This Week’s L.A. Happenings: Fishing With Dynamite, Bowling League, & Angel City Brewery

TUESDAY: Fishing With Dynamite Opens In Manhattan Beach
There’s an explosive way to catch and serve fish these days. Thank chef/owner David LeFevre, whose new, 36-seat seafood restaurant Fishing With Dynamite opens with a notable spark, blending old-school seafood dishes with "new-school" innovations. Think Miso Alaskan Black Cod with Gingered Eggplant and Thai Basil. Expect a rich, soulful menu in the confines of what one would consider a tiny, sun-drenched sea shack.

Fishing With Dynamite (1148 Manhattan Ave, Manhattan Beach) is now open. To make a reservation, visit the listing at BlackBook Guides.

MONDAY: Bowling & Caliche Rum Cocktails
Don’t expect a typical bowling league at The Spare Room inside the Hollywood Roosevelt on Monday nights. Here, it’s sorta like Grease 2, only everyone’s dancing to a live DJ, the T-Birds are hipsters, and the Pink Ladies are Mischa Barton-types. Starting tonight for the next six weeks, mixologist Naomi Schimek slings special Caliche Rum concoctions (like the No Ordinary Joe coffee cocktail) for late-night revelers.

The Spare Room’s Monday Night Bowling League at The Spare Room inside the Hollywood Roosevelt (7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood) starts tonight, April 29th, and runs every Monday for six weeks. Doors at 9:30 pm. For more information on The Spare Room and Hollywood Roosevelt, visit the listings at BlackBook Guides.

Saturday: Angel City Brewery’s Grand Opening Party
After relocating to Downtown LA after what beer lovers would consider an agonizing months of delayed renovations, Angel City Brewery is finally kicking off their grand opening with its first annual Heritage Festival. Expect tons of food trucks, live music, ribbon- cutting, drunk brewery tours, and good times, man.

Angel City Heritage Music & Arts Festival (216 S. Alameda St., Downtown) is from 11am to 6pm at the Angel City Brewery. To find out more about Angel City Brewery, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides. 

Know every inch of this city by checking out BlackBook’s L.A. City Guides, & signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email. 

American Invasion: Thompson Hotels Open The Belgraves in London

It doesn’t get much more British than Belgravia, the posher-than-posh London neighborhood where row upon row of cream-colored Georgian townhouses surround lovely green parks locked to anyone not landed-gentry enough to have a key and a double-barreled surname. Everyone seems like they should be called Gemma or Jemima or Jeeves, and they all look like they emerged from the womb in a Burberry trench, clutching a long black brolly instead of a rattle. None of them even has bad teeth.

Within the district, Montcomb Street, a particularly delicious crumpet on the tea trolley of delights that is Belgravia, is the kind of place that makes you (or at least me) wish to be British, achingly so. This petite row of winsome shops and eateries—Rococo Chocolates, nouveau gastropub The Pantechnicon, fashion designer Stewart Parvin (who holds a Royal Warrant from The Queen, herself) and a branch of the food-porn-y veggie-centric cafes from hot-shot chef Yotan Ottolenghi—fills daily with dapper gents in perfectly tailored suits speaking with clipped consonents into ever-present Blackberrys and women dressed so conservatively, they all look primed for their first day of work at Sotheby’s. (And I wonder: Are Londoners more attractive than New Yorkers, or am I just a hopeless Anglophile? Or is it just that the rich are always prettier, and in London, I somehow manage to only ever see the rich?)

Into all this comes The Belgraves, a months-old property from the American hotelier Thompson—you know it for L.A.’s Hollywood Roosevelt and New York’s 60 Thompson, among others—which renovated and moved into a mid-20th-century structure formerly known as Belgravia’s ugliest building. So what’s an American interloper doing in a place like this? Quite nicely, it turns out, quite nicely, indeed.

In large measure, this is due to the slightly irreverent work of bad-girl British decorator Tara Bernerd, a socialite turned designer who streaks her hair pink and here has created a blend of high and low English and American style, mixing uptown with down, punk panache with Savile Row swagger, Soho-style sandblasted brick with Scandinavian antiques and cushy chairs from designer David Linley—who also just happens to be The Queen’s nephew. Bernerd herself calls the look “rough luxury,” which sounds like an entirely paradoxical, and therefore perhaps rather American concept, while Thompson co-founder Jason Pomeranc points out that “our first hotel, 60 Thompson, was always ideologically based on the intimacy of British hotels. That’s something that’s always been an inspiration to our brand.  We wanted an Anglo-American fusion in terms of design, service and atmosphere.” 

For the Anglo element, Pomeranc turned to Bernerd, of course, but also to local starchef Mark Hix, who loaned not only his name and his skills to the hotel’s modern British lobbyside restaurant, but also his collection of canvases by YBAs (that’s Young British Artists) to the hotel’s walls. On the American end of things, there’s the stylized but still in-your-face American flag behind the check-in desk, as well as more subtle and comforting notes, like the bellmen in Levis, plaid shirts and Chelsea boots “rather than the typical top hat and tails you’d normally find in Belgravia,” notes the hotel’s American-born general manager Joseph Kirtley, who spent more than a decade with Morgans hotels in New York, Los Angeles and London before Thompson wooed him away to The Belgraves. “As an American brand, we were able to have a little bit of fun with it all.”

