Leah and I share over 30 years of friendship. I love her and our long history makes her one of those friends that fortune gifts you with as a forever person. She’s a seeker and creative visionary. She’s been a writer, a stylist, an RIE enthusiast/educator, a blogger, a regular on a reality TV show (There Goes the Motherhood), a music student… but that doesn’t even really scratch the surface. She’s a devoted mom of twins and an adoring wife. Her husband is a very successful producer and businessman. Together, they traveled the world with their children for a year. Then they bought one of the most gorgeous homes on earth and Leah made it even more unreal with her interior design skills. Did I mention she kills at that, too? Not many women in their 40s can handle Burning Man for eleven days. Leah can. She designed a third eye art car a few years ago. It not only comes to Burning Man with them, it lives as an art installation on their lawn the rest of the time to be used. Her constant pursuit of creativity and adventure carries over into her strong, anything but boring, marriage. Unconventional, honest, respectful, loving… and SUPER SPICY, she shares her views on monogamy and how she keeps it hot after nearly fifteen years together. Thankfully, nothing has changed since sixth grade: she’s going to squeeze every last drop of excitement out of her life. She never stops making things, making music, making out, or making an entrance. Sit back and enjoy!
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Leah Forester: The Wild One
One of my lifelong friends came to sit down with me in the studio and share her story. Her name is Leah Forester and she is one of the most larger than life, wonderful, creative, talented people I’ve ever met. She has been a stylist, she’s been a writer, she’s been in fashion PR, she’s been a blogger, she’s been on a reality show and she’s a musician so it doesn’t stop the whole journey of life. I couldn’t love her anymore and after years of friendship, I still just sit and watch her and feel excited and feel lit up by the things that she does and her bravery. I hope you enjoy this episode with Leah Forester.
Welcome to the show, Leah. Thank you for coming. This is an exciting one for me because I’ve known you for most of my life since I was ten and we’re a little bit older. Since I met you in sixth grade, you’ve always been the most larger than life, exciting person. I need to break some of this stuff down because you’re a lot to unpack in the best way.
First of all, thank you. Our inner experience of ourselves may be different than how other people experience. I’m glad I provided you with excitement.
I admire the way that you have always lived. When I say a big life, I’m always very much like things are smaller, but I love to watch what you do because I see how much work, effort, love and time that you put into all your different projects, and there are a lot. I think it’s amazing.
That’s the work of being here alive. To live our lives as fully as we can to enjoy every moment and then to continue to explore all the time. I’m just an explorer. That’s my nature and my thirst for life is that to be an explorer and to be experiencing everything I want to experience while I’m here. That takes me to all these extraordinary places.
That is truly and authentically you, you are an explorer and you always are doing things that I think a lot of people would, in theory, say like, “I would love to do that. That would look so fun.” You’re like, “We’re doing this. This is happening.” You also put a tremendous amount of grit work into it. It’s not like you sit back and these things happen for you.
My place that I’m at in life and with myself as hard-earned and it comes from the adversity that has given me great challenges. I’ve taken those challenges and sometimes I’ve had graceful moments and sometimes I’ve had ungraceful moments. In the end, I feel like I’m using it for food for my life. There are great things and some things that come from it.
We met when we were both ten, almost eleven. We were Catholic school girls in Beverly Hills, Good Shepherd to be exact. I come from a Jewish dad and a super shrummy mommy. The fact that I was there I was ludicrous but funny. I came from a Schrum School where I had learned about all the avatars and I had had no structure. I could tell you all about Krishna and trees, but couldn’t do anything else like normal arithmetic or anything like that. When I met you, your parents were divorced and your mom had remarried. He ended up with your stepdad, but he was also a huge part of your life. Was it your mother or your father who was Mexican?
My mom’s side of the family is Mexican. I like to say half because I want it to be more than it is, but I’m more of a mixed bag. German and Mexican are my foremost largest pieces. Culturally, Mexican has become very important to me. I’ve been the first generation in my family to embrace it and celebrate it. I get to go there often. It’s a big part of my life. I speak Spanish.
Are you fluent?
I’m not fluent, but I speak it with soul so it’s natural. I love that I can speak another language.
We went also to high school together, Marymount Moore Catholic School.
[bctt tweet=”Be an explorer and experience everything you want to experience while you are here. ” via=”no”]
That was great though. I loved Marymount High School.
