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Feel His Heat

Photo by Kevin Scanlon

Photo by Kevin Scanlon

His name may be forever attached to famous first names like Paris and Lindsay because of his insanely successful nightlife promotions, but be careful about calling out Brent Bolthouse’s rock cred, ’cause he’s probably got a lot more than you do. And, man, can this guy hold a grudge. When the club impresario first started his Monday-night radio show Feel My Heat on Indie 103.1-FM more than a year ago, he took a verbal beating from a particularly pissed-off caller.

“He was hating on us because we played Weezer,” he remembers. “He said it was bull crap and not ‘indie’ and we should be playing punk rock.”

Bolthouse proceeded to give the dude a li’l lesson in La-La Land punk. “How many shows did you see at Fenders Ballroom?” he asked. “Were you at the Olympic to see GBH? I was there. I was at Dead Kennedys at the Palladium. I grew up in L.A. and around Southern California, and followed the punk scene since back in 1985.”

The caller, who was from Silver Lake, promptly hung up, but his legacy lives on in Bolthouse and (his decidedly snarkier co-host) actor Danny Masterson’s end-of-show “song for Silver Lake” bit, which is usually some guilty-pleasure tune from the ’80s, like “Sister Christian.” The night I visited him in the studio, it was “Eye of the Tiger.”

And when your name gets thrown around as much as Bolthouse’s does (celebs — and paparazzi — have always flocked to his nights), you’re gonna get some smack talked aboutcha, especially from hipster snobs and, of course, competitors. Now that he’s joined forces with business mogul Sam Nazarian, that’s sure to continue. Suprisingly, though, Bolthouse comes off as easygoing, even spiritual (he thanks God for his blessings a few times during our interview). Not at all what you’d expect from the nightlife czar.

Originally from the Joshua Tree area, the 36-year-old Bolthouse came to L.A. as a teen with a drug problem. He got clean, formed some tight friendships, and did everything from pump gas to cut hair to make ends meet. Well-connected pals — promoter Tef Foo and designers Henry Duarte and William B. — encouraged him into the party-throwing biz, and his first two ventures, funky weekly fetes Opus Lily and Papa Willy, held in then-unknown restaurants and dives, were quick hits thanks mainly to Bolthouse’s relentless fliering around town and, he admits, a lot of luck.

Seventeen years later, with dozens and dozens of “It” nights under his belt (our faves were Saturday Night Fever and Mondays at Gaslight, back in the early ’90s, and, more recently, Spider Club Fridays and Chi Mondays), it ain’t luck that’s made him a success. With the help of his partner, Jennifer Rosero — with whom he ran a popular night at the Roxbury (now Miyagi’s) many years ago — the company has blossomed into a full-blown events business that throws parties for multimillion-dollar corporations.

The pair have teamed with SBE, Nazarian’s company, which now owns half of Bolthouse Productions. Bolthouse will open a handful of Philippe Starck–designed bars and restaurants within five years, the next of which, Hyde, on Sunset Boulevard, should be ready in a few weeks. (His current club promotions include Wednesdays at Lax and Saturdays at Privilege.)

But will his underground roots, not to mention his gift for creating magical environs, often out of nothing, get lost amid the big money and mainstream thrust of his new partnership? Has the gloss of Tinseltown tabloidism already started to buff away at Bolthouse’s cred? Does he care? “Hard times can make great art, but now we can actually create the dream that’s been in our minds and bring some amazing new stuff to L.A.,” he says excitedly. “You just have to stay in touch and not lose sight of where you came from. I try to do that on a daily basis. Remember what the past taught me and look forward to the future.”

—Lina Lecaro