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GOING OUT | A NIGHT AT GOSSIP

It's glam a go-go

The tiny Friday-night club at Revolver is making heads spin in West Hollywood.

June 03, 2004|Heidi Siegmund Cuda | Special to The Times

Ever since Club Cherry shuttered its colorful doors three years ago, there's been a void in Hollywood nightlife. In the '90s, no club raged harder than the weekly glam rock spectacle, which was to L.A. nightlife what Studio 54 was to New York: a hotbed of gay and alternative subcultures celebrated full throttle. Each week, celebrities, go-go gals and guys and Amazonian cross-dressers put on their drag and danced to the beat.

With the debut of Gossip, a new Friday nightclub at Revolver in West Hollywood, the spirit of Cherry has been recaptured, albeit on a smaller scale. The bar and lounge on Santa Monica Boulevard is transformed into a glam hotspot, complete with gay and straight night owls partying with a wide array of offbeat talent.

It's no surprise that a Cherry refugee named Sham is heading up the party. One of Cherry's iconic go-go dancers, Sham initially debuted Gossip as a one-off for his friend Angelyne. Yeah, that Angelyne -- the gal who put the "cheese" in cheesecake. She needed a place to promote her gubernatorial campaign and Sham chanced upon Revolver.

"I loved the cheesy '80s decor and large video screens," Sham says. "It was exactly what we were looking for."

The exotic 24-year-old artist and actor of Lebanese and Australian descent had never promoted a nightclub before, but the Angelyne party was such a hit Revolver owner Mark Bates invited him to take over Friday nights.

"Gossip's like a three-ring circus," says Bates, who opened the bar in 1982 as a video cabaret. "It brings a younger crowd than we've had in years."

Since Gossip made its debut in February, it has attracted the likes of Boy George, Andy Dick and James St. James, a New York celebrity scenester who wrote the book "Party Monster."

"Gossip is the only good thing going right now," St. James says. Revolver's WeHo location is ideal for Sham's antics. Located in the heart of Boytown, Revolver is as interesting on the outside as it is on the inside.

On a recent Friday, attendees were waylaid momentarily at the revolving door (yes, a real revolving door) by men in glitter and togas marching a 15-foot phallus down Santa Monica Boulevard. Apparently they were going from club to club as part of an AIDS awareness campaign.

Inside Gossip central, a punk-rock singer was doing her interpretation of Marlene Dietrich on uppers, and two cherubic go-go boys were atop the bar, jiggling in nothing but tighty-whiteys and angel wings.

All this in a low-key beer bar that offers almonds at every barstool is almost surreal.

Each week, Sham books performers straight from the underground. Such colorful entertainers as drag diva Alexis Arquette, burlesque dancer Kitten DeVille and rocker Texas Terri have busted a move on Revolver's makeshift stage.

"Gossip is one of the most fun and creative parties," says producer Celia Fox, who hired Sham to throw a bash for her film "Wasabi Tuna."

The two-room club is so tiny there's barely room to set up instruments. But what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in spirit. It's not every night you can see Holly Woodlawn put on her makeup and heels and sign autographs while the Andy Warhol films she starred in, "Women in Revolt" and "Trash," are playing on the club's video screens.

At 60 and suffering from a chronic muscular disease, Woodlawn traipses around in those heels like there's no tomorrow.

"When I scanned the crowd, I noticed there was a mix of TV stars, agent types and gay punk rockers," says Sham, whose homemade fliers for Gossip are fab pop art. "I don't even know how they found out about the club. But I'm just glad they're here because it makes for a really good party."

The best part?

On Saturday morning, everyone's got something to talk about.

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Heidi Siegmund Cuda can be reached at weekend@latimes.com.

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Gossip at Revolver

Where: Revolver, 8851 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood

When: Fridays, 10 p.m.

Price: No cover. 21 and older.

Info: (310) 659-8851 or www.gossip-la.com

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