I loved Marymount High School because of our core group. We have a core group of six girlfriends.
I think the school somehow creates that too. We have seven or eight of us that have been so close for so long, but there’s an even more extended beyond that, as another ring of us. All-girls schools can be positive in that way where you know what it is to be a girl’s girl because you’re with your girls. You’re not competing for boys in the classroom or you’re not competing for attention in that boy-girl away. That dynamic isn’t happening. You’re just there with your girls.
On so many levels, I love going to an all-girls school, especially for high school because I don’t remember you going through an awkward phase. I definitely did.
It was all awkward until I was twenty.
To not have to go through that with any of the cruelties that I hear and the stress, to not have to worry about that and to not be consumed with being in the mirror. It was like, “Whatever. I’m going to school with my girlfriends. I have acne and I have braces and I’m pudgy right now.”
I used to go to school with blemish cream, dots on my face and a headband on and hair pulled up and we all just were there to do our studies.
We all loved each other, so it wasn’t anything. I feel that there was a large portion of our group that also was on Accutane. I went on Accutane and we were all weird, flaky skin and peeling lips. Also, to be in a classroom where I was competing with men or boys. It was my way. I always felt heard. There was never disrespect. I never felt worried or scared. I’m grateful for the experience.
Also, there wasn’t a lot of competition amongst girls. I didn’t feel that there was. Maybe there was for some people. Some people have more competitive natures than others. I don’t by nature. I compete more with myself than I do with other people. That was wonderful, that sisterhood. That what keeps the friends together because there isn’t a competition. There is this healing sisterhood or a band of girls that are rooting for each other. That’s a wonderful way to feel with your friends.
Did you go to USC?
I went to USC. I didn’t like going to college. I didn’t care. I wanted to go out and party. I was wanting to go out. I was in the club scene. I was wanting to be where it was glamorous and fun. My studies fell to the side. I’ve studied so much in my life that when I look back on the fact that I didn’t go to college, I feel I’ve learned so much from the school of life and it’s been so valuable. I was doing what I was doing. At that stage, I was exploring.
You had great jobs. You were at Vera Wang, was that first?
First, I started working at the Prada boutique on Rodeo Drive. It was the early ‘90s.
We should start there. You have an amazing style. You love clothes, you love fashion, you love the self-expression of what you were. You still do.
I think self-expression is the key thing because I’m not about labels. I love hunting a bargain. I love finding the only one in some strange corner and a store that no one wants.
I think that you’ve always been high, low, like the mixing. “I found this at a street vendor,” in wherever and then something fabulous and awesome and you just mixed it up.
I do love Chanel. It’s good.
You started at the Prada boutique in the early ‘90s.
It was an interesting time to be at Prada. I just happened to be in retail and it was a franchise. It wasn’t owned by Prada at that time. It had been owned by a woman in Beverly Hills named Judy Leaf. She bought this franchise in Italy. She used to go to Italy all the time and she saw that they had these stores and she thought, “This is great. I’m going to bring it to Beverly Hills.” She had this store and it just happened to be at the same time that Prada had this big moment with Carolyn Murphy, all the pixie haircuts of the ‘90s, the socks with the platforms, lime green coats and all that. It was this huge moment. It became the hottest spot in Los Angeles. It was lines down the door, Japanese tourists lining up and buying ten, fifteen backpacks at a time and selling them back in Japan and it was so flush. It was insane. It was so much fun to work there. You hear people talk about Biba in London. It was like that. It was a scene, fun and it was a cool time to accidentally get into high fashion. I was in retail but I happened to be there. I went to Vera Wang and then Isaac Mizrahi and then I worked with Diane Von Furstenberg.
You moved from LA to New York. You went and worked all those places. They loved you and that was years.
I went to New York when I was ten-years-old. I remember when I went to New York the first time, experiencing the energy of New York and knowing I was going to live there one day. As soon as you have those moments where you hear that deep inner voice that’s like, “Yes, this is where I meant to be.” I think those next ten years I was subconsciously working towards it and then an opportunity arrived to go and work for Vera Wang. It was a leap of faith on both of our parts. I was not experienced in PR.
[bctt tweet=”It’s great not to be limited to yourself in any area of your life.” via=”no”]
Is that what you did for her?
