LOS ANGELES — When Anna Sui comes to L.A. to check out her boutique, she stays in touch with her hipster clientele by making the rounds of the city’s late-night hot spots.
On a recent post-quake visit, Sui found herself on a ride into hidden recesses of the city with youthquakers Sofia Coppola, The Cult’s Ian Astbury (newly shorn) and his wife, Heather.
First stop was India’s Grill, a restaurant in a strip mall at San Vicente and La Cienega. It’s one of those L.A. places that looks like nothing — scattered among vacant storefronts and a tanning salon — but is filled with a mix of hip young westsiders and suburban couples. The slow service leaves plenty of time to check out the scene.
Sui and friends convened in the parking lot afterward to determine who’d drive to Fuzzyland, a one-night-a-week club about 25 miles away. A new band called the Royal Trux was playing — one of the hottest tickets in town since the group is getting big buzz from Geffen Records. In true Angeleno style, four people decided to drive the party of six to the club. “That’s the problem with Los Angeles,” Sui observed. “There are too many cars.” Fuzzyland is held at Mr. T’s Bowl, a storefront on Figueroa that boasts a bowling alley, cocktail lounge and coffee shop. Located in an offbeat section of town called Highland Park, it’s squeezed between hardware stores and corner markets and is another one of those places that’s easily missed.
Inside, wood paneling from the Seventies lined the walls and Christmas garlands still hung from the ceiling; bright orange vinyl booths and seats made up the coffee shop section of the club.
“It looks like an office Christmas party,” said Coppola.
As Sui and friends squeezed through the aisles, they noticed a change in the crowd. The young, gum-chewing club kids near the front were replaced by middle-aged, beer-swilling, balding men. The crowd near the stage was yelling at a large-screen television showing the Cesar Chavez-Frankie Randall fight on pay TV.
While the musicians waited for the fight to end, the mix of East Los Angeles boxing fans and alternative music groupies remained peaceful — until Chavez lost. That’s when some disgruntled sports fans started shoving people. One man threw a half-filled beer bottle across the room, causing Coppola to run for cover.
“They were sort of hostile because we were intruding in their world,” Sui said later.
Royal Trux seemed almost anticlimactic after that, and the band’s lead singer, Jennifer Herrema, turned off much of the crowd by complaining about the lack of water and the lighting.
“She should definitely lighten up,” said Astbury, who knows a thing or two about being on stage.
Just another fashionable night in L.A.