There's a new club in town, and if the opening night is any indication, it's going to be one of the hottest. It's Hooray Henry's at 8713 Beverly Blvd. Los Angeles (across from Cedar Sanai Medical Center) and celebs, media, family and friends filled the room August 7th for the club's premiere.
Opening a club in Hollywood is almost exactly like opening a movie: there's fanfare, there's publicity, there's a gala and glamour. And the same goes in to the making of the club as a movie: the right ingredients must come together to make something enjoyable so people will come. In Los Angeles there's hundreds of places that want to be the next "place" to be; very few ever succeed. Because like a movie, no matter how much money one throws at it or who is in it or behind it, there's also got to be chemistry, a connection, magic, for lack of a better word.
That spirit of Hollywood, the swank, chic Hollywood night spot, watering holes for the glamorous and fabulous, has fueled books, movies, plays and has a definite place in the folklore of America. Heck, even half of one of American's most beloved couples Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) ran a club (and belated Happy Birthday to the late Lucille Ball born August 6th). The desire to be seen or be at these clubs has created a velvet rope culture, the guy at the door with the list, the guy picking out who can go in and who can't (that guy, in this case, is the wonderful Parker, tall, long hair, quiet)...it's kept people getting dolled up and going down and taking a chance for decades and not just in Hollywood. The line at Studio 54 was legendary, getting in a golden ticket where one could watch as Bianca Jagger rode bare breast and bare back in to the middle of the dance floor on a white Stallion.
And behind every great club (or clubs) is an Impresario, a person or persons with a vision of how to create that right mix that will win over the fickle famous or the experienced club goer. Well, in the Hollywood entertainment scene there is none hotter right now than John Terzian of h.wood group and his partners Brian Toll, Markus Mollinari and friend, actor and the all around fabulous David Arquette.
h.wood group is behind the ever-popular SHOREbar in Malibu, Calif. (where both celebs that live in this enclave and locals mingle at the beach) and another one of the hottest clubs in town, Bootsy Bellows. I first covered Bootsy's opening over a year ago, and have watched it grow in to THE place on the Sunset Strip to be. Just three nights ago I was there, dancing on a stage with David (Arquette) and his lovely girlfriend Entertainment Tonight's Christina McLarty as David brought a marionette to life for the crowd. It was a hoot to party with Danielle Radcliffe at Bootsy's, realizing Harry Potter is now old enough to drink or having Kobe Bryant buy me a Jamesons on NYE 2012. The DJs are always fresh, the entertainment unique and exquisite, the crowd fun and of course, glamorous.
Will Hooray Henry's be a triple crown winner for h.wood group? It would be surprising if it were anything but.
"It's harder than I thought in L.A. to get a Ziggy Stardust costume," the irrepressible Arquette texted me at 1800 hours on opening day. Of course he has something special planned, he's a showman from a family of show people. Just two hours later he would arrive at Hooray Henry's with McLarty, he in an incredible patterned tuxedo and bow tie and McLarty looking stunning in a simple black dress with a back as low-cut and as sexy as anything J-Lo ever wore. We hug at the door, just as John Sofio and I are about to talk.
"He's the man! This is the guy!" Arquette says, arms around Sofio.
Sofio is the founder and president of the design firm Built based in Silver Lake, CA. Built under Sofio has designed the AIA/LA-award-winning SHOREbar, The Viper Room, Pink Taco and over 400 other Southern California concept clubs, residential and commercial properties.
"This was a blast, getting to do Hooray Henry's," Sofio began above the noise of the filling club, flashbulbs going off as more arrive. "We wanted to bring a little bit of London to L.A., since the London night club scene is legendary. But you also have to make a functional, comfortable space for people to enjoy themselves, and not go too crazy," he added.
"That's why this works," Arquette interjects. "We try to make a great, safe place for everyone to come and have fun, no matter what your idea of fun is. If you want to dance, great, chat in a booth with friends, wonderful, have a drink, watch a great show and be entertained, and yes, bump in to some people you may have seen or heard in entertainment. A place for everyone, maybe even to fall in love" Arquette continued.
