There’s a painting of a butt in the bathroom. A retro tiled shower, like my grandma’s. A shelf full of serums. A red cowboy hat in the bedroom. A clean white duvet cover. A stack of books on the nightstand. A ceramic pour over in the kitchen. A sparkling water machine. A jar of spinach pills. A small cabinet painted with cacti in the living room. A yellow tapestry hanging on the wall, covered in drawings of cats and nudes. A purple road bike. A black and green triathlon bike. A portable muscle recovery stimulation tool. An electric guitar hanging on the wall. An acoustic guitar in a stand on the floor. A piece of phallic driftwood. A cup of pens and pencils. A rock. A cabinet full of books. A pair of bright red glasses. A dining room table, with nothing on it. A fan running at full speed and Cesar Villalba Jr. and Jen Kyle Whalen on the couch.
This is Jen’s place. Los Feliz. Los Angeles. August. 12:38 PM. 91 degrees F. We’re here to capture the couple using our skincare products, with photographer Thomas Welch.
The point of this is to show real people as models. No makeup. No artificial light. No studio. No pretense. Real people, in their home, using our products on untouched-up skin. Real life.
Cesar and Jen received samples shortly after we launched. They’ve been using the product ever since. Jen recounts a story about a two month cross-country bike ride that wrecked her skin. After that, she got serious about skin health. Cesar’s skin routine has improved since meeting Jen — the right kind of relationship bleed. Both ride bikes. Cesar, an accomplished triathlete. Jen, a former pro road cyclist. They met at a dinner a few years back. Cesar lived in NYC. Jen, LA. They went their separate ways. Two years later, they crossed paths again. Things progressed. Cesar moved to LA. And here we are.
Cesar is a handbag consultant (he has worked for Coach, Michael Kors, Loewe and others) and is working on two new apparel projects. Jen works at Warner Brothers and writes, produces and edits, in addition to performing stand-up and improv. They both spend a lot of time riding bikes.
Jen likes the Recovery Cream and Scrub best. Cesar loves the Moisturizer. Neither have tried the Mask. It’s hot. No AC. Cesar lays on the bed shirtless. Jen sits on the couch. Separate fans direct on both. At sunset, the two will head to the park to ride. Cesar is competing in Ironman Nice 70.3 in a few weeks. His tapering begins soon. These days, Jen just rides for fun.
Thomas takes photographs. We talk salsa dancing. Dreams. Diets. LA. This is Jen’s place, on a slow, hot Saturday in August. 2019.