Upstairs, the fun continues, in the hotel’s 85 rooms and suites, all done in shades of platinum and grey, with rich (you might even say royal) aubergine and Bordeaux-colored velvet accents. It’s the ones on the park side of the building, and sitting on the hotel’s upper floors, that you’ll want to book, what with the tufted-velvet banquette alcoves built into their bay windows and the views up and over Belgravia’s mansard roofs. These extend out towards Buckingham Palace, Victoria, Green Park and Picadilly beyond, all of which are lovely places to visit, though you well may find yourself jonesing for the charms of Belgravia when you do. But don’t worry, Gemma and Jeeves will be waiting.

Breaking Down Ashley Greene: 9 Things You Didn’t Know About the ‘Twilight’ Star

I wanted to write an article entitled “Go Ask Alice,” a play on that druggy confessional book from the seventies and the character that 24-year-old actor Ashley Greene is best known for portraying: Alice Cullen of the lusty vampire saga Twilight. I wanted to write about Hollywood DUIs with La Lohan, TMZ tussles, and coke-fueled orgies with the cast of Gossip Girl. I wanted to write the tragic untold story about the sorry life of the beautiful young starlet who got sucked into the vortex of a hyper-popular teen franchise—a $1.7 billion box office bonanza and counting. Being at the center of a storm like that must surely come with a dark side, right?

Apparently not.

In person, Greene comes across as anything but a Hollywood monster. She’s more like a Girl Next Door, maybe one of the Joey Potter variety—only real, and rich, and available for dissection in the pages of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. My hopes were dashed. Delivered from modeling classes in Florida to Hollywood at 17, and then to Twilight at 21, Greene appears to be well adjusted, deeply engaged in her career, and keenly aware of her good fortune. She’s close with her family, stays out of the tabloids (no small challenge given her relationship with onetime beau Joe Jonas), and seems every inch the PR fantasy.

The image Greene projects is one of a young woman so focused, private, and seemingly straight-laced as to be almost boring. (What good is a celebrity if there’s nothing salacious at which to wag our collective finger?) Except the Girl Next Door is never boring. Here’s why:

She’s a Bikini Babe Take a look at Sports Illustrated’s 2010 Swimsuit issue. That’s Ms. Greene inside, wearing nothing at all, her body a marvel in the ’90s-era supermodel mold. “My team asked them to go easy on the Photoshop,” she says. “I’m not perfect, I have flaws.” Perhaps they lie beneath the pink, scaly bikini that was painted onto her muscular form. “I painted it on myself,” she jokes. “Actually, it took 12 hours, and the artists are amazing. I was debating whether or not to do it, but I talked to my dad. I thought it was very beautiful and artistic.” She readily admits to harboring ulterior motives, though: “It had a really good response. I think it was actually a good thing in that it made my audience more broad.”

She Has a Dad Who Can Kill You How much heat did the old man take after his little girl turned up in her birthday suit on billboards and in magazines all over the world? “My dad used to be in the Marines, so no one is going to give him flack,” Greene says. She and her brother were raised with SEAL Team Six strictness in Middleburg and Jacksonville, Florida. (Her father now owns a concrete business, and her mother works in insurance.) “At 14, I was being a little brat. I thought I knew everything, and my dad was like, ‘I own your bed, your TV, everything.’ At the time I was annoyed, but I’m very thankful because he worked really hard to provide for us. There was a lot of discipline, and with what I’m doing now, I’m glad for it.

She Can Kick Your Ass at Sports It’s no coincidence that so many paparazzi shots show her exiting the gym. Her physique is so, well, exemplary that Greene has twice graced the cover of Women’s Health. “Growing up I was very competitive with my brother,” she says. “He did martial arts, and I was a tomboy. I got into martial arts and won medals.” Odds are good that one of them was a Purple Heart. “Once on the trampoline, I hit my leg and it just snapped,” the former cheerleader says. “They put pins in it.” Restrained in what nearly amounted to a full-body cast, Greene managed to re-break the bone soon thereafter when her brother, off balance on roller skates, sent her wheelchair careening into a concrete wall. “I broke my arm twice, I broke my femur twice, I split my head open twice,” Greene says. In other words, she is not afraid of you. image

She Has a Crazy Work Ethic Greene joined the labor force at age 14. “I worked at the dry cleaner across from my school, I worked accounts payable for a company, I did hosting, I worked at a bowling alley, I worked at a boutique,” she says, ticking through her resume. After arriving in LA with a manager and an agent in hand, she earned spots on Mad TV and Punk’d (she tricked Justin Long into thinking she was underage after he bought her a cocktail), but continued to work Average Joe jobs to make ends meet. “I worked at a hotel, I worked at a restaurant, I did modeling, I worked everywhere. And I didn’t get fired!” That hotel she worked at? The Hollywood Roosevelt in LA, home of Teddy’s, the site of many a debauched evening for young Hollywood. Does she care to share any stories? “Absolutely not.”

