Monday, August 27, 2012

Misty Water-Colored Memories...Of The Way We Wore

My (Chandra's) idea of fun couldn’t be better than a day spent vintage shopping with a friend, followed by lunch at a trendy cafe. So when my fellow Diva Lara suggested we spend the afternoon at the Los Angeles Boutique, The Way We Wore and then grab lunch at M Cafe on Melrose, I thought that was a pretty spiffy idea. 

Parking was a snap! We parked on La Brea about a block away from the store. There’s metered parking, but we happened to hit it on a Sunday so we didn’t have to feed the meters. However, no matter what time of day or night that you ever park anywhere in LA, check the signs! Some meters are 24/7 or there's restricted parking 24/7.

Upon entering, we were given a nice welcome by Jascmeen and told about the fabulous sale that was going on. Lara mentioned that we follow the store on Twitter and the immediate response was, “Are you Art Deco Divas?”  We’d been recognized!  

Doris Raymond, the owner, approached with a big smile and unforgettable blue eyes. She offered us a drink and gave us the low down on the store's layout. Everything in the store is wonderfully organized by decade, beginning with the 20’s and 30‘s on the right with shoes, hats and bags mixed in. 

If you head up the divine leopard print staircase, you’ll find the more intricate designer stuff and miles of shoes in a rainbow of colors and styles. Despite the store's organization, I didn’t know where to begin; I wanted to grab everything and yell, “Mine, mine, all mine!” 

Leopard Staircase to the Divine!
Doris, who has owned the shop for years, was charming and gracious and willing to talk with us about her feelings on vintage clothing. When we asked her how to best care for these wonderful pieces, she laughed and said, “Well, they really shouldn’t be hung, but unfortunately they have to be.”  

She explained that in order to preserve them and prevent stress on the delicate fabrics, she cycles them off the hangers regularly. Ideally, you would want to store your precious investment by wrapping it in an unbleached cotton sheet to keep it away from moisture and dust. Storing it in plastic on a hanger is a huge No-No

Lara wanted to run home and immediately save her vintage collection from their plastic hanging chambers of doom! The plastic doesn’t allow the fabric to breathe, and it can cause deterioration over time. Hanging it causes stress to the shoulder area, which can lead to tearing. See, shopping can be educational!

Doris likened herself to a foster parent, with the garments being her children. She said that she felt as though she needed to care for them until they could find another loving parent. I couldn’t help thinking that If I had it my way, I’d do it Angelina Jolie style and take them all home with me. 

Doris gave us some advice when looking for something to buy. She said to be brave but know your limits and to shop at places with integrity that will tell you if a blemish is fixable. Also, hold things up to the light to look for any kind of damage to a garment. 

We started looking through the 20’s and 30‘s dresses, and Lara and I found a few to sample. A lot of the clothing runs small, and many of the 40‘s clothing is super-tiny, as it was custom-tailored to the owner. Extra care should be taken when trying on vintage clothing. Many have side zippers and buttons to make it easier, but watch your ribcage, and never force or tug on anything!  Also, don’t wear foundation. I wore bright red lips to get into the “Mood” so I spent the majority of the time with my lips tucked in to avoid transferring anything onto the dresses I tried.  

Shelly, the sales associate, stayed upstairs with us to help out and answer any questions. This is standard practice (and The Way We Wore has excellent customer service!), so don't feel strange if someone is hovering while you're trying stuff on. They’re there to help you! 

I tried on two gorgeous gowns. Lara found a beautiful mauve-ish taupe dress that fit her like a glove and a gold handbag that said “Diamonds are a girl's best friend.” 

We admired the fit in the full length mirror and comfy chairs they have upstairs. You could definitely spend hours chatting and lounging and trying things on, so make sure you allow plenty of time for a visit. 

And chances are you’ll find something you love, whatever your price range! We spotted sunglasses for $14, and then a beautiful dress from 1918.  I tried a few cloche hats akin to Angelina Jolie’s in The Changeling, but my noggin was just too large. I’m not giving up, though! Someone from that era had to have a head as large as mine. 

