Clubs in Los Angeles suck for the most part. They usually have a shelf life of about a month, and unfortunately are soon overtaken by the L.A. equivalent of bridge and tunnel, (those from the other side of the hill, aka The Valley).
But tucked away on Sunset Boulevard, there is an oasis — an invite-only haven for those who want to dance the night away without the glare of camera or paparazzi. Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of Giorgio’s, a nightclub filled with nothing but disco, disco, disco at The Standard Hotel in Hollywood. Sure, the celebrity quotient is high, (think Daphne Guinness, Mick Jagger and Dita Von Teese,) but that really doesn’t matter; what makes Giorgio’s such a scene is its mélange of guests: actors next to hair stylists next to CEOs. Though this is 2014, Giorgio’s is every bit Studio 54, run by impresarios DJ Adam XII (who spins for President Obama) and Bryan Rabin who was described by friend Michael Des Barres as “Steve Rubell without the coke,” in the Hollywood Reporter’s 2013 story on the club.
Saturday night’s crowd was every bit of Giorgio’s personified: photographer David LaChappelle danced on a piano bench; Jody Watley performed as Russel Simmons, “Mad Men” costumer Janie Bryant, and Liberty Ross grooved the night away. But most importantly perhaps, the club’s namesake, Giorgio Moroder was in attendance, hosting. (For those of you who don’t know who he is, he basically all but invented disco, creating songs like “Love to Love You Baby” with Donna Summer).
For both owners, the highlight of the evening came undoubtedly at midnight, a culmination of their first year beneath the mirror ball: disco queen Jody Watley performing not one but three songs, including “Happy Birthday” as a birthday cake (in the shape of a record) was rolled out followed by a massive confetti explosion.
The Red Bull Music Academy got creative people from all over the world thinking deep thoughts last night with the global premiere of What Difference Does It Make?— a film about the drive, desire, and the highs and the lows of making music. Shot at the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy in New York and produced by Ralf Schmerberg’s Berlin-based artist collective Mindpirates, the film sheds light on the creative process of those who live a life devoted to music—featuring appearances and personal insights from Brian Eno, Lee Scratch Perry, Seth Troxler, James Murphy, Giorgio Moroder and many more.
Taking a peek inside the mind of all these music legends turns out to be an insightful way to think about one’s own contribution to the world. The film is intentionally about making music, but after an hour and a half of close ups and testimonials it becomes a film about life. “What difference does it make?” is a question that we must ask ourselves often, whenever we dedicate time, effort, and creative energy towards anything. We are here to matter, to love what we do, to create. Luckily, as an artist one is allowed make mistakes and start again. The film explores that idea by showing the constant changes and challenges of life in the music world, as people search for the path to creative freedom and lose themselves in their madness.
Since the RBMA is celebrating its 15th anniversary, the film is free and is now available online. Watch it! Moroder is a legend in it, Murphy is miserable as usual, and Brian Eno probably made the most money out of everyone.
Quentin Tarantino’s slavery spaghetti western Django Unchained delivers all of the usual Tarantino goodness: brilliant dialogue, over-the-top cartoonish violence, fantastic performances from Tarantino regulars Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson, and a whole lot of controversy. More impressively, the film’s soundtrack is the usual combination of familiar tunes from Tarantino’s cinematic inspirations, as well as a few original tracks from John Legend, Rick Ross, and RZA. While we’ll have to patiently wait for another year or two before those musical sequences to end up on YouTube (only to be likely taken down because of copyright infringement), let’s take a look back at Tarantino’s catalog and take a listen at the songs we’ve come to associate with the modern-day auteur.
Stealers Wheel – "Stuck In The Middle With You" (from Reservoir Dogs)
What’s the best way to get the kids interested in Gerry Rafferty? Why, scoring an ear slicing with one of his catchiest tunes, naturally. It’s really a shame that this scene didn’t do for Michael Madsen what Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta. Who know the man had such moves?
Chuck Berry – "You Never Can Tell" (from Pulp Fiction)
This is arguably Tarantino’s most recognizable scene from arguably his most popular movie. It not only made him a household name, but it reinvigorated the career of John Travolta, who had been struggling in years prior in talking baby movies. And don’t get me wrong, I love a talking baby movie. But I’d much rather see Travolta cutting a rug with weird hair.
Bobby Womack – "Across 110th Street" (from Jackie Brown)
Jackie Brown is Tarantino’s biggest stand-out. It lacks the gritty or cartoon violence of his other films (it contains, total, just four measly, relatively bloodless murders), and the focus is entirely on plot, dialogue, and the acting. And while there’s no big dance sequence, the opening credits are fantastic. All it takes is a few tracking shots and Pam Grier to set the tone of the film, and Bobby Womack’s soulful voice ties it all together.
The 5,6,7,8’s – "Woo Hoo" (from Kill Bill Vol. 1)
It’s refreshing when Tarantino pulls out a new song from his jukebox. In the first half of his samari epic, Tarantino brings the old school into the picture with fresh treatment. It seems only natural for the big musical number in Kill Bill Vol. 1 to involve a band that mashes up a wide selection of sounds and elements. It’s the musical equivalent of a Tarantino film, really.
Bernard Herrmann – "Twisted Nerve" (from Kill Bill Vol. 2)
Kill Bill marked the first time Tarantino picked up classic scores from old films, and Bernard Herrmann’s "Twisted Nerve," the theme from the 1968 psychological thriller of the same name, became, in turn, a Tarantino classic. (It even makes a cameo in Death Proof as Rosario Dawson’s ring tone.)
The Drifters – "Down in Mexico" (from Death Proof)
Death Proof, one half of Tarantino’s Grindhouse collaboration with Robert Rodriguez, stands on its own feet as a perfect action thriller as well as a quintessential Tarantino flick. In one of the film’s best (and sexiest) scenes, Vanessa Ferlito delivers perhaps the best lapcdance in cinematic history to a terrifying (and weirdly sexy) Kurt Russell. It should come as no surprise that the jukebox playing this jam is Tarantino’s own.
David Bowie – "Cat People (Putting Out Fire)" (from Inglourious Basterds)
Here’s another case of a song written for a movie being appropriated for one in Tarantino’s own oeuvre. Wisely using the long, slow-building version of the Giorgio Moroder / David Bowie collaboration from Paul Schrader’s 1982 erotic thriller (as opposed from the shorter, radio-friendly version from Let’s Dance), Tarantino builds the tension and nearly gives away the film’s ending. (Hint: it involves a lot of flames.)
TMZ, the bastion of breaking celebrity death news, is reporting today that Donna Summer has died after a long battle against cancer. The Queen of Disco, who recorded such hits such as "Bad Girls," "Hot Stuff," and "Last Dance," was reportedly working on a new album. She was 63 years old. After the jump, take a look at some of her best performances, including some of the most ground-breaking dance hits she recorded with famed Italian producer Giorgio Moroder.
Here’s the super sexy "Love to Love You Baby," as performed on The Midnight Special.
Another collaboration with Moroder, here’s the thumping "I Feel Love" complete with those fierce synths and Donna’s lovely voice.
And finally, "MacArthur Park." Let’s all leave a cake out in the rain for Donna, you guys.