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Radiant Nature Opening at LACE

Juan Downey: Radiant Nature, is a two-part exhibition on the early works of Chilean-born artist Juan Downey as part of the Getty-led Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative exploring the vast subject of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) Opening Reception: September 13, 2017 7-10PM.

From the late 1960s until the mid-1970s, Juan Downey (b. Chile, 1940; d. New York, 1993) pioneered interactive, participatory artworks that helped shape his better-known multichannel video installations such as Video Trans Americas (1973–76) and The Thinking Eye (1974-1989). The works that make up Downey’s Electronic Sculptures (1967–71); Happenings and Performances (1968–75); and Life Cycle Installations (1970–73) take radically different forms, but they share similar strategies; conceived as vehicles for interactivity, they are intended to be played with or participated in rather than passively observed.

Downey was especially interested in the potential of technology to facilitate viewer participation, transform social relations, and forge new modes of communication between organic elements or environments and machines or machine systems. Borrowing ideas from second-order cybernetics, he conceived the organic and technological aspects of his work as relational, operating in tandem and alterable by feedback. Viewer-participants interfacing with the Electronic Sculptures, for example, may trigger an array of outcomes—sounds, colored lights, projections—depending on their actions. Similarly, Downey imagined participants in his Happenings and Performances as part of an unpredictable, amorphous system in which performers, video cameras, closed-circuit televisions, laser beams, and viewer-participants are working together. The Life Cycle Installations create an interdependence between mechanic and organic elements—plants, soil, and insects and electronic sensors, cameras, and television monitors—demonstrating Downey’s belief in the potential of cybernetics to solve large-scale environmental issues by rebalancing relationships between humans, technologies, and ecologies.

 

Performance view of “Energy Fields” at 112 Greene Street, New York, 1972. (Photo courtesy of The Estate of Juan Downey, New York)

Juan Downey: Radiant Nature es una exposición en dos sedes enfocada en la obra temprana del artista nacido en Chile Juan Downey que forma parte de Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, una iniciativa de la Getty dedicada a explorar la amplía temática del diálogo entre el arte latinoamericano y latino y la ciudad de Los Ángeles.

A partir de finales de los 60s y hasta mediados de los 70s, Juan Downey (Chile, 1940 – Nueva York, 1993) concibió obras de arte interactivas y participativas que antecedieron y dieron forma a sus instalaciones mejor conocidas de video en canales múltiples como Video Trans Americas (1973–76) y The Thinking Eye (1974-89). Las obras que conforman las Esculturas Electrónicas de Downey (1967–71); sus Happenings y Performances (1968–75); y las instalaciones de Life Cycle (1970–73) se manifiestan de manera radicalmente distinta pero comparten estrategias similares; planteadas como vehículos de interacción, su intención es propiciar el juego y la participación en vez de la observación pasiva.

Downey estaba particularmente interesado en la capacidad de la tecnología para facilitar la participación del espectador, transformar las relaciones sociales y forjar nuevos modelos de comunicación entre elementos y ambientes orgánicos y sistemas mecanizados. A partir de teorías de la cibernética de segundo orden, planteó los aspectos orgánicos y tecnológicos de su trabajo como simbióticos, operando en conjunto y capaces de alterarse mutuamente a través de retroalimentación. Por ejemplo, dependiendo de la acción que lleven a cabo los espectadores-participantes al interactuar con las Esculturas Electrónicas pueden activar cualquiera de una serie de respuestas: sonidos, luces de colores o proyecciones. De una manera parecida, Downey imaginaba a los integrantes de sus Happenings y Performances como parte de un sistema amorfo e impredecible en el que colaboraban participantes, videocámaras, televisores en circuito cerrado, rayos laser y espectadores activos. Las instalaciones de Life Cycle articulan una simbiosis entre elementos mecánicos y orgánicos—plantas, tierra, insectos, sensores electrónicos, cámaras y monitores televisivos—que demuestra la creencia de Downey en el potencial de la cibernética para resolver problemas ecológicos masivos al alterar el equilibrio de la relación entre humanos, tecnologías y ecologías.

