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|Born||Käla Scarlet Wynne Mandrake
March 14, 1980
Amityville, New York
|Occupation||Photographer, author, producer|
Käla Scarlet Wynne Mandrake (born March 14, 1980) is an American photographer, author and producer. She is best known for her black-and-white portraits of New Yorkers from various subcultures. She began photographing New York City's avant-garde East Village scene at 15 years old. Her early subjects were squatters, punks, and homeless teenagers. She later focused on local musicians and performing artists (including burlesque dancers, cabaret singers, and freak show variety acts). Mandrake began a professional photography career in 1999, providing services for musicians, actors and models to be published in magazines, newspapers, band album covers, and websites. In 2003, Mandrake went back to school and began her studies in writing, film and media, minoring in music. Although she continues her work in photography, these studies marked the beginning of a career path in writing, producing for TV and eventually the publication of her books.
Käla Mandrake was born on March 14 to musician Kimball Mandrake and multi-media artist Jamie Mandrake in the village of Amityville, on the south shore of Long Island, New York. Shortly after her birth, her parents settled in on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Käla's mother is a native New Yorker and the first born of six children. Käla's father was born in Ohio, while on the road with his show business parents. He is the third son of four children. The family name is a stage name created by Kimball's father, Leon Mandrake, who legally changed his last name after becoming an established performer. Käla Mandrake is the granddaughter of the stage magician, Mandrake the Magician. Contemporary to the 1930s comic superhero of the same name, Mandrake began his career in Vaudeville and went on to perform and invent magic acts on the road with his wife Velvet for over 50 years. Velvet Mandrake's parents, Käla's great-grandparents, were Vaudeville musicians.
Mandrake's photographs have been likened to the works of Diane Arbus and Nan Goldin. At the age of 13, her parents bought her a Ricoh 35mm film camera which she used to document the lives of her family and friends. Shortly after, she attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City. She auditioned and was accepted for both Music and Art, choosing a Major in Art. It was at LaGuardia that she began to study black-and-white film photography. At 16 years old, she began to explore the East Village. This is where she met and befriended squatters, punks, and runaway teenagers. She hung out in abandoned buildings and parks, photographing her new friends. She furthered her studies in photography at the School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography, where she worked in the darkroom and was Teacher Assistant for black-and-white darkroom classes. At 23 years old, she started a photography business for New York's avant-garde scene of artists and musicians. In 2009, Käla Mandrake finished her first photography book Underground, which consists of a compilation of portraits of people she has known over the years. In the Fall of 2010, Underground will be published and available worldwide.
Mandrake is the author of two books. Her first book, entitled Fiction Story, was published in the Spring of 2010. Fiction Story is a fictional tale about a girl's close relationships from childhood to adulthood, as seen from the perspectives of each character in the book, including her own. Each character expresses their point of view in first-person narration, adding another piece to the bigger picture of the story. Each "voice" in the story is represented by the astrological symbol of the character speaking. Within each character's section are titles of tarot cards used as chapter markers. The first perspective or "voice" of the book comes from the main character herself, symbolized by the astrological symbol of "Pisces." The second voice, symbolized by the astrological symbol of "Virgo," comes from one of the relationships mentioned earlier from the main character. The third voice, symbolized by another astrological symbol, comes from yet another relationship mentioned from the beginning of the book. And so on and so forth. Mandrake's writing technique can best be described as experimental literature which uses an elusive, dreamy, coded style that subverts conventional writing structures. The story is not linear in that it jumps back and forth through time, and takes the reader in and out of dream-states and reality. Many sentences in the book do not begin with capitalization, as they are continuations of the previous sentence. Punctuation marks are used rhythmically rather than to start or end a sentence in a conventional manner. Essentially it is a story written about relationships of all kinds, with the hopes, heart-breaks, sometimes magical, murderous and obsessive feelings that can accompany the depths of the human condition.
Her second book, entitled Underground, is due to be published in the Fall of 2010. Underground is a book compiled of Mandrake's photographs taken over the course of 15 years. It features black-and-white portraits of those who live on the fringe of society, which is representative either by physical appearance, manner of thought, or lifestyle. Accompanying some of the photographs are personal statements made by those featured in the book, in addition to some candid stories by the photographer providing a personal account of her relationship to the person(s). Mandrake often goes into the homes of her subjects, or photographs them on secluded city streets and venues. The relationship between photographer and subject is what is most important to Mandrake. There is a deep respect or admiration she feels for her subjects and for the process of photographing.
Mandrake went to Hunter College in New York City to pursue an education in film and media, minoring in music. She began working as producer at BBC America from 2006-2009. In early 2009, she left BBC America and began work as post-production producer and editor at HBO in New York City. At HBO, she was one of a team of producers-editors for the HBO Original Series, Game of Thrones launch and first season in 2011. She is currently producing a documentary on her grandfather, the world-famous illusionist Mandrake the Magician.
Mandrake's acting debut was made when she was 18 years old. She auditioned for and was cast in the role of a street kid named "Box" in Iranian filmmaker Amir Naderi's A,_B,_C..._Manhattan. From then on, she worked as an extra on films such as Zoolander and Joe's Apartment. In 2009, she acted as body-double for Cara Buono (The Sopranos) in the independent film Betrayed. In 2010, she was an extra in burlesque artist Melody Sweets' music video for "Slice of Heaven", while shooting, producing, starring and editing the Slice of Heaven Behind-the-Scenes video.