I was so thankful for this experience. Doris and her staff made us feel very welcome and were so gracious with their knowledge. Their website, Facebook, and Twitter have tons of information if you want to find out more about the boutique and expand your knowledge of vintage clothing. 

But do try to visit them in person--there's no substitute for walking through the door of The Way We Wore and being blown away by the sheer loveliness of it all. And with a little bit of luck, you’ll find a perfect fit, take it home with you, and then enjoy a night out in vintage style. And, when someone says your dress is fabulous, you can step back and say coyly, “What? This old thing?” And mean it. 

Contact Info:

The Way We Wore
334 South La Brea Avenue 
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Vintage Playlist To Win Friends And Influence People (or at least drown out awkward moments)


Music should be the last thing you worry about when you’re having a gathering at your place. Dropping the apple pie you baked? Running out of alcohol? Someone showing up with the ex-boyfriend of another guest? Yes, worry about those things, but let us handle setting the mood for you by suggesting 24 songs with a vibe that oozes vintage-y cool. 

I (Lara) think this playlist works well when you’re having a casual get-together where you’re just kind of hanging out, having drinks and snacks, and catching up with everyone. You can mix these songs up, or just play them in this order, as I’ve balanced everything out and taken into account the male to female ratio and tempo and newer versus classic artists to keep things interesting.

Pro Tip: Make your selection POP by mixing in live versions of favorites, random cover versions, remixes, and instrumental versions. All of these add a certain “texture” that can break up the sameness that tend to kind of lull people into a stupor and make a function low-energy. And unless I’m on the couch with a bag of Dulse Chips and an Ava Gardner movie marathon on TCM, I’d rather be stupor-free.

Pro Tip, Part Deux: My friend Brad Martini Chambers is the Morning Man and owner of, which plays Standards 24/7 (including all the songs on this playlist), so he lives and breathes the Lounge Lizard lifestyle. Brad says you can never go wrong by including Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles, even if you’re focusing on more current pop hits. Frank and Ray are so genius that they will even sound cool next to Gaga, Rihanna, and Maroon 5, and your friends will admire your stellar taste and knowledge in music. Brad also says that, when in doubt or short on time, just put on Frank’s In The Wee Small Hours album (and get ready for love) or Songs For Swingin’ Lovers (and get ready for love) and let them roll all the way through.

Without any further ado, here’s the list:

1. Norah Jones / The Nearness of You: “It’s not the pale moon that excites me, That thrills and delights me…”  The moment you hear Norah’s voice you can let out a huge sigh, allow your shoulders to drop down from around your ears, and know that life is about to get much, much better.

2. Frank Sinatra / I’ve Got You Under My Skin: I’ve got the horn section under my skin. I fantasize about the moment it kicks in at 2:05. And then Frank comes back in to sing about sacrificing everything just to have me near. I want to weep. And you will, too, when you listen to it LOUD.

3. Michael Buble and Sharon Jones / Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes): This was first done as a duet with Brook Benton and Dinah Washington, and Michael and Sharon do a fabulous job following in those awesome footsteps. Michael is married to an actress, btw, and says that, since they are apart so much, they have many dates via skype. Oh, to be a fly on the wall…

4. Peggy Lee / Fever: Often imitated, never duplicated…this is the real thing, baby. You will need some water for yourself and your guests to cool down while listening to Miss Peggy. Reese Witherspoon is playing her in an upcoming biopic.

5. Michael Feinstein / Begin The Beguine: Michael recorded this song as part of The Sinatra Project in 2008. While the album is a tribute to Frank, Michael interpreted the songs a little differently than The Chairman did, and the result is beautiful and brilliant.

6. Dean Martin / Ain’t That A Kick In The Head: “Live, direct from the bar – Dean Martin!” The most lovable drunk ever…who wasn’t really a drunk. Was it Ginger Ale in his ever-present glass?

7. Joseph Leo Bwarie / Umbrella / A Fella With An Umbrella: What happens when you combine an Irving Berlin tune from Easter Parade…with Rihanna? MAGIC…ella ella eh eh eh!