She Knows How to Be Naughty Yes, she’s discreet, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be seduced. Before there was Sports Illustrated, there was the cover of Maxim. “I wouldn’t have done anything too crazy,” she says. “The thing I tell myself is, My father’s going to see this.” She knows that teen girls make up the vast majority of her fan club, too. And yet, she understands what brings home the bacon. “It’s important to have a male audience.”

She’s Probably Seeing Someone Else It’s a wonder the aforementioned teens didn’t abandon her in droves in 2010 when she started dating Joe Jonas. (Whatever did happen to that promise ring?) Since their breakup last March, her love life has been the source of endless speculation—she’s been paired with everyone from onscreen afterlife-mate Jackson Rathbone to Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane. “I’m not an actress, I’m a professional dater,” she jokes. “I’m dating everyone! My brother lives in LA and won’t even walk outside a restaurant with me. He’s like, ‘I do not want to be romantically linked to you.’” But she’s quick to add: “I’m not dating anyone. I’m very focused on what I’m going to do next.”

She Will Always Be 17 in Your Mind Her future projects, other than Twilight: Breaking Dawn (parts I and II), include Butter, a dark comedy about butter-carving, a colloquial art form popular at state fairs (she plays Jennifer Garner’s stepdaughter), and LOL, a teen flick with Miley Cyrus. There’s also an Oliver Twist-like project, wherein Dickens’ famous tale of orphandom gets re-imagined for a female lead. Truth be told, Greene is entering a tricky age in Hollywood: too old to play the daughter, not old enough to play the wife. Not many actors negotiate the transition gracefully. “I think Rachel McAdams has done a great job,” Greene says. “Going from Mean Girls to Midnight in Paris. She’s had really diverse roles and separates herself.”

She Has a Clue Greene knows that people see her as Alice from Twilight. But she also realizes how limiting that can be. “Everyone sees Alice as a best friend. A teen idol is an untouchable, unapproachable, amazing thing. The cool thing about Alice is that anyone that comes up to me is like, ‘I just want to hug you.’” Is that not also, well, a little creepy? “No, they’re not asking for a lock of my hair. They just relate to that character and relate to me, but I don’t consider myself a teen idol. Justin Bieber is a teen idol.”

She’s Down to Earth Bieber and the Jonas brothers and dozens of other stadium-filling teen idols can’t go five minutes without name-checking God for their success. To what does Greene attribute her good fortune? “The first year I was in LA, I worked my butt off. I was in acting classes every day. I would rather pay money for a class than have nice clothes. If I hadn’t worked as hard as I did, I wouldn’t be with the manager and the agent I have and they wouldn’t have sent me out for this Twilight thing. There are roles I didn’t get and I was really devastated, but because I didn’t get them, I was able to do Twilight … If you end up unsuccessful, on the street with no friends, it’s probably because you’re a jerk. It’s not necessarily divine intervention. Your actions predict what happens.”

But just like any good Girl Next Door, Greene counters all that talk about forging her own destiny with some good-old fashioned humility: “You can’t control if the casting director thinks you look like his ex-girlfriend.”

ASHLEY LIKES Madeo.

First a Vampire, Now a Leading Man: Alexander Skarsgård Can’t Be Tamed

“Use your phone and shine a light over here,” says Alexander Skarsgård, whose indefinitely appropriated Southern twang echoes off the walls inside one of the many vast stages at Hollywood Center Studios in Los Angeles. It’s True Blood’s final day of production before the show’s annual hiatus (they’ll reconvene in November for season five), and the near-empty lot we’ve been wandering feels like a schoolhouse abandoned by its students for the summer. Most of the cast and crew have driven out to Malibu this afternoon to film the pyre-heavy final scene of the HBO series’ fourth season, but Skarsgård and his costar Stephen Moyer have been directed here to re-shoot a close-up. “Follow me,” he says as we edge closer to the darkest part of the hangar-size room.

“I wish I could find a fucking light switch,” he adds, before eventually flipping one. The chamber we’re in—done up like a dank basement with black columns and intimations of evil—suddenly becomes awash in the glow of overhead lights. “This is where I tortured Lafayette,” he says with a satisfied grin, referring to the show’s second season, in which his character Eric Northman, the sheriff of Area 5, chained Nelsan Ellis’ drug-abusing, cross-dressing fry cook to a post. He waves me through another door into what looks like a nightclub filled with barstools, dusty liquor bottles, and a poster of a vampiric George W. Bush. “Welcome,” he says with exaggerated gravitas, “to Fangtasia!”

For the past four years, Skarsgård’s spot-on portrayal of a seemingly cold-blooded exsanguinist—who this season upended expectations by betraying more than a little amnesia-induced emotion for Anna Paquin’s Sookie Stackhouse—has turned the 35-year-old Swedish actor into an object of desire for men and women around the world. Still, the alpha male label doesn’t fit, at least not entirely. “In most of the projects I’m recognized for, I’ve played leaders,” he says. “And so, of course, that’s how people want to pigeonhole me. You’d be shocked by the number of offers I get to play Eric Northman under a different name.”

