Girls with homeless-hag hair and pricey designer bags, boys in fugly (desperate for irony) T-shirts, and cartoon-characterish cliques grooving geekily (yet self-consciously) to tunes spun by Shepard Fairey (M.I.A., the Go-Go's and the Beastie Boys): Last Tuesday night's grand opening of The Cobrashop in Hollywood had the expected weirdos, wares and wild party atmosphere, an oddball mixture that all makes sense in the context of shutterbug extraordinaire Mark the Cobrasnake's camp consciousness. There were old people (Grandpa Snake, Grandma Snake, Papa and Mama Snake) and young people (tykes and tweens); a wall of clunker TV sets showing The Spice Girls Movie, Hedwig, Beavis & Butthead and The Barbie Workout simultaneously; a merch mélange of old toys and tchotchkes next to stickers and coveted Obey prints, and Salvation Army reject threads hanging next to pop-art, high-fashion Jeremy Scott.
Yeah, it'd be easy to cast a jaded eye at the wacky disparity of stuff, the mesh of awkward chic and hipster attitude, or even the scenester photog's insane success (rent for a space in the Hollywood & Highland complex, where the new store is located, has got to be in the tens of thousands), but we won't.
It wasn't luck that made Mark Hunter a world-renowned arbiter of hipness. It was vision and balls.
Mark's talent for capturing the L.A. club and party scene on film (or memory card) and displaying it for all via the Web was more than just the right idea at the right time. His popularity was also about the guy's own nerdy-cool persona, the company he kept (Steve Aoki, Cory Kennedy, et al.) and, let's face it, the jailbait allure of many of his female subjects.
Can he parlay his notoriety and place in the L.A. zeitgeist into something more? Jet-setting around the world to shoot parties is one thing, but The Cobrashop may be the ultimate test. After the gregarious grand opening, which saw the aforementioned hip-to-be-squaresters pack in with the likes of Peaches Geldof and BF Eli Roth, rap-punk Beardo (spewing off a Mickey Avalon/Shwayze-hazy style flow but with a decidedly more hard core and heartfelt rhythmic fury we rather enjoyed) and celebrated NYC photog/blogger Todd Selby signing his new book, The Selby Is in Your Place (with special Cobrasnake-at-home insert) we're gonna say yes.
The Cobra fashions are atrocious (though waif types somehow make 'em work) and there was nothing we wanted to buy amidst the garage salelike selection of stuff, but that didn't matter. Walking in, it's hard not to buy the vibe. The art-minded scene and colorful individuals who will haunt the place (more parties are planned) will bring us back to The Cobrashop, as it will surely be making the H&H mall a new kind of Hollywood hub this Summer. It sure ain't no Hot Topic.
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TOO FAST FOR LOVE
Our social calendar has been packed with book signings and their after-bashes recently, some wilder than any club night. Two books in particular are rockin' our reading radar, and not just because both have the word slut in their titles. It was the same eve as the Cobrasnake hullabaloo, so we missed Sharon Oreck's post–Book Soup soiree at the Sunset Marquis for Video Slut, a behind-the-scenes look at the music biz in the '80s and the video revolution, but it's on the page-flipper list simply for the subtitle alone: How I Shoved Madonna Off an Olympic High Dive, Got Prince Into a Pair of Tiny Purple Woolen Underpants, [and] Ran Away From Michael Jackson's Dad, [. . .] So I Could Bring Rock Videos to the Masses.
We did party on the Sunset Strip with Roxana Shirazi, the author of The Last Living Slut — Born in Iran, Bred Backstage after her Soup signing earlier in the week. This Slut lives up to its name, a raunchy ride drawing comparisons to the depraved antics in Motley Crue's The Dirt. No surprise: Writer Neil Strauss (who co-wrote that one and both Marilyn Manson and Dave Navarro's bios) discovered Shirazi, and in between being schmoozed by movie execs and hit on by dumb, hot chicks (he also did the pick-up artist guide, The Game) at The Rainbow, he told us his new HarperCollins imprint, Igniter Literary Group, came about, in part because of the lascivious memoir: Nobody would put it out, so he did.
Graphic sexual escapades with rock stars and tales of oppression in Islamic lands make for a controversial combo, to say the least. Enjoying the party in a bosom-baring corset, Shirazi came off as sexy and smart as her memoir suggests. Smarter, actually — she does some pretty sleazy stuff in the book, which is like a kinkier, more contemporary I'm With the Band. Strauss' next releases include a Bozo the Clown bio, a mobster memoir and an animal rescuer adventure, all true stories.
HAVE A DRINK ON ME
The Rainbow's bar, by the way, is in our new book Los Angeles' Best Dive Bars — Drinking & Diving in the City of Angels (sorry, no "slut" in the title). We had our own book event last Thursday night, and though it competed with Artwalk and the NBA Finals, the turnout was awesome. Too many bold names to list but special thanks to Sino Tequila, the Franken-Stand, Shooting Star karaoke and La Luz de Jesus. No better way to cap off the eve than at a bar from the book: The Short Stop, where fellow music scribe Dan Epstein deejayed the after-party for his own retro tome, Big Hair and Plastic Grass — A Funky Ride Through Baseball & America in the Swingin '70s (he read and signed it at Stories up the street the same night) with Jennifer Tefft. Since leaving her gig as head booker at Spaceland six months ago, Tefft has sure kept busy on the decks (Thursdays' Hot Wheels and Super Soul Sundays, both at the 'Stop) and she's still booking too. She's joined forces with Scott Sterling at The Bootleg Theatre and, for occasional shows, at Silver Lake Lounge (also in our dive guide). Yes, like The Rainbow and The Short Stop, we expect these inclusions to be disputed by self-hating, hipster-crit bar-hoppers. Why did they (and others) make the cut? Buy the book and let's debate, drunkards!