If you live in the Hollywood Hills, you know what Armageddon looks like.
“It’s when the orange cones come out, and the big delivery vans (arrive),” says one resident, a producer of one-hour dramas. “There’s a party house around the block that clogs the street with cars. I have to deal with traffic jams before I even get out of the driveway.”
Lavish, furnished residences used for the express purpose of entertaining hundreds in a single night have become a party-planner’s mainstay. “They’re intimate, they’re more special than clubs and everyone always has a great time,” says the A List principal Ashlee Margolis.
Not if you’re the folks who lived next to the Hollywood Hills home that Flaunt magazine rented for five days of parties during Oscar week; police received a whopping 437 complaints. Outkast threw their post-Grammy party at a house off Sunset; valets navigated narrow streets and livid neighbors. The same valet service worked Jamie Foxx’s annual Christmas soiree, which had to cope with squad cars and helicopters.
Technically, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills residents can’t rent out their homes for third-party parties without obtaining a business permit. However, that’s exactly what most people don’t do.
“If you’re not charging (admission), no permits are required,” says Yvette Bartosik, location coordinator at Sunset Locations, a broker that rents many of the city’s other best-known party homes.
That’s why 4th District councilman Tom LaBonge would like to eliminate party houses in his district, which includes the Hollywood Hills, Mount Olympus and parts of Laurel Canyon and Mulholland. He’s submitted a motion to the Los Angeles City Council seeking restrictions on social events allowed for single-family homes; it’s expected to go to the Council’s planning committee by summer’s end.
“We have numerous examples of abusive party planners whose sole purpose is to maintain a residence for the express purpose of renting it out to make money,” says LaBonge in a statement.
Private residences are big business; some rent for $120,000 a day. And anyone who’s had the misfortune of discovering that a traffic jam was actually a valet line can attest to their proliferation.
However, expressing dismay over Hollywood money-makers sounds a little like Capt. Renault declaring his shock over gambling at Rick’s Café.
“Kid and Play aren’t showing up — we’re talking about fancy people with money,” says Baker Winokur Ryder VP Bill Horn, who worked with client Joe Francis on house parties for the Girls Gone Wild brand. “Nobody wants to be inconvenienced. Your number-one priority is to make sure it goes smoothly. The chaos that’s being described isn’t accurate.”
One owner, Vivian Romero, claims her decision to purchase a party house was based on a desire to “give back to the community.” Her father was president of aviation firm North American Rockwell and she wanted to continue the tradition of lavish house parties, a fond childhood memory.
Create too many memories and you run the risk of wearing out your home’s welcome. Andrew Dimpfl, assistant to Flaunt’s editor in chief, says the magazine made the mistake of not double-checking the rental history of the home rented during Oscar week.
“We were pitched the finer points of the house, but not the issues,” he says. In addition to narrow streets and a bowl-shaped backyard that acted like a natural loudspeaker for the live music, Dimpfl said they had to contend with the neighbors’ long-simmering resentments. “It is a widely spread, unconfirmed rumor that the house was used for porn shoots,” says Dimpfl.
Sunset Locations denies any knowledge of porn stars crossing the threshhold. (“We don’t do that type of the business,” she says, “although if the owner did it, that was on his own.”)
She also denies the possibility that party houses might be legislated out of existence.
“There’s no way that’s going to happen,” she says. “Hollywood parties — that’s what the city is about.”
The hills have eyes
Places that make you say: Haven’t we been here before?
Planning a clandestine barn burner? Be proactive. “You have to make sure you don’t get annoying to neighbors, you won’t be shut down by the police and there are no party crashers,” says Gina Bullock, salesperson at Sunset Locations in West Hollywood. If all else fails, resort to bribery: “Go to the neighbors and give them a VIP pass.”
Here, four of Sunset Location’s most popular party houses, with a caveat: Sunset’s contracts forbid them from identifying specific homes. However, we did some sleuthing and made our own IDs. If you don’t like this party, we’ll take the blame.
|Sunset View House
|Features: Shaped like a UFO, the house has 360-degree views, three tiers of balconies, a private gated driveway and an indoor pool
Who’s rented: Oscar parties, Heineken, Budweiser, MTV
How much: $60,000-$120,000 a night, including set-up days
|Features: Once owned by a silent film star, the house was rebuilt with full theater and nightclub, bathroom stalls, DJ booth. Smoke machines in ceilings; outside there’s a pool, lounge and bar area with fire pit
How much: $15,000-$120,000 a night
Who’s rented: Flaunt magazine, Xenii
|Beverly Hills House
|Features: 360-degree wraparound views, hand-painted murals on ceilings and walls, built-in Roman-style theater, fountains and entry gates, themed rooms
How much: $8,000-$50,000 a night, depending on the event
Who’s rented: Heineken, NBC, Outkast
|Features: Mid-century modern architecture with open floor plan, floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooking the pool, grassy yard and views of the city
Who’s rented: W Magazine
How much: $3,000-$50,000 a night