Tuesday, March 26, 2013

And Where Do You “Where To?”: An Evening of Fashion + Libations @ The Chivas Brotherhood's "The Art of the Suit"

Last March I covered a Chivas-sponsored Pre-Oscars gala, and I was beyond excited to cover yet another Chivas Brotherhood 1801 event last Thursday. The brand is hosting a plethora of private tastings almost every night until next Monday at its 1801 Club in Hollywood.

This time around, I covered “The Art of the Suit” soiree, a swanky invite-only event in collaboration with Modern Man, Artful Gentleman and Blind Barber. Highlights of the night included complimentary haircuts for men, displays of tie collections and evening gowns, a sultry jazz performance by Jill Lamourex, and of course, free-flowing Chivas-based cocktails.

But by far, the best part of the night for me was hobnobbing with guests on the black carpet. They ranged from film directors to recording artists and actors and journalists and even WWE wrestlers, but they all had a few things in common: they knew good fashion, good libations and good L.A. bars and lounges:

Terrell Tilford
Executive Producer of Broken Roads; Actor in TV series Single Ladies

Fave Spring Piece: “You know, although it’s springtime, especially here in L.A. or all my travels, I get a little bit cold anyway in the evenings, so I like a light scarf. A light silk scarf or just a nice, lightweight cotton scarf or something like that. That works for me.”

Fave Libation: “It really depends on the mood of something, but any night, a Cabernet for me. A full-bodied Cabernet always works fine. A Louis Martini, something like that. Maybe a bourbon sour as I’m getting dressed. Or I may switch it up for like a gin gimlet. I’m an equal opportunist across the board.”

Fave “Where To Drink” Destination:
“My favorite bar is actually at home, but my favorite restaurant, I have a number of them. A friend of mine, Andre Royo, he and his wife run a restaurant called CanelĂ© that’s in Atwater Village that’s really great. Eva, which is on Sunday nights, right up on Beverly. Terroni on Saturday nights – great southern Italian over there. So I kind of make my rounds at a few other places.”

Alicia Fox
WWE Wrestler and Model

Fave Spring Piece: “I love the really crazy cuff earrings. I don’t know if they’re so new for this particular season, but I’ve seen them evolve into more of an artistic statement. I think that jewelry can either make or break an outfit, and I think the ear cuffs are one of my favorites, because they’re lightweight. You can throw them on, dress them up, dress them down…anything that’s versatile. That’s my kicker for spring.”

Fave Libation: “My drink of choice would probably be Belle Glos red wine, like the Pinot Noir. Liquor-wise, I guess there would just be a vodka-water – something skinny – anything skinny. The skinner, the better!”

Fave “Where To Drink” Destination:
“I’m just recently coming to L.A., so I haven’t made the full-blown move, but from what I’ve seen so far – this is not upper-class or crazy fancy – but I love that Pink Taco place. We don’t have those on the East Coast and I think they’re so fun. They’re so L.A. to me – fun, fresh, new – I just love it. We were there today, we went somewhere yesterday…There’s so many cool things here. I can’t wait to try them all. It’ going to take me quite a long time!”

Marcus Shirock
Actor and Director; Currently working on Warriors and Beasts (“300 meets Lord of the Rings meets Gladiators,” Shirock says) and The Gold Rush Boogie (“Godfather meets Boogie Nights meets old Chinese movie,” he says)

Fave Spring Piece:
“Well look at me [laughs].”

Fave Libation: “I’m a man. I like whiskey if I’m going to drink. I’d go for some Jack [Daniels whiskey] and Coke. I like a little sweet. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Fave “Where To Drink” Destination: “Actually I do have a couple of favorite restaurants. One of my favorite, favorites is – it’s been around since 1972 and before that, it was around since the early ‘50s – it’s where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio first met and had their first date. It’s called the Rainbow now, and it’s up on Sunset. That’s my best place, then my second place is Boa…CafĂ© Primo for a nice coffee. And for a good burger, Five Guys.”

