L.A. nightlife is as vast and varied as ever in terms of themes, scenes and sounds. Post pandemic, people who like to party –in public with strangers, that is– have many choices. A lot of us might not go out as much as we used to, but when we do, we want a real scene, with lots to look at and an immersive environment that feels special. Again and again, The Globe Theatre in Downtown is fulfilling our most grandiose party proclivities. The 110-year-old building has quite a history as a landmark, but it’s recent history as a place for glamorous hedonism and dressed-up (and nearly undressed) events, is what’s kept us coming back for more.
Remodeled and reopened as part of the “Bringing Back Broadway” initiative aimed at revitalizing downtown and in particular, Broadway between 3rd to 9th streets, The Globe has continued to be one of the most consistently active spaces in the area ever since. Booking unique events that run the gamut, from the epic Halloween haunts of horror drag duo The Boulet Brothers to the thematic fetes of the Faustian Society to strip tease extravaganzas by Beauty of Burlesque, it’s a unique place to escape daily doldrums and dance/drink the night away.
Originally an opulent playhouse called the Morosco, the building became a movie theater after the depression. It was designed by the same architectural firm that created the Mayan, Wiltern, and El Capitan, but its beauty was hidden and wasted away as it housed indoor swapmeets for many years. After he purchased it in 2017, current owner Erik Chol, sought to return it to its former splendor, working on a lot of the restoration himself, which he says had multiple challenges. “Remodeling a historic theater while respecting all the city code compliances was very complicated,” he tells LA Weekly. “The Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation was a great support and sharing with them the same passion for this 1913 historic theater helped us to go through all those challenges.”
In addition to LAHTF, groups such as the Los Angeles Conservancy and the Broadway Theatre Group also had a hand in helping not just the Globe, but the entire area, which also includes legendary spaces like the Ace and the Orpheum. Back in its heyday, Broadway was a mecca for vibrant neon marquees, boasting top films and performers at movie palaces built between 1910 and 1931. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, it was the first and largest historic theatre district, with the highest concentration of cinemas in the world at one time.
Jose Huizar, the city councilmember who first helmed the initiative focused on revitalizing The Broadway Theatre District has left local government– he’s currently awaiting charges in a major corruption case concerning bribes and tax evasion– but his attention to the area remains at least one positive aspect of his legacy. Still, while improvements were made during the 10 year drive, the area’s growth felt a bit stunted and unrealized not long afterward. The annual “Night On Broadway” event was an exception.
“It was every year in January,” Chol says. “It was a fantastic opportunity for all the historic theaters on Broadway to share their unique and magic atmosphere with the public.” Sadly that event was canceled in 2018 after Huizar’s legal troubles became public, and postponed during COVID’s height. It has yet to return.
A Room with Va Va Voom
The Globe was the first venue this nightlife reporter attended out of the COVID lockdown and it gave us hope that things really might return to normal. Wearing masks and making efforts to stay “socially distanced” (a term that already feels antiquated, thankfully), we attended a sexy seated event to venture back out. Beauty of Burlesque, produced by dancer/producer Miss Tosh, boasts high production value spectacle with local and out of town performers at the top of their bump and grind, elevated by props, blindingly beautiful costumes and innovative lighting.
“The Globe Theater holds a special place in my heart,” Miss Tosh tells us. “It is where my great-great grandmother Mazie Evans, a talented burlesque variety performer, graced the stage in 1922. In 2019, I founded my own show with the intention of honoring my family’s legacy and preserving the art of burlesque. My ultimate goal is to create an authentic burlesque ‘varietease’ experience that not only pays homage to the past but also looks towards the future.”
Beauty of Burlesque touts “empowerment, self-expression, and body positivity” and sees the artform in general as a platform to embrace individuality and challenge societal norms. And it’s not the only promotion that seems based on this philosophy.
“We’re hosting all types of events at the Globe Theatre– corporate events, fundraisers, weddings, concerts, fashion shows…” says Chol. “We’re also very involved with the LGBTQ+ community as we host events like Boulet Brothers parties and GPS.”
When asked about some of the Globe’s most memorable events, Chol points to Bryan Rabin’s “Giorgio’s” anniversary party– a special offshoot of the weekly disco at the now-gone Standard Hotel on Sunset Strip (the club just returned in its smaller form to Grand Master Recorders). “It was an unforgettable event with Giorgio Moroder, one of the most iconic producers in history, deejaying for his birthday celebration.”
When we think back to the countless events we’ve covered over the years, big and bodacious stuff comes to mind– warehouse raves like Willy Wonka’s, Double Hit Mickey’s and the early club incarnation of Electric Daisy Carnival in the early 90s; goth, drag and glam gatherings such Club Makeup, Coven 13 and Dragstrip 66 in the early 2000s, along with annual events like Fetish Ball, Bondage Ball and Club Massive at the Hollywood Athletic Club and Variety Arts Center; electronic parties Giant and Spundae at now gone Arena and Circus discos; “indie sleaze” soirees at Cinespace, Safari Sams and A Club Called Rhonda in the later 2000s.
Gatherings that capture a thematic, theatrical feel aren’t soon forgotten. Themed nights call for dressing up, planning, pre-gaming and generally turning a simple jaunt out into a special occasion. Sustaining a weekly dance club promotion is not easy, but a lot of the less frequently held happenings created a special kind of anticipation and something to look forward to.
