In the early 90s, my friend Oberon Sinclair and I decided that we were going to host a once-a-week party in Los Angeles. She’d moved here from London, I’d relocated from NYC and we both thought the nightlife in El Lay was lacking. The idea was to do something “different.” Something glamorous (her department) and also something deeply weird (mine).
We’d found a venue (Leonardo’s on La Brea, a tacky Mexican nightclub with red gingham table cloths and anti-bug candles everywhere) and we’d chosen a name for our event (“Good Evening”) and the image for the invitation (the cover of the Peter Cook and Dudley Moore album of the same name).
We’d also found a yodeling senior citizen drag queen accordion player, a completely freaky fortune teller and a group of Beatle imitators named the Mop Tops (that’s another story) to entertain our guests, but we needed more than that, which is how we came to be seated at the Brand Chicken Restaurant on Brand Ave in Glendale, CA.
The Brand Chicken Restaurant was a fast food joint that was decorated to seem like it was part of a chain, but it obviously wasn’t. There were the familiar sort of molded furniture booths seen in McDonald’s, Wendy’s and KFC, except that the place was decked out in lurid pink and green.
We were at the Brand to meet up with “Rockin Robbie B” an Elvis impersonator who had just moved to Glendale from somewhere in the deep South and was seeing what opportunities might await him here in the entertainment capital of the world.
Rockin’ Robbie B lived above the restaurant and quite literally sang for his supper with a portable karaoke machine. They paid him in chicken sandwiches. The two Sikh brothers who owned the place might’ve been his landlords too. In a sense they were his artistic patrons.
With the exception of a diamante-encrusted “TCB” belt buckle Robbie didn’t dress like Elvis, at least at the restaurant, and looked more like country singer “C.W. McCall” than he did the King of Rock and Roll, but he did do a very, very good Elvis impression, with one tragic flaw: He lisped. Badly. And when he sang, he sprayed.
Let’s just say we were quite happy to be seated near the back of the place with our chicken sandwiches when we heard the opening bars of “Suspicious Minds” on his karaoke machine! He also did covers versions of songs not by Elvis, but as if Elvis covered them (like “Ghostbusters”) and he did “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as “I Want to Bite Your Hand” in a Bela Lugosi voice.
This was already a fairly surreal mise-en-scène but what happened next made it even better: Lux Interior and Poison Ivy Rorschach walked by, knocked on the window and waved excitedly to Rockin’ Robbie B who turned around on his stool and warmly greeted them back.
I tell you this tale to lead into an amazing peek into the home Lux and Ivy shared in Glendale. In it you’ll get a glimpse of their legendary record collection and some of their STUFF.
They’ve got good taste, so sit on my…
Thank you kindly Erleen Nada!