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.

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.”

Los Angeles by Night: DJ Lindsay Luv’s Itinerary

The ever-affable Lindsay Luv has one of the sunniest personalities in nightlife. It’s only fitting, then, that after eight years of living and DJing in New York, the east coast girl picked up and moved to Los Angeles. “I was offered a big summer residency at Mondrian Skybar to DJ their pool parties, and I decided it was time to try to expand my career,” says Luv. The west coast is a great place to do that—it’s the best move I could have made, both professionally and personally.” In less than six months, Luv found she was overbooked, suddenly becoming a DJ favorite among celebrities and booking LA hotspots like H. Wood and XIV. She landed in the pages of People magazine, thanks to a report that Britney Spears headed to Mondrian Skybar by herself, just to check out Luv on the decks. ABC’s former Bachelorette, Deanna Pappas, had Lindsay spin her engagement party, and Neve Campbell had Luv spin her private birthday bash at the London Hotel. Needless to say, she’s gotten to know her way around the LA party scene pretty quickly. Here’s her take on LA nightlife.

Name: Lindsay Luv Professional Resume: DJ, Producer, Fashionista, Blogger, ‘Girl About Town’ One Word to Describe Nightlife in Los Angeles: Glitzy

City Loves Favorite lunch spot: Local in Silver Lake for homemade farmer’s market inspired comfort food, Cactus Taqueria for the best tacos on the go! • Favorite dinner spot: Pace for hard-to-find-in-LA wood burning oven pizza and pastas and an incredible wine list; XIV on Sunset for this amazing homemade naan and yogurt dip, in place of bread, to start off a fantastic meal; Malo in Los Feliz for dope Mexican food and a hip scene.

Favorite Nightlife Trend: Poolside Parties, day or night—year round! You never know who might float by or jump in! • Drink of Choice: Kettle, Soda, Lime • Meal of Choice: Spicy Tuna on Grilled Rice Cakes and the Yuzu Octopus Spicy Tako Roll paired with a Pear and Parmesan Martini at Katana on the outdoor roof deck. • Favorite group of people to bump into: The staff at Mondrian Skybar! Everyone from the bus boys to the GMs to the door guy and in between have become like family to me! An eclectic and fun staff all around, and we all have been known to hit up a diner late-night after a crazy party.

City Gripes: Nightlife trend you loath: Sparklers. Omgggg Sparklers!!! • Drink: Mojitos! All that mint stuck in your straw or, even worse, your teeth! Yuck! • Meal: Drive-through greasy fast food. Hit up a more personal taco truck instead! • Group of people to bump into: People with bad requests that won’t leave me alone. “Will you play ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’ again?” Ugh! Or obnoxious drunks.

Her Hotspots: Most night’s I’m working, DJing either special events, or clubs, so I go where the dex are. But here are my favorite spots.Monday: TeaRoom: I spin many Mondays and events there and love this place! They have great events for a variety of fashion, industry and celebrity clients! Also, late night at Teddy’s at The Roosevelt Hotel. •Tuesday: XIV SBE Group Industry Dinner that I spin from 8-11PM followed by the backroom at Trousdale. Great night all around! •Wednesday: Las Palmas. Dance on couches, see and be seen, and pick up great tacos at their stand on your way out! •Thursday: Mondrian Skybar where I spin all night—from 10PM to 2AM. Hotspot! You never know who will make a cameo. •Friday: The Edison (downtown) is an underground vault/factory -like haunt with amazing absinthe cocktails and a refined dress code; Little Bar, a local dive that was made over on my favorite HGTV show, “The Antonio Treatment.” •Saturday: Bronson Bar for rock music and whiskey. I love spinning all rock guest sets there, they actually mean rock when they say it! Wurstküche, downtown for sausages and beer, and indie/electro. •Sunday: I need a break! Costco? Home Depot? Target? OMG, I love Target!