Skarsgård’s latest role in this month’s remake of the ultra-violent Sam Peckinpah film Straw Dogs won’t do much to change the public perception of the 6’4″ actor as a man with testosterone to spare. In director Rod Lurie’s adaptation of the 1971 cult thriller, Skarsgård plays Charlie, a small-town football hero whose emasculation at the hands of his high school sweetheart, Amy, and her new husband, David—played by Kate Bosworth and James Marsden—results in a simmering rage, which inevitably boils over into a symphony of wildly ungovernable carnage. “Humans are animals,” he says resolutely. “And like other animals we struggle between instinct and rationality. Of course I believe we’ve evolved, but I think it’d be naïve to claim we’re nothing like the rest of the animals with whom we share the planet. At the end of the day, we’re nothing but frappuccino-sipping savages.”

Or beer-chugging savages, a more accurate description of Charlie, who David, a Hollywood screenwriter, commissions to renovate his isolated property’s farmhouse. Tensions build throughout the film as Charlie and David try to out-brute each other, each time with greater consequences. “There were times when Alex really did beat the shit out of me,” says Marsden of the film’s many physically demanding scenes. “There was a moment when he launched me into a wall, smacked me right in the face, and pressed a gun into my forehead. He pressed it so hard you could see the ring of the barrel on my forehead afterward. But the second they cut the scene, he’d go right back to his compassionate, considerate self: ‘Are you okay, Jimmy? Everything fine?’”

While David is out hunting one afternoon—a display of barbarism into which he’s been pressured by Charlie and his crew—Charlie drops by the house, where he corners and attacks Amy. The rape scene, which caused a stentorian uproar when the original Straw Dogs first screened four decades ago, is no less difficult to watch in the remake. After violating Amy, whose mix of pleasure and pain while being assaulted lends the scene a layer of uncomfortable ambiguity, Charlie sits back and watches as one his hulking cronies follows suit. “It fucking breaks his heart, watching her get raped by someone else,” says Skarsgård, the gaze of his piercing greenish-blue eyes difficult to match in this moment. “It’s not like he ever says, ‘Yeah, fuck her!’ In a way, he feels like she’s his territory. He thinks, ‘You’re my woman. I offered to protect you for the rest of my life, but you didn’t want that, did you? If you don’t feel this passion, this real thing we share, then fine, you’re on your own.’ It’s definitely more complicated than him fucking her because he can’t have her.” image

The set of Straw Dogs, the production of which Skarsgård admits was “exhausting on an emotional level,” seems an unlikely place for romance to blossom—nonetheless, it’s where he met Bosworth, whom he dated for two years until they broke up in July. “Kate is such a great actress, and she’s so much more than a good-looking Hollywood starlet. We were just really good friends at the time,” says Skarsgård, who lives on his own in a rented house in the Hollywood Hills. “But we shared a really special experience on that film.” (Although I didn’t know it at the time, Skarsgård was safeguarding a secret—the dissolution of his relationship with Bosworth had yet to become public fodder—which partly explains why our easy banter atrophied into guarded responses so quickly when the subject was broached. It didn’t last long. A downright neighborly guy, he generously explained, “I make it a rule not to talk about myself and Kate. I so desperately try to keep my private life out of the tabloids because becoming a celebrity rather than an actor can really get in the way of a good performance.”)

Skarsgård and I are now in his dressing room waiting for him to be called into hair and makeup. He strips down to a pair of black briefs, consulting a rack of clothes he’s meant to wear for today’s shoot: tattered military pants, a dark, ripped shirt, and “WWI–style” combat boots. There’s not much by way of interior design except for a couch and a wooden desk, on which sits a set of True Blood posters awaiting his autograph (they’re for the family members of two of the show’s head accountants), a second pair of folded black underwear, and a white box decorated with a crimson bow. “Aw, look how sweet this is,” he says, holding the contents of the box up to the light. “It’s a hand-painted vampire!”

After he gets dressed, we move to a similarly barren room, where Moyer, who plays his nemesis Bill Compton, is wearing a costume almost identical to Skarsgård’s, his hair being parted by a doting stylist. Skarsgård sits down next to him and, almost immediately, a makeup artist begins applying dots of red corn syrup to his cheeks, chin, neck, and chest. “Don’t you want to know why Eric’s face is all bloody?” Moyer says in a surprisingly thick British accent given the seeming authenticity of his Southern drawl on the show. Skarsgård nods at Moyer to continue. “He rips somebody’s heart out and then drinks blood from the aorta like it’s a straw. It’s so fucking cool!” Skarsgård, who’s been known to deliver some of the show’s wittiest one-liners, says, “When I’m finished, I just look into the camera and burp. It’s so gross.” Perched next to one another like the Bobbsey Twins as imagined by Quentin Tarantino, True Blood’s two greatest adversaries catch each other’s gaze and erupt with laughter.