About PST: LA/LA

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles taking place from September 2017 through January 2018. Led by the Getty, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a collaboration of arts institutions across Southern California.

Through a series of thematically linked exhibitions and programs, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA highlights different aspects of Latin American and Latino art from the ancient world to the present day. With topics such as luxury arts in the pre-Columbian Americas, 20th century Afro- Brazilian art, alternative spaces in Mexico City, and boundary-crossing practices of Latino artists, exhibitions range from monographic studies of individual artists to broad surveys that cut across numerous countries.

Click here to learn more about PST: LA/LA.

Supported by more than $16 million in grants from the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA involves more than 70 cultural institutions from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, and from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)
6522 Hollywood Blvd.
323-957-1777

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September 11, 2017

image Events

Tickets On Sale Now for 6th Annual Sunset & Dine

Tickets are now on sale for the sixth annual Sunset & Dine, the annual food festival coordinated by the Sunset & Vine Business Improvement District.

Presented by Kilroy Realty Corp., the event will take place on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at Columbia Square, 6121 W. Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood. Hours will be 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Here is this year’s complete list of restaurants:

Premiere sponsors include Emerson College Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Film School. Gold sponsors include Paramount Contractors and Developers, Skanska, and Viacom. Community sponsors include Amoeba Music, Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell (CD 13), and Ntho Net, Inc. Exhibitors include The Pantages Theatre and the Hollywood YMCA.

Tickets cost $50 and include two drink tickets and all you can eat samples from the participating restaurants. Children under 12 admitted free. All proceeds benefit The Center at Blessed Sacrament.

 

“Sunset & Dine brings those who live, work and play in Hollywood together with local chefs, culinary professionals and musicians for a fun evening under the stars,” said Fabio Conti of Fabiolus Cucina.  “The true entertainment capital of the world is transforming.  There’s more than $1.8 billion in investment in the pipeline here.  Special things are happening in Hollywood, and Sunset & Dine will give guests a taste of it.”

ABOUT THE SUNSET & VINE DISTRICT

The Sunset & Vine District is a seven-year property-based Business Improvement District (BID) that spans 15 blocks along the world-renowned Sunset Boulevard, from roughly Schrader Boulevard on the west to the 101 Freeway on the east. Renewed in 2012, the SVBID is composed of approximately 138 property owners who are assessed $1.4 million annually to pay for security, maintenance services and marketing to promote the revitalization of the area.   Major landmarks in the District include the Cinerama Dome, Sunset & Vine Tower, Sunset Gower Studios, The Los Angeles Film School, and the former Tribune Studios.  More information on the BID is available at www.sunsetandvinebid.org.

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September 1, 2017

image Entertainment

Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap: A Variety Show to End All Variety Shows

Hollywood Boulevard has long been home to popular entertainment, from film premieres to street performers. But the busy Boulevard has never seen anything quite like the cornucopia of variety acts in Scot Nery’s exuberant show, Boobie Trap.

The 90-minute variety extravaganza runs every Wednesday night in the heart of Old Hollywood. Nery says he loves his show’s new home.

“I first started the show in May 2015. My friend had a giant warehouse in Echo Park and it was supposed to be torn down in a matter of weeks. I thought we’d do a few shows there, but it proved to be extremely popular and extremely fun. It took them a year to kick us out, and by the time the year was up, Boobie Trap was a juggernaut. Had to keep it going, so we moved to West Adams.”

While Nery enjoyed the location at West Adams’ restaurant Fais Do Do, he says “nothing compares” to Hollywood.

“When the Houston Brothers invited us to use their space, we leapt,” he asserts. “From the start our goals have been to take care of the audiences and the entertainers, constantly caring about mutually beneficial choices. Moving to Hollywood meant easier access, a safer neighborhood, better drinks, being in arms-reach of food and stuff, and a venue that’s a little tighter and better for comedy.”

Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap in Hollywood features a variety of performers, from circus acts to magicians, musicians and comedians. (Photo by Richard Michael Johnson)

He’s also looking at expanding his audience. “Hopefully we’ll be able to better tap into tourism and learn how that works, so we can sell out every show – although the audiences have already been a great size.”

Nery says what’s most unique about his show is the large number of exciting entertainers available, plus the fact that, “the audiences are weird. Boobie Trap couldn’t be done in any other city besides Los Angeles. In many other big cities, people are used to going out to shows, but L.A. is just learning what good live entertainment is. Audiences like a certain combination of aggressiveness and sweetness, and that’s what we give them.”

Named “The Best Variety Show in L.A.” this year by Los Angeles Magazine, the show features world-class stars of cirque, magic, music, comedy, and more.

Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap is now playing in the heart of Old Hollywood each Wednesday night. (Photo by Richard Michael Johnson)

“Each Wednesday we feature about 15 acts in 90 minutes. It’s fast-paced with an emphasis on fun. There’s no age limit, but there is adult content,” Nery explains.

Each performer gets four minutes to showcase their act before it’s on to the next one, making the show fresh and fast-paced. There’s something for everyone in the show.

“This is the first variety show that I’ve produced, but I’ve been performing professionally since age 11. I have produced two one-man shows, a live on-stage cooking show, a slapstick convention, a web series, an open mic, and a few commercials.  In between these things, I’ve performed in every venue imaginable including on the streets, in 15,000-seat amphitheaters, church basements, and bowling alleys.”

Each performance of Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap is unique and features about 15 acts. (Photo by Richard Michael Johnson)

The now 36-year-old veteran performer says he’s in it for the thrill.

“When I was a kid in Ohio, we would go sled riding. I just liked building ramps for people to launch off. I wanted to geek out on making them the perfect steepness and the perfect height so they were the most fun. I sat for hours shoveling, piling and smoothing to get them just right for the maximum enjoyment of others,” he relates. “I’ve been doing that kind of thing ever since. Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap is just the next ramp that I’m offering to anyone who wants to have fun and maybe pee themselves a little,” he laughs.

Boobie Trap performances take place at 6555 Hollywood Blvd. The show starts at 8 p.m., Wednesday evenings. He offers both six-pack season passes and individual show tickets.

Visit boobiela.com for tickets.

Some of the many performers involved with Scot Nery’s Boobie Trap, showing each Wednesday evening in Hollywood. (Photo by Richard Michael Johnson)


Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own www.diversionsLA.com.

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August 31, 2017

image Entertainment

The Montalbán Theatre: An Iconic Playhouse for the Hollywood Community

A beautiful and graceful Hollywood landmark, The Montalbán Theatre was built in 1926 by architect Myron Hunt, the force behind other Southern California landmarks including the Rose Bowl, CalTech, and the Ambassador Hotel. The venue has a storied past and an evolving history, and is a vital part of the cultural scene in the neighborhood today.

Historic photos of the Montalbán Theatre. (Courtesy photo)

Originally named The Wilkes Brothers Vine Street Theatre – the Wilkes were the builders – it was purchased by Howard Hughes in the 1930s. Hughes converted it into a film theater, renaming it the Mirror. Since then, this structural jewel, one of the last remaining mid-size proscenium-style theaters in Los Angeles, has gone through many incarnations, including playing host to CBS Radio’s KNX studios and Lux Radio Theatre. It returned to its original theatrical roots as a stage venue known as the Huntington Hartford. James Doolittle, who also ran the Greek Theatre, later took over the house with successful performances of top-talent shows. His tenure was followed by a stint under the auspices of UCLA. The low point for this landmark: the theater went dark after UCLA’s stewardship.

The Montalbán Theatre is located just south of Hollywood and Vine. (Courtesy photo)

But fortunately, it’s now thriving, thanks to the vision of actor Ricardo Montalbán. When he purchased it in 1999 and made it his namesake, it was with a vision to provide a way to inspire and train emerging Hispanic artists and assist them in entering the mainstream entertainment industry. The theater was planned to serve as a professional working space where they could practice their skills.

