LA Through a Cracked Lens: Pride 2022

LA Pride 2022. Photo by Brian Donnelly.

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A 2022 James Beard Award Nominee Just Opened His First LA Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Avant Garden Bistro.

Plant-based eatery Avant Garden Bistro was a huge success when it opened in New York City in 2015. Earlier this month, its LA counterpart of the same name opened in West Hollywood. 

Avant Garden Bistro is led by Ravi DeRossi. A 2022 James Beard Award Nominee for Outstanding Restaurateur, DeRossi is a co-founder of the influential Death & Co bars in New York City, DTLA’s Arts District, and Denver. Overthrow Hospitality, his restaurant group, is also behind nine much-loved NYC vegan restaurants and bars.

Veganism is a subject close to DeRossi’s heart. “When I was 12, I stopped eating meat,” he told me when I visited his new restaurant. “I wasn’t even sure why.” Years later, DeRossi took an extended leave of absence from his restaurants when his beloved cat Simon became terminally ill. 

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10 of LA’s Best Bars Are Offering $1 Martinis This Friday

Photo credit: Brian Donnelly for The Los Angeles Beat

Ten of Los Angeles’s best hotspots are offering $1 martinis this Friday, June 17!

Why, you may wonder? It’s the 50th anniversary of Watergate, and STARZ is focusing a new lens on the cataclysmic political event with “Gaslit,” a limited series starring Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, and Betty Gilpin.

A classic martini was the favorite cocktail of socialite Martha Mitchell, the first person to blow the whistle on the corrupt goings-on during the Nixon administration.

STARZ will celebrate this Washington whistleblower during the STARZ Gaslit Martini Hour. The event will take place at some of LA’s most enduring venues (poolside at the Beverly Hilton, Dan Tana’s, Hollywood Post 43), along with Downtown’s beloved The Varnish and newer hotspots like Grandmaster Recorders and 1 Hotel in West Hollywood.

$1 martinis will be served on Friday, June 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. See below for the complete list. Cheers!

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Free “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” Experience Coming to LA Next Week

Image credit: Christopher Saunders/Amazon Studios.

If you’re a “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” fan, you’ve likely admired the show’s vintage style. The Prime Video series transports audiences to the vibrant New York City of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.

Step into the mid-century milieu of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” – for free – at the “Making LA Marvelous” pop-up on Saturday, June 18, and Sunday, June 19 in West Hollywood. 

See recreations of sets from season 4. Russ & Daughters, the legendary Lower East Side deli famed for its lox and bagels, is represented with a “Maisel”-themed deli featuring classic Jewish noshes.

Don’t miss live, ‘60s-inspired jazz performances on the hour at the Blue Note Jazz Club. 

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Movies Till Dawn: The Saturday Morning Strange vs. Strangler

Stunt Rock” (1978, Kino Lorber) Australian stuntman Grant Page (playing himself) lands a TV gig in Los Angeles, where he parties with cousin Curtis Hyde and his bandmates in Sorcery while courting starry-eyed reporter Margaret Gerard. Brian Trenchard-Smith‘s oddball actioner has a devoted cult following thanks to dizzying footage of Page’s extremely dangerous and haphazardly coordinated stunts (a fire trick that goes awry is particularly alarming) and Sorcery’s act, which combines Dio-style fantasy trappings and arena-sized pyrotechnics in small venues. Both are astonishing enough to disguise the fact that “Stunt Rock” is plotless – there’s intonations of romance with Gerber and actress Monique van de Ven, and a scurrilous manager (played by “Eating Raoul” and LA Weekly scribe Richard Blackburn), but “Stunt Rock” exists to showcase its adrenaline-junkie leads; in that capacity, it’s a monumental success. Kino’s Blu-ray includes bemused commentary by and interviews with Page, Gerard, and Trenchard-Smith (the latter two are now a married couple), as well as convos with producer Marty Fink and Sorcery guitarist Smokey Huff.

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LA Beat Interview: The Residents

Video artist John Sanborn (left) and The Residents ex-vocalist Randy, seen in the God In 3 Persons Promo Film, produced for the MOMA premiere in 2020.

Following acclaimed performances at New York’s MOMA and in their hometown of San Francisco, The Residents are bringing the fully-realized production of their 1988 opera God In Three Persons to the Alex Theater in Glendale. While live appearances from the group have become more common in recent years, this particular ball of wormy wax is an elaborately staged narrative work, produced through a collaboration with video artist John Sanborn and stage director Travis Chamberlain. Through live action and prepared visuals, the story of a travelling salesman/ con artist who becomes entangled with a pair of conjoined twins of indeterminate gender, who may or may not possess magical healing powers, unfolds.

