BY JONATHAN VALANIA Meet Roza Frykowska, 26, a recent emigre from Lodz, Poland. She is a barista at Cafe Ole in Old City. She is also an up and coming photographer, and recently started shooting for Suicide Girls. All of that would make her interview-worthy in and of itself in our book, but wait, it gets better, or worse, actually. Roza’s grandfather, the filmmaker Wojtech Frykowski, came to America in the late ’60s to establish a career in Hollywood, at the behest of his dear friend, Roman Polanski. Wojtech and his then-girlfriend, Abigail Folger, heiress to the Folger coffee fortune, were frequent guests at the Cielo Drive home of Roman Polanski and his very pregnant wife, the actress Sharon Tate. In fact, they were, tragically enough, guests at Cielo Drive the night the Manson Family showed up. The police would find their butchered corpses on the front lawn the next morning. The Frykowska family would employ a series of lawyers for the next 39 years to ensure that none of the convicted ever got paroled or gained financially from their monstrous crimes. This is why Guns N’ Roses had to remove their cover version of Manson’s “Look At Your Game, Girl” from The Spaghetti Incident back in 1993. The tragedy of the Manson murders has cast a long shadow over the Frykowska family, so you can imagine how it gave them pause when Roza, as a teenager, became an avowed Marilyn Manson fan. But wait, that’s only the half of it. Her father, also a high-profile Polish filmmaker, was murdered under eerily similar circumstances…
PHAWKER: So just to bring the reader up to speed, let me recount how this ball got rolling. I was buying a cup of coffee at Cafe Ole, and you were working the cash register. I asked you about your accent.
ROZA: And I said I was from Poland.
PHAWKER: You then mentioned that your family were all filmmakers, and I jokingly said ‘Is your last name Polanski?’ And then you pointed out that your father was best friends with Roman Polanski and was staying at his house on Cielo Drive in Los Angeles the night the Manson Family showed up.
ROZA: And then you asked if you could interview me.
PHAWKER: And here we are. So, how long have you lived in America?
ROZA: Six years. Basically I was offered a photography apprenticeship in Cape May, shooting commercial stuff, wedding photos, family portraits.
PHAWKER: So I was looking up your family on Wikipedia, were you the daughter that went on the Polish version of Big Brother?
ROZA: No, that was my half-sister. You see, everyone in my family is a photographer or a filmmaker and she felt really left out. That is why she was pushing so hard for a career as an actress and that’s why she went on Big Brother.
PHAWKER: And how did that go?
ROZA: It was very stressful for my family because she wound up having sex and in the Polish version they don’t censor anything. So she basically had sex on national television.
PHAWKER: Wow, what a country!
ROZA: Actually, it’s a very superstitious place. There are a lot of people that think there is a curse on my family. You see, not only was my grandfather stabbed to death, but years later, so was my father. By his girlfriend at the time, who was the daughter of a very famous Polish film director, but also very insane. She had a history of stabbing boyfriends that tried to break up with her. And then my great grandfather was a race car driver and he died in a car accident. On our family tombstone there is a big list of people and they all say ‘Died Tragically.’
PHAWKER: Do you believe in curses?
ROZA: No, I believe in fucked up coincidence.
PHAWKER: Amen, sister.
ROZA: And I believe in victim’s rights. My family has kept lawyers on retainer for the last 39 years just to make sure that none of the Manson Family gets paroled. And we also make sure that they don’t make money off the crime. That is why Guns N’ Roses had to remove [“Look At Your Game, Girl”] from The Spaghetti Incident. The only way to get it now is on eBay…But then, when I was a teenager, I was a huge fan of Marilyn Manson.
PHAWKER: I bet that didn’t go over with the family.
ROZA: No, no. They are anti-anything that has to do with Manson, for obvious reasons, but I really thought Marilyn Manson was very creative artist.
PHAWKER: Agreed. He is a clever man. Plus he used to bone Rose McGowan.
PHAWKER: So you were telling me you started to shoot for Suicide Girls, what’s it take to get that gig?
ROZA: Five good ass shots! I am serious, that is what they tell you. ‘Bring us five good ass shots.’ So now every time I shoot, it’s like ‘turn around, lemme see your ass!’ Haha.
PHAWKER: Hahahaha. Me too!
ROZA FRYKOWSKA will be displaying her photos at Skinners, 226 Market St., starting today.
[DEATH VALLEY ’69, illustrations by ALEX FINE]