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Every night: Bronson Bar. It’s like the dive bar version of Cheers that plays great rock music, and is unpretentious. Or Mondrian Skybar for a poolside table all seasons all hours. I love the SPIN room too, because Ping Pong is ALWAYS a good time! •Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Friday or Saturday nights anywhere in Hollywood, unless I am DJing. It is MAYHEM! But when I’m spinning in Hollywood: bring on the masses!!! •For special occasions: Katana or Pace for romantic ambience, and incredible food. Disneyland for straight fun, California style. Disneyland is a great date at night when the kids are heading home! Plus you can ride Thunder Mountain until you throwup! •Brunch is usually: Kings Road Café, ask for everyone’s favorite waiter: John! Griddle Café for pancakes as big as you are!

Hollywood’s Hot New Hang Is Hemingway’s

It’s been nearly a month since Hemingway’s quietly opened on Hollywood Boulevard, and already the neighborhood feels irrevocably changed for the better. Nestled beneath Cinespace in part of the old Ivar space, Johnny Zander’s new bar has been winning over West Side socialites and slinky Silver Lake stylists alike. It’s just what Hollywood needs, and represents the rare find where awkwardly pretty models and just plain awkward writers feel equally comfortable.

The literary and art-themed hang (with over 10,000 hand-selected books glued to shelves) boasts over 50 vintage typewriters affixed to a wall, tin tile ceilings, and even cocktails named after the bar’s namesake, Ernest H. This is not a nightclub, but it can feel like one late at night, with DJs spinning everything from LCD Soundsystem to your standard house thumpers. (Early evenings call for a lounge/rock playlist.) Hemingway’s has the casual embrace of beloved nearby haunts such as Teddy’s or The Bar, yet is large enough to feel like a destination club, minus the hassle or cover charge.

Yes, the theme may sound cheesy, but Zander and partners pull off the entire concept with aplomb, and all who enter are eventually won over by the simple charm of this two-room find. If the bar has a weak spot, it might be the cocktail menu, which is hit-and-miss. It can depend on who’s doing the mixing. Seek out Alex (formerly of Suite 700) if you really want your “Death in the Afternoon” made right. At $16, you also might want to consider going off-menu for more reasonably priced libations. Beers start at a reasonable $5.

Zander, a well-known name in Hollywood (and New York and Paris, for that matter), is recreating the heady early days of Hollywood’s once red-hot Green Door, minus the serious door drama. Hemingway’s does have a door policy, but it’s way lax, especially early on when just about anyone can drop by post-work and take in the ‘20s Paris-meets-Havana nights vibe. Late nights are a different story, especially on Thursdays and Fridays, when the bar is rammed after 11. At that point you’d better have reservations, know the doormen, or be Adrian Grenier if you hope to get in with a big group. Zander, a former model, is at the bar every night and keeps a watchful eye on his developing scene, which will only get busier this fall as word gets out. Zander expects to add a second, smaller bar in the front patio area (a blissful respite for smokers) where Cuban coffee will be served in addition to drinks.

5 Things We Learned from the Bling Ring

Inside the pages of Vanity Fair‘s latest Hollywood issue is a fascinating look at the bizarre lives of Hollywood’s so-called Bling Ring, the group of Valley girls and boys who in 2009 went around burglarizing the homes of the rich and famous. You might remember sites like TMZ (which ironically is how the thieves knew their victims’ schedules) being all over this story while it developed. Back then, the accused were short on details, but now faced with the prospect of serious jail time, they’ve decided to backstab each other, like well, a bunch of Valley kids. The winners in all of this? Us! Writer Nancy Jo Sales gives juicy, first-hand accounts of the robberies of homes belonging to stars like Orlando Bloom and Paris Hilton, who seem to spend their money on exactly what you’d think Young Hollywood spends their money on: Rolexes, Louis Vuitton luggage, cocaine. For this, we can mostly thank Nick Prugo, a now remorseful ringleader of the whole operation, and a very generous tattletale. Here are five lessons learned from the saga of the Bling Ring.