“I feel the Residents have had an interest in story-telling from their very earliest work,” says Homer Flynn, officially a representative from the Cryptic Corporation who acts as a spokesperson for the Residents, being that the band members themselves have been anonymous ever since their first release in 1972. Continue reading

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Treasures from Siegfried & Roy’s Estate to be Auctioned This Week

Siegfried & Roy’s Jungle Palace. Photo credit: Colton Soref for Bonhams.

Though Siegfried & Roy began performing in Las Vegas in 1967, the pair became household names in the ‘90s thanks to their hugely popular 13-year run at The Mirage in Vegas. Their astounding shows, featuring rare white tigers and other members of their beloved animal family, made the duo of entertainers and illusionists iconic.

This week, over 500 items from Siegfried & Roy’s estate will be auctioned on Wednesday, June 8, and Thursday, June 9 at Bonhams.

While attending the press preview for the “Siegfried and Roy: Masters of the Impossible” auction at Bonhams’ showrooms in West Hollywood, Helen Hall, Bonhams’ Director of Pop Culture, told me “The sumptuous, exquisite lives they lived are reflected in these pieces.”

Siegfried & Roy owned two Las Vegas homes full of treasures. One, the Jungle Palace, was Southeast Asia themed. The second, Little Bavaria, was an extravagant 80-acre hideaway created to remind Siegfried of his German upbringing.

As befits Las Vegas legends known for their flamboyant style, their costumes and possessions were often over the top. Those lavish sensibilities are on full view at Bonhams. You’ll find dinnerware, much of it printed with tigers and other big cats, from the likes of Christian Dior and Versace. An assortment of delightfully campy stage costumes. Gorgeous, vibrant posters promoting magic acts from the 1930s. Photos of the duo with Hillary Clinton and several US Presidents.

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Sandy Haley Brings Her Mix Of Blues, Gospel and Motown To The Ojai Blues Fest This Coming Weekend

Sandy Haley brings her mix of Motown and blues to scenic Ojai on Saturday, June 4. Her performance, part of the Ojai Blues Fest, brings a return of the Blues Fest to the stage which was on hiatus since 2019. In conjunction with Sandy’s newest album, Feels Like Freedom, the show will showcase her husky, smoky blues voice. The Ojai Blues Fest will also feature Crooked Eye Tommy, a long-standing blues powerhouse fronted by guitarist/vocalist Tommy Marsh. Tommy Marsh is also a veteran of producing many Southern California blues festivals; and bringing back the Ojai Blues Fest has long been a wish he’s had.

The Ojai Blues Fest will be held at the California Arts Center. Over the years, Ojai has been the home to many musicians, including Joni Mitchell and Johnny Cash; and actors such as Larry Hagman. Ojai has also been known for its many Art Festivals and galleries, herbal shops and top-flight restaurants. Just about an hour northwest of Los Angeles, the Ojai Blues Festival can easily serve as the centerpiece of a weekend in the mountains.

Sandy Haley and Tommy Marsh both talked with The Los Angeles Beat about the upcoming Fest, as well as Sandy’s newest album. Sandy answered a few questions about what’s coming up. She said:

Q: Ojai has a rich history in music and art. Many major musicians call Ojai home; and the Ojai Blues Fest has had a long history. What do you think about playing at the return of the Ojai Blues Fest?

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Album Review: Sex Pistols – The Complete Recordings (Ume)

One thing you may not know about mass retailers like Target and Best Buy that still sell physical music by the ton: they only ever stock “current releases”. This is why so many groups who have already issued career spanning compilations always seem to have a new greatest- hits title out just in time for their big summer tour, Hall of Fame induction or whatever milestone has recently put them in the news. This new collection can be considered a new product and the artist with no new recordings can find themselves on the chain store shelves again. And so it is that we find ourselves considering The Original Recordings, a 2-lp set by the Sex Pistols whose proximate timing to the premiere of the TV show “Pistol” can’t possibly be a coincidence. Thus, it presents as a conspiracy, not the first one involving the Pistols. Let’s unravel it Continue reading

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Movies till Dawn: Creepy

Night Caller” (2022, 123 Go Films) Grisly supernatural thriller which channels the grimy vibe of ’70s and ’80s slasher/grindhouse fare while also finding room for writer-director Chad Ferrin‘s eclectic perspective. Susan Priver stars as a psychic working for a cut-rate phone line who begins to receive not only calls from a stranger (Steve Railsback) who claims to be a serial killer, but also horrible visions of his crimes. The latter are remarkably nasty, but Ferrin finds equal room for character detail – like Priver’s dad (Ferrin regular Robert Miano), a bedridden but remarkably hardy cop movie fan, and Railsback’s visions of his own pop (Lew Temple), a fellow maniac with a critical eye – which lend heft and tonal variations to the grim material. Another unique effort from Ferrin, whose approach to horror embraces dark material like this, broadly comic/cult-minded titles like “Exorcism at 60,000 Feet,” and out-there explorations like “The Deep Ones.” Currently available as a VOD title on various platforms.

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