By Erica Wrightson
Violet Valentine seduces the crowd at the Derby. Photo by Jackie Canchola. Click image for entire slideshow.
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Backstage at the Derby in Los Feliz on Saturday November 15, a miniature classic car show materialized in the parking lot. Members of the Venice-based Devils Car Club parked their Cadillacs and Chevys out back, showing off their shiny fenders and sparkling hoods, serving drinks in blue party cups out of their open trunks. The Devils' president, Jose De Leon, stood proudly behind his '55 Ford Custom with Mercury taillights and a bright green hood that glittered under the smoky glow of the moon. Next to him was Reb Kennedy of Wild Records, dressed impeccably in a suit and hat and leaning against his '58 powder pink Cadillac Coupe de Ville with a mint green roof.
While vintage tunes spun in the background, classic bodies glistened under the dim red lights of the Derby's cozy bar, and women in stilettos and coal black bobs tucked themselves into leather booths lined with heavy velvet curtains. The Whistle Bait Mods and Rockers event, presented by Pinup Girl Clothing, was a fusion of 1950s style and 1960s rock and soul from DJs Alberto Sol, Johnny Devil and DJ Hellhound, including a special set from Sol called East L.A. Review, highlighting music from 1960s East L.A. on 45s. "Everybody's groovin’ tonight," said Alexander the Great, Alberto Sol's DJ partner, remarking on the unique combination of live rockabilly music and bodacious bods.
Rock bands and burlesque dancers shared the stage at the classic nightclub, where a diverse local crowd sipped whiskey and whistled enthusiastically as Violet Valentine peeled off her black gloves with the tips of her teeth. In between sets from the ska-driven Bohunks and Wild Records’ rockabilly-inspired Rhythm Shakers, Viva Los Angeles outfitted the stage with their gorgeous girls who performed classic burlesque for the squealing crowd. Although Violet Valentine was a hit in her leopard print leotard, lounging on a pink satin bean bag speckled with rhinestones, it was clear that most have come for La Cholita, a voluptuous blonde who got down to her corset, tassled pasties shaking wildly for an adoring group of girls in the front row.
“We went to high school with her,” they explained through their wide, red lipsticked grins. La Cholita went through three costume changes in her five minute routine. As she stripped down behind a standing screen, her curvy silhouette coaxed moans from a hypnotized audience. Next month, fetish model Masuimi Max will take the stage for Viva Los Angeles’ next installment in the Derby’s irresistible dancer series, dedicated to classic beauty and old-school tracks.