21 May 2008

...i just crush a lot, a lot

a chunk from the gq article

"Part of this easygoing showmanship comes from LaBeouf’s teenage years in Echo Park, where despite being nearly the only white kid for miles, he blended in. He picked up freestyle rapping. He was, he says, “a major dozens player” at a mostly black school. Just so he could hang out with his friends, he learned how to breakdance. “It was sort of your greeting card,” he says. “Like, yeah, I’m white, but I have soul.”

The rest derives from what you might call family tradition: Shia’s forebears include a long line of counterculture roughnecks and artistes manqués. His maternal grandfather—from whom Shia takes his name—was a comedian and Mafia barber on New York’s Lower East Side, and his dad’s parents were a Cajun Green Beret who drank himself to death and a beatnik lesbian who hung out with Ginsberg. This star-crossed tradition continued with his parents: Mom, a Jewish Earth Mama who sold handmade jewelry at local fairs; Dad, a Willie Nelson look-alike who was also a Vietnam vet, convicted felon, and commedia dell’arte clown. Pop was the sort who grew pot along the Santa Monica Freeway and thought of karate as a great way to meet the ladies.

Shia proved to be exactly the sort of natural-born hustler that this oddball family needed. While he was still a toddler, the LaBeoufs started something called the Snow Cone Family Circus, whose business plan was based on the notion that their Latin neighbors in Echo Park really dug hot dogs and clowns. All three LaBeoufs would dress in greasepaint and motley and run around the park improvising slapstick routines, trying to get some of the riches of the late Reagan era to trickle down their way.

When LaBeouf was 9 or so, his father disappeared for a few years, an interlude during which Shia fashioned an open-mike stand-up act at local nightclubs, swearing and talking about his first erection. His mom also enrolled him in the Big Brother program, and he got paired with a stuntman, who took him to film sets. “I didn’t know anything about being humble then,” he says. “I told the stunt guys, ‘I’m going to be a big star.’ And they all laughed at me.” At 11 he picked an agent’s phone number out of the Yellow Pages and told her all about the phenomenal Shia LaBeouf. (“He’s big in England.”) The woman, Teresa Dahlquist (his agent to this day), knew it was bullshit but signed him up anyway: She paid for his rent and his head shots and eventually landed him on the Disney Channel for a show called Even Stevens. "

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