Today, the Montalbán Theatre is more than just a lovely and historic structure. The 970-seat theater has partnered with community performing arts groups, offering stage space on a complimentary basis, and continues to support students and artists.

According to the theater’s executive producer, Gilbert Smith, “Our work here to renovate and to develop programming for our community is ongoing and expanding. We have a new programming partner with The Second City. We are starting a series of sketch comedy nights with them September 28th.”

A live performance at the Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood. (Courtesy photo)

The Montalbán is currently undergoing further restoration, and is also expanding below-stage and upstairs areas. The theater’s ongoing extensive renovation has been supported by Nike USA which installed a rooftop sports court as a part of its support of the theater, LA84, KV2 Audio, and Canon USA. The theater has been enhanced with state-of-the-art projection mapping, LED lighting, and a powerful sound system, too.

Programming is eclectic. When the Montalbán began, most productions featured Latino themes, but more recently productions have included everything from John Leguizamo’s Ghetto Klown to a performance of The Who’s classic rock opera, Tommy, and a world-premiere production of Swan Lake: The Musical. It also played host to Nick Kroll’s Oh Hello comedy special. The stage is renowned for its excellent acoustics and sight-lines, as well as for its beautiful art-deco heritage.

Along with theatrical performances on stage, The Montalbán rooftop is home to the Rooftop Cinema Club, a premiere outdoor moving-screening program that provides wireless headsets and comfortable lounge chairs for viewers to enjoy stunning Hollywood skyline views along with a wide range of films. Food and drinks are also available for purchase.

The Rooftop Cinema Club operates on the rooftop of the Montalbán Theatre. (Courtesy photo)

Smith asserts “The Rooftop Cinema Club is a great addition to our programming efforts. We are partners with this endeavor with the season currently running five days a week Tuesday through Saturday from April to November, with additional private and special screenings on Sunday or Monday nights.”

With Halloween coming, Smith notes that “Starting Friday October 13th, we will be featuring horror, immersive and sci-fi experiences with Rooftop Cinema Club and with our main theater.”

Along with the performing arts, The Montalbán hosts art exhibitions as well, such as the current Rainbow Shift 3.0 curated by Baha H. Danesh and Tiger Munson with We Choose Art and Tigrefino Projects. Rainbow Shift is designed to offer a fusion of art and social justice within the LGBTQ community, and features paintings, sculptures, photography, and thread-based craft art. The show runs through October 2nd.

The Montalbán is home to art exhibits such as the annual Rainbow Shift show. (Courtesy Photo)

“Having our art shows lends to the ongoing efforts between our theater and with the local artists. We are fully committed to art and commerce,” Smith says.

And the Hollywood community is all the better for that.

Ricardo Montalbán Theatre
1615 Vine Street
(323) 871-2420


Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own www.diversionsLA.com.

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August 30, 2017

image Community

Stay in Hollywood. Take Metro.

Hollywood. It’s the stuff dreams are made of. It’s also centrally located within the Los Angeles area, and home to attractions like the Walk of Fame, Madame Tussauds, Hollywood Wax Museum, TCL Chinese Theatre, Amoeba Music, ArcLight Cinemas, The Egyptian Theatre, Capitol Records, Hollywood + Highland Mall, The Hollywood
Museum, and much more!

Stay in Hollywood! Accommodations range from hostels and budget chains to boutiques and luxury brands, and everything in between. You’re sure to find the place that’s right for you! Make Hollywood your base, and take Metro to experience all the Los Angeles has to offer, from Long Beach to Santa Monica; Downtown Los Angeles to
Pasadena, and many other exciting locations.

To illustrate this point, Only in Hollywood partnered with local fashion designers MANAM Fashion and Vic-Chen to install a window display in our storefront office at 6562 Hollywood Blvd. The designers each selected three destinations easily accessible from Hollywood via Metro and dressed mannequins to represent six stations: Chinatown; Downtown Santa Monica; Downtown Long Beach; Memorial Park (Pasadena); and 7th/Metro (Downtown Los Angeles). Hollywood/Highland was also represented as the starting point! The windows will be on display through Labor Day.

