Bag of Tricks: The Murder of Roland Kuster
Life in the Fast Lane
Roland Kuster was a successful photographer in Japan who eventually made his way to Los Angeles with dreams of working with top models and actors. He was born in Switzerland and had a close relationship with his mother and sister.
People chasing the glamorous life in Hollywood fall into three categories: the ones who have made it; those who are on their way; and others who have no prayer. Kuster, 37, was firmly in the middle category. He made a decent living photographing catalogs and was doing his best to break out of that mold and work in high fashion. He lived and worked out of an old recording studio that once belonged to composer Quincy Jones and had a set of friends that included models, photographers and filmmakers.
Like many on Hollywood's fast track, he partied incessantly and drugs were usually part of the equation. All-night bashes were commonplace at his home, which bore the business name "Pop Studios."
"It was wild," recalled friend Hans-Peter Baumann. "We would sometimes meet at 10 at night and then we would talk. And when people came and it was 4 in the morning they went to another party. Once the business was done, they were really party people.
"It was always a fast crowd to be in together."
Baumann remembered his friend as someone who was extremely blunt and sometimes wondered if that would be troublesome for him in Hollywood.
"He was a colorful person. And he would just say his mind and he — he didn't care whether it was right or wrong. If somebody would not agree with him, and sometimes there were some heated conversations, but in the end they laughed and everything was alright."