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Nightranger: Stars, Cars & Guitars 

Thursday, Aug 19 2010
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A drive down the Sunset Strip always promises a few things: flashy billboards, rockin' getups, beckoning marquees and maddeningly slow-moving cars.

Now there's something fun to look at next time you're inching along in S.S. cruiserville: Gibson's public art project, called GuitarTown, which features 26 10-foot-tall Les Paul guitar sculptures dotting the famous boulevard, each celebrating a rock god or music moment from the Strip's colorful history. The Doors, Mötley Crüe, The Roxy's Lou Adler, Slash, Cheech & Chong and The Runaways are just some of the bands and personalities feted by these unique axes, each one by a local artist. Some pieces evoke a period of time or a music movement associated with The Strip, such as that of Shamrock Tattoo's Mark Mahoney (on hand for the event), whose design depicted local 1930s and '40s nightclub culture.

The evening's block party festivities featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony, a vintage-car procession and a photo exhibit at The Comedy Store, with images of its stellar comic alumni (Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Robin Williams and many more) and the space's famous regulars when it was Ciro's nightclub (Dean Martin, Jayne Mansfield). It's a must-see for entertainment and L.A. history buffs.

The centerpiece gathering at the Rainbow brought out Rodney Bingenheimer (aka the Mayor of the Sunset Strip), Brian Wilson (whose likeness graces a sculpture), Cherie Currie, Matt Sorum, Slim Jim Phantom and Vicky Hamilton (original manager for all the bands that blasted from the Rainbow's patio during the party: Guns N' Roses, Poison and Faster Pussycat).

WAITING FOR THE NIGHT
click to enlarge PHOTO BY LINA LECARO - Rodney Bingenheimer, Lou Adler, Mark Mahoney, Slim Jim Phantom and Nic Adler at the Gibson GuitarTown unveiling
  • PHOTO BY LINA LECARO
  • Rodney Bingenheimer, Lou Adler, Mark Mahoney, Slim Jim Phantom and Nic Adler at the Gibson GuitarTown unveiling

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Currie, fresh off her opening slot for former Runaways bandmate Joan Jett at the Orange County Fair, gave us some great info on her new music plans. As was unveiled at the O.C. gig, she has a brand-new band that includes Sorum on the skins and her son Jake Hays, a musician and tattoo artist, on guitar. She says the band is working on new music. As for a possible Runaways reunion — well, partial reunion; as in Joan, Cherie and Lita together onstage — Joan's longtime manager, Kenny Laguna, who also was at the event, says it's still "being discussed." We'll take a title from the band's Live in Japan LP to say our piece: "C'mon," already, ladies! Especially after the biopic, people want it!

Gibson GuitarTown's debut follows a seven-month beautification project that made traffic there worse for all of us but now, thankfully, is complete. It will be up for display for six months, after which the works will be available for purchase at a gala auction, with proceeds going to charity. Check it out Aug. 26-28, when the Sunset Strip Music Festival takes over the boulevard, with performances by the Smashing Pumpkins, Slash, Common and more.

WE RUN L.A.

The Strip-adjacent London Hotel is sure to see a swarm of activity during SSMF. We finally got to see the Anglo-luxe redo of the former Bel Age last week, when Nylon magazine celebrated its new denim issue with hostess Drew Barrymore, Express Jeans (freebies!) and DJ sounds by NYC's The MisShapes.

MisShapes' electro set was kind of amiss, but the party vibe was a definite hit. The London's roof is gorgeous. We never saw Drew, who must've done her required red-carpet time and scrammed (or hid amidst the dark poolside environs of the rooftop shindig), but we did see plenty of fashionable femmes, and it was one of those rare nights when everyone we bugged for a photo obliged happily, and those we bumped into at the bar were cool even before they got blitzed.

Stylish pop singer Kimberly Cole was particularly amiable, though you might not expect it from her new single, "Smack You," about, well, "smacking bitches" (no relation to the Prodigy tune). The song can be heard on the new season of Oxygen's The Bad Girls Club, and Cole tells us none other than Natalie Nunn, one of the most memorable bad girls from the shamefully entertaining series, co-stars in the soon-to-be-released video.

Nunn — whom we actually wanted to meet but missed in order to hit our next engagement — became famous on the show for her clueless catchphrase "I run L.A." We hear she's working on a new TV project under the title We Run L.A.

No, girlfriend: We run L.A. Ha!

MY, MY, MY ...

Next stop, My Studio on Hollywood Boulevard, where the biggest (bitchiest?) bad girl of all was throwing a launch event for her new perfume, Tease. Yes, we're talking about Paris Hilton. She actually looked hot, donning Marilyn Monroe drag: tight white dress, diamonds and pouffy retro 'do (no extensions). Say what you will about the wannabe actress-singer–Barbie doll (we sure have), the girl does throw a good bash. This one had free bubbly and a potato bar boasting three kinds of spuds and a dozen decadent toppings (cheeses, butters, etc.), stuffed inside a cocktail glass. (S)mashing!

My Studio, by the way, is the newest venue from Syndicate Hospitality Group's Tony Daly and David Judaken, the club powers behind My House and Opera/Crimson. Opera, Daly tells us, is now in remodel phase, while Crimson remains open until the completion. Another "My" concept for the yet-to-be-renamed venue is a strong possibility, as the group obviously has seen much success with the idea.

Like My House (which looks like a sleek bachelor pad), My Studio has a superswanky yet homey, lived-in feel. It's meant to look like a multipurpose studio (one wall suggests photography, another music and another art), and it's way plush, outdoing even Judaken's previous club, Mood, décorwise. Tuesdays are currently the "it" night, with celeb-magnet host Josh Richman. For a velvet-roped hot spot, the DJing was pretty diverse, too, embellishing the expected club-banger set with everything from the Tings-Tings and Phoenix to Britney and Madonna. Definitely My kinda dance-club mix.

Reach the writer at llecaro@laweekly.com

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