When Joe Lauro was growing up in Nice, France, watching Western
heroes like Clint Eastwood and John Wayne on television, he never
guessed he would be horsetrading with people who put his favorite
cowboys on screen.
As proprietor of the Longhorn Trading Post at 914 S. Mariposa
St., the 46-year-old resident rents and sells vintage Western
clothes, jewelry and gear to industry pros who use it for their
“That is a dream come true,” Lauro said.
Several magazine designers have also taken a shine to the store,
which has a decidedly retro look, using it for ads like Big Star
Actress Pam Grier used it for a spread in Interview Magazine,
Lauro said, and he aims to attract location managers to put the shop
in motion pictures.
The shop’s home on the range is a quiet residential neighborhood.
The building was Kenny’s El Rancho Restaurant in the 1940s, purported to have been frequented by hungry cowboy movie stars.
Until he bought the store six years ago, it had fallen into
disrepair. But Lauro had a vision of making it look like something
from its heyday, so customers who come upon it by hoof or car might
forget which decade they rode in on.
Sections of the trading post’s exterior that have “more of a
cowboy look” were purchased from a friend who builds movie sets,
As if it is not enough to work in the town where so many of the
movies were shot that fired his youthful imagination, Lauro gets to
rub spurs with other actors as a stunt rider. His most recent shoot
was for “Hard Ground,” where he was on the set with Burt Reynolds.
“When I was a little kid and played cowboys and Indians, if I had
told my friends [what my future held], nobody would have believed
me,” Lauro said.
Other actors have benefited from Lauro’s trove of Western loot,
renting it for auditions.
“When you’re going in [for an audition], they’re looking for real
cowgirls,” said Jaqueline Fleming, a resident who has worn Lauro’s
duds at auditions.
At a recent audition, the casting directors were stunned to see
her authentic look, and asked her where she had left her horse,