The new FX series Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, which follows Denis Leary’s washed-up rocker—named, of course, Johnny Rock—might focus on a fictional band, but there’s no lack of real-life rock venues that appear in the show. And according to star Elaine Hendrix, who plays Rock’s bandmate and love interest Ava, having access to New York City’s rock ‘n’ roll history made all the difference.
“I think the show does capture the whole New York feel, in our attitudes, in our clothes—it feels very authentic,” Hendrix says from her home in, of all places, Los Angeles. “We actually got to perform at Irving Plaza, Glasslands and at the Apollo, which was cool and super exciting.”
And venues weren’t the only thing the show got right about New York rockers. From Ava’s feathered hair to Johnny’s leather jacket, the costumes and makeup also call to mind the glory days of Blondie and the Talking Heads—even if the show is in the present day.
“Johnny in particular is still stuck in the late 1980s,” Hendrix explains. “And I feel like my character has maintained her roots, but with a little modernity. The overall look is very rock ‘n’ roll, but it also speaks to who we think we are: we have no money, but we still look good!”
That looks, she says, developed over time with the help of the show’s costume designer.
“It became clear as we went along that Ava is a rock chick and we could tell when something didn’t look right or didn’t feel right,” she says. “I know people in my real life, who put on outfits and I think, Gosh I would never think to wear that, they’re so stylish, even in the grocery store. Ava is one of those people to me. I don’t really think it’s an armor for her, it’s just truly who she is.”
Having that kind of a character is important to TV veteran Hendrix, who says that even amid the din of the New York rock scene, her character’s strong personality managed to come through loud and clear. “She’s the rock of the group, she’s the core,” she says. “Ava is the matriarch of this highly dysfunctional family.”