Paul Coy Allen
Executive Producer of R&B Divas Season Two, R&B Divas L.A. and an upcoming television show with Destiny Child’s Michelle Williams.

Fave Spring Piece: “I’m a Claiborne, Donna Karen type guy. That’s my vibe. I’m definitely more into the jackets. I don’t do the tie as much, because of the weather; maybe more in the winter, I’d throw on a tie.”

Fave Libation:
“Grand Marnier. They had a brand NAVAN that was just discontinued that I was really into. Cognac is my drink.”

Fave “Where To Drink” Destination: “Katana. That’s where you’ll mostly find me.”

Fallen Riviera
Newly released album, Another World; newly released Those Times are Gone music video; upcoming spring and summer tours

Fave Spring Piece seen while on tour:
Steve Ornest (far left, guitar): “I’ll tell you – the thing that intrigued me the most actually was the fashion in Portland, just because I’ve never been there before. I mean, it’s a city where it rains all the time and people are so fashionable. It’s something that’s outrageous.”

Will Parry (middle, vocals, piano): “I would agree. I’m English, so I love being in a coat. I wore one tonight [laughs].”

Fave Libation:
Steve Ornest: “We love scotch.”

Matthew Denis (far right, bass): “I’m a scotch man for sure.”

Fave “Where To Drink” Destination:
Matthew: “I’m kind of a fan of Toi. I like that place. It’s got that rock vibe and it’s pretty good food, too. And they have a great beverage menu.”

Hermione Way
Bravo TV Journalist
Fave Spring Piece: “I’m into my watch. I think it’s interesting because we don’t need watches anymore because we all carry iPhones. But I still think you should always wear a watch. It looks classy.”

Fave Libation: “I’d drink everything. Anything. Beer, whiskey, wine…give me them all. Seriously.”

Fave “Where To Drink” Destination: “I gotta say Chateau Marmont, just because everyone says it, but also because I just moved here [from San Francisco]. I’ve been there for a couple of meetings, so it’s really nice.”

Fave San Francisco “Where To Drink” Destination: “I like Twenty Five Lusk. It’s a really nice bar.”

** Photo credits: Tulani Watkins.
Interviews have been condensed and edited for length purposes.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Where To Eat: Taco Tuesdays @ Fiesta Martin

The Eats: $1 tacos, every Tuesday

The Location: Inglewood

The Vibes: Festive, colorful, casual, packed

Good for: Those nights when you want to splurge on food, without spending a lot of money

With whom to go: Families, dates, friends, co-workers jam into here at all hours in the evening - it's truly a neighborhood restaurant 

When-To-Go: Tuesday evenings, until 10:30pm

The $ Factor:
$; $1 tacos and $5.49 margaritas

I’ll Be Back…: For more of the hard shell tacos!

Like myself, I'm sure you appreciate an irresistible deal ever so often (or always), which is why I'm an avid fan of Taco Tuesdays. Of course, Los Angeles doesn't have a shortage of places to pick from, but here's another Taco Tuesday destination to add on your radar: Fiesta Martin Mexican Grill.

Located on a bustling part of La Brea Ave. in Inglewood, this casual neighborhood eatery offers unbeatable deals in a festive ambiance.

This is one of the few places I've been where there's not only soft shell taco deals, but also discounts on the hard shell tacos. And you don't have to go with one or the other - pick only soft shells, only hard shells, or mix and match the two - there are no limits!

The toppings are quite expansive, ranging from several different sauces and salsas, to colorful garnishes and sides like pickled carrots. There's also a diverse selection of taco fillings: chicken, steak, marinated beef, shredded pork, BBQ pork, tongue...and even potatoes or beans, if you're ever in the mood for meatless options. I would almost recommend sampling them all, but they're so filling that most people I know only get through about three or four. As hard as I try, four is my personal max.

