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Interview with Author Elisha Shapiro

Elisha Shapiro is a multi-hyphenate creative who grew up in Los Angeles—but instead of being drawn to the glamourous side of Hollywood, he veered toward the one-of-a-kind creative artists of the city. Elisha talks about his creative influences, finding your own community, and his new book, LA Freak. Tell me about growing up in Los Angeles and how you got into the creative scene?

My family moved to Los Angeles when I was in the 6th grade. It was the 60’s and even though we were living in the Palisades, I was seeing hippies on the TV and thought that looked so fun to hitchhike around. I wasn’t really popular in school, I was weird. But I embraced that in junior high. From a young age, I wasn’t really trying to “fit in.” LA is an odd place and some of my friends wanted to be movie stars, but most of them just wanted to be underground filmmakers and other artists. Was there anything that made you say you wanted nothing to do with the glamourous side of Hollywood?

I wasn’t consciously rejecting the glamour side. My uncle would produce concerts and he would take me to the Hollywood Bowl. He was involved with mainstream Hollywood, made a movie, but still stuck to his artistic visions. I got to see grownups also being artistic which was inspiring. When did you start writing and embrace the storyteller in you?

I’ve been writing stories since junior high and most of them were funny stories and things that happened to me. I started going to these storytelling shows around town and the audience really liked them.

What was the inspiration for your book, LA Freak?

The pandemic made it hard for me to share my funny stories because we couldn’t be in public, so I couldn’t go to these storytelling shows like I used to. I was looking at all my stories on my computer and starting to string them together. They were ones that I thought were funny and were also about my encounters in my hometown, in Los Angeles. Growing up I would have these odd encounters with my friends who weren’t mainstream at all. As I got older, I started seeing there was an alternative comedy scene in LA. I loved it. These were my kind of comedians. I realized there was this whole other world where people loved what you loved. Weird people like me can get stuck alone, but for some reason, I looked around and was lucky to find other people who I felt were similar. My book is a little hat tip to people who are like that. What’s the message you want readers to take away after reading your book?