In August 1980, the Weekly launched L.A. Dee Da. “The place to dig if you’re looking for dirt,” wrote Pleasant Gehman, its first columnist, “the place to scan if you’re looking for a scoop, hot flashes for cold action, etc. . . ” Over the years, Pleasant, Marci Marks, Craig Lee, Bruce D. Rhodewalt, Shelly da Cunha, Kim Jones and Belissa Cohen, among others, scoured the streets and combed the clubs to dish the do on the hip and the haps. L.A. Dee Da gave up the gossip ghost in 1993 and was revived in 1995 as The Low Life by Tina Fez (nom de plume of Weekly staffer Libby Molyneaux), with J.V. McAuley (briefly) and Kateri Butler subsequently digging the dirt.
1. The Masque
The last vestiges of the Masque, L.A.’s seminal punk-rock club, founded by Brendan Mullen, were about to be painted over — to the surprise of many who crowded a-gawking into the labyrinthine basement of the Hollywood Center Building, amazed to discover that the graffiti-inscribed walls had survived 19 years unchanged. Battered punk survivors of the Hollywood Class of ’77, catching a final glimpse, mingled with a surprisingly young contingent of post-slacker-era lookie-loos paying tribute to the sepulchral club–rehearsal space–crash pad–hangout that ignited L.A.’s version of the last great pre-cyber, pre-MTV international underground youth movement. Such is the mystique of the Masque, which ruled for six months through the beginning of ’78, that if all the people who claim they were there had really been there, they would have filled the Palladium.
The Low Life, June 21, 1996
We decamped and went to the Starwood to see Stiv Bators & The Deadboys, who were great, and Geza X, whom we missed. The Starwood was really jumping. Milling around in the parking lot were hundreds of kids, and upstairs in the “chic” balcony were the likes of Jimmy and Clem from Blondie, Great Buildings’ bassist Ian Ainsworth, and the illustrious Kim Fowley, towering imposingly over everyone’s heads. Checked out the disco, and Rodney was surrounded by a gaggle of giggling girls and spinning the new Industrials album. In the meantime, drama was running high backstage when Bebe Buell, Stiv’s old squeeze, on the arm of another man and looking kinda frumpy in a black peasant dress à la Joan Baez, was trying to get her honey back, but Stiv didn’t seem too amused . . . better luck next time Beeb . . .
L.A. Dee Da, September 5, 1980
Up the Anti: Talk about credentials. It’s no wonder the Anti-Club has become the most adventurous and popular “new” venue in town. There are not one but three impresarios responsible: There’s Jack Marquette, whose previous credits include that infamous early-’80s downtown art bar called the Brave Dog . . . There’s Russell Jessum, who helped begin the whole scene at the Anti-Club when it was still a mariachi bar six years ago . . . And there’s Jim Van Tyne, whose monthly “Theoretical” parties at changing venues around the city have won him an absolutely loyal following of partiers and performers . . .
Getting There column, February 15, 1985
4. Al’s Bar
The music party is over at Al’s Bar. The club’s police permit for live music expired and hasn’t been renewed, partly due to the whining and bitching of irate neighbors who couldn’t possibly tolerate any noise invading their illegal but sanctified “creation” spaces. An interesting comment on the situation was the blue line an anonymous artist drew down the street, dividing it into “art” and “life” segments. Even though Al’s tried to test the situation by having Jerry Sikorski play last weekend, six plainclothesmen showed up and the music was stopped. We hope Al’s owner, Mark Kreisel, can solve the bar’s music problems soon. The place may not be that big in size, but in terms of giving new bands the needed room to expand and experiment, it’s essential. Meanwhile, a quiet Al’s remains open for non-musical business.
