In a Flash

Photo by Lina Lecaro

(Click to enlarge)

The Woolly Bandits' Christa DeErynn Collins goes Mondo Hollywood at the
Knitting Factory.

Photo by Lina Lecaro

(Click to enlarge)

Disco duo James Murphy and Pat Mahoney at Tropicana Bar

TMZ’s proclivity for name-checking Hollywood drinking dens always makes us wonder: What do those outside the “30-mile zone” really know about Crown Bar or Villa or Coco de Ville other than what celebutards wore or said while sauntering inside under a shower of lights? Why include the names of the clubs where the famous flock in such a presumptuousway (“So-and-so was outside of blah-blah”)? Are the tabs name-droppin’ as part of some kind of agreement (it is free advertising, after all), or are they just helping to perpetuate the Hollywood nightlife mystique that programs like The Hills and Entourage (who surely pay the clubs for filming inside) helped to create? Either way, for those of you who don’t know and have wondered: Coco is a modish li’l room adjacent to STK restaurant on La Cienega (generally pretty hard to get into unless you’ve dined there); Villa is a manorlike pap pit (superduper tough door, though we hear it’s loosening a bit with the new electronic night Logic, featuring DJ Rap and Terence Toy on Sundays); and Crown Bar used to be Tempest on Santa Monica Boulevard (fairly easy to get into except for Wednesdays, when The Alliance mans the door).

Having a Ball

Nightranger had the chance to slink behind the velvet ropes of two of the above last week, and from their décors to their door whores, we actually came away surprised. Of course, one visit — to Coco de Ville — was for a media-friendly event: EA Sports’ Madden NFL ’09 Launch Party on Thursday, which brought out Hugh Hefner, Hefner main squeeze Holly Madison, Kevin Federline, Verne Troyer, Nicole Scherzinger, Tila Tequila (gaydar read: of course, hot) and JC Chasez (gaydar read: surprisingly not!), all of whom were pretty cool about having their pics taken inside the party, which is surely not the case there most nights. We were more focused on finally checking out de Ville’s colorful ’60s-era Pucci-esque design. The swings and seats were pretty groovy, but it was a bit of a letdown atmosphere-wise. The place is dark and the dance floor was empty, as VIPs seemed more interested in playing John Madden on the monitors set up around the restaurant. Score once again for the video game, which is popular not only with sports buffs but music heads as well, thanks to its rockin’ soundtrack.

A Royal Gain

No star sightings on our recent Crown Bar visit, but the floor was on fire thanks to DJ Michelle Pesce and a jovial jock-meets-Hollywood-hottie crowd, all of whom were sloshed by midnight. Though it’s better known for the shutterbug hustle it attracts outside on hump night, we’re happy to report weekends here are fun and ’tude/TMZ free. Even the door guy and bartenders were nice. The real shocker at this one? The place is completely unrecognizable from its former incarnation, with no traces whatsoever of old fave Tempest — ex-home of Club Underground (now at The Echo) and the short-lived version of Rodney’s English Disco (thrown by Mr. Bingenheimer himself and promoter Jason Lavitt back in the ’90s). Nightranger had some wild times at the old space (including a birthday bash we can barely remember), and though we miss its low-key charm, the remodel (by the same bloke who redid The Abbey for SBE) manages to be tasteful without being stuffy: chandeliers, dark-wood accents, relaxing couches (yes, they were for bottle service, but that can’t be avoided on a Friday night). Despite WeHo’s unstable history with straights (most recently evident at Club Seven, which just changed hands), we predict Tempest’s positive karma coupled with Crown’s comfy vibe will help this one reign for a good while.

Burn, Baby, Burn

Got nothin’ but disdain for the swanky yank of Hollywood hot spots? (Then you probably haven’t read this far.) But if ya have, and you happen to be a fan of obscure disco beats and edgy electro melds, you probably attended — or attempted to, anyway — one of James Murphy and Pat Mahoney’s gigs this past weekend. We hear the DFA Records/LCD Soundsystem dudes’ appearance at Saturday’s Black Disco/Donuts Party in a downtown warehouse was complete madness, including hourlong waits just to have your name checked off the guest list! Once all the way inside, patient peeps got a packed and pulsating sweatbox filled with slime-humpers moving to M&M’s “Special Disco Version” DJ set. It was only worth it depending on who ya talked to. We opted to check out the duo at the Roosevelt Hotel the next day, which, according to the DFA message board, almost didn’t happen when the guys saw the gathering’s overhyped Hard Fest promos and (probably) heard about the douchebag and tanorexic tart factor of the Tropicana Bar. For whatever reason, Murphy (who was supernice even while mentioning his hangover a few times during our brief chat) and Mahoney did show, spinning their slinky neo/retro mixes for hours in spite of the silly scene. Bounteous fake boobage, chapeaux in the pool, and orange glows were everywhere, and it seemed that many splashers had no idea who the rhythmic pioneers even were. Those of us who did were treated to a delightfully unique disco inferno on the decks. Hope the guys wore sunscreen — they were looking mighty pink by midday — and that they come back to L.A., if to a different locale, soon.

Mild and Woolly

Across the street later that day, Mondo Hollywood at the Knitting Factory offered the kind of hedonism and hell-raising Hollywood should be known for. Unfortunately, the two-day rock event was kind of a bust, underperforming sales-wise (likely due to its last-minute move from currently closed Crash Mansion) even with swingin’ headliners Mary Weiss and The Electric Prunes, and the always amusing Kim Fowley as host. At least we made a band discovery during our random Sunday afternoon pop-in: L.A.’s own The Woolly Bandits. Featuring former members of Sky Saxon’s (new) Seeds, these bodacious grinders boast an überhot female singer and drummer, a catchy repertoire of organ-embellished Cramps-style tunes and a no-bullshit approach to promotion (check their “Flyer of the Week” on the Weekly’s Play blog). See for yourself when they rock the Redwood Bar on September 26, but before that, do not miss Mr. Fowley’s own Redwood show this Saturday, August 16: The Hollywood Sexual Underground will have “Elvis illusionists, midgets and plenty of mystery guests,” plus Fowley’s own band, Crazy White Man, “a Lenny Bruce meets Frank Zappa channeling Jim Morrison and Vincent Price on a sex/blues level” experience. Nuff said.

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