Audrina Patridge has let fame get to her head. The Hills star put the media spotlight on the serial robberies when she sent an incriminating surveillance video to TMZ. And even though Patridge lost about $43,000 worth of stuff, the experience wasn’t all bad. Now Vanity Fair is writing about her, and she did not squander that opportunity to remind us how beautiful and famous she is:

“They took my great-grandma’s jewelry, my passport, my laptop, jeans made to fit my body to my perfect shape.” The estimated value of her stolen property was $43,000. Patridge said she believes the thieves were motivated by her fame. “Rachel Lee was a big fan of me. I was her target,” she said she’d heard from cops. “She’s a little obsessed girl, I gotta tell you. She’s going to get what she deserves.”

Kitson needs to change their credit card policy. Cashiers at H&M won’t even let me use my mom’s credit card, and yet somehow how Prugo and crew was able to walk into one of L.A.’s buzziest boutiques with rich people’s credit cards, “go shopping,” and “no one would question.” Sounds like “no one” should be fired.

Paris Hilton’s got great blow. After finding “about, like, five grams of coke in Paris’s house”, Nick Prugo and Rachel Lee “snorted it and left.” Then they “drove around Mulholland, having the best time of our lives.”

Leonardo Dicaprio is ageless. Apparently I’m not the only one who doesn’t want to accept that the quintessential heartthrob is five years removed from the big 4-0. Bling Ring vixen and aspiring reality TV star Alexis Neiers agrees with me:

“Nick really liked the life we had,” Alexis said. “He wanted to live like us. He wanted to tag along with us to the clubs we went to, like Apple, Guys & Dolls, Teddy’s, Ecco. It was known that we were out hanging out with Emile Hirsch and Leonardo DiCaprio—just, like, typical Young Hollywood.

Facebook is now a crime-fighting tool. While TMZ was being used to help people break into Rachel Bilson’s pad, the LAPD “used Facebook to ascertain that Lee and Prugo were “friends” with each other.” Privacy settings, people!

Los Angeles: Top 10 Bars to Pretend You Just Turned 21

901 Bar & Grill (South LA) – The bar of choice for USC coeds looking for happy-hour bargains, short skirts, and an alcohol-induced stumble back to campus at closing time. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making an appearance at a college watering hole as an outsider, as long as you’re willing to buy rounds of kamikaze shots for all of your new friends. ● Teddys(Hollywood) – The Hollywood Roosevelt’s celebrity sanctuary attracts the upper echelon of LA’s youngster socialites and scenesters who just wanna dance. The dark interior eventually turns into a game of bumper cars between over-served patrons, but it’s fine with us because they’re uniformly attractive. ● Q’s Billiards(Brentwood) – Always a wait for a pool table, allowing time for double-fisting Long Island’s and plenty of loitering conversation. Brimming with competitive dudes who can shoot sticks until all the kegs are tapped, and neglected girlfriends skimming the perimeter for “good listeners.”

Circle Bar (Santa Monica) – Dark, stuffy, crowded and housing all the smells that remind you of the best four years of your life. Next-day memories will include getting sardined between hot, sweaty bodies on your way to the bar, having at least two drinks spilled down your back, and rubbing appendages with inebriated cuties on the dance floor. Chug a beer for breakfast to relieve the pain. ● Golden Gopher (Downtown) – Engaging bartenders will make you feel deserving of the stiff cocktails. True friendships are formed around the old-school arcade games and solidified in the glass-enclosed smoking area. Document late-night behavior with your new besties in the photo booths and post on Facebook. Immediately. ● Westwood Brewing Company (Westwood) – If you’ve been searching for an opportunity to showcase your extensive knowledge of Beers of the World to impress the opposite sex, this is it. The fusion of microbrews and karaoke, mediocre bar food, and bro-tastic camaraderie will immediately place you in the winner’s circle. ● Roof Bar at the Standard (Downtown) – The pool stays open until 2am, lounge chairs are waterbeds, and the dancefloor gets downright funky. It was only a matter of time until the chic jetsetters abandoned ship and the youngbloods made their move on in. ● Winstons (West Hollywood) – Usually an equal mix of guys and girls in a dark wooded interior. Dim enough that age becomes ambiguous. Crowd-pleasing DJs attract 15-minutes-of-fame clingers (reality TV stars) and plenty of tartlets who claim to know the bouncer. No one with a day job has time to wait in line for entrance. ● Crown Bar (Hollywood) – Where model/actress/whatevers let their hair down. If they’re a day over 21, they’re not showin’ it. ● Roxy (West Hollywood) – Legendary music forum with bouncers who’ll break up a mosh pit before you get your first crowd surf in. Punks and kids getting through the ‘experimental’ phase congregate to experience the eardrum-shattering sound system. Not meant for the volume-sensitive or the over 30.