L.A. Dee Da, August 20, 1982
(Craig Lee, Pleasant Gehman,
Bruce D. Rhodewalt and Marci Marks)
The biggest deal this week was the phenomenal success of Theoretical last Sunday. This afternoon party/show (at a secret leather-bar location described by its owner Michael as “left on Hoover, right into your life”) featured the best set we’ve ever seen Red Wedding do . . . Also appearing were Age of Consent, who drew howls of recognition from the audience, and the Hesitations, a sweetly cracked duo made up of Priscilla B. and Mary Mullen . . . The intense energy of the place rivalled the best nights at the Masque, Hong Kong or Brave Dog. Fuck those auditoriums, theaters and bowls; it’s the hot, smoky hole-in-the-wall gigs that are still the best . . .
L.A. Dee Da, July 30, 1982
(Craig Lee, Pleasant Gehman,
Bruce D. Rhodewalt and Marci Marks)
5. Club Lingerie
Misty, Vodka-Colored Memories: R.I.P., Club Lingerie. Yes, It’s true . . . Club Lingerie will go down as a locus classicus that changed the face of L.A. music history. Thanks mainly to legendary booker Brendan Mullen’s “full-spectrum eclectic booking policy,” Club Lingerie revolutionized what was to become a standard in the L.A. club scene. Along with giving space to a jillion upstart bands way too numerous to list here (okay, a sample: Jane’s Addiction, The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Butthole Surfers, Guns N’ Roses and the L.A.-debut of R.E.M.), Mullen spearheaded the first hip-hop shows outside of New York City, endorsed Henry Peck and Joseph Brooks’ groundbreaking dance club The Veil, and carved niches for the burgeoning roots-rock, R&B and paisley-underground scenes.
The Low Life, April 28, 1995
The opening of Joseph and Henry’s Fetish club was quite a success, with scenesters like Connie Parente showing the family jewels, Pony horsing around, Ms. Holiday chasing new roommate Maicol Sinatra, and Rodney Bingenheimer proclaiming the event “a real Hollywood happening!”
L.A. Dee Da, August 5, 1983
(Halloween Knight, Shari Famous,
Marci Marks, C. Lee)
8. Power Tools
“The end of an era” is right. Last Saturday night, Power Tools tried to have a simple little closing party. About 2,000 people were inside, and a couple of hundred were outside waiting to get in. Naturally the LAPD and the fire marshal decided to block the street off with flares, and helicopters were shining lights on hundreds of scurrying people. DJ Matt Dike was inside getting the entire thing on videotape . . . Elsewhere at the Tools, Emilio Estevez managed to get a tattoo before the place closed down.
L.A. Dee Da, April 10, 1987
(Kim Jones and Belissa Cohen;
edited by Craig Lee)
9. Ground Zero
Ground Zero had a bomb dropped on them by the LAPD; they were shut down in mid-blast Saturday night, with Billy Limbo being told by the arresting vice cop, “A lot of people are upset with you.” Could this mean that other club owners spilled the beans about his lack of proper permits? In the normal course of protecting and serving, law-enforcement types tore apart both the club and a sacred red, white ’n’ blue symbol. Billy begged them to spare the flag, to no avail. Door team Randy and Maylon recognized one member of the vice squad as a co-worker at Red Square, who apparently alternates between working clubs and busting them. Hey, a guy’s gotta make a buck.
L.A. Dee Da, June 19, 1987
(Kim “Boom Boom” Jones, Belissa
“Queenie” Cohen; edited by Massa Lee)
Scream and Scream Again: Now they tell us that the last weekend of Scream will end Monday, February 27, after which the “Scream” name will henceforth be retired. Dayle Gloria’s temporarily named “The Club With No Name” (please — enter the contest and rename that sucker) will commence the next Friday at the former Scream locations, and Michael Stewart and Bruce Perdew’s new venture, Helter Skelter (with video room and one or more “alternative” — as opposed to rock — dance floors) will open somewhere in Hollywood sometime in March.
