Taryn Manning Does It All

Taryn Manning is exhausted. Consider the slew of film auditions, big time fashion shows in support of her Williamsburg-friendly line Born Uniqorn, getting her party on with the likes of, you know, Paris Hilton and company, and now, the March 10 release of her electro pop funk of an LP A Million Trillion Stars. As the distinctive voice fronting brother/sister duo Boomkat, Taryn’s proving that the whole actress/singer/fashion designer thing doesn’t always have to conjure up J.Lo (and we’re thankful for that, as JLO jeans still haunt us). You’ve likely come across Manning’s fearless acting chops as the no-bullshit prostitute who rocked Bo Derek cornrows in Hustle & Flow. With all of Manning’s film roles, even as Britney Spear’s knocked-up BFF in the chic-flick Crossroads, Manning keeps it real, and equally as real in life–whether it’s on the silver screen, as heard through her throaty, soulful pipes, or through an e-mail. No publicist or puppet strings of any kind hold Manning back; she’s the all around real deal in the unfortunate Taylor Swift/Katy Perry world in which we live. We talked about her Large Marge nightmares, Lynne Spears requesting her MySpace friendship, and her regrets for turning down make-out sessions with Charlize Theron.

You have a whole lot going on. Who were you when you woke up this morning? Today I woke up and my hair and makeup girl came over and she did it for the day because I have two big auditions — not a cattle call, but parts that are, you know, really awesome. But it’s really competitive so when I go into these auditions I’m seeing other actors that are my contemporaries that I really admire. I take a lot of pride in my work so I always get my hair and makeup done. But right now, I’m with my music manager. The official release for A Million Trillion Stars is coming soon so I’m just working on all of that stuff. So today I’m more of the actress-singer but I’m very tired because I just did two amazing runway shows for my clothing line. One in Vegas was for the huge trade show, “Magic.” It’s just a time when everyone goes and everyone has a booth — all of the buyers come from all over the world to see all the lines at one time. I also had a huge fashion show at Tao. And I had a big, big, giant dinner that I hosted with my partner, Tara Jane. So, I went to Vegas, then the next morning at the crack of dawn, flew home for this amazing Elle magazine runway show that had my line and Russell Simmons’. Paris Hilton and Queen Latifah are good friends of mine and they came so it drew lot of press as you can imagine. But, today I’m the singer actress. I’m really tired today. Do you believe in R&R? I told my mom: “Mom, I don’t understand. I’m sleeping 8 hours but everyday I’m not feeling that good” and she actually said “Your adrenal glands are drained.” Having to be so on and up, like “Hey, how you doing? I’m Taryn!” to buyers who only speak Japanese or French and you’re trying so hard to have a conversation with them and it’s tough. But things are really good. I’m really happy with my life, and I’m really enjoying all of the endeavors. I remember seeing you rocking stars on your face for your first album, Boomkatalog One, and now your latest LP is called A Million Trillion Stars … coincidence, or do you have a big time penchant for stars? Yeah, I still do that when I play with Boomkat — I still love to put a star on my face. It’s just something I started doing when I was really young — I don’t know, but I’m definitely like Rainbow Brite and my friends call me Rainbow Brite. My clothing line is called Born Uniqorn, I have a unicorn tattoo, I have a tattoo of a ghetto blaster on me. I wear stars around my eyes. I’ve always just been kind of funky. It’s funny now seeing Lady Gaga wearing all of that space stuff. It’s cool, it’s on another level. I just like having that trademark to separate the actress Taryn from the singer Taryn. Now I’m in music mode because sometimes there’s the actor-turned-musician and musician-turned-actor. I’m not turned anything. I am a musician, I’ve been one my entire life. Me and my brother are, my father was, and I’m an actor. I’ve studied acting really hard, and went to a lot of schools for acting. So I believe I’m legitimately an all around little entertainer.

What can we expect from A Million Trillion Stars? The title came from a dream. Our first album was called Boomkatalog One because me and my brother have so many songs, so obviously we were gonna call the next albums Boomkatalog 2 and 3. But I didn’t always love that. I just didn’t know what to name it. It’s so eclectic and it’s been so long since I put out of a record and all of a sudden I had a dream. Do you know Large Marge from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure? She drove a truck and when Pee-Wee got in, they were talking and she looked over and her eyes would bug out of her head and she kind of turned demonic. So in my dream, she was giving me a ride in her semi. I was like, “I just don’t know what to name my record.” All of a sudden, she turned her head like in The Exorcist and her eyes bugged out of her head and she said “It’s called A Million Trillion Stars and if don’t name it that, I’ll kill you!” And I was like, “Yes, ma’am!” So I woke up, and that’s what I named it. It’s super cool and it speaks to me. So thanks Large Marge! But I never had a dream do that before where I’ve actually taken a lesson from it and used it. Do you find it a lot easier collaborating with your bro? We both respect each other and what we bring to the table. It can be hard sometimes hanging with your brother so often but we’re pretty close and he’s a really funny guy. And we’re the exact opposite, the Yin and the Yang. We’re two completely different breeds of humans which is good because I’m sort of the social kind of front person and he definitely goes home right after work and makes music — that whole mysterious artist sort of thing. So it’s a good match.

