Remember that guy who didn’t let you in at Club Cherry? The one who made you wait as he picked out all the fashionable people around you at Club Make-up? Maybe back in the day you were lucky enough to know Clint Catalyst, the Midwestern ex–meth head who came to L.A. by way of San Francisco, where he was a goth art-club darling — the most photographed model of the underground. Here in L.A. during the ’90s, he became the most sought-after nightclub “cash-box bitch” and guest-list gatekeeper, wooed by seemingly every hip promoter in the city. But even if he was short on rent money, Catalyst — who had by this time cleaned up his act and gotten off drugs — would turn down promoters if he deemed their spot unworthy. It only made them want him more.
(Photo by Kevin Scanlon)
He’s since softened his look — he cut his jet-black hair and highlights his pale skin with ever-so-slight dark circles around his eyes that make him look like a fetching Tim Burton character. He’s even adjusted his attitude. He knows that life in the dark caves of nightclubs can go by quickly, with days blurring into nights and nights into years. “Then one day you wake up,” says Catalyst, “and you can’t even remember what a résumé is.”
Of course, controlling L.A.’s toughest guest lists has its perks — there’s schmoozing access to all the fashion designers and celebs you could want, not to mention all the stories you can compile from those debaucherous spaces. Catalyst, always fashionable, whether dressing the part as prince of the shadows or pulling off the most avant-garde designer pieces, transformed into a local personality himself — a must-have in the front row at fashion shows all over Los Angeles.
“The most flattering thing a designer has said to me,” Catalyst says with his slight drawl, “is, ‘You have to be front row — not only do you look like someone who would be at a fashion show, you bring a little fashion to the show.’ ”
It was a short leap from the front row to the front page. Catalyst started writing about fashion for the L.A. Weekly, for Shepard Fairy’s Swindle and for Frontiers, the gay-lesbian-bi-transgender mag. He wrote a book called Cottonmouth Kisses, based on his nightclub adventures, which rose to cult status (it’s about to have a second printing). And just as he was about to launch his book tour, he was offered a gig writing for the reality TV show Top Model last year.
“I told the producer that I’d abandon my own book tour for this job,” says Catalyst. Of course, after getting the job, he and the other writers were only given “producer” credits, despite a Writers Guild fight over their titles.
“I’ve put all that behind me now,” Catalyst says with a shrug. “I’ve got a deal in development with NBC right now.”
He won’t spill details, but he’s a producer and a writer on the project. And next month, you can see him in the short film Color Me Olsen, directed by Darren Stein. Not bad for an ex–cash-box bitch.