EDC + BET = BIG star power in L.A. last week. And though we missed both Electric Daisy Carnival and a bevy of BET Awardsbashes, we still got our share of big names and glamorous babes to gab about.
Diddy was at Les Deux (and Playboy Mansion's Kandyland). Interscope held a velvet-roper at Playhouse, Will.i.am did his Dipdive at My Studio. And there was a mysterious Prince after-party and 3 a.m. jam session ... somewhere. It seemed everyone planned a shindig of some sort around the BET Awards. We attended one of the grooviest, ASCAP's Rhythm & Soul gala, Friday at the Beverly Hilton, honoring Janelle Monae and Dr. Dre, both of whom were in the house and had biggies there to cheer them on: Prince for Monae and Eminem for Dre, the latter giving a touching intro to his mentor and thanks for the big break(s). After a Dre video tribute and music-mix medley from DJ Kid Capri, we're excited about the good doctor's long-awaited new one, Detox.
Between that and Em's Recovery, hip-hop seems to be sobering up. Or maybe not. Jamie Foxx's "Blame It" (on the a-a-a-alcohol ...) was a big winner Friday. How many peeps does it take to compose an asinine club banger like this one? Apparently five, and two of them — C. "Tricky" Stewart and The-Dream — also took home Songwriters of the Year, for some schmaltzy soul ballads we've never even heard of. The show's live performances, from Gucci Mane and R&B singers Dondria and Miguel, were equally maudlin, but this gathering was about people-watching as much as anything. You know Diddy's umbrella guy? Lots of fellows working that spiffy look, and lots o' ladies in body-hugging spandex, which — as at the BET Awards — made for a funny contrast on the red carpet. Gotta giggle at mainstream media covering hip-hoppers as they walked in. Many members of the press needed ID signs so they could yell out — and still mispronounce — artist nicknames. Some even dared to utter the one demand you never, ever make of a rapper or producer (indoors or out, day or night): "Take off your sunglasses!"
THANKS FOR THE MAMMARIES
Packed together with a slew of sweaty, scantily clad bodies amid a carnival atmosphere ... Nope, we're not talking about Electric Daisy, but a more carnal kind of carnival: Jumbo's Clown Room's 40th Anniversary, which saw the famed bikini bar's parking lot filled with rockin' revelers and circusy fun, including tightrope walkers, fire performers, caricature artists, free food and $5 drinks all Sunday afternoon and evening. Of course it was inside where the truly astounding and alluring amusements took place. Jumbo's gals pulled out all the stops for the party: clown makeup, fans, masks and sequins galore. We were reminded why we love this landmark's ladies so much: Aside from their obvious assets, they've got great taste in music. A sample of Sunday's sound track during the stripper-pole attacks: MGMT, Led Zeppelin, Prince, Ozzy, the Ting Tings, Journey. Things even got retro when the gals presented two choreographed burlesque numbers (with six girls onstage at once): "Big Spender" from Sweet Charity and "Cell Block Tango" from Chicago. Apropos, we think, since in many ways the popularity of Jumbo's punky performers predated both the L.A. burlesque revival and the Suicide Girls Web phenom. And though — as Jumbo, aka Jack Taylor, said during a brief speech — the bar hasn't changed when it comes to its comfortable and welcoming atmosphere, the talent here has never been more top-notch. Yep, the Clown Room's come a long way since Courtney Love, baby.
BACK IN THE SADDLE
Love's nemesis (well, one of them) Billy Corgan was out supporting another female rocker last week, famed music muse (don't say groupie!) Bebe Buell. We weren't surprised by the huddle of seasoned and stellar attendees in the VIP section of Buell's Roxy gig (Rodney Bingenheimer and English Disco regular Lori Maddox, Blondie's Frank Infante, Eric Erlandson, Ginger Coyote, designer Michael Schmidt with events maven Bryan Rabin and Bar Sinister hostess Constance, NCIS actress Pauley Perrette and Buell's daughter Liv Tyler) but we were surprised by how comfortable and vocally voracious Buell was onstage after a 10-year absence from L.A. Her backstory is, of course, the stuff of legends: full of romances with rock icons (Mick Jagger, baby daddy Steven Tyler, Jimmy Page, Elvis Costello and Stiv Bators to name a few) and model-life excess (she did Playboy). Her passion for swagger-full fellows has been well-documented, but music-making has been a big part of her own life as well.
Introduced by our mutual pal Giddle Partridge, Buell proved to be a formidable figure — a hot mama whose sensuality, at least these days, comes from her deep, almost Marianne Faithfull–style voice and rhythmic stance onstage. The songs, all off her new release, Sugar, were intriguingly dark and moody yet strangely upbeat, from "Black Angel," about Joey Ramone, to "When We Were Godhead," a homage to Rodney, whom she called out in the crowd before the tune. (Anyone who knows the "Mayor of the Sunset Strip" knows "Godhead" is one of his favorite words.)
It was, as Rodney also likes to say, "all happening" last week on the Strip, thanks to BET-week bedlam and more. Some kind of construction was going on, but soirees on the street made traffic tempestuous, even when they were separated by blocks, like Bing.com's bumper with rapper Drake performing at Boa, and Nylon magazine's music mash at Sky Bar, hosted by M.I.A. We were looking forward to the latter (even planning questions to ask Maya about Trufflegate), but the swanky soiree was at capacity by the time we got there, surrounded by fire marshals and a long line of boho-chic-sters furiously punching their cellies for a way to get in. We decided — for once — not to be one of them.