In the cinema of the early- to mid-1980s, the San Fernando Valley was depicted as a cultural dead zone of gargantuan shopping malls, Valley girls, and sedate tract housing, but the image was essentially innocent. Valley adolescents stayed out past their bedtimes, occasionally smoked too much pot and even had sex, but they were essentially good kids.
Then we met Rollergirl.
In 1997, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights flipped the Valley’s image on its head by filling its backyard swimming pools not with sex-crazed teens but with literal sex workers. The film recast the region as a XXX-rated playground for youth rebelling against their dysfunctional home lives by diving into the deep end of on-camera infamy.
Anderson is a Valley native who came of age during the “Valley Girl” phenomenon of the early ’80s. Boogie Nights is the first and arguably the greatest film in his so-called “Valley trilogy,” which also includes Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love.
Like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, which the director gobbled up at the Sherman Oaks Galleria as a 12-year-old, it establishes a strong sense of the Valley landscape. Unlike that film, it plunges into the region’s dark underbelly.
Now, 20 years after the film first hit theaters, we’re taking you on a tour of its shooting locations with the help of veteran production designer Bob Ziembicki. Rollerskates optional. (Note: Some of the locations listed are private residences, so please be respectful.)Read More