other digital resources show the couple share a two family house with an attached but separate recording studio that was acquired in late 2009 for $1,207,000. Last year the couple spent $300,000 to acquire a small cabin on 10+ fairly remote acres in the mountains near Anchor Bay (CA), in Mendocino County.
*We just can't get enough how 50-something year old Miz Wiedlin proudly wore a knee brace for the Hollywood Bowl concert. Useless fun fact: Much to the screaming delight of many, The West Hollywood Water Skiing Team, comprised of a leggy sextet of some of L.A.'s most illustrious drag queens including Willem Belli and Detox of RuPauls Drag Race semi-fame, donned leotards and tutus and danced back up on Vacation.
listing photos: Keller Williams Pasadena Market