On the West Coast, the club kids popped up around 1991, the local counterparts of the New York City Party Monster types, attending the types of underground raves your parents explicitly forbade. It wasn't all about drugs, but there were certainly plenty: ketamine, acid, cocaine, ecstasy, and more, sometimes washed down with beer or liquor.
They took great creative pride in developing their looks, which sprung from gothic and industrial styles but began to feature candy-colored fashions. They developed a cache and were hired by various party promoters as “entertainment,” twerking it on dance floors across L.A. As the rave scene began to peter out in 2003 — largely due to police crackdowns — the kids moved on with their lives and grew up. Many sought to bring the spirit and creativity of their club days with them, and many succeeded.
We recently caught up with five of the best-known Los Angeles club kids, who reminisced and brought us up to speed with their lives.
Name: Travis Pates, aka Travisty
Back then: Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Travisty dropped a bunch of acid and rode a bus to California, where he took on a robotic style. Frequenting underground clubs like The Romper Room in full make-up, he met Kris K-os (below) and several other club kids on the Leeza Gibbons Show. It was, of course, an episode on the new “club kids craze.” Back then it took months for him to build his costumes for parties, he says.
Present: Travisty is now Travis Alan Pates, a makeup artist. He has worked on Jane Lynch, Larry David, and other celebrities, and currently works on the CW show Hart of Dixie.
Wildest memory: After a party in Las Vegas 2002, he was carrying flame-throwing equipment — for a show — when a woman screamed “He has a bomb!” Someone threw a bottle at him, and a group of guys started beating him. So he took off his 14-inch platform shoes, covered in nails. “It was a fabulous weapon,” he says. Long story short: He walked away OK.
Name: Rocky Martinez, aka Rockie Diva Raccoon
Age: Not given
Back then: A living, breathing cartoon and a charter member West Coast club kid, Martinez founded the 'House of Fierce Ruling Divas' clicque, which also included Dita Von Teese and Eddie DeBarr as members. She was also a fashion model and a muse to designers.
Present: For ten years she worked at Disneyland in entertainment/show support. Nowadays she is still involved as a hostess at many clubs.
Wildest memory: At one party, Cindy Crawford asked for a picture with her, and she milled around with Grace Jones, Mick Jagger, Marilyn Manson, and Courtney Love. Robert Downey Jr. gave her two yellow roses.
Name: Chris Balian, aka Kris K-os
Back then: Growing up in Silver Lake, he met a group of young club kids who were “fun and colorful and free,” he remembers. They urged him to join them; he had a darker edge to his style and began hanging with fashionista Ernie Omega. Rave promoters started seeking him out, and he was featured on rave flyers. In the morning he would have to decide, “Which shade of black do I wear today?”
Present: In 2002 he opened bakery Sweetopia, at downtown's Alexandria Hotel, but it closed in 2007. He continues to bake at other spots.
Wildest memory: At a Las Vegas party in 2002, a group of club kids including Balian were arrested, in full regalia, after upsetting some police officers. As they were taken into the holding cell area, he recalls, the people in the cells started hooting and screaming at them. But while they were being booked, a fashion show of sorts broke out. The kids hopped onto a desk and posed while the police used the booking camera to snap shots, and the inmates cheered them on.
Name: Guillermo Perez aka Memo Pad aka Twisted Memories aka Memosito DeLaCruz
Back then: He met Martinez at a rave, who invited him to be in a fashion show, which led to his immersion in the scene. His style mixed horror and glamour. “I always loved the grand entrance to each party, and dancing with my friends,” he says, “and then getting so fucked up and finally falling apart.”
Present: After years as a photographer, Perez now studies film at Los Angeles City College.
Wildest memory: Perez and others reminisced about parties with map points: there was a specified destination where you bought your ticket, and then found out the location for the party (which hopefully hadn't yet been broken up by police). Often, they would sell extra tickets provided by promoters to ravers for half price.
Name: Russell Costales, aka Rainblo Nui York
Back then: Starting at age 12 Costales lived in foster care, but ultimately found a family in the club world. Considered the baby of the gang, he began dressing up at 14. At 20, he went abroad, and was hanging out with Lady Miss Kier of Dee-lite. Dancing, hostessing, and brightening parties with his rambunctious style, he toured venues from Berlin to Copenhagen. In New York he became good friends with Boy George.
Present : His body now almost completely tattooed, he recently trained as a makeup artist.
Wildest memory: At a party one night he met Bjork, who took his hand as they went out the back door to avoid paparazzi. They ventured to a party at a friend's house, where she asked him what year he was born. He said 1983. “You're a pig,” she said. Rest assured it referred only to his Chinese horoscope.
Correction: Travis Pates has not done makeup for Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan, as this story originally stated.