New Hot Spot: Playhouse
By Scott Huver
What the Hollywood nightlife scene’s been lacking lately is sheer, glitzy showmanship, and there’s no better combo to bring it back than Elie Samaha—the acutely well-connected former Studio 54 doorman-cum-club impresario (The Roxbury, Green Door)-cum-fi lm producer (The Whole Nine Yards)—and Rob Vinokur, the preeminent NYC/Miami scene maker (Crobar, Chaos).
Thus the curtain’s gone up on Playhouse, the longawaited $6 million posh party palace in the former Fox Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. Seriously, who doesn’t want to sip cocktails while scantily attired aerialists contort a foot or two overhead and lithe, limber dancers clad in backwards masques and Kelly Nishimoto-crafted underthings undulate atop booths and bars?
“Rob’s vision of transforming a Crobar type of club into a Vegas/South Beach nightclub is something that doesn’t exist in LA,” says Samaha. “I’ve never done a straightforward dance club—one big party in one room. Wherever you are in there, people are constantly dancing—in the booths, on top of the booths, on the bars, on the fl oor, on the chairs, everywhere.”
The expansive scene is all sex and sound under 40-foot-high ceilings, with eye and ear candy in every direction. Überdoorman Gilbert Stafford keeps the people beautiful and players powerful, and the infectious cirque-style performance ensures high-octane energy (to chill, hit the VIP Balcony upstairs; refuel at the adjoining 24-hour diner, Sweet Love Hangover). DJ Vice propels Thursday’s Vegas-like vibe; Fridays feature a Euro-electronica environ, and there’s a rare Saturday celeb scene for the Brent Bolthouse-recruited rich and famous.
The club’s had Hollywood streets hopping since its soft-open, when hundreds gathered outside and prompted police crowd control. “It was insane,” chuckles Samaha, “like what happened at Roxbury in 1989!” And then there’s what Mel Gibson may or may not have done to a pushy would-be photog on opening night. Showstoppers, gate-crashers, star drama–Playhouse may already be a Hollywood institution. According to early reviews, it seems the late-night crowd agrees: “Paris and Nicky Hilton got up on stage,” says Vinokur, “and said this was the best nightclub ever.” 6506 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-656-4800; playhousehollywood.com
Fashion shoot: December 2013 issue of Los Angeles Confidential magazine.