Designer Vic-Chen dressed mannequins to represent Chinatown, Long Beach, and Santa Monica; locations that are easily accessible from Hollywood via Metro. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

A huge thanks to our fellow business improvement districts (BIDs) for providing the photos to illustrate each destination: Old Pasadena Management District, Downtown Center BID; Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.; Downtown Long Beach Alliance; and Chinatown BID.

MANAM Fashion representing Hollywood & Highland, the starting point for journeys on Metro! (Photo by Devin Strecker)

Designer Statements

Vic-Chen, a Los Angeles-based designer, focuses on designing Men’s Apparel in fun, creative, and innovate way. Vic-Chen interpreted the mission of representing the Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Chinatown Metro stops by putting together playful, contemporary, and colorful designs that align with the culture of these parts of Metro Los Angeles. For more information, visit www.vic-chen.com.

Designer Vic-Chen’s representation of Downtown Long Beach. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

MANAM specializes in luxury leather clothing and accessories, and “loungerie” i.e. sexy loungewear that is comfortable enough to wear at home, and sophisticated enough to wear out.  This juxtaposition was inspired by the independent, live/work lifestyle that many professionals now have the luxury to access. I want MANAM to be a major player in supporting American industry and economy with domestic manufacturing, and set a humanitarian example for appropriate compensation and treatment of skilled craftsmen and laborers. For more information, visit www.manamfashion.com.

We are proud to announce that MANAM is featured on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine! The leather pants as seen in our storefront window, on the mannequin representing “Hollywood,” are worn by “Wonder Woman” Gal Gadot on the September 7, 2017 issue, as seen below.

About Metro

Metro (the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority) is unique among the nation’s transportation agencies. It serves as transportation planner and coordinator, designer, builder and operator for one of the country’s largest, most populous counties. More than 9.6 million people – nearly one-third of California’s residents – live, work, and play within its 1,433-square-mile service area. For more information, visit www.metro.net.

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August 8, 2017

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2017 Annual All Property Owners Meeting

The boards of directors for both the Central Hollywood Coalition and the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance will host their joint annual gathering on Thursday, August 24, 2017.  The program will address the challenges and opportunities that the BID team has been addressing, from homelessness and public safety trends to development and planning, as well as BID renewal.

The meeting will take place from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Oscar Room, 7000 Hollywood Blvd. It will be followed by a wine reception and appetizers from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Parking is available on site for $10.

All property owners, and their representatives, in both districts are invited to attend. Please RSVP to 323-463-6767 or email lorin@hollywoodbid.org.

 

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August 8, 2017

image Dining

Bop on down to Bibibop

Bibibop Asian Grill brings the bold flavors and healthy ingredients of South Korea to its new home at Sunset and Vine!

The interior of the new Bibibop Asian Grill at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood. (Courtesy photo)

Fans of Shophouse, the Asian-fusion chain from the Chipotle brand that recently shuttered, can take solace in the fact that Bibibop has taken over all 15 former Shophouse locations. Although Bibibop features some different flavors and products, the concept is very similar.

Guests begin by choosing from a base of noodles, rice, or salad; add a protein and a hot topping; then customize it with your choice of cold toppings and sauces (there are five sauces to choose from). There are also sides such as kimchi and pineapple, as well as edamame. Bibibop lets you complete your meal with complimentary miso soup!

The flavors of Bibibop Asian Grill. (Courtesy photo)

Bibibop first opened in Columbus, Ohio, in August of 2013. Inspired by bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish, the chain has expanded to nearly 30 locations across the country, including two additional locations in Los Angeles and one in Santa Monica.

For more information, visit www.bibibop.com.

