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Gearing up for Westerns

Laura Sturza

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

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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

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shoots.

“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

jeans.

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.

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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,

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Lauro said.

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,

Fleming said.


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