HOLLYWOOD SHAG QUEEN
Byline: Sabrina Qutb
LOS ANGELES — At the Coffee House on Sunset Boulevard, where Hollywood A-listers and fabulous nobodies often convene for a mid-afternoon schmooze, one powerful regular holds court in a corner booth. She is Pantera Sarah, a self-proclaimed “rocker chick” from Wisconsin, who is also one of the queens of the L.A. party scene.
“Sarah runs L.A.,” explained ‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake on a recent Saturday night, as he sat with his arm around Britney Spears at Sarah’s newest dance party, the weekly “Shag,” at the Hollywood nightclub Vinyl.
Her last party, the now infamous “Above Dublin’s,” was shut down by West Hollywood police in November after Jay-Z’s mention of it in his hip-hop single “I Just Wanna Love U” drew massive crowds.
Among the recent wall-to-wall revelers at the Shag were Mark Wahlberg, Tobey McGuire, Rachael Leigh Cook, Kylie Bax and Paris Hilton. Yelling above the din, Cook explained, “If L.A. is like the universe, then Sarah is like the Jedi. She knows all and sees all.”
But to many, the 27-year-old might seem like an unlikely hipster guru. After moving to L.A. five years ago to pursue acting, Sarah landed her first job in a deli.
She earned her nickname from Randall Slavin and Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, who teased her about her musical taste.
“They called me Pantera Sarah after the heavy metal band because I was a full-on rocker,” she laughs. “I mean, I never dated anyone whose hair wasn’t longer than mine. And I just cut off seven inches.”
But the question remains: How did she morph from a deli waitress into a power broker who chats with Robert Downey Jr. over coffee and sings karaoke in Koreatown with Britney Spears?
“I like to think I’m a nice person,” she said. “And I’m social.”
That’s a bit of an understatement. Sarah is so well-connected that the Gap recently hired her to “up the cool quotient,” for its party at Sundance. “They wanted some assistance with getting the names to show,” she said modestly. Her mountain-top party, for the nightlife documentary “Guest List Only” was one of the hottest tickets at the festival.
“People who go out have something missing,” Sarah explains. “They want interaction. I just try to keep a vibe that’s positive and conducive to having a good time.”
Hilton, who appeared with Sarah in “Guest List Only,” put it another way: “I think she has to portray a tough image because people try to take advantage at the door, but inside she feels really bad having to turn people away.”