Skarsgård grew up in Södermalm (a district in central Stockholm that he says has the same artsy vibe as Lower Manhattan), the oldest of seven children. Despite the fact that his father, Stellan Skarsgård, is one of Sweden’s most revered actors, he insists theirs was a normal life. At 13, he lived for six months in Budapest, where his father was filming Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg. While there, he attended a school run mostly by American teachers. He attributes this experience and the short time he spent studying theater at New York’s Marymount Manhattan College in 1997 with the almost total evisceration of his Swedish accent. (Although he looks like a Norse god, Skarsgård talks like a Texan rancher, an incongruity he says came from working with his Straw Dogs dialect coach. “This slight twang will stick,” he says, “until I work on the next thing.”) After six months at Marymount, he moved back to Sweden to chase after a girl he’d met only three weeks prior to his trip to New York. “This was before Skype, and it was really expensive to call,” he says. “She broke up with me after six months and I was devastated, very naïve—not old and bitter like I am now. After she dumped me, I was like, I’m coming home, baby! Please take me back! I rode into town on my white stallion thinking I was saving the most beautiful relationship in the history of mankind. She dumped me again a couple months later.” image

Heartbroken but still determined to pursue acting, Skarsgård bounced around a series of plays, the most demanding of them being a three-hour Swedish production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, in which he embodied Nick, an impotent overachiever, six days a week for nine months. (That and Generation Kill, the seven-episode HBO miniseries about the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, were, he says, the most challenging roles of his still-young career. Of Generation Kill, which first aired in 2008, he says, laughing, “It’s funny, I spent seven months in the African desert, putting my blood, sweat, and tears—my heart and my soul—into that project, and still, more often than not people want to talk about the six hours I spent filming the music video for Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi.’”)

In 2000, Skarsgård took a trip to Los Angeles from Sweden, where he’d been working steadily in film and on stage, to visit his father. At the suggestion of Stellan’s manager, Skarsgård went to an audition on a whim. “I was just a tourist and it seemed like a fun adventure,” he says of the experience, which landed him his first American film role as a goofy, dumber-than-dirt male model named Meekus in Ben Stiller’s Zoolander. “I would love to do another comedy,” he says, although his upcoming film slate won’t do much to calcify his funny bone.

He’ll next appear in Lars Von Trier’s matrimony-and-Armaggedon drama Melancholia as the fiancé to Kirsten Dunst’s despondent bride-to-be (a performance that won her the Best Actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year), whom he can feel slipping away from him on their wedding day. “I’m so madly in love with her and this is supposed to be the best day of my life,” he says. “But I can’t seem to stop us from drifting apart.” The film, which will be released in November, also stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, and the elder Skarsgård, who plays his son’s friend and best man.

Although he’d worked with Von Trier in 2000 on a Danish miniseries called D-Day, he was “excited and nervous to explore such a vulnerable character.” Unfortunately, Von Trier’s knack for eliciting career-topping performances from his actors was overshadowed when he uttered three little words during a press conference at Cannes: “I understand Hitler.” Shaking his head at the foolishness of it all, Skarsgård says, “Lars isn’t a racist, but he likes to provoke people. It’s almost like he has Tourette’s. If he’d been drunk and yelled it at someone—if it had felt genuine—that would be one thing, but it’s just bullshit he says because he’s trying to be funny. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, and it definitely didn’t this time.”

After Melancholia, he’ll return to alpha territory as the commanding officer of a US Navy destroyer in Peter Berg’s Battleship, a big-screen adaptation of the classic peg-and-grid game costarring a bunch of aliens, Liam Neeson, and a camouflage-wearing Rihanna, whom he insists seemed “like a natural—in the few scenes I shared with her, she was very good.” Despite his initial hesitation about starring in his first mega-budget movie—“I’ve heard they can become more about the explosions than the acting”—he says it was a great experience. Just then, a portly, headset-sporting man, wearing a polo shirt emblazoned with the True Blood logo, knocks on the door to Skarsgård’s dressing room and says, “They’re ready for you on set.” image

The Moon Goddess Emporium is relatively new to True Blood, as are those who frequent it, the witches who were introduced to the show this past June. Tibetan prayer flags hang from the room’s vaulted ceilings. It’s a cluttered space made all the more crowded by the 20-odd crew members anxious to film the scene and start their hiatus. Before the cameras begin rolling, Skarsgård walks up to his mark in the center of the room, Moyer kneels in front of him—his character is picking something up off the ground when the shot begins—and the director watches them from his chair in front of a camera monitor. While waiting in their places, Skarsgård looks down at his costar and says dryly, “It looks like he’s sucking me off,” to which Moyer responds by bobbing his head vigorously. Skarsgård closes his eyes and starts moaning with the intensity of a slash-fiction hero, after which Moyer stands up and wipes imaginary fluids from his mouth with the back of his hand. He scans the crowd and after taking a slight bow says, “And the Emmy goes to… ” A crew member whispers to no one in particular, “Now that’s what I call ‘Action.’”