In this spirit, the multi-media celebrations of the Faustian Society have made their mark in Los Angeles. Held exclusively in L.A. at The Globe, the affairs bring to mind the mixed crowds, wild and wondrous outfits, and overall atmospheric curation of our all-time favorite nightlife. Doing events for a combined 30 years, Faustian’s visionaries come from backgrounds in music and production, from Black Mass in London to star-studded soirees at the Cannes Film Festival.
At their “Queen” event back in February, New York nightlife figures Susanne Bartsch, Amanda Lepore and Joey Arias were flown in to host, while a latex fashion show by Black Licorice saw sultry gals of all sizes prance the stage in glistening, body molded get-ups. DJs spun electro, glam and dance vibes as the floor filled up with fanciful fits and frocks, all inspired by that night’s theme. There are “queens” of all sorts, after all and nightlife fashion is its own form of “drag.” Many interpreted the theme literally, donning white powdered wigs and corsets, ala Bridgerton, while others took the opportunity to channel their inner royal with various crowns, scepters and big fancy jewels and capes.
It was one of the rainiest nights of the year, complete with blackouts throughout Los Angeles, but revelers came out in full regalia. And by the way, the venue has a parking lot right next door– an essential component for any club or event that invites outlandish looks.
“We want people to dress to excess for that night, to come with friends and lovers and build that experience with us,” says Faustian’s Isabel Grigor. “We are our audience and we’re only as good as them so we reflect that joy, exuberance and joi de vivre back at them. These are the nights to remember forever and we create that playground for one night only.”
Grigor’s husband and business partner, Paul Faust adds that The Globe has been instrumental in helping them implement their ideas. “We do events at the Globe because it is by far the greatest independent venue in California, if not the world,” he says. “The Globe incorporates old school Hollywood glamour with one of the most up to date and modern sound and lighting and FX systems in the country and they work with and showcase new and independent and avant-garde producers such as ourselves who are looking to push the envelope and create new and unique experiences.”
Joining forces with legendary fetish night Torture Garden, Faustian Society is indeed pushing boundaries. We covered the BDSM bacchanal in London (as well as its L.A. one-offs back in the 90’s), and the evening in the UK still tops our list as one of the most eye-poppingly weird and wicked nights we’ve ever experienced, with fantastical club kid/creature and kink looks everywhere, a dungeon, live spankings and suspension performances, and pulsating music.
Faust was similarly taken aback by the bash when he had attended it in the UK in 90’s. When he moved to LA in 2008 he had the idea of bringing TG to L.A. and then more of America, so he and Isabel reached out to the TGUK team (David Wood, Charlotte Heti and Allen Pelling). “We realized the US and especially L.A. has a slightly different aesthetic to the UK and so we created more of a Hollywood show complete with the TG elements most beloved (the dungeon, etc) and fitted the concept to what was more acceptable for US laws and the laws of each state.”
The pair have struck a perfect balance of sensual liberation and artistic production with their TG events. And these days, with the queer and fetish community more out in the open, it all feels very organic, inclusive and of course, sex-positive. “All of the events are financed by Faustian and TG, so it’s all private money that goes into every show,” Faust says. “Once we were a success in L.A. we expanded into Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco and aim to expand into many US and Canadian cities too in the future.”
“We’re now finishing the installation of a new technical layout of the Globe Theatre,” Chol, who is French (he also owns the Lou Lou bistro in Santa Monica) shares of his increasingly popular downtown venue. “Our goal is to offer the best and the most impressive production ever [in] the second part of this year.”
He just installed a brand new laser show, adding to the building’s ability to create interactive environments with lights, sound and fluid set-ups, part of what keeps some of the city’s most cutting-edge promoters coming back to the historic space. The combination of sparkling chandeliers, gilded romantic trims and touches, and sumptuous velvet curtains and couches, creates an opulent backdrop for some outlandish gatherings, too.
The underground dance party called Heav3n (which regularly throws events at 1720) just had their Pride party there, while Endless Nights Vampire Ball painted the place red, figuratively of course, just out of the pandemic. Midnight Soul and Witches Brew’s Tiki Noire, held a couple weeks ago at the Globe, offered island decor, tiki drinks, photo ops, music and burlesque. The Oddities Flea Market from New York (returning in October) is another one of our favorite events held at the theater. Coming up this month: the Hard festival’s Wundergound EDM pre-party and India Fest celebrating Indian Independance Day.
Beauty is still one of the biggest and best events for strip tease in town (Miss Tosh’s magical unicorn ride under rainbow prisms is burned into our brains forever) and we like seeing a cross-pollination of performers when we visit the Globe. Tosh walked in the last Faustian fashion show we saw, for example. The dancer and model, who also throws events at Black Rabbit Rose and Bar Lis, says she loves collaborating closely with the Globe team for her larger shows. “I have been able to bring innovative lighting and technological experiences to the burlesque stage… blending the old and the new, I hope to keep the spirit of burlesque alive and captivate audiences for generations to come,” she enthuses.
Broadway may not be “back” in the way it was envisioned when Chol took over the Globe six years ago, but his bookings have created their own welcoming after dark world of whimsy and excitement. Harkening back to simpler times even while it stays competitive with LED walls, Special FX and a world class acoustic sound system, Chol’s goal to “honor the past and celebrate the future,” is realized weekly.
“The Globe has its own unique vibe, its own presence,” adds Faust, who just threw an anime-inspired event there called Diesuki, and just announced the next Torture Garden event coming in November. “ It has an ambience that you can feel even when it’s empty– it’s soaked into the walls and encompasses years of L.A. joy and decadence. “
The Globe Theatre, 740 S Broadway, Downtown Los Angeles. More info at globetheatre-la.com
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