You were in will.i.am’s celeb-filled, pro-Obama “Yes We Can” video — how was being apart of something like that? That was really cool. Actually, I didn’t realize quite the impact it was gonna have at all. My friend is a really big club promoter in LA. She became very active when Obama became a candidate. She’s friends with will.i.am and she called all of her celebrity friends and I kinda just went and did it. It was really cool, there were awesome celebs in the studio. But I didn’t really know the impact it would have actually. It won an Emmy for I think best web something … some sort of award. But will.i.am is so intelligent. I believe that the video is another reason why Obama was elected. I really do.

Have any musical dream collabs? It’d be cool if Prince would write me a song. I love Prince. I’d love to work with Timbaland one day. I think he’s pretty cool. I love the way he like collaborates with offbeat artists like Nelly Furtado and Chris Cornell and sort of recreates an awesome sound for them. But Prince was my first concert when I was like five. He’s definitely a big influence for me.

Does it piss you off when other actors take a stab at singing who really aren’t that good or aren’t successful? Like Scarlett Johansson attempt at covering Tom Waits. Or do you think people are getting over that? Zooey Deschanel’s She & Him are pretty legit. It doesn’t piss me off. I’m definitely a supporter of any artist being an artist. I’m not someone who judges or is like “Oh gosh, here’s another actress trying to sing” because I get that sometimes and I don’t like the way it makes me feel. And you never know, a lot of these actors that are singing could have been singing before their acting. Or now having money or getting tired of the same outlet, they go on and explore their singing abilities. Not everyone has to have an amazing voice to be a singer. I’m not Whitney Houston by any respect but I love to sing, I love to write music. And I believe I have a lot to offer. Yeah, acting happened first but no one knows my history and upbringing and I don’t really care what people think. I decided lately that I’m gonna do it because I love it. I have fans and they like it. I definitely dream of it going to a bigger higher level so I can tour the world and reach further. You mentioned Scarlett. She’s got a pretty good voice … kind of dark and indie but that’s what she’s into. I mean, Joaquin Phoenix played Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, so he obviously has a musical side to him. He’s definitely a great actor too. I love him.

You’ve worked with two of the biggest music superstars – -Britney Spears and Eminem — who both had pretty public downfalls and now subsequent comebacks. Did you learn anything from them behind the scenes, and did they offer you any advice about super stardom? Are you afraid of becoming too big after seeing what happened to them? Eminem’s a very, very private person. You know, he doesn’t go places where you can be with him. After the 8 Mile premiere, he went home and didn’t wanna go to the after party. I don’t know much about him except he’s really nice, a big goofball — really funny. And every chance he had, he was writing lyrics in his notebook. To me, he represents a true artist that had all this inner dialogue that he wanted to get out on paper. Who knows? He could have been writing the soundtrack or a hit record. I mean, all his records were hits. It was very cool to be in that completely and cool of him to watch tapes of actresses and have a part in choosing me to play that role. Same with Britney — she saw the tapes too and chose me. And it makes me feel I’m on that level of talent. But I also think that I learned so much since I was young that I don’t think I would have any kind of public downfall. I don’t see that happening with me in particular. Britney’s been doing it since she was like 13. It’s kind of fair that she had a little bit of a meltdown. I mean, she’s been through a lot. I think she’s gonna be alright now. She’s an intelligent girl. But it was pretty incredible to work with them … definitely a highlight of career… so far. I’ll admit, I heart Crossroads and totes shed a tear (or two) after your character lost her baby … That’s funny you said that because Crossroads was on TV last night and my mom and my brother were watching it and I was like “Why are you watching that?!” But it got such a bad rap but it’s actually a sweet, little movie. And then I woke up to Britney’s mom requesting my friendship on MySpace … So, Crossroads was on last night and I woke up to “Lynne Spears wants to be your friend!” Tell me about you and your BFF’s line, Born Uniqorn. I hear LiLo’s a fan. Can us little people and recessionistas afford it? It’s very price-conscious right now. We’re keeping prices lower these days. It’s just cute and really for any girl. We try to make something for everyone to be honest. The more cleaner cut and the more simple bodies sell more than when we were trying to do something that’s kind of edgy. We really learned how to streamline our clothing line. What people wear on the East Coast can be kind of traditional; California is kind of funky. And Middle America is looking both East and West. We really had to perfect to make our sales continue to be big. We had to really sort of not style, not make the clothing for ourselves but make it for the masses. The spelling is not the traditional unicorn, it’s uniqorn — like “born unique.” It’s been a lot of fun and was just a hobby I did on my down time with my best friend of 17 years. It just kind of turned into something that got a little bit more serious and became another business of mine. I enjoy it thoroughly but it’s hard, hard work. I really hope that we can sustain it and make it happen for a long time. Should we expect to see you at the tents … er, at Lincoln Center, in the spring? We were asked to last year but we weren’t quite ready. Now we’ve done a couple so we feel like we can take on a New York Fashion Week. We’ve come a long way, but we feel like we’re really ready to keep going.

