Fake Suburban Prison Makes Us All Feel Like We’re in a Much Larger, Existential Prison

Photo by Andy Holzman, Los Angeles Daily News

In the West Hills area of Los Angeles right now stands a house surrounded by chain link fence and razor wire, a makeshift guard tower on the premises, looking to all passersby like a prison. A man in an orange jumpsuit often pumps iron in the yard, attended by guards. Signs warn of electric shocks to those who touch the fence. There have even been protests outside, some broken up by police. The scene has all the trappings of an honest-to-God penal institution.

But wait a second — home-owned and/or -converted prisons don’t yet exist! That’s not a thing! I’m starting to wonder if this is more like-

“It’s ever-evolving performance art,” said [homeowner] Lou DeMarco, 64, a former porn video and DVD distributor. “It’s also a political statement. So many of our friends are losing their homes and businesses to foreclosure,” he said. “And we thought perhaps this was an alternative – to have customers, or prisoners, in your own house.”

You might think the above cracks the case, but remember — we’re talking about Los Angeles. “Performance artist” and “former porn distributor” might be considered unusual elsewhere, but they’re numbers 8 and 2 on the list of “totally normal LA jobs.” Out here you get looked at funny if you didn’t one time work in porn. There’s GOT to be more to this story. And sure enough-

…the DeMarcos’ political statement is also part publicity stunt. The couple is trying to sell a script called “Little Big House” about a family that turns to housing state prisoners to save their home.


Americans are, by our nature, a plucky and entrepreneurial bunch. We see opportunities and seize them within the same breath, keenly aware that life is short and you’ve gotta carpe diem the shit out of it. Things like ruffling onlookers’ feathers and annoying bloggers are simply a natural byproduct of our wanting to be and do the best we can. You can’t fault anyone for trying to promote themselves or their work in whatever way they see fit.

But you can criticize them for being obnoxious as all f*ck about it and probably devaluing their neighbors’ homes. Also titling a script “Little Big House,” but we’ve all done worse. Good luck with your movie, Mr. Chayefsky!

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