Letter fm LA



I am in Los Angeles, having finally made my escape from Hawaii.

I don’t mean that quite like it sounds. It’s not about an escape from Hawaii. The “escape” has more to do with getting rid of possessions which had begun to possess me. The final days before I left were all about dealing with all that…STUFF. I was selling stuff, giving away stuff, throwing away stuff, and still keeping way too much stuff. There are boxes and boxes of it at my office.

But there’s a plan to get rid of it.

Each time I come back for a week-long check-in visit to Hawaii (the first one will be in September), I will sort through more of it and get rid of more of it. I’ve realized getting rid of stuff is a major theme for me these days.

So…going on this year-long journey is not so much about the travel as about the LETTING GO and LIGHTENING UP.

And even though I headed for the airport on Sunday with a huge suitcase weighing 60 lbs. and a very stuffed carry-on, it feels great to know this is all the stuff I need to have in my life right now. Plus I will lighten and refine the load during my travels, as it becomes clearer what’s really essential and what’s not.



GINA has been a significant part of my artistic life ever since that day in Honolulu in 1986 when the phone rang and I picked it up to hear a female voice saying, “Hi, you don’t know me but I’ve seen your art and my boyfriend would be a PERFECT MODEL for you!” The boyfriend was indeed a perfect model. He is long gone, but Gina and I are still friends 25 years later, and when I’m in LA she is the person I stay with.

One of our best and most memorable times together was in Brazil in 2004 when I did my first Brazilian male-nude photo shoot as a direct result of Gina’s finding a boy on the beach who became my Rio talent scout. My friend Ramses was also on that trip, and the three of us totally bonded as a result of our Brazilian adventure together.



As it turns out, Ramses is on the West Coast at the moment, and has altered his plans so he can come to LA and hang out with us. So it’s a big reunion and the three of us are having a great time hanging out, catching up, and having some new adventures!





It’s been a challenge finding time to draw, since I’m staying with two of my favorite people in the world to hang out with. But I’ve been managing. I’ve started a colored-pencil drawing of Nohea that I really like so far. I spend a few hours on it each day. Also did a little sketch of L.A. palm trees.



Being on the road means spending a lot more time in other people’s spaces.

I’ve been having a wonderful time hanging with Gina and Ramses but I’m realizing something. I am the kind of person who loves being with people, but I can’t do it for too long at a time. I gather energy and find myself by being alone. I get my best ideas, have my clearest reflections and am at my most creative when I’m by myself. Usually I have a LOT of alone time, and I like it. Now that I’m traveling I find I’m with people much of the time and I’m not used to that.


Last night I had a kind of emotional meltdown because I went out (to the Santa Monica Pier and Promenade area)with Gina and Ramses even though I was already in need of alone time and hadn’t taken it. It was not pretty, but fortunately all was forgiven and we’re all still friends. I’m learning that it’s okay to say, “Guys, I need some alone time,” and go for a walk or to Starbucks or, if one’s available, just shut myself in a room for awhile.

Sometimes I just need to recharge my batteries!





I went to lunch with my friend Kurt Brown, a terrific photographer who lives here in LA and who also specializes in the male nude. We talked about everything, but especially models and shooting them and marketing ourselves. I told him all about my e-books, how much fun they are to create and how well they’re selling, and I may be working with him on producing an e-book of his photographs. We also shared lunch with Darius Dio, a stunning 26-year-old who models all over the world (see photos above). He’s a very down-to-earth, easy-going guy, and we talked about working together sometime soon.




I’m meeting with Steve Chen (shown above in a shot by David Smith), a bodybuilder who lives here in LA, on Monday, and if all goes well, we’ll do a shoot on Wednesday, probably in Malibu. Steve has worked with my friend Kurt Brown in LA and my friend David Smith in Hawaii. I’m looking forward to photographing his beautiful face and body in the California sun.


I am always amazed at how COLD it is in LA. It seems the whole world has this idea that LA is a hot, sunny place where you can run around in a swimsuit all the time. That sure hasn’t ever been my experience. I always pack a jacket and/or a sweater when I’m coming to LA. It’s July and I just went out to get some groceries and even in the middle of a sunny day I got chilly as soon as I stepped into the shade. And at night, forget it. You will need to bundle up.

I’m not like most people, I guess. I actually enjoy 85-90 degrees and high humidity and no breeze.

With Albuquerque in July being my next stop, I will probably get to find out what it’s like at 100 degrees and NO humidity. Bring it!


0 replies on “ON THE ROAD: LETTER FROM L.A.

  • elijahnavy

    This was truly a beautiful piece… thanks for sharin’ your journal / pictures with us. I miss you already… I know we didn’t know each other all that well, but I could always tell you were an incredible guy. Anyway, also miss your singing… lastly, I’m proud of you. It’s hard to de-materialize ourselves. That’s something I’m far from accomplishing… but I’m proud of you for makin’ so many strides in that regard. Mahalo! ; )

    • Douglas Simonson

      Thanks Elijah…don’t worry i’ll be back often. and thanks for saying you like my singing! XOXO Douglas

    • kelly

      Writing from one of your future stops: balmy Lincoln, Nebraska. It is currently 95º at 7:42 pm and it is expected to only get hotter throughout the next week. This is after almost a week of these temps with ongoing Excessive Heat Warnings. The humidity is high, and we haven’t had much wind, but today there has been a steady HOT breeze out of the south. Sooo, it is your kind of weather. Wish you were here, and see you soon.


    • Douglas Simonson

      hi jim, yes, if the Steve Chen photo shoot happens as planned, his photographs will appear on my Simonson on Location site as well as in photographic print form on my fine-art website.

  • Angela

    so good to hear from you and that you’re happy – despite the cold! i always have stayed with a friend right near the santa monica pier and I agree – it gets cold at night! she always laghs at me because she’s in a tank top and I have my woolies on. can’t wait to see your next ebook – good idea!

    sending you lots of warm hawaiian aloha –

  • Rodney

    Enjoy your journey Douglas, I applaud your courage to take the plunge and give yourself this experience. I’ll be certain to continue following your updates on the blog. All the best, Rodney

  • Anderson O'Mealy

    Hi Doug, Hope you enjoy your journey. LA is of course and obvious springboard. Having just spent two week there myself (one for my father’s birthday, the second for his funeral), I know what you mean by the cold. Enough LA for awhile. We Hawaiians are so spoiled! I look forward to following you on you adventure. Have taken up oil portraiture myself, I can’t wait to see the new work your trip inspires! Aloha, Anderson O’Mealy

  • Jeff

    OMG Steve and I were friends at UCSB when I was the diving coach there and he was an undergrad! Tell him a big hello from me, please 🙂


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