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A CHRONICLE OF THE PASSING SCENE : Wrestling With a Mythical Giant

March 12, 1993|SUE REILLY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Jose Fernandez is not a promoter of women's mud wrestling, no matter what the neighbors of his north San Fernando Valley studio might suspect.

He's a chiseler and a Sylmar success story, a sculptor of large statues.

So that's what the 17,000 pounds of clay the truck recently brought to his studio is for.

Fernandez, 28, was born in Mexico but was raised and schooled in Sylmar, where he lives, works and intends to remain.

He is a founder and moving force behind Studio C in Sylmar, where he is in the process of sculpting two 13-foot-tall statues. The statues will, as of April 15, grace the entrance of a hotel called Treasure Island scheduled to open this summer in Las Vegas.

The first statue is of Neptune, stabbing at something with his trident; the second is a mermaid. Both will be cast in a synthetic stone-like material and become part of a sea scene mounted across the top of the hotel entrance. Guests will walk a plank into the entrance when the whole megillah is done.

After attending Pierce College for a couple of minutes, he quit to do what he really wanted: to get down and dirty, playing in the mud for fun and profit.

He applied to a number of statue-making companies, all of which asked him if he'd ever made large pieces.

Never mind that his idea of large was a foot-and-a-half bust, and theirs was a 10-foot monster.

"I took a job with Dynamation, an Orange County company that makes huge pieces for traveling exhibitions and museums," said Fernandez, who adds, "One of my pieces--a T-rex--was actually displayed at the Smithsonian Institution."

That was fine, but Fernandez wanted to move back to Sylmar, and he wanted to do his work for movies.

He did both, beginning to work for movie special-effects magician Rick Baker and, in a few years, became successful enough to open his own studio.

Now he and his two associates at Studio C work for movies and on other commissions, doing everything from movie monsters to architectural sculptures, his present job being sort of an amalgamation.

Two monster sculptures.

Once they are cast, Fernandez knows where you can buy 17,000 pounds of slightly used clay real cheap.

One for the Heart

Studio City's Bruce Belland is still a member of the Four Preps, the group that sang songs like "26 Miles" and "Hang on Sloopy" to those early '60s innocents.

The '90s version of the group includes Belland and Ed Cobb from the original Preps, and two recycled singers, David Somerville from The Diamonds and Jim Pike from The Lettermen.

On March 27, the new Preps will be the star attraction when the Glendale Adventist Medical Center Foundation holds its $200-a-seat fund-raiser at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles.

For the hospital, the event is about raising $75,000.

According to co-chairmen John and Jean Ehret, the money raised will go toward buying the hospital a second laparoscope, a surgical tool that reduces hospital time, discomfort, scarring and complications in organ surgery.

Belland has a soft spot in his heart for this particular singing gig, having been prepped recently for open-heart surgery. His surgery was not performed at the Glendale Medical Center, nor was a laparoscope involved in his operation, he says.

Nothing like a little open-heart surgery to heighten your interest in helping "surgeons have whatever they need," he says.

Hair It Is, Ins and Outs

OK, here it is.

A sort of public service announcement.

The head folks at Sebastian hair care products in Woodland Hills have been kind enough to tell us what's in and what's out.

Say hello to haircutting, goodby to hairstyling.

Rollers and pin curls are history. Scissors and razors are making a comeback.

Goodby glamour. Hello the Bohemian look.

Adios wigs. Howdy attachables.

And, finally, updos are done. Down dos are where it's at.

No Hope for This Diamond

Her father, Brooklyn-born Arnie Diamond, suffered from a sense of humor.

He insisted on calling his baby girl Hope.

So all her life, people have asked her if she knows there's a famous gem called the Hope Diamond.

Yes, she knows, sigh, but takes comfort that at least no one else shares her unusual name. Well, that's not true, exactly.

"In Las Vegas, I hear there is a stripper called Hope Diamond," says the local Diamond, a 1990 journalism school graduate of Cal State Northridge who now works for Lapin East/West, a Woodland Hills-based public relations firm.

She also knows the gem is also supposed to be bad luck, but she refuses to take it personally--except on certain occasions, such as a recent tennis tournament.

Her firm publicized the Matrix Essentials Evert Cup in Indian Wells, an event that seemed to attract more than its share of problems this year.

Although the unexpected keeps happening as often as Jimmy Connors commercials, one of Diamond's jobs, at least, seemed problem-proof.

All she had to do was find a National Anthem singer.

She held an open audition to make it into a media event.

Things went great until one overwrought 250-pound contestant, barely finished singing ". . . and the home of the brave," before she started teetering back and forth.

She then keeled over in a dead faint at Diamond's feet.

Overheard

"I wonder what they pay more for, their cars, plastic surgery or divorces."

--West Hills man to friends at celebrity-attracting unveiling of the new Ferrari 348 Spider in Beverly Hills

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