In Conversation with Katina Danabassis from THE CURSE

I couldn’t stop thinking about this show and more specifically the chaotic outfits worn by Benny Safdie’s character Dougie Schechter so I hopped on a zoom with Katina to learn more.

Thank you to Katina for the juicy insider recon! Unfortunately to preserve some of the TV magic we’ve had to redact a part of this conversation...

DF: The main characters in The Curse are a clear amalgamation of people that actually work for HGTV, can you get into the real life inspiration for Dougie’s overall look?

KD: I don’t know if Benny has named this person specifically so I’m gonna gatekeep right now. His name is **** *******. He was a powerhouse in reality TV. If you look at him you will see the formula for Dougie’s look is very much from that man. That came from Benny, he was like do you know who **** ******* is? So the realism of that person and the fact that people do dress like Dougie, they dress like they’re washed up kind of guys who think they’re cooler than they are, they’re punching way above their weight. They think that they belong in a room full of somebodies and they dress the part for success in their minds. I like rock n roll, I aspire to look like a rocker yet I’m gonna wear these weird rectangular wire glasses that totally ground it in reality. **** ****** wears those glasses, that’s the inspiration. The guy who did Fyre Fest, I brought him up in my interview, because the spirit of that man, that kind of con artist, manipulator, a little bit sociopathic, you kinda have less of a conscience when you’re manipulating people for television. What you see on the show is how it works on reality tv, it’s not much of a stretch. These scenarios are brought up and people are put in situations as pawns to see what happens while we record it. Another person I don’t want to officially name…Benny and I know this guy in common and his father happens to be someone I experienced in a yoga class and Benny just knows him from New York. This man would do back to back hot yoga classes, wearing all of his rings and jewelry, which is crazy to me but respect you never take off this costume. Benny and I started talking about Dougie having rings and we thought about maybe he should wear a lot of them. The jewelry we sourced locally. It had to come from Santa Fe because of the deep seated influence of the New Mexico silver market and its insidiousness. It makes you want to become a jewelry person.

DF: I think there’s something funny about an east coast guy adopting Santa Fe style, kind of how some of these fashion brands (Visvim, Yuketen, etc) do in a sense. It feels on par with the appropriation going on in the show.

KD: Totally, he’s there pillaging.

KD: Another influence for Dougie was Johnny Depp. We also did discuss the chaos of Mickey Rourke. The main thing about these kinds of people are all the little bits. It’s to help reify that these people exist, so you can look how they patch things together and understand we’re not making a costume look like a costume. 


DF: I heard Benny mention that wearing 10 rings at once felt like he could control objects with his hands, almost like a super power.

KD: It’s this garish power move that I think is like the Russian grandmother who wears all of her jewelry at the same time. It’s a status thing, it’s a value thing. These are silver, this is worth money. If all the systems fail “I have my gold, I have my silver.” It’s this archaic thought process of gold bars and value.

DF: I also heard Benny say the boots, the scarves, etc all changes the way he moves as an actor on set. Is that something you have a discussion with him about?  

KD: He only had four pairs of boots for the entire season, which is kind of a lot but it is Santa Fe so boots are everywhere. You just pick them up as you go, there are consignment stores everywhere. They’re not comfortable to wear so when you're shooting out of order, you’re gonna have to be in costume all day. And he likes to stay in costume. You have to think what shoes are going to be comfortable, cowboy boots aren’t exactly orthopedic. So there was a pair of Rockport boots that you can be in all day. They kind of ended up being his hero boots, they have a square toe and felt like a vestige of New York Dougie coming in.

DF: Dougie’s outfits are very obviously expensive while Whitney and Asher’s are pricey but more subdued in their overtness. Can you talk about the difference between their expensive tastes?

KD: One of the things Benny wanted to express with the clothing is that Dougie is a shopping addict. It’s one of his vices. It’s how he fills the void. That’s why in that scene where he’s crying in bed he’s surrounded by all those shopping bags. He’s having an emotional breakdown, he’s very lonely. That’s one of the ways people seem to cope in a post capitalist consumer society. Buy shit. It’s good for you. It’ll make you feel good for five minutes. That’s the mantra. The mall is the church today, it’s in the center of the city. So that’s his motivation behind how he shops. The places we shopped for Dougie in Santa Fe was a mix between the cologne wearing fantastic man, the kind of guy that Vivi the art collector character is–mixed with that Americana thing. There’s a store called Standard and Strange that sells Japanese heritage brands like Kapital, we shopped there. I also did my best to go to the second hand stores, we got RRL pants at a very decent price. With Dougie there’s some savviness to it but it’s still a gross expenditure. Whitney's motivation is different. She controls Asher. She makes sure they’re doing their best to buy things from brands who are eco conscious. Smaller brands so you’re not contributing to the trash of fast fashion. Her Levi’s are second hand, she’s a vintage girl but then she also wears a $700 Gabriela Hearst t-shirt…

DF: Can we talk about Asher’s love for CDG Play?

KD: Nathan thought the CDG Play logo…he was like “It’s funny right?” I said if you do it, yes, it is funny. He knew exactly how it would play and it did. Asher’s on the fence, he’s not all in. He’s from the casino world. Whatever needs to happen for Whitney to be happy. He’s a simp for her.


DF: Your description of that just made me realize how smart that choice was. That’s typically a brand people buy for their swagless significant other as an entry level to looking “good.” It’s an easy way to achieve a fashionable look.

KD: It’s kind of like gateway fashion, yes.

DF: Dougie’s jackets were so good. Can you name drop some of the brands he wore?









DIXON RAND (local custom shirt maker) 

MADEWORN (rock tees)




KD: Kapital was used in the first episode. RRL for his pants a lot. There is a bespoke shirt maker that he’s wearing in the Iosheka jeans gag, that’s a local Santa Fe artist. They do really special stuff. We looked at Visvim because Visvim has a store in Santa Fe, that’s so fascinating to me. I found a pair of Amiri jeans on ebay and those are his most holy jeans, for sure. The leather jacket he barely even wears in the car was a very silly expensive jacket that was so stiff, it's crazy.

DF: If he’s a shopping addict he doesn’t have time to break in his stuff, right?

KD: Exactly. The Chimayo jacket was from an artist that makes custom jackets for the likes of Clint Eastwood (@chimayojackets on IG). He’s such a gem, he let us just borrow that jacket. I don’t know if you saw the subreddit dedicated to Dougie’s jackets on reddit, people are talking about the Chimayo. The guy who made it called that special pattern “green-gold.” It's very rare.

DF: Can we get some of your expert advice on researching and developing a personal style?

KD: Knowing what you feel comfortable in and understanding your body and how it makes you feel. To me, if you’re comfortable you’re confident. Anything that grounds you in that is going to be the best thing you can wear for yourself. Maybe it’s just cause I’m a Taurus but I can’t be my most confident self at a party if I’m uncomfortable. I think it’s knowing how you feel best. There are clothes that can make you feel comfortable and you should be able to find those things. I personally shop a lot on eBay.

DF: Perfect segue to the last question, where do you like to shop?

KD: I shop on eBay. My hack is to look at vintage magazines and go deep on obscure designer brands that people overlook. I highly recommend Modain Collezioni, it’s the ‘90s runway magazine. Some of them are very expensive but it’s got all the designer stuff for every season.

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