Later that night, the fourth season of True Blood officially wrapped, Skarsgård returns home to shower before meeting me at the Hollywood Roosevelt for a burger and a few ice-cold bottles of IPA. Over two hours, he draws more than a few glances from a group of Australian tourists and even from social gadfly Rumer Willis, the daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore. “It’s you, Eric, isn’t it?” says one particularly guileless man, as if testing the waters before introducing Skarsgård to his wife. “Would you please take a picture with her?” He graciously obliges, wrapping his arm around the woman’s waist and smiling for the camera. “Would you… bite her?” This he does not oblige. When the couple retreats back to a far corner of the restaurant, Skarsgård says, “That’s one thing I’ll never really understand. But the main reason I don’t ever do it is because if I do it just once, every single person will be like, ‘Bite me! Bite me! Bite me!’”

Whereas he doesn’t at all begrudge a forward fan, he’s less patient with paparazzi who follow him to the gym and out to dinner. “They don’t care about you,” he says of the tabloid lensmen. “They just want their money. I’ll never get used to the fact that they camp out to get a picture of me eating a sandwich. It’s strange to me, and I want it to be strange—I don’t ever want to feel like that’s normal.” Which is why he’s excited to relocate for a few months to New York this fall, where he’ll film What Maisie Knew, a relationship drama costarring Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan. “LA is such a one-trick pony—80% of the people here talk exclusively about managers and agents—but New Yorkers don’t really care as much about ‘the industry.’”

Although he never says as much, it seems like this is why Skarsgård remains so connected to his Nordic homeland: Compared to Los Angeles (and New York to a lesser degree), where he’s become wildly famous for playing a pansexual, seldom fully-clothed, 1,000-year-old vampire living in a fictional backroads Petri dish for mutants and Louisianan bumpkins, Sweden seems downright normal. “All of my childhood friends are still in Stockholm,” he says. “Not a single one of them is impressed by me—they’re happy for me, but they don’t give a fuck about that shit. One guy’s a salesman, a couple others are unemployed, and they could care less that they’re hanging out with a ‘celebrity.’” I tell him that sounds like a healthy balance. Skarsgård empties his beer and smiles. “You have no idea, man. I’m so fucking balanced it’s ridiculous!”

ALEX LIKES: Paul & Andre, Los Angeles.

Photography by Andrew MacPherson. Styling by Annie Psaltiras.

The Spare Room Introduces Retro Gaming to Hollywood

Is The Spare Room the best new bar in L.A.? Quite possibly. The latest nightlife destination inside the tricked-out Roosevelt Hotel debuted to the public on Wednesday night after private holiday events last month, and it’s shaping up to be a hit in 2011. The curious mezzanine-level find is an early 20th century-inspired, gaming-themed lounge, far away from the hotel’s other bars (see the new Beacher’s Madhouse, Library Bar, Teddy’s, and the hotel’s Tropicana Bar). “It’s an upscale gaming parlor that recalls the private basement bars people like the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers once had in their homes,” Thompson Hotels’ Director of Entertainment Med Abrous explained last year, regarding his latest endeavor inside the Roosevelt.

Formerly a storage space, The Spare Room’s most eye-catching design feature is likely the dual vintage wooden bowling lanes, which Thompson sourced from a collector in Texas. Wednesday night, the sight of beautiful people bowling brought smiles out of even the most jaded hipsters.

So how much does it cost to roll a branded Spare Room bowling ball down one of their lanes? Oh, only $100 an hour. However, according to Abrous, it’s really not that much if you split the cost with up to six friends.

But bowling is not the central focus of the bar. Most will come for the drinks, which are among the best in town, thanks to the team Aidan Demarest, formerly of First & Hope and The Edison, has assembled to mix at the warm, inviting bar.

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Wednesday evening, nearly everyone in attendance was won over by smart cocktails, like the Chilean Sunset (red wine, pisco, lime, pineapple, and egg whites). In that sense, The Spare Room mimics the craft cocktails that have proven to be a hit at the Library Bar.

But unlike the lobby-bar feel of the Library Bar, expect a real late night scene to develop at the Spare Room, although the best crowds don’t show up until after 11pm, when the night is in full swing. Late Wednesday night, everything seemed right inside the bar as Giorgio Moroder played in the background (Chris Holmes is the bar’s musical director) and pretty young things played classic games like dominoes and Yahtzee.

The Spare Room aspires to be the antithesis of the brash, modern bowling alleys nearby. Think pencil-scored games, dim lighting, leather couches, and smart wood tables. “We’re paying incredible attention to all the old gaming aspects,” said Abrous, who has been instrumental in keeping Teddy’s a top Hollywood draw over the past five years. “We’ve designed and manufactured our own backgammon boards.”

Your 2010-11 Los Angeles Nightlife Roundup

Last year, it felt like everyone in Los Angeles finally realized the dream of opening their own bar. But nightlife being the fickle beast that it is, not all of them will last. The bars that made the most noise in 2010 will likely survive to see 2012 and beyond, but they’re not necessarily the best of the bunch. Brent Bolthouse and Guy Starkman’s Trousdale (pictured above) had a very successful year and recently paid back all its investors (a coup in under 12 months). Across the street from Trousdale on the Sunset Strip, Soho House had an equally successful 2010.

On the other side of town, Echo Park and Silver Lake saw the opening of a few new bars that made a bit of buzz, albeit of the low-key variety. The truck-stop chic of Stinkers gave way to the whiskey-soaked sophistication of The Thirsty Crow in Silver Lake, while Echo Park gained a great new cozy drinking den in 1642 bar. Los Feliz got a new wine bar, Bar Covell, which was a hit with first-daters the second it opened.