L.A. Dee Da, February 17, 1989
11. Third Eye/Fuzzyland
You just can’t get enough of cheesy fake exotica and native music from a thousand cannibalized cultures. That’s why it’s lucky for us that The Third Eye and Mecca are now trading off Saturdays. Mecca’s reopened at Chinatown’s Hong Kong Cafe with trademark DJ Chief Lapu Lapu, and though it didn’t have the festive edge of its crosstown competition, island-culture aficionados are already drooling pago pago juice in anticipation over the upcoming appearance of Les Baxter . . . Meanwhile, the always-perky Third Eye continues this Saturday in its usual spot. We’re just glad we have a supply of balsa wood on hand — you never know when you’ll need to carve a new tiki or two.
L.A. Dee Da, June 12, 1987
(Kim “Chucker” Jones, Belissa “Queenie” Cohen; edited by Craig Lee)
Wild Ire-Ish Rose: An “extremely healthy-looking” Axl Rose and friends dropped by mellow retro-’70s club 1970 at Probe last Sunday night, the one place . . . where “doing the Hustle” always takes on a more attractive meaning . . . While at the club, Axl’s buddy managed to get into a scrap; Axl intervened only to break up the fight, but all the bouncers saw was Axl fighting, so they threw out all concerned — leaving quite a few broken-hearted girls inside. Things were cleared up outside the club between Axl and Probe security, and everyone parted on good terms . . . We bet if he shows up with cash, Axl will be welcome at this Sunday’s edition of 1970, when Florida-based ’70s greats KC and the Sunshine Band make their only live local appearance. Unlike The Village People — who claimed to 1970’s Billy Limbo, “We don’t do retro clubs” — KC contacted him, Billy’s proud to report, and the band’s excited about playing both the L.A. and San Francisco branches of 1970.
L.A. Dee Da, September 28, 1990
Cool Whip: Not another tired whipping scene, you say? Candle wax flowed more generously than the wine, and it was business as usual at Sunday’s Club FUCK! at Basgo’s Disco in Silver Lake, where bent genders and desultory S/M scenes by Gauntlet piercer Angel got barely a glance. Maybe some folks are in it for the money — hired go-go boys in lacy G-strings or latex panties made nice-nice with a porn actress, and drag diva Karen Dior wore only electrical tape and a red wig. Other patrons have a calling, including a Rubensesque volunteer with a dildo in her mouth, who attempted to “stick it,” so to speak, to everyone, including an ex-stripper from Jumbo’s Clown Room. Another piercer on busman’s holiday was Red Devil Studios’ Crystal Cross, who recently pierced Haunted Garage singer Dukey Flyswatter, Deathride 69’s Linda Lasabre, ex–Missing Persons drummer Terry Bozzio and members of Faster Pussycat, L7 and Pretty Boy Floyd.
L.A. Dee Da, August 17, 1990
14. Sit and Spin
Naturally all this sidewalk action attacts attention, and people driving by slow down to take a long look before it suddenly hits them that these are all GAY people out there on the street and some of them freak out and put their big black shoes on the accelerator. One car that slows down . . . is filled with Salvadoreños who know a party when they see one . . . Then all of a sudden Vaginal Creme Davis comes burstin’ out the door, all 7 feet–plus of black Amazonian drag queen wearing nothing but panties and a bra and a big wig hat, shrieking, “I gotta get out of here!” The Salvadoreños take one look at that, and they’re off faster than a cruise missile. That’s Sit and Spin for ya — always in your face, nowhere to run and no reason to . . .
