Even if you don't live in Los Angeles, you've probably heard of Angelyne. She's a hot-pink tribute to glamour and excess, and the self-proclaimed billboard queen is arguably the original social media influencer. She's been a fixture of LA culture since her billboards first appeared in the early 1980s, and every single day, you can find her driving around the city she loves -- in her pink Corvette.
A week after I moved to California, I saw Angelyne driving her C7 Corvette down Sunset Boulevard. (I also saw a Brabusat the same intersection, which is an extremely LA combination.) Her billboards might not line the streets of Hollywood like they used to, but everywhere she goes, she's a star. People honk and wave at her on the 101 freeway. Catch her in a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf parking lot and she'll sell you some merch from the trunk of her car. Want a picture? Twenty bucks.
Angelyne's recorded songs and had small roles in movies like Earth Girls Are Easy, and you might remember when she took Moby for a ride in her C5 Corvette in the We Are All Made Of Stars music video. There's a biopic about her in the works, too. But if you ask her what she's famous for, she'll tell you: for being famous. She is the embodiment of the LA dream. Check out this CNET clip from 1996, when Angelyne even launched a website offering virtual tours of the city she loves.
"I go everywhere," Angelyne told me during a phone interview (that she took from inside her car, natch). "I go up to Santa Barbara, Ventura, Malibu. I love to drive my car and anywhere I drive, it's magical. I get into this meditative state. No restrictions for me!"
Angelyne's been driving Corvettes for more than three decades, and she says it's the only car she wants. Ferraris or Lamborghinis never did it for her. The exotics are just too much (and, let's not forget, super expensive).
"The Corvette's the American dream," Angelyne says. "It's just got the most awesome vibe. It's friendly. It's a friendly car. It loves me. For me it's a glorified muscle car. It's glamorous."
All of Angelyne's Corvettes are custom-painted at Andre's Auto Body in North Hollywood, and she has final approval over the color. "It's been crazy to get the color right," she says. Initially, she tried to match the pink on one of Barbie's cars -- "Barbie always wanted to be me," Angelyne maintains -- but that didn't work. "The first time that I gave [the painter] the color to match he didn't mix the neon right so it went from hot pink to salmon pink." So instead, "I gave him a lip print and he matched that. Oh I am telling you it's been some hellacious process to get this color formula just right."
Over the years, Angelyne's specific pink hue has evolved. "I've had different shades of pink, which I like," she says. But she wasn't necessarily in love with it from the start. Right before getting her first Corvette, she says, "I was tossing and turning thinking, 'Oh my god, everybody's gonna see me. Oh my god, everyone's gonna be looking at me. What do I do?' It was scary. And then once I got it, I got addicted to the attention, and I guess it's good for everybody because people love it."
And thus the original influencer was born.
Since then, Angelyne's had 10 Corvettes. She spoke fondly of all of them, telling me about how her C5 Corvette got 25 miles per gallon but her C7 is only getting 19, and that the most miles she's ever put on any of her cars was 200,000, though she didn't specify which one. Angelyne even admitted to driving one of her Corvettes 163 mph, though who knows where, and she says to never do something like that during a car's break-in period, unless you want the engine to blow at 80,000 miles. (Ask her how she knows.)
"This is my 10th car," she says of her latest C7. She hasn't had a particular favorite over the years, but remembers every one. "I had a dream that all my cars came to visit me from the past to say hi. Isn't that nice?"
Right now, Angelyne has three Corvettes -- two C7s and a C6 -- which are taken care of by one of her assistants. ("So many cars, so little time" is his motto, she says.) She usually sells her cars after a few years, but she's planning to hold onto one of her C7s for a while -- or until the right offer comes up, anyway.
"My 2008 Corvette was in The Disaster Artist," Angelyne told me. "Miley Cyrus wanted to buy that car. I was gonna sell it, and she didn't offer enough money. I don't know why. She was over-the-moon excited about getting it. Unfortunately, I didn't take her offer, and then it went in The Disaster Artist, so it's worth more money. I had an offer from a guy in Dubai for $800,000 for that car, but I didn't take it because I could make it worth a lot more." I ask her how much she thinks it's worth now, but before she can elaborate any further, Angelyne pauses our conversation to take a call from her lawyer. "Wish me luck!"
What about the? Surely Angelyne has seen Chevy's new hero. But with its mid-engine layout and supercar looks, it's kind of a different animal. Honestly, I expected Angelyne to shriek with excitement when I brought it up, but there's actually a long pause before a sigh and a, "Well..."
You see, Angelyne's not in love with the mid-engine design. "My concern though is, you know, I drive a lot and I like it quiet. And pink is such a loud color already. I don't really want a loud car," Angelyne says. "I don't know if the engine is gonna be soft enough for me."
I then suggest that perhaps she could get the convertible, where the engine wouldn't necessarily be reverberating in the cabin so much, but she quickly dismisses that idea. "I have gorgeous white alabaster skin and I like to keep it that way. I don't wanna get sunburned."
Her other big concern? Comfortable seats. But considering how much she drives, that makes a lot of sense to me. When this wholemess is over, I tell her I'll bring her a C8 and we can go for a ride together. "You can drive me around!" Chevy, I hope you're reading this.
Still, even with this hesitation, Angelyne's definitely going to get a C8. When I ask if she's made a decision, she immediately perks up. "Um... what do you think?!" she exclaims.
Don't expect to see Angelyne's new C8 on the road anytime soon, though. "I think I'm gonna wait until next September . I'm gonna custom order it then," she says. "I want a 2022, which is my lucky number, 22. Then I'll have four cars."
She's 69 years old, but Angelyne has no intention of slowing down -- literally or figuratively. In addition to the aforementioned biopic, she says she's working on her own documentary, and it features glimpses of every one of her Corvettes. You can buy all sorts of merchandise on her website, including a ride around the city, though she's suspended those for the time being, what with the pandemic and all.
Finally, I ask her what she likes best about the Corvette. What's the one thing she loves more than anything else?
"It's me driving it!"
Of course. That's Angelyne.