Our cover story this week "Bud Bundy, Original Gangsta" focuses on David Faustino and his Balistyx party, which ran for two years in the early '90s and helped bring hip-hop to the west coast mainstream. Faustino's memory was cloudy on some details, so we turned to Nic Adler, the scion of impresario Lou Adler, whose Sunset Blvd. spots Whisky A Go Go, Rainbow Bar And Grill, and The Roxy helped define nightlife on the Strip for generations.
Nowadays Nic owns and runs The Roxy, and has helped turn it around in recent years by booking cutting-edge acts. (Not too long ago Kreayshawn performed for the first time in L.A. there.) In many ways, Balistyx kicked off Nic's career. While Faustino's star power helped draw the celebrities, Nic's behind-the-scenes work kept the event fresh. Below, he talks about highlights of the party and the genesis of Grandmaster B.
On not getting along with his teacher, actor Owen Wilson:
Owen Wilson was my high school, junior year English teacher. This was in Colorado, in a town called Carbondale. Me and him did not get along the whole entire year. Arguably I was like the worst student ever and he was this scholar, fresh out of college. So anyways, he failed me.
On first getting into hip-hop:
Before I met Dave [Faustino] and Dan [Eisenstein], I saw Grandmaster Flash at Magic Mountain and that definitely was a moment for me. That put the hip-hop bug in me.
On starting Balistyx:
That spring of '91, we had a conversation where it was like 'Let's throw a party.' Dan said, 'Let's do it at my house', but I was like 'No, I've got the Whisky, let's do it at there.' And were like 'Awesome.' And then Dave was like, 'We could get DJ Speed from NWA to DJ,' and we were like, 'Awesome.' It was one of those things where you felt like anything was possible.
On the club's first night:
There was literally a line from the Whisky all the way up to the Roxy filled with kids. Definitely a top three or four highlight of my life. You had no idea who was going to [be there]. My dad worked the door, my sister was in the booking office.
On the freestyle battles between will.i.am and Xzibit:
The battle would happen every night. And it would be all kinds of people but it would always end up Xzibit and will. One night Xzibit would win it and the next night will would win it. And then will just became so good he would just wait until everyone else was done and it was like he wasn't even part of the competition anymore.
On his crew and the development of Grandmaster B:
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There were no hard drugs, it was just all about the music. It's funny, there's no reason that music should have connected with us, but I knew every word of every rap song. Every NWA song.
With my style -- khakis, flannel, baseball hat -- I was a gangsta. It was encouraged; the more we became this crew, the more people liked it and wanted our crew to become its own thing. Dave looked like he was in N.W.A. but white and short. Grandmaster B was developed out of this whole Balistyx time. The writers were looking at Dave and asking what was going on in his life.
On Nic's professional life since Balistyx:
I've had all kinds of success but never such a pure moment as those two summers [that Balistyx ran]. We were kind of like leaders in hip-hop, so we felt like we were leading the music scene.