Backstage at Bonnaroo: The Knux, People Under the Stairs

While battling torrential downpours and mud-slinging hippies on the opening night of Bonnaroo, we got personal with Double K and Lou from People Under the Stairs and got a rundown of LA from Krispy Kream and Al from the Knux. Full listage after the jump.

What’s your most treasured vinyl? Double K: Eddie Hazel’s Game, Dames, & Guitar Thangs. That’ll keep me happy for a long time.

Who would you have play at a cookout in your back yard — dead or alive? Double K: Jimi Hendrix.

Would would open for Jimi? Double K: MC5.

What other shows are you gonna catch? Double K: We’re leaving tomorrow, so all we’ll be catching is that flight.

You’re stranded on a desert island, you can take one album with you, what is it? Lou: I’m gonna take some sort of bird call record to attract food.

Next weekend, you’re having a party. Who’s your guest of honor? Lou: Jesus. That way I don’t have to buy alcohol. I’ll just give him a bunch of water and be like, “Homey, do it.” I’ll invite all the hippies. The theme of the party will be: Do You Believe?

What’s your prediction for the series? Lou: I’m gonna say, assuming that everyone stays healthy, Lakers take it. And then there’s gonna be a riot, and the mayor is gonna plead with everyone to calm down because we actually won. No one’s gonna listen and they’ll use it as an excuse to burn down buildings.

3 things that you miss from New Orleans that you don’t have in LA? Krispy Kream and Al1. Crawfish. 2. Being able to drink 24 hours. 3. Our moms.

Anything that you hate about LA? Krispy Kream and Al 1. Traffic. 2. People not being genuine. I have a lot of fake friends, but it’s okay having fake friends in LA. It’s not a bad thing. I’m somebody’s fake friend. When you find real friends, you just wanna hold onto them. You don’t wanna share ’em with nobody. 3. The hospitality. Everybody is just trying to be somebody. No one wants to really work their jobs.

Where are your spots? Krispy Kream and Al Cha Cha Lounge on the East side. Square One on the East side. Kitchen 24 in Hollywood. Bossa Nova in West Hollywood. Basic’s in West Hollywood. Just don’t go there late at night if you’re a straight guy. Teddy’s in the Roosevelt.

Jazz Night @ Teddy’s Will Make You Love It

I am not a lover of jazz. My father was a jazz musician, and for the duration of my younger years, he would play these noodly bits of instrumental music as a way to torment the teenager in his house who preferred bad hard rock and new wave. Good thing, then, that the house band at the weekly Thursday jazz night at Teddy’s knows how to capture the imaginations of the jazz-fearing masses: They take pop music hits and turn them into bluesy, jazzy riffs. A smart and sexy idea.

There we were, standing in Teddy’s cavelike interior bathed in blue light (what else?), watching a voluptuous, short blonde woman dressed in a white sparkly dress tear through “Addicted to Love.” She was Candace Devine, and she has to be good — she’s a backup singer for Christina Aguilera. In order to prop up that big vox, yours better be meaty, too.

And it was. Big, bold, beautiful, ballsy.

imageShe was backed by a crack band. They switch in and out, but the core members are Tommy King (piano), Aaron West, (sax), Ryan Fevis and Ryan Cross on bass, Paul Allen, Iaghi Hampton, and Donald Barrett on drums, Joel Whittley and Zane Carney on guitar, and Michael Bulger on trumpet and “everything else,” says band manager Travis Case.