Yes, I went and I was the PR assistant. I didn’t know anyone in New York. I had one friend in New York and I didn’t know how to do anything, but I was got lucky because my boss was Tori Burch. She was about 27. I remember she was in her late twenties. She was pregnant with twins and she was there and she was a great PR director. She had a wonderful knack for the inner workings of how to work with people, how to be with people and connecting people. She taught me a lot. Because she was pregnant with twins, she went on bed rest a month after I arrived. I was thrown into a much more intimate role in the company because then instead of three of us, which was this girl, Christina Eversino and myself. We were the three in the department and then Tori went on bed rest, so it was just the two of us. Christina was more seasoned than I was, but I had to learn to be in the hotbed. Tori would call every day from her bed. She was living in The Pierre Hotel and she was in bed. She’d call down at 39th Street and she would direct me and tell me, “Call this one, call that one, Anna Wintour, Plum Sykes.” I got thrown into the mix of all the nexus of the fashion wall.
Did you make any huge mistakes?
I made mistakes later when I knew more and I thought I knew more than I did. In the early days, I was there to work and I was so blessed because I worked with such old school people, like Polly Mellen and old school people who are seasoned, who have such a high level of work ethic. It’s so rigorous. We used to take Polaroids of things and make vision boards. We would have to go and cut fabrics and create these storyboards for collections. I was lucky too, I worked in small companies so I got to also be in the cutting rooms and model. They would do the dresses on me sometimes for the Academy Awards things that they would do or when I was with Diane. It was an old school time.
That was before the days where everything was on a computer and everything is digital.
You had to have the skills, you had to be able to do these things. Sew, paint and have high-level references, look at art books, educate yourself and be able to sit at a dinner table with Anna Wintour and Barry Diller and Christian Louboutin all the time and be in that sphere of very high-level creative ideas, amazing conversations and culture. I relish that so much and I still see every day how much it benefits me and informs so much in my life and where the life I’ve been blessed with and been able to create.
How long were you in New York? Because then you came back to LA.
I was in New York for 7 to 8 years.
When you came back to LA, you were a freelance stylist?
I came back, I had a store in New York called Decollage. That was a by appointment only boutique.
How long did you have that?
I had it for about a year and a half. It was a great boutique. It was a one-of-a-kind beginning concept of a lifestyle store where you would go in and experience the whole structure. It was in Brownstone. It was six stories, but it was a tiny little tall historic building in 1846. It was special. After that ended, then I came back to LA. I didn’t have a plan, but I’m from here. I had family, I had friends, I had a network. I just decided to take a little time and figure it out. I met Jennifer Smith Hale, who was the editor-in-chief in her family-owned Santa Barbara Magazine. She’d seen a Fashionphile video story that was done on my store. I had just moved back to LA. We met each other through her brother. She took a chance and was like, “Do you want to style the story that I’m doing?” At the time my boyfriend was a photographer, David Rubin. We did the story for Santa Barbara Magazine. They took a chance on me. I’d never been a stylist. I had been in all of my other capacities, but I didn’t consider myself a stylist.
You already did the work because with everything that I just heard that you did in New York, I’m sure that styling a story, you could do that with your eyes closed.
It was a lot of fun and I got to collaborate with the photographer and he guided me. It’s a different role when you’re an art director, it’s one role. When you’re stylist, it’s another role. When you’re a photographer, it’s another role. When you’re working for the company, it’s a different role. That was the first time I moved into that role.
You also got to write also for that magazine?
It was a small company. It was family-run and it was it was great. I could do a lot of things and that was great for me and for them because I got to learn a lot and then they got a lot of different content from me as we worked together because we worked on a contract basis.
You were a very good writer. I read some of the articles.
Thank you. I love writing. You’re an amazing writer too.
You’ve done so much, but I have to be mindful of the time because I’m like, “There’s a lot to go through.” You had so many different things, which I love. I understand it because I’ve tried and done many different things too.
This new for you. I love that you’re doing this show. I think it’s so in your sweet spot of your personality, you’re a great way with people, your smart quick mind and your interest in others. Thank you for having me on. It’s an honor to be on. I’m so excited for you to have a new venue and a medium to express yourself because, as I said, you’re a great writer. I love your Instagram captions. You have so much wit.
