David Arquette is the first person I see inside the VIP lounge at Bootsy Bellows, and he’s pacing alone in front of the bar, dressed in a crisp tuxedo, a nervous smile twitching across his scruffy face. It’s opening week of his new nightclub on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, and if he seems a bit anxious, it’s understandable. Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Robert Pattinson will enter in a couple hours under a barrage of flashes, plus Paris Hilton will get into a paparazzi scuffle when she exits. But for now, it’s quiet.
Immediately, Arquette points to the twenty-odd framed photos hung in the corner to my left. They’re all of a buxom, topless woman from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Sometimes her hands are clasped behind her head like a classic pinup girl, in a few photos she’s having a playful catfight with another topless woman, and in one she’s tied up with a ball gag in her mouth, her large breasts sticking through her restraints.
“These are all my mother,” Arquette says, waving an arm at the pictures, and then he quickly disappears through a door to greet a friend, leaving me standing under the half-naked photos of his mom. I don’t know if it’s polite to examine each one, or to take a quick glance and move along, so I kind of do both before grabbing a cocktail from one of the BlackLAB mixologists.
Bootsy Bellows is named after Arquette’s mother; it was her burlesque name at the time all these photos were taken. Brian Toll, one of the other co-owners along with John Terzian and Darren Dzienciol, shakes his head as we talk about photos. “David brings the entertainment aspect to Bootsy’s,” he says. “The rest of us know the business side.”
The rat-pack inspired club, a gold and black retro redesign of the Trousdale space, will have two live shows a week arranged by Arquette himself. Expect to find him singing and performing some nights, and on others to watch burlesque, puppeteers, Elton John impersonators, and possibly drop-in acts by Arquette’s friends like Paul Reubens.
Arquette and I sat on the couch under his mother’s photos for a quick interview.
Tell me about Bootsy Bellows.
My whole concept for the place is to create a space where people feel comfortable, a place where they love. I want it to be a place where they can have some of the greatest memories of their lives. I know that sounds like a tall order, but people lose track of the fact that this is life, we’re living life at the moment, so you got to have fun.
A lot of the art in the club—the photo of Sammy Davis, Jr., the paintings and photos in the entrance, these of your mom—are all from your own personal collection, right?
I brought in a lot of the art, yeah. That Sammy Davis photo is mine. All these photos are my mom from her modeling career. [Laughing]
Did you have these photos hanging up in your home before bringing them here?
No, I had just found a lot of these. I knew she had done some, and I’d seen a few, but I found these magazines… My sister, Patricia, found a bunch of them, too.
What did you sister say when she found them?
Well, you know when my mom was still alive, I found a book called “I Was a 50s Pin-Up,” and I found some nude photos of her. I had always known she had done some stuff like this, that she had done modeling, but I had always had a collection of pin-up stuff, so it was so weird to stumble across a picture of my mom. I was like, “Mom, what the hell?” and she was like, “Um.” I found some of these photos like that—there’s a catfight scene over here.
What about this one, the bondage one?
Oh, I found that one a bit later, which is kind of nutty. Yeah, total bondage. Pretty hardcore. But she was like, “Oh David, you know we were just playing. We were just faking.” [Laughs]
How does your sister feel about them being up in the club for everyone to see?
I’m not exactly sure. I actually didn’t clear it with all my sisters and everything. That’s an interesting thing. But, you know, there’s no secrets… But then some people brought their kids here earlier and I was like “Oh, hold on! There’s kind of like nude photos in the other room.” I was like “Oh, my gosh. What about my daughter?” So I have to figure that out. I just won’t let her back here, I guess.
So I saw you were just down in New Orleans filming a show. Can you tell me about it?
Yeah, it’s a travel show for the Travel Channel. It’s me and my buddy Mike McGuiness, who is this businessman who runs a PR company. He’s a busy guy and I’m a busy guy, but we like to get away and have fun and escape life, and we used to do it together and have a blast with these crazy vacations. Now we’re basically bringing people along with us and seeing what kind of crazy stuff can you do in three days.
Where else have you guys gone?
We went to Alaska, Key West, Budapest, Morocco, Israel. We got around.
What was your favorite spot?
Oh, man. I love New Orleans as an American world city. I think it’s up there with some of the greatest places in the world. Budapest was really interesting. Israel was really deep; the difference with the history of Jerusalem and then the hopping nightlife of Tel Aviv is really remarkable.
And you just had your bar mitzvah in Israel, right?
Yeah, I had it right there. It was incredible. I always wanted to get a bar mitzvah and my mom said that I just wanted to do it for the presents [laughs], and so I never got one and I always joked that I’ll get one when I’m forty. When I went there they sort of made it really easy for me to do, and I always wanted to connect with that part of my history.
Well, welcome back to Los Angeles. What are you going to do to relax here in between projects?
I love to rent a bike at the beach and drive down Santa Monica into Venice. I love the music and sports you can find here in L.A. The Mint is always a cool spot for real live music. I love going to Dodgers games. I’m not the best fan, but I love them and grew up loving them, and I like seeing the fans. After that I’d say I’d cap the night off at Bootsy’s, but we’re not open Sundays. [Laughs]
Bootsy Bellows opens this Friday, and then regularly on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 PM to 2 AM. The Ivory Bar (VIP lounge) is invite only, Tuesday through Saturday from 9 PM to 2 AM.