×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Inspired by New York’s Chelsea Hotel, Brill Building and CBGBs, Hollywood’s Gold-Diggers Opens

The space previously housed Ed Wood’s Quality Studios, then served as rehearsal rooms for The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and Guns N’ Roses, and finally, a strip club.

“We wanted to create a combination of the Chelsea Hotel, the Brill Building and CBGBs,” says producer Dave Trumfio describing Gold-Diggers, an East Hollywood complex that includes nine state-of-the-art recording studios, a soundstage and an 11-room boutique hotel above a full liquor bar and lounge. The Santa Monica Blvd. address served as a strip club for almost 40 years under the same name.

“Our slogan is ‘Drink. Sleep. Record,” adds Dave Neupert, a music industry veteran who was head of new media for Maverick Records and his own M80 online marketing company, before getting into the hospitality business. Neupert owns Royal Street Inn and R Bar in New Orleans (the first iteration of his “bed and beverage” concept) and several venues in Los Angeles, including popular Echo Park watering hole the Short Stop, a partnership with Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli, as well as such local nightlife haunts as La Cita, Footsies, Melody Lounge, El Dorado and Monty Bar.

Gold Diggers - Photos By Pablo Enriquez
CREDIT: Pablo Enriquez

Neupert acquired the Gold-Diggers site for $3.3 million nearly three years ago and has invested $4 million more into its restoration. It turned out to be a savvy investment, for shortly afterward, the CIM Group acquired the location across the street for Marketplace East Hollywood, a mixed-use retail/residential project boasting more than 400 apartments and 263,780 square feet of commercial space that includes a conversion of the Sears building on the corner of Western and Santa Monica Blvd.

Before Gold-Diggers, the combination tavern and inn served as a destination along Route 66, while the recording studio facility had several lives, first as noted cult director Ed Wood’s Quality Studios – where much of “Plan 9 from Outer Space” was filmed – and then Shamrock Studios, a series of rehearsal rooms used by the likes of The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Slayer and Guns N’ Roses.

CREDIT: Pablo Enriquez

Trumfio is a Chicago native who also co-owns and operates Kingsize Soundlabs on Eagle Rock Blvd. in Glassell Park, with his wife Ronna, a principal in Gold-Diggers as well. He has worked with the likes of the Mekons, Wilco, The Pretty Things, OK Go and Built to Spill, as well as his own band The Pulsars. The noted producer/engineer, who oversaw the creation of Gold-Diggers Sound, points to a space underneath the drum riser on the studio’s sound stage. “That’s where Bela Lugosi rises from the grave in ‘Plan 9,’” he says. “We discovered a trap door there.”

The club/dive bar, with its original layout meticulously preserved, was named by its previous owner after Dean Martin’s Las Vegas-styled, back-up chorus girls and their photo is still displayed on the wall. The space has already hosted a number of industry showcases and events. They include a discussion moderated by Aquarium Drunkard blog founder Justin Gage, who also curates the vinyl records in each room in the hotel (which comes equipped with a turntable and an Alexa-controlled Samsung flat-screen TV) along with a performance by Lambchop/Silver Jews guitarist William Tyler. Other recent guests include Academy Award-winning songwriter Ryan Bingham.

Gold Diggers - Photos By Pablo Enriquez
CREDIT: Pablo Enriquez

All of the rooms in the two-floor boutique hotel include original art by Parquet Courts’ Andrew Savage, as well as a Gold-Diggers vinyl album on every pillow put together by Aquarium Drunkard’s Gage. Each room is also wired into the studio, so that artists can actually record without leaving their beds, while every individual recording room is also connected to each other through a patch board.

Gold-Diggers Sound presently houses two full-time residents with long-term leases who have set up their own operations there – producer/songwriter Sam Hollander (Panic! at the Disco, Train, Weezer, One Direction, Good Charlotte, Neon Trees) is working on a new Goo-Goo Dolls album, while OneRepublic bassist Brett Kutzle is also one of the studio’s tenants. Irish singer/songwriter James Vincent McMorrow was getting ready to record there, too.

Gold Diggers - Photos By Pablo Enriquez
CREDIT: Pablo Enriquez

“The music business is finally coming back around,” says Neupert, “And we’re just hoping to provide the tools for artists to create. My whole inspiration for this is my love of music.”

The individual studio day rates range from $200 to $750, while the hotel rooms go from $150 ($170 on weekends) to $310 ($340 on weekends).  And while there’s no room service, or a kitchen, good food is available for delivery through the Caviar app, including nearby Mozza.

The Gold-Diggers project is an architectural labor of love, preserved with an eye towards its unique history, but also providing the amenities associated with a top-flight studio and luxury hotel.

“I’m hoping that we can make this a true creative, collaborative space and provide a real music campus,” says Neupert. “That’s always been my dream.”

CREDIT: Pablo Enriquez

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • This photo provided by the California

    Josh Turner Tour Bus Crash Kills Sound Engineer, Leaves 7 from Crew Hospitalized

    A bus carrying crew members for country singer Josh Turner’s tour went off an embankment after leaving a show in Paso Robles, California, killing sound engineer David Turner and leaving seven others hospitalized. Turner and his band were on a separate bus following the crew bus and reportedly stopped to assist after the deadly accident [...]

  • WEST HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 18:

    Billie Eilish Tells Crowd She Plans to Tour Behind... Her 2017 EP

    Okay, so it may just have been a way to get some crowd members who were dead-set on calling out requests off her back. But she seemed to mean it. At a show for SiriusXM and Pandora at L.A.’s Troubadour club Wednesday, Billie Eilish made an interesting vow to the crowd: She plans to tour [...]

  • UTA lobby in Nashville

    UTA's Nashville Office Sets 2020 for Move to Historic Downtown Library Building

    UTA has announced a forthcoming move to much bigger digs in Nashville, with plans to leave its current home at the Cummins Station complex in the first quarter of 2020 to make good on a signed lease on a major library building in the heart of downtown that’s being renovated for office use. Once construction [...]

  • Toni Cornell

    Chris Cornell's Daughter Toni Releases First Single, 'Far Away Places'

    Toni Cornell, the daughter of late Grammy-winning rockstar Chris Cornell, is carrying on her father’s musical legacy with her first single, titled “Far Away Places.” The song, which the 15-year-old wrote at 12 years old, was produced by her father in his home studio in Miami, known to be one of the last songs he [...]

  • Depeche Mode - Dave GahanLes Vieilles

    Depeche Mode Documentary Gets One-Night Theatrical Release

    Depeche Mode has reunited with the group’s long-time filmographer, Anton Corbjn, for a combination documentary/concert film, “Spirits in the Forest,” which Trafalgar Releasing has announced it will put on approximately 2400 screens worldwide for one night Nov. 21. The film documents performance footage from the Berlin dates of Depeche Mode’s 115-gig Global Spirit Tour of [...]

  • Patti SmithVariety's 10 Storytellers to Watch

    Patti Smith Talks Biopics, Beats and Losing Her Cool in Front of Bob Dylan

    On Thursday afternoon Variety partnered with IFP for the first “10 Storytellers to Watch” event, and among the novelists, lyricists, podcasters, playwrights, graphic novelists and brand storytellers who were honored was the pioneering singer, poet and author Patti Smith. The legendary artist received the Impact in Storytelling honor not only for her formidable body of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content