This can be real life if this could be a job, which for me it’s just my passion project. It is the most fun I’ve ever had. Talking to people, yes, this is my sweet spot where I’m the happiest.
Hopefully, we get to take those sweet spots and create abundance with them.
[bctt tweet=”Marriage is a conscious decision and a commitment to a structure higher than yourself in a way. ” via=”no”]
That’s what we’re hoping for. I feel that we both always try at that. You are an inspiration to me because when I’m like, “Look at Leah, she’s trying something new.” You put yourself out there when you’re a beginner and you’re not ashamed to be like, “I don’t care if I’m not good in the beginning.” I want to talk about that in terms of your music. When I first started this show and some of the episodes came out, I go back to them and I’m like, “I have improved since then,” which is great. It’s a better place to be to not always have to be perfect.
It’s so much more fun and that’s what it comes down to. When we’re sharing and we’re living from the place of our beginner’s mind, which is innocence, openness, spontaneity and playfulness. It’s the truest piece of us. We share it openly, then we benefit not just ourselves, but others around us who feel the spark to maybe do the same.
When you came back to LA is about the time we reconnected. We had been back and forth seeing each other here and there over the years, but we were both in LA. Your mom passed away and how old were you?
I was 25, my mom was 52.
That’s way too young.
It’s seven years away from where I am, which is crazy.
You’re in LA. Your mother passed away. That was incredibly hard. You went through a lot of grief and all the different stages of things.
Looking back, I shut down. It was a lot. I kept marching forward. If I look back on my life, I can understand and see so much of how I was in so much pain, but I was dealing with it and all kinds of some productive ways, others not so. Going through those phases in life to integrate and heal. I’m still always doing that all the time, still to this present day.
One of the stories that I love is how you met your husband because it’s a crazy story. When I first heard it, I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” If I didn’t know you, if I just read that about you, I’m like, “That’s a lie. That could not be true. That’s ridiculous. No way,” but it’s real. You rented this amazing place in Venice before Venice was Venice because you and Art, my husband, both lived and pioneers in Venice when it was still not what it is.
Yes, almost years ago.
You rented this wonderful space and it was so cool and you made it amazing like you always do. I feel that you could be an interior designer, not that you want to be, but you could do that.
I like that expression too.
You have serious gifts in that department. You were living there. You went on a yoga retreat or your friend called you from a yoga retreat?
One of my close girlfriends from New York went to Mexico on a yoga retreat. She spotted this guy in the airport who she said was intriguing looking. His energy was intriguing. She had met somebody and so she wasn’t looking for herself. It turned out he was on the yoga retreat together for Vinnie Marino of YogaWorks. He does a yoga works thing every spring in Mexico. This was the annual one. They went, they met and got along and she said, “Do you live in LA?” She knew a bit about him. He was a film producer. He was 41. He had a daughter and she knew some vague details. She saw that there was some spark that she thought we would have. She set us up on this date and it turns out that we lived across the alley from each other. My friend went to Mexico and met this guy who she set me up on a blind date with and I said yes because I liked going on blind dates. I used to think they were fun. It’s like a funny exercise.
The part that I loved is that you’re on the phone with him planning your first date, where are you going to go, where do you live, what part of town and you both had no idea. He named the street where he lived.
He goes, “Let’s go to Chaya Venice.” I said, “Great. It’s a block from my house.” He goes, “It’s a block from my house.” It turns out there he was cross the alley from me the whole time. We had lived that way for about six months before we’d met each other.
From that point forward, it happened very quickly.
I think when you know that you just fit with somebody. I think we just fit on a deep level, which we’re still constantly re-learning what that is all the time as we each refine ourselves.
There’s no doubt. I’ve seen you and Bill from the beginning, you are amazing for each other. You are a fantastic couple. You have deep, tremendous love and respect for each other. You have children, you have twins together, a boy and a girl and they’re incredible. You guys are an awesome family and in that you also have a spicy, fun, creative way of exploring your marriage, intimacy and monogamy. I would love to know what you have to say about that because I think it’s cool how honest and open you are.