Who are your fashion icons? I definitely respect Kate Moss’ fashion sense. I think she always has the coolest outfits on–not trying too hard but always looks great. Nicole Richie’s whole … whatever happened to her was pretty amazing. I look for her for fashion ideas. I know a lot of it has to do with Rachel Zoe, but Nicole has a great frame to wear some of the things she wears. As for the classier kind of actresses — Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, and Cate Blanchett look great as far as the red carpet. But for more funky, Nicole Ritchie, Kate Moss, and also, I love Gwen Stefani. I wouldn’t dress like her but she wears whatever she wants, kind of out there, but I love it. I look up to her because of her music and her clothing line and she’s an actress–we have a lot in common.

Where do you like to shop in LA? Popkiller, Han Cholo, Shabon, and What They Wore.

And where do you like to head after a busy day for some grub? For breakfast, I like Hugo’s, and for lunch, La La’s. Some of my favorites for dinner are Ago, Madeo, and El Compadre. You’re making me hungry … Where do you go to get your music fix? Spaceland, Viper Room, Largo, and the Roxy.

Are there any film roles you would have died to play? There’s two roles I auditioned for that I wish I would have done. I sort of passed the one part to be in Monster to play Charlize Theron’s girlfriend, Christina Ricci’s part. But I didn’t want to play gay at the time. I don’t know why, I just was very ignorant and I didn’t know. But I would have done anything to play that role. I could care less now. But at the time, I was like 22 and I was scared. And I also auditioned for Million Dollar Baby and remember wanting that so bad. I know that’s kind of the role that I could do really well. Acting wise, every thing’s going well. I have a couple offers but they’re all pending. I don’t want to say what they are but I’m really excited about the record coming out and traveling a bit for that. What’s your take on trashy celeb blogs? I’ve read some stuff about myself that’s been hard to read — judging my looks or whatever, saying mean things about me like I’m not their type or they don’t like the way I talk or the way I sing. But there’s also been some really kind things that I appreciate. It’s a double edged sword. But it’s fine. You gotta be liked and disliked — that’s what makes the world go ’round; that’s what makes a superstar. You’ve gotta be controversial but you can’t be perfect. A lot of times, it’s just insecure people that just wish they were different people in their own lives who blog and spend time being negative. It’s pretty sad when people just sit on their computers and be negative. It’s a pretty sad quality of life but if that’s what floats their boat then so be it.

American Sweetheart Amy Adams Ain’t So Sweet

High above Beverly Hills, a sun the color of a vodka screwdriver gazes weakly into a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel. In walks an Amy Adams that we have not yet met. We’ve seen her in a tiara, a nun’s robe and sensible office attire. Today she is lean in tight, dark jeans, a snug T-shirt and a low-cut jacket. She tosses her signature cherry-drop hair, and thanks to a recent cold, speaks in a sultry, Lauren Bacall rasp. One can’t help but wonder if the rough, sexy speaking voice is the latest twist in a career that is traveling down some fresh asphalt. Maybe she should maintain that louche larynx by screaming in parking lots at midnight. “That would really expand my repertoire of work,” Adams says. “It could change people’s perceptions of me.”

image

Not that there’s anything wrong with the going idea of Adams. The hard-working, singing/dancing/acting 34-year-old, formerly of Castle Rock, Colorado, is a serious study of craft, and a girl who bootstrapped her way up through years of dinner theater into a career that now pays out multimillion-dollar fees. That upturned nose does not lie. Amy Adams, it has to be said, is very nice. The perception of her niceness is at the heart of the unfolding Amy Adams story. Often described as “pure” and “innocent,” Adams finds herself in the curious predicament of having to persuade people that she is prone to behaving badly on occasion. In a town where fast-rising stars employ teams of experts to pressure-wash an image, the job of sullying one offers a rare opportunity to work against the system.

