'What a Mexican village’- i thought. I came on a shoe string budget, stayed in a shabby motel and wondered why such a dirty place would be called a City of Angels.
I was walking around the stretch of Hollywood boulevard full of homeless people and other hustlers, teens of skateboards,defecating dogs and oblivious to this fact owners and I could not stop wondering why this place is pretentiously called The Walk of Fame. Personalised stars on the pavement clearly didnt impress me enough for a justification.
I went to sleazy night clubs full of tourists, hoping to get a glimpse of celebrities who (in my firm believe) should be hanging out there. To my great disappointment, every night I was out ,the stars seemed to opt staying in.
I have complained about long distances, traffic and expensive taxis (pre-Uber era).
Luckily everything had changed during my second visit. I have discovered Los Angeles, California the way I know and love it now. This place symbolises to me everything I value the most: everlasting youthful freedom, courage to dream big, dreams that come true, ultimate dedication to one’s profession. Add here great climate, breathtaking outdoors, cult of healthy and beautiful body and you will end up looking at a picture of a lifestyle I fall in love with.
I love LA because its is so diverse. I’m a person who gets bored quickly but I can never get enough of LA. It simply has it all: stunning outdoors along the coastline and modern skyscrapers of Downtown, luxury mansions of Bel Air and surfing at Malibu, bohemian West Hollywood and film studios that manufacture dreams for the whole world.
SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK’N’ROLL
Im a huge fan of Rock music. Naive rebels, protesting kids who believed that they can change the world, daring, sexy in their confidence and shockingly honest - these are my heros of Rock’n’roll era.
Los Angeles is the cradle of Rock’n’roll history and its heart beats at Sunset boulevard, home to infamous Chateau Marmot, Rainbow bar, Viper room, Roxy and many more places that are keeping the memory of thrilling escapades and daring mischiefs.
Chateau Marmot, an impressive castle that mounts over Sunset boulevards, is draped in lush vegetation of its gardens, is now one of the most desirable venues for a show biz lunch,a bohemian dinner or a very private hotel stay.
Only few know that Chateau had transformed into its current glamorous status from an affordable apartment building and later a motel. According to the legend, Rolling stones rid their motorbikes in its gothic arcades, Blues Brothers' star John Belushi died from an overdose during a drug fuelled bungalow party and a celebrated photographer Helmut Newton had a fatal car crash in Chateau’s garage…
These sad incidents seem only to add charm to a place that symbolises the glory and the darkness of Hollywood.
Nowadays Chateau is a hot celebrity spot. Thick walls and secret walkways provide modern celebrities with desired privacy and hotel’s concierge can satisfy any guest request of which an in-room massage is the most innocent request.
Despite of strict privacy rules, paparazzi dont give up. At any time of the day few chaps with cameras are waiting in front of the entrance in a hope to snap a celebrity entering or exiting (preferably scandalously) the infamous castle. Inside, passed snobbish model-like hostesses , in a scrumptious garden restaurant decorated by linen draped gazebos and lit by candles and bonfires, one can easily meet sought after producers that discuss the latest script over a dinner, a famous photographer or a supermodel, or even a wasted film star who may live in one of the private Chateau’s bungalows along with the entourage… Lindsay Lohan,Britney Spears and Nicky Menaj had allegedly stayed in the Chateau for weeks.
Popular song Hotel California reportedly speaks about Chateau: ‘You can check out any time you like but you can never live”. So true! Chateau Mormont captivates its visitors with an indulgent darkness of its gothic walls and seductive variety of unlimited possibilities.
If you'd ever decide to experience this enchanted place for longer then just a dinner, my advice: Stay in a bungalow. Jonny Depp had once confessed that him and Kate Moss had tried them all during their passionate romance.
Reaching out from Chateau Marmont’s mellow embrace back to the Sunset strip,we find it flooded with light: twinkling signs of strip bars, comedy show rooms, hotdog joints and many cars in both directions - life here does not stop till early hours.
Back in 70’s "Journey" sang about Sunset boulevard: “ Strangers waiting/ Up and down the boulevard/Their shadows searching in the night/Streetlight, people/ Living just to find emotion/hiding somewhere in the night”. Sunset was the main night scene where to wonder from a bar into another was actually even more exciting then to be inside these bars. Meeting friends, making new friends or just people watching was a thrilling entertainment: the night scene was very diverse, with various sub-cultures from goths to punks and from hippies to rockers. These kids didnt have a clear idea about a particular dressing stye that would express their music preference so they just wore the weirdest outfit they could get their hands on. It was not unusual when men wore women’s clothes that they have borrowed (or stolen) from the last night girlfriend.
Rainbow bar was the centre of the Strip’s life. Conveniently located between Roxy, Viper room and number of smaller music venues, Ranbow bar had its own stage that had proudly hosted most of the stars for an after show party and a performance alike.
Always dark,full of sigarette smoke,this venue offers rock stars discretion by featuring dimmed lighting and private booths. As I had been told, the entertainment didn’t only happen on stage, but had been often extended by keen fans to under the tables. The walls of Rainbow bar are covered with pictures of musicians who had been photographed in the venue: Black Sabbath, Madonna, Carlos Santana, The Doors, Rolling Stones… the list goes on and on and on.
Nowadays Rainbow bar lives on its past glory. Visit it for a drink and to see middle aged rockers in leather and chains and if you are lucky like me, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath will stop there for a drink on their way to Roxy, a concert venue next door.
Along with being a Rock’n’roll live museum, the modern Sunset Strip is a night scene on its own right. Posh Mondrian hotel caters exclusively for young, beautiful and successful. Rap musicians,fashion photographers,young bankers and models are to be found in its dreamy interiors draped with white flowing silk. Passed by a swing at the reception area (why not a unicorn?) and a fresh juice bar, guest will exit into a magnificent pull area that is called Sky Bar by night.
Impressive amount of gorgeous people is explained by harsh face control policy. Music is surprisingly good: lounge and pop improvisations enhance the decadent ambience under the star light.
TIP: If you are not a hotel guest, book a dinner in Mondrain’s restaurant … to stay in Sky bar later.
Read in the next chapter of NIKKA LORAK’S TRAVEL DIARIES: LA: FAMOUS,SPIRITUAL AND VEGAN.