Recently, in a 14-1 decision, the City Council of Los Angeles voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. It’s projected that the hike will raise wages for 40% of Los Angelinos, which is excellent news for the oft-forgotten working class of tinsel town; the ethnic minorities and regional natives who find themselves struggling to subsist in a city defined by garish excess.
And it’s also great news for the large, incredibly talented community of formerly upper middle class transplants looking to make it in the entertainment industry; folks that are commonly known as starving artists. For these young men and women, the wage hike means they’ll finally be able to afford the things they need as well as the things they want, and then some more things on top of that. No longer will they have to live off Taco Bell because they have to, but now, because they want to. They will no longer be starving artists. They’ll just be regular, shitty artists.
“At 10 an hour I was already having to work like twenty, thirty hours a week sometimes just so I could split rent with the four other guys I live with in our skateboard pot house,” said a waiter named Garrick. “Now I’ll have time to focus on my screenplay that I’m thinking about coming up with and buying another MacBook to write.”
For young men like Garrick, this thoroughly-needed wage hike will make it possible to scale back the minimal amount of low-wage work they were doing so they can channel their energy into something more productive, like going to pool parties they heard Rob Dyrdek would be at.
“I’ll finally have time to watch Lost,” said Garrick’s friend Waynlon. “I’ve always felt like I should watch that show before I tried to write anything. A lot of people like it.”
But not all starving artists are happy about the wage hike. Take Beth Crappe for example. She’s twenty-seven years old, she’s a huge fan of Tina Fey, and she loves her life as a starving artist.
“I actually like this phase of my life,” she says. “When I’m successful, I want to look back on the days when I was really having to push – working every single afternoon at a healing crystal store and telling everyone I can about my idea for a reality show about how I’m better than everyone at the healing crystal store.”
She shakes her head and sucks her teeth as she stares through her iPhone.
“I like being poor and toughing it out. It feels more authentic.”
And she does have a point. Being an artist is difficult. Or at least, it’s supposed to be. You have to throw it all away – the car your parents bought you, the education your parents bought you, the phone your parents bought you (to make room for the new phone your parents bought you) – so that you can move out to Los Angeles and really focus on your work; a web series about a couple of guys in a chill apartment who just like to chill and be dope. Having a job that pays for anything more than your five hundred dollar a month rent and your ounce of weed every two weeks would be too demanding, sap your energy, and make it impossible for you to “get inspired” by Netflix and think about taking lessons with The Groundlings. If you had to compromise yourself and put on a shirt and tie, you’d forget who you are: a real artist, the guy who comes up with the next Shasta McNasty.