When asked about the Care Bears nature of her press, Adams says, “These are the kind of things I hate when I read them. I am so just like anyone else. It is interesting to be perceived as innocent. Innocent of what? I’m certainly not naïve.” She is less exasperated than she is eager to assert her normalcy. “I misbehave. I just do it in private.” The prevailing urge to cast Adams as the ultimate good girl is understandable. As Enchanted’s Princess Giselle, she was a winning spectacle in virginal white. In 2005’s indie smash Junebug, for which Adams received an Oscar nomination, she played a guileless Southern bride, eager in a sprigged cotton maternity dress. “The sweet girl in Junebug is not who Amy really is,” says co-star Embeth Davidtz. “Amy’s much naughtier than anyone I know. I can’t give you examples because they are so beyond X-rated. She’s got the wickedest sense of humor and says what nobody else would think to say.”

image

Then came 2008’s dramatic powerhouse, Doubt, the screen adaptation of John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play, in which Adams resumed her saintly image but pushed her acting craft to the next level. In each career-changing role, volleying scene after scene with Meryl Streep, Adams transformed into a trusting young nun, robed in acres of hand-sewn wool. “Her face in that bonnet is like a lamp with those blue eyes coming out of it,” says Shanley, who directed the film. Explaining Adams’ approach to working alongside a superstar like Streep, Shanley offers: “Her goal was just to survive—and not look like a schmuck, and she more than did that.”

Schmuck, never. As her recent BlackBook fashion shoot attests, the girl’s got legs. Adams the actress, whose face is among the most subtly expressive in film, is also able to trigger telling cues through her wardrobe. This month’s Sunshine Cleaning, a hit at last year’s Sundance Festival, stars Adams as a single mom who opens her own crime scene cleanup service. It is a rare “jeans role” for a girl who knows exactly how to wear them. “We went a couple of different ways with my character, Rose. One was the ‘mom jeans’ way, and then there was the pseudo-prostitute version.” Adams decided to take the middle ground, opting for a pair by Lucky Brand. “My justification was that if she could buy them at [discount chain] Ross,” she says, “then it was okay for the character.” Adams also fought for her housecleaning character to wear a pair of khakis. “That was a real battle,” she says. “I said, I’m sticking by the khakis. They can be Dickies, but I am not wearing a dress.”

For Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian, a blockbuster ready to strike in May, Adams plays Amelia Earhart, naturally, in jodhpurs. “Tight jodhpurs,” says Adams. “It’s going to be an Amy Adams butt show. I was like, That’s a lot of information. I’m not known for showing my ass on camera, but there it is.”

image

Bite down on the Amy Adams brand and what you find instead of sweet air is a bar of 70% cacao chocolate. “My friend Sarah calls me a ‘broad,’” Adams says. “And that’s kind of how I would describe myself.” We like this broad. A broad likes her liquor, but would never sell out a friend. A broad is a man’s woman and a woman’s woman, just like Adams. But this good girl’s alter ego is no slice of Hollywood schtick, trumped up to add dimension. She is a bon vivant, not a bad lieutenant, and does not pretend to be otherwise. “I think it’s not just the actions you do,” she says. “It is the spirit in which you do them. I’m about experiencing life.” To that end, Adams goes out on the town and enjoys her cocktails, but with one very important, non-negotiable caveat: “I take cabs. That’s my secret tip.” In other words, you’ll never see a mug shot of Adams plastered on TMZ. “I would not look cute,” she says. “I would definitely cry.”

Okay, so she’s not exactly the Wu-Tang Clan. Adams’ tastes do, however, run to the dive-ier end of the spectrum. For every night she is seen in sleek formal wear at a premiere, there are many more in which she heads out in denim to favorite local Los Angeles bars, such as El Compadre (where she loves the flaming Cadillac margaritas), and West Hollywood’s legendary brawl hall, Barney’s Beanery. “I go to happy hour and play pool with my brother,” says Adams. “It doesn’t end well! We get in trouble with our significant others every time we go.” Her other favorite haunt in town is Cheebo, an inexpensive restaurant within walking distance of the place she rented for the past couple of years (she has since bought her first house). She loves to dress up, just not every day.