"We have an incredible team in John, David, Brian and Markus," Terzian told me as we stood and watched more arrive. A quick hug to Adam Lambert and then it's back talking business. "You can't bottle what we do, and each and every time is different. There's no formula. Yes, these are concept clubs, but that's the only thread that ties them together. Each is unique and will be a different experience for the club goer. But the result will be universal. If you love SHOREbar, if you love Bootsy, you're going to love Henry's," he said.
"That's the thing," Lambert interjects. "It's a family feel with a bit of glamour thrown in." Lambert celebrated his last birthday at Bootsy Bellows, complete with a lap dance from Arquette. He's here, preparing for his performance at the iHeart Radio festival with Queen in Las Vegas in September, a group he's been rumored to be taking over since his days on Idol.
"Singing with the guys is such an honor. The songs are so iconic, the energy on stage is unbelievable. I look forward to every and any time I get to work with them," he said, his delight showing through. (Oh, and he's much taller than I expected or I'm shrinking).
Naturally I have to ask the journalism 101 question, is he going to front the group as a more regular event?
"That's really up to the guys and to schedules and life, but we are having a ball working together now, so we'll leave the future up to the future," he smiled slyly. Since I interview politicians, I know a non-answer when I get one, but I had to ask!
After the interviews and the business of having a good time begins, it's easy to see why this club will, in fact, follow in the footsteps of the other two success stories. As I stand at the bar chatting with David, his longtime friend Balthazar Getty comes over and in just a few moments they begin rapping. Yup, rapping. Seems they were a rap duo in previous years, no kidding. Macklemore and Ryan have nothing up on them. Getty's wife Rosetta Millington is at the bar talking to McLarty when we all begin to try and identify the celebrities in a mural behind the bar. Soon, everyone is laughing at their caricatures.
The Dolls (Mia Moretti and Margo) take to the stage with the DJ, breaking out violins, playing incredible music as the DJ mixes giving a show that it seems one can only see now in a h.wood club. At Bootsy Arquette spearheads a show that can have a 50's type singer one minute, a puppeteer the next or even a yo-yo juggler. Henry's opened up in the same vein with The Dolls providing the incredibly entertaining and one-of-a-kind club experience. It is old Hollywood wrapped in the new, the legacy and torch of nightclub entertainment and the great impressarios before being passed down to Terzian, Toll, Mollinari and Sofio. And they are carrying it well, keeping it lit.
McLarty and I (and this is one beautiful, smart, sexy woman) talk of her upcoming documentary. Yes, she's an entertainment reporter with ET but she's also a serious journalist. Without giving too much away, it's going to be incredible. It focuses on boxing and a specific boxer and the never-before-seen footage and stories are going to rock the boxing and general public. She's interviewing the greats, she's a journalist on a mission to tell an interesting story and this lady will get it done. Arquette comes by and says goodnight and the duo leaves.
I grab friend Daniel Charleston (who helps with audio and video and designated driver on these treks) and we bid goodbye before midnight, after all, it's a school night. But the club is full, a line outside, people are laughing, dancing, drinking...it's happening, again. h.wood appears to have another winner.
The life of a night spot can be brief, a year or two, and then the light fades and the glitter crowd moves on. h.wood, Terzian, Arquette and the others are creating spots that have a feeling of old Hollywood, like some of the clubs from the 40's and 50's that are still here today. They have a pulse on when it's time to evolve and change, reinvent and reintroduce. They've taken The Beverly and turned it in to another creation that may last 20 years, but doesn't need to. h.wood under Terzian, Arquette and the group are going to keep growing the portfolio, keeping it, and their clubs relevant, opening new ones, rethinking old ones and capturing the spark that is the legendary Hollywood nightclub scene.
Video By Daniel Charleston and Karel