Believe it or not, there were things to do in L.A. last week that didn't revolve around the Democratic National Convention.
For instance, the Dan Band, discovered recently by celebs and savvy night crawlers. It's a musical act that's part cover band, part comedy shtick.
On Thursday night at the Mint, Meg Ryan, Laura Dern and Kirstie Alley dropped by for a few laughs, along with Dan Band super fan Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray.
The fun started when wacky Dan Finnerty took the stage wearing ripped jeans and a backward baseball cap to belt out songs recorded by women. From his "I Am Woman" opener to his rocking finale of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know," the frat boy-ish Finnerty poured his guts into the cheesiest of lyrics, while two nerdy backup singers in matching tweed jackets, Darryl Armbruster and Gene Reed, energized the stage, "Blues Brothers" style.
The Dan Band started two years ago when Finnerty (an actor-singer whose credits include the musical "Stomp") downed a few beers at a karaoke bar and sang Helen Reddy's famous anthem. The act became a permanent gig, and now the band plays L.A. clubs regularly.
The tattooed McGrath grinned and clapped through the entire act. Then, he leaned over to bump knuckles with my boyfriend and said, "Was that excellent or what?"
Don't know your cab from your merlot? Wine Brats was founded in 1993 to help acquaint Generation X with the pleasures of the vine. The wineappreciation club, which has 30,000 members around the country, will stage its biggest party of
the year on Thursday at Hollywood's Knitting Factory. WineRave will offer tastings from more than 24 international wineries, food and music. Tickets are $40-$50. Info: http://www.winebrats.org.
At a dinner for Brazilian fashion designer Fause Haten the other night at Le Colonial, former Giorgio Beverly Hills merchandising manager John Schulman entertained guests with stories from the 1980s, when he was a buyer for junior-wear retailer Contempo Casuals.
Schulman and his colleagues used the Contempo store at the Beverly Center as their style laboratory. They'd buy designer duds, cut out the labels and sell them at a fraction of their cost. If a piece sold well, he'd have it interpreted for the chain.
One can only imagine an oblivious teeny bopper getting a $200 Jean-Paul Gaultier top for $18. Some girls have all the luck.
Sitting next to me, nibbling on dumplings at the Haten dinner was Zalman King, who wrote and produced "9 1/2 Weeks" and created the steamy TV series "Red Shoe Diaries." King was overflowing with enthusiasm about his latest project, the TV series "chromiumblue.com," which sounds, to me at least, like a cross between "Fantasy Island" and "Fashion Emergency."
The premise is this: Real people are invited to submit their fashion fantasies to the chromiumblue.com Web site. If they're selected to be on the show, they're flown to Tijuana and loaded onto a boat full of stylists, makeup and hair people. Once made-over, they are taken back to shore to . . . well, live out their fashion fantasies, I guess. A camera will roll all the while, and viewers at home can purchase the clothes featured in the show online. King starts shooting next month. The show is scheduled to air on Showtime in January, he said.
My fantasy is a Jean-Paul Gaultier shirt for $18. That will never happen.