I think that our sexuality with ourselves is an evolving process. When you’re married or you’re in a committed relationship, it’s great to have radical honesty and that with your partner. Whatever that looks like. Different degrees of it for all people. Sometimes different versions of that in the same relationship. It comes down to being open with yourself, being willing to have radical conversations. I think that’s exciting. For me, living in the honesty of, “Who am I and how do I feel in this place in my life? What do I want?” Asking myself those questions, it’s a great conversation to have with my partner. It keeps things real. I know him better, we know each other and we’ve always had great chemistry. That’s what I think the instant thing was. We have great physical chemistry. We have great emotional, spiritual, so it’s multi-layered. That safety of it being multi-layered and being connected on all these levels and both being open-minded and naturally exploring people in our lives, in all areas means that within our marriage and within our relationship to each other and within our intimacy, we’re in an adventure all the time together. We’re deep in it with each other.
Sometimes we’re maybe more on our own and independent in certain ways. We’re constantly swimming in intimacy together, even being older and we’ve gone through these life changes together. We’ve had children, we’ve had been single, we’ve had all of this spicy time. When I say spicy time, I mean all that single time that you get to have with other where you feed your relationship. Times when we had young children and we had no time for each other in our sex life or whatsoever. There’s all this other beauty and intimacy. Seeing each other when we’re not the most beautiful. Being able to be seen when you’re not the most beautiful. Marriage is a great accomplishment. I come from a family of women who is married multiple times. My great-grandmother has married eight times. My grandmother was married three times, my mother three times. Marriage to me was a very conscious decision that goes beyond monogamy in a way. It’s a commitment to a structure higher than yourself in a way.
Within that, all people can define their intimacy in all kinds of ways. I think it’s great not to be limiting to yourself in any area of your life. You can have radical conversations with your partner and you can explore different ways of relating to each other. There’s a lot of openness and marriages. It’s much more talked about topic and accepted social norms in certain areas, certain cultures. We go to Burning Man. I’ve had all kinds of polygamy around me. That’s not for me, but I’ve been in all kinds of social situations and interacting with people who are living their marriages and their lives and all different forms and structures. I think if two people love each other, love is beyond sex.
I also admire whatever you and Bill have going on in your marriage, it’s always very honest, whatever you guys are doing. Nobody’s lying. Nobody’s doing something secret on the side. I respect that.
We have such deep love for each other and we only want to be together. It’s the truth. You can go through all kinds of things in life. What’s interesting is when you come back and you realize maybe you’re simpler than you thought you were. Maybe you’re more conventional than you thought you were in certain ways. I’m so unconventional in so many areas of my life that to be a little conventional in that area is of refreshing discovery for me with myself. How tenderly I hold him and the specialness that the safety and the specialness we get to have. It’s hard-earned to come to that place and I love the journey that I’ve been on with him.
You’ve been very honest about times when it’s been difficult in your marriage. Things have been very hard.
I was in a reality show. I showed that the whole area of my life to 40 million people on Bravo.
I never felt that you ever tried to sugarcoat it. I never felt that you tried to pretend that it was anything other than in that moment, difficult and hard. It seems much better and everything is on a flow state.
It’s great to always appreciate those times because the growth times are ahead again in different areas. It’s like, let’s just enjoy and relish this sweet spot as I feel like I’m in that sweet spot in my life. I’m enjoying it. It’s not been easy, but being honest isn’t easy and also living through people. I know I’ve had a lot of healing to do in my life. Bill’s stood by me through my healing. That’s what marriage is about to me too, in a way. It’s not somebody’s potential, but it’s knowing when somebody is going towards their highest self and it’s hard work and stick by them through it.
Even through the times that aren’t that fun. You and Bill, the fact that you both go to Burning Man, you’ve been many times. Sometimes you’ve brought your kids?
We brought them one time when they were ten.
This time you went for eleven days.
That was a lot. I won’t do that again. I had to run away in the middle of the week. I went back to Reno for twelve hours and I slept.
For instance, the art car.
Some of my favorite creations.
It’s gorgeous. Leah has a giant triangular third eye and it’s on wheels. It’s so beautiful. When it’s not at Burning Man, it lives on your incredible yard overlooking the ocean. Did you design that?
Our whole family designed it. I had a clear vision in my mind when we were in Burning Man the year before we built it. We were there and we were looking at around and there are all these incredible cars. There are sharks and fish and butterflies and crazy robotic things, things shooting fire. There was no third eye there. It seemed like such an obvious thing. I could just imagine it being super graphic and being this thing that looked like it was floating out there.
