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Put Cherry on Top of L.A.'s Club World

November 26, 1998|HEIDI SIEGMUND CUDA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

On its fourth anniversary, Cherry proved that yes, Virginia, there is a Los Angeles culture. It may be a mad, mad, mad, mad club world out there, but it's a beautiful, colorful, clever world--and Cherry is at its core.

Cherry, the Friday night dance club at the Love Lounge in West Hollywood, offers a release that is so genuinely inspired, it can't be duplicated. Founded four years ago by partners Bryan Rabin and Jimmy Medina--who were also partners in their personal lives--Cherry was glam before glam was cool again. From the start, Cherry offered a dancing environment equally comfortable for gays and straights, and has since obliterated any reason to care whose arrow points in which direction when it comes to boogie-oggie-oggieing.

Everyone's tried to recapture the legendary Studio 54, yet Rabin and Medina knew 1990s Los Angeles was not 1970s New York. But if you are creating the pop culture of this generation, more than likely, you come to Cherry. Movie stars, musicians, artists, performance artists, drag artists all show up each week.

Cherry's DJ, Joseph Brooks, had his hand in shaping multiple Hollywood underground clubs and is still its head wizard. Brooks started spinning records in 1980 at the Veil, which, at the time, ruled a budding, pre-Gothic scene.

"Instead of showing up at a club in L.A. saying, 'Entertain me,' the guests were the entertainment," Brooks says. Later, he and his partner, Henry Peck, launched another groundbreaking club, called Fetish, catering again to Hollywood's underground. For the last eight years, he's been a part of L.A.'s longest-running fetish club, Sin-A-Matic, while running the popular Gothic club Coven 13, and recently migrating into the mod arena with Shout!

It's at Cherry, however, where he really works his magic. Brooks credits the energy of the people who populate Cherry for allowing him to take chances. Moving from Fatboy Slim to AC/DC with acrobatic ease, the crowd seems charged for anything.

"It's like rad Pop art," Brooks says. "Like a palette, a painting. You can throw in anything in the world of cool music and they will respond to it--'60s, '70s, '80s, '90s--the Zombies, the Stooges, Hole. I'm glad to have the opportunity to play that creatively."

The audience--whose artsy posing is a show unto itself--laps it up. Cherry's recent fourth anniversary party was so overpopulated that a surprise performance by Bow Wow Wow had to be cut short when the crowd exceeded capacity. (We recommend the El Rey for its fifth anniversary bash.) Glitter, gowns and feather headdresses were everywhere. The male go-go and pole dancers were eye-poppingly flexible. And everything--including the rather risque work of a performance artist--was done with a wink and a nod.

In some respects, Cherry is the mecca for a generation robbed of its decadent period. Here, people get trashed, flirt openly and pinch bootyus maximus. The amazing thing is, after four years, this Cherry's still on top.

BE THERE

Cherry at the Love Lounge, 657 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, (213) 896-9099 or (310) 659-0472. 21 and over, $10 cover.

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