8. Ella Fitzgerald / The Lady Is A Tramp: The first lady of song. Need I say more?

9. Seth MacFarlane and Sara Bareilles / Love Won’t Let You Get Away: That’s right, the Family Guy guy can also sing. Is there anything this man cannot do? I wish I could be there to see your jaw hit the floor when you hear him—he has an amazing style and sound in the tradition of Frank and Dino. This is a cute song originally done by Bing Crosby and George Clooney’s Aunt Rosemary.

10. Nina Simone / My Baby Just Cares For Me: It was written in 1930, Nina recorded it in 1958 for her debut album, and it became a huge hit in 1987 when Chanel used it in a perfume commercial. It became Nina's signature song.

11. Steve Tyrell / The Way You Look Tonight: Yes, Steve Martin was hi-larious in Father of the Bride, but I think Steve Tyrell’s version of this classic stole the show. It never, ever gets old. If you want your woman to do anything for you, play her this song while gazing into her eyes.

12. Sammy Davis Jr. / Come Rain Or Come Shine: At some point, I am going to put together a baby making music playlist, and Come Rain Or Come Shine is probably going to be at the top of this list. This is a great one for weddings, too.

13. Bobby Darin / Mack The Knife (live version from his tv show): I’m still not sure exactly what this song is about (does someone die?), or who Ol’ Lucy Brown is, but just try to resist belting it out while snapping your fingers Darin-style.

14. Nikki Yanofsky / Sunny Side Of The Street / Fool In The Rain: Nikki was only 15 (she’s 18 now) when she came up with the idea to put a Jimmy McHugh song together with a Led Zeppelin tune. Thank you, Ma and Pa Yanofsky, for being classic rock fans.

15. Ray Charles / Hallelujah I Love Her So: Blues, gospel, and jazz—Ray combined them all and shook up pop music with a unique sound in the mid-50s.

16. Rod Stewart / Moon River: Rod the Bod had lots of pop hits (who can forget Love Touch from the movie Legal Eagles? Not me!), but his greatest success has come with recording The Great American Songbook. His cover of Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s tearjerker is on Volume V!!!!

17. Kevin Spacey / Hello, Young Lovers: Ever since he did the movie Beyond the Sea, all I see is Bobby Darin when I look at Kevin Spacey. And when I see Bobby Darin, I think it is Kevin Spacey.  This version MOVES!

18. Carly Simon / Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye: Carly is so sultry on this Cole Porter tune, I am wondering why anyone (Warren Beatty?) has ever said goodbye to her. There’s no love song finer…but how how strange the change from major to minor…

19. Chris Isaak / Besame Mucho: The title roughly translates to “Kiss Me A Lot,” which is what one of my friends who dated Chris back in the day got to do. My favorite story she told me about him is this one: One day when they were hanging out at his house, Chris came up to her and said, “I’m the thinkin’ police. Whatcha thinkin’?” Hopefully, her answer was, "Besame mucho."

20. Tony Bennett / Don’t Get Around Much Anymore: Tony is 86 with a HOT career! He’s going to be doing a third Duets album, and this time he’ll be paired with Latin artists. Gloria Estefan, that means YOU. Hey, maybe they’ll do a lounge version of Conga?
21. Chris Botti and Steven Tyler / Smile: Take a trumpet player who has been called the hardest working man in the jazz business and team him up with the surprisingly sweet (as we found out on American Idol) lead singer of Aersosmith and you have tender, beautiful tune.  I’ve heard that Smile was Michael Jackson’s favorite song. 
22. Judy Garland / Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart: If all you know of Judy Garland is Toto, Ruby Red Slippers, and Over the Rainbow, you are missing out, sister. She sang this in a film called Listen, Darling (1938), which actually came out a year before The Wizard of Oz.

23. Frank Sinatra / Summer Wind: If you have ever loved and lost (and as they say, the only love that lasts is the one that’s not returned), this song will haunt you. I always wonder if maybe he was thinking about Ava Gardner as he sang? Surprisingly, Wayne Newton recorded this first, but Frank’s version (1966) was the bigger hit. I look for this on every jukebox I come across—it’s always a crowd-pleaser.

24. Jane Monheit  / The Rainbow Connection: You cried when Kermit sang it as a child, and now prepare for tears as you hear Jane’s gorgeous grown up version. Something tells me she has always loved this song, as she got the title of the album it’s on from a lyric: The Lovers, The Dreamers, and Me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Larry who? Larry Edmunds, that's who!!!