Not surprisingly, she brings this down-to-earth quality to her roles and to the rest of her life. Philip Seymour Hoffman says that the only thing that surprises him about his Doubt co-star is “how well she has handled everything that has happened to her.” Emily Blunt, Adams’ onscreen sister in Sunshine Cleaning, describes a working method that never strays from the earthbound: “She manages to capture a character’s heartbeat. She makes brave choices and maintains them, and that’s the hardest part.”

image

Adams goes up against Streep again in the upcoming Julie and Julia, a cinematic cook-off between real-life writer Julie Powell and a fictionalized Julia Child, a role for which Adams boned a duck. Future plans include marrying her boyfriend of eight years, Darren Le Gallo. (Adams is thinking about making it a potluck reception: “Brides across America are cringing!”). When asked what the Amy who arrived in L.A. just more than 10 years ago, and headed for years of tiny apartments and canceled TV shows, would say to the one who has been nominated for an Oscar, and has just wrapped two movies with Meryl Streep, Adams reflects for a moment: “I’d tell her not to worry so much. And to dye her hair earlier.”

If there were still a studio system, Adams’ stock would be less Shirley Temple and more, say, Rita Hayworth. Like her, Adams is a redhead who can swizzle a man’s brains with just one close-up. And just as Marilyn clicked into place when she traded Norma Jean’s mousey brown hair for platinum, Adams’ leap from her natural strawberry blonde to a rich red took her career from zero to 60 in a flash. “It sounds so silly, but if you haven’t made a huge hair color change it is hard to explain. When I dyed my hair red, there was a palpable shift. I didn’t get as much attention as I did when I was a blonde, but I got quality attention.”

Adams is not coy about the larger meaning behind this superficial change. “I have a lot of energy naturally and can be quite vivacious,” she says. “I’m full of vigor. I’m Tigger. I think people read that as being naïve or dumb. But as soon as I became a redhead, people were like, You’re that quirky firecracker. Suddenly, I was a pistol.”

So, with all the calculators and abacuses clacking away in movie studio back offices, no one can predict when “it” will strike. Sometimes, all it takes is a slight twist of the dial. “I do think there is an ‘it’ factor to some people,” Adams says. “Some people have ‘that’ thing and others have ‘this’ thing or ‘a’ thing. Not everyone has the same thing. I spent a lot of time trying to be like other people. I tried desperately.” And yet, her thing is effortless. When informed that she, too, has a thing, Adams looks startled. “I have a thing?” Yes, Amy, you have a thing. “But I don’t have ‘it,’” she says. Um, yes, you do. If “it” is the ability to light up the screen and grab the audience’s attention with every passing thought or subtle gesture, then yeah, she’s got it.

image

Photography by Matthias Vriens, Styling by Elizabeth Sulcer

Industry Insiders: Alexis Rivera, Pied Piper

Alexis Rivera, the underground force behind Echo Park Records and Little Pedro’s Blue Bongo, on putting together the illest acts in town, guzzling expensive drinks with cheap women, and getting sucker punched by veteranos as he brings music to the peoples.

How did you got your start in Los Angeles, and how did you became such a heavy in Echo Park? Well, after being trapped in shit cities like Boston and London for college, I had to come home to California, or I was going to turn into a teabag or something. I moved into my place in Echo Park, and after three weeks, I shattered my left knee, and since I live 100 steps up a hill, it took me about 10 minutes to get up to my bungalow on the crutches. I guess as a result of this, I dreaded going home, so I kind of limped around Echo Park talking to people, and probably being a nuisance to everybody.

What do you do now? [Smiling big] I’m a viejito: I get up pretty early, walk around the lake for an hour reading the Los Angeles Times listening to music, and then I come home and drink green tea and eat apple sauce and oats. I manage bands. That’s what I do, I guess. A lot of the business for the acts that I manage is out of Europe or New York or Mexico City, all places that start their day earlier, so my mornings are really busy talking to those assholes. By about noon, I’m mostly done with the majority of my work, so I’ll go eat lunch with some friend who has a regular job.

What do you think makes Echo Park such a good music destination and hot neighborhood these days? Well, there are two venues with regular live music. The Echo and Echoplex, and Club Bahia, and they kinda bookend the neighborhood. In between that, you have what I call the STD barns, Little Joy and the Short Stop, and the local, the Gold Room, and three restaurants with very stiff drinks: El Compadre, Barragan’s, and Taix. So, you got a lot of stuff going on in just a few blocks. Also, price-wise, Echo Park is good for drinks, and there are a lot of horny people, young and old, so that’s a wild combination. When you’re not working yourself, where do you like to hang out in the city? If I go to a bar, I go to Hank’s to watch sports, eat popcorn, and bet. And I go to Hop Louie for Scorpion Bowls and to enjoy sitting down. But my local is the Gold Room. It’s a block from my house, and the security guard Raul is funny as shit, there’s always a good mix of friends and strangers there, and the bartenders know what I like to drink.

