Chances are if you know Darcey Leonard from her day job at Silver Lake Shoes, you wouldn’t recognize her alter ego “Miss Darcey” — the diminutive dark faerie who is the booker, co-organizer and “extreme hostess” of Club Screwball, a loose weekly affiliation of urbane freakery that first debuted at West Hollywood’s Parlour Club before moving to El Cid in Silver Lake. Leonard, along with co-conspirator Don Bolles and DJs Jimi Hey and Ian Marshall, has created a three-dimensional salon whose aura falls somewhere between the Dadaists and Andy Warhol’s Factory.
Less club than clubhouse, Screwball is an alternate universe where one can wander in on any given Wednesday and find like-minded urban yipsters enjoying what Leonard calls “acts that defy categorization or even common sense.” They’ve included one-man indie rockestra Ariel Pink, bubblegum popsters Screaming Lord Faggot and the Sugar-Frosted Lightbulbs, striptease-trapeze duo the Wau Wau Sisters, doe-eyed mod blues growler Lily Marlene, Olympia girl punksters the Sharp Ease, Russian electronicist Solar X and local dub groovesters Indian Jewelry. (The frequent outbursts of ex-Germ Bolles, arguably L.A.’s oldest surviving punk-rock teenager, are an added attraction.)
“Screwball has so many different identities within it, it’s possible for us to keep reinventing it forever,” says Leonard, an admirer of perhaps the original extreme hostess, Peggy Guggenheim. “If we stand out, it’s because of the anything-can-happen quality. That’s why I love booking this club, because I feel in touch with culture as it’s unfolding. It’s like ‘fresh-baked culture’ — right here, right now, come and get it while it’s hot!”