View more photographs in Lina Lecaro's Nightranger slideshow.
We usually curse the cybergods when we find ourselves once again on a random band or DJ e-mail list (BCC: your contacts people!), but that wasn’t the case when we started getting blasts from the producer-DJ Squeaky E. Clean a couple of years ago. It’s been hard not to take notice of Squeak a.k.a. Sam Spiegel’s evolution of work, gigs and, especially musical collabs, and after chatting with him at his annual SUDS carwash party last year, we knew ’09 was gonna be meteoric for him in more ways than one. His labor of love music project under the N.A.S.A. moniker with Brazilian beatsmith DJ Zegon (the band acronym stands for North America/South America) was just about finished then, and the tracks that’ve been leaking on the Web ever since have been undeniable cosmic-funk perfection. Last Tuesday, we orbited into Cinespace for the record-release event, which promised a look at videos and behind-the-scenes footage of the recordings. Though technical glitches plagued the screening, the clips were striking, most notably Shepard Fairey’s imagery for the David Byrne/Chuck D. anti-greed groover “Money” (in which Fairey seems to be exploring the commercialization of his own Obey Giant design). The clip for the MIA/Santogold jammer “Whachadoin” looked very Lipps Inc. Funkytown-esque, though only a snip of that was shown. We hear will.i.am, RZA and Fatlip partied amid the Amercian Apparel’d tipsters and Jipsters (hip kids tipsy and/or Japanese … the cute Tokyo-born, L.A.-based trendsters we met in the smoking patio call themselves this proudly!) but we left before the intergalactic freakiness of Sam’s DJ set, which featured dancers in silver bodysuits, green paint and giant alien costumes. We’re hoping to see all that extraterrestrial action and more (hopefully some of the stellar vocalists off the album) when N.A.S.A. plays Coachella this April. Pick up the record, The Spirit of Apollo on February 17.
An entirely different kind of star wars has been taking place at one of our favorite Tuesday-night boy bashes, and though N.A.S.A. was about to blast off, we were more curious to check out the fallout over at Falcon on Sunset. The promoters of the seminal gay gathering known as Beige have parted ways and closed it down, and, unfortunately, the split hasn’t been exactly harmonious. Rusty Updegraff and Victor Rodriguez threw the L.A.-version of the dance club for eons, first at 360 (that billboard-swathed skyscaper at Vine & Sunset), then at Falcon. But a couple of weeks ago marked their final fete together and under the Beige name. (The original NYC party is still goin’ strong). The conflict between the two fellas turns out to be an age-old dance-floor/club-promoter dilemma: Cater to the crowd with hits or challenge them with more innovative beats? When Beige’s numbers began to drop, this became a point of contention, and Rodriquez refused to give in to the Britney/Beyoncé-beggin’ bunches. At his other, more underground-ish happening, Shits & Giggles, downtown, Rodriguez doesn’t have to, but Updegraff apparently felt their WeHo-adjacent locale called for dipping into the pop-diva pool. So Beige went black, and Updegraff decided to go it solo, at Falcon. When Nightranger popped into the place, now called Rusty’s Supperclub, new DJ Ray Rhodes (Tigerheat) played a mix of fun ’80s cuts (Erasure) and cool chick crooners (Lily Allen, Eartha Kitt(!) with accompanying videos screening on the eatery’s swanky, chill patio. It created an inviting vibe, and though we left before the bewitching hour, when the focus moves from grub to guy-grinding, we saw loads of potential.
Rodriguez’s disco-freak mixes may be all the rage on the Eastside, but despite leaving Falcon, he’s out to prove they can work on the Westside, too. He’ll be teaming with the polysex-bots from A Club Called Rhonda for a new Tuesday at recently spiffed up queen quarters Numbers. Before that, Shits & Giggles’ one-year anniversary party at 740 will surely be the raginest happening in town (gay or straight), when it presents its Legion of Disco 2 shindig, co-hosted by DFA, Black Disco and Critter Control, with Hercules & Love Affair’s Andy Butler and LCD Soundsystem’s Pat Mahoney on the decks, on Friday, February 20. And speaking of Numbers, S&G’s moxie-ful door maven, Phyliss Navidad, has a not-to-miss Valentine spectacular in the works there, as well: Love Today, Come What May, a cabaret dinner party benefiting the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center and InvalidateProp8.org, will feature small-wonder Selene Luna, droll drag-ster Jackie Beat, comic Ian Harvie, plus foxy nightlife figures Jer Ber Jones, Barbie-Q and Tammie Brown. Get tix at www.Lovetodaycomewhatmay.com.
SEEING THE LIGHT
Drag queens are probably the only thing you won’t find haunting and jaunting amidst the opulence of downtown’s Edison bar on Wednesday’s nights. The Lucent Dossier Experience has been enchanting the old power-plant-turned-upscale drinking den for several months now, and its mix of vaudeville skits, Cirque de Soleil feats and interactive performance art is so popular that it recently went from monthly to weekly. This is hands-down the most magical, mystical weekly affair in town. Much has been made of Edison’s strict dress code and snooty security, but on this night, the vibe is inclusive in the warmest, most welcoming and wondrous way. You may not be able to wear sneakers, but patrons do don wings, animal ears, lingerie, postapocalyptic hippie getups, and of course the always-favored fanciful gowns and suits. Feather and white powder–drenched nymphs cavort together and taunt and tease patrons, as fairy girls serve up absinthe in tiny medicine bottles. Aerialists twist and turn above it all, and DJ Imagika spins an intoxicating mix of tribal rhythms and retro-ditties. We definitely saw the same painted faces — and dreadheads — from the Mutaytor event we covered last week. In fact, this colorful, creative community of performers is everywhere lately. Many of the troupe just took part in the multimedia Mystic at the Electric Lodge in Venice last weekend (which we hear was fab), and they’ll be seducing in the streets of downtown at Lucent L’Amour, a Valentine’s Day event also featuring DJs, including Z-Trip and Adam Freeland (see www.lucentlamour.com). And don’t forget that Dossier’s decadent denizens are always a highlight in the Do-Lab at Coachella, and this year they’ll again be adding their frolic to the tented fantasy-world inside the fest.