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Nightranger: Tatted and Torn 

Thursday, Sep 9 2010
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View more photos in Lina Lecaro's slideshow, "Nightranger: Kat Von D's Wonderland, 3 Clubs, AFEX and FYF Fest."

Tabloid culture met tattoo culture in an over-the-top, somewhat curious (and curiouser!) fashion last week at the grand opening of Wonderland Gallery, the new art space from L.A. Ink's Kat Von D

(adjacent to her shop), featuring the mad, macabre paintings of Kevin Llewellyn. Llewellyn's dark and seductive work features a lot of ghoulishly embellished portraiture showcased in ornate vintage frames, and it definitely held its own in the spacious gallery.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY LINA LECARO - Jeffree Star and his Kevin Llewellyn portrait at Wonderland Gallery

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But neither the artist's audacious life-size offerings nor the gorgeous gloom-glam party atmosphere (provided by Bolthouse Productions on the parking lot) nor the heavily inked crowd could compete with the big media moment of the evening, when TV star Kat and her new beau, self-proclaimed "most hated man in America" Jesse James, made their first public appearance as a couple on the red carpet and inside the gallery afterward. Torn on this one, folks. On the one hand, what woman wasn't "Team Sandy" after seeing the daily procession of stripper trash that came forth to rat on James and his cheating ways? Coming out so soon with another public relationship ain't gonna win him — or her — points with anybody, inked or not.

On the other hand, we've always admired Von D's no-bullshit approach with the public about her life. We interviewed her twice during the TLC show's first season and she happened to transition from one rock & roll boyfriend (former Whitestarr drummer Alex "Orbi" Orbison) to another (Nikki Sixx) in the process. She never held back about any of it, haters be damned. Clearly, these two have an FTW attitude right now. Punk rock, we guess.

But enough about the crap you probably saw all over the gossip rags. The party itself went off, literally: The power at High Voltage (!) where the red carpet was, and out, back on the lot actually blew out for the last hour of the bash, not that anyone seemed to care. We hung with Lemmy Kilmister for a good chunk of the eve and got some interesting tidbits about his rockabilly band, the Head Cat (an all-star trio consisting of Kilmister, Slim Jim Phantom and Danny B. Harvey). Fresh off revving up Slash's tribute concert at House of Blues last week, the band will play Jerry Lee Lewis' 75th birthday bash show at the Fox Theater in Pomona on Sat., Sept. 25. Other music heads in Wonderland Thursday: Matt Sorum (what party does this guy miss?), Mars Volta's Cedric Bixler Zavala, Incubus' Brandon Boyd, pink electro-popper Jeffree Star (showing off a giant new VD-drawn Kurt Cobain chest tattoo) and Nikki Sixx. Well, Kat's ex wasn't actually there, but his likeness was all over the walls (apparently, he's one of Llewellyn's favorite subjects). Awkward.

ACE OF CLUBS

The Rainbow must be missing Lemmy, as he seems to be venturing off The Strip to get ripped a lot lately. After the opening, we coincidentally ended up at the same spot, Jumbo's Clown Room, and we hear he's been haunting the 3 Clubs, one of our other pit stops that night. 3 Clubs has sure been a quadruple-triple threat lately, with monthly dance parties like Black Eyed Soul Club and Fuzzy (Mario Diaz and Cody Bayne's bi-bacchanal, happening this Friday, Sept. 10), secret shows (Jenny Lewis and Eddie Spaghetti recently), Wednesday's Marathon Live (from musician Brandon McCulloch and former Brian Jonestown Massacre manager David Derekinski) and a DJ night from Josh Frankfort (KXLU, Dinner House M) every third Friday of the month.

The Crazy Squeeze, the band we caught there last week, were definitely worth squeezing into the night-hopping schedule. Featuring L.A. rock vets from bands including The Stitches, Superbees, Teenage Frames and Richmond Sluts, the quartet chugged out some grimy-good garage and glam-soaked stomps. Sure seemed to please the New York Dollsy–looking young dudes in the crowd that night, especially when Joey Pinter, from legendary NYC gutter-punx The Waldos, joined for the ferocious finale. Look for TCS's debut out this winter.

RAPPER'S DELIGHT

If you're out on Thursday night and you prefer rap over rock, Adam 12's AFEX — which moved to The Stone Bar a few months ago — is your must hit. The place was poppin' when we popped in last week. Sean Patrick's traveling-club concept Temporary Spaces, where the party started, also was at The Stone for a sec after leaving Club Gabah, and even though it spaced out, AFEX remains, packing in crowds and 12's mixmaster pals, not to mention the occasional superstar: None other than Stevie Wonder was in the house a couple weeks back! By the way, 12 continues to prove he's L.A.'s most versatile DJ, spinning at Swimming With Sharks at The Standard (with his She Wants Revenge bandmate Justin Warfield), Cinespace's hip-hop night with Kool Moe Dee, Mr. Black and goth Labor Day groover Underworld at Boardner's all in one week.

FRY YOUR FACE

Keeping up with goings-on last week did indeed make it a Labor Day weekend, even without the indie-music monster that was FYFest, which saw record turnout in record heat on Saturday. In retrospect, most of us did it all wrong: We shudda stayed home during the day and enjoyed the swarms of pre- and postshows and soirees that took over the city after sundown instead. The after parties ended up being just $5 to get in — FYF's way of saying sorry for the FYFuckups at the fest. Crazy-ass long lines for everything were the main complaint; the line to get water, which couldn't be brought in, was literally several blocks long. We felt the "all-ages" event wasn't as kid-friendly as it could have been, either (wonder how Dead Man's Bones little skellies faired). Still, we give it up to the bands. Kinda wanted to hate on all the beard boys and mismatched chick cliques, but we liked pretty much everyone (Warpaint, Thee Oh Sees, AA Bondy) we saw. The crazy clothing combos (lace tights with jogging shorts, feathers with Day-Glo Ray-Bans, grunge-era floral baby dolls and gladiators) were another story.

Reach the writer at llecaro@laweekly.com

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