The ambiance makes this a great destination as well. The space itself is not big by any stretch of the imagination, but it feels cozy and warm and intimate, as if you're dining with 40 of your closest friends. At random points of the night, a mariachi band walks in and plays beautiful, melodic songs, taking requests for a nominal fee as well.

But most importantly - what makes this a great Taco Tuesday destination - is that everything is mad crazy cheap. $1 tacos. $5.49 margaritas. $1.50-$3 sides. A friend and I came here one time and got 8 tacos, 2 margaritas and a beer, all for like 20 bucks. Now that's what I call #winning.

So the next time you need to turn your Tuesday evening into a Taco Tuesday evening, head down to Fiesta Martin. The tacos and margaritas are delicious and cheap, and the ambiance relaxed and lively.

See you there soon!

Friday, March 15, 2013

And Where Do You “Where To?”: FREE Giveaway/Contest Winner

This past week, I offered the following giveaway:

**Two tickets to see The Build UP for this Sunday, March 17th, 6:30-9:30 p.m. If interested, simply tweet “#BuildUP” to @WilsonsGuide no later than this Thursday, 11:59 p.m. PST. Winner will be selected randomly and announced on Friday morning.**

And, a winner has been selected:

Congratulations to @DreamUndeferred for winning!

Thanks to everyone who entered - I wish I could give each and everyone of you a ticket. 

Have a great day! 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Where To Be Merry: The Build UP @ "The Castle"

The Merriment: Site-specific theatre: a theatrical production that takes place not onstage, but in multiple rooms of a Hollywood Hills mansion called “The Castle”

The Location: Hollywood

The Vibes: Creative, adventurous, hilariously entertaining, extremely fun, suspenseful

Good for: Anyone 21+ and open to an atypical theatrical experience 

When-To-Go: Shows run every Sunday in March, 6:30-9:30 p.m.

The $ Factor: $; $25 per ticket (includes wine and beer)

I’ll Be Back…: To enter another room that I didn't have a chance to enter the first time around

The 4-1-1: The Build UP is an unforgettable experience, in every sense of the phrase!

The night commences with a van picking up guests at a designated pick-up/drop-off location. Guests are whisked away to “The Castle” for a mini-reception with complimentary wine, beer and water. After the reception, the show begins on the ground floor and takes place in several different rooms for about 45 minutes, before everyone ends up on the rooftop patio, with a full-out “party” and jam session by the band.

Aside from being a classy, well-produced affair from start to finish, the real highlight of the evening is the performance style itself.

There’s no stage. Not one.

Instead, actors move through the kitchen, living room, bathroom, upstairs bedroom, downstairs balcony and hallways, using the spaces as if the audience wasn’t even there. In turn, the audience fills up areas not occupied by the actors, squeezing against the wall, sitting on the floor and in chairs, and sometimes, even standing directly next to the actors themselves. It’s a very exciting, unusual sensation, and it almost feels slightly voyeuristic, as if you’re peeping in on something private that you have no business watching.

As if that wasn’t already out-of-the-box enough, the play has another twist:

Remember those choose-your-own-adventure books where you picked between two or more options on how the story continued? That’s exactly what happens with The Build UP. For the first scene, everyone starts in the kitchen. But in the second scene in the living room, at one point, some of the actors remain there, while others move to the balcony…then some actors stay in the living room while others go upstairs. For an indecisive Gemini like myself, it was a little nerve-wrecking to have to make on-the-whim decisions on where to go next. Do I hear what’s going on at the balcony? What’s all that commotion upstairs – should I have gone that way instead of staying downstairs?

I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll simply say this about the story itself: it’s about a wife who’s on the verge of losing it all – her marriage, her ambition, herself – and what happens when her husband and a handful of colorful characters unexpectedly show up to their home one glamorous Hollywood night. I applaud the actors for their incredible performances. They stayed in character the entire time, which I could only imagine would be extremely difficult, with an audience continually shifting around and breathing down their necks.