The best part is that when it’s not at Burning Man, I love that you have it on in your yard and people sit out there and have wine in it.
My whole neighborhood thinks I’m part of the Illuminati. I am part of the Illuminati but it means something different to me.
When you came back to LA, you were a stylist, you were a writer and you met Bill. You had children. You got very into passionate about RIE and learning about it and sharing what you learned about it. Did you assist in some classes?
I did a certification. I assisted in some classes for quite some time because RIE is only practiced in a few places in Los Angeles. There’s a studio on the Westside that’s the hub of it. I apprenticed there for a while.
What’s the R stand for?
It’s Resources for Infant Educarers, which I think educaring is an interesting phrase and to think about what it means.
It’s by Magda Gerber and Janet Lansbury. She’s special. Did you raise your children in that method?
We did. It was great to have a philosophy that gave me guidance in ways that felt natural and made sense to me. I’d never heard anybody actually verbalize these ideas and I hadn’t thought about them, but they just seemed to make sense.
It’s very respectful. Children are full of human beings.
It’s not indulgent. That is an interesting line.
It’s actually quite boundaried.
In certain ways, it’s rigid because you feed in a certain way and you definitely don’t do some things. You definitely do, do some things.
I tried to do a lot of the RIE as much as I could because I love it. I could not do the feeding. You just let them sit on the floor.
You have to do it in a ritual. The ritual cues what the experience is. When you make food, you set up the situation. It takes time and dedication, but it was part of my self-educating as well to approach motherhood in an intentional way. I needed to do that for myself. I didn’t have any role models like that. That was part of it too. The feeding, you just do it in this certain way and you sit down. There are no high chairs. In all different stages, it looks different. I loved the stage where I had the little stools in the table and I would sit and then they would crawl over and get up on their little stools and sit there. It’s such a beautiful experience. It’s almost like a meditative experience and such beingness together. There’s so much communication. The way you give the food and the way you hold space. It’s powerful.
The way that I saw you do it. I got to see you do it with the twins. Let’s talk about having twins is twice as hard as having one. I saw the work, the effort, the time, the love that you put into raising them in that philosophy, which is hard. It’s a beautiful thing. Putting them in the highchair and locking them in the chair is easier. I do it that way because of patience, time, all the other things. I admire it. I think it’s great.
I think it’s important also we don’t shame ourselves and be like, “I should have done RIE better,” because that’s the danger of some of these philosophies and approaches. It’s getting too dogmatic about it and we’re defeating the point of doing that. It’s a spiritual practice in a way.
You introduced me to RIE and then I found Janet Lansbury also. I love it when she says like, “Parenting should be fun.” That is something that sometimes it’s so difficult when they’re small and there’s all these different frustrating and things they don’t do what you’re asking them to do. I read her book, No Bad Kids. I love it. The toddler discipline, but it’s not discipline. It’s just a book on toddlers.
I’m reading books about teenagers.
There was a RIE experience philosophy. You became certified in that. You had this great blog because you are also a phenomenal cook. What can’t you do?
I’m a little lazy in the kitchen. I play too much guitar.
You have great recipes and I followed a lot of them. Especially for kids, lots of vegetables. They were delicious. They eat them. It’s so good. You had styling tips. I love your blog. There was a show. How was the show?
It was so much fun. It was such a great experience.
I love women, The Sisterhood.
They purposely cast it so that there would be interesting different viewpoints and different personalities because let’s not forgotten, it’s Bravo, and it was always being made for Bravo. They also cast people that have opposing points of view or clashing lifestyles so everybody can be a character. I knew I was going to be the hippy Venice character. I found it to be a great opportunity to share and speak to whoever would be interested in hearing my experience and benefit from it. You get negative feedback sometimes from people. It’s intense.
How does that make you feel? How did you handle that? Did it hurt your feelings? Did you get mad? Did you engage?
I did all of the above at various times. Mostly I tried to not take it personally. Also understand that people have their own issues, that they’re looking at the lenses that they’re looking through. The lenses of their life. It’s not about me. I never went on that show for the purpose of being famous. I went on the show for the purpose of using it as a platform for sharing and showcasing some ideas and ways of thinking and being that might benefit others. It wasn’t coming from a place of personal interest, although it’s a sweet spot for me in a way because I enjoy sharing in that way. I’ve been on camera before. I feel comfortable. It’s fun for me. Being a part of the production is fun. I got into being a character too.
