Nightranger: The Rest Is Still Unwritten
View more photos in Lina Lecaro's "Perez Hilton's Birthday Bash, Bootie Shakin' at Full Frontal and Other Upscale Hot Spots" slideshow.
Looks like The Hills will no longer be alive with the sounds of pseudoreality. The MTV show that reduced L.A. to a vapid wasteland of velvet ropes, designer-clad dopes and "pay-to-be-a-player" bottle-service tables is calling it quits after this season. We watched it (for research!) but we're glad the end is near, if only because it glorified one part of L.A. nightlife while virtually ignoring other creative, multicultural scenes.
Still, we've got nothing against upscale hot spots. Like Las Vegas, these are a necessary part of our after-dark landscape.
This week, we report on a spanking new trifecta of swank-pits (which one will we see first on the last season of The Hills, we wonder?), plus a climactic L.A. Fashion Week hap and the ultimate self-aggrandizing (but undeniably spectacular) soiree so far this year: Perez Hilton's birthday bash.
TOP OF THE WORLD
Drai's above the W Hotel seemed to have dozens of "soft" (aka friends and VIPs only) openings the past few weeks, but even these were "hard" to get into. We expected douchey dudes and lycra-wrapped lovelies at the door at the first open-to-the-public event, but not so many that they spilled into the Metro station — at least they had a quick way to get home after being rejected.
Those who made it in were treated to an unmatched extrasensory experience, $15 million worth, we hear (spent by owners Victor Drai and partners Cy & Jesse Waits). Go-go gals writhing on gilded stripper-pole lamps, plush and roomy booths, opulent textures, mirrors and lighting everywhere, a pool area with cabana furniture to rival any ritzy living room and loud hip-hop remixes courtesy of DJ Eye (aka Jamie Iovine, megaproducer Jimmy's son).
The kicker is the view, which — if you peek between the curtains that surround the place or go out on the main balcony — is incredible and almost vertigo-inducing (at least after a $15 cocktail. Pricey? Yes, but the glasses are tall). There will be haters and bitchy Yelp posts from those who can't get in, but nobody can refute the gorgeous sights at Drai's — and we mean that in more ways than one.
Equally tough door-wise, but markedly more intimate, Trousdale (the new grotto from Brent Bolthouse and Guy Starckman ) also did the soft-serve thing the past few weeks, hosting primarily private parties. Adam Levine and Victoria's Secret had shindigs there recently and, though Lindsay Lohan was apparently mistreated by the door folk on those nights (they actually made her wait in line for a few minutes — the nerve!), we found the staff extremely professional and even friendly. That's always the case, though, when Bolthouse's partner Jennifer Rosero is at the helm outside, as she was when we went a couple Tuesdays ago.
The room is subtly chic, moodily lit and surprisingly chill, at least before midnight. Even at the witching hour, the club had a house-party feel (okay, "A list" house party) and the DJ was awesome, spinning an eclectic mix of pop hits, electro and '80s faves. Though we did spot Nicky Hilton and slimy Brandon Davis (sitting right in the center of the room, under a light, in case you didn't notice him ... ick) the club felt surprisingly unpretentious. Bolthouse milled about in his jeans and Converse sneakers, making sure everything was running smoothly; people weren't pushy even when it got packed and our huge glass of wine was only $7. Score.
Sam Nazarian hasn't slowed down since he and Bolthouse split last year. The SBE titan has two venues on the rager radar right now: the still unnamed spot on Cahuenga in the space that was Halo/White Lotus/Ritual and his latest, in the space that was Area, now called Industry. SBE actually had a contest in which the public could choose the name of the former but with the way they turn around clubs these days, it might be a good idea to keep it unnamed.
After all, the club empire seems to be thinking outside of the box with its latest endeavors: Industry, for example has a unique — and delish — "burger bar" set-up and there are plans to do a late-night burger stand outside on its parking lot at closing. The club itself has all the SBExcess you'd expect: sleek, Miami-ish white walls, cushy, ample seating for those with bottle bucks, foxy waitresses and DJs who spin upbeat hip-hop and house melds. Thursday, when we attended, was nuts, with DJ Cobra spinning and promoters including Frankie Delgado (who runs with The Hills kids) hosting. Yep, this one's our bet for first club you'll see in the show.
Saw Bolthouse again, with Kelly Cutrone when they manned the decks at Alternative Apparel 's carnival-themed fashion show last week. Both Hills alums are obviously doing well. Cutrone scored her own show ( Kell on Earth ) and wrote a book ( If You Have to Cry, Go Outside ), but who knew she was a badass DJ, too? The first cut she played: Keith Richards' "Take It So Hard" off Talk Is Cheap. Soo fitting.
The runway spectacle was pretty cool too. Alternative tees have definitely transcended the styles of that other "Apparel" company. With the Walkmen turning in a melodic, low-key live set near the end of the eve, this was hands-down our fave L.A. Fashion Week event. We also attended Concept FW down the street earlier and though we liked the creative, DIY spirit (especially the installations), that one needs a few more seasons to work out the kinks.
More carny fun was had at Perez Hilton's Carn-Evil birthday party at Paramount Studios Saturday night. This year was especially epic, particularly if you were a gay man (or a gay man trapped in a girl's body, like Nightranger). There were tons of hot-bodied boys in their skivvies, Chi Chi LaRue and RuPaul shaking all night on the dance floor, and a show-stopping set by Liza Minnelli (singing "Cabaret" and "New York, New York"). Leona Lewis and Eve rocked the stage as well, while Katy Perry sang "Happy Birthday" while atop a live elephant.
The guy may have a lot of naysayers (especially the celebs he bags on in his blog) but, astoundingly, they still come out for him every year, whether it be at South By Southwest or his annual b-day bash. Even his frequent target "Loopy" Lohan was there, and after a dress change (?) mid-party, we hear she ended up accosting the turntables. It was a wild bash, but after Liza, we opted to end the night with more Le Chic-y freaks (and real DJs) at another milestone mash: Full Frontal Disco's anniversary. See pics from both parties on laweekly.com.
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