I also like “A Club Called Rhonda” … my friends Gregori and Loren and Kimi put it on, it’s at Guatelinda, and the music is great, and I’m just very proud when I go there. It’s lush that my friends put on such a fun club. Also, there’s a night called “Mas Exitos” at the Verdugo Bar on Tuesdays that’s really fun, they play amazing stuff.

What do you think makes a truly great party different from just a good party? At a club or at a house? Liquor and loud music would be my answer for both, I guess. Beer and tepid tunes don’t do shit. When I throw a party, whether it’s at a club or at my house, I just invite my friends, and word seems to spread. I’m not good at promotion. It seems kind of vain, and I’d rather watch videos on YouTube or sit on my roof. Another thing that makes a great party is the unexpected, like an ex smoking meth in my closet and making out with a girl. When stuff like that happens, I don’t remember it until I see the photos, so that’s pretty great I guess.

Los Angeles’ nightlife has a reputation for being very douchey in spots. I think LA has so many amazing people … it seems like every time I go out, I meet someone new that I think is great. People don’t get in your shit here because they’ve got their own crazy shit going on, and I like that. But there are a lot of assholes here as well. When I house-sat in Santa Monica for a summer, I couldn’t believe how lame the people, especially the young ones, were there. Boring as shit. But then there’s a lot of boring people around Echo Park now as well, so who knows? And who would you say is your crowd? I don’t know if there’s a set crowd that go to my parties, but I would imagine it’s like 25% music nerd cholos, 25% cute Asian girls, 25% friends, and then the final 25%, which are brown friends dressing like yellow trannies, who like good music.

Side Hustle: I used to be a teacher at a community center around the corner from my house, and although I don’t have the time to teach anymore, I still see my kids around the neighborhood, see them at the bakery or whatever, so I’ll buy them rice pudding and we’ll catch up. I used to be a spy, I don’t do that much anymore, but it’s good money and a lot of crazy shit happens. I used to be a big gardener, I was involved in the Echo Park Community Garden when it was still around, and I wound up in the New York Times for my garden at my house, which is hilarious. Yeah, all I see is a discarded shoe sole in your dead garden. Who are some of your associates in the city? And who are your famous friends? My friends are the usual suspect group of derelicts and petty thieves. Different ages, different jobs … I don’t really want to associate with “nightlife personalities,” unless it’s like, the Filipino nurse who dances like crazy at the Gold Room, I guess that’s a nightlife personality. I guess I have a couple of friends who are known for their music, but I don’t know any actors or people like that. And most of the time when I meet someone that’s known, it’s in a very weird way. My friend Dave, he’s that producer Switch who did the M.I.A. and Santogold albums, I met him in Beverly Hills. Or my friend Jeppe, who was Senior in Junior Senior, I went up to ask him what his problem was because he was maddogging me [laughs]. I thought he wanted to fight, but he was staring at me because I had a Moroccan gown on and I was so drunk, I’d forgotten about it. Cute. You seem to really enjoy what you do, and are always chilling watching the shows with real glee on your face. I love music, and I love to see people have fun, so it’s very enjoyable. I’m an only child, and we didn’t have a lot of cash lying around, but my parents always had great music on and everything seemed okay, so I guess I enjoy how freeing music can be. When I put on a show, most of the stress is before the show, not during it, dealing with the booking agents and travel and crap like that. During a show I put on, I like to move around, see if everything is cool with the musicians and DJs, see if my friends are having fun, if the door person needs a drink or change, shit like that.