Our beloved Jean beckoning us inside from the storefront
Standing at the curb on Hollywood Blvd. with our art-deco-diva-style-guide-expert Chandra and staring at a gigantic glossy of Jean Harlow, I didn’t know what to expect.

Wait, let me back up to a particular conversation that took place only 30 minutes prior.

It was between me (Cori) and the co-author of our upcoming art deco book (and fellow art deco diva!), Lara on the lot of Paramount Studios for the annual Children’s Art Festival.

The conversation went something like this…

Cori: It’s hot. What is a cool (two meanings!), artsy and very old Hollywood spot that I can visit nearby?

She didn’t even hesitate.

Lara: Larry Edmunds.

Cori: I don’t know a Larry Edmunds. You sure you don’t mean Larry Flynt? Because I’ve definitely heard of him.

Lara: Larry Edmunds Bookshop. It’s the oldest remaining movie book store on Hollywood Boulevard.

I noted her excitement at the prospect of visiting such a book store. This excitement was apparently contagious because it inspired Chandra (sitting next to me) to volunteer to trek there with me…and my 11-year-old son.

Two minutes later I was Google-ing all the info I could about the place as well as an address. I was determined to know this Larry Edmunds better than the other Larry.

“Mom,” said my son. “Will they have Book 3 in the ‘Lightening Thief’ series there? If so, can we buy it?”


“Maybe,” I said. But I seriously doubted it. Old Hollywood movie glitz and glamour didn’t necessarily fall in line with gods, titans, Greek mythology drama, and half-bloods. Then again, maybe it did.

Around for over 70 years, Larry Edmunds is known for offering books related to anything Tinseltown.  There are literally thousands of original movie posters, photographs, stills, other film-related memorabilia, as well as books about old Hollywood movies, actors, theatre, set designs, and so much more!

Fast forward to the scene of me standing on the curb with Chandra, my son, and the face of Jean Harlow in the heart of Hollywood. It felt like we were about to enter a glamorous time-warp.

Pulling our gaze away from the Harlow picture showcased in the storefront, we stepped into the shop and were transported into a world full of Hollywood film nostalgia. My son immediately eyed the “vintage” Star Wars poster on the wall, so I knew this experience wouldn’t be too bad for him.

Think about 20s, 30s, and 40s informational heaven with a metaphorical golden gate storefront reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hollywood (1930 – 1948). Okay, it wasn’t gold…but it was priceless. Then picture it situated in Hollywood sandwiched between tattoo and costume places and a yummy lemonade shop one block down. Imagine the timeless faces of Jean Harlow, Greta Garbo, Helen Hayes, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, and Katherine Hepburn all staring at you, as though begging you to carry on their legacies and buy their books. That is the Larry Edmunds bookshop.

Chandra was immediately drawn to the books about, well, everything. She was all over the place, like a kid in a candy store…only one that was more glitzy and without the sugar-high. She literally yanked off the rack the craft how-to books that taught how to create paper dolls from the 20s and 30s. She loves style, art, crafts, and involving her daughters in this art deco adventure. I mean, does it get much better than that?

We chatted with the nice man behind the counter who was, as we found out, an incredible source of knowledge. “Do you have any books about films between 1920 and 1940,” we asked him. He rambled off a list of them for memory, and we were impressed. Chandra and I eventually bought a book for Kitty that was all about films in the 30s. It was glorious, and we were feeling especially generous.

A few things to note about Larry Edmunds Bookshop:

  • Parking is tricky. Avoid the $10 a day public parking lots if your plans are to only peruse the bookstore. Of course, if you’re going to make an entire day of touring Hollywood Blvd., then that public parking lot behind the store is ideal. If you’re only visiting that store, park instead in the 2-hour metered parking. It takes credit card, and it’s only $2.
  • Plan on standing. There are no chairs or tables inside the store. I was sad to learn this, because as a writer, I love to sit and write in inspiring places, such as this place! And believe me, you’ll be truly inspired to educate yourself (or celebrate!) everything Hollywood film related! If the idea of sitting delights the bottom (and you want to marvel at your purchases and even start reading), you can also journey to the cool and dark Miceli's restaurant just up Hollywood Blvd. on Las Palmas. For coffee addicts like myself, there is a Coffee Bean nearby right before the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. If your kids are with you, then you might just find yourself at the CPK on the corner of Hollywood and Highland. Oh, and speaking of which, there's a Metro station right there in case you fancy a train ride into Hollywood and a short 10-minute walk to the bookshop.
  • If you see something you really want to buy, then buy it. Because if you don’t, somebody else will. The beauty about many of the items in that bookshop is that they are also collectibles too!
  • If you take your kids in this bookstore, tell them in advance it’s not the typical book store like Barnes & Noble. Show them the fun film production books instead—there’s some great graphics of heroes!
  • Sometimes standing in a bookshop on a blistering hot day (104 F temperature) would make anybody thirsty. Chandra and I highly recommend the lemonade store about a half block down. Sip and savor. You might want to cover your young child’s eyes, though, as you walk down the street. Some of the storefronts with sexy lingerie and scary costumes might, well, traumatize the young-uns a bit.
Keep your eye peeled for upcoming events at the Larry Edmunds bookshop. They’re famous for hosting book signings as well as exclusive film trailers and photography slideshows!

Upcoming Event at Larry Edmunds Bookshop:

Thursday, August 23rd @ 7:30 pm
"The Hollywood Canteen"
Hollywood historians, Lisa Mitchell & Bruce Torrence will sign copies of their new book, "The Hollywood Canteen" and will offer a slideshow with doznes of photographs about this memorable place where servicemen and women danced in Hollywood during World War 2.

Check out the info page at You'll also find other events in the area!

Contact Info:

Larry Edmunds Bookshop
6644 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90028
(tel) 323-436-3273
Be sure to 'Like' their FB page. They do a great job of keeping it current and informative and oh-so fun!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Them There (Cleopatra) Eyes

Why this blog title? Well...

“You better look out lil brown eyes...if you're wise
They sparkle
They bubble
They're gonna get you in a whole lot of trouble
Oh baby...Them There Eyes”
- Lyrics from the 1930’s jazz song: Them There Eyes

If you’re ready to get in some trouble with your lil brown (or blue/hazel/green) eyes, our Makeup and Style Diva (and licensed Esthetician!), Chandra, recommends adding a lil' Egyptian-esque drama to your face in the form of some Cleopatra-style eyeliner. 

But wait, you say—will I appear to be on my way to a Halloween frat house costume party? Not so much, sweet patootie—with a little know-how, you won’t look like you’re dressing up for Halloween, and this sultry eye is fairly easy to pull off. 

And it works whether you’re going somewhere super glam like Cleo at The Redbury or The Egyptian Theatre, or just around the corner for pizza on date night with your hubby while grandma watches the kids. In fact, tell Grandma to stay late—the hubbs is going to want to show you off and stay out late.

Here's how to get the Cleopatra eye...

Step 1. Take a very black kohl eyeliner or black gel liner and then line your top and bottom lash lines completely. 

Step 2. When you get to the outer corners of the eye, swoop down on the top lash line and swoop up on the bottom lash line forming a little stick "fish" style tail. 

Tool Tip: Look at the toolkit image on the right. You can use the MAC 208 brush (left brush) to top off the eyeliner with shadow. A Sonia Kashuk (available at Target) bent liner brush (middle tool) will help you get that fine fish tail, and a MAC 212 brush (right brush) makes applying gel liner across the top and bottom lash lines easier. 

Btw, Chandra is such a talented makeup artist that she created this eye…at 2:54 a.m. on a Friday morning. She's professional like that. I was drooling onto my pillow at that moment.

So go ahead and line like an Egyptian. Have fun! Just make sure you wash it all off before you go to bed so you don’t appear to have gone twelve rounds with Rocky Balboa in the a.m. Yo, Adrian!