From “Getting Down With the Third Sex,” by Craig Lee, July 20, 1990
15. Dragstrip 66
Dragstrip 66, the oodles-of-fun new club where, in case you couldn’t tell by the name, they celebrate dressing in drag — even down to having a Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore look-alike contest. The fliers said, “Dress Like a Mess, Get In for Less,” and apparently the whole place took that into consideration, because although there were some truly stunning queens around, most of the crowd, in various stages of drag, undress and just plain old mess, looked pretty insane . . . DJ PAUL V. spun fab ’60s and ’70s tunes . . . We spotted Chili Peppers Flea and Anthony; Falling James of Leaving Trains, resplendent in a Pucci minidress; Vaginal Davis; Shevelva; Peter DeStephano of Porno for Pyros; Mr. Dan; Lance Loud; Richard Velasco; Sean de Lear (who was wearing overalls, but wouldn’t be caught dead without his false eyelashes!) . . .
L.A. Dee Da, January 15, 1993
16. Hai Karate
Check Your Briefs: Oh, the excitement and glamour of awards night. The crush of drop-dead gorgeous hopefuls all vying for that ultimate honor — recognition by their peers. We’re not referring to the tired old Oscars, sweeties, but to the Undies, the first annual L.A. underground awards show, presented by Hai-Karate at the Garage . . .
The Low Life, March 29, 1996
Air Conditioning for the People: . . . Too hot to coop up in the sizzling sweatbox we call home, too expensive to sightsee in our enormous gas-guzzler. Fortunately, we’re just a stroll away from trendy Spaceland, so we hoofed it over to check out The Low and Sweet Orchestra. Spotting a limo idling outside, we expected to see Brad Pitt, perhaps the band’s foxiest fan — he’s attended a number of their gigs. Instead, we glimpsed the King of the Alternageeks Michael Stipe in the corner. We’re not sure if the REM deity was losing his religion, but he was quietly engrossed in conversation. And even though he was on the guest list plus entourage, he paid for everyone — what panache! But a far more unlikely sight was the legendary two-fisted drinker Donny “Two Beers” Popejoy wandering about clutching a single cocktail. These are sober times for the aging punk set . . .
The Low Life, May 10, 1996
Heaven Can Wait: It was literally a knock’-em-out Epiphany for some onlookers last Saturday night at Sin-a-matic (which seems to be one of the most imitated clubs in town these days), where Ron “The Holy Eunuch” Athey and Vaginal “St. Salicia Tate” Davis wowed the fetishistas and 818/714 touristas with their work-in-progress gospel-techno rock opera . . . Ron reached a blood-spurting climax using flesh hooks and wickedly long spinal needles — in ways we’re too squeamish to reveal — on Crystal Cross and Pigpen. We’re sure the applause would have been even louder at the end, but unfortuately a number of people fainted and had to be carried out of the club. Talk about your cutting edge!
The Low Life, April 26, 1996
The Glamour the Merrier: Miss Joey Arias. Miss Sherry Vine. Miss Candis Cayne. Miss Raven-O. Miss Girlena. New York’s dream team of queens dragged their boas out here to help hot-cha host Bryan Rabin celebrate the second anniversary of Cherry. And did those girls kick up their heels — all 10 inches of ’em — especially when they belted out “Hey, Big Spender” in a giddy group encore! As “Spellbound” as we were
by chanfloozie Sherry, we were also riveted
by watching the rebirth of pogo as DJs Mike
Messex and Joseph Brooks spun the hordes into a hyperhopping frenzy. To “Bohemian Rhapsody”! . . . We bet most of the thrashing throng remember the Queen hit from Wayne’s World. There was a lot of hair-tossin’ happening . . .
The Low Life, November 22, 1996
20. Club Sucker
Lollipops and Toeses: There were more than just bulbs flashing at the Garage when very, very va-voom MC Vaginal Davis and DJs Frank
Rodriguez and Dale Johnson hosted their first annual Sucker summer party. We hit the new Seattle scene (as the media has dubbed Silver Lake clubland — yawn) shortly after entertainer Bambi Lake had given an offstage anatomy lesson that proved she’s all woman — and all man . . . Do grab a copy of the Sucker mag double issue, featuring Timothy McVeigh as the “Before They Were Stars” centerfold — he’s packing more than a little dynamite.
The Low Life, August 2, 1996