You shouldn’t feel bad about that in any way. The fact that you relish the attention, not in a bad way. In a way that you feel comfortable there sometimes. I think that’s awesome.
If attention comes for good reasons, then I’m learning to become more comfortable in allowing that and not feeling that I have to apologize or be self-deprecating where I say something about myself like, “Thanks, but you know.” That can be a thing that we can do as women. I know I’ve done it and sometimes I still do it and I find myself doing it and it feels icky when I do it.
I do it still. I work on it all the time. I’m more aware of it, but the self-deprecation, it’s fake a lot of times like, “No, I know. I’m not this.” As opposed to owning something that you’re good at or owning something that you enjoy that you should just be like, “Thank you.” I agree with you. Sometimes eating humble pie when you don’t mean it.
It’s a humblebrag. It’s worse.
It comes off disingenuine and you’re like, “Please.” Guitar came shortly after, the show was cancelled, right?
Yeah. The show finished its first season and then they didn’t pick it up again. That was interesting. Regardless of whether you go on a show to be famous or not, you still think that all these things are going to happen for you and your life because you fantasize or you hope or you start to build things around the possibility. When you’re on a reality show, everybody just asks you like, “What are you going to monetize it with? What are you going to do with this?” You start to think like that. When it didn’t get picked up again, it was like, “Who am I now?”
You took a trip with your family around the world for a year.
I went to twelve countries in one year.
With your husband and your kids. You home-schooled and that was for a full year. All around the world. You can see pictures on your Instagram. That was amazing. I wish I could’ve been your kid on some of those because I want to go.
Do you want to go to Patagonia and see ice glaciers?
When you came back, you guys moved into that incredible home and then the guitar, because I know that’s your passion and your true love aside from Bill and your kids.
Music’s always been such an important part of my life from being a small child. All the best memories of my life are wrapped around soundtracks that here in my mind. I always felt it in me, but I never developed the skill. It’s like hearing a language in your mind and not being able to speak it or something. We didn’t have a music program at Marymount. We had a choir. I never got the skill myself, but I always wanted to be in proximity to it in any way that I could. When I look back, I could see how I was always finding the way into being with music. When we came back from our trip and we moved into our home, I went through a difficult personal period that inspired some psychedelic use. That’s what led me to take a guitar.
Didn’t you post a time-lapse?
I posted a time-lapse of a four-hour mushroom journey. That’s intense. It had a lot of views. Four hours condensed into one minute. My purpose in communing with substances in an exploratory manner is to heal. It’s an extension of a spiritual practice. A spiritual practice that’s practiced in all different cultures and areas of the world. I think is more common these days, especially in Venice and Topanga, California and all these places and LA in general. When used intentionally, in conjunction with integration, journaling and other things where you’re doing work around it, you can get down to the truth of yourself.
With that intention and doing that work, which is hard work to do. It’s not fun. It’s not recreational, it’s not easy but you get messages. For me, it became very clear that my joy that was so untapped at this area inside of myself and a key to my healing in being a more joyful person was to dedicate myself to developing this piece. I played the frame drum for a while. I love the frame drum. It’s this ancient connection that you feel a beat. For me, I feel the connection. I feel the part of me awakening that goes, “There’s more of me in this.” Through playing the drum a bit and incorporating some of that in my psychedelic journeys and using it as a spiritual practice, chanting with the drum and doing exercises like walking with bells and doing drumming and chanting at the same time. It healed me in so many ways from my mind too.
I love to see the journey and the progression of this because you do post about it and I’m so proud of you because you’ve dedicated yourself to learning how to play guitar. You’re also singing and you take lessons and you practice on your own. I see you with your metronome and then you sang for your husband’s birthday. That was a surprise for him.
It was a surprise for me. I wished that I had the courage to do it. When the moment came, I realized “If not now, when?” It was a great leap of faith to take because it ripped off the Band-Aid of any fear. Developing your voice is like learning an instrument. It’s our first instrument. That’s not always graceful. It’s not always I thought I was going to sing perfectly. Some days are better than others. I look back on singing videos and I’m like, “I’m so flat.”