Like what you're reading or learning? We hope so! In fact, we're working on writing a book with all this yummy art deco info and style tips and more! To put your name on our book notification list, send us an email to When the book is published, we'll notify you with details!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Brussels Sprouts and Claudette Colbert's Cleavage: A Night at The Redbury

The Redbury, which was opened in 2010 by sbe entertainment group, is a new kid on the block at Hollywood and Vine right in the heart of Hollywood, but it’s got a vibe that makes it seem like it’s been there as long as the starlets whose pics grace its walls. And we mean that in the best way possible, because it really captures the excitement and coolness and glamour of what we think of as Old Hollywood while being thoroughly modern and kinda bohemian.  

We knew we were in for something special the moment Cori and I (Lara) walked through the red front door and breathed in the scent of something exotic (coconut? jasmine? musk? ...lingering perfume?) that is pumped through the place, Vegas casino style. It was much nicer than the scent of peepee and booze (not us…we think) that we inhaled as we walked up Vine street to get there.

The hotel has such an awesome location, as it’s on a legendary corner that gazillions of dreams have centered around. It’s across the street from Capitol Records, and it’s within staggering distance of the Pantages Theatre, which is helpful if you have one too many Clementina cocktails before you go see a play. Plus, it’s freeway close to the 101, which is important to us local types who are forever moaning about traffic. Seriously, if we didn’t have traffic to bitch about, what would we talk about? Parking meters?

When you step into The Redbury, you will admire the black-and-white pattern on the floor that looks like something Fred and Ginger would have danced on in one of their deco-rific movies. You will also admire yourself in a mirror and wonder aloud if you can travel with this lighting always, at all times and in all places. Thank you, Brand Designer Matthew Rolston or whoever came up with the lighting scheme for making the lights give off the glow that usually comes from candles. 

Even if you botched your makeup (like me, who tried a new foundation two hours earlier that gave me clown-face and required being scrubbed off and then diluted with moisturizer for semi-clown face), you will look dewy and like you are in love. 

In the bathroom, which usually feels like a scene from a horror movie when you check yourself in that lighting halfway through the evening, you will look like you have the skin of Greta Garbo. Practice saying, “I vant to be alone.”

You will definitely want to make a reservation for dinner at Cleo, because the word is out that this restaurant kicks some serious, um, buttocks. The food is Mediterranean style and meant to be shared with everyone at your table, and the walls are graced with pics of actresses who have played Cleopatra over the years--from Vivien Leigh to Claudetter Colbert. 

As you walk in, you might be enticed to endure a staring contest with Theda Bara, who is glaring at you from a picture in the front. Theda, why are you so angry? Are you cold in that harness-looking thing you are wearing? Hungry? 

Well, come on in…and have some brussels sprouts ( pun intended). Say what? Cori and I kind of snickered when our sweet server, Shannon, told us that the B.S. is what the restaurant is known for. Really? Those things that our mom tried to make us eat and we secretly gave to the dog or stuffed in our shoes or hid under our chicken? Those things we avoided like the plague? Riiiight.

We had a great table right under Claudette’s generous cleavage. If the real Cleo looked like her, it’s no wonder that “she ruled the men who ruled the world,” as the California Science Center proclaims in its ads for their Cleo exhibit. 

But Shannon was really nice, and since Cori had opened her mouth and said, “I’m blogging about the restaurant!” we were told we must try them. 

Cori, thank you for opening your big, beautiful kisser, because these ain’t your mama’s brussels sprouts. After they have been deep-fried, and then tossed with almonds and capers and vinaigrette, they become a wonder that you will fight the people at your table for for the last bite. Mama, you would be so proud—we ate our veggies! And side note: The couple sitting next to us announced they ordered 42 entrees. No, seriously.

The Lotus Flower!
They said one of their most popular cocktails was the Lotus Flower, which includes stoli vodka, crushed blackberries, st. germain edlerflower liqueur, and fresh squeezed lemon.

We talked about everything from our upcoming book to breastfeeding, and then made friends with the nice couple at the table next to us--they were still skinny despite all the food they were consuming. 

They shared how they are in the building industry and are very involved with the L.A. Conservancy. “This place is very Deco!” proclaimed the wife. Validation.

