LOS ANGELES – An hour into the reveal of “Dom Perignon by David Lynch,” the walls of Milk Studios in Hollywood, California started to shake. They shook until the center ruptured and opened, like a mouth, engulfing the masses and their Champagne flutes into a void of fog and neon. And beyond the wobbly precipice, before a dark tunnel of which we could see no end, stood a blank black chalkboard that stretched from the floor to the ceiling.
“Are we not impressed?” said a man in a topcoat, hat, and pocket watch. He gestured not to the admittedly impressive array of tanned bodies and bottles of bubbly, but rather to the chalkboard he presided over, where men and women began to take pieces of chalk, put them to the board, and make impressions of their names.
“Step right up!” the man said, handing over a piece of chalk. “I myself cannot write, you know.”
Beside the names Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince – the two members of rock band the Kills, the night’s entertainment – Kelly Osbourne, some Chinese characters, and a slew of names surely vital to certain spheres in Los Angeles, went the name Nate Freeman.
“I’m not even sure why I’m here,” Bret Easton Ellis told us, standing on the marble patio outside. Regardless, he seemed to be in a very good mood. “I’m on deadline” – this reporter can’t reveal for what – “and I ran into too many people I know.”
Perhaps he counted among his friends these dozens of the L.A.-based artists and creative types that walked through the cracked wall and down the spooky hallway, but he certainly knew Shannyn Sossamon. She was in the film version of “The Rules of Attraction,” Ellis’ second novel.
“You know, I’m not sure how I feel about the crab thing,” Sossamon said to us.
We picked one up.
“Crab and raspberry?” we said.
This room, at the other end of the cloudy corridor, was an arcade devoted to Lynch’s madcap vision for Dom Perignon. Levers and pulleys suspended bottles, part of a giant gadget that seemed to be on the fritz, like a stolen part of a Rube Goldberg contraption. The brand’s shield symbol was encased in an empty fish tank filled with smoke instead of water, a light shining on it to create a sort-of bat signal on a screen, which displayed an abstract video, shapes merging and moving. Laser beams shot out at a group of jewels and diamonds, which were then refracted all over the room — like what living inside a broken disco ball must be like. Also, there was a man on a platform pitter-patting his knuckles on a MPC2000XL beat machine.
“Shrimp cocktail?” a man said. He was holding skewers with wriggles of shrimp meat on one end, a plastic sack filled with red liquid on the other. The shrimp is consumed and the cocktail sauce in the sack goes through a tube. Sossamon declined.
And then the walls rumbled again, and through another crack guests found an enormous concert hall with bleachers on either side of a stage, waiters with even more Champagne and a big rectangular edifice with no discerning purpose whatsoever. There was also another enormous television screen, this one displaying a silver-haired man facing the big black chalkboard, chalk in his hand, writing down his name: David Lynch.
The director walked into the tunnel of smoke, the path lit only by the baby blue florescent lights imbedded below. Holding the hand of his wife, actress Emily Stofle, Lynch walked past the mini cranes of the other room and approached the big rectangular edifice. A circle grew around him.
“Right here, right now!” he said with a flourish of his wrist.
At once the walls cracked, lifting up the hollow wood, revealing jeroboams and bottles of the filmmaker’s custom Champagne. Hundreds huddled around the glittering things, each stamped with a label he designed.
Then Lynch walked to the stage, to the microphone, the ringleader addressing his circus, the wizard addressing his Oz.
“And now, it is my big pleasure to introduce one of my all-time favorite bands,” he said. “This is modern music, so hold onto your Champagne, and hold onto your hats. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Kills!”
Mosshart and Hince (or, as he’s known in some circles, Mr. Kate Moss) followed Lynch onto the stage and rampaged through a set loaded with live timpani, brassy shrieks, and a hearty amount of bluesy/punky guitars. They were followed by super-DJ Diplo, who segued from niche favorites like Zebra Katz’s “Imma Read” to Usher’s “Climax,” the slinky hit that Diplo himself wrote and produced. And he played much more, late into the night, but did we mention the Champagne? After a few glasses too many we slipped back past the reveal of those Lynchian bottles, through the mechanical acrobatics of the fish tanks and metal levers, through the fog-drenched tunnel, until we reached the black chalkboard completely full of names.
“Where did David Lynch sign it?” we asked the man in a topcoat and pocket watch.
He pointed to a run of chalk that curled into loops and dips with five dots pressed below, not too far from the name we wrote down earlier in the night.
“Believe it or not,” he said.
Click on the slide show to see images from the David Lynch reveal party for Dom Perignon.