A complete meal from Bibibop Asian Grill at Sunset and Vine in Hollywood. (Courtesy Photo)

BIBIBOP Asian Grill
6333 Sunset Blvd.
(323) 462-2856

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August 1, 2017

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Hollywood’s Hub for Bicycles Now Open

The new Metro Bike Hub is now open at the Hollywood & Vine Red Line Station. Located at 1630 N. Vine Street, convenient to both the Metro Red Line, the LAX Fly-Away, and numerous bus lines, the 1,000 square foot facility includes parking for 64 bicycles. Closed-circuit TV surveillance, secure access, peak-hour staff availability, same-day repairs, accessory sales and bike-related clinics are all part of the $560,000 facility.

The Metro Bike Hub at Hollywood and Vine. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

Bike hubs provide an attractive option for commuters who drive to Metro park-and-ride lots, especially for those who live within a bikeable distance of transit stations. The hub allows riders to leave their bikes at the station in a safe environment and avoid the hassle that sometimes comes with bringing bikes aboard crowded trains.

Riders may register online for a membership, or visit any of the Metro Bike Hubs during attended hours. The Metro Hollywood Bike Hub is staffed from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, offering bike repairs with free estimates, on site sign-ups, amd help with any cycling or bike communing questions. In addition to the Hollywood location, the El Monte Bike Hub is now open at 3501 Santa Anita Ave. Metro broke ground last month on a new Bike Hub at Union Station, and a Culver City Expo Line Station Bike Hub is planned for 2018. There are also bike share stations in downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Port of L.A. with a Venice location coming soon.

Secure parking for bicycles available now at the Metro Bike Hub at Hollywood and Vine. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

They also have a public air pump and work stand with tools available for anyone to use during the staffed hours. Members have access 24/7.

Riders may sign up for a free month online at www.metro.net/bikehub by using the code ‘biketometro’ through the end of 2017.

Currently, riders can chose between three membership plans; a 7-day pass for $5; a 30-day pass for $12; and a one year pass for $60. Discounts are given for seniors (62 and over); disabled, Medicare, and students K-12 at a rate of $25 for a year.

The new Metro Bike Hub at Hollywood and Vine is staffed weekdays from 7:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

“Metro’s Bike Hub is a welcome new addition to Hollywood and Vine,” said L.A. City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who represents the 13th Council District, including Hollywood. “If we want to reduce our reliance on motor vehicles, Los Angeles residents need better, reliable transit options. More people are riding bikes to get to work and for recreational purposes and the Metro Bike Hub is another step to building our bicycle infrastructure. I am excited to have this new world-class amenity in one of our city’s most iconic destinations.”

Just remember to bring your own lock; otherwise you can purchase one from the hub’s retail section during staffed hours!

Metro Bike Hube is operated by Bikehub.com.

Metro Bike Hub – Hollywood and Vine
1630 N. Vine Street
(626) 228-3606

The Metro Bike Hub at Hollywood and Vine offers free clinics and support for bike riders. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

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July 31, 2017

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Old Hollywood Locals Night – Summer Edition

On Tuesday, August 8, 2017, local residents are encouraged to come out and enjoy all that Old Hollywood has to offer!

The second in the Old Hollywood Locals Night series of events, the festivities will take place from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on Hollywood Boulevard between Las Palmas Ave. and Cahuenga Blvd.

Cabo Cantina, 6669 Hollywood Blvd., is one of the participating restaurants at Old Hollywood Locals Night. (Photo by Gary Leonard)

The Hollywood Property Owners Alliance and Suaya Properties are coordinating the event. This evening will feature performance art, live music, community booths, and food tasting at participating restaurants.

Hollywood PAL participating in the spring Old Hollywood Locals Night. (Photo by Gary Leonard)

Register today for your Old Hollywood Locals Night passbook which entitles you to free samples at participating restaurants and a chance to win prizes.

Passbooks will be provided to registrants the night of the event starting at 6:00 p.m. at the courtyard of Janes House, 6541 Hollywood Blvd. The community booths and activities will be located on sidewalk “bump-outs” along Hollywood Blvd.

Local band Sunshine and Moon performing at the spring Old Hollywood Locals Night. (Photo by Gary Leonard)

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July 31, 2017

image Entertainment

The Friendly Frolic Room

As bartender Tarek Martin laughs “The bar is a perfect mix of neighborhood regulars, tourists, and all-around professional drinkers.”