I feel the same way about some of the shows that I did. I feel like you validate me and I feel you give me permission when I see you post your things and you’re saying, “Don’t worry about being good. It’s not about that.” You are good and you’re getting better and better. You can play the guitar and you have a gorgeous guitar. I do think like, “Look at all these things Leah is brave enough to try and do and to be a beginner. I can’t do that.” I admire it and respect it and think that you’re quest for adventure learning new things. Always being creative, it’s truly who you are. I think it’s so cool. You have a party coming up that I haven’t RSVP’d to. Leah’s having a day of the dead party. You should know that her parties are so much fun and they’re also so amazing. They’re not just in a normal party. That’s partly why I’m like, “Are we ready for Leah and Bill’s?”
Are you ready for Mariachi’s, taco bars, face painting?
I have to get ready for the day of the dead.
I even have a face painter there.
Someone will do it for me so I can just wear a flower crown. Can I talk about one party when you and Bill were married and you still lived in the place in Venice? You moved into his home, but then you guys kept your place for a while for dinner parties and fun stuff. I went to a party there with Art and it was so fun. There was some ping pong, maybe some people might’ve been topless.
We did topless ping pong. It wasn’t really topless. It’s very intriguing. It got everybody there.
You also had, just because who knows where the night’s going to go, a stripper pole, but regularly in your home. It was a pole from floor to ceiling. The best part about that night for me was our husbands. You might not even remember this. I was nine months pregnant and it was very hot. We were leaving early because I was like, “I must go home and get my swollen feet up.” As we were leaving, Art went over to Bill and was like, “Bye, Bill.” He tapped him on the arm. Bill was like, “You haven’t gone down the stripper pole.” I was dying because this is not Art.
He made him climb a staircase, go up into a loft, stand on the ledge of a two-story drop-off and cling onto a pole and slide down.
It was worse than that because Art climbed it. I didn’t know if he was going to even get up. It’s hard to climb up a stripper pole. For anybody who hasn’t done it, it’s not easy. It’s a workout. He did not come up the stairs. He pulled himself up the pole. I was like, “He made it up.” I was proud of him for making it up. Bill goes up like a gazelle. He was perfect at it. He was amazing. Art goes down straight, fireman-style, wrapped his legs around the pole down and your husband Nijinskied that thing. There were flicks, kicks and tricks. It was amazing.
He’s very bendy. It’s like an athletic feat to him when he can do that.
It was the best. We got down, it was like, “I need a massage. I can’t believe I got up the pole. I need to go put some kinesiology tape on my shoulder.” Your parties are great and there’s so much fun. I can’t wait to get my face painted and I love you. Thank you for coming. I’ll have to say, Leah’s hair is a manifestation of her energy. It’s this wild, thick, beautiful, pre-Raphaelite mane of curls.
Remember, Jenny, when we were little. It was so hard and awkward to have this hair. I struggled with this hair. I tried to straighten it. I cut it off. I bleached it blonde. I grew it out. I have learned to embrace it.
You should because people our age, women, I look at my thin, lank, limp hair and I look at yours with super hair envy. It should be in a hair museum. You can find Leah and she’s an amazing person to discover on Instagram, @TheLeahForester. Thank you for sharing everything with me. I love you.
- Leah Forester
- @TheLeahForester – Instagram
- Santa Barbara Magazine
- Resources for Infant Educarers
- No Bad Kids
- Burning Man
About Leah Forester
Leah Forester is a California girl, mother of twins, and stylist. Beginning in New York under the mentorship of Diane Von Furstenberg, Tory Burch and Vera Wang, Leah’s career spans 20 years of working with artists, brands, magazines, private clients and celebrities as she styles photo shoots, fashion shows, interior spaces and immersive events.
After giving birth to twins in 2008, Leah took a break and devoted herself to the “art of motherhood,” learning about unique parenting ideas and teaching herself to cook, but never hanging up her high heels. Motherhood is the inspiration that drives her to create a playful family life brimming with adventure, nutritious food and artistic expression, shaping her work outside the home.
Her most recent creation is the Venice Supper Club, a roving dining experience born out of her Venice Studio that combines food, style, and the arts. There her love of simple, beautiful food, sumptuous interiors and the art of entertaining come together.
She’s devoted to Buddhism, creativity, and the good life. Leah works and lives in Venice, California with her husband, film producer Bill Johnson and their twins, Jett and Jade.