Downtown saw an explosion of new finds in 2010, the best being the simplest: Spring St. bar. Cedd Moses’ Las Perlas tempted tequila fiends while ex-Lava Lounge owner Michelle Marini opened up a smallish haunt called The Falls nearby.

Drai’s, Supperclub, Colony, and Premiere all douched up Hollywood, yet all three seem to still be doing well. Hemingway’s did better than all three of the aforementioned spots, at least in terms of drawing a fairly diverse crowd.

So what’s in store this year?

Tonight in Hollywood, The Spare Room at the Roosevelt officially debuts after hosting private holiday parties last month. The cocktail lounge features a gaming parlor and two vintage bowling lanes. Friday, David Judaken’s revamp of Opera debuts, dubbed Eden.

Beyond Hollywood, look for the Houston brothers to make noise once again with several new bars. The two had a huge hit in 2010 with the smart Havana-aping La Descarga, and the brothers will revamp the Stone Bar near Los Feliz this spring with a dive bar for those who are too hip for dive bars. Similarly, Roger Room overlords Jared Meisler and Sean MacPherson are set to make a bit of low key noise with their revamp of the classic Coach & Horses on Sunset Blvd, which recently closed.

Farewell L.A. & Notes from Santos’

I left California with fun facts resonating in my head. First, I heard that In L.A. there are more medical marijuana distribution joints than there are Starbucks. Secondly, the people who live in Venice Beach call themselves Ven-utians. My crew has settled there and in West Hollywood. I ate strange fruit and peed next to movie stars in restaurant bathrooms. I had conversations with local nightlife shakers about celebrities as commodities and their car-based clientele. In good old New York it’s hard to make a place that is what we call a “destination” work. Notable exceptions have been Bungalow 8, Area, Cielo, Lotus, and The World, which popped up in hoods that were less than traveled.

In L.A., everyplace is a destination. Pals Marc Rose and Med Abrous joined my clan for coffee and cocktails at Chateau Marmont, which is of course the chicest place ever. They told me about Spare, a project they are collaborating on at the Hotel Roosevelt. Spare will apparently feature a couple of bowling lanes and of course the greatest cocktails and service ever. I love the idea. Marc and I talked about my old Bowlmor Lanes Monday night club leagues. Bowling is mad fun, and a couple of lanes may need to be expanded on.

Marc worked for me back in the Life days, and I always thought he was the best of the young studs. He went West to find his future as so many of my crew has. It sure was swell sitting by the pool and talking on the cell at The Standard in West Hollywood, or strolling with kids on the Venice Beach boardwalk. I have to say, my recent Williamsburg move might not satisfy my urge to change. It was like the voting on Tuesday: A reaction against, rather than a positive acceptance. After Williamsburg, it will not be Bushwick for me. I seem to have developed a fetish for palm trees.

It must be noted that this Saturday,Tao Vegas is celebrating 5 years of doing it, and doing it, and doing it well. The property is a machine that captures the imagination and loot of thousands every week. It remains fresh and fun, as the players involved have evolved the space, keeping It energized. DJ Vice will entertain.

I missed the great artist/photographer Andres Serrano’s musical offerings at Lit last night. We e-mailed each other and he assured me that Brutus Faust will gig again. Traveling just a few days has distanced me from the NY scene. From afar, I noted the closing and the reopening of Santos’ Party House. I put in my 2 cents about what happened, but feel the press release from the day after the closing speaks well on the impact of random acts of unfair enforcement by city agencies. Santos was allowed to reopen after this release:

Dear Friends,

Yesterday was one for the books at Santos Party House. We had been working since the morning in preparation for the 20th anniversary celebration of the legendary record label Ninja Tune, in addition to the string of amazing Halloween events we had been working on for months. At around 9:15pm, the mounting excitement was crushed when the NYPD barged into the club and informed us that we were to cease operations until further notice. Needless to say, we were shocked.

The summons we received lists a few minor incidents that occurred months ago for the most part, all involving people not under the direct employ of the club. While many of the allegations listed in the order are simply untrue, we take most offense to the argument that SPH promotes behavior that causes “ irreparable harm to the City of New York, its residents and visitors.” Our intentions are exactly the opposite. We are a mom-and-pop business that strives to maintain the cultural and creative traditions that make this city such a miracle. SPH does not condone any illegal activity and has always gone above and beyond recommended security protocol to ensure a safe environment for patrons and staff. Spontaneously closing an independent business that has continuously cooperated with authorities (on one of the most profitable weekends of the year) is not the answer. It’ s absolutely ridiculous. Steve Lewis succinctly wrote today, “ Has anybody been in Madison Square Garden during a concert? Drugs are in schools, playgrounds, offices, parks and, quite possibly, every building—commercial or residential—in town. Nobody thinks of closing these places down, only the clubs.”

