The Angelenos in this year’s L.A. Weekly People Issue have a passion for what they do. For some, it’s cooking the best pasta outside of Italy or sharing the community-building aspects of samba. For others, it’s fighting to change immigration laws that separate families or harnessing the power of rock & roll to empower young women.
But there is a common thread running through this year’s People Issue profiles. These Angelenos give their all to innovative, influential jobs or avocations while also looking for other ways to serve their community.
Snow Mercy worked as a dominatrix in L.A. while she got her Ph.D. in biochemistry. She tried teaching but it wasn’t enough, so she went back full-time to her dungeon and her whips. Still, she has found time to travel to Peru, Haiti or Nepal to help those less fortunate and to raise money for pet rescue groups.
Scientist Emmanuel Masongsong did clinical trials with the HPV vaccine and studied cervical and HIV-related cancers. When he found the lab work isolating, he joined UCLA’s Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences, where he’s now managing the school’s first satellite. He also performs in bands playing Indian, jazz, classical and even black-metal music.
Christopher Mack spent two years in prison on drug charges in the 1990s but eventually got sober. After years of data processing for a credit card company, he got a job doing HIV surveys of the homeless, which led to his current post as an outreach worker on Skid Row. He is also co-founder of a community choir on Skid Row.
“We are trying to sing so other people can have a better feeling about themselves,” he says.That’s what these Angelenos are doing — they are singing in their own ways to give back and help others.