Any secret spots in LA you want to reveal? Well, that dude Jamaal had a crazy after-hours reggae spot in Hollywood, but I just heard that it was no more. He came up to me at Guitar Center about five years ago and we started talking, and he told me about his spot, and I went and couldn’t believe it, it was amazing. Then there’s the Japanese whorehouse afterhours here in Echo Park, but the drinks are too expensive. And the women are too cheap. I’m glad I asked. Is there anyone you particularly admire in the city who you see doing their thing in nightlife? Most club people and promoters are gross, but most of that shit is in Hollywood and I don’t go out there, but I have a couple of friends I really admire: DJ Dam Funk who has a night on Mondays all the way out in Culver City, but with no cover, and the crowd is really nice, and everyone’s having fun. I can’t recommend Dam enough as a DJ cuz he’s “all wax, original pressings!,” as he likes to say … or as a friend, the guy is just super cool, and that’s reflected at the club. Also my friend Omar, he puts on shows in his driveway in East L.A. and they’re awesome, he always had three or four bands, a DJ, and there’s all these kids and parents, they’re a lot of fun. Also, on a more professional level, Liz Garo, who books the Echo. She’s great, and she’s really nice and has great taste in music. What was the coolest event you’ve been involved with? Sometimes people come up to me, they go, “I was there that night when …” That’s pretty cool. I gotta say, though, it’s starting to make me feel like an old man. Having Joe Bataan play at Little Pedro’s back when I owned it was pretty cool. We had Dolemite too, and Blowfly once, those were memorable nights. Doing a post-Katrina benefit show with Eddie Bo was really special for me … that might be the party I’m most proud of. Flying Yo Majesty out here for my birthday party at the Echo, when no one knew who they were, and they’ve never been out of state, that was cool, it was like a punk show the energy that night, and then having Arabian Prince DJ, I mean you can’t have a better birthday than that. I remember when I flew Chromeo out for Halloween in 2005, their only previous show in LA was for 13 people, so they were expecting it to suck, and the place was slammed and everyone was dancing. When I see them now, they still bring up that night, so that’s cool. What’s the craziest shit you’ve seen while partying in LA? The craziest shit I ever saw at one of my parties was when Peaches DJed at Little Pedro’s, one woman was going down on another woman in the middle of the dance floor, and everyone around them kept dancing, like it was no big deal. That was impressive. I had a cousin visiting from Arizona that night, and his eyes popped out of his head. I don’t think he gets to see things like that in Tucson.

Because the Echo is so close to my house, if I’m in a good mood and the show was good, I’ll invite a bunch of people over. But sometimes I’ll invite people over but then not want to have a party, and by the time I walk home from the Echo, there’s already people on my staircase, waiting to get in. When that happens, I just go to Tommy’s, order a #2, and just wait it out.

The Black Lips did a secret show at the Echo at 1 a.m. on a Tuesday night, and afterwards, they all came over, and I woke up the next day with the worst hangover, not having any idea what had happened, other than apparently I had had people over, as my place was trashed and tequila bottles were empty. Then the following day I was washing my desk and realized the scribble marks on it were the signatures of the band, and that they’d come over after the show.

Also, the day after my birthday when Yo Majesty played, I woke up to one of the members walking out of my shower butt naked, going into my closet and putting on a pair of my boxers and a t-shirt, and then getting back into bed next to me and falling asleep, like nothing had happened. I was so scared we’d hooked up or something, but it turns out she just crashed in my bed because all the sofas were spoken for.

Fuck or fight anyone interesting lately? Nothing too crazy recently, although some old veterano punched me at the Gold Room the other night, but I deserved it … Projections: I’m talking with the Echo about doing a monthly or weekly club. I just need to see if I have the time for it. And I might be starting a record label, but I can’t talk about that yet. And there’s an old theater that I might be renovating with some friends, but we’ll see about that.

What are you doing tonight? I’ll probably go to Barragan’s and see what’s up. I’ve been going there since I was a baby, and for better or worse, the place hasn’t changed. But when the margaritas are two bucks and I can walk home, I can’t really complain.

The Top 10 (+1) Best Dinner & Movie Combos in LA

Los Angeles has the best movie theaters in the entire country. Perhaps it’s because Hell A is the artery through which all of “The Industry” must pass; perhaps it’s the overabundance of set designers and over-the-top-producers in the area. Whatever the reason, it makes for a superfine moviegoing experience. Check out our top list of places to catch a flick, then rehash scene by scene over dinner.

1. Arclight + El Compadre Arclight brings the hammer down on the rest of the wanna-be theaters in the Los Angeles arena. The train-station lobby tickertapes film selections — though you won’t have to bother waiting in line, or even showing up early, because seats are individually reserved and purchased online.

The cavernous theaters are built out with stadium-style seats that rock back and forth for maximum cruise control. The best feature, however, is the “21+ Showings” that run Thursday through Sunday nights, where you can get wasted while you catch the show. Go ahead and pregame at the upstairs bar. Make your stop at El Compadre after the show because the wait, though worth it, is horrendous.

2. The Egyptian + Café Des Artistes The Grauman before the Chinese, the Egyptian holds the honor for hosting the first-ever movie premier, held in 1922. Sold for a song (and $1), American Cinematheque renovated the aging Art Deco beauty in 1998. Two screenings at once, one large, one small. Go for the ambiance, stay for the film selections. Keep the romance alive and get fireside after your film at Café Des Artistes.