We have a hearing on Monday and are confident that we will be cleared of any wrongdoing and will resume business as usual shortly. Until then, we encourage our allies in nightlife to remain vigilant and protect your businesses. We are deeply appreciative of the outpouring of support in the press and on the internet. Our apologies go to the incredible event planners and customers that we intended to share the weekend with; we wish you a killer Halloween. Please bear with us as the best is yet to come.

Sincerely,

Santos Party House

Thompson Hotels Launches Inn-Sight Blog

Your friends and ours at Thompson Hotels (6 Columbus, 60 Thompson, Thompson LES, Gild Hall, Smyth, Hollywood Roosevelt, Thompson Beverly Hills, Hotel Sax, and Donovan House) have launched a new blog called Inn-Sight. Spinning off the Room100 concept of yore, Inn-Sight posts about fashion, art, culture, and of course travel, plus interviews and cool stuff happening in and around the various Thompsons. Plus, it’s overseen by our pal Steve Garbarino — check out his Editor’s Letter for the goods on what’s going down over there.

Industry Insiders: Tehmina Adaya, Shangri-La’s Lady

President and CEO of Shangri-La Hotel in Santa Monica, Tehmina Adaya has been hard at work prepping the family-owned business for an expansion to five more locations in the next five years. Adaya also heads up the record label, So Sweet Records. More on her hotelier views after the jump.

How did you come to be associated with Shangri-La? I come from a family that owns commercial real estate and my father bought the Shangri-La in 1983. The family ran it as a mom-and-pop hotel for years, but my father handed the reins to me a few years ago. It’s still a privately owned and managed lifestyle business. I’m a family girl, who is wholly invested in the lifestyle business—as an hotelier in a fantasy destination for the hospitality industry.

How did you get your start? I’m originally from Pakistan, but moved to California when I was 12. I’ve lived in the neighborhood for 30 years and still live six blocks away. My father was my mentor; he set the example of being a balanced individual and was a successful entrepreneur who worked until nine o’clock every night. I grew up in a family business environment. When my father became ill, he began to hand the family business baton to me, the youngest of six children. He groomed me all my life and put me in charge of his whole portfolio. I’m now the trustee for everything. My mother is alive and well, and a great supporter.

Who do you look up to in the hospitality industry? Ian Schrager did an amazing thing for the hospitality industry in general. Where I differ from him is in the elitism at the Gramercy Park Hotel. I also admire André Balazs, who has made the Chateau Marmont better and better. My personal mentors are Goodwin Gaw, who owns the Hollywood Roosevelt—another historic building—and turned it into a very dynamic space instead of a museum where nobody wants to stay. Another person I like is Mark Rosenthal of the Sunset Marquis, which is now an urban sanctuary that didn’t give up an inch of their history.

What do you predict for 2010? Part of the hospitality industry is turning into a lifestyle industry—now you go into a hotel and see beautiful art and hear relevant music, get different bath products in your room, consume different drinks in a unique bar, meet more interesting people. Even if you lead a suburban lifestyle, once you stay at the right hotel, you feel young and dynamic. You feel like you know what’s happening. The hospitality industry is also becoming more environmentally responsible. Our hotel is much more green than it’s ever been, and even the bath product bottles are biodegradable—they’re made of cornstarch and disintegrate in a landfill. Our toilets are green too, they’re dual flush toilets! I read a shocking old statistic that claimed that one American used as much natural resources as 40 Bengalis. My father would get upset if I left the tap on while brushing my teeth because he said, “You’re answerable to God and the environment for everything you waste.”

Positive changes in ’09? You were once treated as either a nobody or as a VIP. Now hosts are treating all guests with an equal hand with the economic downturn in full swing.

Something that people might not know about you? I don’t think people really know that I’m involved in the music industry, that I have my own dance music label, So Sweet Records, and that I adore fashion and I love designers like Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen and Alaia. I’m a complete Anglophile; I love that England is so culturally dynamic and socially diverse, which comes from living in Pakistan for the first 12 years of my life. My husband and I are both Muslims, although his mother is Turkish and his father is Lebanese. He was born in Kuwait where his father was brought to head the nation’s medical profession—his father delivered all of the royal babies there as well.

What’s your favorite city? London! I get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t visit twice a year.

Any non-industry projects in the works? Raising my children. My eldest son, 20, told me he was really proud of me when I started the hotel and the record label because it made things seem possible for him and said, “I can see my mother doing it, and it really inspires me.” The label is another child to me. I also started a school and worked hard at it—it’s an elementary school, pre-school-to-sixth grade called New Horizon. My father donated the land, and I had it accredited within five years.

Where are your go-to places in LA? First, I love SkyBar; it started the whole outdoor lifestyle bar thing in Los Angeles and is fabulously done at the Mondrian. I love the Chateau Marmont; that’s the property I would compare our historic hotel to—it’s a comfortable place with stellar service and impeccable food. Nothing compares to the Four Seasons, and you can actually smoke outside! I love The Edison, located in an industrial ballroom; it’s timelessly hot. I really like Foxtail, it’s just beautiful and reminiscent of Biba in London in the 1970s. My favorite indoor bar is at the Sanderson in London—very French and delicate, mirrored, like a doll house or a jewel.