LOS ANGELES – Room 33 of the Chateau Marmont has views of downtown Los Angeles out of one window, the palm tree-dotted garden cafe out of another, and out of a third, the hotel’s Bungalow 2, where James Dean swung into a window to audition for “Rebel Without a Cause.” The director Nicholas Ray and co-star Natalie Wood were waiting for the actor to arrive, and there he was, catapulting into the room, ready to get the part.
It’s just a small sample of the lore that surrounds the Chateau Marmont, the 1929 hotel atop a first bump of Beverly Hills. And you can add this to the list: on Tuesday, it played host to an opening dinner for “The Power of Creation,” a limited edition Dom Perignon bottle designed by David Lynch.
The legendary Tinseltown hotel – a staging ground and muse to filmmakers, artists, and writers for decades – houses 63 rooms, one of which is Room 33. Room 33 looks familiar. You’ve seen it in movies, and the people you see in movies have seen it. The same stuff is all there. Like an old General Electric refrigerator, ample ashtrays, a silver ice bucket, copies of art books by Terry Richardson and Ed Ruscha, coasters, letterhead-stamped stationery, matchbooks, a bottle of Dom Perignon vintage 2003, potted plants, an ottoman...
OK, so perhaps the Dom Perignon doesn’t always show up. But this week, the classic Champagne makers had taken over the Chateau Marmont and other locations in Los Angeles to celebrate its collaboration with Lynch. The bottle he designed depicts the bubbly deconstructed to its DNA: sparkly glass-bits and spiky curves, glowing like a star nebula. The centerpiece of the event was Lynch’s “reveal” of sorts – an elaborate series of rooms and smoke and video screens – that took place last night, down the boulevard at Hollywood’s Milk Studios. It was kept heavily under wraps.
Choosing the Chateau Marmont makes sense to devotees of Lynch’s film “Mulholland Drive.” It was shot here, along with Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere,” “The Doors,” and the video for Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games.” Likewise, the people who make the movies have had their share of fun at the place (too much fun, in the case of John Belushi).
“If these walls could talk,” the woman at the front desk said to someone checking in.
If the walls of Room 33 could talk about the reporter who came in on Tuesday, for the first day of Lynch’s reveal, they would say something about the ashtrays getting messy with ash, ice falling into the ice bucket and traveling to whiskey glasses, that bottle of Dom Perignon getting a few milliliters lighter rather quickly, and ink staining the letterhead-stamped stationery with words.
But the walls couldn’t say much about the opening dinner, as it took place in the garden below. Guests, mostly the insiders who would put on the big party the next day, went for more vintage 2003 as the shadows rolled down the hills, the Hollywood sign, and then Hollywood Boulevard.
Richard Geoffroy, the Chef de Cave of Dom Perignon, was stuck in San Francisco.
“Richard, he’s like the Karl Lagerfeld of the wine world,” someone whispered.
It was mostly press that first night – writers from Japan, from France, from New York City – but as grilled branzino segued to a lemon tart, friends in town began to show up. Someone texted the actress Natasha Lyonne and she took a seat and spoke of moving back east. Someone texted singer Sky Ferreira and she came, too. Someone texted Ke$ha but she never showed.
The crowd split ways soon after, some heading to the packed Bar Marmont and others to a Grimes show at the Echo. The after party was at the Overpass, a shack in Silver Lake that blasted oldies into a haze of cigarette smoke.
The next morning, a few hours before David Lynch unleashed his reveal upon unsuspecting Angelenos, those staying at the Marmont took a car that drove (well, a car that sat in traffic for an hour) to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a private tour, arranged between Dom Perignon and the curator Jeffrey Deitch (who was, sadly, in New York for the whole affair). Along with the Warhols and Rauschenbergs and Rothkos there was the feature exhibition, “The Painting Factory: Abstraction After Warhol.”
“Are we going to see the James Franco exhibition?” someone asked. She was referring to MOCA’s “Rebel,” which the actor/writer/curator Franco calls an “interrogative ode” to James Dean and “Rebel Without a Cause.”
“I hear he has a recreation of the Chateau Marmont in it,” someone else said, referring to the bungalow Dean had jumped into when auditioning for the movie.
The driver pulled up the driveway of the hotel.
“How meta,” she said.
But that exhibition is actually at MOCA’s auxiliary space, on North Highland Avenue, and the private tour did not make it there. Instead, the cars drove back to the Chateau Marmont, the real one, and we went back to the real Room 33.