We had to dash out after dinner to catch the premiere of Memphis at the Pantages, but we recommend that on your first visit to The Redbury (if you’re not staying the night there), you allow plenty of time just to enjoy the hotel and watch it come alive at night. After a meal, you can hit The Library and enjoy a specialty cocktail like the Honey Lemon Sidecar indoors or out. Yes, there are books on the walls, but there will be no librarian to shush you or kick you out for laughing loudly or making out with someone.

And if you are able to spend the night, you’ll snooze in style in a flat (what the rooms are called), which are designed to be what Matthew Rolston describes as like borrowing your cool friend’s apartment for the night while they are out of town. Matthew, you are so right. We would like to borrow your gorgeous hotel and live there forever.

Our life tip from this experience: Sometimes it's just better to try new things, even if they're outside your comfort zone. Like, Brussels Sprouts. And for you adventurous people...add in Cauliflower. 

The Redbury
1717 Vine Street  
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 962-1717 (where you can find fun events listed, guest blogs, and info on musical guests at The Library)

On Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram @TheRedbury

Friday, August 3, 2012

Our Pot of Gold at the End of the...Pantages Theatre

If Judy Garland's Kansas farm had been located on Hollywood Blvd., she might have sung an "Over the Pantages" melody. Think gold, people. In fact, the Pantages Theatre--a beloved Art Deco building--shines bright...even after its first opening more than 80 years ago! 

A lot of love has been poured into renovating this famous theatre, which is--and always has been!--one of the  most beautiful theatres in town. And in a place that’s known for being over-the-top, that’s saying something, kid. Even folks that wouldn’t know art deco if it French-kissed them would know there’s something special going on here.

Our Pantages night started when Cori and I (Lara) dined at Cleo inside The Redbury (across the street from the Pantages) before heading over to the theatre for the premiere of the Tony Award-winning musical, Memphis. 

Over brussels sprouts (which Cleo, a new restaurant, is already famous for—trust us on this. Trust us. No, really. Trust. Your mother would be proud.), I gave Cori the Cliff’s Notes version of the Pantages' rich and colorful history.
Not your average brussels sprouts!
It was built as a movie palace (with some live entertainment) in 1929 by Alexander Pantages, a theatre impresario who apparently got to experience the Pantages’ big premiere (Floradora Girl, starring sassy Marion Davies, a brilliant comedic actress who most people know as the mistress of William Randolph Hearst)…by listening to it on the radio, as he was in jail after being accused of raping a seventeen-year-old. He was found guilty and sentenced to fifty years in prison, but then via a new attorney, he appealed, and was acquitted in a second trial.  

Inside the Pantages lobby! Glorious!
The Pantages was already considered a Hollywood landmark by 1932, when it was sold to Fox West Coast Theatres. Howard Hughes (think Leo in The Aviator) bought it in 1949 and moved his offices to the building (on the second floor). 

The Pantages hosted the Oscars from 1949-1959, and in 1965, Pacific Theatres began running it. In 1977, the Pantages as a movie theatre era came to an end, briefly closing and then reopening as a live theatre venue, with Bubbling Brown Sugar as the first production.

Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment runs The Pantages now, and I’m happy to report that the theatre is still so beautiful and lively. In fact, the Pantages helped spark the revival of the surrounding area. I visited it for the first time in 2000 to see the The Lion King (right after the theatre had a little freshening done in the form of a ten meeeeeeeeeeeeeeellion dollar restoration/upgrade), and I’m not sure if I was crying more over baby Simba being shown to the pride...or the ornate ceiling. 

Look up to see beauty all around!
I was completely overwhelmed with all the beauty. I mean, I’m from the swamps in Florida, where the biggest, fanciest thing that happened in my childhood was the opening of the new edition to the mall.  But seriously, we got to shop at The Limited, Express, and Contempo Casuals, plus a Spencer’s Gifts (rubber frog that farts, anyone?), so it was a big deal.

Cori and I finished our dinner and then tottered over in our stilettos for the Memphis Premiere. 

Diva Tip: Park the car in one of the lots around Hollywood and Vine, and have dinner at one of the fab restaurants (Delphine, Katsuya, Cleo, and more), within walking distance of The Pantages. Make sure to bring at least $10-20 cash for parking. Nothing is worse than having to ask a parking attendant, “Can I write a check?” and then being told "no," and then having to leave the car and walk around looking for an ATM in Hollywood at 11:30 p.m. Not that that ever happened to us. Ahem.

