View more photos in Lina Lecaro's "Nightranger: From Beauties to Booties" slideshow.
We love the nightlife, but there are eves when even we dread driving into Hollywood, particularly overcrowded Cahuenga Boulevard, which, let's face it, has seen an increased douche factor due to a lot of the newer clubs there. Thankfully, Cahuenga's ever-changing complexion still has one very sexy beauty mark: the Beauty Bar. Long before the slew of slick eateries and glossy, velvet-roped grottoes clustered there, the street seemed to get more action at its famed magazine stand than inside any club. The Burgundy Room and the Spotlight were already on Cahuenga, but it wasn't until Beauty Bar brought its kitschy cool to the block that it started to shine in a new way, even garnering a snazzy "corridor" distinction. Of course, Beauty was not a new concept. There were already BBs in New York (est. 1995) and San Francisco (est. 1998), but Hollywood, with its ghosts of glamour girls past, might have been its best fit yet. A decade later, the place known for martinis 'n' manicures and hair-dryer seating still rocks.
Last Thursday, the bar marked its 10th anniversary with a bouncing bash featuring a host of fave DJs: former manager Dave Knapp, SoftTouch aka DJ Clifton, Franki Chan and BB partner Johnny Nixon, who spun the first song he ever played there: Elton John's "Bennie & the Jets." The crowd had electric boots all right. It was a night for reminiscing, as well as raging. Owner Paul Devitt was in from New York for the occasion, and we had a blast recalling all the great parties and luminaries who helmed the decks at the place: Chan and Steve Aoki definitely honed their chops as deejays at Beauty along with Har Mar Superstar (at their "Fuckin Awesome" night), while rock star guests (the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Interpol, the Raveonettes, Peaches, Marky Ramone and Diplo) all threw down inside the tiny, elevated booth. Hell, even yours truly did deck duty there a couple times. Devitt's wildest memory? When Maxim magazine hosted its first "Hot 100" party with DJ AM spinning in the semisecret, dungeonlike downstairs lounge about eight years ago. "The fire marshal showed up so I threw everyone out the back door into the alley, including David Spade, Cuba Gooding Jr., Estella Warren," Devitt recalls. "They still had their drinks in their hands," and the party continued outside. Speaking of drinks, Devitt had us sample his new endeavor, a namesake vodka, and let's just say it lives up to its moniker; the more you drink the more beautiful everyone around you seems. Next up for the Beauty brand — which also has bars in Vegas, San Diego, Austin and Brooklyn — a new Beauty in Chicago (with the guys from the Empty Bottle) and two more (via a licensing deal to different owners) in Portland and Denver.
Cahuenga was traffic-free (except for big weenies at Big Wangs) on Super Bowl Sunday, always a great day to get out of the house. The streets are dead, even in Hollywood. Opting for a film at Disney's El Capitan Theatre, we were treated to the preview of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland on the big screen, and we're just mad to see it. It's not the only fantastical imagery that's been feeding our head since last week. Opening night at Royal/T gallery's new exhibit, "The Never Ending Story: Fairytale, Fantasy, Obsession," saw guests dressed in their Alice-y best (not that the girlies who frequent the place ever need an excuse for whimsical, doll-like attire) frolicking around art from the personal collection of Susan Hancock, while drinking absinthe and shopping in Jared Gold's pop-up, which featured clothing, housewares from his Black Chandelier collection and delightful little terrariums from our chum Jenny Phillips (Sirens & Sailors). Sadly, a rift with his partners means Gold is no longer doing the B.C. line, but now that he's transplanted to L.A. from Utah, our city's own wonderlandlike amusements — not to mention its queens, kings and mad hatter freaks — will surely inspire him anew. Check out the art show and Gold's gear at the T through August.
Alice may be cute, but when it comes fantasy vixens, she's got nothing on Barbarella. Unfortunately, the bar named after this science-fiction fox, Barbarella Bar in Silver Lake, lacks the groovy, intergalactic vibe we were hoping for. Still, it does boast tasty nibbles, creative cocktails and, on Saturday nights, a great DJ, Casper VonDJ. Perhaps best known for his door duty at the Viper Room, our pal Casper is also a musician and very busy decksmith these days ("Rock Mondays" at Les Deux, Sundays at The Woods). His Electro Barbarella is outta sight, but the dinner crowd leaves something to be desired. Not a lotta locals here. Still, with the awesome soundtrack, the place will probably turn less hair gel–friendly and more hipster–friendly soon enough. Check it out while you can still get in — no line, no cover.
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After Barb, it was off to Bootie L.A. at the Echoplex, where a very, very long line awaited. It was, in fact, the busiest Bootie ever. The mash-up phenom was seen as novelty when it first took off, but with the success of this genre-blending shindig (which has offshoots literally all the around the world) it looks like the manic mix-style has finally come into its own, at least in the clubs. It definitely takes skill to fill a dance floor with a meld of acts as varied as Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus, as Bootie did Saturday. Yo Majesty's Shunda K, wild art dance troupe RAID and guest DJ duo Slash Fiction added to the (s)mashing good times Saturday, and co-promoter DJ Paul V tells us Bootie is doing so well, it's going twice a month, starting in May. But before that, V will debut Rocks Off at the Plex in April, sort of an offshoot of his recently departed Dragstrip 66, providing a night for gays to dance to "something other than disco-electro." Not that disco and electro aren't alive and well. In fact, Slash Fiction just released an awesome mix under their resident club Full Frontal's moniker (disclosure: we're not just sayin' so because we did the liner notes). Check it out at myspace.com/fullfrontaldisco.