They wore paperboy hats, vests, and skinny ties, and they seemed to keep a wad of tobacco tucked in the side of their cheeks; we were transported to another era, one far away from even the regular Friday and Saturday nights at Teddy’s. The crowd was a cool multiculti mix — you saw African American couples in their 30s and 40s, younger Lindsay Lohan types in tiny dresses swaying to the music, and a few fashionable lesbians.

In a more mainstream venue in Hollywood, this is unusual; but then, this night isn’t very typical of most of what you find on the Strip. Just down the street at the same time, the edgy downtown glitz of Diamond Dogs was going off in full force. And around the corner on Sunset, you could go into the Roxy or the Whisky and pretend it’s 1988. It might surprise you, as it did me, to learn that jazz night is the brainchild of Danny Masterson, who these days seems better known in the blogosphere for being a Scientologist and DJ (Momjeans) than as an actor from a famous TV show. Masterson wants the night to feel old school, and he enforces a dress code: suits for the guys, dresses for the ladies. It mostly works … ties are provided at the door if you don’t have one. But we were amused to learn that a tie can’t buy you elegance. One frat-boy type was given a tie and entree, and he quickly proceeded to do a Jaeger bomb at the bar. Classy.

The night was originally at Guy’s on Sunday nights, but when Guy’s closed, Masterson moved it to the Sunset Room space. That didn’t gel, but the third time turned out to be the charm, moving to Teddy’s on Valentine’s Day.

The band keeps things moving too — with new players rotating in and out of the line-up — as well as new singers, some of whom are quite famous, including John Mayer and Christina Aguilera. But the celeb quotient is perhaps the least interesting part of the night; better still are the hard-working musicians who serve as the core.

That Thursday, after Devine’s opener, regular performer Jacob Luttrell took the keys and the mic. He was the yang to Devine’s yin. He had a lilting falsetto, which my companion said reminded her of Robin Thicke or Justin Timberlake. He cruised through a shimmery rendition of Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Making Love.”

After him, Dave Yaden took over and imparted his blue-eyed soul into the jams. While the band was perfectly capable twirling the familiar songs into their own groove, in between the choruses, when they were just jamming, you see that they were the real deal, too. My father would have approved.

Jazz Night happens every Thursday at Teddy’s.

Email tips to {encode=”tromano@bbook.com” title=”tromano@bbook.com”}.

Industry Insiders: Med Abrous, Mile-High Mover

Thompson Hotels’ director of promotions and entertainment Med Abrous, on his once-in-a-lifetime guest performance with Prince, bringing movie night to clubs and the bright side of the bottle-service decline.

What’s the best night you’ve ever had at one of your venues? A little over a year ago, I put together some concerts in the Roosevelt Ballroom for Prince. He performed six shows for about 300 people per show. It was so intimate, and he put on such an amazing show. During the third show, I’m sitting with a group of people — the crowd was almost more famous than he was, which is really weird — and he starts playing this riff, then calls my name and says, “Yo Med! Get up here.” So I get up onstage with Prince, and he’s playing “Play that Funky Music White Boy,” and I basically sing onstage with him playing backup guitar. It was amazing. I have a picture to prove it because it sounds like such a tall tale. I think that was pretty much the highlight of my life.

Was your performance any good? You know what? I have moves. I’ve really got moves. I was even doing mic stand tricks; I was milking it. Can I sing? Not really. But I put on a show — I was very entertaining. It didn’t help that I didn’t know all the words, but he was helping me out a little bit. It was one of those things where it’s like, okay, try to top this.

How many Thompson properties are you responsible for? I’m based out in LA right now, and I take care of all the front-of-house stuff for the Tropicana Bar, Teddy’s, Above Beverley Hills, and our new property Above Allen, which I’m really excited about. I’m responsible for programming the music, hiring the DJs, hiring promoters where they’re needed, and coming up with creative ideas to drive business.