3. Grauman’s Chinese Theater + Geisha House A list of movie theaters isn’t complete without the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater. This powerhouse sits on busy Hollywood Boulevard, surrounded by handprinted concrete, Pretty Woman references, and men in tights. It’s razzle dazzle at its best. Skip the rest of the Hollywood and Highland madness and hop over to the Geisha House for some sexified sushi.

4. El Capitan Theatre + Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream If you have youngsters of a Disney-appropriate age visiting, be a hero and take them to the Disney-owned El Capitan. The venue is immaculately restored to all the glamour of old Hollywood, but it also offers modern-day conveniences like online ticketing. The best bit though is the pre-show show, where costumed actors come out and dance onstage, the live organist wails on the Wurlitzer (one of the last of the five “Fox Specials” built in the 1920s), and the grand finale includes confetti spraying from the ceiling. Only Disney films are shown here. After the show, spring for some Middle-Eastern ice cream at Mashti Malone’s.

5. Hollywood Forever Cemetery + Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles Summer is a nebulous thing in Los Angeles. The weather is perennially evergreen — skies are blue pretty much always (except for the freaky two weeks of drizzle in February), and there’s no shortage of BBQs in the “winter” months. However, summer is marked by something fairly awesome: Weekend film showings in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. In June, July, and August, Angelenos are invited to picnic at the un-drive in, drive-in. The films are projected onto a giant wall space, beneath which moviegoers cuddle on blankets and drink wine out of plastic cups. The films tend towards classic, and the evenings can get a little rowdy with comments directed at the screen. Bring more blankets than you think you need; it gets cold, and the ground isn’t exactly cushiony. Best bet: Show up at 6 p.m. to get good seats, and pack a picnic filled with tasty, greasy, sweet-and-salty Roscoe’s chicken and waffles. 6. The Vista + Electric Lotus An indie favorite located in east-sider hipster heaven Los Feliz, the Vista is like the Village Mann’s cooler, older sister (by seven years). Another one-show affair, this theater has lots of legroom due to revamps which included yanking out alternate rows of seating like they were decaying teeth. Look for Egyptian-style décor and classical music pre-previews. Five-dollar matinees on weekends! Make it an all night affair with dinner at Electric Lotus.

7. The Nuart + Hamasaku The Nuart (owned by Landmark Theaters), another west-side one-screener, isn’t remarkable in terms of ambiance or seating; however, you’ve got a good shot at hearing an impromptu Q&A with a filmmaker or actor, as well as a serious line-up of all the foreign and independent films you could ever want to see. Also, every Saturday at midnight, you can watch and/or participate in a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sushi and film, what a great combo. See one and then go for some eel and edamame at Hamasaku.

8. The Landmark + Apple Pan The Landmark is making a run for the top spot. Highlights include special “Screening Lounge” showings (read: couches instead of regular seating), 21+ booze-fueled showings, and concessions including a faux-Pinkberry called Yogurberry, and La Brea Bakery goods. Arclight: Watch your back. After the film, stop by iconic burger joint the Apple Pan.

9. The Mann Village Theater + Tanino Around for over 75 years, the Mann Village Theater (otherwise known as the Fox) rocks the old-school movie house steeze with only one theater inside, complete with an awesome balcony. Feel free to sneak in Fatburger (from the one on Kinross) and throw French fries at fellow moviegoers, most of whom are UCLA students and press peeps. If you’re still hungry after stuffing your face with smuggled burgers, grab a bite or a drink at nearby Italiano Tanino.

10. The Majestic Crest + Delphi Westwood has eight movie theaters in as many blocks. The Crest is a standout due to the spot-on Art Deco vintage décor and delectable popcorn. Owner Robert Bucksbaum is hands-on to the degree that he sells tickets, loads film, and changes lightbulbs. If you order tickets online it’s $3 extra — but you can reserve individual seats that way, and when you show up, your name is printed out on your seats Totally VIP. Get Greek on your way out and walk the few blocks to Delphi.

11. The Bridge + Tito’s Tacos Best spot in the city for IMAX, The Bridge also offers assigned seating (though only in the “Director’s Hall” screening) and pregame boozing at their onsite “12 Lounge.” On your way home, grab a six-pack of tacos at Tito’s Tacos and rehash all your favorite parts of the film over the requisite chips and salsa.

Honorable Mention: AMC Century City 15 + Breeze @ Hyatt Regency Yawn, stretch and head to the movies. The AMC Century City 15 offers showings in the 10 a.m. timeslot. Top it off with oysters on the half shell for lunch at the Breeze in the Hyatt Regency.