The Frolic Room, located next door to the Pantages Theater is also arguably the most historic and quintessential dive bar in Hollywood. Open every day from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., this watering-hole has gone through a variety of permutations over the years. It began serving as a private speakeasy lounge originally called Freddy’s, then opened to the public in 1934, as Bob’s Frolic Room.

Historic photo of the Pantages Theatre, with the Frolic Room at left, from the Richard Wojcik collection. (Courtesy photo)

Cozy, dark, and featured as a set in numerous period films – including The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential, the bar is many things to many people. It’s a classic, pre-theater watering hole for Pantages’ patrons, a legitimately kitschy hangout for tourists and Hollywood history buffs, a neighborhood bar with a bevy of regulars and a killer juke box, and a landmark for fans of writer Charles Bukowski. Bukowski, the wayward author as famous for his drinking as his writing, made the Frolic Room a frequent stop. His portrait hangs above the register, and for a time, there were weekly readings of his works held at the bar.

The Frolic Room was also reputedly the last place the real Black Dahlia, Elizabeth Short, was seen alive. Both Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland also imbibed here. Howard Hughes owned both the Pantages and the bar from 1949 to 1954. He added the colorful, artistic neon bar sign above the door that still welcomes patrons today, as well as throwing lavishly wild parties.

“The history of the bar, the fact that it is the oldest bar in Hollywood, people know about that, and want to come in just to soak up the atmosphere. If the walls could talk, the stories they could tell would be pretty cool,” Martin notes. “There are so many legends about the place, whether it’s about Bukowski drinking here, or Elizabeth Short being last seen here. It’s a lot of fun telling the stories, sharing the theories, whether they are true or not. People really enjoy them.”

On the eastern wall, a storied mural by artist Al Hirschfeld features caricatures of celebrities in full color.

The mural inside the Frolic Room by artist Al Hirschfeld. (Courtesy photo)

“The mural is a big attraction. It was installed in 1963, and was restored not that long ago. We have glass over the bottom portion of it now so that people can’t write on it or mark it up. It’s a real landmark,” Martin attests.

Artist Oscar Ropide carefully worked on restoration of the classic piece in 2012.  Albert Einstein, Clark Gable, Laurel & Hardy, Marilyn Monroe, and Tallulah Bankhead are among the iconic 1960s-era celebrities depicted on the full color panels. The Frolic Room, with its convivial vibe, red pleather seats, and dim space-ship style ceiling lights would seem to be the perfect place to find Einstein and Monroe interacting in real life, although alas, they did not.

Hirschfeld called himself a “character-ist,” not a caricaturist, often included the name of his daughter, Nina, in capital letters hidden in his work – and did so in this piece, three times. Hunting for the name is an activity that many bar visitors indulge in – when they’re not ordering classic, reasonably priced drinks.

“We’re an old-school bar,” Martin explains.  “We are not a mixology spot, we serve beer and shots.” He adds that orders differ depending on the time of day and the crowd. “When people are going to the Pantages and they’re dressed up and they stop in for a drink, they tend to order more classic cocktails. But we serve everything you can think of, across the board.”

One of his most frequently ordered cocktails is a martini. “This is such a classic Hollywood dive, that’s really the perfect drink for the place.”

But there are plenty of other choices served up by bartenders who are known for their no-nonsense skills, pouring everything from a Bloody Mary made with Sriracha hot chili sauce to a generous Old Fashioned, a Tiki-like pineapple and rum, raspberry Chambord, and even Pernod, the anise-flavored liqueur that turns milky when water is added. According to Martin, the bar has just about any alcoholic beverage a patron can think to order.

“What I’d most like people to know about the Frolic Room is that our bartenders are great, and we will take care of you whether we know you or not,” Martin says.

And there’s plenty of Hollywood history to enjoy, besides.

Frolic Room
6245 Hollywood Blvd.
(323) 462-5890


Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own www.diversionsLA.com.

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July 31, 2017