"Paparazzi!" Cori (left) & Kitty (right)
Since the Memphis musical centers around a disc jockey, the promoter had invited radio types like yours truly to walk the red carpet and be interviewed for their new live, red carpet, U-stream show (which is such a great idea—you could dress up at your house, have a glass of bubbly, and watch the red carpet arrivals from the comfort of your couch!) to talk about what radio has meant to us. 

Cori and I posed (I was grateful that I had caked on the powder foundation and Too Faced Better Than False Lashes mascara) as the flashbulbs popped, and then I did a quick interview with Broadway LA and KOST 103.5. I apologize to both interviewers for my brussels sprouts breath.  

Diva Tip: If you want to get some attention somewhere at a premiere, all you need is one photographer who knows you. Have him scream your name and start taking your pic, and everyone else will follow, as they’ll assume you’re a hot new star and won’t want to miss a chance at getting a shot of you.

We took in the gloriousness of the marble and bronze entrance, and then swept through the front doors to arrive in…deco heaven. As we made our way to the second floor and paused to take in the gold (the much gold...where's our pot?) and silver and carvings and statues and bronze and metalwork that comprise the spacious lobby, Cori (who is new to this style) turned to me and innocently asked, “Is this Deco or, um, Spanish Architecture?”  I don’t think I answered, as I was having an out-of-body experience.  But Cori, the answer is YES!
If you’re going to a show at The Pantages, allow yourself a good 20-30 minutes before the play starts to explore both levels of the theatre (there’s an upstairs restroom, btw, if the downstairs one is jammed).

Anybody have a mirror?
Make sure enter the downstairs ladies room to see the mirrors (but watch out for the toilet paper dispenser in stall seven, which fell on me!), which resemble a very glamorous hall of mirrors in a funhouse. You’ll see about 40 images of yourself with all the reflecting going on up in there, so it’s a good place to check the view from the rear and see how your outfit looks from all angles.  

And btw, a night at the Pantages is a perfect excuse to dress up! Being casual SoCal, you’ll see people in jeans, but Cori was in a slinky black dress and I had on a long, 1930s dress (shout out to Playclothes in Burbank), and we were far from the dressiest dames in the house.

The gold laced walls!
Walk into the dark, glittery bar (it’s to your left after you enter), and have a drink as you pretend it’s 1931 and Myrna Loy or Claudette Colbert is across the bar. And check out the mirror above the water fountain against the wall—it’s got flamingos on the glass! 

Diva Tip: If you don’t want to pay for a bottle of water (there’s a snack bar that sells water and soda and candy in the lobby), ask for a small cup and fill it up at the fountain. Just finish all your drinks before you go in to find your seat.  They spent ten meeeeeeeellion on a facelift, honey—they’re not going to let you spill your diet coke on the seat.  

And if you do cut it close because you’re chugging your Sprite in the lobby until curtain time, don’t go tearing down the aisle on the way to your seat—there’s a slope to that aisle that’s akin to coming down from a hike to the top of Runyon Canyon, so baby-step it to your seat, sister, and hang on to a friend (just don’t let her take you down with her).

Now that you’ve soaked in some glamour (we think some of the sheen from the lobby may have rubbed off on you), relax in your seat and take in the walls, ceiling, and stage. Maybe, like me, you’ll make a silent vow that you’ll be decorating your house Pantages-style DecoFab one day. 

Us taking it all in!
Settle in and let the cares of everyday life slip away as you watch something that will stir your soul. And maybe--just maybe--you'll feel alive in a way you might not have in awhile. Maybe it's the dressing up part. Maybe it's just escaping into a musical world for three hours. Or, perhaps it's just literally being surrounded by all things beautiful, like art deco, and taking time to sit back, relax, and enjoy it. 

Pantages Theatre
6233 Hollywood Boulevard  
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 468-1770
Upcoming shows include The Book of Mormon, Peter Pan, Jekyll & Hyde, and Donny and Marie: Christmas in Los Angeles (I hope he wears his purple socks from back in the day. You will make the ladies very happy, Donny).