Blowhard, Esq. writes:
After reading Paleo Retiree’s ultra-groovy interview with De De Mollner about her days as a go-go dancer in 60s L.A., I couldn’t help but wonder about some of the Sunset Strip locations she mentioned. A few of the places I was familiar with, but many names were new to me. Do these places still exist? What’s there now? Camera in hand, I went out one Sunday to see for myself.
Here’s a key to the map. The only place I didn’t get a chance to visit is Grape Place up in the Hollywood Hills.
|A. Dan Tana’s||G. Grape Place|
|B. The Whiskey||H. Martoni’s|
|C. The Trocadero||I. Brown Derby|
|D. The Trip||J. Lucy’s El Adobe|
|E. Ciro’s||K. KHJ Studios|
|F. Pandora’s Box||L. Nickodell’s Restaurant|
Our first stop, Dan Tana’s, isn’t on Sunset, it’s on Santa Monica Blvd. and Doheney, right near the border of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. It’s one of the few places De De mentioned that’s still around. It’s a couple doors down from The Troubadour.
Alright, now over to Sunset Blvd. proper. Here’s The Whiskey, where bands such as The Doors, The Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield made their names. X, Guns ‘n Roses, and Mötley Crüe also started their careers here.
Although De De didn’t mention this next place (because it didn’t exist yet), it’s only a couple blocks from The Whiskey and I felt it should be included. This was the old location of Tower Records, one of the coolest record stores ever. So cool that John Lennon himself cut a commercial for it. The Whiskey, The Roxy, and The Viper Room are all within walking distance, not to mention it’s at the base of the Hollywood Hills, so musicians and celebrities would shop here all the time.
Just down the street are the former locations of the Trocadero and The Trip. The Trocadero was approximately where the H&M is while The Trip was located where the white building to the right now stands, which is currently an indoor cycling club called SoulCycle. From leggy cigarette girls and honeys dancing the night away to cheap disposable clothing and yuppies futilely peddling like hamsters to stave off their inevitable deaths. Yet they want me to believe civilization is progressing.
While walking down the street I came across these kids doing a photoshoot at an abandoned building.
Mel’s Drive In, a branch of the restaurant made famous by American Graffiti.
In my comment to Fabrizio’s post about movie arthouses, I mentioned the Laemmle Sunset 5, which was located below and is now the Sundance 5. This site, located at Sunset and Crescent Heights, was the former location of the old Schwab’s drug store where Lana Turner was supposedly discovered. The Schwab’s was razed in 1988 to build this.
Across the street from that rather undistinguished shopping center/theater, is this even shittier strip mall. I thought this was the location of Pandora’s Box, but later research revealed the traffic island I’m standing on while taking this shot is where Pandora’s was located. Anyway, this shopping center does have a certain claim to fame — it’s where Michael Douglas shoots up the phone booth in Falling Down. (As the camera pans, you can see the structure above in the background.)
Another quick detour. Clockwise from the top left is the Crossroads of the World, Sunset Sound, Amoeba Music, and the Cinerama Dome. The Crossroads of the World, where Danny DeVito’s character in L.A. Confidential had his offices, is this weird mix of German storybook and Streamline Moderne. Sunset Sound is where the Stones recorded their overdubs for Exile on Main Street, where the Beach Boys recorded Pet Sounds, and pretty much every other pop and rock album over the last 40 years. Amoeba Music makes the old Tower Records look like quaint village shoppee. The only movie I’ve ever seen at the Cinerama was Star Trek IV when I was 11.
As I’m driving down Sunset and I go past the studio, I put on Exile because why not? Later I found out that the Stones were in town that very day and performed a show at the tiny-for-them El Rey Theater that they announced only on Twitter.
OK, back to De De’s beat. This is the present-day location of what used to be Martoni’s Italian restaurant on Cahuenga. At least, I think it is. I have two different addresses for this place, but I think the location De De frequented was here. The other location was about half a block south. Regardless, neither of the buildings that housed Martoni’s survived.
The Brown Derby on Vine is long gone too. Modern condos instead.
By this point I was starving. I headed down Hollywood Blvd. to a another landmark, Musso & Frank Grill. Chaplin, Griffith, Arbuckle, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Chandler all ate here regularly. How was the food, you ask? Wow, just think about all that history!
Alright, we now leave Sunset and head south to Melrose Ave. Lucy’s El Adobe is still around.
Lucy’s is directly across the street from Paramount Pictures. There was some art/photography exhibit going on that night, which is why there are so many cars.
Due to technical difficulties beyond my control, I didn’t get a shot of the former KHJ studios that are now Paramount offices. But hey, not to worry, I just went on Google Street View and took a screencap. (Which I guess I could’ve just done from the beginning and saved myself all this trouble LOL)
Nickodell’s Restaurant was right next door to KHJ, now it’s nothin’.
It was the late afternoon and I was pretty tired from walking and driving all over town. Hey, it’s Sunday, so traffic shouldn’t…be…too…
- A history of the Sunset Strip in 21 photos.
- Comedy writer Ken Levine shares his memories of the Sunset Strip.
- Long live Tower Records!
- Via Salon, “Mötley Crüe, Slash, Lita Ford, Dokken and more share the wildest stories from the heyday of L.A.’s Sunset Strip.”
- Finally, check out the video below. That Bank of America building at 2:18 look familiar?