We’ve been obsessed with ’90s NYC club-kid culture ever since we first saw its glitter-drenched provocateurs hit the talk-show circuit a decade ago. (Anybody else remember those wild Ricki Lake and Jerry Springer appearances?) Of course, after The Limelight’s regular drug dealer, Angel Melendez, was murdered, the whole scene became that much more scandalous. It also pretty much died. Some vets have survived, though: Party boy Richie Rich is a successful clothing designer with his Heatherette line; DJ Keoki spins around the world; and James St. James, the gloss-ster who not only inspired the mayhem but chronicled it all in his book, Disco Bloodbath, has been living and working — where else? — right here in Hollywood. (As you may recall, his book was later made into the film Party Monster.)
St. James is now part of the wonderfully wacky production co. World of Wonder (The Eyes of Tammy Faye and Tori & Dean Inn Love are a couple of its campy offerings), and last Friday night we joined thousands of his fiendish fans as he hosted WOW’s popular Internet TV show, Ring My Bell. The show invites viewers to phone in and ask any question they can think of to the featured guest (Perez Hilton, Gregg Araki, RuPaul and Kato Kaelin are just a few who’ve appeared in the past). But with JSJ hosting, there had to be a twist: This edition was a 24-hour gab-a-thon that brought to mind both the Jerry Lewis telethon (on drugs) and Courtney Love’s infamous 24 Hours of Love MTV stint. It was filled with random yet fascinating chatter, surprise studio guests (flame-haired artist/writer Lenora Claire, music from rockers Marie Catastrophe and Ryan TK and an annoying singer called The Ukelady), costume changes galore (turbans, gold lamé, etc.) and phone-in guests. (Michael Alig — the murderous It Boy played by Macaulay Culkin in the flick — even called in from jail!)
After watching from home for hours and not getting through on the phone, we decided to pop into the WOW studios (actually a storefront on Hollywood Boulevard) before checking out the new club System at the Knitting Factory down the street. Nightranger even got five minutes of fame, taking calls from kids all across the country. We chatted up a gal from Idaho who told us about her town’s Drag Queen Bingo nights (awesome!) and shared observations on the comical contrasts of the scene around us. (Tourists, bridge ’n’ tunnel clubbers and random riff-raff from the boulevard continually peeked in the storefront windows throughout the show, obviously wondering what the hell was goin’ on.)
This exercise in excess was all to promote James’ new novel, Freak Show, a tender tale of a high school femme boy that’ll appeal to anyone who’s ever felt misunderstood, especially during the high school years — i.e., everyone. “I wish I had that book when I was growing up,” über–party planner Bryan Rabin told us when he called in Friday night. Don’t we all. Get your own copy when James does a special signing this Friday the 13th, before a midnight screening of Party Monster at the Nuart.
Though there wasn’t a bloodbath, the disco sure was soaked later that night at System, where hordes of nubile new-wavish cuties sweatily danced nonstop. Former “door whore” Clint Catalyst came out of retirement for the club’s grand opening, and it was nice to see the kiddies get really dolled up again — though we’re still waiting for the ’80s looks to die (hard) already!
It might be far from Tinseltown, but Gladstone’s is attracting more than just touristy families lately. Celebs from nearby Malibu have always frequented the restaurant (during the week, that is) but now that the place just appeared on Entourage — whose characters usually grub at hot spots like Geisha House and Nobu — we expect the scene to really sizzle, especially on Sundays, when Jen X presents DJ Eric Ill (The Rainbow’s decksman) and live rock bands on the patio. We bopped out to the ’Bu to see Sublime-ish swine It’s the Pigs play last Sunday (scoring the VIP table with a view where Anthony Hopkins and Antonio Banderas like to chill, the manager told us) and who pranced by? None other than legal lass Gloria Allred! Okay, Allred isn’t quite the young Malibooty making the scene by the sea, but she is a badass. So are the bands slated for future Sunday afternoons, most notably punk cover band No Thanks (featuring members of Dig and Video Star along with Metal Skool night DJ Jaime) on Aug. 5 and Allrise (runners-up from L.A. Weekly’s Battle of the Bands last year) on Aug. 12.
Nightlife movers and shakers are doing a lot more moving lately: BoJesse Christopher’s Hot Lava has left LAX and taken residence at Mood on Saturdays, presenting “Guitar Godz” mashing/moshing live to the beats of DJ IMZ (if you’re a riff-er, see BJ’s MySpace to audition); Stephen Hauptfuhr’s got a new Wednesday-night party called Sahara at the Hollywood Canteen, a historic space that has been largely ignored by the hipster set until now; and Sean Patrick offers an innovative clubbin’ concept called Temporary Spaces on Saturdays: intimate parties that travel around town, taking over abandoned buildings and turning them into fully functioning, yet very underground fetes. Look for reports from all three summer soirees soon.