How did you get into the hotel business? While I was going to Parsons, a lot of my friends were DJs and into nightlife, so to make some extra money I started throwing parties, and I got pretty good at it. I’ve always been interested in hotels, and even though I run the bars, it’s really all-encompassing because bars can be very much one-note, while hotels are multifaceted and have a more interesting operation. Jason Pomeranc, who owns the Thompson Group, was a good friend of mine — we had some mutual friends — and he hired me to do the Tropicana Bar, then we started to do Teddy’s and … voila! Who do you admire in the industry? I think somebody who’s really done it right is Sean MacPherson. He seems to have a great sensibility and great sense of timing for all the places he’s opened. I really respect his work — he’s got a ton of places, including The Bowery Hotel, Swingers, and a great tequila bar called El Carmen in LA. They’re places that last because he makes them accessible and not too exclusive. He delivers a great product with great service and a cool aesthetic. I would definitely use his career as a model.

What’s the best part of your job? I actually enjoy the creativity behind coming up with different concepts that people would like. For instance, in the summertime at the Roosevelt’s Tropicana Bar, which is kind of an oasis inside Hollywood, on Sunday or Monday we’re going to be doing movie nights. We will have different people curate the movies, and we’re building special menus with truffle popcorn, colby hotdogs, etc. It’ll be a night when people don’t necessarily want to go out and rage, but they’ll go and see a movie in a bar. Finding different ways to find revenue is something I really enjoy. The second thing is that I actually genuinely like people. Some people in this business actually don’t, but I tend to get along with people and enjoy most of their company.

You’re a bi-coastal boy. Where do you hang out when you’re in New York? I love to eat. I’m a closet foodie, so I have some go-to restaurants whenever I come to New York. I love Frankie’s in Brooklyn on Court Street, and I’m always discovering new places like Inoteca, which I really like. Frank, I’ve been going to forever on 2nd Avenue and the Corner Bistro to get my Bistro burger on — it’s the world’s greatest burger. In terms of bars, it all depends on what neighborhood I’m in, but there are a lot of great bars on the LES (besides Above Allen, of course) like Pianos and a lot of little local joints. But having a lot of friends in the business means that I have friends who own bars, so when I’m in New York, I usually do the rounds of all my friends’ bars, like 3 Steps on 18th Street, and then the bigger, popular spots also.

And in LA? In LA, the closest bar to me is the Chateau Marmont, so I like going there — the Bar Marmont is really great. There’s also been an emergence of a lot of really cool dive bars like The Woods, El Carmen, and Bar Lubitsch that I enjoy.

Which of your bars do you spend the most time at? Teddy’s. It’s kind of like my baby. It’s something that I work really hard on and has managed to stay successful for a long time. It’s a great space. In LA, a lot of places tend to be really slick and overdesigned, but Dodd Mitchell designed this space, and it really has a lot of character. The Roosevelt is already a historical landmark, and the design really lends itself to that. It has kind of a wine cave kind of feeling — it’s dark and comfortable — and we have great staff, great service, and it’s become kind of like Cheers, where people know each other and know that there will always be a good crowd and great music. We have great DJs that we always rotate, in addition to live music, so it’s become almost an institution at this point.

What positive trends do you see in the hospitality industry? Well, it’s more of a reality and not a trend, but the state of our economy is forcing us to do things differently and more efficiently. I think it’s actually a good thing that for the first time in a long time. People are going to actually have to live within their means. People are really tightening up their belts and trying to find interesting ways to still be successful in this economy. Bottle service, for example, is starting to fizzle, which I think actually has a good effect in the long run. I remember when bottle service first started; I was talking to Steve Lewis about this earlier. I remember that Life was one of the first places that people actually didn’t have to be cool to get in … they didn’t have to be artists anymore. And all of a sudden the investment bankers and hedge fund guys could come in and buy bottles and be in an exclusive place, and I think it hurt nightlife in a huge way. Now, with those people not spending as much money, and bottle service not being as prevalent in New York especially, I think it’s coming back to cool people coming together. Artists, etc. People who didn’t necessarily have money before the crash, and can still go out. I think that’s had a positive effect on nightlife.

Where do you see yourself in the future? I think the natural progression of things is to open my own place, but I’d definitely like to be in the hospitality business. I’d love to start with a small hotel and see what happens.

What are you doing tonight? I’m going to my parents’ house and having a home-cooked meal.