So the next time you're in the mood for a nontraditional play and a spectacular way to spend your Sunday evening, I highly recommend checking out The Build UP. Just make sure to either take a friend so you can both split when actors go in different rooms and then recap to each other what each one of you saw, or, just go see the play more than once.

See you there soon!

**Heads up: I’m giving away two tickets to the Sunday, March 17th, 6:30-9:30 p.m. performance. If interested, simply tweet “#BuildUP” to @WilsonsGuide no later than this Thursday, 11:59 p.m. PST. Winner will be selected randomly and announced on Friday morning.**

For more information: 

The cast, from left to right: Chris Mollica, Taro Morita, Tina McDowelle, Alex Dawson (seated), Peppur Chambers (writer/director, seated) Erica Peeples (seated), Shakir Chambers (creator, producer) and Daniel Ball (loungin' on the ottoman).

 Photo credit for cast photo and last photo: Adenrele Ojo Photography

Monday, March 4, 2013

Where To Be Merry: To Be Young, Gifted and Black @ The David Schall Theatre

The Merriment: a theatrical production celebrating the life and legacy of Lorraine Hansberry, produced by the Actors Co-op Theater Company

The Location: The David Schall Theatre on the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood campus

The Vibes: Complex, celebratory, thought-provoking, poetic

Good for: Anyone who appreciates or is interested in learning more about Lorraine Hansberry

When-To-Go: Show runs until Sunday, March 17th: Friday and Saturday shows – 8pm; Sundays shows – 2:30pm (with conversations with the actors immediately following the show)

The $ Factor: $; $30 GA; $25 seniors; $20 students

I’ll Be Back…: on a Sunday to speak with the actors after the show!

The 4-1-1: “A Raisin in the Sun” is one of those slivers of ingenuity that’s woven itself into the consciousness of our country’s being. It is just as “American” as apple pie, as baseball, and as the cry for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

But who was the writer behind it,
and what were her experiences that inspired such a poignant story?

“To Be Young, Gifted and Black” creatively answers this question, by revealing the many sides and inner thoughts of playwright Lorraine Hansberry, from her childhood until her untimely death at age 34. For two hours, eight actors intricately weave together excerpts from her diary, plays, letters and other writings to give us an idea of who Hansberry was, and her defining moments, her insecurities, her accomplishments and so much more.

The manner in which this is done is unique in itself. Yes, there’s a clear beginning and end like a traditional play, but scenes don’t fluidly flow into one another. Instead, one scene ends, and the next scene – not necessarily related to the previous one – quickly picks up. Another nontraditional aspect is that actors switch roles frequently. There’s not just one “Lorraine Hansberry” – there are multiple ones, and there’s not always an announcement that there’s been a shift. It leaves you on the edge of your seat, making sure you're paying close attention to every minute detail, so as not to miss anything.

The actors themselves also do a phenomenal job. The lack of props – just a bare black stage – gives them the opportunity to showcase how talented they really are, through lively gestures, vivid facial expressions and excellent diction. They add a sense of depth and dimension to Hansberry’s works that’s surreal. Watching them, it’s easy to forget at times that they’re performing works – letters and diary entries – that at the time they were written, were never meant to be performed; they were just the musings of Hansberry. But the way they’re presented is so natural and organic that it feels as if they were written specifically for each actor.

All in all, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” pays tribute to an important American playwright in a pleasantly unconventional manner. It is at times quite complex, addressing harsh realities like classism in the African-American race and abortions, but it is also beautifully poetic from start to finish. It depicts the environments that shaped Hansberry, and thus helps us understand the woman behind so many timeless masterpieces.

I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in learning more about Lorraine Hansberry’s life see “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.” Perhaps I’ll catch you at the next show soon!

For more information:

Photo Credit for 3rd and 4th photos: Lindsay Schnebly